Tag Archives: Missions

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.

To Teach A Liberian…Part 15

Shortly after we entered the mission house, we noticed that our belongings had already been placed in the room we were staying in…the pastors pointed that out to Mark. We took out our air mattress and mosquito netting and got things situated. Apparently, the pastors thought we needed all the mattresses and beds in our room so we ended up having to get them to take at least the mattresses to their room. We looked to fill our air mattress up but left the pump in Monrovia at Pastor James’ house. Jerry had told us that he had a pump that connected to the cigarette lighter so we decided it would be best to save some room. The driver had disappeared somewhere so we were hoping that he would show up before night time so we would be able to fill up our mattress.

Jerry situated himself and then we went outside. There were a couple of children standing outside and I remembered Mark taking pictures of the children when he had visited previously. Every time he would take the pictures of one or two children suddenly a bunch would show up out of nowhere because of wanting their pictures taken. We decided to try it ourselves and see what would happen. Sure enough, the one or two that were there turned into five, then ten, and pretty soon quite a number of them! We did get many photos of children!

After we amused ourselves for a time with taking pictures of the children, we were told the food was ready. It was really tasty. Once again, there was a bit of spice to the food and we mixed what they call ‘soup’ with our rice. Mark dished my food up again which is quite usual in our house. We either go ahead and dish both girls up…Mark does one and I do one…or if the food is going around he’ll put some on my plate from what he gets and I’ll do it to his. We do try to help each other with the food, for which I am very thankful. We did notice that the pastors were watching everything we did…ok, Mark noticed, I should say! I think I asked for an overabundance in mine because it was so good! I had seconds, as well, since I liked it so much. After the first time or two, I only had one helping because I wanted everyone else to be able to enjoy what we were having as well. We knew that what we didn’t eat would not be wasted. Everyone else would be able to enjoy what was left. Mark pointed out that there were several children and women watching me eat through the window. He suggested that maybe they wanted to see how white women eat. I kind of laughed and said I expected I ate like they did…with my teeth! Pastor Philemon made a comment about the children staring at us as we were eating so I told him about how the girls had a friend that would stare in our window every time she came over to play with the girls so we were kind of used to it. He smiled about it but I wasn’t sure how much he understood.

We did rest and the afternoon turned into evening. Pretty soon we heard the bonging sound of the bell. I think it was the pre-requisite for the normal bell because 30 minutes later we heard the bell go again. We were to learn that everything is done on Liberian time…which means that when you say you will start at a certain time, the people will eventually show up maybe 15-20 sometimes 30 minutes later. Anyway, the first night we started at 7:30pm then went back to the mission house to eat. I really wasn’t hungry but didn’t want to offend anyone so I ate. We were all definitely exhausted.

Everyone was pretty exhausted so we all headed to our rooms shortly thereafter. The driver still hadn’t returned and the air mattress was thin on air. We decided to put the air mattress over the regular mattress and our sheets on that. When we rested in the afternoon, we found out that the mattress was extremely thin and we could feel the hard frame. There were no springs to save us from the frame of the bed and so we tossed and turned all night long. I was tired enough that I slept a lot better than I would have in the same situation in the states. The food we had bought earlier in the day, we kept in our room…which was a mistake. We had finally fallen asleep and then we heard a noise in the room. Tap, tap, tap, tap….it turned out to be a rat (or possibly two) after the food. Mark grabbed the light and shone it in the direction of the rat. He froze from the light but then Mark made a loud noise and the rat took off. I didn’t personally see the rat so I couldn’t describe it properly. Mark did say it had brownish colouring and that it wasn’t as big as a rat you would find here in the states. It’s more like the size of a mouse that you could buy from a pet store. Anyway, after the rat ran away, we did hear a couple of more. I joked around about it and suggested we name the rats. Mark came up with Obama for one and I can’t remember what the name of the other one was. I don’t think we really told any of the pastors about our names for the rats! 😀 Now, once you have gotten underneath the netting, it is so hard to get out so if there are any kinds of bathroom breaks needed, you’d better make sure it’s done all at one time. We figured we’d get up while we were both awake. It didn’t take long to get the netting up but it sure was hard getting it all tucked underneath the mattress when we returned! Finally…finally, we were able to get settled back down and go to sleep! The rats did come back a couple of more times and Mark woke up to scare them off again.

Tuesday, March 1st – We rose up early because we heard everyone stirring and didn’t want to stay abed while everyone else was moving around. We took our bucket bath again and I ended up groaning because the water was so cold…it was a pretty cool morning. They told us they would be willing to have the women heat up the water if we wanted but I figured I’d save them some effort, considering how much effort they put in to welcoming us, cooking our meals, and everything else they were doing. I just went ahead and bore the agony of really cold water on a pretty cool morning.

After getting dressed, we took a walk down to the village. Now, the mission house wasn’t too far from the village but it was further than just being next door. The house had been built on the hill about a year or so after the first missionaries came into the village. The missionaries had been invited to stay in the chief’s home and then they were offered the hill to build a house for themselves. The hill was actually where the villagers did their spirit worship. I guess they figured the white people were close enough to being spirits that they needed to live on the hill. Anyway, the land was given for the purpose of the missionary building a home there. I think he lived there about 30 years or so but it was definitely a positive thing which encouraged the villagers to listen to the gospel.

The villagers all stared at us as we walked by. I’m sure we were a very strange sight…Mark was holding my hand all the way through the village. Jerry and Prince followed behind us at a more leisurely pace. I think Jerru was caught up in taking photos of the children, to which we ended up with loads! Ok, so we did get a few ourselves, as well.

The trees are absolutely beautiful as they are so tall and not the kind we are used to seeing. One of the trees are so tall that the roots have grown much higher than people! The view from the mission house is breath-taking and to be able to see it every morning while we were in Duaita was great!

After we returned from our walk, we went back to the house to wait for breakfast. I went into the bedroom to do some more studying because I would be teaching the women that morning. After some study, I came back out and asked Mark about the food. Apparently, they got started late on the breakfast and it’s not like here where you can throw something together or just grab something on the go. The breakfast was late and so was the meeting! Oh, well, the Lord knows what He is doing…even if we do not! We had rice for breakfast and I wondered about the oatmeal. Mark said he hadn’t given them the oatmeal but he would do it so we could have oatmeal the next morning. We also secured the food, just in case the rats decided to come back in the daytime…ok, we thought we did! We had noticed the pastors didn’t eat with us; although, we did tell them that several times to do so. We finally insisted they do so to which they helped themselves with a bit of reserve and being unsure of themselves instead of waiting for us to finish our food completely. They always did want us to go first, though, no matter how many times we invited them.

Shortly after breakfast was finished off, it was time to go teach the ladies. At first, we had been told that we would be using the church building but it ended up growing quite warm, even in the morning that they decided to use another building that didn’t have walls built all around it. I understood later that it was the storehouse and it was located directly behind the kitchen. There was nothing there so I guess it was not really being used or they moved everything somewhere else for the time.

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!