Decoration Day 2017

Yesterday was one of those days where I seemed to be doing a great deal of moving without getting anything accomplished.  I had a pretty bad sleep the night before, waking up around 3am and not getting back to sleep until around 6 followed by my alarm clock at 6:30.  Last night, I had an excellent sleep so my brain is working on all cylinders again.

Today is Decoration Day – a national holiday held the second Wednesday in March – a day to clean and decorate the graves of family members past. Families could be seen from the road painting cement headstones and weeding around the grave sites. Colorful plastic wreathes were for sale by holiday entrepreneurs as many stores were closed in Gbarnga today. Even in the center of Deanville there are three raised grave areas with stepped headstones that were being repainted white with green decorative color blocking. I almost took a photo but felt it might be crossing a cultural boundary of inappropriateness.

Since I think part of my problem yesterday (and the prior night) was that I’ve got myself going in too many directions, I decided to make minimal major goals for the day and let everything else just fall where it may. So, today my two primary goals were: 1) paint part of the guesthouse floor and 2) install blackboards in two classrooms. Trying to keep raw concrete floors clean with the dusty world that is Liberia is impossible. It has to be either
sealed or covered and the only real options with the high humidity are linoleum squares or ceramic tile.  As an experiment, I had a few packages of epoxy garage floor coating shipped from the US (2 1/2 months!) so I could try a floor covering/coating that was better (cheaper/faster) than tiling. This is the epoxy_shieldproduct (photo placed here more for my historical record than your actual interest, perhaps). One of the things I did accomplish yesterday was prepping the floor in the utility closet, bathroom hallway, kitchen, and pantry closet by using the product’s organic acid etch applied by mopping and hand scrubbing the floor then rinsing which helps the coating adhere to the concrete. After carefully reading the instructions (yes, men occasionally read directions), I thoroughly mixed the 2-part epoxy in its foil pouches, distributed it section by section with a paint roller, and scattered colored flakes…it looks awesome.  It should be dry enough for me to walk on tomorrow.  Hopefully it’s as durable as they say it is-it’s meant for a car to drive on so it I expect it will be.

Floors partially painted…check!

Moving on to goal #2. Over the last couple of days someone has been painting sheets of plywood to make our own blackboards. They were dry and ready for hanging today using concrete screws right into the Hydraform blocks in classrooms #1 and #2.

Blackboards hung…check!

I spent the afternoon making sure the electrician had what he needed to install the solar panel and security lighting on the second guard house down by the warehouse.  All looks good and tonight will be the first test. I then moved on to starting the conversation with some villagers about biogas – turning what I’m calling “poop soup” into cooking gas using a “biodigester” (and creating an excellent byproduct of “compost tea” for the gardens). There seems to be real excitement and interest by a core group of people. The next step is building a sample unit with some large plastic barrels to produce enough gas for demonstrating with the Bunsen burner I brought.

Lavela approached me today and asked about construction work. He worked up an estimate for finishing the kitchen (if you recall from November last year we had the foundation constructed before the dry season began). We need $12,000 and there’s a donor willing to match dollar-for-dollar up to $6,000 so there will be sufficient funds to finish this building before the rainy season starts in June/July.


I took a break with my friend, Sando, to have a couple of freshly-picked cucumbers given to me by another village woman, Quita, and took this selfie while sitting on the guesthouse screened porch.IMG_8094

3 thoughts on “Decoration Day 2017

  1. Hey, Jon, I’ve been dealing with a bunch of issue recently and hadn’t gotten around to reading your blogs, —- which I have done today. Sorry about that, — about the delay, I mean! How exciting it must be to have brought the project to fruition. Wonderful work!

    Happy Decoration Day, and a belated happy 54th. Seems those two should have been combined, —- you know, with birthday decorations and all. How long will you be in Liberia? Are there some major tasks still to be performed?

    In any case, what a wonderful witness you’ve been to your faith. It ain’t just the talk, and it ain’t just the bucks; it’s getting one’s hands dirty, —- and my hands have been relatively clean during my lifetime.

    Good for you for standing up to that fellow who commented about the school ”being for Lutherans.” I hope he grasped your response. As soon as I read his comment, even before getting to your response, I knew he had made a bad misstatement.

    So, be well, and may God continue to travel with and protect you. Hi to Kathy, when you’re in touch.

    Love from your aunt and me, Herk


  2. O.K Jon you are losing it. You are having fun distributing “colored flakes” on the floor of a utility closet and pantry FLOOR? I guess all my obsessive photos of Roman/ Greek intricate tile floors has had an impression on you. Attractive floors should probably be where more people can enjoy them……
    Sando had such a beautiful smile. You both look great. The photo made me smile. Decoration Day sounds like a thoughtful way to remember special loved ones.

    Sleep well.


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