James 1:27

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means
caring for orphans and widows in their distress
and refusing to let the world corrupt you." (NLT)

"Heart Adoption"

Signs for Hope works alongside our Liberian brothers and sisters of African Christian's Fellowship International (ACFI) to provide daily needs for the deaf orphans/children in their care.  God called Brother Ed Kofi, the founder of ACFI, to rally the Church around the least of the least, deaf orphans/children, during his country's 13+ years of civil wars.  This evangelistic/church planting indigenous ministry, ACFI, is unable to provide for the ongoing basic needs of life for these ones so dear to our Father's heart, so Signs for Hope is working to enlist monthly sponsors for each of the Deaf children.  There are approximately 40+ Deaf children living at the Oscar & Viola Stewart School for the Deaf (OVSSD) just outside Monrovia, Liberia.

As of January 2013, 21 of the children have been "Heart Adopted" or monthly sponsored.  The sponsorship funds ($40 per month) are pooled together to provide for the needs of all the children, but those who Heart Adopt one of these Deaf children begins to pray daily for their specific child, who will probably never experience earthly adoption.  Small packets carrying treasures you send your Heart Adopted child, at least twice a year, will be hand delivered for you by mission teams.  The mail service in Liberia is still unreliable.  Your Heart Adoption of one of these children will help provide for their basic physical needs of life, but it will also provide for deep emotional and spiritual needs.
Finally, someone loves them and prays for them!

Contact Becky for a private link to pictures of the Deaf children still needing sponsorship!

Other Signs for Hope Initiatives in Liberia:

1) Constrution of the Vocational Trade School at the OVSSD, including a concrete wall
to provide safety and protection for the facility and the Deaf children
2) Working with our Liberian brothers and sisters to improve the current program for the Deaf children at the OVSSD

3) Teacher training for teachers of the Deaf

4) Seeking God's plan for establishing Christian schools for Deaf children
in other counties across Liberia.
Liberia Trip August 2013 Report

We had a team of 5 including Becky & Charles Lloyd, Vandora Henderson, Joseph Lloyd and Bobby Neptune.  Katie Klein was already there when we arrived and was spending 7 weeks in Liberia with ACFI (African Christian's Fellowship Internationa), the indigenous Liberian Christian church we work alongside.

The temperatures were the most mild we have ever had, but many days of clouds and rain were the reason. The rain/flooding did not prevent us from going and doing, but mechanical issues with both ministry vehicles were cause for numerous lengthy delays.  TIA...this is Africa!  And more specifically, TIL...this is Liberia!

At the Deaf Mission there were only 11 children and their caregivers. The caregivers include Ma Jestina who is the new Dorm Matron for all the deaf children and three of her own and one other woman who cooks for the children.  Jestina and the cook, are learning sign language, but did not know any before accepting this responsibility.  Bro. Ed (Founder of ACFI) said Jestina's greatest qualification for this specific service was her LOVE for children.  The search for a new director for the deaf school is ongong.  It will be a challenge to fill this position.

It was school break time and ACFI worked hard to send as many deaf children away for break as they could, since their caregivers needed a break, too.  Family members, friends, and some ACFI church families took the children for the almost 2 month break.  I pray this was a postive experience for the deaf children and will try to get news of the children's return by the 2nd week of September.

The older three deaf children who were there, ages 13, 14, 15, told me things had improved since the former director and his wife (and their numerous hearing children) had been asked to leave in March. They shared they were not as hungry as before.  Unfortunately, we found out the director and his wife took with them most everything that could be carried when they left, stating "We (Signs for Hope) meant for them to have all those things." :-( 

We stayed at the ACFI guesthouse in Monrovia the first two nights and asked to be allowed to move to the Daniel Hoover Children's Village (DHCV, the hearing school) to save time and gas.  The trip from the guesthouse to the Deaf Mission is about an hour and a half trek each way, through the capital city of Monrovia.  The trip from DHCV to the Deaf Mission is about 20 - 30 minutes, depending on the severity of the flooding of the roads, or approximately 5 miles.  One day, mission teams will be able to stay on the Deaf Mission compound, when a fence and a guesthouse are built there. :-)

