You’re probably wondering where I’ve been for the last few days! It’s been a busy time trying to tie up loose ends and prepare for keeping work going after I leave. I’m writing this in my guestroom at the LCL compound and will be leaving in a few hours for the airport. Here’s a summary of the last few days.
On Sunday I drove over to the Deanville mission church for my last service with the community closest to the school property. When I arrived, most of the members were coming out of the church building and I asked if this was the Kpelle Bible Study group coming out. Turns out that Sumo (the pastor/evangelist) has been ill for the last week with malaria. The members were on their way to visit him and the twin sister of another member, Sony (I’ve mentioned her before with the worm eating!) who was recovering from surgery. We walked across Gbarnga Hwy to a small village where Sony’s sister was sitting on a chair under a tree looking like someone recovering from surgery. The group of about 30 gathered around, sang worship songs in Kpelle, spoke briefly to her, said prayers with her, then shared a small monetary gift with her. We all departed and returned to the Deanville church where baby FOTON’s truck bed had been swept out…I was now the group transport into Gbarnga where Sumo lives. About 20 +/- climbed in, included a very elderly woman who was hoisted up the tailgate.
When I arrived at Sumo’s house, I declined to enter the property which I was told could be driven into (maybe with a German WWII half track or Russian tank…but not my baby). As we ascended the incline, I was oreo-cookied by a young boy and the elderly woman who held my hand. The old woman reminded me of a Liberian version of my Grandma Rossman. I told her that she was my new girlfriend and not to tell my wife back in the states. I made sure she had one of the few available chairs (they tried to have me sit there) and we circled Sumo who was resting outside on a mattress placed in the shade of a big tree. We repeated the earlier routine except this became more like a worship service, complete with a message given by a visiting Deacon. I thought these visits were a great way for a congregation to deal with their “shut ins” and represents the overall cultural commitment to “relationships” and “community”.
After dropping off many of the Deanville members at various points along the Gbarnga Hwy, I returned to Phebe for my Sunday afternoon siesta.
The rainy season appears to have stopped as the mornings have greeted me with a daily dose of dew instead of the mud from a nightly deluge. This makes driving a bit easier and the sand/rock hauling a bit more productive. Some workers were hired to clear the road area that I staked out last week so FOTON could drive sand directly to the new foundation site. It was a great feeling to see it drive up the future school road and park between the school and guesthouse. I was reminded of Isaiah 43 as I thought of the thickness of this jungle bush just 5 weeks earlier.
The foundation excavation is looking great. It’s amazing how quickly they can dig such straight, square sided trenches that are leveled as they go. I’ve been keeping the workers happy by bringing “roadside donuts” (actual donut-shaped fried dough with granulated sugar for about 10¢) in the morning…maybe we could open up a “Dunkin’ Donuts-Liberia” chain. The site looks very busy with finish work on the warehouse, block making, foundation digging, and sand hauling. Not sure if you can see this well enough but here’s a 360° pano-view as I stood in the warehouse doorway.
Driving along the access road yesterday after some errands in Gbarnga, I noticed another line of army ants (the line is dark enough to see from a moving vehicle so that tells you how dense the ants are). I tried taking a close up shot but the ants are so quick to climb up my leg and bite that I couldn’t stand very long.
After lunch yesterday, I took the opportunity to gather the group of workers for a group photo and to tell them how appreciative I was of their hard work. As you can see, except for the hardhats, I stand out in a crowd!
I’ve got to meet someone so I’ll expand in another posting, hopefully while I sitting in the airport.