Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dr Lyn Westman - Mercy Ships!

We are thrilled with plans for a kid's camp in August provided by Mercy Ships to benefit 30 orphans. Dr Lyn and assistant Jane were introduced to "Auntie Margaret," who has 26 orphans in her home, and to "Mama Inna," who with the help of a full staff cares for 70 orphans. Fifteen children from each location will be in for a wonderful week! THANK YOU MERCY SHIPS FOR YOUR MINISTRY ON AND OFF THE BOAT!!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bundu Secret Society

For two weeks women have been arriving at the house just across the road. There has been a flurry of activity! At least two all night celebrations have taken place with near continuous drums throughout the night and well into the morning. Last evening seems to have been a culmination of events with an initiation ceremony followed by a dance. I won't say anymore here, but you can search online for information about the practices of the Bundu. Just type in "Bundu Secret Society, Sierra Leone."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Flowers & Veggie Gardens!

I just love the vegetable gardens along river beds. So lush even in the driest season.

Baptisms in the river!

Chad and Robyn's home is just across the river from ours. We can see each others roofs. On Sunday afternoon after our Easter meal we heard singing. We walked out on the veranda to find that a church down the road was baptizing in the river.

Easter Eggs!

Annabelle, Dwight and Owen had a great time hunting Easter eggs! Of course, Chuck got in on the action!

Easter Dinner With Friends!

We were invited to Easter Dinner with missionary family, Chad, Robyn and their 3 children. John and Chuck were there as well, plus new friends Elmer, Jo Ann and CoCo. Chad and John fixed chicken and duck...each grilled AND baked! Jo Ann made 2 delicious deserts!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Amazing flowers!

Something is always blooming here! When one thing stops, two others take its place. There actually seems to be more plants and trees in bloom now during the hottest and driest season that when we were still getting rain. Amazing!

Olivia & Jana - Mercy Ships!

We were so excited to have Olivia and Jana with us again the last two days! Jana departs for Kentucky on Thursday, and Olivia leaves in just over two weeks for Texas. We will miss having them here!

Yesterday Ibrahim, the gals and I drove up to an area of Freetown called Hill Station. The president lives up this way and there are a couple of great guest houses and restaurants. We had a light lunch at Country Lodge. You can see the amazing view over the balcony. Lunch is about all we can afford there since the rooms run $160 per night for a couple.

This morning we visited an orphanage that Chuck and a church from his home state of Geogria are helping. Almost 70 little faces greeted us!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

U.S. Ambassador

What a privilege to have U.S. Ambassador Michael Owen and Annerieke with us this week! Our team was able to show them around the Centre and share about the various partners and projects that are making a difference for the people of Sierra Leone!

Left to right:

Alfred Kargbo - Buckner International Country Director
Chuck Luke - Pioneers, Valdosta, Georgia
U.S. Ambassador Michael Owen
Donald Conteh - Hope Centre Director
Annerieke Owen-Huisman
Christine Conanan - Hope Centre Accountant, Phillipines
Becky Brockelman - Transform Your World Network, FBC McKinney, Texas

***Tom was snapping the shot and Bobson Allie, Sr Logistics Officer for Hope, had stepped inside.

The Ambassador and Annerieke stayed for a portion of the Community Health Education Class conducted by Chuck. The students were so excited to have our special guests!!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mohamed & Dr Patricia

Mohamed is lookin' so much better from his skin condition. We continue meds...topically, orally and injections. He has severe scarring everywhere, but that will fade. He's one happy little boy living at the refuge!

Friday, April 8, 2011


We feel such an attachment to our young friend, Mommoh! He stands outside a small grocery store where we shop just waiting to help people carry bags. Mommoh is deaf and mute. After two months of smiles, handshakes and waves, I was determined to know his name. So...we asked him. He went to our dusty back windshield and wrote the letters...MOMMOH. I still smile as I think about it. Recently, Tom and I were sitting in the vehicle while others with us shopped. Mommoh came to the window and motioned that he wanted paper and pen. I pulled some out of my bag. He wrote the words, "DEAF SCHOOL." Then he began to write several other words so we would understand that he can read and write. I was so proud of him! I will treasure that scrap of paper forever! You can be sure that we "tip" Mommoh each time he carries and loads our groceries, and being the gentleman that he is, he opens the door and helps me into the car. I just love Mommoh!

Joseph's Story

Joseph, age 26, is one of our trusted guards that alternates between our apartment and the Hope Centre. You will always see him with a smile on his face, but behind that smile there are memories that continue to haunt him. In 1994, Rebel Forces came to his village near Lonesar 43 miles up-country. They demanded money of his father, but when he had none to offer they killed him. Jospeh's mother would have been shot as well, but he, his elder brother and his sister offered to serve the rebels in return for sparing their mom's life. After six weeks of repeated abuse and rape, Joseph's sister died in the bush. A few months later his brother escaped during a skirmish between rebels and army forces, however, he has not been heard from since, and is presumed dead. Joseph's back reveals scars from floggings and knife wounds from the rebels using him for sport. His main role was to carry weapons and other equipment for them. In 1996, a government soldier found Joseph after an indecisive battle between rebels and the army caused soldiers to scatter in all directions. Thankfully, the officer listened to Joseph's story and made arrangements for his transport to a hospital in Freetown. Since the days of his captivity, Joseph spent several years in secondary school with the help of a Catholic Priest and worked as a security guard for a company in Freetown, and now for the Hope Centre. When he is paid each month he either visits his mother to help with her support or sends funds. We love this young man dearly! What a privilege it has been to get to know him!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Charlotte Falls

After several hours at the ocean, Ibrahim and I took Jana and Olivia up the mountain where we hiked to Charlotte Falls. Once the rains start water will pour over the falls turning it into a natural slide that dumps into a lower pool. We will definitely go again!

