Once everything is packed and ready, Gina Sheets and her husband will fly to Liberia to work in the mission field. Her husband has already spent a year there while Sheets served as ISDA director.
Their focus will be different than traditional missionaries, although they work with a Christian College. "We will function like extension ag educators and help people there develop an entrepreneurial spirit," Sheets says.
Before Sheets was ISDA director, her and her husband developed a local market for selling vegetables and home-raised meats in Clinton County. Part of their goal is to teach the same kind of techniques in Liberia. They will also introduce them to more modern methods to plant and raise corn and soybeans in locations where those crops fit.
Liberia is a country the size of Ohio with 4.2 million people living there, she notes. Sheets has already visited the country three times before.
A civil war lasting 10 years and ending a couple decades ago created chaos. The city where Sheets will live has about 42,000 people. She and her husband will be functioning like everyone else, with no electricity and no running water.
The government is somewhat stable today, although there are still occasional power struggles, she explains. Safety is something you keep an eye on, she notes, but it doesn't deter her from going to do what she believes is important. There are about 8,000 United Nations peacekeeping troops stationed in the country, she says.
Most native people they have worked with so far are receptive to working with Sheets, her husband, and other missionaries, she reports. The native people try hard to pick up some of the more modern techniques that the couple try to introduce that relate to agriculture and growing food.
Their mission is a five-year effort. The Sheets don't have children but have dogs that take the place of children. But when Gina and her husband head back to Liberia, the dogs will also be on board the plane!