Hear stories and see pictures of Pastor Ivan’s recent Mission Trip to Liberia, Africa, on Saturday, March 4, at 10:00 am in Holmer Hall. He uploaded pictures and stories to the Church Website (https://wsbctopeka.org/liberia-africa-with-love) from his recent trip to Liberia, Africa. He will also publish articles in The Central Region Life, the ABCCR online newspaper.
Partners in Prayer – Liberia with Jesus’ Love 2023 – Sign Up to Partner with Us in Prayer for the 2023 Short-Term Mission Trip to Liberia with Jesus’ Love! Jessa and I will be traveling to volunteer in January 2023 as short-term missionaries at the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary, Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa. We plan to depart the USA on Sunday, January 8 and return on Sunday, January 29, 2023.
Day 1 – Liberia with Jesus’ Love: Our journey (at the airport) begins at 3:00 AM (CDT) outside the Kansas City International Airport. Four checked bags with 100 pounds of theological books, personal items, snacks and clothes; two carry-ons and backpacks. Excited to travel with Jessa Greuter to teach at the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary. Mission Journals, updates, and devotions are posted on https://lostyourdogma.wordpress.com. Epiphany blessings, Ivan+
Day 2 – Traveled from Kansas City to Newark, New Jersey. Sat in the airport for twelve hours while nursing Jessa back to health (malaria medications made her very sick). We flew economy class on Ethiopian Airlines from Newark, NJ, to Lome, Togo, Africa. The experience on Ethiopian Airlines was authentic, with delicious African cuisine, friendly service, and a mixture of smells. We had a difficult time in this french-speaking airport trying to navigate the confusing system of lines. Still, thankfully, a kind customer service agent pointed us in the right direction after getting on the wrong line twice. We flew ASKY (African Pan Airlines) from Lome to Accra, Ghana, then to Monrovia, Liberia. The customs, immigration, health screening, and baggage personnel were amazingly helpful and friendly. All our luggage made it safely, including the 100 pounds of used theological books and journals for the seminary library. Basil, Rev. Brooks (dean), and Mrs. Massaquoi picked us up at 5:00 pm (GMT) after 36 hours of travel. We were exhausted!! We drove forty-five minutes on the roughest roads before arriving at the seminary. The guest house was well prepared, our hosts were gracious, and we were tired. Praise the Lord; the flights were finished…for three weeks.
Day 3 – Late morning rise to a great breakfast of oatmeal (quick oats), fried plantains, juice and hot tea. We immediately started to introduce ourselves and meet the staff and students at the seminary. Our #1 Goal: share Jesus’ love by being excellent guests! We were honored as guests in the chapel services and the seminary community. We listened to great preaching by Dr. Massaquoi during chapel service. Honored to be a guest lecturer at LBTS. We spent the afternoon and evening unpacking, meeting our neighbors, enjoying spicy fish soup, and learning new cultural customs, rules, and traditions.
Day 4 – Liberia 🇱🇷 with Jesus’ love: What better way to start the day than with God’s word, a cup of tea, and monkeys 🐒? Basil drove us safely to the market in chaotic traffic on rough roads. Toured the solar system project funded by International Ministries – American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (IM), sorted books in the library, visited WiFi spots, read books, secured water (run out), and classified birds. Still, most of all, we met amazing students and friendly people. Another great day as we watched repair and expansion projects for the new semester. God is good! Until tomorrow, Blessings from Africa! Ivan+
Day 5 – Liberia with Jesus’ love: Praise God for the incredible opportunity to preach during chapel! Enjoyed a morning with my Creator, monkeys and birds. Washed laundry in buckets and hung clothes to dry. Breakfast and leisurely reading before chapel. Lunch was joyfully interrupted by loud thuds from behind the house. Invested to find workers harvesting coconuts. Donated books to the seminary library, followed by a relaxing walk and rest. Took pictures of the seminary, the fantastic people, and the plethora of birds. A quiet night of reading and preparing for Sunday’s sermon. I’m finding Jesus’ love everywhere.
Day 6 – Liberia with Jesus’ Love: “Shout praise in the morning when God wakes you up alive!” Basil played energetic, enjoyable Christian music on our ride to historic Monrovia. We visited Old Congotown Baptist Church and Providence Baptist church, where we met ministers, many workers, and kindergarten students. Saw the spot where the Declaration of Independence was signed and toured the freedom hall, national sites, historical museum, and capital hill with its executive mansion, congress, and the temple of justice. We stopped for gas (an experience) and a brief stroll on the beach before heading back to the seminary. I spent the afternoon and evening reading and preparing to teach classes. Another great day with great people! Thankful for Frances’s potato salad, spicy chicken, and fried plantain lunch.
