Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Merry Christmas!

December 9, 2011
Bo's first trip to Texas!
This pic was taken at the airport in London.
He had never even seen an airplane,
 had no clue what Christmas trees or Santa were all about, 
and from this moment I believe I have continued to 
experience the holiday season through 
HIS EYES every year! 

Merry Christmas from all of us in Sierra Leone!

How can we not give thanks and praise to God for His tender mercies?!?


We’ve been declared EBOLA FREE and look forward to continued recovery and renewal here in Sweet Salone!

60+ of our kiddos have completed a modified academic year, and will begin another in January! By September 2016, all students should be back on target from delays because of Ebola!

The oldest 4 of Auntie Margaret’s kids continue in college, and anticipate government exams in 2016 to help determine their skills or academic track for the future!

Between the former street boys in Waterloo and Auntie Margaret’s kids, 20 of the younger ones have completed government exams this fall, and we hope for the best as the results will determine promotion to higher grade levels.

The temporary RELIEF EFFORT will end this month. Up to 19 families monthly have received parcels since January to help them get back on their feet from the side effects of Ebola!  They deeply appreciate YOU for making this possible!

The Waterloo Drop-In Center is running a full slate of activities with Bible studies, tutorials, counseling and rice distribution to caretaker families! 

Hosetta construction is going great! Work was stalled a full year because of Ebola, but Tom and crew are making progress daily!

Bo is doing well in school. He will be 15 on January 15th, and this will also mark 5 years since the first day Tom met him on the streets of Waterloo! Time flies!

Our moms in Texas are doing well, as are our kids and grandkids! They’ve had some tough times this year among their extended families with illnesses and the loss of a brother-in-law, but God has been faithful to comfort! We will certainly miss being with them this Christmas season!

TEAMS for 2016!!  We have a potential for SEVEN teams! So exciting! If you would like information on dates and areas of ministry, please reply to this email to request a schedule! We would love to have YOU!


Each PRAISE above has a built-in prayer request. For example, EBOLA FREE does not mean that it cannot reoccur. We must all remain vigilant to see that any new cases are quickly identified and treated! We could easily have another outbreak if government agencies and medical staff do not stay on top of this!

We thank you for your continued prayers for us and all those we serve!

WE LOVE YOU and praise the Lord for each of you! 

May this Christmas season be filled with JOY!

J  -  JESUS first
O  -  Others second
Y  -  Yourself last

It’s all for the Kingdom!
Tom, Beck & Bo

FACEBOOK:  Becky Brockelman
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Friday, December 4, 2015

Ebola FREE! My Reflections


I’ve been meaning to document some of the key events of the last 19 months before my memory fades, so … here goes!

It seems like only yesterday that Justin Duren, team leader, and the rest of the MO/TX/UK team were here in May of 2014! Ebola was still far removed with only a few confirmed cases on the eastern most border. With the team’s departure, Justin stayed awaiting the arrival of his wife and kiddos, and he continued with Tom on construction at Hosetta and Auntie Margaret’s for another 5 weeks. At some point in there they got the sturdy tarp roof on Margaret’s home as a side project.

It was June 5, 2014 when our mission’s pastor called to say that our church could not officially sanction a team because of Ebola, and he knew that at least 7 of the 10 people set to arrive the next week had decided it would be best if they not come.  We truly did understand completely.

Our missionary friend Chuck Luke left Sierra Leone on June 18th for the last time, the TX team of 3 left 2 days later, and then the Durens hopped a plane on the 25th. I believe from that moment, and until July of this year, we have felt like we were living a dream. I don’t even have words to express it properly.

We watched God perform a miracle on July 3, 2014 as the US Embassy granted VISAs for John and Mariama’s adoptions on the first appointment, but at the same time, we were learning that Bo’s court hearing would not happen because the judges were scrambling to get out of the country because of Ebola. Bo’s adoption came to a complete standstill.

