Tag Archives: Liberia mission’s trip

To Teach A Liberian…Part 16

I was told it was time to go to the meeting and so I headed over to the meeting place the ladies would be. I wasn’t sure who was going to be translating for me as no one seemed to understand anything I asked…or at least not much. I told whoever the lady was that I was going to find out who my interpreter was going to be and I would be back. I went to Pastor Philemon and asked him.

“Yes,” he replied, “let me see who can do it.” I returned to the meeting place and waited. The women stared at me and I stared back at them as I didn’t really know what else to do. There were only about 4 women at that point, then Pastor Philemon showed up with one of the ladies. “She will interpret and if she cannot then I will,” he informed me. I was very relieved over that because at least I knew someone would be able to do so. The ladies began singing then it kind of died down. Looking back, I think it was because I was standing, whereas they were sitting. I had a chair behind me but I was pretty nervous and thought that maybe I shouldn’t sit. Anyway, I didn’t know what to do and they probably didn’t know what I was going to do. They weren’t the only ones that didn’t know because I had no idea if this was even going to work out. I wondered if the whole thing would be a flop…after all, I’d never had or needed anyone to interpret for me and this was a different culture. What if the response I received from them was horrendous? All kinds of thoughts were going through my head and, at this point, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be there. I was ready to call it quits and go hide out in the mission house. I took a deep breath and asked the Lord to help me.

That first morning started off with teaching the background of being a believer. The ladies would not understand the reason for being submissive to their husband if they were not saved. I started off with creation, went to Abraham, then Moses – the law – and the sacrifice, then went to the prophets then to Jesus. I explained why we needed to be saved and how to be saved. After that, I shared what was necessary for a true believer to grow in the Lord – getting to know the Lord through the Bible and prayer. I laid out some of the things that happen to believers like going through trials, tribulations and persecution. Finally, I was able to share about the relationship between a husband and wife.

The lady that was supposed to interpret for me started off fairly good…for the first 3-4 sentences then gave me THE LOOK. Now, let me explain: if you have ever been in a position where you have tried talking to someone who speaks a completely different language then you and you don’t understand them…they don’t understand you…the two of you are at an impasse, then you know exactly what I am talking about. At that point, the only thing you can do is give each other THE LOOK! That is what she and I did. We gave each other THE LOOK then I looked over at Pastor Philemon sitting out with the women. At that point I knew he had a job to do! LOL! He was busy reading and he looked up when it grew quiet and I spoke up (probably in a very timid way), “Ummmm, Pastor Philemon, can you help us?” He kind of smiled and came up to the front. The other lady sat down and I was extremely relieved!

The teaching time was stilted at first and I was struggling to figure out when to talk and when not to. Just when I thought he was done, I would start again and he would finish what he was saying. I kept berating myself (silently) for interrupting him at the wrong times. Several times he said, “Excuse me,” but it was never said in an improper, rude or abrupt way. He always said it while deep in thought of how he would explain what I was saying. Before long, we began getting into a rhythm. I was so impressed with how the Lord worked out the whole situation. Some of the things I said, he would put it in question form to the ladies so they had to think about what the answer was. Many times each of them would give a part of the answer until it was ALL made into one answer. He always told me, though, what he had asked them and what their answers were. He also made it a point to let me know when he was going to ask them a question. This was always very interesting to me because I was able to watch their faces. I did so with great interest and was thrilled when I saw them understanding what was being said. At times, I would see the faces light up with a smile when they understood and other times Pastor Philemon would say, “Uh-huuuuuuuuuuuuh!” in a very emphatic way. This let me know that they did understand. Sometimes, Pastor Philemon would finish off with what I had already planned to say and I would nod my head then tell him that was exactly what I was going to say. By the time we were done that first day I was very excited over our first day of teaching. We only did about 2 hours and then some question and answer time. I could only praise the Lord for working it out in such an exciting way.

