I woke up sometime before 6am this morning. It was still dark outside, and it was quiet. I pulled my blanket up over me and tried to go back to sleep. My mind started running away from me, and sleep wouldn’t come. I finally checked my clock at 5:58am. At some point I fell back asleep, and woke up around 7:30am when the fan went off and the singing outside my window began.
This morning, I filled a page of my gratitude journal. It’s easy to do that in Liberia—there is so much to be thankful for. I’ve jotted down hundreds of things in my journal over the past 17 days. I stopped writing this morning at #655.
#655: beauty in the pain, ugliness, poverty, hardships, darkness, hopelessness…He is here!
And that’s when it dawned on me.
That one statement is the essence of Liberia.
When you look around, if you’re blinded, all that you see is dirt, garbage, heat, poverty, disease, injustice and corruption. Darkness and oppression are heavy, evident and tangible. How can there be any hope in that?
Somehow, some way—if you’re able—when you can see past those things, God allows you glimpses of Him.
As my feet walk over a garbage-littered, red dirt road, I am able to see beauty and life. As my eyes survey a tiny community of poor fishermen and their families living in utter poverty and filth, I see simplicity and unbreakable bonds. As I walk through the community, I sense an immense amount of pain, even though women are plaiting hair and laughing and children run up to say hello and shake my hand. As I sit in the yard at a friend’s house—a yard I haven’t stepped foot in since the night her baby died—I talk and laugh with her and her three young sons. Her oldest son Moses writes his name for me in the sand, and I wonder how often she thinks about her fourth son. There is a group of children in the yard next door—a “crazy man” with hundreds of pieces of rope and string draped over his head is interacting with them. He looks like a Raggedy-Anne doll, and he has them all laughing. The children lead him over to the white woman, and he asks what state I’m from. He lights up when I say Georgia, and immediately references Atlanta. He meekly smiles, puts his hands together and tells me that he’s from Maryland Georgia too. He tells me to have a nice day, and continues walking. I wish I had a photo of that man because he was beautiful. I saw Jesus right then and there.
And then I woke up this morning to birds singing loud and beautiful songs while sitting on the barbed wire outside of my window. The sun rises and the heat of the day begins. I breathe in deep when a cool breeze blows through the open window. I am a little sticky, but another cool breeze comes.
That is Liberia.
Singing amongst the barbed wire; sticky but a cool breeze will always come.
And through it all, God is here.