Sunday as “day of rest” turned into Sunday “day of meetings”. For some reason an accumulation of singing, announcements, and a guest preacher combined to create a 2 1/2 hour church service this morning…and that’s after the 1 hour Bible study. When I exited church, I was greeted by the usual throng of children wanting to hold my hand and a smattering of adults presenting their various needs. This included money for transport, money for school fees, and food, on the flip side, one family brought me a bag full of cucumbers from their garden.
As it was now about 1:30 I headed back to campus for some lunch before the 3:00 PTA meeting. A subset of the after-church-children wanted to join me on my cucumber-laden walk, however, the little children were told by the older ones that they couldn’t come because they would be unattended on the walk home. This did not go over well for a few. Along the path at the edge of the village is a small body of water used for bathing and clothes washing. As we approached it, this group of dejected little ones suddenly transformed, running ahead stripping to their birthday suits and diving into the pool. They had a blast!
I had enough time to eat but there was none remaining for a siesta. The PTA meeting was well attended with over 30 adults there and many of the school children. Sumo distributed the letters that I carried from those US sponsors who provided one for me to bring. Since we were waiting for a couple of key individuals to arrive and we have a nearly illiterate parent group, I read aloud a couple of letters to give a sense of what people in the States wanted to share with and learn about their sponsored child. This made them very happy. I also shared a video message from Kathy that included her singing “They’ll Know we are Christians by our love”. This also made them very happy.
The meeting covered discussions about the campus cleaning day (who did and didn’t show up), charcoal production (who has provided charcoal for the meal cooking and those who have not), road clearing (deciding which Saturdays each month will be dedicated to clearing the new car road to Gbarnga Highway), and the relationship of the PTA to the school administration. When it came time for “new business”, I did an informal poll of those adults interested in learning to read and write as plans are under way for adult literacy training next year through a Rotary grant. Half of the parents quickly stood to indicate their desire and said many more adults in the village (not just parents of our students) wanted to learn also.
With the meeting adjourned, I walked out of the classroom to be greeted by another throng of children. This time they wanted me to read the notes written by members and Sunday School students from Mt. Calvary which had also been distributed this afternoon. Some children giggled at both the letter content and the drawings some incorporated. It felt internally awkward at times as I read letters from preteen American elementary students with beautiful handwriting to their illiterate Liberian teenage kindergarten counterparts. The disparity chasm was palpable.
I retreated to the guesthouse to have the final discourse of my day. I had a chance to reconnect with Tumamee and confirm his commitment to our upcoming poultry farm project. I tried to be very direct about my expectations of his time, responsibilities, and compensation as well as expressing concerns about his current relationship with St. Mark’s in Gbarnga as an agriculture teacher. My sense that he is a great fit for this position was reaffirmed. He is clearly not just a worker but a leader with vision beyond simply raising chickens.
With darkness approaching, Tumamee departed and I began cooking dinner by flashlight. I did find that missing pocketknife so let the canned goods, mini raviolis, and veggies come!