Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer 2012 Update

It's been a busy few weeks since arriving back in the US.  Noah has been in Indiana working at several different day camps with Spring Hill.  I haven't heard much from him, as he is working 12 hour days and is pretty exhausted.  But he is telling me that "God is good," so I believe he is doing well.  Last Saturday, Hannah and I moved to the house where we will be living for the next two months, graciously lent to us by Scott and Linda Naranjo-Huebl.  We stayed here last summer as well, so in some ways it felt like "coming home."  Hannah finished the summer class she was taking at Calvin, in biology, and is now working fulltime at the Calvin Library.  She really enjoys that work, as she is able to listen to audiobooks while she is doing book-binding and other similar tasks, so she is also getting a lot of "reading" (or listening) in.  She is really into Jane Austin and Charlotte Bronte, and loves to talk about the characters, which is fun for me.

Yesterday I was able to visit the Vermeers in Chicago and finally was able to meet Sahil!
As for me, I am trying to get ready for a two month leave of absence from Partners Worldwide.  [There seems to be some confusion about what I am doing at this point, so let me take a few sentences here to clarify:  Essentially, I am viewing these seven months home as home service - something that missionaries typically do after three years on the field.  It gives time to regroup, fund raise, meet with partners churches, donors, family, and friends.  After December, I hope and plan to return to Africa.  Where in Africa is, as of yet, unknown.  And exactly what I will be doing is yet a work in progress, but it will be similar to what I have been doing, although I believe more focused on the church.  God has been revealing a vision of a new program and I hope to spend my leave exploring that further, as well as exploring how and where to roll that out.]

Since there is no-one really stepping in during my two months to take my place, I'm trying to get as much done as I can ahead of time.  Unfortunately, my list is growing longer rather than shorter and I'm starting to compromise on certain aspects of my leave, but I'm trying to make it a clean break.  There are a number of important initiatives that will be taking place during those two months:

Todd DeKryger (left) and Malcolm DeKryger (right)

  • will be receiving a volunteer CPA/IT consultant for four weeks (from July 17-August 19) to work with the management team at LEAD and help to build capacity; 
  • LEAD's capital project campaign for their new office building continues - we are at $195,000 out of the $250,000 needed - almost there!
  • Partners Worldwide has approved a new position of a partnership manager for Liberia, to help with some of the work there, so we will be posting that position in the next week or so and collecting resumes while I am on leave
  • The LEAD research farm is continuing to grow - we recently had 14 piglets added to the farm; the staff were trained in grasscutter farming (groundhogs) and hope to start that soon; we hope to build a field school at the farm soon, to be able to train farmers right on site - that campaign will kick off in July (more details soon:-); we also hope to start our palm kernel processing at the farm in order to support the feed needs of the pigs
  • A new partner with the work of pigs is Malcolm DeKryger from DeMotte Indiana, who oversees multiple farms with a total of 300,000 hogs.  I had a chance to see it and it was pretty amazing.  He is planning a trip to Liberia in October with his brother Todd, who is the Integrated Pest Management specialist who visited Liberia last November.  We are excited about these new subject matter experts who are joining our work! 
  • It looks very likely that Hopeline Institute will be approved for a significant amount of loan funds for the middle market initiative through Partners Worldwide to give loans to their stronger SMEs.  As our approach with businesses is through four strategic components (training, mentoring, access to capital, and advocacy), the access to capital component has been the weakest for this partnership, so we are very thankful that these businesses will now be able to increase their capacity through loans.
  • Emerging Entrepreneurs - Hopeline Institute has identified a gap for business owners who want to expand their micro-business (often a business run to put food on the table) to the SME level (a serious business that seeks to grow and expand), and have started a program to try to bridge that gap.  They are calling it “Emerging Entrepreneurs” and have tailored their training to fit this group, as well as working with current SMEs to mentor these emerging entrepreneurs.
  • Prayer partners – We have had an exciting report from our partner affiliate in Canada, who has been working to find prayer partners for every business owner that is going through training with Hopeline.  These prayer partners pray along with each lesson that the business owner is receiving and communicate directly with the business owner for prayer requests via email.  We have begun to hear some pretty amazing stories of blessings emerging from these prayer partners, on both sides of the ocean!  And some of these prayer partners are beginning to be mentors for the business owners in Ghana.
Côte d'Ivoire
  • Dea has returned back to his home after a 21 month unexpected absence.  He is rejoicing to be back in his homeland, with his wife and children, and praising God for his life and health.  For more info, please go to his Caring Bridge website:
  •  Dea now begins the work of reorganizing the organization that he leads in Danané (called ACLCP) after his extended absence.  Loans have continued to go out to members in his absence but there have not been any trainings.  The political violence that occurred in his absence also had an impact on the ministry and the area, so there is some important work to be done.
  • Jos continues to be troubled by unrest and violence.  We continue to pray for peace there and for wisdom on the part of the leadership who are working for peace with the Boko Haram
  • The work of Water Wins and PCEN (the two affiliates in Nigeria) continue to go well, with business trainings, wells being drilled, and community development.  We continue to pray for Jeremiah Yongo, as he negotiates this work in an area of great stress, where peace is measured in days.
So lots of stuff going on - good stuff...stuff that will be difficult to leave for two months, yet it is important for me to do so.  I'll write more on that in an upcoming blog.  For now, thanks for reading and caring!