Training Update!

Greg has actively been training for the Marathon. He is doing very well and is truly blessed with an amazing ability to run long distances! Last Saturday he ran 14 miles and had no problems! He has been taking the boys along with him on some evening runs, and even I have been joining them. Well, I walk and they lap me, but it is fun! Here are some pictures of the workouts :) Please keep this Marathon in prayer. Pray for Greg and Tod to stay safe and free from injury and also that their efforts will be blessed. Thanks Everyone!

Stretching out before the big run!

Here are my guys! It doesn't get cuter that this! Listed in order: Greg, Jacob (9), Eli (9), Jaden (6), Samuel (5). They love to pass me when I am walking and show off, jumping over bushes and rocks so I can see that they are NOT tired!

Now he has dropped the boys off for a longer run. Here he comes!

There he goes!

Here is proof for my mom that I am actually doing this!!!!



Lease signing and payment!!

We want to say a BIG "Thank You" to all of you who helped us with the rental of the missionary compound! We made the first 6 months rent payment today and the rest will be due in February. We are so thankful that God saved this house for us. Until we made the payment and signed the agreement, someone else could have rented it first. We knew that God had this place for us, so we aren't really surprised that we got it :) Our God is so good! When He calls us to His purposes He will always supply our needs. We still need to raise the rest of the rental money and the money for the razor wire and generator, so if you are still ready to help it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks again everyone! You are a blessing!


Another Staff Introduction: Mark Benjamin Koffa

Mark Benjamin Koffa, Field Coordinator, Spirit Liberia Mark showing off his new sunglasses that I bought him in Waterside. He so graciously carried my diaper bag all day :) They carry the backpacks on front so that no-one can steal things out of them. Thanks Mark!

Mark leading a wonderful time of worship at the Gjerstad's house. We had a staff/family dinner.

Mark working hard to retrieve my e-mails for me at a restaurant that has wireless internet.
Mark at the same restaurant getting my computer all set up :)
Mark digging our car out of the mud in Margibi as we traveled to visit his village.

Mark with his mother. This was taken in the village where he grew up, near Peterstown. It was a beautiful area, with a wonderful mountain overlooking the village.
Mark being shy about getting his employee Id photo taken!

Mark taking some video last March when we were visiting Nimba county.
Since mark is always behind the camera, we were concerned that we would not have enough pictures of him. Boy were we WRONG! I think he has more pictures here than the other guys!

The next staff member we would like to introduce you to is Mark Koffa. Mark is a joy to know and a favorite to pretty much everyone who meets him! He is responsible for all technical support and music development. He is helping with music for crusades/evangelism and he will be the star of our next Liberian Worship CD (we can't reveal more details yet, but it will be AWESOME!). We plan to bring Mark here to the US in March to begin recording the new CD. Mark is a VERY talented singer and also plays multiple instruments. He loves electronic equipment of any kind and does all photography and video for Spirit Liberia. Mark has a true heart for God. Just being present when he is worshipping God is a moving experience. Mark also manages and maintains our sound equipment, instruments, cameras, anything electronic. Mark is always there to offer a kind word of encouragment to his co-workers, his friends, his Boss (Greg) and Boss Lady (me). When I noticed how much of an encouragment he was in October, I told him he was appointed to a new position, General Encourager! He said he really tries to always be an encouragement to others and that he doesn't allow himself to get down or "vexed". It is all true. He is very even tempered and a wonderful friend, employee and brother in Christ. Like our other staff, Mark is willing to take on any task that we need help with. He will wash the car, push the car, sing, take care of the baby, and he would NEVER allow me to carry my own bag! We love you Mark, you are a gift to us and we do not take you for granted. Thank you!


Co Watah!

“Co Watah, Co Minah, Co Watah”, the 9 year-old girl intones in a futile effort to rise above the din of the busy marketplace. She looks around expectantly to see if she has any customers. If she can sell six or seven of the small plastic bags filled with cold mineral water for 5 LD (about 8¢) each, she will eat that night. If she can’t sell them, she will not eat and she will have to hope to be more successful tomorrow. Almost everywhere you turn, you see others like her.

