Thursday, July 31, 2008

Red Letters: Chapter 3 (The Cradle of Civilization)

See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
--Matthew 18:10-14

Desert. Safari. Hot. Africans. Zebras. Simba Trees. Third-World. Dusty Feet. Dirty Water. Hunger. HIV/AIDS. Slavery. Genocide.
How did we get from the land of Lion King to things like hunger, HIV/AIDS, slavery and genocide? Well the above train of thought was conjured up by my sisters and dad when I just asked them what came to mind when you think of Africa. (And for the record, my thoughts began at dusty feet.) But these are all things that have happened in Africa, while the rest of the world sits on their couch eating popcorn and watching American Idol. (or something like that)
Tom says that apathy in the hearts of the people of the world allowed these things to occur. He also says that if we would have acted with compassion, and if we would make our voices heard, then these things could have been prevented. Agreed. Apathy sucks! And I'm guilty.
[This chapter was informative and full of statistics, no Biblical references.]
So, this is a short post, but I'll leave you with this statistic:
By the end of 2005, the HIV/AIDS epidemic had left behind 15.2 million AIDS orphans.
It's time that we open our eyes to the AIDS crisis in Africa!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Red Letters: Chapter 2 (This Shrinking World)

I desire compassion, and not sacrifice, for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
--Matthew 9:13

Fact: The world is shrinking. The world is shrinking because of globalization (yea, that dreaded word from political science!) and technology. I can sit on my comfortable couch in Atlanta and talk on the phone to my friend in Liberia. I can be in Liberia in less than 24 hours. I can access the internet and read news stories from around the globe—as they happen. The big question that
Tom Davis brings up is, what are we, as Christians, going to do with this truth that the world is shrinking?

We all know the Golden Rule, and if we follow Christ, we should be familiar with Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself. The next question is, are we willing to love our neighbors—and more importantly, are we loving our neighbors with the love of Christ? Besides the fact that Christians are called to love our neighbors, any ‘good’ person would feel inclined to help someone in need. People want to be seen by others as someone who is kind or who makes a difference in the world in which they live. People want to promote change, advocate for things they are passionate about, protect against harm, transform and uplift. And, if you call yourself a follower of Christ, that should be even more of a reason to reach out and help the world around you!

I hope you’re not looking at me and thinking, “easy for her to say…she’s living in Africa and working with orphans.” I just shared in the previous post about my total disregard for God’s command to love the unlovely. So no matter how many times I might say “you”, I really mean “we”.

The point is, we do not comprehend or acknowledge how incredibly, incredibly blessed we are!! It doesn’t matter what your bank statement says, or what your employment status is, or what kind of car you drive or the neighborhood you live in—you are blessed! God has blessed us simply by the fact that we were born in this country! I’m assuming most of us are in the U.S., but if you’re anywhere in the Western world, first-world or in a developed nation—you are blessed!

We have an overabundance of everything! Even if you’re saying, “but I’m poor, I don’t have any money”—you are sitting in front of a computer, accessing the internet and reading this, aren’t you? I believe there is a difference between poor and poverty. Poor is not being able to acquire the things we want. Poverty is not being able to acquire the things we need…the things that are needed to survive. And no, I’m not Webster’s—it’s just my opinion.

I have seen poverty. I have seen naked, hungry and sick. I have had to struggle to find the right words to explain to children why they haven’t eaten in a few days. I have shown up at an orphanage without food, and debated whether or not to play duck-duck-goose…should the children be able to smile and laugh for awhile, or should they save their energy because they are hungry? I have held naked, dirty children. I have sat at the bedside of a sick child, rubbing their back because there’s nothing I could say or do to make them well.

Fact: 1.2 billion people live on less than $1 per day and almost 3 billion people live on less than $2 per day.
Fact: Almost 2.5 million children die each year because of malaria.
Fact: Hunger kills a child every 7 seconds.
Fact: Poverty is preventable!

Not only do most of us have an abundance, many of us have an overabundance. Why aren’t we doing more? Why are we doing nothing at all? What are we waiting for? If we, as followers of Christ, sit back and watch, how can we expect anyone else to take action and do something?

