Banking Pinball

I’m writing this on my phone from Monrovia airport so no photos this time. Sorry to not blog over the last few days. Not only is it hectic with the things I want to accomplish, but everyone who has been meaning to talk with me tries to squeeze it in on the last day…including St. Mark’s pastor who wanted me to give advice on a new classroom addition and expansion of the church sanctuary.  Well, it was more than advice…they wanted blueprints of the buildings!  There were also several Deanville families that I hadn’t interviewed yet who came-a-knockin’ wondering why I wasn’t including them.  So off to the village for more surveys and family photos.

Let’s go back a few days … I got into remodeler mode and tiled one bathroom shower floor. Typically you need to use small tiles to allow them to follow the sloping contour towards to drain. I wasn’t able to find anyplace with tiles smaller than 12×12 so I got out the angle grinder with a tile blade carried from the US and proceeded to create 2×2 tile squares. With help from a worker who mixed the thinset a long with one of the boys, the floor got done.
Saturday night was my inaugural night as guest in Room 4 of the guesthouse.  I started the evening with a shower! Yes, folks, it is possible to take a shower under clean drinkable water in the middle of Liberian bush. I’ve noticed that a shower with unheated water doesn’t have the same shock effect as a bucket of cold water dumped over your head.  With my body purged of dirty work sweat, mosquito netting and flashlight at the ready, I snuggled into the new sheets I purchased in Gbarnga earlier in the day – ready for clean sweat to cover me in the unconditioned air.  As the sun set over the campus and the volume of crickets calling the end of a day grew, the darkness of the electric-less environment overwhelmed the guesthouse.  The can’t-see-the-hand-in-front-of-your-face veil of black was intermittently pierced by the sweeping light of our security guards making night rounds.  Except for a negligible  wake from the cricket’s  wings, the night air was torpid.

I rose at sun’s twilight and felt the urge to rid the bedrooms of at least one layer of construction dust.  As I swept trying to stay cool in my boxers, thinking myself alone in this morning cleaning mania, I was startled by one of “the boys” staring through the screen with a “hello”. Upon hearing of my lodging plans, my gang of boys had pleaded earlier in the day to let them sleep in one of the adjacent bedrooms  With a definitive “NO” and a “don’t visit me in the morning” warning, I had hoped for a bit of solitude. Memories are short for children, especially Liberians who have an open door culture. I shooed him away and continued my “brief” cleaning (that pun is for you, Uncle Herk!).

Following worship I set off with Sando to continue villager interviews…some households have 15 members who all get malaria and drink from the river when their hand dug well goes dry.

Monday brought a flurry of punch list projects from building more kitchen cabinets and prepping for a countertop/sink to reviewing financials with Lavela and directing painters. I’ve been dissatisfied with how dark the school toilet stalls are so we cut a hole in the zinc roof and installed “transparent zinc” (clear corrugated plastic) to make a sort of skylight. It seems to working in the test area so we’ll be expanding the area for greater illumination.

I finally received checks from Rotary for grant expenses. Thus, this morning I had to go to LBDI bank (famous for long lines and longer waits). This morning’s surprise was finding out after waiting in line outside that their “systems were down” and they had no money. This forced me to leave Gbarnga earlier than anticipated in order to hit the main office branch in Monrovia prior to heading to the airport. I entered the main branch with high hopes for a smooth experience. I walked to a desk and asked to be directed…go here…apparently I qualified for “premier service”. Waiting 5-10 minutes I moved to a chair closer to the staff person’s desk. Then finally to their desk where they “authorize” my checks for cashing. Unfortunately, she could not authorize the check I wrote because the account did not show the wire transfer made last week. I cashed 2 of 3 checks then had to go downstairs to @foreign transactions “…wait again. The employee finds paperwork showing my wired funds then spends 5-10 minutes manually entering it into my account, then sends me to yet another desk to now authorize it. I’m growing tired of this pinball game as one financial flipper after another shoots me to another part of the bank. I finally just went back upstairs to my original staff person who escorted me back downstairs to a teller window…where i waited. Finally…a stack of greenbacks! I ran out the door before they could pull the levers again.

We’re about to board my Brussels flight so see you later!

2 thoughts on “Banking Pinball

  1. Hey, Jon,
    Welcome Almost Home! Wishing you a safe trip, after yet another meaningful stay
    in Liberia. You and your co-workers have made such wonderful progress. Your inspirational “story” should be shared with churches and charitable organizations, fostering efforts on the part of others to do like work.
    Arrive home safely. Look forward to seeing you soon.
    Be well, Herk


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