lifegate in africa

Chance’s Trip to Sierra Leone, Africa

In March, my husband, Chance led a missions team of four to Sierra Leone to serve. You may remember that Chance and I work full time as representatives of Lifegate in Africa.
After teaching my man how to use his iPhone camera (hello, focus?!), the team was off! Once they returned, Chance had taken hundreds of pictures, and some of them were actually pretty good! 
While there, the team helped with craft projects at schools, played games and hung out with kiddos at Lifegate’s orphanage, co-led revival services at churches, and learned tie dying from the ladies at the ministry’s trade school.
They. Had. A. Blast.
Below you will find a photo dump from the trip – with the captions written by Chance!
Here’s Ginger and I right before I left the farm. Isn’t she beautiful?!

Travel

Mickey, Julia, Fred, and I were bound and determined to not let the rainy weather bring us down as we left Peoria, IL!

As we traveled, our suitcases were not only full of our personal items, but they also included tools for the ministry (chalk lines, masonry hammer, pliers, etc.). Musa, our head of construction, was very excited to have such nice equipment. Not only will he use it for Lifegate projects, but he’ll also use it to teach trades to others!

 

Mickey is like a grandma to me and my boys. I love her dearly, and it is because of my great love for her that I pretended to kiss her while she was sleeping on the plane and took a picture to capture the moment!

Schools

Sarah, one of Lifegate’s in-country missionaries, told the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den at each of our schools. Then, the team helped students decorate paper plates to look like lion masks. It was fun!
The students at Kassie School had prepared some songs for our arrival. They were adorable as they sang and swayed in their cute uniforms!
While visiting one of our schools, we witnessed this man working on the side of the road. He spends all day long creating a machete from old vehicle leaf springs; he heats the metal up in a small fire, and pounds and scrapes until it’s razor sharp. He only sells them for about $2 each. I’m always blown away at the ingenuity displayed in Sierra Leone!

Children’s Home

This is Mabinty, one of the older girls at the orphanage. She taught me how to play a jacks-like game using only rocks. She’s sweet AND competitive!
This is Lahai, one of the older boys at the orphanage. He’s a ham, to say the least. He loves to be the center of attention.
Lahai also loves to share God’s Word with his peers. While there, we got to observe his passion!
This is Alpha, another one of the older boys at the orphanage. He’s a quiet kid who loves the Lord.
Fatmata, the youngest girl from the orphanage, is always up for a picture. She’s such a cutie in her school uniform!
This is Matha, another one of the older girls at the orphanage. Ginger, the boys, and I have supported her financially for several years. It was so good to see her beautiful smile and talk about her future dreams of being a nurse. I was very proud the day I watched her help the Lifegate nurse do checkups on all the children; Matha was right there by her side.

Churches

When we visited each church, not only did we bring the Word of God, we also brought food! We considered it a privilege to hire local people to cook the food for the revival services.

 

This picture was snapped right after church in Brigitte Village. Can you believe all those people fit in that little building?!
This is Tommy, one of the members at Lifegate Church in Brigitte Village. One year ago Tommy was living in sin (belonged to a gang, demonstrated violence, promiscuous life), but he’s taken a turn for the better. He gave his life to Christ, and he’s a new man. I even got to see him teach a Bible story to the people of the church in Sunday School!

Trade School

Fatmata is one of the ladies who has been learning God’s Word and trades (sewing and tie-dying) since January. It was so cool to watch her work. We’re so proud of the progress that she and the other students have demonstrated in the past few months!
One day on our trip, the students became the teachers. The gals learning to tie-dye were given the opportunity to teach our missions team the trade!
Once the fabric was folded properly, Mickey learned how to tie and knot the cloth.
Julia was taught how to create specific designs by properly folding the fabric.
Of course, I was given the most complex design to create! They even trusted me with a huge needle! It was not easy work!
Julia mixed the dye and chemicals so that the fabric could be stained.
Ladies at the trade school tie-dyed 10 shirts that the team eventually brought back to the US. Ginger and I are excited to give them away this summer at VBS programs and church camps.
Since January, Lifegate has been teaching literacy classes at our trade school in Brigitte Village. Three days a week, nearly 25 students gather to learn how to read and write. This mama sees the value of education; because she loves herself and her son, she’s made learning this life skill a priority (even if it means attending with a baby on her back!).

Daily Life In Sierra Leone

 

How does one keep a chicken close by in Sierra Leone, you ask? Simply tie a sandal to the chicken’s leg, that’s how!
As for shaving cream, it’s about $5 a can in Sierra Leone, even though in the states you’ll pay about a dollar.
American-style food can be pretty expensive in Sierra Leone. A single pack of Ramen noodles was about 60 cents. In the US, they are about a dime each.
It’s much cheaper to eat African; their diet consists of mostly rice and fish.