As Tom points out, the main reason we should be compassionate to our neighbors is because it glorifies God. I don’t know about you, but when I pray, I ask God to enable me to glorify Him more—especially in the simple, less-noticeable areas of my life. What better way to glorify our Creator than to love His creation?! Matthew 5:16 says, “let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” When our light shines before men, we not only glorify God, but we also can inspire others to let their light shine too.

Instead of living a life where you’re always searching for bigger and better, try living your life by asking yourself daily what you can live without so that someone else might simply live. Also, ask yourself how you can use your time, gifts, talents, money and resources to love your neighbor. And if you’re like me, you have to continually ask God to give you more compassion!

As God reveals to you how you should love your neighbor, don’t sit back because you’re afraid or you don’t know how—just do something! If you’re ready, willing and available to be used by God, He will guide and direct you. God led me to Liberia because I made myself available. Even though I love the children of Liberia, trust me, I don’t always love Liberia. It’s not easy or comfortable or glamorous! But I’m following Christ and my heart is full. I have experienced joy, love, sadness and heartache—but I have drawn closer to the Father and I have a better understanding of His heart to reach those living in poverty.

I realize that not everyone is called to pack up and move to Africa, but everyone is called to do something! Yes, us lucky ones are called to go (lucky because we get to experience firsthand). Others are called to pray. And still, there are others who are called to encourage and support. Some are called to give sacrificially or financially (with a joyful heart, right?). Some people are called to reach their neighbor next door, while others are called to reach their neighbor on the other side of the world. I think you get the idea, but the bottom line is that we are all called to take part in this great big puzzle of a thing called the Body of Christ. We must do something—big or small—quickly, because our neighbors are dying.

Come back tomorrow for Chapter 3!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Red Letters: Chapter 1 (A Living Gospel)

Go and do the same.
--Luke 10:37

Wow! Even in just the first chapter, there is plenty to think about. The first idea I underlined was when Tom Davis wrote about Jesus not putting conditions on the help He offers. He doesn't put conditions on His help because each and every person is worth the risk and is worth helping. Why is it that I often second guess the risk of helping someone? Is there even a risk involved? I often think that if I help, then I’ll become too involved…which translates into too much time and commitment being involved. Heaven forbid that my life be interrupted or that I’d be inconvenienced. But wait, don’t I want to be more like Christ? Why do the excuses seem to always hold us back?

In Matthew 25:40, Jesus said, “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.” I want to live by this verse; I strive to live this verse out. Maybe I should say, I strive to live this verse out when it’s easy or fun or doesn’t interrupt my day. Other times, I ignore this verse because then things would be too complicated, dirty, messy, difficult, time consuming or just downright uncomfortable! (And why can I come up with twice as many reasons to not act upon Jesus’ command?)

Tom makes a very good suggestion—to get out of bed every morning looking for Jesus. He’s talking about finding Jesus in the eyes of the people around you, those who are often ignored or forgotten about. Think about that man who hangs out on the corner begging for money…he’s dirty and smelly, but Jesus loves him too! For me, I immediately think about the man who lives in the bus stop just down the street from me in Liberia. His name is Abraham. The only other things I know about him are that: he is homeless, there are many days that he’s without food or clothes, he’s missing his right arm and his high-pitched mumbles are sometimes difficult to understand. But there’s no excuse, because I can usually understand it when he says, “help me.”

I have never taken the time to stop and talk—and I mean, really talk—with Abraham. Sometimes I wave when I drive past, or I might say hello as I walk past. But if I were to be completely honest, there are some days where I just don’t feel like dealing with him or telling him, again, that I don’t have any money (or that I just don’t want to give him any money), so I walk on the other side of the road. How horrible is that?! And, what story does that sound like? I have obviously failed—I am not the good Samaritan to Abraham! Now I have to ask myself—why am I choosing not to do something? And if I were totally honest, I’d have to say that I don’t reach out because of selfish reasons. It wouldn’t be fun or easy or short nor would it be possible to not have any strings attached. Christ helps me—no matter the circumstance or the outcome—because I’m worth the risk. I’m no better than Abraham, so why isn’t he worth the risk?