After it was over, Pastor Philemon stayed and introduced me to the different women, to include his biological mom, his adopted mom, and many of the other women. I couldn’t even begin to remember everyone! The ladies decided, at that point that, I needed to learn Kpelle and began inundating me with all kinds of words and how I should respond. I tried to keep up with them but had to laugh at myself because I knew it was way beyond me! Eventually, everyone began to go and Pastor Philemon went to the men’s meeting. They were still meeting together. Sister Tamah told me that I reminded her of her daughter who had died several years ago…at least, that was my understanding. She said that she was adopting me and she was now my African mother. I simply smiled at her and nodded my head. By that time, my head was swimming and I was ready to rest! My new African mother walked up with me to the mission house and we sat there for a bit but then she ended up leaving as I told her I would have to rest some. I think I was overcome from the heat, not receiving a lot of rest, jet lag, and so many new things going on around me. I can only deal with so much then my body shuts down and it was beginning to do that. I did rest, regardless of the flat air mattress and then woke up feeling loads better; albeit, hot and ready for either an air conditioner or a nice breeze!

I walked out of the room into the living room, where we had been eating our meals. All the pastors were there as was Mark. Mark said they were about to serve the food, which was fine with me. Pastor Amos, Sister Tamah, and Pastor Gbaquoi showed up and Mark invited them to eat with us. While we waited for the food to be brought up to us, Mark came over and spoke in a low tone, “Come here, Violet. Let me show you something.” I followed him, wondering what was going on. The window in the living room looked over the open air meeting place and we could see what was going on. There were quite a few people gathered together doing something or other.

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To Teach A Liberian…Part 14

Let me stop for a moment and tell you about the Liberian hand shake. Normally, they grab the hand in a regular handshake like we would do, next grab the thumb part with the whole hand (both people do all of these things) then back to the regular handshake then the middle finger and thumb slide down to meet and snap. This is the full handshake and I think (I’m not sure but it seemed to me) they normally don’t do it that way with the women. The abbreviated handshake is the normal handshake then the middle finger and thumb slide down to the other person’s middle finger and it ends in a snap. Sometimes it doesn’t snap but when both people have really sweaty hands they can get a very loud and satisfying snap! The idea is to sweat as much as possible in your hands! LOL! All the women and men shook my hand with the abbreviated handshake and not once did anyone do the other with me…which was fine with me. What really got me, though, was that most white people I shook hands with didn’t do it so my hand seemed to not know what to do next! Hahaha! Kind of embarrassing but you get over it!

Back to the welcoming committee again! The people surrounded us and they were thrusting their hands right in front of us and the question became, whose hand do you grab so I was seriously watching the hands and trying to get to all of them. We did get to all hands that were waiting to shake ours at some point but it took time. They were all singing praises to God during this time and throwing rice around…if I’m not mistaken, I believe one or two of the women threw little pebbles in the air. It was an exciting time and it was a confusing time because I really didn’t know what to expect or how to respond. I just stood close beside Mark and kept a smile pasted on my face!

Pastor Philemon told us after a time that the people wanted us to start walking towards the village…this was fine with me because I didn’t know what else to do. A man carrying a little boy walked beside me throughout the trip towards the village. I smiled several times at the little boy but he hid his face, probably frightened of the strange looking person standing beside him. During the time of walking into the village and seeing how excited everyone was, absolutely astounded me and it did bring tears to my eyes; although, I was able to keep from crying and did keep a smile pasted on my face. The people were joyful…they sang praises and threw rice and continued this all the way into the village. We were introduced to several of the main people as we were walking but I couldn’t keep them all straight and didn’t try. At this point, I began thinking about how there was joy in heaven over one sinner that repents. Granted this isn’t the same situation but how can so many people be joyful over 3 people they have never met? What joy and abundant expressions of joy came forth from these people of Duaita! What overabundance of love was shown to us even at that time we met them. Jesus told His disciples, “By this shall all men know ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another.” The villagers did not expect anything from us other than that we would teach them the Word of God and so they were thrilled and excited over the fact that we were willing to do what Jesus commanded His disciples to do. I find it sad that so many people are unwilling to go beyond the scope of their comfort zone, all the while insisting that there are so many people to be reached here in America. A lot of them don’t really make the effort to reach anyone here but the excuse is still there.