Fundraiser

 

Lifegate is planning a banquet fundraiser on November 2 (mark your calendars!)  where items will be auctioned off.
A few of the hand-carved items include:
A chess set.
A nativity set.
And a mask.

Heading Home

 

This picture was taken the day before we left! I had a blast talking with Tyler, one of Lifegate’s missionaries (and one of my best friends) as we spent time on the beach.

Mickey, Julia, Fred, and I had just packed up and were making our way to the airport. It was so hard to say goodbye, but we knew that we had to come home and tell as many people as possible what God is doing in Sierra Leone.

Thank You

To those who prayed and supported me during my trip: thank you. Simply saying it or writing it doesn’t seem like enough, but I must express my gratitude.
Thank you for helping me go on this trip.
I was able to see people I love.
I was able to serve people who needed help.
I was able to see things that I wouldn’t have been able to see if it wasn’t for your generosity.
Thank you for your kindness.
A missions trip is currently being planned for 2018. If you are interested in traveling to Sierra Leone with Lifegate in Africa, please contact me here.

What’s new with the Newinghams?

Our summer has been busy, but good. I feel as though we’ve filled almost every minute since Nasko was placed. It’s been good to stay busy, but we are just about exhausted.

We’ve done multiple (4? 5?) Vacation Bible Schools for Chance’s job with Lifegate in Africa. SO much money and awareness have been raised this summer, but if I have to learn the motions to another theme song……..

Last week, we spent the entire week at church camp. We brought a babysitter with us, so I could teach a daily bible class and Chance was the featured missionary for the week. There were 60+ 5th and 6th graders (Lord have mercy) but overall things went very well!

Special needs adoption blog.

I was reminded how much I love to study the bible and share its truth with kids. Additionally, my boys both want to live at church camp, so I’d say we did something right! Our babysitter was ok with returning to modern conveniences like air conditioning though!

Special needs adoption blog.

In addition to being busy in real life, I’ve been super busy online! I am writing four posts for BumbyBox (Post One) (Post Two just went live yesterday and contains cute pictures of my boys).

I’ve gained two clients for the social media marketing I’ve been doing. And I was hired by my friend Courtney to run her book’s launch team. (Buy her book. Not just because she pays me to say that. Because it’s legit good. Buy it.)

Special needs adoption blog.

I also took over the social media accounts for Lifegate in Africa. (If you haven’t hopped over and liked our Facebook page, could you just go ahead and do that now? Kthanks. Sometimes I talk about the four/five VBSes we’ve done this summer. You don’t want to miss that.)

In addition to working, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be traveling for the rest of 2016. Chance and I are taking a late 10-year anniversary trip (destination is still TBD, so if you have suggestions, we’re all ears! This week we are leaning towards Portland or Seattle). We have only spent two nights away from our kids since Nasko came home over four years ago. His PTSD kept us close to home. This trip is long overdue.

I’m working on scheduling a trip to Sierra Leone this fall/winter to get some stuff done for Lifegate, and really to just go visit my BFF in Africa. Girls trip, but Africa-style!

Chance is traveling for work this fall as well and has invited me along. (He’s just so nice.) Next week, we all have to go to Indy for a couple days. Just Chance and I will hit Dallas together in September and the whole family will go to Kentucky in November.

Then in December we shall sleep. :—)

Just this week I’ve had many moments of feeling sad and overwhelmed that my sweet Nasko doesn’t live here anymore. Can you all just remember us in your prayers? When you pray for Nasko at 6:12, maybe sneak in a prayer for Nasko’s parents too. He’s doing well and loving school; it’s Chance and me who are struggling the most!

Our farmhouse is almost ready to be shared with you all! This does not mean that I have enough guest beds for everyone, but I do plan to share pictures of each room along with some history about the house VERY soon. My mom, aunt, and I are gathering the old house photos next week. Then I should be ready. Be sure to follow me on Instagram as I’ll be sharing the most house photos there and here on the blog.

With the same amount of importance as Nasko’s transition and all our travel plans, I present to you…….. what I am currently reading: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith.

Confession time: I have never read Harry Potter. I just need to do it. I keep digging in my heels. For my birthday this year my brother and sister-in-law (huge Harry P. fans) bought me a three-book set of novels they enjoyed. Cool. Ok. APPARENTLY THEY ARE WRITTEN BY J. K. ROWLING UNDER HER PSEUDONYM. I feel like they were tricking me and trying to edge me closer to HP. Well. It might be working. The books are well-written but easy reads. They have been perfect for our crazy summer schedule. Alright fine. I’m adding HP to my reading list now…

I’m getting my haircut today (watch my Facebook page for before/after photos) and my cousin is bringing her three-month-old foster daughter here for me to hold all the live long day. Tonight is our last night of VBS for the summer.

