To Teach A Liberian…Part 13

I watched the scenery for awhile but eventually fell asleep on Mark’s shoulder because I was pretty exhausted. I used the pillow that we had received from a close friend for our plane flight. It was a huge blessing because I was able to rest for quite awhile.

About halfway there, we stopped at a place that we would call a rest area. It’s the only one in Liberia and it was built in honour of President Tubman, who was a really great president, I understand from all that I’ve read. Apparently, he did his best for the people and brought prosperity into the country. They loved him so much that they built this place in his honour. There used to be a zoo there but due to the war, the animals were killed. At least, though, everyone is able to relax for a time and enjoy the beauty of God’s nature in the midst of a long and hard drive! We walked around for a bit, sat on chairs and just chatted for a bit then eventually began moving again.

From there we went to Gbarnga (pronounced as in Bong-u…short o sound, short u sound). We did stop to get out and buy some snacks in a previous town on the way…we got some bread and a drink for everyone in the land cruiser…for which I was thankful to have. I was so thirsty! We also bought some rice for us to be able to have in Duaita. I had been asking Mark if we could go to buy some Liberian clothes and he said we couldn’t do it yet in Monrovia or the other little town but then he asked the pastors about stopping someplace in Gbarnga. Pastor David, Pastor Philemon, and Pastor Sam all went with us to one of the clothing stores (which was basically a stall and that was it). We looked only at Lapas, which is a wrap around skirt without anything to connect them. The Liberian women are very good at getting them wrapped tightly around themselves so they will stay quite well; although, sometimes even they have to tighten the skirts. I only wanted one and chose out one for myself but then found out later it was too small for me. Oh well! So much for shopping with the men! I must say, though, that Pastor David did tell me I needed two and I didn’t listen…talk about stubborn women! LOL! The lady I bought the Lapa from did say she came from Duaita, which made me glad that I bought the skirt even if I couldn’t wear it!

We didn’t stay too long after that because we were stopping at AFBM clinic. If you read about Mark’s previous trip, you would know that he stopped in Gbarnga at one point and visited the AFBM clinic. At that point, the clinic was fairly small but it grew during the four years Mark was gone. Mark went looking for Sister Carolyn to talk with her but she was with someone at first. We kind of walked around and waited for her to finish up what she was doing. She came out and talked with us for awhile. She did say that we needed to be careful about eating the fruit that was cut by dirty knives as we could get some kind of disease. I was disappointed because I wanted to be able to eat some pineapple, which had to be cut by someone’s knife! I eventually gave up on not eating the fruit because I wanted some so badly. The Lord kept us safe and I was thankful for that! We met one of Pastor Sam’s sisters. She came out looking for Mark but he was busy at that moment. When he was finally free to talk, she was busy. I told Mark she wanted to see him so we walked around looking for her. I think Pastor Philemon went over to talk with someone else and so Mark was finally able to talk with her for a moment. When we were done, they had to go looking for Pastor Philemon, which everyone joked about. It was time to go and they couldn’t find us then they couldn’t find Pastor Philemon. We did leave so we could head off to Duaita.

We piled back into the car with the promise that we would see them the following week and spend the evening and night with them. That did sound exciting but so had everything else so I felt like it was just another exciting event to add to our already filled repertoire of things happening on our trip in Liberia that I would be journaling about! 😀

Once again, I fell asleep until I heard someone mention about us being pretty close to Duaita. I woke up because I knew I needed to be awake and not half asleep when we arrived. I began looking around and studying the countryside…after all, this would be the area we would be living and I was very interested in seeing it. We stopped to drop someone off at the village that wasn’t far from Duaita…Gbenequelle. From there, we continued on to Duaita but we had to go really slow because the roads were an absolute mess. There were huge dips in the road with one side of the road low, and the other very high. The photos give you a good idea of how bad the roads were.

