Day 11- Leaving Liberia

O'rehta, Macey, Vanessa- the final day!

Jacob, Greg and a really adorable Liberian baby!

Today was a sad day and a happy day. We were so sad to leave our wonderful friends in Liberia. We are so happy to be returning to our wonderful family! We had the pleasure of having our final meal in Liberia with a group wonderful people from the churches. It was a wonderful time.

At the airport we are pretty sure we witnessed a child being stolen from the country. This was so disturbing. We are truely heartbroken over it. We noticed a man going through immigration with a young boy, about 8 or 9 years old. It was clear as they questioned him that this boy was not his son, although he was trying to convince them that he was (they did not have the same last name either!). The boy did not even know this man's name. By the time we were forced to go through another area for security the boy was crying. The man was from Nigeria, and the boy was Liberian. After we went to the next area we were watching and praying that they would not let the boy travel with that man. The man came through alone and we thought all was well. All was not well. We assume that he bribed the officers, this is common practice in Liberia. The boy came through and joined the man about 10 minutes later. The man had a smug smirk on his face and we were appalled! So, Greg sought out every airport official he could locate, and told them we wanted an answer for why they let this boy get through. They all promised they would bring someone of higher authority over, and after repeated attempts and Greg being threatened by the guards, the boy and the man boarded a plane that was leaving prior to ours. Please pray for this boy, and for other children like him who are sold into other countries daily. This was such a hard thing for us and our kids to witness. It will be with us forever.

Day 10- Last Church Visit

Jacobstown Church Structure

Pastor Hector Baines

Today we had the pleasure of visiting the Jacobstown church. It was great. Shad and Pastor Vessely drove us over to this church which is in an area of Liberia referred to as "red light". They call it red light because at one time there was a light there. This congregation is in the process of building a temporary structure out of sticks. They are building this on some property owned by one of the congregants. They are hoping to purchase a lot of land for their building shortly, and after this happens we will begin raising funds for their well. Once their new structure is built on their land, they will use the older one for additional classes, sunday school etc. We met with Pastor Hector Baines, who rode up on the back of a motorbike. He was so happy about what God is doing in their community. We had a great time talking with him and getting some pictures of him, and their building. They have bible study on Tuesday nights, and we later were told that they had an exceptionally large turn-out this night. They said that people had seen/heard that we had visited and were being very encouraged by the short time we had there. God is amazing. He is proving he is able to use a broken, empty vessel and provide hope and revival to His people. We have been hearing of revival happening in the bush since our visit as well. I guess it was simply our presence that has encouraged these people that God has not forgotten them. He is leading, we are following, and we have no idea where the destination will be! How exciting!


Day Nine - Rest and Reflection

Shadrach and our car!

In this picture you can see where Shad's head cracked the windshield
during the accident in the bush!

Well, today was different than all of the others days we have been in Liberia. We have run from one thing to the next never stopping but to get a few hours of interrupted sleep a night. But today, WE RESTED - RELAXED - and REFLECTED!!!

What a wonderful feeling. Vanessa and Macey spent some time with Pastor Charles' wife O'rita shopping for dresses and going to get some custom tailored clothing. Can you believe that they were able to pick out fabric at a store, take it to a tailor, get fitted, and have the dresses ready within about 24 hours? I just think that is crazy. The neatest part is that the tailor will make the entire dress for only $11!

We have had a driver for the entire trip. His name is Shadrach (everybody calls him Shad). He is 29 years old. He goes to Pastor Charles church and is one of the sweetest men I have ever spent time with. I told him today that I am really going to miss spending time with him and that he should consider himself part of our family. He has literally dropped everything to care for us with whatever we ask since we have been here. When Pastor Charles introduced us, he said that Shad was a "submissive" man and would do anything we asked. I had no idea how true this is.

Shad is going to college majoring in Accounting. He manages the finances for the church and has done an absolutely superb job of keeping checks and balances in place - keeping the money in the hands of people who do not make the decisions, and keeping the decision makers in check by having to request money from the money handlers. What a wonderful thing to know that people like this really do exist!

So we took Shad, Pastor Charles, and Orita to lunch today at Golden Beach. Any of you who have adopted through the same agency we did have probably been there. But Shad has not. Shad was telling us that in order to go to college he would wake up at 4:00AM and go take a wheelbarrow over to a bakery. He would buy as much bread as he had money for, load it in the wheelbarrow and go up and down the streets selling the bread. He would sell what he had and then head to school. After school, he would refill and continue selling until all of his bread was gone, sometimes after 12AM in the morning. If he had $10.00, he could make $2.50 profit for the day - but only if he sold all of his bread. If he had some left over, he could even have lost money for the day.