As Mother Teresa says, “the dying, the crippled, the mentally ill, the unwanted, the unloved—they are Jesus in disguise.” By choosing to ignore Abraham, I am choosing to ignore Christ. It’s not always going to be easy to go and do what Jesus commands us as believers to do, but He calls us to “go and do the same” (Luke 10:37).

It’s not a coincidence that I have drawn closer to the Father when I obey and go and do as He has called me to do. I think that when we have the most resistance to following Jesus, but we choose to follow Him anyway, that is when the experience is the sweetest. And the more that I obey, the more my eyes are opened to the world around me and the more I experience His ultimate joy.

I have spent a lot of time with the unloved, forgotten children of Liberia. I can tell you that Tom is right, in that, you can find Jesus in the eyes of the people around you. I have looked into the eyes of an orphan in Liberia, and I have seen Christ—over and over again! I feel closest to Christ when I’m in Liberia, and I think it’s because every morning I ask Jesus to allow me to see the world through His eyes, and then I see Him in the eyes of all of the children around me.

And to those of you who aren’t in Liberia—Christ showing up in the eyes of poverty isn’t limited to location! Live like Christ. Look for Jesus all around you. Look into the eyes of the unlovely. Be His hands and feet. Go and do the same.

Come back tomorrow for my thoughts on Chapter 2 (This Shrinking World).

P.S. You should also check out Seth Barnes!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Rainy Season

Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.

I've been overhearing things about how much rain has been falling in Liberia since I left. I saw a few pictures on the Peet's blog about a week ago, and the pictures made me worry. I got pictures today from the Chapman family, and I'm officially super glad that I'm sitting out this rainy season! CHECK OUT THE FLOODING! All of the Chapman pics were taken about a mile from my house! CRAZY!

Orphan Relief & Rescue Benefit Night

For those of you in Georgia....

Come out to Acoustic Jeremiah to hear some good music and to hear me talk about what God is doing through Orphan Relief & Rescue's ministry in Liberia! All of this for $5! A love offering will be taken, and all of that money will go towards ORR's Relief program. If you can't make it, then you can pray for the event. Pray that people will show up, pray that they will be receptive to what I have to say, pray for me...that I will just let God do all of the talking, pray that people will feel compelled to give and pray that above all else, God would get all of the glory!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Music or No Music?

Being the music lover that I am, I decided to add a playlist to the blog. I usually don't have my volume up when I'm reading blogs, so it doesn't bother me. But I know when I do have the volume on, it kind of bothers me. But the songs I added are good songs...very appropriate or just a good tune! Anyway, I'm taking an unofficial or no music?

P.S. If you haven't heard the song 'You Are On Our Side' by Bethany Dillon, you must listen to it! It's at the very top of the playlist.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Just a Suggestion

If you want to walk beside and experience life with someone who:
1. truly knows what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ
2. loves the least of these
3. has highs and lows--but mostly highs
4. spends her days laughing with God's beautiful, perfect creations
5. is a total stranger and total example to me
6. embodies Christ
7. loves with all she has
8. gives until it hurts
9. prays with conviction, no matter how impossible things may seem
10. is a beautiful daughter of the King, and
11. will be quite humble about it all, I would venture to guess

...then I invite you to step into Uganda and say hello to Katie.

I came across her blog yesterday (thanks Brandi), and have spent the last 2 nights reading from start to finish. This girl rocks! Her stories make me excited to return to Liberia in September to love with all I have and give until it hurts!

And, it wouldn't be a bad idea to pray for Katie! Better yet, give to Katie--give up a Starbucks or two....or maybe you don't really need another pair of shoes....or your child doesn't need that toy.

