I tried to ignore the “good morning” through the kitchen window screen and the window frame tapping at 7am – I should be able to sleep in on a Sunday morning. But the privacy boundaries are different here. If the door was unlocked, I’m sure he would have been standing at my bedside. Moses really wanted my attention…he wanted to borrow my clothes washing bin (the one with the molded-in washboard) so he could do laundry before church (part of life for a 15-year old boy in Liberia).
I guess I couldn’t pretend to be asleep much longer. He’s sometimes like Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory” where he’ll keep repeating my name until I respond. He wanted me to take him to church so I guess I needed to get up anyway. I made pancakes and we shared breakfast.
I was invited several times by Sumo to attend St. Mark’s because they were honoring church workers and there would be no service in Deanville. I was hesitant because I recalled past experiences at special services where time efficiency was not on the list of priorities. Well clearly there was no deadline for finishing yesterday’s service. It was a new record for me – a 4 1/2 hour church service.
There was over an hour and fifteen minutes of special offerings. Congregants were encouraged to approach the altar area where the various evangelists, vicars, and pastors from the region’s churches and preaching points stood. They were honored by having plastic flowers (obtained via donation at the rear of the sanctuary) pinned on their garments. Dollar bills were also appropriate if you preferred. Here is Sumo just before I pin 100 LD bill on the shoulder of his suit coat: This process took an hour. The service continued with the normal liturgy of scripture readings and sermon followed by 15 more minutes of another offering collection. We started service at 10:30am and I drove away at 3:00pm. On the bright side, the choir singing was awesome and rivaled any stereotypical “swaying-Baptistesque” gospel group you see in movies both in tone and energy.
Having a large flat bed truck means being a large flat bed taxi. I dropped off a group of women and children in Deanville before finally arriving back at the guesthouse. I ate a late-afternoon lunch and attempted to catch some rest before a meeting scheduled for 5:00.
One of my trip goals is to help Sumo get a head start on recruiting our next teacher. My strategy is to employ the scouting method used by sports teams and aggressive HR departments in their efforts to identify talented candidates before graduation and woo them to their organizations. GLTC is about 15 minutes from LICOSSES (not sure what it stands for but this is where teachers receive their C-certificate training). I spoke with Lyn Gray from Liberia Reads about this and she put me in contact with Mother Wreh who runs the LICOSSES program in Bong County. My theory is to have Mother Wreh identify top students for us to speak with, invite them to visit GLTC to see the uniqueness of our facility and resources (and good salary), let them see a Liberia Reads class in action, and get them interested in interviewing before their training ends in March. This will give us a jump on grabbing the best and ensuring their commitment to the 2-week Liberia Reads summer training they’ll be required to attend.
I washed some of the 4 1/2 hours of special service sweat off, changed clothes, and met Mother Wreh. Our conversation was brief and to the point which was a welcomed contrast to the long morning. She agreed to consider students (there are over 100 in the current session) and approach them one-on-one. I need to call her Friday to discuss her recommendations and get info for reaching out to the candidates. I’d like to meet some of them before I leave Liberia in about two more weeks.
Since Lyn Gray and Mother Wreh live next to each other, I spent the evening chatting with Lyn and her husband, Jim, on the side porch of their home. Some interesting conversation, mostly about the two taboo subjects of religion and politics (mostly Liberian). They’ve been in Liberia for decades and they’re concerned about the state of the country and leadership under the new president, George Weah. I learned that Weah has started his own church – an odd development for a sitting president. Part of his “pro-poor agenda” is to build soccer stadiums around Monrovia and in some poor communities (I guess that makes sense to a former soccer star who appeals to the youth of the nation). Hopefully peace and stability will continue despite poor leadership.