We are getting used to living in Liberia and we seem to be in a groove. Work has definitely been extremely hard but we are progressing very rapidly. Over the past few days we have almost completely finished the foundation walls out of concrete block. We have half of the columns completed and John F has designed and built his first roof truss. However, we will not be around to see the truss erected into place. If we were in the US it would be put into place with a crane, here in Zwedru, they will make use of 2 pyramid ladders (which we made here) as well as long poles and probably 15 men to lift this into place. It is too bad that we will not be around to see that, it will be a feat, but if anyone can do it is the Liberians. As we have said before they are a “can do” people. They have so little in terms of tools, equipment but they manage to do so much with so little.
Pastor Augustine continues to lead, teach, and inspire John D. (our newest brick laying professional) and Tom while laying bricks in the pit. Augustine is a quiet man of small stature – but a man of awesome strength – the strength of character one only finds in a true man of God. A man confident in who he is and at peace with himself and with the world – knowing his God is faithful. He is respected by everyone on the site – and when he yells “mortar, mortar, mortar – people move! I/we enjoy being with him and learning to lay brick under “the master” as we have affectionately nicknamed him.
In addition to the foundation, we have begun pouring the support columns. There are 20 7.5 foot high columns – they have been formed using the chain saw milled waa waa board cut on site. To fill them – Tom has been climbing the forms and dangling on the crossbeams while we lift pails of concrete up to him. Each column is filled one pail at a time. Supporting the columns has been a challenge do to the quality of wood and today we had a minor blowout – but we managed to finish 13 columns. Beth – if you’re reading this – we are glad you can’t see him up there (sorry – we are looking out for him though).
To further accentuate their abilities to do so much with so little. We are having several trees cut on the abutting property for wood. With just sandals on their feet and a very large chain saw they take down huge trees. Then once it is felled, they take the log and with the chain saw cut it into 1 x 10 x 15 right on site in the jungle. We watched them do it, they use no guides or any type, it is a free hand cut and it is just about perfect.
We are learning much from these people who are very friendly, welcoming and extremely hard working. They have really taken us in and they appreciate our presence and our work.
Many of us are making friends. Penney has become good friends with Swrobert the “well digger”. He wants to attend church and Penny has connected him to one of the youth pastors at the local church of the Nazarene. Ann and Penney have also been able to draw Moosa ( our driver) out of his shell. Despite spending 15 hours with him in the truck on the road to Zwedru, Moosa hardly said a word. It turns out that Moosa lost both of his parents during the war at a young age and he has had no education. He is now 28 years old and lives in Monrovia. He would like to learn to read, so he can read the Bible. Hopefully, we can leave him with some hope and Penny has invited him to attend church services with us on Sunday. If he comes we will connect him with the Pastor.
Another church mission located next to the site we are working on is headed by Pastor Richard who also hosts a local radio show in Zwedru from 5 AM to 7 AM. He has invited us to be on his show. So on Thursday the 8th Shirley, Penny and Pastor Galaday(one of the local Pastors who is working with us) will go on the show from 6:30 to 7 AM.
Tim Eby has been a blessing. Tim has not stopped serving us since our arrival – and does so joyfully. We have studied the fruit of the spirit this week during our devotional time and Tim has exemplified this for us. We are grateful for him and his easy going spirit.
It is now 11:40 PM and we are getting a bit tired. So I will sign off and hope to post this in the morning when upload speeds are faster.
John and Tom D.
IN HIS ADVENTURE – LIBERIA VERSION
“BULLETIN BOARDS THAT SELL IDEAS”
In the United States billboards are almost irrelevant to so many of us. We advertise everything from shiny new automobiles to resorts. Really, how essential are these signs to our existence as a nation and our peace as a people? Not essential at all. They could all go away overnight and we would not miss them and they would have minimal impact on our social and civil stability.
Liberia, however, is a world of signs that matter. The “bulletin boards” are not intended to sell the latest material desire. Instead, they are used to promote ideas. Ideas that matter.
“One People! One Nation! One Goal!”
“Country Builders Pay Their Taxes!”
Then there are signs you would never expect to see.
“Stop Rape Now!”
“Resolve Your Differences Peacefully!”
“Violence Is Not Necessary!”
These are not bulletin boards! These are signs that are intended to rewire a nation's psyche. Spending a week where the atrocities of the civil war were their worst has been enlightening. Talking with pastors who hid in the bush for two years refracts your vision. Seeing the Pavala Huts used for reconciliation (Google this to discover what they are) makes you realize how fragile peace can be.
Signs. I am not sure I will ever look at a bulletin board the same again. But more importantly, may I not take my relationships for granted again or the peace we share even in our differences.
“As much as within you lies, if it is possible, be at peace with one another, and pursue holiness.” (The Apostle Paul)
In HIS Adventure,