As we walked with the villagers, my heart was humbled over their evident love for us. Eventually we made it to the open air meeting place, after having walked underneath a couple of trees made into an arch. There were two trees, one on either side of the road, that they had tied together with vines and beautiful flowers. I have to admit that I was so caught up in the moment that I never even thought to take any kind of pictures. Mark did get a picture later after the flowers had died but we do have a video of it because at least Jerry had enough sense to take a video of our walk to the open air pavilion. The people continued singing praises to the Lord until we ended up sitting down. The original open air pavilion had been extended by the people for a ways as they were hoping that many people would show up for the time of welcome. They had special seats for Mark, myself and Jerry and the way we ended up sitting down was that Jerry was closest to the people, then Mark, then myself.

The presentation began with the choir singing songs. These were similar to the ones sung at Pastor Togba’s house except there were two ladies doing the main singing while the rest of the choir sang the background music. I was still fascinated and stared at them! Hehehe! The only thing is, I don’t think my mouth was open! It continued on with someone praying (someone interpreted throughout the presentation), someone sharing something about us showing up and eventually Pastor Sam stood up.

He began talking about purity and how the hearts of the people were pure towards us and they wanted to show us that they were by giving us a kola nut that represented purity in Africa. The nuts are a kind of tan colour on the outside and I understand they are white on the inside. I never looked to see so I am not sure. Anyway, he continued on by saying that they were offering us one from the pureness of their hearts. He did tell us we only had to take one bite of it and not to worry about eating the whole thing. Pastor Sam gave The Pilgrim one first as he was closest. He didn’t show any expression or anything so I figured it was ok. They gave Mark the second one and Mark just examined it while we were listening to Pastor Sam continue to share. I was the last one to get it and I still figured it would be fine as even Pastor Sam said to show us that there was nothing wrong with it, he also would have one. He began eating on his and actually finished it off. I put the one I received into my mouth and ended up getting about a quarter of it. What a surprise and shock to me! It was extremely bitter!

The next few thoughts went through my mind within seconds but it will take some time to explain what I thought. The first thing that popped into my mind was, ‘Don’t let them see you make any kind of face because you will probably offend them and you don’t want to do that after all they have done for you.’ The next thing was (all the while keeping my face straight), ‘I don’t think I’ve tasted anything this bitter before…ok, maybe it tastes a little like the middle of a peach seed but I don’t remember those being as bitter as this is! I wonder what they mean by purity of this nut. I will have to ask Mark about this.’ Part of the reason I thought that last bit was because I wasn’t completely understanding all that had been said. I know Pastor Sam said more but between not being completely acclimated to the way they spoke English and thinking instead of listening, left me wondering what I had missed in all that had been said. I decided to listen a little closer in case I missed more. My mind did wonder about the taste a little bit but thankfully the heavens opened and the rain began to pour! The chief was about to say something but they dismissed us (due to the rain) until the evening so we could rest some and be better prepared. I was relieved due to the long drive and the heat of earlier in the day. As we walked up to the mission house, I mentioned to Mark that the rain felt so good! He agreed with me!

Mission’s Trip to Liberia

Well, it looks like The Pilgrim, The Desert Pastor and myself are taking a missions trip to Liberia in February of 2011. They will be teaching at a conference for the men and I will be teaching at a conference for the women.

Please keep us in prayer over these things:

  1. I still need to get a Hep A and B shot before we leave.
  2. I will need to take Malaria pills before, during, and after our trip to Liberia
  3. We are in need of funds to be able to buy the ticket but feel sure the Lord will provide one way or another.
  4. I need prayer as I am preparing what I will say to the Liberia ladies.
  5. I need prayer as I seek to live my daily life (as do we all) in submission to the Lord’s will.
  6. I am still recuperating from the typhoid pills I had to take.

I am sure there will be more prayer requests as the days go by but I will keep you informed as to what is happening.  Thanks for your prayers.