Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A First Time For Everything

[Dr. Keith, the kiddos and Auntie Brenda. Thank you Brenda for cleaning teeth for 4 hours today!]

Today was a day of firsts.
My first time to take a child to the dentist. Oh wait, I took 9 children to the dentist. I somehow kept 9 children occupied for over 4 hours in a Liberian hospital. Watched 7 children get their teeth cleaned [more like sandblasted]. Told 7 children "it can't hurt you" and "it's alright" too many times to count. Held a hand of a child while he had a rotten tooth pulled. Held the hand of another child who was totally and completely freaked out by the suction thing.
A good day of firsts for me.

Today was also a day of firsts for 9 children from Childcare Foundation. The children came to Trinity Dental Clinic [thank you for offering your services to our kids for free!] today for a dental exam and a teeth cleaning. For most of the children, it was their first trip through Red Light [which is 5 minutes from their orphanage home]. It was their first trip to the junction, their first time seeing SKD Stadium. For sure, their first time in a dental clinic. FYI: there are only 4 dentists in Liberia.

About half way through our 4 hours, I took the children who were patiently waiting their turn outside for a walk. They could see the sea. I asked if they had been to the beach before and they all said no. I decided right then that as soon as we left the clinic, we were going straight to the beach!

We packed 9 kids, 1 caretaker, myself and the driver into a 5 seater taxi and went the extra block to the beach. The kids went crazy! We unloaded and snapped a photo. Then I told the kids that they couldn't come to the beach without getting their toes wet. I started taking off shoes and socks and we walked down to the water. They were all scared...most more scared of the water than the dentist. By the end of our 45 minutes or so, all of the children had stripped down and were rolling around in the water. It was absolutely priceless to see them all get so excited and have such a blast! I didn't want to make them get back in the car. I told the kids that they needed to go back to the orphanage and tell the rest of the kids that the dentist was scary and that they didn't have any fun today, haha. Too bad they were all going home soaking wet and covered in sand. Oh well! Here are a few pics: [I'll post a few more tomorrow when I'm not so sleepy]

[Brenda cleaning Varbah's teeth]

[Sarah couldn't believe her eyes...the ocean!]
[Sarah 10 minutes later. Loving every second of the ocean!]

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Story of My Life

My friend, The Ghetto Quilter, recently wrote a story about me. It's a story about when I first came to Liberia in 2007, and a young lady who holds a special place in my heart. The story is featured on a website, Story of My Life. Just thought some of you might enjoy a short read about me in Liberia. Thanks to Rachel for wanting to tell my story, and making me remember why I'm here...to learn to crochet. [Not really, but read the story and you'll get it.]

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Christmas in May!

[The photo op pose]

Just to let everyone know, the container made it out of the port today and I was able to pick up all 22 boxes! For everyone who donated children's books (the children at New Hope Baptist Church), chewable vitamins (Pledgebank.com peeps and Acoustic Jeremiah fans), hygiene items and anything else....your things are in Liberia! And, thanks to the 7th graders at Bennett's Mill Middle School who raised money to ship all of the donations over!

[When I showed up to pick up my things, the man said, "Oh, Orphan Relief and Rescue. I don't know why, but all of your things are packed in alcohol boxes." Thanks Mom & Dad...we looked like we were having a big party tonight! But I guess that's what happens when you have to rush around for boxes at the last minute, right?]

And now for the funny picture. Not sure why I was so upset, and taken before the photo op picture so you can see all of the alcohol labels.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

For the Love of...

[also known as mango]

So I have finally convinced myself to make this post. Not only does it make for a great story, at my own expense, but it might prevent some others from having a pretty miserable time. As some of you know, I periodically go through mysterious skin issues (aka "the rash") when I'm in Liberia. It almost always appears on my arms...and stays there! Last May, I ended up having to go to the hospital to seek treatment because I was absolutely miserable! I've had the rash on my arms for a few weeks now...usually just small patches jumping from one arm to the other. This past week, the rash decided to make it's way to my face and neck. I was an itching fool! And beyond miserable!

I woke up with a balloon of a face on Thursday! Despite it being a national holiday, I had to go to the hospital...my eyes were puffy and the rash had made it's way onto my lips! I had taken 3 Benadryl the night before, and was up by 2am itching like crazy! So, I went to the hospital, only for there to be no doctor at the hospital because it was a holiday [makes perfect sense, right?]. There was a nurse in the ER, but she couldn't write prescriptions. So, I called up my friend who's a dentist, and got him to write me a prescription for the same meds I used last year. [Side note: I only needed the prescription because I was at the hospital. I could walk into any regular pharmacy and purchase the meds without any questions asked. I should also mention that I was getting a steroid, which is a controlled drug at home.] I got my meds [for less than $2] and raced home to take the first does. Within an hour, I could already tell a difference, and by the morning, I was almost completely healed.

I had been thinking about plums. May is the start of plum season, and I know sometimes the kids can get rashes around their mouths. I thought it was just from the acidity. I got home and googled "allergic reaction to mango"--and there, I found the answer to the mystery! The sap and skins of plums contain the same oil that poison ivy has. At home, I very allergic to poison ivy...so I instantly knew that was the cause of all of my itching. I had eaten a plum, fresh off the tree in the backyard, on Monday. So, the moral of the story is that I have to stay away from all plum trees, and I cannot peel plums. I can only eat them! I've also been told that one plum season, you can be fine, and the next season you can be very allergic. But, if you're allergic to poison ivy, steer clear of plum trees and fresh plums!