School is not cheap for the people here. Shad's family had to move from Lofa County to Monrovia during the war. His family owned over 250 acres deep in the bush but have not been able to make enough money to ever return. He dreams one day of returning and trying to begin farming again. Hopefully Spirit Liberia may make this dream a reality some day.

People like Shad are all over Liberia. People with dreams, ambitions, and hope. But these people have no one to turn to. Shad is a strong, very strong Christian man. I believe with my whole heart that he is the prime example of why Spirit Liberia is here. We are here to help the Christians realize that their prayers, hopes, and dreams have not been unheard. God is bringing up a generation of people who desire to see these people get back up on their feet and realize that God's timing has had a purpose.

I was asked to give some closing statements to the people at the crusade on Saturday night. It was off-the-cuff, but I spoke to them about how Jesus did not come to earth and spend time with the pharasees and the rich. He came and sat with the sinners, dined with the tax collectors, and ministered to prostitutes. He is looking for people that realize they are weak, wounded, and weary. He is looking for the physically and spiritually needy. No one is too low for God. No one has sinned beyond what Christ's blood can purify.

And when I finished talking, I realized why God has opened my eyes to the need of these people - because he loves them dearly!

We will be adding many pictures when we return, we have not been able to upload them from Liberia!

In Christ,


Day Eight - Easter Sunday

This morning as we waited for our driver to get to the hotel we became very discouraged. He was almost an hour late and we thought for sure we were going to miss the church service at GSA Road. But thankfully everything worked out.

When our driver went to get us this morning, he realized someone stole his battery out of his car (as they would say in Liberia - a criminal of course). So he had to run around and try and borrow a battery from someone. He could not go to a store because everything closes in Liberia on Sunday. So he found a friend that gave him his battery to his car for the day.

When he finally got to us, we hurried to the church and made it just in time for service (I think they were intentionally extending the bible study time waiting for us). When we walked into the broken down bamboo hut, they ushered us straight to the front area where they had seats for us.
The service started and it was a wonderful time of worship - just like the crusade. Lots of dancing, lots of singing, clapping of hands, and praising the Lord. They really get a workout praising the Lord - you have to love just watching them (we are not much of the dancing type - who knows, maybe they will change us though).

Before Pastor Richard came forward with the message, Pastor Charles stopped the service and asked Vanessa, the kids and I to stand. They moved our chairs to "center stage" right in front of everyone and had us sit back down. Then Pastor Charles, as only he could do, gave a long speech about how thankful they were for our help. He talked about the help with their churches and others and went on way too long...

Then he pulled out a certificate and gave it to us to thank us for our help. It was so sweet. But it did not end there. Then we had a "robing" service. If you don't know what this is, it is one of the highest honors that a Liberian can give someone. They had, as a church, gone out and purchased native garments, for Vanessa and I in the country fabric. It is very expensive - probably about $50 per gown. And they had this huge procession and clapping and drumming and dancing - you get the point - and we were robed. The women of the church also got Vanessa another dress and flowers and asked her to be a part of the womens ministry of the church - what a huge honor they gave us. This was an incredibly humbling experience.

We thought that after returning from the bush that the honoring ceramonies were over. But the New Assembly - GSA Road branch church really did an amazing job. We do not deserve even a second of their time. We don't deserve to be honored in such a way. We pass these honors on to you and want to let you know that each of you who are helping Spirit Liberia deserves a piece of the honor they gave to us. We are just the vehicle God is using to do His work. Your help, your prayers, your time - that is what deserves the honor! Due to your faithful support, we were able to announce that we will be able to put in a fresh water hand-pump well in the Rock Hill community! This community, where the GSA road church is located, has no fresh water. They have to send their kids or walk themselves about 30 minutes each way to carry their water for the day. This will be the first fresh water well that has been in this community since the war, or ever! Pastor Charles says this will be historic for the people here. Pastor Charles lives in this community, so this well will be a huge blessing for his family as well. They have a 13 year old son who is special needs, and he helps carry the water for the family, but soon his trips will be shortened! The pump should be installed in the next month (as soon as the driller can fit us in). We want to say a special thank-you to Brandi McElheny for all of your work in raising the money for this and other wells. You have been amazing. This was the last Sunday in the old church made of bamboo. The new Church should have the roof finished by this next Sunday and they will be able to worship there before the rainy season! We still need to raise money for the walls/flooring, but we are getting closer! Please keep this need in your prayers.

