Development Isn’t All Laughing

I’ve been learning many Liberian phrases which are interesting. Instead of saying “a little” as in “just give me a little”, you should say “small small”. When it hasn’t stopped raining yet, the “rain has not rested”.  When you say good morning to someone, they will respond “what news”.  The difficulty I have with understanding Liberian English has to do, not only with the accent, but with the unique phrasing.  I do know one thing…communication is key. Just when you think it’s clear, it’s probably not totally clear to either party. I’ve been thinking a lot about our meeting at the mission church on Friday with Sam Bundo. One of the phrases that he used struck me –“development isn’t all laughing“. He tried to explain that much preparation, discussion, and laughing can be done up to the point of actually starting a project. But then, hard work and sacrifice will be required in order to meet the goal — and there may be a long period without “laughing”. I hope the message was received by everyone.

I attended the worship service at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Gbarnga along with Saah and the driver for the fistula project team, Jackson.  We arrived at 9:30am and…get ready…wait….wait for it…finished at 2:00pm.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I just experienced my first 4 1/2 hour service.  The signing was great once again…check this out   It was “Youth Sunday” and the first 3 1/2 hours of the service felt more like a fund raising rally for a youth project to construct concrete benches on the church grounds than a worship service.  I think they had 5 or 6 separate offerings.  A girl would sing…a basket was put out.  The group had individuals pull out a slip of paper which said some item needed for the bench construction (i.e., 3 pieces of metal rebar, 2 bags of cement) and that person would put the money into the basket.  A box wrapped in white paper with hard candies taped to it was placed in front and the congregation was invited to come forward to contribute after pulling one of the candies off the box.  Family names were called one by one and challenged to donate.  Youth were called up to be recognized for service and participation. Yikes! The scripture lessons weren’t read until 1:00pm. Kathy would have liked the gospel-swaying choir (see this:

After service, I went to the ATM at Cuttington University to withdraw more cash to stockpile for purchasing supplies this week. Without having a bank account, I need to gauge how much each week’s expenses will likely be. While there, I noticed the entry walls and guard house are constructed using blocks from the same interlocking blockmaking machine we’ve purchased.  Here’s a photo: IMG_3335

The women and girls in the fistula rehab program.

When I returned to Phebe, I enjoyed a scrumptious can of Chef-Boy-R-Dee mini ravioli for lunch. My guest-mates invited me to join them at the Liberia Fistula Project rehab center on the Phebe compound. I had a blast meeting the girls and playing with little children. I got tattoos put on by the girls and learned about some of the vocational training they receive…and to my delight….about delicious baked muffin/bread they make daily.  I told them I’d be over in the morning to get them right from the oven.  The oven, by the way, is essentially a refrigerator-like container into which they place a charcoal fire under several oven shelves then latch the door shut. When they open it to either check the baking or remove the baked goods, smoke comes billowing out.  It looks like a respiratory nightmare in the cook building they work in.  Future plans include removing that building and installing proper wood burning stoves which chimney pipes.  I had conversations with the fistula team about transporting goods in container shipments and found that Firestone will ship for FREE in one of their ships coming to Liberia. There are other costs involved but something I’ll look into more.  Afterwards, the team invited me to join them at the Passion Hotel in Gbarnga to have dinner.  It was a surprise location off the Gbarnga-Monrovia Hwy which had traditional Liberian food plus hamburgers, fried chicken, and french fries.  After a delicious meal and good conversation, it was getting to be dusk…my “malaria radar” was twitching and I wanted to get out of there soon into the protection of my screened porch.  It poured for a short time on the ride home which helped to cool off the evening heat.

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