Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
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.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
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
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!
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
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
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!
Sunday, July 13, 2008
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.
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
Monday, July 7, 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
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.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
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.