$5 is all it takes to change a child's life!
Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Face of Liberia--Fatu

I want to introduce you to Fatu. She is 5 years old and she is full of spunk. The first time I met her I spent the afternoon trying unsuccessfully to make her smile. I have managed to break through her tough exterior, and now she is the first one to run to greet me when I pull up the driveway!
Fatu was born in 2003 during Liberia’s civil-war. Apparently her mother was seeking refuge in the SKD Sports Stadium and went into labor. A policewoman found the newborn wrapped up and abandoned in the stadium. The policewoman turned little Fatu over to a social worker at the Ministry and Health & Social Welfare, and she was then placed in the orphanage where she has lived for all but a few days of her life.
Fatu is reccently completed our feeding program. Her health has improved over the last few months and she continues to grow. All of this is possible because of generous donations. This is just one story of how ORR has impacted the life of an orphan in Liberia.

Blog Archives--Good Eats

[There's a bunch of things that I typed up weeks ago, but never posted. Here's more Good Eats.]

I’ve been holding out on telling you about more good places to eat around Monrovia, so now I’m going to play catch-up.

PA’s: About two months ago, there was buzz about a new rib house opening. Then I noticed their sign in Sinkor—a picture of mouthwatering ribs drenched in BBQ sauce. I was incredibly skeptical that such a thing could even exist in Liberia! The place is owned by a few women who have spent a lot of time in the States, and they know their BBQ! The menu also has familiar things like burgers, salads, sandwiches, BBQ chicken and your typical appetizers. Sorry folks, they only serve Liberian dishes on Tuesdays and Saturdays. You can eat downstairs, which is more casual with fewer menu choices, but the prices are cheaper (so I’ve been told). When you walk inside upstairs, it feels like you’re not in Liberia. It’s a small place, with only about 15 tables, and on Saturday nights, the place is always full—usually because someone has reserved ahead of time for a larger party. If you arrive earlier (5-6pm), you shouldn’t have any trouble getting a table.
On our usual Saturday night, go-into-town and eat-out-trip, we unanimously voted to check out PA’s. On the first visit, all four of us got the same thing (“The Small Boy”)…and we were not disappointed! The Small Boy includes 4 (HUGE!) beef ribs, your choice of 2 sides (baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, green beans, french fries, mashed sweet potatoes) and a corn muffin….all for $8USD! It’s plenty of food! It was a quiet dinner, except for everyone licking their fingers. It was so good that we returned to PA’s the next Saturday. This time I got a burger with fries, which was pretty good (it actually tasted like a grilled burger at home, which you can’t find in Liberia), but next time I will be getting the ribs! The burger was also $8USD, so my logic is you can get super good ribs and yummy things like potato salad (which is a huge treat in Liberia) for the same price! Anyway, PA’s is located in Kapezee by the airfield—just look for the sign with super good looking BBQ on it! Then follow the signs off of Tubman Road, except at the first sign, where the arrow points to the left, you actually keep going straight, and bend to the right. At the second sign, follow the arrow to the left, and you’ll run right into it.
P.S. We went to PA’s again this past weekend. It finally showed signs of being a Liberian restaurant. The biggest disappointment was that they didn’t have any potato salad, and there were a few things on the menu that were not available (which is very typical here). But the ribs were still good and bigger than ever (I could only eat 3), and I settled for the coleslaw.

TAAJ: Looking for Indian food in Africa? If so, head to the TAAJ. It’s located in Sinkor…6th Street maybe? I actually ate here about 2 months ago, so I don’t remember a lot about the menu. I got chicken curry with rice and it was $10USD. I had plenty of food (2 big pieces of chicken with sauce and a big bowl of rice)…and it was pretty tasty! You sit outside under a covered area, and if you’re really lucky, they’ll be playing a football game or a Bollywood film on the projector. They have a really large menu…chicken, beef, vegetarian, etc. and the prices are reasonable, and you won’t leave hungry.

