Barbar and the block makers

Yesterday after church was Bible distribution day. Each book now has a dedication label placed in the front cover. A list of member’s names was read off and Bibles were given to those who could read with the goal of helping the illiterate members learn to read at least one scripture verse this year. Each recipient was photographed as they received it and as they exited the preaching point a few very cute children were seen carrying the family’s new Bible. The photo below shows the Bibles being held high after they were distributed and little Cooper holding his mother’s.

I like walking through Deanville because I always see something different….like these two girls stomping rice stalks on a woven mat in a barefoot threshing dance. 

Today I worked with my gang to finish tiling the second bathroom and shower floors. We then constructed some shelving in the pantry closet which will also see serve as the “office” for the guesthouse caretaker. This includes Rubbermaid storage bins with bed linens and towels as well as spare toilet paper, bar soap, and general cleaning supplies. This closet has both a door key lock and a combination pad lock that only one other person has access to besides me. I created a checklist of tasks for preparing prior, during, and after we have guests. This, accompanied by the guest registration form and rate sheet, is hanging on a clipboard for the caretaker’s use to emphasize cleanliness, quality and consistency of service…and planning ahead so we don’t end up with guests and no toilet paper. Tomorrow we have a meeting to review this and other procedures.
As I make purchases from various shops and market sellers I try to engage them in some way. A few days ago I was in “Bong Shopping Center” (for those of you in Colorado reading this, it’s not the name of a new cannabis establishment)…which is a Lebanese-owned store dealing primarily in building supplies…named after Bong County. Mr. Barbar (pronounced with a Boston accent “bah-bah”) is a very nice, yet easily ticked off shop keeper. He’s lived in Liberia for a long time. We got talking about the school and hit upon the block making business. Barbar owns 60 acres and is planning to build a residence and a mattress factory on the edge of Gbarnga. He wanted to construct them using these “Firestone blocks” because he feels they help keep the buildings cooler. (He calls the Firestone blocks because Firestone has constructed communities near their rubber plantations using this type of block.) I invited him to visit our campus. He came today and walked around sharing his opinion on everything he saw and telling stories of his time here during the civil war (including an encounter with Charles Taylor and one of his military leaders who wanted to claim Barbar’s store for himself). He’s very interested in our blocks and suggested our work would begin in January. It sounds like a great potential for our first customer. This would employ about 16 workers for several months and reap an excellent profit for our school. After his departure, I immediately set up a meeting with our newly selected team leaders to get this group reorganized, ready for action, and understanding the significance of doing a quality job for Barbar who has many connections, thus could be a critical work reference…another important meeting for tomorrow.

I’ve been told by Silla that the remaining guesthouse furniture can be picked up in the morning. After grouting the bathroom tile, staging the furniture, getting our caretakers trained, and posting our new sign board we will be open for business. The next investment will need to be air conditioning…. maybe next trip if the funds can be found.

3 thoughts on “Barbar and the block makers

  1. Hey Jon, great events all!
    I’m so glad you have the chance to talk business skills with the block builders. I’m curious to hear of who you see as emerging leaders. Sharon


  2. Jon, As a Coloradan and former Bostonian, your comments hit home. I’m loving your posts and pray all God’s blessings on you and this important mission.


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