Monday, September 26, 2005

Two Months In

Hey Friends, Fam, and Web Surfers, Bob Reed here.

The past eight weeks have been the most full of our lives, with almost everyday a roller coaster of emotion. The sun rises and sets pretty much the same time all year round, and during each twelve hour period, Renita and I experience anxiety, disappointment, fear, relief, hope, and some days, elation and celebration. Lately, we’ve enjoyed more of the latter, and that makes us think we have passed into some indefinable space that says, “Home is Here.”

Maybe it was getting the generator-solar power running, despite missing a battery. Maybe it was getting the iron door built and installed, despite delays and cost overruns. Maybe it was visiting Grand Bassa and making it back without our car breaking down or receiving rave reviews from the priests after a very long workshop. Maybe it was making contacts with the folks from CHAL (Christian Health Assoc. of Liberia), LCIP (Liberia Community Infrastructure Program), World Vision, and USAID, and seeing better where I will best fit in, or even something “simple” like driving in and out of Monrovia fifteen times over the past two weeks and not getting hassled by the police. Perhaps it is because the raining season is ending early, or that we are going to make it to October after a very expensive September. And even as I ponder the shift, I see it was all of these events and more. Renita and I feel as though we’ve stepped into a clearing after entering a forest (rainforest, of course) that we had never seen before, believing it to lead somewhere, and now that we are in the clearing, we see better that there are several pathways through, that there are people here and back home who are with us, and that if we are patient and faithful, it is going to be exactly as He promised: Much more than ok. Maybe even grand and lovely.

So, we are nearly settled. Still missing so much back in Michigan, but feeling like maybe, just maybe, we can build a home here in this clearing.

And now, the news…

Item: Renita is fully engaged in Homeschooling and doing an outstanding job. Hannah and Noah are both very bright students, and Renita seems to challenge them to do their best with her. It is quite something to see on the days I’m around.

Item: Renita is also beginning her consulting activities with LEAD (Liberia Entrepreneurial Asset Development), and REAP (Restoration of Educational Advancement Program), which requires her to do some of her own driving into and out of the pothole laden wackiness that is Monrovia.

Item: We have always had some significant concerns about the orphanage on the beach. Thirteen children live in terrible conditions, in a place that has not improved since we visited eighteen months ago. Since we have been here, several children have gotten sick with cholera and malaria. We have met with the manager regarding our concerns, and if he does not work harder to gain the support of government and non government organizations to the provide food, water and medical treatment available to children, we may need to get more active in helping relocate the children to better facilities. Bad orphanages are a plague in Liberia, and the government is shutting down the worst of them, and moving the children to the best of them.

Item: I have a week free of going into town every day. Although I still need to come in to post blog updates and send/receive emails. The week will give me a chance to visit some NGOs I’m interested in and putter around the house.

More pictures soon. I want to show the solar installation and some interiors of the orphanage.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Grand Bassa county. This is about 30 miles into the interior of the country, to the south and east of where we live. On our way to a new "CRC" plant we were invited to. Took two hours to get there. Not bad really.

On the way. Cottonwood trees.

The new church. Inside.

The new church.

Car number one breaks down. I wonder if having twenty people in it contributed?

Car number two breaks down.

Mike from England via Kenya and Carlos from Columbia, two members of our four member teaching team with Liberia's priests. We are doing an exercise where they burn a paper to get a message without setting it on fire. Most were successful.

A shot of Bob giving guidance to the fathers. Winifred is behind doing the same.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Hey Gang,

We continue to make good progress getting settled, although we seem to be getting tested on every turn. For example, we reinforced the generator room, but the guy who is reinforcing our door still has not shown up with the door we have paid for-- three days overdue. We get our container, but it is missing a few key items. We get a good quote on our solar power-generator hybid system install, but the same day that good news comes in, we mishandle our remaining laptop and break the screen.

Which bring us to the issue of communicating with you all. Because now we have no functioning computers at home, any emailing and blogging is much more cumbersome, and especially for Renita. I can do blog updates from the college as I am today. And I can do a few emails as well. But Renita will be more limited. She does not come in as often. We have not yet figured out what to do until November, but if there is anything we are learning here, it is that being flexible and adaptable is an absolute must.

Anyway, a lot is happening here. Renita and I are both very busy-- me with the priest workshop and the mental health task force meetings, and Renita with homeschooling and community work.

Enough for now. When I figure out how to send pictures from this computer, I will do it. We shall overcome!

By the way, yesterday was my mother, Lucille's 77th birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! We love you and miss you!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

No, this is not an old shot of Renita packing up back in Grand Rapids. We got the container! Renita is unpacking. Tis Christmas in September. The big white thing is our groovy Sundanzer solar refrigerator.

Noah, drunk on Kool-Aide (note the tell-tale mouth stains) attacks his only sister. Oh the humanity!

Hannah Adriana Reed.

I can't get enough of these ocean shots. The waves are very impressive.

A lil' cribbage. Gramma Cain taught me, I taught Renita, Renita taught Hannah. So, Gramma Cain touches her great grand-daughter.

The local "Christian Reformed Church" and school gave us a welcome. Deacon Reeves on the left, with the pastor next to him in the purple shirt. There was a problem wih the camera, so we were all getting a bit punchy by this shot.

Walking the dog. This was taken before the generator room rebuild.

A shot of Nikki actually levitating.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Benson Street, Monrovia. Just behind us, the US Embassy.

A nice view of the countryside.

Firestone rubber trees.

More of the country, this on the roundabout route to the airport.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Ebb and Flow

By now most of you know that the generator theft is last weeks news, and this week we are back on track. Most of you got an email with the details because the blog has been acting up.

I am co-teaching a group including most of the nation's priests on counseling skills and trauma work, and traveling with the college staff to areas where they are doing conflict transformation work in the schools. Renita is engaged in business and community development work with business, church and community leaders. So we are begining to do what we came to do.

The kids are great. More pics soon. Any photo requests?


Monday, September 05, 2005

The scene of the crime-- our generator shed. We thought it was secure. Note the iron bars and the locks. We thought, "the rogues will not get through that door."

We were right. They came through the roof. Here's how...

The roof material is very thin zinc. The rogues actually took a pair of small paper sissors...

And peeled the zinc back like a can opener...

They hopped through the newly cut hole...

Leaving us a can of oil and some old tires, but minus one $200.00 generator.