Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Hello from Colorado!

 Hello Everyone!
Two days after the conference in Florida, I flew to sunny Colorado for SPLICE training at Missions Training International. This is a 3 week program of targeted spiritual, cultural and emotional preparation before heading to the field. A week and a half in and the 37 of us living at the conference center have become well acquainted. Our days here are filled with challenging hands on learning dealing with topics such as conflict, expectations, adversity, stress management and cultural adjustment. 
 For more info check out their website:

 On the weekend I was able to visit with Grace, one of my best friends from college who lives near by. We drove up the mountains and took a nice long walk around Dillon Lake. It was wonderful to be out in the chilly air surrounded by such beautiful mountains!
I did come down with pink eye and a cold over the weekend, but Grace's family just took me right into their family for the weekend- contagion and all. Thank you Sims! =)


-As I wrestle and grow with these important concepts before heading to the field
-That I would be teachable and pliable before the Father
-France Visas
-Financial support to be able to leave in January: 
Financial Deadline is December 20th
-Prayer warriors: that God would prompt specific people to be part of a small prayer team
to receive prayer requests from the big and broad to the nitty gritty as I'm on the field
(if you would like to partner with me in this way please email me! =)


Thank you all for your prayers! 
Feel free to email and keep in touch =)

Love from Colorado,

Monday, October 17, 2011

ECHO- Last Day

Lodging at ECHO, our cute little rooms were at the very top.
Friday marked the end of our time at ECHO in Florida. We had some very meaningful and helpful discussions in our final sessions. We also shared communion together before parting ways to our various places of service. It was such an encouragement to learn and fellowship with fellow believers, sharing a common purpose, to know God and share His story with peoples in the far corners of the earth.

Hard at work with Dr. Dan Fountain

Enjoying the night lights on my way home...

Thank you for all your prayers during this week of training. 
God has provided more friendships and tools for the adventures ahead...

Love from the plane,

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 4 - And One Day More.

Hello to All!

"Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.."
So that dirty water we talked about yesterday in the Duck-Tilapia Eco-system, how do we make that water suitable to drink? 
Water, the most essential component of physical survival, and yet much of the water around the world is contaminated causing life threatening diseases - especially in children under 5.
What are some practical solutions?

1. Water collection: just getting water can be a huge struggle in rural areas...

Variety of PVC water pumps

Pumps can be used to gather water from lakes, ponds, rivers and from wells.
Catching rainfall from the gutter.

 Another easy and practical solution in areas where rainfall is relatively frequent.

A crank pump using old wheels
A treadle pump

This pump uses a stepper mechanism to pump water from the ground to the surrounding crops. 

It's definitely exercise! But it uses the strongest muscles in your body, so you will be able to pump a lot more water than a crank or rowing pump using your arms. 

2. Sedimentation, filtration and decontamination...
Filtration system you can make at home

This water filtration is easy to make and relatively effective, but must be replaced every 5 years.
It involves a large bucket with 16 inches of coarse sand and a layer of gravel on the bottom. The pvc tube must be at least 2 inches taller than the top of your sand layer, and you must still have room at the top of the bucket for pouring in water. 

**Family or Hall Dorm Project: try making this bucket filter together and ONLY using water you've filtered for a day, a couple days or even a week! It might change the way you view your faucet.
Pray for the people of Gabon as you filter!
The process is a good lesson in patience =) I'd recommend staying ahead on your water supply.**

Water filter options.

 Left: ceramic candle filter (used frequently by the International Workers in Gabon)
Middle: system for purchase using local business- a local skilled worker in ceramics or clay would need to make the filter inside, particular specifications need to be followed. A layer of colloidal silver can be added for disinfection of the water.
Right: This filter can be purchased for about $75-100 and will last for decades. It is effective for all three steps of water purification (sedimentation, filtration and disinfection) and the filter is small enough to protect against even viruses.

Not Wasting Waste....

Four year old Johnny comes running, "Mommy! Mommy! I watered the flower beds!" 
All you mothers out there know Johnny didn't have access to a watering can....

