Lighthouse Broken-Beautiful Art Show

Faye sent this email out today. I wish that I could go!

Dear friends,

I know that most of you are in the east coast, but if you are going to be in the LA/Seal Beach area during June 19-28, you can go see a really cool photography exhibit by our Lighthouse youths. This photo project involved youth in the Lighthouse program in Sierra Leone, West Africa and in Grace Community Church of Seal Beach, California Jr High and High-School groups.

The artists were each given a disposable camera, and asked to record images exploring the concepts of brokenness and beauty in their homes, and in the city around them. Some of our youth had never held a camera before, but were able to take some really amazing pictures. I think some of the pictures will have descriptions of why they took and why they found the images beautiful and broken.

The exhibit opens on June 19th 2007, from 5:30 – 9:00pm. Cami Sigler (my friend, roommate and field director) will be there on the day it opens to share more about our WMF community here, and the youth participating in this project. She is a person you would love to meet!

Please attend if you are in the area. If you have friends and family in the area, please let them know about. I think it will be an awesome show. Feel free to forward this info to folks that may be interested.

If you want to know more about the project you can go to the Broken-Beautiful website. After the exhibit, they will post the pictures on that website. So if you are not in the area and still want to see the pictures, you can check out it then.

As always, thanks for your support. Please feel free to email me- – to say hi. I love getting emails. For more updates about what is going on in my head or life in Freetown, don’t forget to check out my blog.


Seriously, Would You Want to Come Back Here?

While in Sierra Leone I made a friend that worked for a sports ministry. He came from England to teach cricket to the local youth. However, when the Salonean cricket “powers that be” saw his skill, he was asked to help coach the national cricket team. I know very little about cricket and that I do know comes from the attempted explanation by my Indian coworkers using broken nacho chips as props. In any regard, I respect men that can wear sweaters in the African heat for 8-12 hours at a time. The fact that they’re moving around to play a sport only adds to my respect. But I digress …

Back in March of this year, the volunteers from his ministry met with the Sierra Leonean national football (soccer) team to pray with them before they went to Australia for the Commonwealth Games tournament. During this visit he beseeched the team members to return to Sierra Leone when the games ended. None of them made any promises to do so. In fact, at least one turned to him and asked, “seriously, would you want to come back here?” My friend was left speechless. The heartache, the despair, the lack of hope, the hardness of the situation – would he really want to come back here if he didn’t have the opportunity to leave? Once in Australia, at least fourteen members of the team sought asylum, refusing to return to Sierra Leone.

The question posed by the futbolista strikes at the heart of the hopelessness of majority world nations (2nd & 3rd world nations). If you have the opportunity to better your position in life, you take it no matter what the cost. Even if doing so adds to the hopelessness of all those you leave behind. National sports teams have the opportunity to raise national pride and hope, motiving their fellow citizens. When they leave on terms such as the these, it perpetuates the impression that the current situation in Salone is something to escape from rather than work to improve. The cycle of hopelessness continues.

Do I have answers? No. Do I condemn these fourteen men? No. I cannot say that I wouldn’t have done the same thing if I were in their cleats. They wanted hope, just as all do. Unfortunately, they may have been able to provide that which they sought to many more if they had returned to their home country.

Recently, Australia offered ten of the fourteen asylum. The verdict is still out for the remaining four.


We poda poda’d to the Hastings amputee camp. On the ride out, before I dozed off, Pastor Felix gave me a brief overview of what would happen at the camp. For the ambient noise I could only make out part of what he said, but I did hear on thing in particular that I feared he might say; we would be asked to say a word of encouragement to the amputees. “A word of encouragement?,” I thought. I was thankful to hear of the upcoming task; Micah had been blindsided with the request the first time he visited a camp several weeks ago. At least for my first visit I had fair warning. But, just what could I say to encourage? If I had a week to prepare I would have still come with the blank slate I carried. I did not know what to expect, what I would encounter, how I would react, or how they would react. I leaned forward quietly and dozed off, hoping that somehow our visit would run long and we would not have the time to share whatever sorry, unqualified bit of encouragement that would have to be made up on the spot.

We arrived what I think was about 30-45 minutes after we boarded – not bad for $0.33 per person. Pastor Felix bought a few meat kabobs on the side of the road and he ate them as we walked to the camp. He explained that we were on a fact-finding trip only to hear of the conditions of the camp and the needs of its inhabitants. We would promise them nothing, as IMC (Pastor Felix’s employer) would partner with other organizations to fulfill any needs; he could not ensure that anything would come, but he would be an advocate for them.