As we neared the village, we saw people standing on the side of the road. They behaved differently then most of the people we saw on the trip. A lot of the children would wave at us, but very few of the adults. These people, however, began jumping up and down in excitement, waving for all they were worth. At first, I thought it was just a really friendly village then remembered that we were very close to Duaita. I told Mark that they must really be excited about our arrival…he agreed. During our trip, I had been the only woman in the vehicle and kind of felt like I was surrounded by bodyguards. It was pretty interesting because I knew by then that we were safe no matter what was happening. The pastors had gone out of their way to be a help to us and we had done much discussing of the things of the Lord (ok, they had with Mark and I mostly listened). Every time we went shopping, Pastor Philemon would go with us and carry our bags. Now, don’t get me wrong…we didn’t tell him to do so, he told us it was the safest thing to do due to people who would steal from us when they wouldn’t necessarily do so from someone who knew what to expect. This was quite interesting news to me and so we let him carry our bags because he knew what was best.

Anyway, back to the village and what was happening…after we went past a few people standing and waving at us, we eventually came to a group of people blocking the road. The driver came to a stop and we sat there for a minute or two until the driver decided that we needed to get out. Pastor Philemon told us that we needed to get out of the vehicle because all the people were surrounding it and the driver wanted to go on to the house. Jerry, Mark, myself, and the pastors got out and suddenly people surrounded us, trying to shake our hands.


To Teach A Liberian…Part 12

As we were sitting there, Pastor James asked someone to pray over the food. I was the only woman at the table but Mark made it a point to dish out my food along with his…not that this was much different from normal. Mark chatted with Pastor James for a few more minutes then we phoned home to let everyone know we were safe at the Togba house. The Pilgrim took photos of me calling home! LOL! Eventually we all retired to our respective rooms! Mark and I pulled down the netting that was positioned above the single bed we slept on and tucked it around the bed to keep us from getting bit by those nasty little mosquitoes! I had heard what malaria does to you and didn’t want to catch it. In fact, I figured we might not make it back to the states so I was trying to be extra careful! We eventually drifted off to sleep despite how hot and humid it was.

Monday, February 28th – The next morning found us up early and ready to start a new day. We weren’t sure what time we were to leave but knew the pastors would be arriving around 8am. I was able to get in my Bible reading and it was fairly cool out at first but then started warming up. We went into the dining room to eat breakfast and Sister Lydia had prepared us a delicious meal of oatmeal and pineapple. Pastor James ate with us and we had a great breakfast time. Sister Lydia came out to say goodbye to us and we finished packing things up in the suitcases so that they could be packed on the top of the vehicle. I was pretty interested still in seeing what would happen next so I could put it down in my journal. One thing I did know was that I would NOT be writing while we were driving if the roads were anything like our trip from the airport to Pastor James’ house. Prince was one of the ones that showed up to say hello to us. He told us that Pastor James told him to come with us. We were fine with that since Pastor James thought it was a good idea and didn’t say anything to the contrary. He was nice enough and I was glad to meet him after praying for him for so many years. I was hoping the teaching would help him and prayed to that end.

Mark and I went over to the school as that was one of the places Mark took many pictures and videos the last time he was in Monrovia. I was pretty interested in seeing the school and taking more photos for the boys to see. Pastor James asked Mark if he wanted to say anything to the children and Mark said yes. As he spoke to the children, I was able to get several videos and photos. The children kept eyeing me…probably wondering what the white woman was doing! I must say, though, the children loved to have their photos taken so maybe it wasn’t too bad for them! We finished up there and went back to the house. Everyone was waiting on us to return so we could begin our journey into the bush!

When it came time to leave, we decided to stop at one of the stores that sold American and British food. We wanted to be able to buy the pastors some treats so when there wasn’t any food being given, they would at least be able to have some bread and mayonnaise or bread and peanut butter. It took us awhile but we finished our shopping and carried on with our trip.