But maybe he's being more of a help than you think (as long as you're not in Central Park or something =).

A dry waste latrine on the ECHO farm (and yes we did have indoor plumbing this week =)

This latrine separates waste into dry and liquid components (using the throne shown below). This method not only has less flies, less odor and less chance of water table contamination, but the waste can be collected for fertilizer. 

Urine has very nutrient rich properties including Phosphorus and Nitrogen (I might just stay clear of the lettuce bed), and of course all our noses can testify to the use of manure. 

I can almost hear the laments of protestation and disgust, but stay with me if you will =)

In a country where we can run to a store to get food 24 hrs/day it's easy to not really see a need for such a resource.  But in a place where natural resources, even rain, is limited, and crops are the only food you have to feed your family for the next 6 months, not wasting even your waste seems pretty important.

   A new friend...
Jodi and Myself

Jodi is one of the other nurses I met this week at ECHO.
We found out we'll both be at the same language school in Albertville, France in January pending financial support!
Jodi is going to a hospital in Togo to teach Nursing students and set up their OR.
I'm going to a hospital in Gabon to teach Nursing students and set up their ICU.
Who would have thought we'd run into each other in Fort Myers Florida?
I'm continually amazed at God's faithfulness in the details as I prepare for Gabon...

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."
Pvbs 3:5-6

Love from -one more day in- Florida,

'Mixed' Lagos Spinach - (well, the flowers of the spinach - I love the purple =)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

3rd Day

Hello to All!

Day 3 on the ECHO farm, and still learning =)

Did you know.....?

Male Papaya Tree

Papaya trees come in gender specific varieties. If you're going to plant papaya you will need at least 1 male for every 30 female, spaced about 10 ft apart in order to get a good amount of fruit.
"Amanda, how do I tell if it's a boy or girl tree? It's not like I can go around lifting up the tree's skirt."
And well, that's true. This male Papaya tree is distinctive because of it's plethera of light green blossoms which pollinate other Papaya trees. 
Did you know....?
mmm....Bananas.....and mulch?

Banana tress are actually a part of the grass family. This means that after they produce a batch of bananas, they are no longer fruitful. BUT, the stalk and leaves can be chopped down and used as mulch for other crops. Using a natural resource for natural mulch, to increase a farmer's crop, will increase nutrition in places where outside resources are thin.

Happy Roommates....

These guys are having a quack of a time being roommates with Tilapia of all things.

(The ducks stay in the top bunk)


Their housing arrangements look something like this. The flooring allows their droppings to go straight into the pond. This fuels the algae growing, and the tilapia feed off the algae.

This eco-system is low maintenance, relatively clean and provides a supply of duck, eggs and tilapia either for sale to generate income, or for nutrition.
What of the dirty water you ask? Info on that tomorrow! 

A Neem Tree

 The Neem tree is good for shade, but the cool part is you can soak the leaves in water and spread them throughout your garden/crops as a natural insect repellent.

Vetiver Grass

This grass is helpful in keeping away the termites. Just watch out for snakes in the tall grass!

A classroom similar to that in a rural village

While we are learning lots of fun practical ideas out and about on the farm, the majority of our time is spent in the classroom, where agriculture and nutrition are just tools amidst a greater discussion at hand.
How do we convey the message of the Bible to people of a culture so different from our own?
What of our Christian lifestyle is Biblical, and what is just American tradition?
How do we convey important concepts such as clean water, sanitation and good nutrition to a people whose culture is spiritual, not science based? Is there evidence in the Bible to support these concepts?
How do we train the people of the country to be effective health care personnel?

The Nursing students and I in Gabon, visit in March.

These are the students whom I'll be walking alongside, teaching, guiding, discipling when I move to Gabon. 
Please pray for them, these 11 students, that God would even now be preparing them to effectively learn. Pray that their relationship with the Father would be deepening.

Pray for me as I seek the Lord in these concepts and questions, that God would instill HIS vision, to effectively teach and disciple the students and reach the people of Gabon, for His glory. 