The Royal Hotel: This is the white people mecca in Monrovia. I admit, I haven’t eaten anything off their menu other than a plate of French fries, which were just ok. If you need to feel like you’re in the West for the afternoon, then you go to The Royal. There’s plenty of freezing cold air-conditioning for everyone! They have free wireless internet, that’s sometimes pretty speedy, and other times, not so speedy. It’s a good place to retreat for the afternoon to catch up on emails. They just recently got a new menu, which translates into a price increase! The burger is $12USD. They also have started doing themed days…like Tuesdays is a taco buffet, which I haven’t tried, but it looks and smells really good….I think it’s either $10 or $12. On Friday there’s a BBQ buffet, but I’m not sure what that means. On Sundays they have a brunch buffet. We’ve been debating on whether it’s worth the new price of $15USD, but in celebration of Andrew’s last day in Liberia, we decided to try it out. The food was alright, but I for sure didn’t feel like I got my $15 worth…I can’t even eat $!5 worth of food these days. They have pancakes and pastries, a salad bar, hummus, moutabal, quiches, hot dishes like pasta, curry chicken, rice and beans, beef in gravy, and a few desserts to choose from. The buffet also includes juice and coffee. The beginning of our meal was accompanied by wireless internet, but about 20 minutes in, the staff walked around to inform everyone that they were turning off the wireless…BOO…cheap shot Royal! My vote is I’ll stick to ordering snacks while I’m using the wireless.

King Burger: Located in town on Broad Street, King Burger is probably the closest thing there is to fast food (that doesn’t involve rice). I will say, it was quite an interesting burger…more like a slice of roast beef on a bun, with cucumber and non-American ketchup. It’s very affordable (a cheeseburger was 190LD….about $3). The place is small and alittle dingy—think Waffle House, but they had CNN on! If you’re looking for a quick, cheap bite, and as long as you’re not expecting a big fat juicy burger, then you’ll be alright.

MonaLiza: Located in Sinkor, across from UN Drive Supermarket. The place is large, clean and well air-conditioned. The menu has a lot of choices—pizzas, Lebanese food, salads, sandwiches, the burger…but the best thing is the long pastry/ice cream counter on the side of the room! I don’t want to plug them too much because when I was here last year, this was the only place I ate out at….5 times in 1 month! The food is nothing special, it’s priced fairly…the ice cream is pretty good (it’s cold!), but it is Lebanese (like really gooey and stringy gelato). The best thing in the place is their macaroons, but they don’t call them that. I recommend just stopping in to pick up a few chewy macaroons to much on while you run you errands in town, or to take home for a sweet treat!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Want to Get My Monthly Newsletters?

I just sent out my newsletter for June, and realized that there might be some of you who have joined me mid-journey. So, if you aren't on my update list, and you'd like to be, leave me a comment with your email address. I won't pester you with emails...I send out a montly newsletter at the end of the month, and I occassionally send out things like urgent prayer requests. Thank you all for joining me on this exciting journey!

What Heaven Sounds Like

Here's a short video of some kids singing at an orphanage that ORR works with in Kakata. I never get tired of hearing these sounds!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

One of My Children

Here's an article from MercyShips July 2008 Newsletter--it features Emmanuel, a 9-year old orphan who was born with club feet. He lives at one of the orphanages that Orphan Relief & Rescue works with, so it was a fun surprise to see him in the newsletter! I visited him two days before I left Liberia, and he was looking so good! He's back in school and loving life!

'Thank Papa God, Thank Ye!'
An orphan sings out in gratitude for healing made possible by the generosity of friends like you.
Emmanuel, a shy, pint-sized orphan, grew up friendless because he was born with two severely deformed feet. Another boy, 9-month-old Junior, came to us after his mother was shunned by her neighbors because her baby was crippled.

Thanks to your loving support, both boys received free, world-class surgery to straighten their twisted feet aboard the Africa Mercy. Healed of a painful deformity that would have resulted in lives of poverty and despair, both boys now look forward with hope for better futures.

"Thank Papa God, thank ye!" sang out Emmanuel in joyful response.

Mercy Ships, a global Christian charity, seeks out the forgotten poor and provides them with much needed help, love, and respect. Your generosity enables our volunteer crew and medical professionals to deliver hope and healing to the suffering.