After the service we visited with an American family who came to Liberia with support from their church. They don't know anyone here. The felt the Lord calling them to come minister to the people of Liberia, so they came. They came with their 10 children. They are living among the people and asking God to open the doors where He will. They do a lot of street evangelism and it has been very successful. Please keep them in your prayers. Their names are Dan and Stacy Gjerstadt. They are beautiful people who are fully depending on God. Meeting with them was a blessing. They have a family blog, http://loveforliberia.blogspot.com/ . This gives you a great window into their lives here in Liberia.

That's it for today. Thank you all for your prayers and support! We love you all.

Day Seven - The Final Night

The crusade ended tonight. It has been such a blessing to be a part of this evangelistic crusade. How incredible to see lives changed right before your eyes. I cannot tell you how different it is spreading the gospel in a country like Liberia. People are desperate to find hope, help, and salvation through the cross. It is nothing like evangelizing in America where most people are very closed down to Christianity.

We had a wonderful time tonight listening to the preaching. Pastor Vassellee did an excellent job and really spoke to my heart. After the preaching they did an alter call and unfortunately no one came forward tonight, but then they moved into a time of prayer and worship which was very sobering. They called Vanessa and I forward and prayed over us, Spirit Liberia, and our children. They asked that God would continue his hand of blessing on us and that we would be someday preaching to thousands of people in Liberia - AMEN! Let's hope this is true.

Tomorrow is Easter and we have to say that we are wishing so much to be home with the rest of our family. Jaden, one of our middle boys, has been so upset that we are not going to be home. He cried about it several times before we left.

The first night in Liberia we had a hard time getting the kids on the phone. When we finally talked with them we had actually fallen asleep but they got through to us and we talked for a while. When I talked with my daughter Kylee something really choked me up and I cried like a baby for some time (yes, this is Greg talking not Vanessa!). I did not realize how attached I have become to my children. I believe God has such a wonderful purpose for all of them and we have such a huge job ahead of us. Each one of our children deserve better than we can give them. They are all so precious - all nine of them!

For those of you who have children, I pray that God will bless your relationships and really turn your hearts to your kids. And as it says in the scriptures, turn your childrens hearts back to you. There is nothing more special than to have a true heart-to-heart relationship with your children. God can change our world through the next generations if we only will surrender to Him and train our children to follow Him completely surrendered!

God can change us...He can mold us...He is able...and he is willing. He is holding out His hand for us to grab onto and have the ride of our lives. Will we take the challenge...


Day Six - Initiation into Liberian Preaching

This morning we forgot it was Good Friday! We have been traveling and working so hard we forgot what day it was. So we went over to Eden Waters to talk about digging/drilling wells for us. Thankfully Gavin, the General Manager, was in the office and excited to see us.

I had spoken with Gavin before we came to Liberia. We had talked about the vision of Spirit Liberia and the desire we have to put a fresh water well at each of the church locations. He had expressed to me that he was a Christian as well and will be very willing to help us as much as he can.

Eden Waters is considered one of the premier well drilling companies in Liberia. Gavin and his family have been missionaries in Africa for many years. They build "prayer houses" all over Africa. These prayer houses are used for anyone to just come and pray before the Lord. It is a really neat project and it was very clear to see that he and his family are dynamic Christians and we are so excited to be working with them.

We discussed the need for some of the wells deep in the bush and he is going to be getting back to us on prices and possibilities as soon as he can.

We met up with Julie Redman and Dale Basten today to show them around Rock Hill. We had a wonderful time being able to see them (and talk "AMERICAN" english with someone after about a week of being here) and show them how devastated this Rock Hill area is. While we were walking, we came up on a huge pit in the ground with black smoke rising and filling the entire area. Pastor Charles told us that burning old tires on the rock helps "soften" the rock so they can crack it. I don't know whether it really "softens" it or not, but I know that they are breathing in some serious toxic fumes. It is really scarry to see things like this. They had probably about 10 tires in this one hole and it smelled absolutely terrible. As you look around, you can see them burning tires all around. It happens all the time and is really sad. Not only is the work hard, they are killing themselves in the process!

Tonight was one of the scariest and coolest nights I have ever had. Last night as I said, Pastor Charles told everyone that I would be preaching tonight. I stayed up last night and prayed and worked out my sermon but I was so nervous to preach in Liberia for the first time. For those of you who have not experienced Liberian style preaching, I urge you to find a way to. It is very pentecostal, but also it is (as Americans) sometimes even hard to understand because they talk so quickly and really get excited.

But I believed that if God was putting me in this place, he must have had a reason for it. So as the service started I had calmed myself down and was fairly ready to go. But then as they started singing and praising the Lord, the devil really began messing with my head and I got so nervous I almost wanted to run away and hide. I felt like I was going to completely ruin the spirit that was in the place.