Of all the scenes that I see in this economically-ravaged country, this is the one that haunts me the most as I lie in bed. It’s almost as if I am in a surreal world where the boundaries of fairness and justice have been utterly destroyed leaving only the most basic of sense of survival left in their place. No joy, no hope, no expectancy. The normal explanations accompanied by blame and passivity don’t seem to bring a real sense of relief to my questions about this situation.
I can’t change the world and I can’t even change a tiny part of this country, but I can view it with compassion and a desire to help in even a very small way. And yes, I can even look at it with anger knowing that a 9-year old girl will go to bed hungry because she couldn’t sell enough small plastic bags filled with cold mineral water for 8¢ each. And even worse, she faces tomorrow and a long future with much the same fate.
~written by Tod Whitwer

This post was written by a great friend of ours, Tod Whitwer. Tod is partnering with Spirit Liberia in a big way and we are so thankful that God brought us together. Tod will be traveling to Liberia with Greg in January. He does a lot of research and planning of the agricultural projects in Liberia. He will aslo be running with Greg in the Marathon. Actually, Greg decided to tag along with Tod on this Marathon and to do it all in support of Spirit Liberia. Tod has done numerous Marathons. Tod has 2 adopted daughters from Liberia and has a God-given burden of compassion for the Liberian people. Thanks Tod! You are loved and appreciated :)


Video of Mother Vanessa Foundation School Program

Here is our first YouTube video!  We will be posting many videos of Liberia over the next month.  They will be listed on our website or you can just visit our YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/GregBogdan



So, we have been anxiously looking for a place that we can rent for our office and missionary housing in Liberia. We have found the PERFECT place! This will save us tons of money on lodging during our trips to Liberia and we desperately need an office space for our guys on ground over there to work from. Our long term plan will be to buy land and build our own facility, but for the next year or so we will need to rent. If any of you can help meet this need, we need to pay for 1 years rent by next week. The total need including rental fee, adding razor wire to the top of the wall (for security), and a generator to meet our electrical needs is $14,500. The urgency of our request is that until we can pay the 1 year rent we could lose the house to someone else. Please lift this need up in prayer and if possible financial assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support!


Mother Vanessa Bogdan Foundation School, Pillar of Fire Apostolic Church, Peace Island

Front of School

Vanessa visiting the school in October 2008

Inside school

School Children

Stacy Gjerstad, Kylee and Vanessa with the school children

Child from the school

School children

I want to introduce you to a school that Spirit Liberia is working with. This church named their school in honor of me. This is a first for me, but I am humbled and honored that they would do this. Spirit Liberia is sponsoring the agricultural project of this church. They are in great need and it is one of the poorest churches/schools we have seen in Liberia. The Pastor, Pastor Prince Zeaway, is a wonderful godly man. We are so happy that the Lord has brought this man and his ministry into our lives, and that God has allowed us to be a blessing and a help to them in their time of need. We would love to be able to send a barrel of school supplies to help the success of the school program they are running. The children have very little in terms of books, supplies, etc. Greg and I both were able to attend a program at this little school and the children have already learned a great deal. There was lengthy scripture memorization along with songs, nursery rhymes etc. We were quite impressed. This school needs help in a big way. If anyone feels led to send supplies we will gladly accept them. We hope to send a barrel of books, crayons, pencils, pencil sharpener, paper, notebooks, rulers, etc. before the end of the year. Please feel free to contact us for more information. Any contributions toward shipping would also be welcomed. Most importantly, please keep these precious people in your prayers as they dedicate their lives and the little they have to helping the children in their community. Pastor Prince is married and has 3 children with a new baby on the way in a few months.


Race 2 Hope!

Greg has decided to run the P.F. Changs Rock N Roll Marathon here in Phoenix in an effort to raise support for Spirit Liberia. Our goal is to raise $100,000! Yes, the goal is BIG, but we know our God is able! He is preparing a team of people who will be running along with him as well as organizing support etc. If you are interested in sponsoring him for the race or helping in another way, please contact us! We are very excited to see what God will do through Greg's efforts. Greg was informed about this Marathon through a friend of ours who is partnering with us in Spirit Liberia, Todd Whitwer. They will be running together with anyone else who decides to run this Marathon. The run will be on January 18. They will run the race, and then they will be leaving for Liberia soon after to oversee some of our agricultural projects. Please keep them in your prayers as they train for this run and as they again prepare for the long journey to Liberia (but hey, at least they aren't running TO Liberia!). I could not imagine EVER running 26 miles all in one stretch! If I added together all of the running I have done in my lifetime, I don't think it would add up to 26 miles! I know, that is pretty sad. Some of us were made for running, and some of us were not! Greg was definitely made for running and has been a runner since childhood. He actually LIKES it, which I totally cannot even relate with :) So, his training has begun, and here are some of the pictures of the 8 mile run he did today. ~Vanessa

Training! 8-Mile Run

The road to Hope can be long!

Oops! Ear phones are falling out!

Quick stop for water, thanks to a supportive wife who personally drove along to photograph and deliver water! As long as I don't have to do the running, I will do ANYTHING!

Still Running!

Okay, so this is not Greg training, but I had to sneak in a picture of my "other man". This is our son Judah, he is 18 months.


Next Introduction: Pastor Richards -Your Turn!