Chris and Brenna Stull quickly got tickets to come for John and Mariama. What a blessing to see them united after 18 months of aggressively pursuing the adoptions!

On July 25th, it was confirmed that Ebola had entered Freetown. Missionary friends were hastening to get tickets, and Tom and I were thinking through every option as to whether we would stay, or how on earth we would run ministry from stateside. We knew we had enough funds in Sierra Leone to keep people fed until January 10, 2015.

We watched numbers of Ebola cases climb daily as we prepared, with broken hearts, to board a plane ourselves on August 13th. We couldn’t afford to tell people when we were traveling because the last thing we needed was an eager reporter waiting at the airport in Dallas for a news scoop. We chose to seclude for 21 days, and we were so glad we did. It was clear that some people were uncomfortable to be around us even after the 3 weeks were over.  We understood.

We definitely had wonderful times with family and friends in Sept-Oct, but by November, as if our hearts were not already breaking, we lost our dear friend Donald Conteh to a freak accident in SL just days after Eddie of St George Refuge died of Malaria.

Our own kids were watching us hurt, and began to realize that as much as they would love for us to stay in the USA until Ebola was history, they determined that they would not stand in our way if we decided to come HOME! We met with our lead pastor, shared our hearts, and with his full blessing, we began to pray seriously for the opportunity to return.

Late November and December were a blur. We actually tried to move our tickets to mid-Dec, but not only were there no seats due to reduced flights, we were in jeopardy of losing the return dates we had if we did not confirm the tickets asap, so at the very time when new cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone were soaring at 80 – 100 per day, we locked in our flights for January 10, 2015.  Some were probably saying we were crazy, our kids never said a word, and we sensed a complete PEACE in our decision.

With the decision to return, we also talked through detailed boundaries to keep ourselves as safe as possible. We set up a bleach hand washing station at the gate, adopted the no-touching rule, confined ourselves to the compound with few exceptions, and hunkered down. Almost immediately after our arrival, there was an unexpected surge in new cases. It continued, and peaked in March. It was almost impossible to get into the city. There were check-points everywhere, sirens in all directions, and it was nothing to see dead bodies in body bags being loaded into burial trucks by men in protective gear. We finally began to experience a turning point in late March when the government declared a “stay-at-home-weekend” for 4 days with teams going door-to-door looking for people with visible symptoms.

For me personally, once my mother fell in late February, and went into significant decline, I was on the phone almost daily with my kids as they made decisions for her care and transition into the nursing home. Praise God for my kiddos! We decided that the most productive time for me to travel to TX would be mid-April when I could deal with mom’s house and belongings during the first 21 days as I semi-secluded, but that I needed to allow enough time to settle her affairs as best as possible rather than leave a mountain of responsibility on my kid’s shoulders. This meant decisions for Bo’s schooling since the government here forced the reopening amid much public opposition, but thankfully he was accepted at DELE, the best place academically and the safest school we know of. He was actually testing to be admitted as Abraham and Tom were driving me to the airport.  Tom gets an A+ for handling every detail to get him started, and for taking care of the administration and accounting of ministry with me talking him through it over the phone for 10 weeks.

From the time we returned in January, Tom’s desire was to keep his crew working. They had truly suffered while we were away with no work and no pay. At the same time, he knew he was not willing to send them out to Hosetta or Margaret’s knowing the risks of Ebola. Areas just across the road from Margaret were quarantined off and on as deaths occurred, and communities surrounding Hosetta were a hot bed of cases. Tom was able to have the guys work on some long-overdue projects inside our compound, and even when they started to prepare the roof structure for Margaret’s toilet in July, as much pre-assembly as possible was done inside our compound and then transported once they started to work onsite in August.  Basically, Tom and the crew lost ONE YEAR of work on the toilet system and Hosetta.