But God was graceous. I did my preaching and it actually went over very well. I unfortunately went all little shorter than they were hoping but I had told Pastor Charles that I wanted him to finish the service with the alter call (that was out of my "expertise"). So he came up and did an alter call and we had three more people come to the saving knowledge of Christ!!! It was incredible.

Tomorrow night Pastor Vassellee will be doing the preaching. Last time I was here I was able to see him lead a devotional and he did excellent. I cannot wait to see him preach tomorrow night.

God is on the move in Liberia. People are so open to the calling. We all need to continue to pray that God will soften these beautiful peoples hearts and see their lives changed.

I am having some real problems getting pictures on this so I will update when we get back to the states. Sorry about that.



Day Five - The Crusade

This morning we all slept in for the first time on the trip. It was such a hard trip out to the bush. But we are revived now and ready to go again.

We started the day by going to pick up my clothes! Oh, what a relief. I have been wearing clothes that were uncomfortable and frankly not very "stylish" for me at least. I am so thankful to have my clothes so I can be comfortable now (besides the intense sweating I will continue to do regardless).

So we got the clothes and ate some lunch and then headed off to get things ready for the crusade. Vanessa and Macey stayed back at the hotel for the night because the past few days have been very hard on Vanessa and she felt she really could use the rest.

We rented an outdoor area for the crusade with a large speaker system and hung some lights. We also picked up a few generators to run everything off of. It really sounded good.

There were quite a few people there and everyone did such an excellent job. Pastor Charles preached and we had 18 people come forward to pray for salvation. How Great Is Our God! What a huge response.

There was also great response from the community where we held the crusade which was right in Rock Hill. In fact, you can see the "hole" right from the location we held the crusade. The people in this community are very friendly.

Pastor Charles informed me right before the crusade started that tomorrow he would like me to preach the crusade. Of course my chin dropped to the floor. We started to talk about it but then some of the other pastors called him away and we did not finish the conversation. At the end of this evenings gathering, he went back up to the podium to announce that I, his "twin brother" from America with lighter skin will be preaching tomorrow and that everyone needed to invite their family and friends. I am wondering whether to run away and hide or just make a fool of myself tomorrow night? I cannot determine which would be more humiliating!

God will give me the words to speak I am sure, but I hope I am up to the challenge.

By the way, we call ourselves twins (Pastor Charles and I) because I cannot tell you how many times I feel God tells me something and by the time I call Pastor Charles to talk with him God has already given him the vision as well. And it goes both ways. I have never seen this type of thing happen before. We are like the same person, of course one is taller and darker, and I am definitely more handsome!

That's it for today.


Day Four - A Glimpse of Heaven!

Wow! When we finally thought I had experienced just about everything there is to life we moved one step closer to heaven! I cannot express in words what we experienced today. God's mighty hand is at work and we are in the midst of it. What a true honor it is to write to you today about the churches we visited in Nimba County.

I apologize that these posts are getting on so late. The wireless here is really giving us problems and we have been going non-stop until 10PM-11PM at night and back up early the next morning. As I was typing in the post for Day Three I fell alseep at the computer three times before I gave up and went to bed for the night.

But back to the good stuff. So after the long, almost deadly trip to Nimba County, we had the pleasure of visiting our first church. We have never more in our lives been treated with more respect and honor than when we arrived at our first church. Unfortunately we arrived almost a day later than when we had planned due to the accidents and problems getting there. But we made it none the less. As we arrived, there were many people who began gathering around the car and I was truly suprised at how many people there were. Then we moved on to the church and the crowd kept getting larger and larger.

When we finally made it to the church building, the church people had an entire "program" ready for us. They sang, welcomed us, and then did something I will never forget. The pastor said that they would like to give us a small token of their appreciation. Now since many or most of you have not ever been to the bush of Africa, and especially the bush of Liberia, you cannot imagine how poor these people are. I felt terrible that they were giving us anything. But the pastor reached behind a chair in the back of the church area and turned around holding two beautiful pineapples and a chicken. Now I am not talking about a "ready to freeze" chicken. I am talking a full grown, down and dirty LIVE chicken. It's legs were tied together but the poor chicken was not happy about it. He came over to us and plopped it right in my lap and gave the pineapples to Vanessa (or maybe Jacob or Macey, I am not sure because I was just staring at the chicken). Even though it is quite funny, you can imagine the sacrifice that this was for them. This chicken could have been dinner (or two) for the family that gave it to us. What an honor. So they continued with some more speaking and singing and then asked me to stand and talk. I was quite speachless to say the least.

