September 2010

Porthole View - September 2010 edition 

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Ecklund Update

Kaleb and Kaitlyn - all ready for the first day of school (click picture for larger version)

This past week, Kaitlyn and Kaleb started 4th and 1st grades at Oak Elementary School.  They are hoping that this year will be “normal” – meaning they will start and finish in the same school.   Last year had its challenges and we were so proud of the great transition they made in attending a new school in the middle of the year.  They both made nice friends and joined into different activities like Little League and Girls on the Run (training to run a 5K).  The rest of the family was fully absorbed into getting them settled and we made many friends along the way.  We are grateful that God had wonderful teachers and friends waiting for us on our return to California.
Keyara - picking out a backpack and lunchbox for preschool!
Kreig has been working as a consultant for the last 2 months designing web sites and web applications and has a contract through the end of the year.  Karen just started working part-time as an RN admitting patients to a home health agency.  Keyara has been enjoying America and getting to know her grandparents.  She is excited about starting preschool this year.
We have also gotten quite involved with our church – Kreig is on the search committee for a new senior pastor, Karen co-directed the VBS and is also a member of the CE Board.  We are especially grateful for the opportunity we’ve had to rent a wonderful home on the church property.  Without this option it’s quite doubtful that we could have returned to Los Altos.  We are unsure of how long we will have this privilege, as the church may need it for the new pastor, but for now we are grateful for every day we have in Los Altos, close to family.
We would not be telling the whole truth if we led you to believe that this has been an easy transition for our family.  In many ways it has been wonderful . . . but in others it has been an emotionally draining experience with lots of culture shock along the way.  Although we reside in Los Altos, California, we left a huge part of our hearts and lives in Liberia.  Considering all that we went through to get home that may surprise some of you.  However, during our time living on land in Liberia we gave 110% to the people we encountered and the jobs that were set before us.  When we left ,  we were sobered by the reality that no one was coming to replace us.   In many ways, we experience guilt for being able to enjoy life here - especially knowing that there are so many suffering in Liberia.  Although we know we can’t begin to meet the needs of the people in Liberia, it is difficult to sever all ties and we struggle to find a healthy balance.  We have said “no, I'm sorry, we can't help” more than we’d like, but there are a few situations where we are having difficulty saying “no”.  We thought we’d share these medical and educational needs with you in case you’d like to help us say, “yes”.

Medical Needs

Solomon waiting to see a Doctor at Catholic Hospital in Liberia

Since our return, Karen has worked many hours to coordinate medical care for a couple of Liberian children.  Solomon and Silas stole our hearts well over a year before our departure and we have worked ever since to help them have surgical cures for their problems.   Just 2 weeks ago, Solomon (6 years old) returned to Liberia healed and able to urinate normally after receiving surgery at Bethany Kids Hospital in Kijabe, Kenya.  We are grateful to our church body and friends who have assisted financially to make this possible.

Silas is featured on posters in Liberia to warn about ingesting caustic soda - He gets all of his food in liquid form through a gastric tube.

On Saturday, Silas (7 years old), flew from Liberia to Kijabe, Kenya with his mother, Kemah.  About two years ago, Silas asked a neighbor for a drink of water and was told to go inside to get it.  Upon entering  the hut, he grabbed a glass of clear, odorless liquid – thinking it was water.  After taking a sip, he realized it wasn’t water, but it was too late – the damage had been done.  He had drunk caustic soda, a lye solution, which is often used for cleaning.  It burned and scarred his esophagus so badly that he is unable to swallow even his own saliva.  For the last year he has been dependent on a liquid diet through a gastric tube.  This has come with many complications and if Silas is going to be given a chance to grow older . . . he needs a surgery to repair his esophagus.  This complex surgery cannot be done in Liberia, but we are grateful that it can be done in Kenya at Bethany Kids Hospital (  Although we have already raised funds and purchased return airline tickets for both Silas and his mother, we still need to raise another $4,000 to pay for his surgery, and to cover their room and board ($15/day) for the next 6 months.   This surgery has huge risks even if performed in the US or Europe and we invite you to pray with us for the safety and healing of Silas.  If you would like to assist financially you can send a check to Foothill Covenant Church (see address at bottom of this page) with a note in the memo saying it is for the Liberian Medical Fund/Silas.  Or if you don’t need a tax deduction and prefer to send money through Pay Pal, click here.