Day 7 – Liberia with Jesus’ love: Busy day starting with reconnecting water to the house, laundry day, and reading while Frances and Jessa had a woman’s day together. They took a CayCay taxi to get their nails done, shop, and enjoy quality time. Met a wonderful missionary to Muslims in Liberia. I watched the men butcher a hog, so the students will have meat this week (a gift). Preparing to preach tomorrow at Howell Macedonian Baptist Church. #goodday
Day 8 – Liberia with Jesus’ Love: Sunday morning began with a trip to the water pump because there was no more running water. Books and sanitized water for bathing. Preached at Howell Macedonian Baptist Church, where Dr. Massaquoi, President of LBTS, is pastor. One hour drive to worship with a surprise stop by the police to verify documents. Inspiring experience in worship with singing, dancing, chanting and more (see video); 40-50 people. Mrs. Massaquoi said the sermon was “great.” Wind-blown rise to stay cool (forget the hair). Stick in soccer traffic on the way home for almost 3 hours. I had never experienced anything like it. Forget bumper-to-bumper; it was grind, bump, yell, squeak and beep. We stopped at the market for bread and water (evening meals) before taking a long afternoon nap. The evening was spent on phone calls and preparing for Monday’s class. Amazing experiences! #Godisgood
Day 9 – Liberia with Jesus’ Love: First day of teaching New Testament Theology with twenty-two graduate students. Enjoyed every moment: intense preparation, delivery, interaction, student engagement, and outcomes. #calledtoteach
Day 10 – Liberia with Jesus’ Love: Rough start to the day – no water, so Ivan hauled water, boiled it, and set it aside to bathe. He went to the kitchen for breakfast: pulled out bread from the bag, and ate it only to be attacked by a handful and mouth full of fire ants 🐜 Yikes!!! Painful!! Screamed and threw the bread on the floor where Jessa was barefoot. A quick trip to the store for ant spray and pain meds. Cleaned up. By the time I got back to bathing the water was cold. Great chapel service! The class and students were fantastic! Jessa worked in the library. Low current (electricity), so no lights or AC. Went to bed early. New experience: teaching with PowerPoint with intermittent power outages. Key learning: take breaks when there’s no current or air conditioning 😃
Day 11 – Liberia with Jesus’ Love: Beautiful sunrise, devotion time, monkeys 🐒, and bird watching. Inspiring prayer service in the Prayer Garden, where we talked about discipleship ministries and strategies with powerful people of prayer. Studied, worked with Jessa in the library, and taught the class. No water. Then, no electricity, but we had water. Thankful for small blessings!!
Day 13 – LwJL: Ivan enjoyed watching the pied crows eat the bread I threw out the back door. Then, the fish eagles started dive-bombing the crows for the bread. He spent the day nursing Jessa who was sick 🤒 to her stomach. Ivan preached in the chapel service, “The Gospel must Go!” God has brought many international guests and immigrants as gifts to this Christian nation. We must see them as guests who need to hear the good news of Jesus’ Gospel. The students were a great audience and experience, praise the Lord. The New Testament Theology class went well, as the students were eager to learn. Best students ever who are not ashamed of the Gospel!
Day 14 – LwJL: Ivan took a quick trip to the Post Office (3 1/2 hours) 😊 rode downtown (an adventure) to the post office, which had no current (electricity), and entered a large, dark building. Passed security to the postmaster’s office by flashlight. Asked to buy postcards and stamps (L$150 per postcard + L$400 per stamp). No guarantees. He paid the postmaster, who had to leave the building to go to the bank to get change. It may take weeks or a year for the postcard to leave Liberia, if ever. Rode an hour home. Lunch. Nap. The class was great again!! Great evening talking with students. Visited charcoal mound (125-250 bags per mound; $5 per bag). Unstable electricity again. This is everyday life in Liberia. A student said, “we’re studying hard despite these challenges to share the gospel of Jesus.” #dedication #passion
Day 15 – LwJ❤️: Saturday shopping trip to downtown Monrovia with our friends – what an adventure (photos to come). Thousands of people are selling goods on the streets and in crowded shops. Hustling and bustling could not describe it! Yelling, bartering and deafening noise. The taxi broke down on the ride home, so we stopped at a craftsman market while the driver bought fuel and repaired the car. We bought gifts for our family and friends. CayCay ride home. We were exhausted!! We took a quiet walk around the seminary to visit the termite mounds and chat with neighbors before early evening because there was no electricity again. We’re learning to pace our lives to focus on our blessings!
