Sunday, August 03, 2008

Back in the States

Greetings again from the Felandos. We have made it back to the USA safe and sound and are temporarily residing at Grampa David and Gramma Josie’s in Fullerton CA. The kids are enjoying fresh homemade tortillas and I and my love Claudia are trying to see where we can find a new home for our family.

We have been so uplifted by the comments and correspondence we have received regarding our decisions to serve in Liberia and to return to the US.

THANK YOU - THANK YOU - THANK YOU - AND RICH BLESSINGS WE PRAY FOR ALL WHO SHARED COMMENTS ON THE LAST POST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WE GIVE ALL THE GLORY TO GOD OUR FATHER IN HIGHEST HEAVEN FOR ALL HE HAS DONE FOR US AND THROUGH US WHILE WE WERE IN LIBERIA. WE ARE HONORED TO HAVE BEEN THERE AND TO HAVE EXPERIENCED THE FRIENDSHIPS WE MADE. THANK YOU YHWH FOR BLESSING US.

Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness –

I have been so blessed by God to have had so many opportunities put before my family and I to share the truth of God’s word with so many while we were in Liberia. I would like to share some of our experiences in this and future posts.

Our children have amazed me the most. They are so fearless when talking about God and His ways for us to live. We give credit to God’s holy word and Spirit. We have been using a neat little bible tool/book for the last couple of years called Sword Fighting during our daily family worship and bible study time. It has been such a blessing to us and to some of the visiting families who partook in some of our study times. We have been so blessed by participation feedback of some of the visiting parents and children during our time in God’s word. Thank you all for that.

My son David is one of the bravest children I know. Luc and Ela as well as the rest of them like to share the truth of the bible with adults and children they meet. It reminds me of when Jesus says we have to live a life pleasing to God and have the faith and belief of a child to enter the kingdom of God.

I am going to finish this post later about the teachings my son David shared with a few older men at our container site in Liberia regarding the Sabbath and the Holy days of God. In the meantime know that we are now in California. We can be reached via email or phone if you would like to contact us. davidfelando at hotmail dot com or 714 331 5502.

My better half and love of my life, Clauida, is going to post some things about our challenging 40 hour journey home and the temporary loss of a child.

Be blessed, Love God, and love others.

The most challenging of God's Moral Code for our life, can we obey it !!!
this is incredible insight to God's word and truth for our lives

Does it matter to God what we do throughout the year???
this is even more mind boggling about our traditions vs God's

Godspeed

Friday, June 27, 2008

Headline - Update - and more info

Hello from Liberia again. We are all okay - our internet connection has always been iffy but now for the last few days completely gone. We will update more when we get re-connected. Right now I am posting from the AOH offices.

We do however have some important news to relay to all. For family and friends and those of you that care and those that actually read our blog.

And now for the headline: The Felando family, after much prayer and very much heartache, has decided to move the family headquarters back to the United States of America. There are myriad reasons for the decision but the greatest and most important is my love for my wife and children. To give you a little more info, below are email excerpts and added info.

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As usual it has been busy around here, even though we only had a few guests recently, life keeps on going. Without going into gory details we had another case of malaria (Desiree) which we battled successfully. Then came an abscessed tooth (David (little)) which was also successfully removed. Currently we are addressing a serious case of eczema (Ela) , three cases of non-healing skin wounds (David (big), Dominique, me) and a case of a somewhat mysterious skin fungus/strep infection (me). All being treated by doctor mom with enough improvement to keep me from worrying too much. Thank you God. As far as David’s area of expertise is concerned, he obviously has been busy fixing our ever failing computer equipment. Occasionally he catches a mouse or two (no kidding). And overall he keeps us safe in this house - he protects us being electrocuted by the challenging wiring in this house and he takes care of minor and major floods that occur because of the wash machine or because of rain pouring through the roof at night.
That's basically it in a nutshell.........