We then asked that all the children come and sit in the front in pairs because we had brought some huge pixystick candy for the children to share. BAD IDEA! We would give it to one of the "pair" of children and they would dart out of the church and head for the hills - of course with their "paired" child right on their tale. It was a mad house. But what a treat.

So we quickly moved on to the next church. When we arrived at this Church, it was dusk, and a heavy rain bean to fall as soon as we drove into the village. We all got out of the car and rouded under a small "pavillion" type area and talked with the people. They were so sad that the rain was falling! One of the men from the church was actually crying because he so much wanted to do the program they had prepared for us and Pastor Charles told him we had to leave. We promised to come back first thing in the morning and it seemed to satisfy them. As we were driving off, some men were riding up on a motorbike, they saw us leaving and were yelling," what is happening!". They did not want us to leave! Pastor Charles assured them that we would be back in the morning and all was well. What an amazing honor. Just in our presence these people are seeing and feeling the hope that God has not forgotten them. Indeed He has a plan for restoration! There are a total of four churches in Nimba County we are working with and we had to see them all in a very short time, because of the long drive back. We had to be back in Monrovia by Thursday for the three-day crusade we were having.

The next church was the same, and the next the same after it. We could not believe the honor these people were showing us. The second church we were given a GOAT - and yes, of course, it was alive. And it was a big smelly male goat. Beautiful in its own way but what an honor. A goat could have fed a family for weeks! These are such special people. Man are we touched and blessed. All in all, we were given by the four churches:
- 11 pineapples (which are the best pineapples we have ever eaten)
- 2 chickens (which I am sure will be very tasty...we gave them to Pastor Charles)
- 2 goats - a male and a female which we will be sending to Bong County to have them paired and raised!!! We now will be starting a goat farm...or maybe a goat stew company if they are not good!

What a trip, what a trip! These Liberian people are the kindest, sweetest people we have ever met. Most of them were dressed in their best clothing (which sometimes didn't amount to much) and on best behavior.

Now for the coolest part - most of the churches were given land by the town chiefs while we were there! One of the churches was given a deed, in writing, for 10 acres to build the church, dig a well, and whatever else we want to do! Praise the Lord! He is working. One of the other churches town elders took us out to a plot of land, and gave us the scope of what he would be giving us. It is a prime piece of property right on the way into town with a small creek running through it and some high ground for building. It is absolutely gorgeous. He said that after we build the church and he sees we are moving forward he will also be giving us another larger piece to do agriculture and foresty projects on. I cannot tell you how excited we are. It has absolutely been a trip blessed by the Lord.

The picture of the little girl was too adorable. This little girl of probably four years old or so followed us around the entire village. She was small, probably had Downs Syndrome, and was the cutest thing we have ever seen. She cherished her little bible so much. It was always tucked under her arm like in the picture besides when we were in the church "program". She pulled it out and was thumbing through it like the adults. Then one of the older children sitting behind her tried to grab it and she screamed and put it back under her arm and ran out of the church. She really loves her bible!

The gospel is moving forward in the bush of Liberia - thank you all who are making it a reality!

In Christ,
Greg and Vanessa


Day Three - Travel to the BUSH!

I am happy to be writing to you tonight. For the past two days Vanessa and I can both say we are happy to be alive. We were nervous about going to the bush for the first time, but now that we have returned to Monrovia, we realize we were nervous for the wrong reason. The reason we should have been nervous was because of the drive!

What an insane experience. We had two cars full of people when we left. Our car had Pastor Charles and his wife, the driver, Vanessa (and a secret guest!), Jacob, Macey, and I - a total of eight people. We did not get this many people into a SUV or even a normal size car - no, we were driving in a LITTLE car and yes I mean little. There were three people in the front, two people packed into the passenger side and then five in the back.

The drive was horendous. There were POP HOLES everywhere. That is what Liberians call holes in the road. I would equate them to what Americans would consider pot holes, but that would be an understatement. I would guess they call them POP HOLES because when you hit them they either pop your tire or your brain - depending on how hard you hit the ceiling. Not really of course but boy do they make your entire body hurt after a while.

Now as most of you would expect, our driver did a great job of missing all of the POP HOLES and stearing clear by traveling nice and slow. That is completely untrue. Vanessa and I will not be able to use our hands due to holding on so many times as we passed from one side of the road to the other missing these massive holes - much of the time traveling at over 120 km per hour. We have not had the pleasure of finding out how many mph that would be, but would love to know if anyone has any idea.

One of the other wonderful things we found out while driving is that the roads are just a suggested travel route for the drivers. Our driver felt it would be better to drive with at least two wheels off of the road at all times. This way it would be a smoother drive. For much of the time he would just drive on the side of the road to miss the POP HOLES.

