The following is a report submitted by Miss Joanne Greer about she and Rev. David DiCanio’s return to Liberia, West Africa after their August 5th, 2014 evacuation because of the ebola crisis.
Thank you all for your prayers for the work in Liberia during the recent Ebola crisis. After Rev. David DiCanio’s and my evacuation from the field in August 2014, the Mission Board of the Free Presbyterian Church of North America had been monitoring the situation carefully.
In February 2015, they made the decision to allow our return as and when we were able. At that point, Mr. DiCanio was involved in a heavy schedule of deputation meetings in Northern Ireland, and I was in Uganda for six weeks, helping out at Emmanuel Christian School. Once these commitments were fulfilled, we began preparing for our return. We are both grateful to our Mission Boards for these opportunities of service, and to all the people in our churches for their support and kindness during our months at home.
As we began researching travel options to Liberia, we realised that most of the airlines that halted flights to West Africa during the Ebola epidemic had not yet resumed operations to Liberia. At the same time, we were very generously offered another German Shepherd dog (Tina) by a friend in Northern Ireland to help with security on the mission compound in Dwazon, Liberia. We therefore had to find a way to bring this dog with us.
After many hours of phone calls and emails, it became obvious that, because of the size of the dog, and the lack of airline options, the only way to transport Tina was to drive her to Brussels and then send her by air-freight from Brussels to Monrovia. We are so thankful to all who helped us with these arrangements – building an airline-approved dog crate, assisting us with van rental, helping with accommodation along the way, and especially the offer of Mr. Bertie Moffett (an elder from Markethill FPC) to drive us to Brussels and then return the van to Northern Ireland.
On Wednesday, May 6, we crossed by ferry from Larne to Stranraer, drove across Scotland and England on Thursday and crossed the Channel by EuroTunnel that evening, flew out of Brussels on Friday and arrived safely in Monrovia on Friday evening, May 8th. We give God the glory for a safe and smooth journey, and we thank you all for your prayers.
Do continue to pray for us as we settle back into life and work in Liberia. After nine months’ absence, we found plenty of cleaning and maintenance to be done on the property, and we have been busy with that for the past few days. The ocean air takes its toll on equipment and appliances, and the list of things to be repaired/replaced includes one refrigerator, two air conditioners, one toilet, the washing machine, and all the backup batteries (that give us electricity during the day).
Personally, I’m thankful that apart from innumerable spiders and ants, a few cockroaches, and a couple of lizards, there were no other living creatures in my apartment to greet me! Riley, the German Shepherd that we left on the property, is alive and well and was happy to see us, and he has quickly become friends with Tina (another answer to prayer!)
We were so glad to greet the folks at Paynesville Free Presbyterian Mission Church this past Sunday, and to see them looking healthy and well. We hope to visit the other two congregations in Balla Creek and RiverCess in the next few weeks. We praise God that out of our three churches, only one woman died of probable Ebola during our absence. We mourn her passing, but we know that the toll could have been much worse. Liberia was declared Ebola-free on May 9th, one day after our return, and everyone is praying that Sierra Leone and Guinea will also soon be clear.
Please pray for me as I restart my work with the children and women in our churches, that I will know much wisdom, grace, and strength. I will soon be meeting with Mr. Nathan Barco and Mr. Abraham Kotee, the two young men who continued the children’s work during my absence, so that I can be brought up to date and we can plan for the summer months.
Pray also for Mr. DiCanio as he awaits word from North America regarding available funds to continue the construction of the second house, where I will live. Mr. DiCanio is also preaching regularly, overseeing and coordinating the repairs on the property, finishing video editing work for the upcoming LTBS deputation video, and commencing the government accreditation process for the Free Presbyterian Mission Church of Liberia (FPMCOL). Without this accreditation, we are unable to register our vehicles, apply again for resident status, and function as a church. We have attempted to apply for this on several occasions in the past, but up to this point have been unable to do so without USA tax exempt status (which our USA church has now received), and also because of the Ebola epidemic.