It’s going to be a good Friday! Hopefully your day includes self-care, songs with motions, and a snuggly baby as well. Or maybe a nap. Definitely a nap.

That’s what’s new with the Newinghams. What’s new with you?

orphan, sponsorship, sierra leone, orphanage

Orphan Crisis Solution – Sponsorship

There’s a little boy on the other side of the world who finished up his day of school earlier. He probably walked along a dirt road as he headed towards what he knows as home.

I can just see him smiling and laughing as he and his friends race in their school uniforms.

Idrissa finally has something to smile about again.

Just a few years ago, he and his older sister lived with their mother and father in Sierra Leone’s capitol, Freetown. Their parents were involved in some of the African Witchcraft practices, and their mother was killed by others within their religion.

Following her death, Idrissa and Isha’s father, Abdul, moved the family unit to a smaller village outside the capitol. There, in Kassie village, their father took on the trade of being a local fisherman.

Fishermen work long hours everyday. Isha, who is just six years older, was probably required to watch after Idrissa while their father worked. Without their mother to watch over them, the children likely spent their days searching for food, at the mercy of others in the community.

orphan, sponsorship, sierra leone, orphanage

These two young children were without a mother, in a new community, and struggling to survive.

Fishermen in Sierra Leone spend much of their time on the beach repairing nets, selling fish, and working on the boats. They easily build relationships with the other fishermen and peddlers as they work.

orphan, sponsorship, sierra leone, orphanage

While working, Idrissa and Isha’s father met a man named Maguay. Maguey is a leader at Lifegate in Africa‘s church in Kassie Village. He began to spend time with Idrissa’s family and was a good friend to Abdul.

As if the children had not already suffered so much, Abdul suddenly fell very ill. When he realized this illness would probably take his life (as many minor illnesses in Sierra Leone do), he turned to his friend Maguay. Abdul asked Maguay to be the guardian over his children, and to promise to protect them.

Idrissa and Isha were just four years old and ten years old when they became true orphans. They had lost all that they held dear – their mother and then their father.

Now they were considered second-class citizens in their culture.

After Abdul’s passing, Maguay began telling Jonathan, one of Lifegate‘s ministers, about these two children. Maguay told Jonathan of the children’s suffering, and of their loss.

Jonathan knew that Lifegate had to help. He worked with our orphanage to be sure there was the room and the resources for these precious children. When everything was ready, Idrissa and Isha moved into the orphanage together.

 

Before coming to Lifegate Children’s Home, Isha and Idrissa had very little hope. They were already missing the woman who was to care for them and meet their daily needs. They regularly experienced hunger and isolation. Their father worked hard, but struggled to provide for them.

They were alone and afraid.

orphan, sponsorship, sierra leone, orphanage

Idrissa

orphan, sponsorship, sierra leone, orphanage

Isha

Because of how their culture views orphans, they had little hope for the future. Their lives seemed desperate and bleak.

Since moving to Lifegate Children’s Home, however, Isha and Idrissa have thrived.

Today, they definitely have something to smile about.

They are receiving good, healthy meals every day. Their medical needs are being met by our staff nurse. They are allowed to attend school in addition to learning the bible. They are growing in attachment to their orphanage brothers and sisters, along with their caregivers.

DSCN2742

Isha and Idrissa have experienced so much heartache and pain, but because of the opportunities presented to them from Lifegate Children’s Home, they again can have hope for the future. They can return to being carefree kids as they know their needs will be met.

It is amazing that they are no longer worried about their next meal, but more than that, they are being given the hope of eternity with their Ultimate Provider.

 

But Lifegate Children’s Home needs your help. Idrissa and Isha along with three other children are still in need of partial sponsorships in order to continue having all their needs met.

This month, National Adoption Month, I have focused much of my writing on adoption, as it is near and dear to my heart and to my mission. But, maybe a lifelong commitment to a child isn’t something you or your family can handle.

That’s ok.

But there are still orphans. There are still hurting children. 

One way you can help solve the orphan crisis is through child sponsorship. When you donate $30 per month, the children in our orphanage will have their earthly needs met. They’ll be told the stories of the bible, and they will be cared for by loving house parents.

orphan, sponsorship, sierra leone, orphanage

But without funding and help from you, Lifegate Children’s Home cannot provide for orphans.

Would you and your family consider sponsoring a child from our orphanage? Would you do your part in ending the orphan crisis by giving just $30 every month? Would you be willing to give a child something to smile about today?

To begin sponsoring a child and providing hope today, email Lifegate: chance@lifegateinafrica.org