After a short drive, we ended up getting stopped by a policeman. He wanted to see the papers of the driver for some reason. We figured it was because he wanted a bribe but I couldn’t quite make out what he was saying. The driver – Gerome – and the policeman argued for a time then the policeman told him to pull over. There was another policeman at the side of the road talking to someone else. He came over to talk with the driver and wanted to see the papers, as well. During this time, I was beginning to wonder again because it seemed to me like we were eventually going to make it into jail…one way or another! I didn’t like that idea at first but then I had a thought. Instead of thinking that we would end up in jail every time something happened, maybe I should look at the whole situation as an adventure. I liked that idea and decided that every time something happened I would say that another adventure was happening to me that I could write about. I figured that at least the boys would enjoy hearing about it! Who knows what kind of adventures we would have when we returned the next time! They could then write about their own adventures! This was a huge help in most of the situations I found myself and I believe the Lord used it to keep me sane and excited over the time in Liberia no matter what the circumstance (outside of one major event but that is another story that I will get to eventually).

Anyway, Pastor Philemon spoke up and said, “Officer, officer. Excuse me but can I say something?” The policeman indicated to the affirmative and so Pastor Philemon said something I didn’t understand to which the second policeman seemed ok with that. The policeman said, “They can go!” The first policeman started to argue but then we were waved on. I was very relieved and glad that the Lord kept us safe once again.

From there, Mark asked for us to stop at the Red Light District. Now, let me clear something up…when we say ‘Red Light District’, to us it means something completely different from what is meant in Liberia. The reason this place was called that is because it was the first part of Monrovia to get a traffic light. Now, the red light doesn’t work…in fact, none of the traffic lights work and I don’t remember even seeing it in that area but that’s what they call it still. We did get out to buy some water and get Jerry a scratch card and sim card for his phone. I will admit that it was a very scary place and Mark kept a tight hold on my hand. Many people were staring at me but I acted as if I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary! It was a strange feeling but I figured they hadn’t seen a white woman with red hair before so they were justified in staring! LOL! These are all little shops on the side. Some are actual buildings and some are little stands where they sell different things…anything just about that you would need. Some places just sold scratch cards, which were cards that you scratched and put into your phone. This would give you five dollars worth of call time on your cell phone. Some places had like an exchange stands. You can exchange money from one country to another…mainly USD (US dollars) into LD (Liberian dollars). Some places sold different types of food that smelled sooooooo good! I asked Mark if we could try something and he said we’d better not. Some of the places sold shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc. Some places sold clothes (western world style) while others sold Liberian style clothes. Everywhere we walked there was something interesting to see and I wanted to buy so much but we only bought what we needed! When we finally returned to the car and actually got in, I breathed a sigh of relief because it was a bit overwhelming!

To Teach A Liberian…Part 11

The church building, school building and house building all looked very familiar to me as we had seen many pictures and videos from Mark’s previous visit. When we left home, our temperature had been around 16-17 degrees F, but when we arrived in Liberia it was about 92 degrees F with high humidity. When we pulled up to the house, we were told we could freshen up before eating something. Pastor James showed us where we would be staying…it was the same room that Mark had on his previous visit. It was like a master bedroom as it had it’s own bathroom! What a blessing that was! Well, considering how hot it was, we decided to take a shower to cool off! Now, let me explain! Our shower to cool off was basically the tank which was a big bucket (about 20 gallons) with lots of water in it and a smaller bucket (about 5 gallons) with a smaller scoop in it. The way we cooled off was by pouring water over our heads and when we ran out of water in the 5 gallon bucket, we grabbed the smaller scoop and kept refilling until our 5 gallon bucket was full! That was our bathroom! It did have a sink, a toilet, and a bathtub so we were in style. Now, I will say this was a more affluent household in Liberia…kind of like middle class! Btw, we did have running water…one of the kids went running for it when we needed it! (I know, a very old joke but this is seriously how we ended up getting most of our water!)

