As many of you know, Patti and I recently announced that we will be returning to Liberia in July of this year. Although this will be my third trip and Patti’s fourth, this trip will be a little different because this time we will be the leaders of the team. But there’s something else that we would also like to be different. We would really like to take some of you with us.
But first, let me back up and offer a little history. Several years ago, when we went on our first trip, we announced to our congregation (which at that time was Trinity UMC) that although we were familiar with the Farmer to Farmer mission and knew several of the people involved, our first trip was one of exploration. We wanted to see the mission of Farmer to Farmer in Harrisburg, Liberia for ourselves. We wanted to see what Farmer to Farmer was doing, to meet the people of Harrisburg, and to understand better what was being done and why they needed our help.
What we saw changed us.
We became friends with the people. We understood the deep need and we understood why they needed help to move forward from where they were to where they needed to go. But we also understood that our mission had to be a partnership and not just a means of moving money from the United States to Liberia. The people of Harrisburg needed more than money and they needed to take ownership of what they had. That understanding is what drove Farmer to Farmer to organize with a both a board in the United States and an equal board in Harrisburg. We didn’t, and we don’t, want to tell them what they need. We want the people of Harrisburg to tell us what they need, and we work together to find ways to accomplish those goals. At the same time, the over arching goal is to reach a place where the mission in Harrisburg is self-sufficient and we aren’t needed at all.
Last year, Farmer to Farmer launched its first capital funds campaign to address one of Harrisburg’s greatest needs, a new school. While there are already three elementary schools, the nearest high school is three hours away. As a result, almost no one continues their education beyond the ninth grade. But, with the success of that capital funds campaign last year, the first phase of construction for the new Farmer to Farmer agricultural high school has already begun. And, while Farmer to Farmer has provided the funds to buy raw materials, it is the students, teachers, parents, and other volunteers in Harrisburg that are mixing cement, pounding the cement into forms to manufacture bricks, and offering other labor as their share of ownership in this new school. More than that, the students and families of the St. John’s elementary school raised the money, and the labor, to build a new building just down the hill from the site of the new high school almost entirely without our help.
There are many more stories that I could tell, but I wanted to share this much to say that, obviously, Patti and I were convinced by our first trip of exploration. As a result, we returned together in 2018, and Patti went again in 2019, and we are also now members of Farmer to Farmer’s board of directors. This year, we are returning again to continue the progress that is being made, to paint classrooms, to sing, to pray, to play games with children, to encourage, and whatever else that we find to do that will move the dream of self-sufficiency closer to reality.
And we want some of you to come with us. We hope to depart on July 21st and return home on August 4th. We know that if you come with us, meet our friends, experience Liberia, and share the joy of the people of Harrisburg, you will be forever changed, as we were. But your two-week investment will also change the world for the children of Harrisburg.
Won’t you join us?
Did you enjoy reading this?
Click here if you would like to subscribe to Pastor John’s weekly messages.
Click here to subscribe to Pastor John’s blog.
Click here to visit Pastor John’s YouTube channel.