Jana & Olivia

Jana and Olivia at River #2

Monday, April 4, 2011

Missions Update 4.4.2011

Update 4.4.2011

Hi everyone!!

We trust that you are doing well and busy about the Lord’s work! Time is certainly flying by here in Sierra Leone!

Highlights since our last update:

 Skills development – we had 112 applicants for skills training from Jui and surrounding communities, so we started each of the four areas with larger numbers than expected knowing that some would drop out, or in the case of the men, they would not be able to read or write, which was a requirement for safety reasons. The women’s classes are going great and have settled in with 15 to 17 ladies in each group learning the arts of tie-dying and hairdressing. The men are in classes for either basic plumbing or electrical and are getting lots of practical experience, 13 to 15 per class.

 Mohamed – this special little street kid is now living at the St George Foundation for Street Kids. He is well taken care of and will continue treatment indefinitely for his skin condition. We’ve stopped by several times and have been greeted with smiles from Mohamed and the other 25 or so kids living there, ranging from 6 months to 17 years.

 Margaret’s Orphans - we have simply fallen in love with Margaret’s kiddos. She is the founder of War Widows for Christ, and also has 26 orphans in her home. You would be shocked at the living conditions, but they are all so happy, and all are attending school. A group from the US called Youth for Christ recently donated 3 mattresses for the kids, but one bed frame was needed. We asked our welder friend to fix them up, and this very day we will deliver an extra wide frame that will sleep 3 boys in the bed. They have been on a mat on the crumbling concrete floor until now.

 Interns from the Bible College – we continue to be amazed at the level of commitment of our 10 interns from the Social Work Department of The Evangelical College of Theology. They are working closely with the orphans and widows we serve, 226 orphans with their caretaker families and 85 war widow families.

 Street Kids Ministry in Waterloo – we were able to meet with the Board of Directors of this ministry. We have such high hopes for a Drop-In Centre at some time in the future. Until then there are a dozen or so hands-on volunteers giving selflessly of their time to reach out to over 1000 kids.

 Food distributions – families express such thankfulness each month as they receive their parcels. Agricultural sites are in various stages of preparation for planting in early May. High yield seeds have been purchased, and we are praying for record crops this year!

 Hosetta School for Children with Mental Challenges – our first team from back home will arrive on May 3rd!!! I, Becky, have threatened to “hug the daylights out of them!” We will focus on construction at Hosetta.

 Dallas Baptist University – we were thrilled to have a representative from DBU here at the Hope Centre for a week. He plans to bring a group of business students in October to help our skills development students set up marketing/businesses, etc…

 Mercy Ships – what a wonderful work the volunteers of Mercy Ships are doing! We were especially blessed this past weekend to have a physician’s assistant and nurse from TX and KY in our home. We realize more every day what a small world it is. Through a friend at our home church we were able to connect with Olivia Roberts and her bunkmate, Jana. We had such fun getting to know each other!

Praises and prayer requests:

• We are thrilled to see God working in the hearts of three Muslim men in particular (Mohamed, Alhaji and Ishmael) as we and partner missionaries build relationships.

• The weather has been surprisingly cooler than expected for this time of year. It’s still plenty hot, but manageable. We’ve even had several nighttime showers. A real blessing!

• Water shortage – since we are nearing the peak of the dry season we are experiencing water shortages at the Hope Centre. The well and under-ground reservoir are dry. Recently, we’ve had water tankers deliver water, but this is quite costly for GCPN. We pray for some early rains. We are blessed at our apartment with a deep well, and we’ve been told that our water supply should hold out through the rest of the dry season.

• Our FBC McKinney team is preparing to depart the USA on May 2nd! Please pray for the 10 of them as they work out final details.

• Internet connections have been quite inconsistent lately to the point that work is being hindered at the Centre, not to mention that we’ve had less opportunity to keep in contact with family.

We thank each of you for giving us the chance to live and work in this wonderful place! We only wish we could see you face-to-face to express our appreciation for your prayers and support!

We love you and praise the Lord for you!
Tom and Becky

Mercy Ships!

Chuck and I had the opportunity to tour Mercy Ships. They are docked here through November. The hospital is amazing! It takes an entire deck of the enormous ship. We met with several people, and Chuck is going to volunteer 2 days a week as a nurse.


At least 3 mornings each week Tom cooks breakfast for our day guard, Pa' Hassan, and our house helper, Sulaiman. Tom serves them as they sit around our table. The men take turns praying each day...a true picture of the Kingdom of God!!


Skills development - Hairdressing. The women were being evaluated on this day, so they each had to bring along a "model" to work on.

Plumbing class!

Skills development - plumbing!

GARA - Tie-dying

Women's Skills Development - stitching and tie-dying fabric to be used for clothing, curtains and tablecloths.