FACEBOOK can be very deceiving, not to mention the approach I so often take, “Give others the sunshine. Tell Jesus the rest!” I can imagine that from the time we returned to SL in January, we’ve given the appearance that there has been a flurry of activity here, and that we’ve been out and about in ministry. That’s simply not the case. I would say that we finally began to relax in August. This was not based on fear, we were just trying to be smart and safe.

The 3 West African countries have had combined totals of over 28,000 cases of Ebola with over 11,000 dead.  We already lose thousands each year to preventable diseases, and now the numbers are off the charts indefinitely as these countries struggle to get clinics up and running again. I remember in August when the news went out internationally that the first woman survivor of Ebola had given birth. I wonder how many people know that the baby died 2 weeks later of an unexplained high fever.  Survivors here are experiencing all sorts of complications: loss of vision, loss of hearing, aching in joints, searing headaches and there seems to be the possibility of the virus hiding in the body for up to 9 months. We may NEVER be completely free of Ebola, just as in The Congo and Uganda.

So many things come to mind about the USA’s response to Ebola. PANIC! Outrage! It was hard to watch it unfold while we were there. Sad really. We saw anger that Kent Brantly (our partners Gabe & Sada had served alongside him in medical missions) and others would be flown there for treatment and risk American lives. Of course, the 2 nurses in Dallas. But I wonder how many know that there have actually been NINE Americans to contract Ebola? All survived, thankfully. It was like once the big news died down, it was forgotten.  I actually spoke with victim #9 just a short time before he tested positive here.  He was looking forward to a break from work and we were planning to spend time with him since he is a friend-of-a-friend.  I can’t imagine what he went through! Weeks on a ventilator, a slow recovery, and still suffering from side effects. There’s so much I could say, but praise the Lord for people like him who were willing to come to these countries to serve.  Where might we be today if not for those willing to risk their own lives?

Well, I could keep typing forever, and certainly there are a million details that could be filled in above. 

I do trust that our friends and family have an idea of the scope of all that we have dealt with here in Sierra Leone, and that folks will continue to lift us up in prayer as we press forward! We are so ready for a new year and all that God has in store for 2016!

We love you all so much!

Thursday, November 5, 2015



It was on this date in 2010 that Tommy and I hopped a plane at DFW 
to head to our new HOME in Sweet Salone! 
During the short term trips in 2008-2010, 
our hearts were knit together with the people of this country as we experienced
 overwhelming poverty, hurt, injustice, sickness, 
helplessness and hopelessness.  
We have been blessed and forever changed through the work that God has called us to.  
Thank YOU for partnering with us as you have lifted us up in prayer 
and sacrificed your own resources to make this possible!  
We are eternally grateful! 
It's all for the Kingdom! 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

SARAH & PAIGE ... "The 25 Project" partners!

Some favorite pics of Sarah and Paige!  They never stopped even with sweltering heat!!! 
 Such an encouragement to Auntie Margaret's orphans, former street boys & 
the special needs students at Hosetta!  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Martin and his family have been such a blessing since his first trip to Sweet Salone in October 2013. A few months previously, he had been pondering mission trip opportunities at his church, but they simply were not going to fit into his schedule.  As he was driving in McKinney one day, the Lord impressed upon him to stop by our church just to see what might be available.  The next thing you know, he was preparing to come with one of our teams!  WE LOVE HOW THE LORD WORKS!  Martin is pictured here with one of the Waterloo boys, Mumunu, that his family sponsors.  

All of our team members fall in love with Little Lulu!  She is not one of the orphans at Auntie Margaret's, but her granny has been such a friend and helper to Margaret, 
and Lulu visits the home often, especially when we have TEAMS!   

Kandra made her first trip with her dad to SL in June 2014.  She has stolen everyone's hearts!  Pictured with Ibrahim from Auntie Margaret's and Lulu!

Lulu and some of her friends that live near Auntie Margaret's.

Kandra with Jabob and Peter ... from Auntie Margaret's.