Before we went into the bedroom to freshen up, Jerry, James Matthews (the missionary), and the other guy arrived from the airport. Mark saw Steve Trexler and introduced me to him. I was glad to meet him after having heard so much about him. We stood for a minute to talk and Pastor James introduced me to his wife, Sister Lydia. We talked for a minute then we were told that the we needed to freshen up, so we did. Jerry showed up slightly after we had. He and Mark chatted with James Matthews, Steve Trexler and Pastor James while I listened. I wasn’t saying a whole lot at that point…not that I really did the whole time I was there…except for when I was teaching! We did give Steve his M&M’s and he was so happy over it! He thought we were only bringing him a small bag so it was a treat. The only thing was, he wasn’t going to be in Liberia after the next day as he was flying back to the states due to his brother having medical problems.

When we walked out of the house onto the porch, one of the ladies began singing and clapping her hands. This was my introduction to Liberian singing! The lady that started the singing sounded like she was actually singing the song while everyone else was her background. Most of what was sung was pretty close to the same thing maybe a slight variation on a theme. So it would sound something similar to one lady singing many different words and she would stop while everyone else sang kind of the background music, then they would be almost finished and the main singer would start up and sing many more words. She would stop while everyone else sang the background music again. During this whole time they would clap their hands in a kind of cadence. Sometimes it was a clap, clap, clap, pause, clap, clap, clap, pause. At this point I believe it was more of a clap, clap, clap, quick pause and two quick claps. I couldn’t tell you what they were singing but I am sure they were praising the Lord because that is what Pastor Philemon told us. The song normally goes for a few minutes and if everyone gets enthusiastic over it then it can go on for quite awhile.

The praise time finally stopped and Pastor Philemon introduced himself and the people from his church then each of the pastors introduced themselves and the people from their church, then they asked Pastor Mark to introduce himself and his team. Afterwards, Pastor Philemon shared about how Mark and himself met in 2007 through the scam. It was a great time of blessing but also a time for me to wonder why it was that we were so welcomed! I knew we had never been welcomed like this in any place we had ever been and so it was pretty confusing to me. It wasn’t until later that I understood the strong ties between Liberia and America and how that affected Liberians! On top of that, the people were so grateful that we were willing to come to Liberia to teach and train. To them, this is of paramount importance that no one else is willing to do! Eventually, Pastor Philemon told everyone that we were exhausted and we needed to go to bed and get plenty of rest because we would be leaving in the morning to go to Duaita. He asked two men to pray and then Mark to close in prayer. After prayer time, we talked a short time with everyone then said goodbye as they were all leaving.

Pastor James invited us to sit down to the table so we could eat. We noticed that there were many people gathered outside of his house. I really wasn’t sure what would happen next. They had welcomed us when we first came and I thought I recognized some of them from photos but it turned out that I had never seen their photos before! Thankfully, most of them didn’t even understand what I was saying so I was pretty relieved. Anyway, I received my first taste of Liberian food and I must say I was impressed! I think it was made with the greens but I couldn’t be positive. However Sister Lydia made it, it was very good!

To Teach A Liberian…Part 10

While these thoughts were going through my mind and as we went down the road, I saw the immense poverty everywhere and it literally shocked me! Between everything that was happening and what I was seeing was almost too much for me to take in. I expect Mark was watching my expressions at times but I took no notice of it. So, how can I portray the lives of these people who live in one of the poorest nations in the world? How much, I wondered, did they know about the Word of God? What right did we have to keep so much for ourselves when people were literally starving to death because they don’t have the necessary food to stay alive? Even more importantly, they are starving spiritually because they don’t have the Word of God like they should? The earlier thoughts eventually disappeared because the latter thoughts and questions took over.

