The boys wanted Jireh to have a stick for the picture as well, but this twig was all they could find in the moment. He thought he was just like them with his “walking stick”. They are standing in the Olympic swimming pool.
After months of packing, followed by weeks of traveling and living out of a suitcase, this week we started school again! It was a long enough break that my kids were actually asking to do math! It has been an incredibly easy transition back into school, and although we are short on books and art supplies while we wait for our ship to come in, we are still enjoying reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic. I am already seeing big improvements in areas where some kids were stuck, and I know that the consistency we will be able to have here will be a blessing in so many ways.
One of my favorite things about our schedule here is Kenneth’s flexibility! Despite the fact that he’s teaching two classes and coaching soccer and basketball, he still has several full days “off” (other than his doctoral work and prepping for classes!) that allow us to do some things together as a family. Today we went on a stroll down memory lane with him as we hiked toward the Guinea border and saw the ruins of old Yekepa. It was interesting and sad to hear about the way the town used to look and see the ruins of tennis courts, golf courses and an Olympic swimming pool. Seeing the country now, it’s hard to believe those things even existed prior to the war. What an incredibly resilient people Liberians are! We are blessed to hear their stories and to be a small part of God’s work in their lives.
You can see the abandoned road, buildings, silo and tennis courts in these pictures. Someone did a good job building those courts! They have held up incredibly well.
Kenneth started teaching this week, and of course, loves it (no surprise there!)! He tells me stories daily of his students’ hearts for the Lord, and their testimonies are pretty phenomenal. I hope to be able to share some of those soon. Right now he has one of his classes memorizing the Sermon on the Mount, ninety-eight verses in one hundred days! It’s truly our blessing to be around these students and to be able to pour into them and send them out.
Soccer practices have been more of a challenge as he attempts to bring order to a team that has never been coached. It’s a work in progress as he tries to instill discipline and a positive team culture into a group of really talented players. They have two games this week with Zion starting at right back and Izzy at goalie! Good luck to the ABC Lions!
Kenneth and the older boys were able to take a trip to Monrovia this weekend to grab some things for our house that are not available here such as shower curtains, bath mats and honey, among other things. I had a cold over the weekend so the rest of the kids and I spent a lot of time lying around and watching movies, something I love to do, cold or not! After breakfast on Sunday I went to do the dishes and immediately started to feel sick. Dishes can make anyone feel sick, so I tried to keep washing, but I just kept feeling worse and worse. My head was pounding, and my face felt like I had a terrible sunburn, not only hot, but burning! I went to the bathroom and put some cool water on my face, but my breathing kept speeding up, and I began to feel disoriented and confused. I grabbed my inhaler and took a few puffs, thinking it might help whatever breathing problem I was having, but by this time my arms and chest were bright red as well, and my hands and feet began to turn red and itch. This was followed by tingling in my hands and arms, and I felt like I might pass out, so I went to lay down on the couch while Acuka went to get a neighbor to help me. Thankfully she was quick! We realized right away that I was having some sort of allergic reaction, and she ran home to grab some Benadryl for me, followed by instructions to the kids on how to take care of me and behave! Ha! What a blessing she had something that worked! I felt better within the hour and spent several more just sleeping and recovering. What a crazy day! I am so grateful for all of your prayers. Even when you don’t always know what is needed, God does! I am fully recovered and avoiding avocados for a while since they are the possible culprit.
Our brand new oven! What a blessing!
In other news, we received a new oven this week and are enjoying all sorts of goodies! Yesterday I made peanut butter cookies to share with friends (sorry, too busy baking for a picture), and today we had fresh rolls. It’s such a blessing to be able to make things in an oven! Now we just need to buy some pans for it!