Educational Needs

Musu and her children

The hardest person for us to leave behind was Musu, our Liberian nanny/friend/grandma.  Our children still speak of her often and Keyara likes to pick up the phone and say,” I’m going to call Musu”.  When we left Liberia, Musu lost all of the security that came with being “part of our family.”  Since that time, she has been unable to find employment.   Musu has had a very difficult life and continues to be challenged by the hardships of daily life in Liberia (see our blog for the story written last year).  Things that we see as “basic rights” like food, shelter, clothing and medical treatment are a daily struggle for her.    She has taken in at least 9 children that she is trying to assist with these needs.  Thanks to the generosity of many of you last year these children were able to attend school - some for the first time!!   We are hoping you will once again desire to sponsor one of these children in getting an education.   It costs $200 a year to send a child to school.  They have been attending the ABC school in Liberia (  It was founded by a Liberian/American that has a vision to help those who can’t help themselves.    If you are interested in assisting with this project and would like a tax-receipt you may make checks payable to Foothill Covenant Church (see address at bottom of this page) and write Liberian Education Fund in the memo.  Or if you don't need a tax receipt and prefer to donate via PayPal, click here.
Last year several people asked if Musu needed ongoing assistance during the year.  It takes a lot to feed and clothe all of her children and if you’d like to give money towards that, you may give via PayPal, click here.
Below are the children needing sponsors:

Tennyson -  Grade 2                               Chris - Grade 4


Blessing - Grade 1               Samuel - Grade 1

Ruben - Grade 2                   Garnet - Grade 1

Kumasa - Grade Kinder II

Not Pictured:
Elizabeth - Grade 3
Emmanuel - Nursery


Aflred and Kaitlyn playing games on our porch - Karen visits Alfred at his School for the Blind

We met Alfred (age 7) while living at ELWA.  He was born being able to see, but after a car accident that almost killed him, he was left blind.  Kaitlyn was especially drawn to Alfred when we first met him.  She had just watched, Little House on the Prairie, where Mary had become blind and was going to a blind school.  As soon as Alfred arrived at our door, Kaitlyn ran into the house to get some “appropriate toys” that she brought out and taught him to use.  It was precious to watch her tender heart at work and this picture captures the moment perfectly.  Last year, sponsors were able to assist Alfred in becoming a resident at the School for the Blind in Liberia.  Here they teach the blind to function independently so that they can return and live with their families without being a burden.  After his accident, Alfred’s mother didn’t know what to do to help him - so she treated him like a baby again.  She put diapers on him, carried him on her back and fed him.  At the Blind School, Alfred has learned to walk with a cane, to organize his clothes and belongings so he can find them when needed and he has started to learn Braille.  His mother has been overjoyed by his progress and happy to have him home for summer break.  We are grateful that there is such a wonderful opportunity for the blind in a country with such limited resources.  It will cost $550 for Alfred to become a resident at the School for the Blind this year.  If you would like to assist financially please make a check payable to Foothill Covenant Church (see address at bottom of this page) and write Alfred in the memo.  Or if you prefer to donate via PayPal, click here.   

Thank you for your continued interest in our lives and the ministries that God has laid on our hearts.  In reflecting on our 13 years with Mercy Ships, we are amazed at how God has continually met our needs through people like you.  Thank you for your partnership over the years.  We hope you feel encouraged knowing that you have helped to make a difference for the poor and needy through your prayers and financial gifts.  We are honored to call you our friends!

~ Kreig, Karen, Kaitlyn, Kaleb and Keyara Ecklund

Donations sent through Foothill Covenant Church should be addressed to:
Foothill Covenant Church, Attn: Financial Secretary, 1555 Oak Ave., Los Altos, CA 94024
Checks can be made out to Foothill Covenant Church

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