I knew the Lord was in control and, no matter what happened, we were supposed to be exactly where we were! I had absolutely no doubts from that time even until now that we were to take that trip and even to return to Liberia as soon as the Lord allows. Normally, after such little sleep as I received on the airplane, I am so tired that I cannot concentrate on much and have to rest. It was quite different this time and I was not prepared for the emotions that overcame me. I so wanted to weep over the conditions I saw but really did not want anyone to see me so I kept a tight reign on my thoughts. The time for weeping had not come as there was so much to be accomplished. I began praying because I that was the only option and also the best option. It was no longer, “Help us to get through this,” but it became, “Lord, help us to be able to teach them while we are here in such a way that they understand and become more like the Lord Jesus Christ. Help us to bond with them in such a way that our lives become one with them. Help us to love them the way You love us! Help us all to learn and grow through each situation we encounter here in Liberia. Help us to be able to come back one day and in a fairly short amount of time!” So much to pray and so much to do in a very short amount of time!

In one way, my thoughts were quite disturbing but in another way, I realized I had found something that I really wanted to do. I was already pretty sure that I wanted to go to Liberia but even the short amount of time I was there made me realize that I definitely didn’t want to stay the rest of my life in America. The heat was something that could be endured and it wasn’t too bad at that point.

We eventually stopped somewhere and sat there for a time. I think Mark got out as did Pastor James and Pastor Philemon. I stayed in the car and watched everything around me with intense curiosity. If this was the place we would return, I wanted it to become a part of me…I didn’t want to leave without having these things imprinted in my mind. I figured whatever I was seeing at that point was probably going to be something I saw many times. Sister Dylin made a comment to me while I was watching, “You are very quiet, Sis Violet! You are watching everything!”

“Yes,” I admitted unashamedly, “It’s still kind of hard for me to believe that I am here in Liberia. I’ve wanted to be here since Mark returned on his last trip and now I am here.” That was another thought that I was having. I almost pinched myself a few times to make sure I wasn’t asleep! Could I actually be in Liberia after wishing to be there for so long? I started to ask Mark to pinch me at one point but figured he might do it so I desisted! LOL!

We started back on the road and went for such a long while that I lost track of many things. Mark pointed out to me the place he stayed upon his arrival when he went the first time. He pointed out many things on that trip to Pastor James’ house but I can’t remember everything. Actually, I don’t remember most of it! We came to this one area where Mark said we were almost at Pastor James’ house and turned down this road that didn’t look anything like I would recognize.

When we turn down a road in the states, even a dirt road, normally you can tell where to turn, where the edge is, where you need to be. It was different in Liberia. Most of the dirt roads can be wide or narrow depending on where the taxi cabs and motorcycles park. I couldn’t figure out, when we turned down the road, why it looked so strange. I did notice, however, that when people go onto the main road anyplace to drive out is fair game. For instance, they drive on the same side that we do…the right hand side. When you are turning, though, if there is an open spot on the left hand side or the right hand side, you can whip on over there and turn. If anyone gets in your way you just start honking! Whoever was there first had the right of way!

Speaking of honking horns, I noticed that horns are honked almost continuously! When one person starts honking then everyone else around tends to want to join in. There are many different reasons for honking horns. The most noticeable one is…someone is in your way! If you end up in the middle of the road you are trying to turn on and no one lets you through, it is fine to honk at everyone until they let you through! All lines of traffic may be stopped and everyone else is honking at you to get out of the way but…no worries, you were there first!

If you see someone you know, you can honk at them! If someone looks like they are going to get in your way, it’s ok to give a honk so they don’t do it. Please make sure you honk at everyone standing in the middle of the road because if you try to drive by them without honking they won’t move! As you are coming around a bend in the road, make sure you give a few honks because you never know who might be in the middle of the road happily walking along and ignoring any and all possibility that someone might be about to run them over! I remember many times, while staying at Pastor James’ house, hearing one horn start and next thing you hear is a series of honks until everyone disappeared out of each other’s sights. It would quieten down for a few seconds or so then start back up again! 😀 Anyway, we did turn down the road and shortly after that we arrived at Pastor James’s house.

To Teach A Liberian…Part 9

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.