Unfortunately though he hit one too many because finally at about the second hour into our trip, while still traveling at over 120 km/h one of our tires POPPED! It was incredibly scary. We are so thankful that the driver kept his head and did not go off the road completely. So we pulled over, put on the spare and continued.

About three-hours later, as we were speeding down the road, the road merged into a one-lane bridge without any warning. We barely missed going into the creek and likely being killed. As we finished screaming and talking about how we almost died the driver hit the brakes. He sat and looked backwards without saying a word. Then began backing up and said that the other car was not behind him. He began to back up and as we turned around realized that the towns people were all running towards the bridge. We could not believe it. The other car did not see the bridge in time and crashed. By the time we got back to the car, one of the pastors in the car was lying flat on the ground on the side of the road. We could not see any of the other pastors or the driver. Many of the people had run over to the car which was far back in the trees and bush and were pushing it out. Finally we found the other pastors. They were all alive THANK GOD but two of them were pretty bruised up. We went over the the one lying down (Mark) and asked if he was OK. He had two cuts above his eyes which we found out were from his glasses pushing into his forehead when they crashed. It was a terrible crash but God protected them all.

As we were walking back up to see how the car was doing, Pastor Charles informed me that the night before he had really felt that they needed to pray for the trip because the devil was not happy about us going. So many of the congregation from his church slept in his front yard. At 3AM they all walked over to the church and had a prayer time until 5AM for our trip. Can you imagine if they had not prayed what could have happened in either one of these accidents? I would hate to know.

Good night for now. We will write about day four tomorrow - Nimba County Church Visits!

In Christ,
Greg and Vanessa


Day Two - Trip to Liberia

These photos are of the old Church building. The last service here will be Easter Sunday!

Well, if you read yesterdays post, you know that we had an absolutely wonderful welcome. The Liberian people are so incredibly giving and sacrificial - what a lesson we could all learn from them.

Today we spent the entire day with Pastor Charles and his wife, and several of the church members and pastors. We first had to go to buy Jacob and I some clothes since the luggage was not found yet and that was the first true experience of Liberia I have had. When I was here a year ago adopting I did not have the priveledge of shopping in Monrovia (well, most may not think of it a priviledge but I did). If you have ever mixed the smell of rotten sewage with dirty people then add a bit of garbage and old smokey clothing together you have not experienced life - at least not like Liberians do. Downtown Monrovia is congested with people and there are no traffic laws or regulations at all - you just drive - and as quick as you can. So explain to me why it was that I loved every minute of it and I will give you a prize - not sure what but I sure would like to know...

So we finished our clothing shopping spree and headed to look for a generator for the church. I realized as we were buying it that Vanessa decided to stay behind with Pastor Charles wife and the kids and I did not have enough money - so we went back without the generator to meet our wives and children for lunch.

We ate a wonderful lunch at The Cape Hotel restaurant - which I would highly recommend to anyone who plans to go to Liberia - then went over to the Embassy to check in.

After leaving the Embassy, we went over and saw the offices we are renting which are absolutely gorgeous and the land we purchased close to the sports stadium which has just been renovated. Liberia looks so much different than it did even last year when I was here. Things are really moving in the right direction!

We then went over to see the GSA Road Churches. First we visited the current structure they are worshiping in. I have not seen such a delapidated building in my entire life. I will post pictures of it as soon as I download pictures from my camera (it is late and I have terrible jet lag). It is falling to pieces - literally. They had tarps (or tarpolines as they call them here) covering a good portion of the ceiling, which has decided that it needs to fall to the side. The walls are probably at about a 10 degree angle to one side and I would guess with the next heavy rain the roof will complete its descent and come tumbling down.

Then we went to look at the new building that Spirit Liberia has donated funds for. What a blessing it is to see first hand the glorious work that God is performing in our midst! They have completed the structural part of the walls and have half the roof completed. With the next $1,000 we give to them they will complete the roof and then be able to complete the walls. It looks incredible and is only about four minutes walk from Rock Hill - which we were able to see today as well.

I am telling you until you see this with your own eyes no video will do it justice. I touched the hands of little boys who had hands harder than mine because of the work they perform at such a young age just to survive. I saw girls running around with nothing more than a ragged t-shirt on. I saw women with items (larger than I could carry comfortably) walking past - and with a smile on their face. But they were dirty - suffering - weary - and left wanting. They were kind and compassionate - running just to shake our hands and tell us Thank You for our help. It brings tears to my eyes still as I realize that they believe I am the one doing something special - when I all I can see is the special people they are to me. In my eyes, I see Christ through them. I see Christ sitting and glaring at me for my lack of compassion, lack of patience, lack of effort, and simple lack of love. I may be doing a good thing - but the people are the special ones.

