One of the differences in culture is due to the fact that you will hardly see any white men there…let alone white women! Another one is what the women wear in comparison to what would normally be worn in the states. The women have on what is called a head tie so my gaze more times then not would go to the top of their head. I must admit that I am fascinated with their style of clothing. They have bright and beautiful clothing! Some are quite shimmery and some are bright. Sometimes the whole set of clothing match while sometimes each piece is completely different. The head tie might be one colour, the shirt a completely different colour and style, while the wrap around skirt or lopa as they call it could be completely different as well. Style is what you decide you want it to be for yourself, seemed to be the operative way to go in Liberia! Having said that, while talking with Sister Dylin I looked her outfit over surreptiously because she had on purple. She was wearing an absolutely beautiful one that I admired tremendously. All 3 of the pieces matched and she looked quite smashing in her outfit. I must say that at that point I was extremely interested in having my own Liberian style outfit before we went to the village. However, that would have to wait because there was much to do before we went to Duaita. We would not be sitting around doing nothing and each day was planned out for us!
Pastor Philemon came up and said something to me and I just smiled at him. Right after that, Pastor James came up to me and introduced himself to me! I was so glad to be able to understand at least one person that I breathed a sigh of relief. There was a missionary that came, as well. At least, I was able to understand him but too much was taking my attention away. I thought there might be other ladies that came to meet us but didn’t see anyone. I basically kept a smile glued on my face so no one would know what I was thinking or feeling…at least, that was the hope!
When I finally figured out that the men were trying to get the suitcases on the top of the car, I stepped back just a bit to watch. I was slightly relieved that there was something to do besides talk! The men finally got some of the suitcases on top and started to put some inside but then I guess a comment was made about the possibility of rain. At that, they pulled the suitcases down and decided to put them in the other vehicle that had come along! I think this one belonged to the missionary, James Matthews. They were all chattering and trying to decide which vehicle everyone would go in. My main thought was that I was going in the same vehicle as my husband, whatever anyone else was doing. I walked over to Mark and planted myself beside him. Well, I don’t think there was going to be any problem anyway because Pastor James seemed to direct everyone. In the end, Mark and I went in the same vehicle as Pastor James, Pastor Philemon, Pastor Sam, Pastor David, Sister Dylin and one or two others. Jerry went with James Matthews and one other person The suitcases resided in the back with The Pilgrim!
Much of the time was spent staring at strange, new sights that I never thought I would ever see or even be interested in seeing. Some of it was slightly familiar (you notice I say slightly because no other country can ever really be as familiar as your own but there may be things that you recognize as also being native of your own country) but most of it was not. We had lived at one time in Florida so to see palm trees was not brand new to us. It was not very familiar because it had been many years since we lived there. I tried to take in what I saw and I simply could not even close my eyes to rest any. I didn’t want to talk except to mention something to Mark every once in awhile. Mark asked me at one point if I was tired and I told him I was too busy watching everything. The other thing that had my attention was the road. A nice, smooth road is something we take for granted here in the states but definitely not in Liberia. As we left the airport we began bouncing everywhere. I was constantly grabbing Mark’s arm so I wouldn’t be thrown against Pastor Philemon, as he was sitting on the other side of me. The roads were pretty bad but nothing compared to the road leading into Duaita…but I will save that for when it’s time!
I am sure you are wondering what was going through my mind at this point in time. I must admit that not all my thoughts were as positive as one would have expected with the smile and pleasant look on my face! Mark had spent time in Liberia four years earlier and there had never been any question in my mind over all that had been said and done; however, at this point I saw about six men and one woman from another country. Mark and I were the only two of a different race in the car and they had separated us from The Pilgrim. I began to wonder if the lives of these people were what they had been telling us all along. It had been four years since Mark had seen them and it was very possible they had been living a lie during that time. Sadly, it did happen with one of the people…but that is a story for a later time. I wondered if we had made the right decision in coming and doubt began to creep in.