In the meantime we have tried to get settled somewhere to start our farming project. By the beginning of this week however we realized that this hope will be unfulfilled.
My eyes are getting watery as I type right now because I am sad but at the same time I am joyful. Okay I know I don't make sense but hey - I am a girl.
Please bear with me while I try to explain, though I am sure my words won't be able to explain it all. But I am hoping I can give you a little insight.
I am sad because the vision I had for a life in Liberia has been erased. This country is such a beautiful place and God has placed some of His most magnificent creation on this land but the truth is that man makes it ugly. I know that anything else I will share with you about my experience here is not 'Liberia' specific it is 'human nature' specific.
At first glance you don't see the deep rooted depravity that has affected all areas of society here. Again, this is nothing that you wouldn’t find around the rest of the world as well. But for some reason lawlessness is the chosen life style here. Again, so it is in the rest of the world. But here a mob will form within seconds and they will beat a guy to bits. If you try to tell them (like my brave (or maybe crazy) husband did) that they are doing the wrong thing and that at this point the country of Liberia has laws and law enforcement and the authorities one block away should be handling the 'criminal' , the mob will yell at you "we don't care, we don't want the police, we will 'handle' this ourselves, this is Africa not America we don't want police, this is Liberia". So you see aside from the daily lies and deception that are part of every conversation here, aside from horrible environmental damage and the damage to human life that is inflicted daily, there is utter disregard for any form of law or legal system. I don't know how things will turn out for Liberia....'improvements' are popping up daily, the roads are being fixed, new expensive stores are opened, etc. I do know however, that I cannot function here. Another realization I had is that the USA really is the land of the free......this probably sounds quite cheesy but I do miss my freedom, my freedom of going to the store and parking my car with out being surrounded by a dozen of so ex-combatants wanting money from me. Yes, I am called to give to those in need - and I have - but here I wouldn't dare drive to the store without Dave because I’d be surrounded by all these men.
Getting back to buying land.....that's another story. After talking to many and taking everything with a grain of salt this it what it boils down to. The land will have to be surveyed to make sure exactly where the boundaries of the seller’s land are. So far nothing out of the ordinary. But let's say you’re looking to buy land next to a lagoon - you better make sure that the land is surveyed when the lagoon is full with water - otherwise they will add the dry acreage that is usually under water in wet season, and sell that to you as part of the property. Let's say you bought 10 acres with a lagoon, you might end up with only 5 or 6 acres of usable land. Then after you have squared away the surveying you have to make sure that no one else has a claim to the land (other then the seller). For example Lucy bought a plot of land from Bob. Bob had all the proper deeds to prove that it was his land and he had the rights to sell it. So Lucy bought the land. A few weeks later Bob's older brother Joe shows up at Lucy's and told her that Bob didn't have the right to sell the land. Since Joe is the older brother only he has the right to do so and that she needed to get off his land. Now Lucy had to spend a bunch of money and time in court to prove her case, she did it to keep the land, and as of today no one has harassed her by showing up in the middle of the night threatening her and her family with machetes and spears. This is another common practice around here. Another place Dave just checked out had this occur with 40 men armed and threatening the patriarch of the land. Also, recently there have been reports that a senator and another man got into a land dispute and if you search the internet you can see more of the gruesome details. This story is not the reason for our decision but to give you an insight of the dysfunction and lawlessness that prevail in this country, which prevent us from making Liberia our home.
There are many, many, many more stories like this but I will leave it at that. My intention is not to 'bash' Liberia but hopefully to draw somewhat of a 'reality' picture. A reality that we have been confronted with, and after prayers and tears is leading us to pack up. As you know we came with a bunch of suitcases and two sea containers with things of our old life and FULL of the new things and the visions of the new life here. Well, only suitcases can come back with us so our 'lives' will have to stay. Which reminds me to tell you to watch out what you ask for - I remember sitting in my huge Texas home thinking how nice it would be if lightning would strike (of course while I am not home) and get rid of all the 'stuff'. Now there, I have it, We will have to start from scratch!

Now, I do want to tell you that I am very grateful for 'my life' in Liberia, however long or short the stay. And yes, I did get the monies .....Benetta will get her teeth fixed as soon as the Dentist opens in July, Oretha's son David will be able to go to school starting August and Alice will get Taxi money to come see her mom. Thank you again for all your support and your e-mails. I will try my best to continue supporting our Liberian sisters once we are back in the US.

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Thanks for your kind words, yes it's been a hard decision to leave everything behind. (Other then a few suitcases). I am hoping one day I get my mind clear enough to put my experience down on a piece of paper. At this point I don't know where to start because life in Liberia is so 'complicated'. I think there is no other place like it on this planet, for that reason it is difficult for me to find the right words and explantations. Liberia is so beautiful and so ugly, it is so full of hope and so full of depravety. Sounds like the rest of the word but it's not - see I don't have the words to describe it, it's 'complicated'. Honestly, I think you have to have lived here to fully understand the inner workings of this country and her people. I am very greatful that God has allowed me this experience, the land, the people, the heat, the rain, the skin diseases, the raw sewage, the malaria, the only pediatrician in the entire nation, the ladies that work with me, the orphange, the Acres of Hope nannies and office guys, the parents picking up their children, the Liberian food, the palm wine, the beach, the markets, the roaches, the mice, the days without electricity, the days at the public adoption hearings at the captiol, the beggars in the streets, the police officers pulling us over for whatever non-existing traffic violation, the women who want me to take their babies to America, the children that just wanted to touch my white skin and my funny hair, the wood carvers, the dress makers, the taxis, the motorcycle drivers transporting mattresses and mirrows with out worry, the Lebanese store owners, the UN, the Indian pharmacists, the British cough syrup, the Chinese doctor, the peninsula the new orphanage is being built on, the Chinese and Liberian workers that are building it, the bush and eating bush meat, the dirt roads, the pot holes, the gasoline and it's price........all of it is a small part of those few minutes of my life that were spent here. I praise you Lord for the time here and I praise you for allowing me to leave with a greatful heart and a lot less luggage.