Martin sure knows how to sling a hammer!
Tom has been so blessed to have him to work alongside! 

Monday, October 19, 2015


For the first time since Ebola entered Freetown in July 2014, 
we were able to host a team!  
So thankful for
Sarah & Paige representing 25project, McKinney, TX
... and ... 
Martin & his daughter Kandra from FBC Melissa, TX

There was eager anticipation on every side leading up to the team's arrival!!  
These guys are former street boys who are now in caretaker homes and schools!  
This would not be possible without the sponsorship program administered by 25project, 
as well as other families who give toward special needs.

Updated pictures and video will soon be on the way  
to all sponsors of the street guys and Auntie Margaret's orphans! 

We were able to visit FOURTEEN schools spread over a 
wide area in the Waterloo community to see boys and meet their teachers!  
So encouraging! 

Auntie Margaret's kiddos came in groups to our compound 
for some TLC and gifts from their sponsors!  
Cynthia was especially excited! 

Martin was with Tom on the Hosetta School Construction Project!  
He is a ROCK STAR among the staff, kids & Tom's crew! 

Paige spent a morning reviewing Sign Language with the very special kiddos at Hosetta! 

This gave Sarah and Kandra time to assist the guys by hauling cement!  

More updates are on the way!  It sounds like the team took a combined total of 
over 4000 photos!  Looking forward to posting "a few."  

Our gratitude to all who made this possible!!!  

Saturday, July 18, 2015

One month home!

I (Becky) have been home just over a month!
 I've told some that it seems like my time in Texas assisting 
my mom was only a dream! 
It's great to be back with Tom, Bo and all those we
work alongside and serve! 

Auntie Margaret's kiddos are doing well.  Schools have been going on for all the kids
until yesterday. The government must have decided that the wise thing to do 
during the heaviest of the rains was to break for
six weeks. They'll get going again on August 31st to continue the 
modified academic year that will end in December.
This pictures was taken yesterday as Yeama was assisting with food preparations. 
Others were helping with the meal, some doing
laundry. Our 4 seniors were involved in English tutoring with 
our friend Emmanuel.
So thankful for their example of a FAMILY
working together!!!  

I was at the Drop-In Center in Waterloo
this morning as former street boys, 
along with their caretakers, 
came for the monthly rice distribution.
This afternoon they are having English tutoring, and at other times/days 
they have math tutoring, counseling and Bible Studies! 

The temporary relief effort (food parcels) continues for a few more months
to help folks get back on their feet from the side effects of Ebola! 

Tom and his guys have been at the HOPE CENTER the last
3 days assembling a swing set for the Ebola Orphans
who are in the transitional program.

These are some of the boys living at HOPE. I think they have 
decided to stay there forever!!!  Currently there are 30 children ranging
in age from 5 to 15. The staff are doing a wonderful job!

Early next week I will visit Hosetta School to check in and deliver parcels.
It's always good to see Susan, Edna and the staff.

This is just a tiny peek into what's up with us!
Thank you so much for your prayers
and encouragement!  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Heading Home!!!

Time does fly!
Tomorrow I will head home to Sierra Leone!
I am thankful that mom has regained strength, 
and is adjusting so well to her new environment. 
She was one sick chick in Feb-Mar, 
and we had no idea what the future held for her. 
It has been neat to watch her get her "spunk" back! 
The picture below is my favorite from the last few weeks. 
She was acting quite feisty, and I told her if she wasn't careful,
 the home was gonna kick her out!! 
We had a good laugh!  

My gratitude to all who have prayed for our family!
Your love and concern have meant the world!

I can't wait to be posting updates from the other side of the ocean! 
Oh how I have missed Tommy, Bo and all those we serve!! 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

... from both sides of the world!

Greetings everyone!

Tom and Bo send you a hearty, "Ku-shay," (Krio for "hello") from Sierra Leone, and I greet you with, "howdy," as I am in Texas assisting my mother with her transition into a nursing home. Our thanks to all who have prayed for us during this unexpected event! Mom is regaining strength and settling into this new season in her life!