To Teach A Liberian…Part 8

We had to go past this woman who would check to make sure we had the right luggage. Mark asked me to pull my purple suitcase behind me because we simply could not get any more on the trolley and I had no problems doing it because there were my crocheted things inside it and I wanted to make sure I had it! The lady began looking at the suitcases and asked to see the tickets that showed we owned the suitcases. The Pilgrim pulled his out and she was satisfied to see his but Mark couldn’t find ours. At this point, I think I was already having a running prayer time because I did not know what would happen next so I just added finding the tickets for our luggage to everything else that I was praying about. Mark told them that he didn’t remember receiving any but that was definitely our luggage. Mark started searching through everything to make sure. The man with us asked if he was sure and Mark said yes.

Suddenly, Mark remembered something and pulled out our brown envelope with all our important papers inside…sure enough! Our tickets for the luggage was there. The lady looked at Mark, the tickets and then our luggage…she looked at us pretty suspiciously (it seemed to me) but then I was starting to feel guilty anyway! She studied each ticket that she had and each ticket on the suitcases. I did wonder if maybe we were going to have a test on this part and maybe we should memorize the tickets! Hahaha! Finally, she let us through…ok she let Mark and Jerry through because I still had my suitcase that hadn’t been accounted for! She asked about the suitcase. I told her that she had the ticket for it and I was with those men who had just left. I began feeling a bit desperate because Mark was ahead and never even noticed what had happened. I wondered if I was going to be sent to prison on my own because I didn’t show my suitcase at the same time as Mark (ok, it wasn’t that bad but I did wonder what would happen). She glared at me and I told her she had the ticket. I showed her the number and said my husband gave her the tickets for them and this had been one of them. It seemed to me like she was about to go through all of them to make sure I wasn’t lying. I think, after looking at all the tickets she had, she came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth it and waved me through with an irritated look in her eyes. I figured she was probably thinking something like, “That dumb American woman! Why couldn’t she have just brought the suitcase forward when I was inspecting it. I wondered why I had 6 tickets and only 5 suitcases. What is her problem anyway?” Oh well, I was just relieved that I was able to make it through! No prison for me this time! LOL! I quickly caught up with Mark. I was simply amazed at how the Lord was taking us through one step at a time!

Mark and Jerry seemed to have stopped because Mark said I was the first one out. I think I was so focused, at this time, on how we ended up getting through another barrier with the Lord’s help that I never really noticed who went out first. I must say, though, that we all went out the door. Whew! It was so much cooler outside then inside and I took a deep breath of the wind that was blowing! I was pretty excited about meeting everyone, as well as nervous but the time had finally arrived! Mark, Jerry and I were all standing together and I, for one, wanted to be able to video Mark’s meeting with Pastor Philemon. I figured there would be a grand welcome but Sister Dylin came up to me and I was only able to get a short video! Funnily enough, I think I got part of my foot at the very end of that video! LOL!

Sister Dylin welcomed me into the country and told me how glad she was that I was able to make it. She gave me a hug and I really wasn’t sure how to respond. I was going to hug back the way we do it in the states but it turned out a bit different. When they hug, the put their cheek up to one side first then to the other side. I felt pretty awkward because of not knowing what to do. Anyways, the moment of awkwardness passed slightly and I was able to breathe a sigh of relief. I really wanted to talk but didn’t know enough of Sister Dylin to say much so I ended up being quiet…as did she. I empathized with her. Now, when I was younger, I had always been shy and wouldn’t say much until I knew someone. I was never a very outgoing person but the Lord used different situations to take most of that out of me. In most situations now, I have a tendency to chatter a lot when I first meet someone. I am willing to ask questions and find out about the other person or tell them about me, if necessary. At this point, I was so out of my element that my mind was completely blank. What do you say to someone in another culture when you are going through culture shock? What is the right thing to say? How much will they understand when you do talk…especially when they are talking and you don’t understand most of what is being said? I was struggling to know what to say; although, not struggling about being in Liberia!