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As you read above we are very grateful for our ministering time here. Our life’s mission of being a Godly family has effected many, we’ve been told. The children and I have had many opportunities to share the gospel of the kingdom of God with strangers and friends and share the teachings and call of Christ Jesus to obedience and to honor and glorify God the Father. Search the word of God for some time with God - John 17:3-4, 6-8; Matt. 6:33, John: 15:10, Matt. 7:21, 24-27; 1Jn.3:5-6, 1Jn.2:3-6, 1Jn.3:4, Luke 4:43


I will be sharing much more pictures and some video of our brothers and sisters and friends here and the witness to this people that my wife, children and I have been blessed to be. Stay tuned for more soon.

If you would like to reach us here our number is 011 231 6420082.


Godspeed

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Voinjama trip to see land for AOH farming

Wow what a wonderful and exciting trip to Lofa county and a farm area about two hours from Voinjama. We traveled almost ten hours to get to Voinjama then trekked off the next a.m. for the farm. Came back to Monrovia the following morning - the whole family made it fine over the rough and tumble roads, and I was able to gain some off road racing experience. Yeah!!






Just starting our trek up country - to the hills



Roadside villages





At about hour 5 starts bumpy dirt roads







My wonderful co pilot in life





Passing a town in the jungle - almost there






An old favorite past time - target practice



Hustle and bustle - jungle style


We made it to the hotel and the neighbors were there to check us out.






A little hotel expansion underway.






Power to the hotel was being fixed when we arrived. We used candles till about 9pm






Playtime with a puppy






Hard at work.






The hotel kitchen right off the entrance.








Tuckered out from the ride - time to sleep. The boys and I shared this bed and room.






Next day trek to the farmland.











Further in.











Still further in.












Opening onto the savanna - I'll let the photos speak for themselves.


































This savanna was beautiful crop lands before the war. The folly destroyed EVERYTHING that was usable.








We made it to the coffee farm area.








Safari Pete











They are brushing (clearing) for the future farming here.

Coffee area video

video








Going into the local village for a bite to eat.












Break time for some lunch - chicken and sauce over rice. Pepper soup for the brave.







A village man re-thatching his roof







Going for a jungle walk to the falls.







The trees were breathtakingly tall





Peter walking under a fallen tree






Deep in the jungle was this waterfall area some of the boys swam in.


video






Hiking out of the jungle before it is too dark.



It was a beautiful and fun visit to Voinjama

More sowing of the word of God

Watson and our family have done a lot together and below are some of the pictures of recent work at the orphanage and more street films. We pray the word is strong as it penetrates the hearts and minds of our Liberian siblings.
Covering Genesis 1 and the creation story
Watching a video to drive the points home
Mr. Watson and master Luc assembling the screen and speakers.


Audience participation - we had about 8 different youth singing bible songs during film reel changes - it was a blessing.


The film was quite the draw. It helps when the power is off until midnight around here on Saturdays typically.

We served about 500 in the local community and are planning a show in the Matalee area next month.









Monday, June 16, 2008

Beautiful farm areas right outside of Monrovia

We have had many a blessed opportunity to visit farm areas of interest for setting up agricultural projects for the benefit of the children being cared for by AOH.
Right outside of town 10 - 20 minutes away are some of the most beautiful vistas of fertile ground. Below are some pictures of the area and its wonder. Enjoy
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The land is so rich, it's a shame the people don't have the gusto to pick up farming again full force. There are so many reasons we've heard for not farming, from fear to laziness to inconvenience and the rest - but in the end Liberia could feed most if not all of Africa- if it wanted to.



Some of the rubber trees off the highway




Some curious children out to welcome the visitors.




Getting ready to put the mud on the stick house.








Taking a walk to look at the water source for the dry season irrigation needs.







Here is the river that is drawn from for irrigation - nice ingenious walking bridge.




Prepping plantings uner the shelter of a greenhouse canopy.





The fire hose pumps up the water from the river.








More village children enjoying their day.




man at work making rows.






Talk about Ol' MacDonald - Look closely at all the babys in this pitcure -

kittens, ducklings, puppies, toddlers - what fun.





Our vehicle of choice for potential rough roads and danger - the Landrover Defender.





Hauling water for daily life.








Saying goodbye for the day.