We all need to pitch in and see these people restored and see the true blessing that God can be to each one of them in some special way - whether it be by building a church, digging a well, teaching someone to read, or simply being there to touch them with the love of Christ. What a day.

By the way, for those of you reading this with interest in the GSA Road Well or GSA Road Church, they currently have no water besides water that is almost a 30-minute walk. Pastor Charles lives in Rock Hill - right in Rock Hill - and his young boys walk sometimes twice a day with eight gallons of water in a wheel barrel 30-minutes each way. They NEED this well dug and they need it soon!

For the church, it is coming up quickly but we are still about $2,500 short on the project and could use every gift of any size to get this church completed. Most of the people in Rock Hill - which is a large community - are not saved and desperately need Christ. What better way to bring Him to them than to get the GSA Road Church completed, get the well dug, and show them the love of Christ first hand.

I give praise to God for his grace and wonderful steadfastness to allow Vanessa, my children, and I to experience this wonderful work and be a part of seeing it be completed!

I will not be posting again until Thursday because we will be going to Nimba County to meet with several churches and see that area of the country. We are going to the AFRICAN BUSH! I cannot tell you how excited we all are. I look forward to telling you all about it when we get back to Monrovia.

Please pray for our protection and for our children back in the states. We miss them greatly and cannot wait to share our experiences with them soon!

In Christ,


We've Arrived!

Photo: Left to right: Vanessa, O'rehta Bassil, Shadrach Flomo, Pastor Charles Bassil, Mark Koffa, and Jacob

If you think I mean in life generally - absolutely not! But we have arrived in Liberia!!!

It was quite a trip. Everything went fairly smooth, but in Brussels we were delayed due to some technical reason for over an hour. And anyone who has travelled overseas for 29 hours or so knows that every delay seems like days.

But we made it to Liberia only about an hour late. We knew that there were supposed to be several people waiting for us, but little did we know what was going to happen. Unfortunately when we arrived and made it through customs we realized that one of our bags did not make it to Liberia (very unfortunate because it was all of mine and Jacob's clothes!!!). So I went ahead and sent out Vanessa, Macey, and Jacob while I filed a claim on the missing bag. Almost half an hour later the guy who helped us with our luggage came in wondering who I was and what I was doing there because I had a small army waiting outside for me. I did not know what to say.

As I waiting in line (for well over an hour total) Pastor Charles finally came in to find out what was going on. He told me that many, many church people were waiting for me and that Vanessa was being harassed for both of us (OK - I added the harassment part). Once I finally made it outside we had probably twenty or more people - all with shirts that they had made to welcome us. The shirts also said WE LOVE YOU on the back. I have to say it was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. What a joy to be working with people who truly honor God's purposes and God's people! We hugged and said our hello's and they helped us get our luggage into the cars and we were off to the hotel - what a wonderful welcome!

Day one was a true blessing from the Lord. We cannot wait to see what happens next.

(This post was entered today because we could not get access last night - for those of you keeping up with our trip).



We're Off

Well, only a few short hours and we will be boarding the plane to Liberia (well, we have a few stops and 26 hours of travel, but you know what I mean).

We are all so excited and yet sad because we are having to leave seven of our precious children behind for this incredible trip. We know God has such incredible plans for this trip and we cannot wait to see them unfold.

For those of you reading this blog in the next few days, please keep Vanessa in your prayers. Being pregnant and traveling such a long distance is never easy. She is doing well but I just pray that God will sustain her and keep her strong and keep the baby safe.

Well, our next blog will be from Liberia. Be sure to check back Monday!

Greg and Vanessa


"God Can Use You"

As we have been frantically getting ready to head to Liberia in just a few days, the most amazing thing happened today. I received a call from a man in Pennsylvania who is producing a program called "God Can Use You". I had told him a bit about what we are doing with Spirit Liberia, and he has asked me to come on his program late April (it will air in May 2008-I will update once I know the specific date of airing and where it will be aired).

The program will highlight God's work in our family (of nine children right now, only to increase again this year!) and also with Spirit Liberia. I am so incredibly humbled by God's goodness in exposing what He is doing with Spirit Liberia. It has been challenging at times, but also so exciting and rewarding.

When we look at the way God continues to bless our family and ministry, we realize He is either crazy or capable of using even the most unworthy vessels to do His work (thankfully scripture supports the second possibility!). We are so unworthy of being used and yet God continues to push us forward.

