Rachel Swanson (Liberia, Africa)

Happy Easter! I’m so glad that we serve a risen Savior. So many things have happened these past few weeks to be thankful for. I wish I was back home to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior with all of you, but I’m also excited to celebrate it with our Brother’s and Sisters in Liberia. Praise God.

Christie and I have really been encouraged with teaching. We finally feel that our students are grasping some concepts and we aren’t continually “beating” them. Maintaining order is a full time job, but we’ve worked around some of the “beating” and have them pump tires and do squats against the walls instead. I’ve started doing reading in the classroom and they are really catching on with the sounds of the letters and having fun in the process. It’s cute when the students that we’ve had to discipline still come up to us during the day with a smile and a hug. Also, just this past week I’ve started teaching a boy in ABC’s how to read. His name is Jack-Jack. I mentioned it to him one night and he was shy and didn’t really respond except by nodding his head that he was interested in learning how to read. The next day he came running up to me and said, “Rachel, reading lesson?” We’ve had three lessons so far and he’s a determined little guy.

There is some ways that Christie and I have been changing our spending habits on. One is transportation. American’s usually charter a taxi for when they go into town which is kind of expensive when we have them all day and have to pay them by the hour. We now go into town the Liberian way. We walk to a market place called the “Estates” which is about 2-3 miles away. Then we hop on a “bus” (more like a van) which is packed full of people and make the bumpy ride into town. Once in town we hail down a local taxi, which is again packed full to the limits, and go to the place we want. Usually there are three of us going to town, Christie, a Liberian and me. For all three of us it costs only a little over U.S. to get into town, plus we are getting a feel more of the culture. It’s always an exciting time. Once on the way back from town we went to the place where we could catch a bus back to the Estates. There was a line of people wanted to catch a bus and were already filling up all the vans that were on the curb. We walked past the crowd and down the street a little more. An empty bus was pulling up and the guy that was in it waved at us to get to the front of the line where they were pulling their van up and that we could ride in that bus. We had a problem at the line between the man that was guiding the line and letting people in, and the man that told us we had a ride. Eventually we did end up getting on, but I knew it was just because we were Americans that we didn’t have to go back to the end of the line. A couple men were having an argument in the bus as we got started and the word “American’s” was mentioned. The rest we couldn’t understand. When we got off we asked the girl that we were with what they were talking about. She said that the 1st guy was upset because he didn’t think it was fair that we as Americans got to get on and not wait in line. He thought that since we were visiting we should do things culturally and respect their ways. Man #2 said that maybe it was different culturally for us and not to be too quick to judge. They couldn’t agree so they agreed to change the subject and talk about football instead. I had felt guilty the whole way home, but also I was relieved that we had gotten a bus to the Estates before dark. There are many times when Christie and I feel white and that was one of them.

Thank-you for your prayers. It’s encouraging to hear from my parents how many questions they are getting about Christie’s and my trip and how many of you are continually praying for our health and well being. At the 2 month period I was having a day where a lot of things were reminding me about home and I was kind of missing it a lot. Mom and I had talked for maybe 10 minutes, but the calling card ran out before much was said. It seems every time I start feeling sorry for myself, God is always faithful in bringing something or someone into my life which puts my life into perspective and realize how blessed I am. Right after Mom and I had lost connection, there was a knock on our front door and Comfort had come with one of her friends saying that she had a sore. I told her to come in. It was dark and when I saw her sore, and then saw her eyes glazed over with tears, I realized the sore was just an excuse and she really needed to get something off her heart. I asked her what was wrong and big teardrops started dripping down her cheeks and all she said was, “I miss my mom.” I wrapped her in my arms feeling awful and very selfish when I had just talked with my own mother who was alive, breathing, well, and loved me, and here I was hugging poor Comfort whose mother had been killed by a rebel and I could do nothing. I held her for a few minutes, prayed, and then walked her back to her dorm. I am powerless to keep life; but I can be powerful, in Christ,
in my response to life. Be in prayer for me with that.

Christie and I have been blessed with talking with some of the older girls about their Faith. Please be praying for openness and honesty with them. A lot of the African culture is filled with how to Worship God and there is so much we can learn from them with their faith and prayer. Also, though, I think sometimes the relationship with Christ can be overlooked, especially with so many kids, and a lot of the children just know God as a way of life, but not intimately. This Easter weekend we are going to have a sport camp weekend with another organization which I think will be powerful. The man that is leading it is so full of passion for the Lord and faith that God will do what He says He will do. Christie is going to be sharing her testimony and we are going to be involved with helping all weekend. Please be in prayer that many lives will be changed and that it will open doors for in the future interaction with the kids.

This weekend Christie and I came into town and stayed with a married couple that Christie knew from her past trip here. They have a house here and we are welcome to come anytime and stay. We call it our haven of rest. It’s been a time of sweet rest and fellowship. We were treated to pancakes and a fruit salad one of the mornings and all Christie and I could do was drool. So good….Rainy season starts this next month. That will be really interesting as we have already had some spells of some intense rain. It cools everything down, but also makes bug life all the more
interesting. It will really be an adventure to trek into town….

The Lord is working on my heart in many ways. I think these next 5 months will be filled. In many ways I feel that our time has been short here, but then so much has already happened. I’m looking forward to getting more into the lives of the kids. There is so much more to touch.

Thank-you again for your prayers and letters. I love you all so much.



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