As we entered the camp we were instantly the center of attention. No one got up, but everyone’s eyes were on us. Such attention was nothing new to us in our ninth week as an obvious minority, but there was something slightly different about their stares, something more piercing. There was no hustle-and-bustle of city life to draw away their eyes. We were their only entertainment. Continue reading “Hastings”

The Incredibly Shrunken Matt

Are you over thirty, over-stressed, and overweight? If so, someone wants to sell you something. Don’t fall prey to gimmick diets like the All Cheese Puff Diet, Leptoprin, Slim Slow, or any of the countless others. Fall prey to West Africa and it’s regiment of hot days, miles of walking, and frequent mosquito bites that might just infect you with nature’s own weight loss secret: malaria.

The numbers are in: Micah’s down 30; Matt’s down 50. We’re all quite excited to have lost 80 lbs – enough weight to produce another super model, or two, depending on how you look at the joke.

There shall be no disclosure of how much has been gained since returning. Thanks for playing. That is all.

On A Mercy Ship

Again confirming that my world is getting smaller every day, a friend of mine from college visited me in Freetown from neighboring Liberia. There he worked on the Anastasis, a floating hospital ship operated by Mercy Ships. Their ministry is nothing short of amazing, creating and providing miracles for thousands of people. A photojournalist, Scott Harrison, has chronicled some of the stories in impressive fashion at Do check this one out. A popup window provides the music. If you have a popup blocker, click on the link in the top-right corner to play the music.

That Can’t Kill Me

Sitting at the coffee house of my dreams (literally the one I daydreamed about as a refuge of solitude and privacy during my first two months), a mosquito flew in front of my face. Innately I made every effort to remove it from the land of the living. As my hands came together in a failing attempt, the following thought went through my mind, “oh wait, this one can’t kill me.” I left it to frolic.

I heard a commercial today that sympathized with customers of an electric company by saying, “The only time you think about electricity is when the power goes out. Then, every minute seems like an eternity.” I thought, he is right; and an eternity can sometimes last up to three or four weeks, if not longer!

These are just a few of the many thoughts running through my mind as I gain perspective on how my perspective has changed. Gratitude, awe, humility, judgment, indignation, joy, peace, uneasiness, unsettled, foreign, familiarity – these have been feelings cycling through me. The last couple days have been rich.

I See White People

Seriously, they’re everywhere over here in the U.S.

I’ve arrived safely in Naptown and spent a wonderful day with my family. Everything feels surreal, carrying a surprisingly familiarity. But it is good to see friends and family … and to take warm, powerful showers. The time back has been good. I’ll have some time to think, read, pray, and write over the next many days, so please check back for new stories and pictures.

Tokeh Beach

Our Team

We took the Lighthouse gang to Tokeh beach yesterday to celebrate them. It was a great time at one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. There are a few pictures up on my site. I’ll put more up when I get home. Thank you all for your prayers!

So how was Africa?

I look forward to seeing many of you in less than a week. It’s hard to believe that four months have passed so quickly. I’m excited to find out what has happened in your lives, what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, and even what is exactly the same. I anticipate many questions upon my return about my experience here and will cherish the opportunity to share my experience with you. If I may make one humble request of you, please shy away from the question “so how was Africa?” It’s a little broad and will be answered with something along the lines of “good,” which it is/was/will be for many after I leave. I ask that you ask more direct questions that will really address your curiosities. And you are curious. I’ll be prepared to answer them and to even let you buy me a tasty beverage* over which we can spend more time discussing :). And thank you, by the way. Your questions will help me to process my experience here, the lessons of which will unfold for a very long time. Thank you for being a part of my journey.

* “tasty beverage” can be interpreted as coffee or beer, two beverages that have been out of reach for the last four months.

Last Week …

It appears that my survival is imminent, despite some predictions to the contrary. I only have a five more days here in Sierra Leone before beginning the journey back to the U.S. of A. Why are you at an Internet cafe, you ask? Good question. I’m making it short. I don’t expect to get much time in front of a computer during this week as I finish up here, say my goodbyes, and pack. It has been a wonderful experience. There are many stories left to tell and much time to tell them upon my return. I hope that my absence from Sierra Leone and my presence with most of you will not mean that you’ll stop coming around here to “Stop for Checking.” There are several stories I still have to tell, but have found it difficult to find the proper time to chronicle them for your perusal. Please check back in the coming weeks and months to read more stories.