IAPOTA. You may not recognize that “word.” It’s All Part Of The Adventure is a term used to classify unusual experiences.
Our recent trip to Liberia had many IAPOTAs: expensive yellow fever vaccinations, an incorrect boarding pass, rescheduled flights, two Covid tests, a lost suitcase, extreme delays in the airport, daily rain, a crashing computer, and a missed connecting flight on our return are a few of the IAPOTAs that required some unexpected adjustments.
But there were more (far more wonderful) IAPOTAs.
Meeting Christian Family Members in the Airports and in Liberia
Each time we travel, we meet some of the grandest people in the world. As expected (and as we always do), we found dedicated Christians in the churches where we were honored to serve on this trip. Unexpectedly, and yet frequently, we meet God’s servants in airports and wherever we happen to be. This time, we met four different couples who are missionaries with other organizations.
God blessed us with helpful connections before we even started the trip. Our dear friend in DC put us in contact with a Liberian lady in Atlanta who connected us with her aunt who then helped us get necessary Liberian visa information. Previously, I had spent hours trying to follow the required steps, but she helped us accomplish it in a few minutes.
The day of our return, we met a Liberian brother and sister at the airport. The door of friendship was opened to us as we conversed and prayed with them.
Preaching Each of the Five Sundays
This was our first time in Liberia. We had not previously known Liberian culture or anything about their church services. But God met with us each time. Some accepted Christ. All the people were warm and appreciative.
Teaching Pastors Using Shepherds Global Classroom (SGC) Curriculum
Rita Jarboe, EFM’s national SGC leader in Liberia, beautifully prepared a challenging schedule, but then she had to adjust it to accommodate our rescheduled trip. We held classes in many parts of the country. Each session had 20-50 pastors and pastors-in-training in attendance. These students, young and old, were avid note takers and discussion participants. They pulled the “teach” out of us.
Some days we would go on walks and take along handfuls of gospel tracts. These tracts opened the door to pray with some of the recipients. We trust the Lord will speak to hearts and that some of the seed sown will yield fruit from fertile soil.
An added blessing was how God talked to some of the Liberian men who accompanied us about their need to be more proactive in evangelism.
Marriage Enrichment Seminar
25-40 people attended our 5-day marriage enrichment seminar for four hours each day. The surprising part was that only two married couples came as couples.
All attendees were given assignments to do at home, whether or not their spouse was attending the seminar. The days following each assignment, we asked for outcome reports from anyone who would volunteer to share. Their testimonies were greatly encouraging. Marriages were being strengthened. If only we had time to tell you more…
Two of the churches whose pastors were taking the SGC training invited us to have a program at their churches’ Christian schools. These were very enjoyable experiences, for both the children and us.
Another church with a sizeable congregation, almost half of whom are children, was planning to begin a children’s ministry program in August. God knew that we were going to be asked to give a training session to those who are going to work in that ministry. While we were packing for the trip, He prompted us to pack a suitcase full of children’s materials and visuals. At the close of the session with the teachers-to-be, they were delighted to keep everything from that suitcase. God is so good!
Protection from Poor Planning
We had not allotted enough time for immigration and customs in Chicago on our return trip, but the Lord granted us favor. Because our flight from Brussels was two hours late in leaving the airport, we missed our flight from Chicago to Lexington, but United provided food and motel vouchers. We enjoyed a great night’s rest!