While in Liberia we will be hosting our first evangelistic crusade and we have been so excited to be a part of it. But I found out just recently that Pastor Charles has been expecting me to lead the crusade part of the time. Have you ever felt incapable and completely unsure? There is very little I can think of that would cause me more stress and anxiety than speaking to people about Christ. Not because I do not want to, but because I feel so inadequate. I am sitting here even this evening wondering how I will be able to communicate with these people when I know the English we speak is different, they are definitely more excited in their speach than we are, and I am still learning all of their customs which I do not want to "affend" when I am there. I know God is sovereign and He is pressing me in areas I am weak in - but as you know these times are so stressful and complicated).

Moses has definitely been my best friend of late! If it was not for stories like this in scripture, where we see people that were incapable and inadequate used for mighty purposes of God, I would run the other way for sure.

Please keep us and our trip in your prayers and check back in the next few days for our posts from LIBERIA!


Pastoral Support

For those of you who have been just starting to get connected, Spirit Liberia is working very diligently to get our 10 pastors we are working with monthly support so they can pastor full-time and have the means to support their families needs.

We will be heading to Liberia in just about a week now. Anyone interested in giving support to these pastors can click on the "Church Support" button at the bottom of this blogsite. Your support will go to support pastors, build church buildings, and general church support projects such as training programs, curriculum, etc.

The churches of Liberia are in such desperate need today to be able to continue to spread the gospel especially in the bush. I will be posting more over the next few weeks of the true spiritual battle we are in. It will not only amaze you but hopefully push you to action. Our fight is a real fight and God is putting together the pieces to see Christianity expand in Liberia.

Please again pray for us as we head to Liberia. Also, check out the following articles to find out more about the spiritual battle we are in:


In Christ,


It Begins!

Well, here it is...my first post. I must say that I am quite excited to get this blog up and going. We have been working so diligently on the website, ministry plans, and our travel to Liberia next weekend that I am surprised I have been able to get to this.

For most of you who will visit this blog, you will likely know Vanessa and I. But I figured for those of you who have stumbled aimlessly onto our blog, that it would be good to introduce ourselves. So grab a nice cup of coffee (or tea if you must!) and get ready!

I am Greg Bogdan, Director and CEO of Spirit Liberia. God graciously blessed me with a wife I truly do not deserve, Vanessa. We have had an incredible marriage filled with love, joy, trials, heartache, faith, compassion, and learning - and I am so incredibly thankful for having a wife that puts up with me, supports me, challenges me, and perfects me!

We currently live in Phoenix, Arizona where I also run Christian Alliance Media Group, Inc., (advertising rep firm) and am partner in Positive Entertainment Group, Inc. (Recording studio and record label). God has truly guided and blessed our steps and has gone before us and given us favor with people we should have never had favor with!

Vanessa and I grew up knowing each other from a young age. We began to date also very young and were married when Vanessa was 17 and I was 18. As most would expect, the beginning years were difficult but God provided time after time and has shown himself so faithful.

Today we have been blessed with nine children - six biological and three adopted. Vanessa is also pregnant with number 10! We are so excited about this new addition. Our children are Macey, Kylee, Jacob, Eli, Jaden, Samuel, Liberty, Noah, and Judah - oldest to youngest. Macey is almost 13 and Judah just turned one recently.

From the age of four, Macey has known that God called her to be a missionary. Vanessa and I have been so excited to see her spiritual-life develop and God has granted her undue wisdom for such a young child. Even from the age of five, Macey has challenged me during our night-time devotions if I mis-stated something from scripture - what a challenge!

But God is so good. Vanessa and I are learning that sometimes when you pray for others, God challenges you in areas you may not have ever been challenged in simply to provide the means for his will to be done in their life. I think Spirit Liberia is a great example. We have been praying that God would continue to work in Macey's life and give her the desire to continue to press on to one day be a missionary. Then we traveled to Liberia to pick up our three boys last year and God hit us with the most unexpected love and compassion for the people of Liberia - people we had never met or even thought much about.

But in less than two weeks Vanessa, Macey, Jacob (our eight-year-old Liberian boy) and I will be leaving for Liberia on our first missionary trip. While we are there we will be holding the first Spirit Liberia supported crusade, traveling to the deep bush to see some of the churches we are supporting and working with, visiting an orphanage to deliver much needed supplies, and many more incredible ministry events. What a huge blessing. I can only imagine how incredible this has to feel for Macey to be seeing God's hand at work at such a young age. Praise God!

Please be in prayer for us as we travel and be praying that God will open the hearts of the Liberian people as we step into this completely new territory. We want to see such a mighty move of God that everyone will have to take a second look and realize God is on the move!

In Christ,