We arrived on Wednesday night and went to see the deaf children on Thursday afternoon, briefly.  Interestingly enough, after we had only been there for a short time, the former director came walking onto the compound with another Liberian man he introduced as a former director for the Deaf Mission. I am sure word travels fast when the ACFI bus comes bouncing through the village, especially when there are Mzungu, white man, on board.  Unfortunately, in March, the director and his family purchased land and built their home within a few hundred yards of the Deaf Mission. As he walked up with the other "former" director he acted as if nothing had happened, but I was very uncomfortable. 

It was time for the children to eat, which meant is was time for us to eat the meal our hosts had graciously packed for us.  We went inside the dorm/school building to eat and the former director brought his wife back to greet me/us. The ACFI Director for Children's Ministries asked me if I had asked to see them and when I said no, the two of them left.  We did not see them again, but they sent three of their hearing childen over to ask for things on two separate occasions. ACFI has asked this family not to tresspass, but apparently they felt free to do so when we were present.

We spent much of Saturday at the Deaf Mission playing with the children and trying to help them prepare for attending the 11th celebration of the DHCV.  Vandora and I helped do the little girls hair.  Mostly, I just took out the old cornrows and watched the others replace the with new ones.  They call it "platting" the hair. 

Sunday was filled with morning worship and the events planned for the 11th celebration.  Pretty much, "church" all day, followed by a dinner and many speakers.  The deaf students were also there.  Sam Wezzah showed up at the celebration and it was great to see him, again.  Sam was the man who helped locate the three deaf children in Cestos City in February.  He has since located a total of seven. Sam is currently attending statistic classes at the University of Liberia in Monrovia.  He works for the Ministry of Health and is an assistant pastor for the ACFI church in Cestos City.

Monday, as it was suggested, we took a field trip to visit Mary's Meals, about 2 hours from Monrovia.  Mary's Meals, a Scotland based NGO, supports the Oscar Romero School for the Deaf.  There were no students or administrators on campus, as it was school break, be we toured the facilites and were impressed by what we saw.   The deaf school is for students through grade 7 and for grades above interpreters are provied for them to attend local hearing schools. When school resumes, I will email the director to see when in February I can go for a full visit and classroom observations.

On Tuesday, Bobby's last day, we followed Mohammad (15 yr. old deaf student) to Ophelia's home.  She is deaf, age 21 and in the 9th grade. She lives close enough to the school to walk everyday. Bobby's goal, from the beginning, was to uncover and shoot (pictures, Bobby was our professional photographer) at least one..."A Day in the Live of..." story of a deaf student.  We found Ophelia, or rather she found us, but her full story has yet to unfold.  Bobby did get some amazing photos and he is working to get them to me, as well as, a SFH promotional DVD.  This is an answer to a 4 year long prayer! 

Sam came back on Wednesday and spent the day with us at the Deaf Mission. I have multiple conversations with Sam via Facebook messaging weekly and they are mostly biblical in nature. He is hoping to help do some organization and inventory for the ACFI churches and schools.  He plans to visit the Deaf Mission once school resumes to especially check on the young deaf man he found in Cestos City in February, now attending the Deaf Mission.  Wednesday was our last day with the deaf children. 

Thursday we packed up and headed back to the guesthouse.  We had an appointment with Mrs. Christine Norman, director of Restoration of Educational Advancement Programs (REAP), at 2:00 and then visited the REAP camp where the trade training camps are held.  Through my connection with Lifeline Children's Services and their (un)adopted program to orphans and children at risk, I was connected to Christine in the spring of 2012.  REAP began inviting deaf students to attend their trade camps last year and have included them each time they hold camp since then.  They provide an interpreter for the students and have been very impressed with the commitment and accomplishments of the deaf students during camp.  This is a very impressive program!