This post will be dedicated to getting you up close and personal with Pastor Joseph Richards, Field Coordinator, Spirit Liberia. Pastor Richards is a dear friend, and a highly respected and honored employee. Pastor Richards has a true heart for ministry. He oversees the application process for our sponsored churches, conducts the initial interview, and does general relationship building. Pastor Richards is humble and willing to perform any task at hand. He too, will willingly push the car, help with baby care, and is always available for anyone requesting prayer. I remember one evening when I was in Liberia and Mark, who you will meet next, was appealing to Pastor to leave his phone with us for charging overnight. Pastor could not agree to this. He was very concerned that he needed his phone so that he could be available to anyone who might call him in need of prayer throughout the night. He regularly is praying with people throughout the night by phone or in person. So, after all was said and done, Mark gave Pastor his own phone and exchanged the SIM card with Pastor's so that he could go home and be available for prayer needs.

Pastor Richards has been a pastor "on staff" at churches in Liberia, but is now in the process of planting a new church in the Rock Hill community. Please lift him up in prayer as he follows God's leading in this area.
Thank you for your beautiful heart and your love for God, Pastor. You are a true "Man of God". You are a blessing to all who know you. We are honored to have you on staff working with us.

Pastor Richards is married to his beautiful wife, Musu. Together they have 4 children and 1 adopted child. Their children are Edith (adopted), Rochelle, Rueben, and Rufus.

Check out Pastor's photo gallery below!

Photo Gallery for Pastor Richards

Pastor Joseph Richards
Field Coordinator
Spirit Liberia

Pastor and his beautiful wife Musu

Pastor Richards meeting with a church in Nimba County.

Pastor's wife, Musu.

Pastor smiling for the camera during a group dinner at The Golden Beach, a restaurant in Monrovia.

Pastor Richards going beyond the call of duty and helping me try to get my 9 month old son to "pee in a cup" for his Visa medical exam at ELWA hospital. This is a DEDICATED employee!

Pastor waiting to begin the day in the lobby of The Cape Hotel, Mamba
Point. He is sporting his new Spirit Liberia employee ID tag!

Pastors family: Left to Right
Charlotte, their "spiritual daughter", Rochelle, their daughter, Musu, Rufus their son, and Edith their adopted daughter. I am not sure where Rueben was off to!

Vanessa, Kylee (my daughter who was in Liberia with me), Maxwell and Musu at the Market in Waterside. Thanks for taking us shopping Musu!
We love you!

Kylee, Edith and Rufus near the beach.

Pastor Richards helping dig the car out of the mud. We were stuck here in Margibi for 3 hours!


Get Personal with our staff!

We want to take some time and introduce you to our staff in a more personal way. They are an amazing group of men. Our hearts are truly knit together in love. Please keep them and their families in prayer. Liberia is a hard place to live. They need God's protection in a mighty way.
I will start with the man who oversees our accounting, driving and vehicle management. His name is Shad Flumo. Shad is currently attending the University of Liberia studying accounting. He does very well in school and has high standards in all areas of his life. Shad is getting married this month to the love of his life Gayduo. We look forward with great anticipation to this milestone event in their lives. We will post pictures of their wedding after it takes place.
Shad is meticulous with record keeping and overall management and maintenance of our car. He goes beyond the call of duty in any area where there is need. He personally does repairs on our car, digs it out of the mud with his bare hands, holds a baby if that is what we need and even made excellent coffee for Vanessa while she was there :) He is a man of upright character and integrity. We are honored to call him employee, brother and friend. Thank you Shad for the amazing job you do and the exemplary model you are to all of us. We love you!

Check out pictures of Shad below!

Pictures of Shad

Shad T. Flumo
Field Coordinator
Spirit Liberia

Shad and his wife-to-be! You can't tell he is in love can you?????
Vanessa and Shad in front of "The Spirit" (our car). We were visiting with a church in Ghanta.

Shad helping Kylee with baby care while Vanessa was taking care of adoption business.

Shad overseeing repairs at the garage in Red Light.

Shad changing our tire in Red Light.

Shad, Vanessa, Kylee and Maxwell at ELWA.


Bamboo Worms

OK, so I have heard some pretty disgusting stories before in regards to the things eaten in Liberia. When I was there last month, I literally heard dogs being slaughtered for food. I thought that was bad. I even heard that they ate monkey which I think is pretty close to the limit for me (and I will try anything once).

But the picture below depicts what I perceive to be the most disgusting thing I have ever imagined putting in my mouth - and many Liberians (at least in the bush) consider it a wonderful treat. They are called Bamboo worms. They eat them raw, they eat them fried, they eat them fat and juicy. Well, as Forest Gump would say, "I think that is all I have to say about that".