Before the Africa Mercy arrived in Monrovia earlier this year, a goal of raising $449,603 was set to provide the free specialized surgeries and therapy to help 115 Liberians walk again. Over the next few months, the personal attention of Mercy Ships supporters like you will be the difference between a normal life for children like Emmanuel and Junior--or a life of pain and suffering.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Team Liberia

I want to introduce you to the wonderful team of Liberians who I couldn’t live without! These people work so hard to serve us so that we can focus on ministering to Liberia’s orphans. To wash your clothes or to cook a meal would literally take you all day here. So, we can either be hungry and smelly and working, or we can have gracious people do things for us so that we can get our work done.

My Liberian Ma: Mary
If Mary wasn’t in my life, I would be very hungry and very lost. Mary tirelessly cooks dinner for us Monday thru Friday. She is indeed the best cook in all of Liberia! Whether it’s cassava, palm butter, collard greens, pumpkin soup or okra soup for dinner—it always tastes delicious! Mary also coordinates all of the food purchasing and deliveries for our feeding program, which makes my job easier! She’s a very smart lady with a great business sense…she works for us, and runs 2 small businesses on the side (making block and selling charcoal). She is a single mom to 2 boys who are being put through school with the money Mary earns. She has just recently purchased a piece of land, and would like to start building a new house for her family after rainy season. Mary is a godly woman and a true servant, and she can usually be found in the kitchen singing church songs or praying out loud. We are VERY lucky to have Mary as our Liberian Ma!

Chief Security Officer: Momo
Momo keeps me safe and protected in Liberia. He also serves as a source of endless entertainment and I have spent many hours sitting on the porch ‘discussing’ with Momo. Momo is 25 years old, and has 3 children. Two of his children (7 year old twins) live just down the street, so they stop by every now and then. Momo is in charge of all things security at the house, but he also is a handyman, water pump operator, generator starter, dog sitter, neighborhood watchman, children wrangler, football game chaperone, bodyguard, curfew enforcer (I have to be inside the fence when it gets dark), etc. He also manages the schedule for our security team, and deals with any problems. He has been known to patrol the house by walking on top of our wall…sometimes with our dog following right behind him. He also has the capability of eating almost every plum off of our plum tree in the backyard. I’ve also caught Momo standing on our wall at 2am with a flashlight and cutlass in hand, yelling “Get off my wall or I will chop you”! He’s incredibly funny, but more importantly; he’s very devoted to his job, to us and to helping the children.

Assistant TO the Chief Security Officer: One Love
(Ok, so I just had to say it like that for you Office fans. It’s a great way to take a load off at the end of the day in Liberia…or anywhere)

One Love’s main duty is to provide us with hours of entertainment. He usually does his job the best between when we finish eating dinner and when the generator gets turned on…there’s only so much you can do when it’s too dark inside to be inside, but not dark enough to warrant turning on the generator. He also donates is mean bark when there’s something wrong, and lately his deep-bellied cries have served as my wakeup call. He’s absolutely hilarious and dumb…which tends to be the kind of pets I have anyway. He’s recently discovered life outside of our fence, and tries to sneak out at any possible opportunity. Right before I left Liberia, One Love went outside the fence and came back with an injured back foot. He spent the last few days hopping around on 3 legs, which was pretty funny. Life is rough outside the fence! I think I’m actually going to miss One Love for the few months that I’m gone.

Security Guard #1: Emmanuel

Emmanuel is my security guard from 6pm-6am seven days a week! He is 24 years old, and is in the 12th grade. I don’t know how he functions with his grueling schedule. I have spent many evenings on the front porch with Emmanuel, listening to his amazing stories of surviving Liberia’s civil wars…he should have been dead, more than once. He was taken to Guinea when he was 7 years old by the Red Cross, and lived in a refugee camp for 4+ years. When he came back to Monrovia once things calmed down, he walked 4 hours a day to go to school! Emmanuel became a street hustler/money changer/scratch card seller, but his friend accused him of stealing, which landed him in Monrovia Central Prison. He became our security guard after he was released from an 8 month stint in prison. Emmanuel’s life was changed through Prison Fellowship and Emmanuel faithfully goes to the prison every Saturday to minister to the guys who are experiencing what he once experienced. Emmanuel has a tendency to show up for work late, is usually wearing a big puffy pastel orange down jacket (since it’s so cold here!), and after making his presence known, he usually wanders back outside of the fence for awhile. He likes to sit on top of the wall with One Love to watch the neighborhood kids play. He also likes to lift his homemade weights, and he’s a loyal generator starter and water bucket filler-upper. Emmanuel hopes to go to college to study business or economics…but he’s also interested in social work.