Our next trip to Liberia is planned for the first 10 days of March 2014.  Vandora Henderson and Steve & Heather Farmer will lead this team.  The focus will be on understaning and improving education for the deaf students.  I will probably travel 2 weeks earlier than the team, as there are two events I would like to be involved with, a tentative REAP trade training camp and another visit to the Oscar Romero deaf school.

Contact Becky for more information.

Liberia Mission Trip February 2013 Report

The Signs for Hope Liberia February 2013 Mission Trip (February 12th – March 2) is now history! Only God knows the ripple effect of this teams impact on those we encountered and their impact on us, as well.

We were a team of seven, three Deaf and four hearing. Deaf team members were Phillip and Elaine Easterling and Libby Watson and the hearing team members consisted of me (Becky Lloyd), Vandora Henderson, Heather Farmer (ASL Interpreter) and Katie Klein. All team members arrived home late Saturday night.

The love, hospitality, and service our Liberian brothers and sisters showed us throughout our trip was so special and words cannot express our gratitude for each act of kindness shown to each of us.

It would be impossible for me to report on all that God did during this 16-day trip, but I hope to be able to convey accurately some of our most significant experiences. During the first three days we were so full of God’s blessings we could have returned home feeling abundantly satisfied with all God had done in that brief amount of time. Little did we know the extent of God’s plans for the remaining 13-days of our trip.

In 2010, I began to ask God to send Deaf people with me to Liberia. I knew my limitations as a hearing person and so desired for the deaf children in Liberia to meet those just like them. God handpicked this team and several shared of their reservations to join this team until God would not let them rest until they surrendered. He accomplished things through each of them beyond what I could think or imagine.

Upon arriving in Liberia, Wednesday evening, we were met with a rare shower during the dry season. Lillian said this was God’s way of showing His blessing on this team and our trip; her words were definitely prophetic.

The additional God-connections He allowed to seasoned ACFI partners was also ordained for ‘such a time as this’. Dana Kropf and her daughter, Deborah, were already in Liberia when we arrived on Wednesday evening, the 13th. Deborah is a nationally certified ASL interpreter and has spent much of her life with those in the Deaf Community. Dana’s love for the Deaf comes from her family members who are Deaf. The Oscar and Viola Stewart School for the Deaf is named in honor of Dana’s husband’s Deaf grandparents. The Kropf’s were the first to adopt through ACFI many years ago. We learned much from the Kropf’s and they learned much from us, in the four days we spent together at the guesthouse. I pray Dana will be able to share her deeper vision for the deaf children of Liberia with ACFI board members in the months to come.

Upon arriving at the ACFI guesthouse, Ed told us of his scheduling of a live radio interview and television appearance on Thursday and Friday, respectfully. His plan was for Dana and Deborah Kropf, and my Deaf pastor, Phillip Easterling, and me to be involved in the interviews. Promoting the equality of Deaf people and the dedication of the new vocational trade school at the Deaf Mission were to be their focus. We were late to the radio interview on Thursday, thanks to the Monrovia traffic, but all traveled on to the Deaf Mission for a quick visit. It was there that we realized why the dedication ceremony had been moved from Friday the 15th to Saturday the 16th, as there was still much work to be done on the vocational trade school. Many were involved with trying to complete the school and put a fresh coat of paint on the original dorm/classroom building. After viewing the new school building Phillip shared some encouraging words and a Story One Bible story with the deaf children and staff.

Story One is the Deaf-way of sharing the scriptures with Deaf people around the world. While there are more than 200 sign languages around the world, Story One bridges that communication gap. Following the concept of orality, the verbal sharing of Bible stories passed from one person to another (storytelling), Story One uses universally understood actions, gestures and signs that can readily be understood when shared in the context of a specific Bible story. This is the same concept Jesus used as he shared parables with his disciples and followers to enlighten them to truth.