To finish up, our kids have begun swimming in the river here on campus and are loving it. They also continue to play football and volleyball every day with neighborhood kids and take turns riding each other on the bike that a kid brought to share with them. One of these neighborhood kids stole Jireh’s backpack off our back porch earlier this week along with all of the toys he brought with him. I told my kids to start asking around and assured them it would turn up, and sure enough, within the morning a few toys were spotted. I sent a message to the boy that we would be coming the next day to talk to his parents, and Lo and behold! The backpack showed back up! Community living at its finest. There are no secrets! All in all, they are enjoying it here and making friends. The culture can overwhelm them at times, but I encourage them to take breaks and spend time with their siblings instead, and they always head back out, refreshed and ready to play.
Praises this week:
We love you all dearly and thank you for being here with us in spirit. We feel your prayers daily. Please reach out when you have time, and be sure to let us know if there’s any way we can pray for you! Much love and many blessings!
Our house. Looking forward to planting some beautiful flowers around the outside during rainy season!
Welcome to our new house! Here are a few pictures so you can see how we're living. We are so grateful to have a house that fits our family easily with room to host visitors as well. This campus was started by American missionaries, so the houses and buildings are very similar to something you might find in the US minus a few of the comforts. Our house is still a bit empty since it's hard to find furniture here in Yekepa. Soon we plan to take a trip to Monrovia (five hours away) and hire a truck to bring things back for us!
Our dining room/school room, soon to be outfitted with bookshelves!
Other than a few things, my life in Liberia is not all that different from my life in the States. I still spend the majority of my days homeschooling my kids and cooking. This is often punctuated by visitors right now as staff and students stop by to greet us. We currently only have two stove top burners to cook with, but we are hoping the school will provide a new oven soon. Luckily I have some experience cooking bread on a burner thanks to our time in Uganda! Our house has two bathrooms with running water, and the electricity is on from 6am-2pm and 6-10pm. This is usually enough to keep our little fridge/freezer cold and charge our phones/computers. We have a router that we use for wifi, and we pay by the GB. Our internet here is a lot better than anything we had in Silt, so if you ever want to FaceTime, it's perfectly clear!
Back porch where kids play, and clothes are washed. The current soccer field is just beyond the clothesline.
One difference here is how we do laundry. We don't have a washing machine or dryer, so all of our clothes have to be hand washed and hung outside to dry. Although I've done this before for short times, I'm really bad at it! Thankfully I have been able to hire a lady to help me with this. It just takes too much time to wash clothes for nine people if you want to get anything else done in a day!
The hallway that leads to three of our bedrooms.
Another difference is that our house doesn't have air conditioning or heat (not that you need heat!). Right now it's dry season in Liberia which should last until April or May. During dry season the temperature stays between 92-96 degrees but drops quite a bit at night to the high 60's. The heat was really hard to adjust to at first, but the kids are already getting cold at night now, and I am taking fewer and fewer cold showers before bed. Progress! I'm very thankful for the cool tile throughout our new house which really helps to keep the temperature bearable inside.
Our bathroom. We will get a shower curtain and rug from Monrovia when we go.
Overall we are incredibly grateful for this place and these people! I am finding Liberians to be a boisterous and hilarious group. I am picking up more and more words as the days go by, but I'm still struggling to understand enough to do basic things by myself such as buying vegetables. What a gift that Kenneth understands and can “translate” for me! We have had some fun times shopping in the market together and laughing over my poor Liberian English attempts. Eventually I hope to be able to do the shopping by myself or with a few of the college students who have volunteered to come along and help.
Our kitchen with our little stove and refrigerator.
We so appreciate the prayers you have been lifting on our account. Our first day at our new house was a rough one! Despite several conversations and what felt like ample planning time, we showed up to a house with nothing but beds. We spent the afternoon/evening borrowing things from other teachers on campus and were able to come out with enough bedding for our family, a few dishes, some silverware, and a mop and broom. Thankfully I had bought two skillets in Monrovia that served as all of our cookware for a day or so! We have been to the market several times since and are now fully functional (although in a limited capacity until we can go to Monrovia and our shipment comes in!) and have even had company for dinner. I'm so thankful that the Lord provides what we need and especially gives us the perseverance when we just want to quit.
