I am recovering from being knocked out flat the past 36+ hours with a nasty bug — but I won’t burden you with details…. 🙂  It’s strange having lost an entire day — Wednesday is just gone!  Hopefully it’s not contagious over the internet.  I’d hate for any of you dear blogging buddies to catch it!  

The up-side to being sick has been the chance to catch up on some reading while I’ve been recovering.  I’ve been reading The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs…  It’s not a fluffy book by any means; it’s definitely an eye-opener and an awareness builder from the perspective of an economic genius who has the credentials and experience to speak with authority…  It’s an honest look at difficult global issues, but it’s not all doom and gloom as he has spent time in the field putting his ideas to practice and they have yielded remarkable fruit.  He talks a lot about the need to gain an understanding of what is really happening — the roots of the issues — so we can understand what will and will not make a difference.  He gives an excellent look at the historic reasons for the vast economic extremes that have emerged in the last two centuries.  Overall he seems to have a postive perspective on the economic possibilities we face.  Anyway, I am only half-way through, so I guess I should probably reserve my full recommendation until I’ve finished!  🙂 

Actually, I have a great story to share along these lines.  Peter and I have been praying for months now about further ways we can get involved with the global issues we feel passionate about lending our hands (and time and resources) to…  I have been working with UAHH on the beginning stages of the formation and structure of the school they are developing in Africa (more on that later!) and I am excited about where that relationship may lead us in the future.  But for now, we have been trying to posture ourselves to be open and prepared to give as much as we can in this season of our lives (as we are rather tied to the business and other responsibilities in this specific geographic location) and have asked the Lord to open doors where he wants us to give and minister.  Among other doors we feel He has opened, we are looking at an interesting opportunity that has presented itself recently.

We were reading the paper a couple weeks ago and Peter found an article about a Liberian man living and working in the Palouse (about 3 hours south of us).  He is “shadowing” the Pullman Fire Department, getting as much training as he can so when he returns home he will be better qualified to find a good job to help his family climb out of the cycle of poverty so common in Liberia.  He is living with a firefighter/farmer that he met while driving fire trucks for the UN.  He is on a visitor’s visa and cannot legally work for wages, but is looking to put on as many skills as he can.  We were really impressed with his initiative and desire to become a disciple and learn as much as possible.

We were excited to find out there was a man from Liberia living so close to us  (We really do live “in the middle of nowhere” — just google our address and you’ll see!”) Peter called the journalist who wrote the article to get the phone number of the man who is housing him.  We started praying about a pursuing a relationship, and saw it as God opening a door rather than mere coincidence. We realized we had a great opportunity to offer him the chance to come and work with Peter in the shop for a period of time to put on additional skills in carpentry, cabinetry, wood-working, business management, etc., 

I shared a few weeks ago about the organization, KIVA, that helps fund small business ventures in developing countries by giving people the opportunity to help relationally by investing in individual businesses.  We feel it is the same sort of opportunity for us to invest in this man’s life relationally… to offer him the chance to learn the skills we can teach him in the hopes that it will make a difference in his life and family’s life in the future.  It can be overwhelming to look at global economic statistics — just as it can be to look at orphan stats… but, every person we can help really does make a difference.  We can’t always know how exponential the ripples will be.  Another book I’ve read lately, Fields of the Fatherless (by Tom Davis) encourages us to look around for the opportunities to plant small seeds in seemingly “ordinary” ways that will bring large harvests in the future — crops we can’t even begin to imagine now from our small actions.   So I’ve been looking around and praying and feel this is a seed we can sow in the hopes it will benefit many people.

Anyway, Peter met with Ahmad (the Liberian man) and Mike (the firefighter he is staying with) over dinner Tuesday night in Spokane and he said it was an awesome time learning more about our son’s country as well as getting to know Ahmad.  He has a wife and a four-month-old baby in Liberia and is the “head” of his extended family of eight siblings.  So he has the responsibilty to care for them as well as his own family.  He sounded excited about the possibility of coming to stay with us for a while and working with Peter in the shop.  We are praying about the logistics.  We would like to pay him for his labor because he would be working for us the same as our other employees, but we aren’t sure how to go about it with his visa (plus there are a myraid of things we become liable for as employers… insurance, taxes, etc.)  We are thinking we might be able to gift him with an small amount when he is finished that would be like an investment for him to use when he goes home to help with the transition into the area of business he feels led to…. ? We’re just not sure.  Things, unfortunately, are rarely as simple as they should be.  We should just be able to say, “Yes! We want to help!” and then do it.  But there are things to think through on both sides before we move forward.

So, anyway… we aren’t sure where it is going to end up, but it’s an exciting door.  Even if nothing comes of this specific situation, we are aware of an opportunity we have to sow seeds in this way.  Could there be other men or women in developing countries that God would have us open our home and lives to for a season to impart various skills we have and then invest in their businesses as they take what they’ve learned back to their countries?  It’s a relational way to make a difference in people’s lives.  I really don’t know what God’s plan is in all this… but it’s exciting to think about.  What a door!  🙂

We would, of course, appreciate prayer for this situation… that we would be led clearly and be wise in our decisions.