To Teach A Liberian…Part 7

I watched as we flew over Ghana, then the Ivory Coast then Liberia. I was becoming very impatient to land in Liberia. The trip had been a long one and I was just ready to get on with our visit and plans! Mark took pictures of the airport upon our landing and the pilot welcomed us into Liberia. Everyone clapped again upon landing and we were very excited! What I didn’t know was this was only the beginning of many adventures during the next two weeks.

Everyone began disembarking the plane once it was stopped and the pilot let us go but we sat there until everyone was gone. I was thankful because I figured the time getting through the airport and picking up our luggage was going to be an interesting time of it. I remembered what Mark had said happened to him so I once again prayed silently, ‘Lord, help us through this time to be able to get all our luggage. Please let us not have lost anything because each piece has something in it for someone in particular!’ As we were the last ones off, the pilot offered to take a picture of us with the name of the airport behind us.

Now, I need to stop here for a moment and do some explaining because it’s so hard to explain it all without giving some background. As we were stepping out of the airplane (it was in the middle of the road instead of being right up against the terminal like we would see it in the states) there were many Liberians standing on the steps of the plane. Each person was there to help someone in hopes of making a little bit of money. Someone asked me if I needed any help and I responded with, “No, thanks, I am with them!” and pointed to Mark and The Jerry. At first, it looked like someone was going to try grabbing the backpack I had on to help but I hoisted it closer to me and that person seemed to realize that I was not giving up the backpack! It was important for us to keep those backpacks as they were full of things, to include netbooks, that were going to the pastors! I was NOT about to give up mine. I moved closer to Mark and stood resolutely with him. He had been here before and seemed to know more of what he was doing then either Jerry or I, so I decided it was important for me to stick to his side! No one was going to send me away without some kind of a fight! LOL! Everyone parted and let us through. We walked towards the airport and The Pilgrim took a couple of photos of the plane.

We noticed a sign as we were waiting in line that said something about illegal actors were not allowed into the country. We decided that it was talking about actors from Hollywood! We did get a laugh out of that and Jerry asked a couple of security people if he could get a picture. They were nice enough but told him no that pictures were NOT allowed to be taken inside the airport…not until he was outside on the other side! Oh well…it would have been a cool picture to have!

Next it was time to get our luggage! This was amazing to me and I decided that I would just live in the moment with the newness of everything. It was so much hotter inside then it was out. People were milling around at the luggage carousel and further out. The mass of bodies seemed to take my breath away because I would never have conceived the idea that that many people could actually fit in the building and not completely run each other over. I was asked to wait with the backpacks of Mark and Jerry’s which was fine with me! I stood off by the wall but eventually Mark was able to find a trolley to set our stuff on and I stood by it to make sure nobody took of with it. I ended up moving closer to them so they could off-load our luggage onto it quicker instead of having to traipse so far away from the carousel. I moved closer but no matter where I stood, someone wanted to be there. I spent most of my time moving back and forth. The different languages assaulted my ears along with, “Excuse me, mum!” and looks that told me I was in the way and what in the world was I doing just standing there.

I set myself in one section as resolutely as I could so that I could be as close to my husband as possible. I watched the team of people that had come to visit Liberia and saw from their actions that most of them had been there before as they seemed to know exactly what they were doing. I watched Mark and Jerry trying to find the luggage and wondered what in the world had happened to it. They kept looking and eventually found one piece then another and another. The problem was that there ended up being 2 pieces they couldn’t find. The man with us wondered what happened to it but he wasn’t the only one wondering! I began seriously considering the fact that someone had taken off with them after all. Suddenly Mark pulled one off and brought it over.

“Is this the last one?” I asked anxiously. He shook his head no and said that The Pilgrim couldn’t find his other one. I began praying again because I knew he had quite a bit in his that was to go to the pastors, as well. Finally! The luggage was found and we were ready to go. By that time, the room had cleared out quite a bit and was at a manageable level for humans, ok at a manageable level for this human! Hahaha!