Our bedroom. We are the only ones with a dresser, so rooms are a bit of a mess right now.
We also appreciate those of you who have been financially supporting us or just started financially supporting us! We were completely shocked at our most recent giving report and just want to say again how grateful we are for your support! This week some of that support has gone to buy us a whole slew of kitchen/household items that we never planned to purchase. What a blessing that God knows our needs before we do and provides in advance!
Jireh with his friends, twins Daniel and Nataniel (2 yrs) and Prayer (4 yrs)
Well, I've been trying to get on my blog for a day or so now. Nothing comes easily when internet is in and out, so bear with me. In my last blog post I had asked for prayer specifically for a vehicle. This might seem like a simple thing to find, but life looks a bit different here. Car shopping in the States looks like used car lots, newspaper ads or even asking around for something reliable. It's a whole other thing when those car lots and newspapers don't exist, and you don't have enough contacts to even begin looking. When that is the case for every single item we need life can feel a bit overwhelming. We, as Americans, don't realize how much we depend on our relationships or even google to find the things we need, and when we don't have that we are left wholly dependent on God's mercy.
This place of dependence is a good place to be, but it definitely feels like a vulnerable one. And so we reached out to our community and asked for you to lift us up. I know you have been because this answer came quickly!
Coming into Monrovia the first day we knew we needed some help, and so we again began to pray. Not just for a vehicle, but for someone who would be a person of peace for us in the car world. This “person of peace” is from the story in Luke 10 where Jesus sends out the 70, two by two, into the towns ahead of him. He tells them to take nothing with them but to look for a house where a son of peace lives and to remain there with him. Praying for a person of peace has always been our way of starting out in a new community, and it has proven to be an effective one! God has brought these helpers into our lives in every place we've lived, and although not always believers, they have been the ones to introduce us to life in new places, often inviting us into their homes and families.
Monday, after shopping for groceries, we left the store to find a land cruiser parked right beside us with a FOR SALE sign in the window. It was the exact car we'd been looking for, and so Kenneth went back inside to find the owner. After walking the aisles asking everyone if they owned a white land cruiser, he finally found him. He was as surprised as we were to find someone interested in his car since he had just decided that morning to sell it. It was definitely not a chance meeting, and as Kenneth continued to talk to him he discovered that he also owns a 4x4 mechanic shop! When you live in a country that is hard on cars, this is the equivalent of discovering gold! Not only was he selling the car we were looking for at a good price, he offered a guarantee to fix the car if any problems should come up. Kenneth took his number, and we left, thanking God for his provision.
Everything has gone smoothly with the purchase ( thank you to everyone who gave towards this need! We have been given just enough money!!), and we pick up our new-to-us 2013 land cruiser in the morning. We couldn't be more excited to have a vehicle AND to soon be heading to our new home! God is so good to us! We continue to be amazed by the prayers that are answered when we not only take the time to ask but invite our community to join us in praying. It's a powerful thing to come to the Lord together in prayer.
In other news, we have had an incredible trip so far! We had great flights to Morocco and spent four full days touring and getting lost in the markets of Casablanca. We sampled street food, listened to the calls to prayer multiple times a day, walked the winding alleyways while shopping for fresh croissants and dates, and bought pairs of knock-off dunks from street stalls full of shoes. Our kids practiced their bartering skills and often disappeared for stretches of time while they haggled with shopkeepers over a few dollars. Moroccan tea has now become a family favorite, and one pot is often not enough with Jireh asking for seconds and thirds. Morocco was a great introduction to Africa for the kids who haven't experienced it, and we all want to return someday.
Our time in Liberia has been productive and restful so far other than a few lost suitcases. The guesthouse we are staying at (run by African Bible Colleges) is right on the beach, and I'm writing this on the front porch while listening to the sound of waves in the distance. It's the most beautiful view I could ask for, even if the temperature is 90 with 100% humidity! The kids are swimming like fish after days in the water, and they routinely spend hours figuring out how to knock coconuts out of trees and open them. They have begun joining the little school on our compound for pick-up soccer during their lunch break and already know several kids here by name. Although we are enjoying our time here, we are looking forward to getting settled in our new home in Yekepa as soon as it is ready, hopefully by the end of this week.