Day 16 – Liberia with Jesus’ ❤️: We had an early rise to no water or electricity, so we carried water from the pump. A deacon drove us to FBC New Kru Town for a lovely and lively service. Ivan preached while Jessa worked with the children. Notable people with great hospitality! The church has the vision to remodel and expand its children’s ministry for US$500.00 / L$75,000. Pray for the leaders, church, and funding.
Day 17 – Liberia with Jesus’ ❤️: We visited project sites funded by International Ministries – the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society and the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering (OGHS) at Antioch Baptist Church, school and conference center. It was an inspiring time with my traveling companion and ABWM scholar from Kansas, Jessa Greuter. We met Rev. Samuel Garmondeh, director of the Antioch Baptist School in Monrovia, Liberia, Africa. The students studied on wooden desks, chalkboards, uniforms,
Ivan taught New Testament Theology class, and then we went to the bakery. Liberians eat bread or bakery items for supper with a glass of hot tea. The cinnamon rolls, date pinwheels, and rolls were delicious! Bread US$0.66 / L$100. Rolls were $2.34 / L$350. It was a great day!
Day 18 – Liberia with Jesus’ Love: A cool morning (82 degrees) trip to the market to buy men’s shirts, soccer jerseys, and souvenirs. It rained last night on our tin roof (an incredible sound), so the dust settled. We were expecting to pay $20 US per shirt. Handmade tailored shirts, including fabric, were US$8.00/ L$1,200. Jessa ordered a tailored dress and skirt for US$10.
Arrived back for lunch (chicken, fish, vegetables) with new friends and seminary staff. The students in the New Testament Theology class were great again!! They listened and asked important questions about learning.
We took an evening walk to buy water (US $2.50 per case). A student volunteered to carry it home, although he was walking in the opposite direction with plans to go to the market. We asked him why he would walk to our house (the opposite way) to carry water for strangers. He said, “I want to honor you no matter how long it takes or if it takes me out of the way.” Liberians care deeply for other people!! A light supper and phone calls with family and friends in the US. There is a great need here for food! A bag of rice is $21.00 per month, solar panels ($200), and tuition $560 per semester!! Sponsor a student scholarship for $1,800 US annually (tuition, fees, dorm housing, and food).
Day 19 – A fantastic day of installing the new student leadership at chapel service, followed by a festive feast of Liberian food. The seminary honored Jessa and Pastor Ivan with traditional African clothes for our service. The New Testament Theology class was terrific again. Lively theological discussions, as Ivan tried to teach students how to think theologically, not what to think. The class gave Pastor Ivan beautiful African clothes, a gift for his wife, and gifts to Jessa; and asked that I return to teach again – Lord and seminary willing. Pastor Ivan was locked out of my Google account because someone accessed it from Liberia (me), so he worked on getting back into it (he forgot to tell Google he was going to Africa). Lovely evening walking and bird watching as there are so many breathe taking birds in West Africa. No electricity. The current (electricity) was restored after six hours.
Day 20A – Liberia with Jesus’ Love: We have found overflowing blessings and love in Liberia! Jessa Greuter taught her English class on punctuation; excellent job!! The students did very well. Sadly, the school system has not fully recovered from the Civil War, when most teachers fled or were killed; a struggle for a nation still struggling with PTSD. Very proud of Jessa’s work and passion for teaching. Delighted the students have a passion for learning!!
Day 20B – Liberia with Jesus’ Love: The love of Jesus pours from the hearts and hands of the groundskeepers at Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary! Prepared for class and graded excellent papers from the students. Went to an extra chapel service with inspiring singing and praise worship. Students enjoyed a “little extra” (fish) for lunch as a farewell gift. We donated $500 to the poultry project from Minneapolis Baptist Church in Kansas, plus other gifts for the school and students. We’ve enjoyed becoming friends with the workers, security staff and director of agriculture at LBTS. A powerful rainstorm swept in “just like in Kansas,” Jessa said. It was hard to keep her from playing in the rain. #liberia #secondhome #beautifulpeople
Day 21 – We said goodbye to our new friends and students at Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary. Drove to the airport at 3 am (GMT). Landed in the USA. Headed to Kansas City. We will have traveled 28 hours to get home. Worth it!! Loved Liberia and our Liberian friends.