Love from Florida, 

"that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak." 
Eph 6:19-20.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 2 at ECHO!

Hello Everyone! 

Welcome to Day 2 at Echo! Fun Facts and Photos from the day...

Automatic sinks - jungle style ;-)

So the Tippy Tap is a hands free washing station where you tap the wood with a string and so tip the container of water to wash your hands. String, a thin piece of wood and a detergent bottle are all you need. You use less water this way than trying to manually pour the water yourself, and with the addition of the suspended soap bar beside it, you've got a convenient automatic sink-wherever you can hammer in a nail.

Twin goats

These goats are housed in a shelter and feeding pen elevated about 2 ft off the ground. This means the goats stay contained, not eating the surrounding crops, and manure is neatly gathered underneath the pen for easy fertilizer.


Moringa trees

The Moringa tree is a fascinating food source that God created, providing the 2 most basic needs to survive: clean water and nutrition. 

Moringa leaves.

See the amazing nutrition facts of Moringa leaves below! Can you imagine what a resource this would be for a mother trying to adequately feed her malnourished 3 year old?

 Moringa seeds are also useful in providing clean water....

1-Moringa seeds from seed pod - 2-removed from shell - 3- crushed into powder

 The powder of 1 Moringa seed + 1 litre of water, binds the dirt and bacteria, turning water from this.

Before and After
[Melanie (nurse practitioner) and Jennifer (RN), 2 new friends from the course also heading overseas.]

So in case you couldn't tell, I'm fascinated by the Moringa tree and what a tool it is for us to use, especially in impoverished nations. Next step is to find out what it would take to grow in Gabon! 

I'll leave you with a few snapshots from my stroll around the farm today.

"All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flowers of grass. 
The grass withers, and the flower falls, 
but the word of the Lord remains forever."
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.  1Pt.1:24-25

Love from "the jungles" of Florida,
~ Amanda

Monday, October 10, 2011

ECHO Training in Florida!

 Hello Everyone!

So this week I flew to Ft. Myers Florida for an ECHO workshop required as part of my preparations for Gabon. ECHO is a global farm, whose goal is  "Honoring God through Sustainable Hunger Solutions." For the past 30 years ECHO has been developing practical solutions to the planting, feeding, watering and storing of agriculture in order to provide sustainable solutions to hunger in impoverished countries. 
How does this apply to medicine you might ask? 
I asked that question myself, here's what I'm discovering so far: it's one thing to cure someone's illness, it's another to prevent illness before it starts. Many of the diseases faced in impoverished nations could be prevented by availability of clean water and balanced nutrition. 
Day 1 down, 4 more to go! I'm sure by the end of this week I will have a much more developed answer to that question, and I am excited to learn... 
Come learn with me! 
I'm going to post pictures and facts that I'm learning each day so you can be part of it too. 
A taste of pictures to come...

A new friend outside our classroom. (And no, I'm not posting a picture of the snake! =)

So yes, SNAKE. You heard right. A lot of you know I have a snake phobia that I've been working through the past couple years, because I feel like that's a lame reason not to follow God's call.
I've come a long way from reflexively throwing the encyclopedia across the room every time I hit the "S" section, but I'm still not a fan.
So I spent a month in Swaziland, Africa and a couple weeks in Gabon, Africa and NEVER saw one snake.
I come to to Florida and see one in the 1st hour!
My Dad laughing asks me, "What do you think this means Amanda?"
"Well God obviously isn't calling me to Florida!"

In all seriousness it is a good reminder that's it's not about where we are in the world, but who is always with us. Africa or America, I am going to see a snake when God allows me to see a snake, black mamba and all...He's with me.
We learned about these solar bottle lights today and saw one in action in a shelter on the farm.
It's pretty ingenious! Check out the youtube link to see it in action.

I really was pretty clueless before starting class today what the ECHO farm is all about.
For more information check out

Love from Florida,

The Main Building with our classroom, library and bookstore.