-We found a vehicle that is everything we needed and asked for!
-Kids are adjusting well other than a few sad moments now and then
-Rikot landed safely in Uganda today!!
-Our lost luggage was recovered today minus the few items that were stolen. Sorry, Izzy :(
-Kenneth starts teaching two classes Monday.
-Our house is not quite ready, but WE are ready to get there and get settled!
-Kenneth's back is still bothering him off and on. Pray that it heals completely!
We love you all and are so thankful to have you following our journey. If you'd like to see more of our day to day life follow us on Instagram or Facebook. Thank you for praying and supporting us!
Kristi IG: @karamojagirl
Kenneth IG: @kennethlovescoffee
"I can't believe we are leaving in two days!" Jubal told us yesterday.
"I'm excited, but I'm also a little bit freaked out," he told us seriously, and we all laughed at his apt description of all of our feelings.
It's funny how kids can hit the nail on the head without realizing it. It's coming down to the wire, the point where I can no longer sleep in the mornings. I wake up at night with things running through my head that I forgot to buy or pack. Everything is mostly done, I think, but as I look around my house, I can still make lists of the unfinished items. At least the list is shorter than a page now. Progress.
Vaeh left for school on Friday, and the house feels emptier without her. She sent me a picture of her dorm room, cozy with strings of lights and Bob Marley playing in the background. She's doing a good job making a home away from us, much cleaner than she keeps her room here (ahem), and although I don't know how I'll make it without seeing her every few months, it's not because she needs me there, but simply because our family feels incomplete without her with us. Ezra and Rikot both leave after we fly out, and somehow that makes me feel like we are the ones leaving them, even though Ezra goes back to a school and soccer team and new roommate this semester, and Rikot goes back, truly back, to her first home and family. They all have beautiful, exciting things ahead of them that we aren't a part of going forward. Our family, as we've known it, might never be here again, in this space, together. And that makes me feel a little freaked out.
Kenneth and I have reflected out loud about the year, and honestly, it’s been a crazy one. I know that God has called us to Liberia, my head knows it, but the reflecting has really helped my heart. I’m starting to see how his plan has been unfolding throughout these past two years, and it's like watching The Sixth Sense while knowing the ending. It all falls into place. Sometimes I forget that He orchestrates everything, every little or big thing, whether we understand it or even notice it. It’s part of His plan. And He really is a master storyteller.
All this to say, we may be a little freaked out, and we may be struggling through the changes, but God has us in his hands. He has definitely shown us that in big ways, and I know he will continue to do that for us as we start this new phase of our lives.
A BIG way He has shown up is in our finances! We are at about 70% of our monthly support, which in my mind is practically 100%. He has always cared for us abundantly, over and above all we need, especially when we are overseas! One of the things our monthly support goes to is saving for trips back to visit our older kids. I couldn't imagine moving away from them without the ability to go back if they need us, and so, we built it into our budget.
Our startup fund is growing as well. I don't think we are all the way funded, but close! We are hopeful that we will be able to buy a vehicle that will fit our whole family (our biggest and most expensive need) when we get there.
A few praises to share:
A few prayer needs for the week as we head out:
We will update from Morocco! Thank you all for praying and for being such an amazing community to us. We are incredibly blessed to have you in our lives!
"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21
Would you consider partnering with us financially to serve Liberia?
Kenneth and Kristi Williams
The Williams Family
Kenneth and Kristi
Nevaeh, 20 years old
Rikot, 19 years old
Ezra, 19 years old
Zion, 17 years old
Izzy, 16 years old
Selah, 13 years
Acuka, 12 years
Benaiah, 9 years
Jubal, 6 years
Jireh, 2 years