Good news for Sweet Salone!! We are rejoicing as we've seen Ebola numbers decline over the last few months! Most days there are ZERO new cases, and at times one or two, but overall, we believe that West Africa has this deadly virus close to being contained!

Schools in Sierra Leone reopened this month, and we have 70+ kiddos, some orphans and others are former street boys, back in the classroom. Tom has done an amazing job filling in for me administratively and with the accounting for this area of ministry!

Our temporary relief effort for 19 families will continue through at least October. Those receiving food parcels each month have such appreciation for you who are making this possible!

Tom is working on the final stage of construction for the toilet system for Margaret's orphans. He will soon restart the work on Hosetta School's dormitory and dining hall for our special needs children.

Bo loves his new school!! We are so excited that he was accepted to DELE Preparatory Academy. He is up by 5am and is walking down the mountain by 6:30 to a bus pick-up. He has studies from 8am to 4pm and then makes his way back home. Tom says he is "dog tired" by evening!

God is so good to us, and YOU are such a blessing through your prayers and support! Please accept our deepest gratitude!

We love you dearly!

Becky ... and Tom & Bo

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Relief Effort!

"Relief" has never been a word that we like all that much because it very seldom has a view to long-term sustainability, but we knew coming back in January that we felt compelled to assist numerous families through the rough time they've had as Ebola has not only claimed lives and caused a whole new set of orphans, but every man, woman and child has suffered the side effects of rising food prices, inconsistent work or pay and a lack of basic medical care.  We are thankful to folks in the USA for supporting this area of ministry which will run for 6 to 12 months depending on the need.  In January and February, 18 family units received parcels, and this week God impressed upon us that we must add an additional family.  The people here are so grateful! And we so appreciate Abraham for making this happen for us logistically! We could not do it without him!!!  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

In Good Hands!

Seven days a week, we have a number of men in our compound. Some are security guards, and some assist with construction or routine work.  We simply could not be here and do what God has called us to do without these guys!  Even while we were in the USA recently, this place was locked down tight as the men were risking their own lives to transport to work each day through areas of the peninsula where Ebola was running rampant!  We love these folks!

Carew, Sulaiman & Abraham

We have a bleach hand washing station just inside the gate, 
and temperatures are checked before the guys begin work.

Sankoh & Carew



The guys always talk about how in this country the "BOSS MAN" is thought to be very strict, and he doesn't actually do the work. He orders everyone around, and would never joke or have a good time. Well, Tom is relentless at playing jokes on the men as they work side by side together! They have great respect for his work ethic, and enjoy his humor!

Other security who work weekends or nights: Desmond, Alfred, Joseph K, Joseph S, Mark, and Sullay!  So blessed by all these wonderful men!  

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

8 weeks HOME!!!

On Sunday, we will celebrate 8 weeks since we arrived home!!!  
We wish we could say that Ebola is history, but sadly, 
Sierra Leone is still experiencing new cases daily.  
Thankfully, travel restrictions are back in place as of last week since 
the numbers of cases rose in February due to 
people moving more freely. 
We pray daily for this country, and those we love so dearly here,
 that God will protect and bring this horrible virus to a complete end.

Those that we serve alongside have been especially 
grateful for our return. 
They say they have found a renewed courage to
 press forward by having us back with them.  
We are the ones who are blessed by them as 
we know the struggles they experienced in our absence. 

Here are just a few of our folks that so faithfully lead some of our areas of ministry! 

Auntie Edna & Headmistress Susan of Hosetta School for Special Needs Kiddos

Director Charles with associates Daniel and Patrick of the Waterloo Street Boy Ministry

Assistant Isatu with Auntie Margaret, the director of God's Will Children's Home for Orphans

Interim Director Bobson Allie (left) with the HOPE CENTRE staff, Jui