Security Guard #2: Foday

Foday is the newest addition to the ORR staff in Liberia. Apparently he used to always come by our gate and ask if we had any jobs available. When our other security guard quit, we knew exactly who would like a job. Foday’s been with us for only 3 weeks now, so I haven’t gotten to know him as well as the others, and haven’t discovered too many quirks yet. He either works 10pm-10am or 6am-6pm shift (alternates with Momo). Foday has a lovely wife and two sons (9 & 12 years old). He never fails to ask how my morning/night is, and usually sticks around after his shift has ended. He’s good at making bread and egg runs in the morning. He hopes to one day be able to go to college so that he can provide for his family in a more substantial way.

Clothes Washer Extraordinaire: Cynthia

Cynthia is currently on maternity leave…she just had twin girls this past weekend! Mom and babies are all doing well. Washing clothes in Liberia is very hard work—you have to haul the water you use, and you wash with a ball of soap and a washboard. It’s an all morning job, and it usually takes her into the early afternoon to wash clothes for the 3 of us. When Cynthia is washing our clothes (every Monday, Wednesday and Friday—weather permitting), she does a great job! I didn’t realize how great she was at doing laundry until we had to find a temporary replacement. Cynthia is very quiet, and doesn’t say much. She shows up in the morning with a smile on her face, and she goes to work. I haven’t seen the twins yet, but I’ve been told that they’re pretty stinkin’ cute! I’m looking forward to getting to know Cynthia better when I come back.

Last Picture From Liberia

This is my last picture from Liberia. We had just finished sitting on our front porch, eating collard green soup and rice and watching the sun set. I'm really going to miss sitting on the porch, eating Mary's cooking and watching the sun set. I'm going to miss my Liberian family too! We snapped this picture quickly before we hopped into the taxi and headed for the airport.
[L to R: Me, Momo (Chief Security Guard), Matt, Mary (Our Liberian Ma), Mariel, and Emmanuel (Security Guard)]

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Strange World

I landed at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta yesterday afternoon at 1:30. As the plane touched down, I began to praise God for the last 3 months--for His provision and protection, for all of the things He taught me, for all of the people who I've shared life with these last 3 months. I also prayed for Liberia--for the children I left behind, for the government, for the orphanages that I've spent time at, for the director's who are caring for the children. As the plane pulled up to the gate, I had butterflies in my stomach. I was ready to be home, but I've really been worried about how I would react to all things 'America'. After making it through immigration and customs, and riding the train to baggage claim, I started my trip up the long escalator...I knew my family would be at the top, and after 22 hours of travel I started climbing the steps up the escalator...I couldn't wait any longer. I saw my family, and my sister and dad stepped through the crowd....and then it was long hugs all around...and the tears came. These last 3 months have been wonderful and challenging and wonderfully challenging, but I am finally home!

There are so many strange and foreign things about home. There's the obvious, like white people everywhere, elecrticity, running water and air-conditioning. I feel like I'm breathing clean, fake air. When I woke up this morning in my bed, I laid there for awhile, just looking around my room. It was quiet--no chickens, no car horns, no children laughing or crying, no hammering. I put my bare feet down onto plush carpet, I flipped on the light switch, I flushed the toilet with the push of a button, I opend the fridge and grabbed the milk(!), I sat down in front of the tv, I turned on my computer and checked my email. The trees here are tall. I can't see the horizion. The road is smooth and the car ride was quiet. I'm watching President Bush on tv, talking about ARV's and malaria and food prices (which a few months ago, I would have flipped channels already). I notice the sound of the washing machine, and the hum of the air-conditioning is noticable too.

Everything is different. I woke up in a diferent world today.

I'm going to take it easy today, but I hope to have a bunch of pictures and posts ready soon. I also fixed the pics of Bomi Lake and The Pink Latrine.