The radio interview was rescheduled for late in the day on Friday; we waited around at the guesthouse all day until the plans were finalized. We did make a quick trip to the beach and it was delightful! Nothing was mentioned, on Friday, about the TV interview, but it was obvious God’s timing that switched the radio interview from Thursday at noon to Friday afternoon during rush hour traffic.

Liberians still call Deaf people “Deaf & Dumb”, a term that was also used in the US until the 70’s. The radio interviewer was shocked to find out that deaf people are not dumb, but mute instead. He was fascinated by the fact that Phillip was a full-time Deaf pastor and had traveled extensively worldwide to share the gospel with Deaf people. The Liberian term for the Deaf, Bobo, also carries with it negative connotations. It will take some time to break the Liberians of their negative thinking about the Deaf, but this trip was an eye-opener for many and we pray this new revelation will spread like wildfire across their country.

Prior to our trip, I had sent Brother Ed a list of things we would like to accomplish. We were hoping to distribute the supplies and the sponsorship packets we had brought on either Thursday and/or Saturday before departing for the annual conference on Sunday. Friday, the 15th, was the original date for the dedication ceremonies. It was so evident that the ongoing construction of the two buildings and the arrival of multiple teams in the same week had taken its toll on Brother Ed and the ACFI staff, so I never mentioned my desires. My lack of sharing the exact arrival time for our team at the airport added additional stress.

Friday morning, Jane Zerbe from Alaska brought family and friends (Liberian and American) with her to the guesthouse to meet our team face to face. Angel had connected us late last fall after Ed and Cece’s visit to Alaska. The Lord had planned for our trips to Liberia to coincide. Jane has a heart to see the Deaf people saved and she has been learning sign language for 10 years. She and her husband were missionaries in Liberia prior the civil wars. Their ministry is to more than 129 Independent Baptist Pastors across Monrovia and Liberia. Phillip shared two Bible stories via Story One and all were mesmerized! One of their pastors had shared with Jane the day before that his 5 yr. old daughter was deaf and he was so thankful for learning there are deaf schools available in Monrovia. Our team will follow up with deaf school suggestions for this pastor’s daughter.

Saturday evening brought another seasoned team from GA, Pat Petier (ACFI Elder) and Rob Thompson, as they would be leading the training for the 8-day ACFI Annual Conference in River Cess County. The Kropf’s left us on Sunday afternoon, but the Canadian team of Wayne (ACFI Elder) and Donna Shenk and Anne Klassen arrived Sunday evening. It was no accident our team was exposed to all of these godly people who have walked down long hard roads with ACFI for many years. We so enjoyed getting to know these folks and hearing the many stories God has given them through the years.

The idea of Deaf team members taking part in the ACFI Annual Conference was Brother Ed’s idea, from the beginning. I could never have imagined how God would bring all this together, but He did.

Pat and Phillip share a bond for the writings of John Piper. Pat had planned his entire teaching around one of Piper’s books and quickly realized Phillip could add some great visuals and examples for the principles he had planned. They teamed up to lead the ACFI pastors, elders, and evangelists for their training all week. Donna and Anne included all our ladies in their training for the ACFI women, as well. The women were so impacted by the testimonies of Elaine and Libby as they shared their hearts and experiences growing up Deaf. Phillip preached two of the nights during the conference, with Heather voice interpreting for him and the responses from the conference attendees were enthusiastic. One Liberian shared how touched he was by the Word of God as at came off the fingers of a Deaf man. Liberians benefit greatly from the visual, as do the Deaf.

I knew God would have other plans for our team during our week at the conference and was not surprised when He connected Phillip to a man named Sam for this added blessing. Sam turned out to be an associate pastor for ACFI in Cestos City and he also works for the Ministry of Agriculture in River Cess County. Phillip asked Sam if there were any deaf children in Cestos City. Sam said he did not know of any, but he would ask around. The next day Sam shared news of a 20-year-old deaf young man and that evening, Garayee joined us for worship, along with his older hearing sister. This boy had a great personality and did a good job of relating to the hearing people around him, but he had never met another Deaf person and he did not know any sign language. He came to the conference day after day to be with our team and moved to the Deaf Mission on Monday when we returned to Monrovia.

