I think this trip’s blogs will be shorter…I just don’t have the time and patience to do them like I did in the beginning. Any way…here’s today’s update.
BOXES: Way back on December 22nd, Leon, Donna and I packed up 14 boxes of books, backpacks, and other school supplies (mostly the result of donations from LWML women) and shipped them to Monrovia at the Liberian Shipping Company in Providence. My fingers have been tightly crossed for about 10 weeks hoping they would 1) simply arrive in Monrovia, 2) be in one piece and not wet, crushed or otherwise mutilated en-route, and 3) at the shipper’s warehouse when I arrived for this trip. The only “tracking number” I had was the cell phone for “Romeo” who managed the shipments at the warehouse in Iron Factory (past the port of Monrovia). To my surprise after texting him last night, he replied with a phone call to say the boxes were here and I could pick them up from 9-5 today. During our errands, John 2 and I pulled in and waiting about 15 feet in from the steel doors were our 14 boxes (easily identified by the bright pink duck tape). In a matter of minutes and a signature we were on our way. Couldn’t have been easier and at the discounted “school building in Liberia” rate of just $15/box it’s hard to beat that bargain.
TIRES: On to the next errand…tires. Baby Foton must still be teething because he/she seems to be chewing up tires like a gnawing newborn. We replaced 4 tires and rotated 2 of the remaining better tires to the inside rear position.
Off to Eagle Electric for more supplies then down Randall Street to find a two-burner propane cook stove for the guesthouse kitchen. Since one of my goals is to experiment with biogas during this trip (converting animal and crop waste into methane as a cooking fuel), I also bought a single burner unit. At the same store they had oscillating fans (poor man’s air conditioning). I managed to get a combined deal for the three items for about 30% off….always ask the Lebanese storekeeper for their “best price” then put more things in the shopping cart and ask for their “best price”…the total bill keeps going down. It’s true what they say on those TV commercials…”the more you buy, the more you save”.
NETS: I’ve been in search of mosquito bed nets for our Deanville community for a couple of months (including efforts by Kathy and mother-in-law Marie) without much success. I was hot on the trail of some nets via a Liberian physician connection from Marie when I mentioned my lack of success to someone at LCL this morning. At the end of the day as I got out of the truck to walk into the guesthouse, a woman named Sue approached me and said, “I understand you’re looking for me.” I wasn’t actually looking for her but it turns out she was the former regional supervisor for LCL’s involvement with the Lutheran Malaria Initiative and made a few phone calls. She had access to 300 nets costing $10 each. Seeing my look of surprise (that she actually had nets) and disappointment (that I didn’t want to pay that much), we had a brief conversation about price culminating in my favorite question, “Well how much do you want to pay?” I said $5 each was my hope. Within a half an hour I was helping John 2 load 6 bundles with 50 each (300 for the arithmetically challenged) insecticide treated rectangular mosquito bed nets into baby Foton. Sue also does training–probably the most important aspect of distributing the nets so they don’t become fishing nets or abrasive pot scrubbers. We’re shooting for a distribution and training event in the next 10-14 days.
Boxes and Tires and Nets…Oh My! was followed up by an invitation from the LCL Secretary General, Naomi, to join a group of guests for dinner up in the LCL guesthouse cafeteria. I had a great conversation with a woman from Denmark, Ingrid Smidt, who lived in Gbarnga for 9 years and is now on a 2 year contract to work with the education department. The only downside to dinner was a choice of fish: whole fish, fish head, fish body, fish tail (I cut one in half to have just some fish body where most of the meat was while not having my dinner staring back at me). Bishop Seyenkulo led the dinner with a wine toast. David Federwitz from Lutheran Bible Translators was also there with an associate (forgot his name) along with members of another partner group called Act Alliance that has long worked with LCL.
Air conditioning in baby Foton isn’t working so I’m ready for a quick squeegee and bucket bath then off to bed.