“On the Road to Zwedru”
We apologize for the disjointed nature of this post, but we were really pressed for time and upload and download speeds are poor.
We left for Liberia Tuesday the 29th around 6:15 PM after an hour delay. As a result we missed our connecting in Frankfurt to Brussels. However, we arrived and managed to get on the next flight to Brussels then onto the Ivory Coast and onto Liberia. The remainder of the flight went well. We landed at Roberts field Airport outside Monrovia around 8:15 PM and got through customs with little fanfare. We exited and immediately hit by humidity you could cut with a knife and the smells of burning wood and coal. It is the winter season and it is already dark. Despite the dark we were able to enjoy the sites of Liberia, people fill the streets and highways, walking, driving and at a crazy and chaotic pace. We arrived at St. Teresa’s Convent which was our hotel for the evening. We got to bed around 11:30 PM.
We awoke and were served breakfast. Some of us went into the city of Monrovia to shop for a few staples. After some bickering we managed to complete it and get on our way. We left the convent around 10 AM for our 10-15 hour drive to Zwedru and it was hot and humid already. We took the inner city route which took us through the Red Light of Paynesville. This is essentially a 2-3 mile market road with every vendor of every type you could think of. Cars, motorcycles and people on foot. It was the most chaotic thing we have ever experienced. It is bumper to bumper traffic with tens of thousands of people driving and walking. Kids walking up trying to sell gum, candy, roasted corn, pillows and more. Our driver just weaved in and out as fast as he could. Soon the clouds came and a heavy downpour for about 30 minutes. Most people ran for cover but not many places to go, most continued their routine. We eventually made it through the Red Light and were finally out of Monrovia and on the highway to Zwedru.
Now comes the interesting part, a very narrow 2-way road with every driver going 60-70 miles per hour weaving in and out with no signals. Actually, they honk whenever they pass. Needless to say our driver was laying on the horn the entire time. We passed through numerous villages/towns/cities they all seemed to blend into one, but the sights and sounds never changed. Children and adults filled the streets selling our begging. It was very exciting.
Though the road so far is paved it is rutted and our driver spent much of his time on the left lane just honking for the other cars to get out of his way. The pedestrian definitely does not have the right of way. After 5-6 hours of driving we eventually took our first turn and made it to a new Start-up Nazarene church which the children greeted us with excitement. We left there and darkness eventually hit and we were hit with 2 flat tires on 2 of the 3 vehicles we were driving in. At around 1 AM Friday July 2 we arrived in Zwedru. Rev. Tim Eby greeted us with semi-hot hamburgers and fries. After showing us to our rooms we crashed for the night.
Friday, July 2 we awoke to a great breakfast and to sunshine and more humidity. We started the day with another flat tire and made it to the work site around 10:30. Tim gave us the tour and we began laying block for the center.
I will try and attempt to post again this weekend. John Dionne the “Zwedru blogger”.
“IN A SHEPHERD’S WORD: LIBERIA EDITION”
Humanity. In a sea of humanity we travel. From Boston Logan, through the airports of the world, we were awash in this sea. And in that sea we have found that this mosaic comes in so many colors. Yellow, brown, fair skinned white and deep, beautiful black. And no wonder. We are God’s prize piece of artwork, hung in the galleries of the cultures of the world.
For us, we have touched this humanity, God’s humanity in the welcome of total strangers in an airport far away. The immigration woman. The drivers who transported us in the dead of night. The pastors who keep saying “Thank you” to us. Pastor David in Ganta city with a smile of joy and the children who stood and screamed with delight as we changed our second flat tire…at 9:00 PM, in a far away village on the road to Zwedru.
We have touched humanity. We have touched people. We have touched cultures. We have touched one another. And in that we have all been touched by God. That ought not to be surprised. John the Apostle describing the entry of Jesus, His redemptive invasion, into our world said this: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory.” (John 1:14) One translation says Jesus “moved into the neighborhood.” And in so doing He showed us the way to eternal life. And that is what we have done.
We have walked into the neighborhood of God’s humanity. And we will never be the same.
Next entry: IN A HOLE DIGGING FOR HOPE
In HIS Adventure,