Fast forward to Saturday morning: I realized that the mice had found my medicine, chewed through the plastic bag and gnawed on the pills. [There might be some pretty buff mice running around here now] So, last night, I went to the 24 hour, no prescription needed pharmacy to get some more medicine. 10 pills for 25 Liberian Dollars (roughly 17 cents)! So either I'm going to die from taking them, or drug companies at home are majorly ripping us off. Hmm, wonder which is more likely?

Ok, on to the [not-so] pretty picture. For your benefit, and at my expense, this is what I looked like on Thursday morning. NOT a happy camper!

Oh, Liberia!

The Balancing Act

In case you don't know, Liberians can carry anything [see photo below] on their heads. I am always amazed at what women can carry on their heads--they gracefully walk and turn their head from side to side without using their hands and without their load even wobbling. I understand, it frees up their hands. I can't get over the weight of the loads sometimes either--a 5-gallon tin of oil or water...which I can hardly carry in my hands. Grace. Balance. Strong Necks!

Last week, Ma Mary and I bought 2 cases (6 tins each...33lbs. of milk, plus the weight of 6 metal canisters) of milk in Red Light. Ma Mary had the man put the case on her head, and without blinking, told the man to put the second case on my head. Now, when I first came to Liberia, I went with the motto: "When in Liberia, do as Liberians do", so I ended up carrying cement blocks on my head. After about 6 blocks, I got yelled at: "Put the block down. Your neck and head are not used to the weight. Your head can be hurting." I think that might have been the last time I carried anything on my head. So, as I was walking through Red Light with the milk on my head [and as everyone was commenting on the 'wha womah wit da low on her heah'], I couldn't look from side to side, and after about 20 steps I could feel my neck straining. And I was using my hands! Phew! Anyway, the point of all of this is to be able to show you this fabulous picture from the other day. I pulled out of my gate, and this is what was passing by:
[Woman on the right--an average Liberian load. Woman on the left--never seen anything like it. Yes, it's a toilet! And yes, the women aren't using their hands!]

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Robertsport & God

Yesterday, we took a day trip to Robertsport. We rolled out at 6am and drove around town to pick up friends. We had a Land Cruiser full of beach goers...and we were meeting friends there too. The waves here have been ridiculous the past few days, so we left for Robertsport with high hopes, despite the fact that it was very overcast and the waves around our house didn't look so good. I was looking forward to some quiet time on the beach...just me, my book and alittle Jesus time. The waves were so big (10-12ft.) and the surfers were out in full force, so those of us not surfing sat for hours just watching the show! Alfred and Nicholai of Sliding Liberia fame were there too! When we left, Nicholai said that was the best day of waves since they filmed the movie.[Alfred tearing it up!]
I personally enjoyed hanging out under the almond trees and watching the surfers. I also enjoyed 2 different walks down the beach...I explored both directions. The awesome thing about Robertsport is that you have the beach all to yourself (except for the occasional Pakistani UN guys taking pictures on the rocks), but once you walk around the bend...you really have the place all to yourself! I walked around the bend and found a rock in the shade, so I climbed up and took a seat. I just started singing all kinds of praise songs...anything that came to mind...at the top of my lungs (hey, when you've got the place to yourself, you might as well, right?). After awhile, I just sat and listened to the waves crashing...and then God spoke, "You are still here for a reason...for my purpose..." As I was hearing those words, and processing, a guy appeared out of nowhere. I said "yea ello" and he nodded and smiled. And then God spoke again, "even if you're here for just that one person, you are still here for my purpose." It's always refreshing to get out of Monrovia for awhile, but it's even better when you get to enjoy His creation and God speaks to you through that. I was in awe of the beauty and power of the waves...His creation...and couldn't help but think that He still chooses to speak to little 'ole me! I really needed to hear from Him this weekend!

[Looking down the beach]

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dear Chick-Fil-A

I was doing just fine, until I saw this picture today. Oh Chick-Fil-A! How I miss your chicken sandwiches! That tender, juicy, perfectly seasoned piece of chicken. That warm, buttery bun. The 2 pickels in between. Crisp waffle fries. The sweet tea--need I say more?

I think this is a sign. It's time to expand to Africa...Liberia to be exact! [notice the shape of the chicken?]

My taste buds would really appreciate it!


Terribly Missing Chikin

Monday, May 4, 2009

And Then There Were Three...

[Me, Cramer & Deb]
Now there are only 3 of us in the ORR team house. Last Monday, we took Cramer to the airport and shipped him home to Ohio. Tonight, we shipped Deb back to Seattle. Things are changing for us...our 'waterboy' and 'mirror' are no longer here with us. Things are getting quiet. There's less loud laughter. No more spontaneous singing or running. I'm feeling less beams off the mirror already. And, I'm sure there will be less dancing in the kitchen. Anyway, you can be in prayer for Cramer and Deb. That they will use their time at home wisely. That they will be renewed, refreshed and encouraged. For divine appointments (Deb, you better have handed out those business cards to everyone in first class!). Pray for those of us still in Liberia (me, Jen, Matt, Mariel & Andrew). It's so amazing how different parts of Christs' body are represented in each of us, and when one (or two) parts go missing for awhile, the other parts can feel the change. God sure knows what He's doing--creating this amazing family, full of incredible people, to do His work!