Sam found two additional deaf girls and we were able to meet with one of them and her family on Saturday. Hannah, age 9, also knew no sign language. She had lost her hearing/speech three years prior due to Malaria Plus 4. She quickly learned to fingerspell her name, with Elaine’s help, and her mother and grandmother brought her to church Saturday night. Hannah also spent the day with us on Sunday. We received an email from Sam earlier this week and he shared that Hannah misses us greatly. Phillip will be making recommendations to Hannah’s family as to where will be the best place for little Hannah to attend Deaf School, in the near future.

Another one of my greatest desires, since 2010, was to be able to visit additional Deaf schools in and around the Monrovia area. When Georgia mentioned that possibility to me last June, I knew this trip would be God’s perfect timing for this to happen. At the ACFI Banquet in Charlotte on December 1st, I shared this desire with Brother Ed and he also felt this trip would be appropriate for this exploration. We spent our mornings, the last few days in Liberia, visiting three of the seven or eight Deaf schools. We also spent three hours with the leaders of the Liberian National Association of the Deaf and gleaned much information from them about the Deaf Community in Liberia.

We were able to distribute the sponsor packets at the Deaf Mission, take photos, and have the sponsored children write thank-you letters to their sponsors. In addition, we have photos of the new students and their letters in anticipation of their being sponsored. As soon as my official photographer, Libby, categorizes her more than 8,000 photos we will send the children’s photos and letters.

Katie and Georgia tried on Wednesday and Thursday to distribute packets at DH but many of the children were not there as it was school break time. Katie will be giving what they were able to accomplish to Corrie, soon.

I am seeking God’s plan for the timing of the next SFH Liberia trip and believe it will be within this year. All team members expressed they would be returning, as God leads, as well. One of the greatest needs that was expressed to our team, on multiple occasions, was the desperate need for training of the Deaf teachers. Plans are being made now for this type of trip and I trust we can offer this training in the near future.


Liberia Mission Trip 2011
August 2011

by Becky Lloyd

We were driving down a winding narrow dirt road, filled with pot holes as large as half the size of our van, crossing rivers without bridges-it was the rainy season.  Finally, we could see it...a small concrete building on 5 acres of dirt, home to 40+ Deaf orphans.

As we pulled up to the building our driver began honking the horn, however no children ran to greet us as they had the day before at the other orphan home/boarding school.  The children there were all hearing.  Here, it was different, it wasn't until the children "saw" us that they came running to great us with squeals of joy and excitement.

It is rare to have visitors at the Deaf home.  Some of the children were overcome with emotion, which in turn caused a lump to form in my throat and my eyes to swell with tears.  I could hardly wait to embrace each one of them and you could tell by their body language the feeling was mutual.  I had been anxiously awaiting this moment for more than a year and it was finally becoming a reality.

Where was I?  I was just outside Monrovia, Liberia (West Africa); a country trying desperately to recover from two civil wars in as many decades.  The infrastructure is still virtually nonexistent in this country.  The wars have left hundreds of thousands displaced and as many as 270,000 orphans.  Why was I there?  In March of 2008 God called me to "coordinate the adoption of deaf orphans in the world."  Liberia was God's choice for my first hands-on work with these precious ones-so close to our Father's heart.

I was given the opportunity to travel to Liberia, West Africa in June of 2010.  I had been connected to Deaf orphans living there and those who had adopted deaf and hearing orphans from Liberia multiple times during the early part of 2009.  I have been on several missiont trips through the years, but this was my first trip specifically to work with orphans and more specifically-Deaf orphans.

Below you can read about the additional initiatives our team was involved with while in Liberia in 2010.  This is a blog posting from Angel Rutledge, the Libeiran Program Director for Christian Adoption Services in Matthews, NC.  Angel was our team leader.

Monday, June 28, 2010 – Angel Rutledge (http://rutledge6.blogspot.com)

Praises from the Trip

Liberians and Americans worked side by side on this trip. This is a huge step forward in our relationship. Because of Liberia’s patronage system history and their hospitable nature, it is easiest for them to allow American Christians to come in and simply do relief work (i.e. passout material goods and do construction projects.) Though some relief work is still needed, the greater need is training, investing in and supporting the Liberian church as they rebuild their country and reach their people for Christ.

Here were a few initiatives we worked on together:

1. Planting Moringa trees at the Deaf Mission. Our team did the research on the nutritional value of the tree, how to plant it and harvest it and carried the seeds over. The staff and some older students cleared the field and educated us as they prepared it for planting. None of us realized it would be important to kill the fire ants in the field before planting, so the ants wouldn’t eat the seeds and plants as they tried to grow. Everyone worked together to plant the seeds and the Liberians will continue to plant and maintain the field now that we are gone.

2. Water mill repairs were done with donations. We were able to fund the repairs that were needed to restore running water to the Daniel Hoover Children’s Village. One of our team members coordinated with the contractor and checked

with him most days to help trouble shoot problems on our trip, but the work of making the repairs was done by Liberians. We should have photos of the completed project sometime in the near future.

3. Starting a bakery business. I met with the workers who are going to run a bakery business at Daniel Hoover. The Embassy built the bakery several years ago and the Liberians have used it to bake bread for the students. Realizing they could also sell bread in the surrounding village, they asked our team for help in setting it up. When I met with them on the trip, they had baked a batch of various size loaves and had sent someone out in the community that day to sell it. I asked a lot of questions about their pricing and expenses for all of the ingredients and other costs to operate the business. Together, we calculated daily expenses and potential income. It was a fascinating process. We discovered after our first calculations that they would lose money if all the variables were what they were telling me. We talked through what variables could change (i.e. pricing of the bread, size of the bread, cost of supplies) and they quickly decided they could reduce the size of their breads and keep the prices the same since they had baked such large samples in the hope of enticing more customers. One of our team members will continue to check in on the workers to support this new business, and we invested $500 into helping them start up.

Photos above are from the bakery business after it was launched.

4. Last year we employed a Liberian to build bunk beds at the Daniel Hoover Children’s Village. This year we reevaluated the needs at both missions and realized the Deaf Mission needs a lot of beds, mattresses, bedding and bed nets. We sat down with the same gentleman who did the work last year and worked with him to calculate the cost for him and another guy doing this work along with repairing screens and repairing some beds at Daniel Hoover. From donations for the trip, we were able to fund this so all of the kids at both missions will have beds and be protected from malaria with bednets and screens on the windows.

New beds with mosquito nets.

5. We brought supplies for making paper beaded necklaces and taught the older girls at Daniel Hoover and the staff at the guest house how to make them. For the girls, it gives them an activity to do what’s enjoyable and creative. For the staff, they are excited about the possibility of making money by selling the jewelry, which doesn’t exist yet in the Monrovian marketplace.

6. Leadership training went really well. The first day, I went through John 5:1-8 and compared the invalid that Jesus healed with the people of Liberia. Jesus question to the man, “Do you want to get well?” was the challenge for the session. I encouraged them not to be like the invalid who answered the question with excuses for why he wasn’t healthy already and had spent 38 years looking to a false hope of healing. Instead, my encouragement for them was to embrace the healing that comes only from Christ (not America) and heed Jesus warning to the man to stop sinning once he was healed or something worse might happen. From there, I talked about the need for us as Americans and Liberians to work together and sup each other on to love and good deeds. We talked about what had gone well in our partnership in the last year and what we hoped to do to improve our relationship from here. On the second day of training, we discussed American values and Liberian values and how we can embrace both cultures and learn better how to cooperate in our work. This was a fascinating session I believe for all of us. We have talked many times over the past few years about differences in our cultures, but there was a new level of vulnerability this time that really helped us say on both sides, “Wow, I didn’t realize that was so hard for you. Here’s what I can do to try to help make your job easier.”



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