Tuesday, December 27, 2005

... and a Happy New Year

Many of you know that last week was a tough one for the Reeds, but tough for the ones who made it tough—the infamous Liberian rogues. Three times on two nights they attempted to break into our house and car respectively, and managed to badly damage five window screens and then break out the passenger side window of our car. On the 21st, they slashed our window screens while we were sleeping, reached in with a stick and pulled some flashlight batteries into grab range. On the 23rd, we were awakened at 2:45am by a phone call from our neighbor who heard a loud noise. I went out to find our car’s passenger door smashed with a cement block and my spare tire messed with, but nothing missing. I went inside and waited a half hour in the dark, and sure enough, the guy came back to the scene of the crime. He got into the car, and opened the glove box as I came to the door. He heard me and bolted, jumped over our newly erected security wall, and was gone. Renita and I were at first rattled, but after going through a range of emotions, we let go what we never had anyway—guaranteed security. A lot of damage and drama for about twenty dollars worth of batteries.

Since then we spend a very nice Christmas day with several missionary families who have been here for years. They report this kind of activity is common, especially around the holidays, and during times of political transition, both of which are happening now. They also had some tips for us, some we will implement immediately. We felt much better after our time together. All in all, we are doing quite well, although finding a replacement car window in Monrovia might take a while.

In a few days we will have our “Happy Birthday Jesus” party with about 30 kids and a dear friend from the US, Julie DeGraw. We’ll have games and prizes, and tell the Christmas story, and everyone will make a gift to give to Jesus.

Soon also, we will usher in another year, and this one will be past. 2005 was one for the books, and we are happy to see it drift into memory. During the coming year, we hope some of our efforts here will begin to show some fruit, and we hope new relationships just now beginning will blossom. It is lonely here sometimes, so far from home, so friends that know something of what we are experiencing here will be very nice. To those of you supporting us with well wishes, prayers, money and gifts, thanks so much for all you do.

Our bedroom window with slashed screens. They only got some batteries laying on the desk.

The Pathfinder sans passenger window.

On a more pleasant note, we have some pics taken by the kids. Hannah snapped this one of Noah and Survivor Jr, Rachel, Majua and Odele.

Victoria having an ecstatic cardboard box moment while sister Apple looks on. Noah took this one.

Victoria took this shot of Renita savoring a cup of coffee.

A nice shot of Majua next to a large palm butter mashing bowl. This and the next picture is Hannah's handiwork

Apple and Unca Ba share a moment. Note the little arm around the big man's back. I think she was going for my ear.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Update Time

Dear friends, family and web heads, the Reeds continue to get accustomed to a land that presents new challenges almost everyday. Here are some tidbits from our world.

Item: For the last week we have been without much power in the evening, just batteries running dc fans, and candles for light. Our generator seems to be having serious problems; apparently the Liberian climate and what looks to be a mechanical flaw have conspired to take it out of action. Our solar panels and batteries are running smoothly however so we have all we need from about 10:00am to 4:00pm. During that time, we charge batteries, cell phones and computers, compose emails for later sending, write the stuff Renita and I need to write, Hannah and Noah play video games, and ready ourselves for quiet darkness. Three mechanics have looked at the generator since we began experiencing problems a month ago, and although we think we can affect something like repairs, time will tell if it will functioned as designed.

Item: George Weah, the football player who lost the presidential election to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, last week declared himself president of Liberia, and has created all sorts of disruption because of it. The BBC reported that UNMIL uncovered a coup plot being orchestrated by some of Samuel Doe’s old cronies who have aligned themselves to Weah. Doe was the corrupt president who murdered president Tolbert in 1980. After his video taped torture and murder, Doe was replaced by the despot Charles Taylor. We feel safe in the midst of this craziness, and firmly believe with the strong international backing Sirleaf has, she will be inaugurated on January 16. The latest news is Weah denied claiming to be prez and met the other day with Sileaf, hopefully to make peace.

Item: We have an agreement from the orphanage at the beach that it will close and allow us to facilitate the transfer of the thirteen children there to a healthier, safer facility. Thanks to some of you, we will have the funds necessary to make this happen within three weeks. Our task now is to find a safer facility in the area. That is a challenging task. We have look at three in the area so far, and all three are only a little better than the one at the beach. The most promising is just down the road, and has a safe well and sanitation, but is still very poor. Anyway, I told Renita that if even if we left next month, transferring these kids will have justified the trip. We will have more on this transfer, with pictures, over the next few weeks.

Item: Renita roped me into leading workshop last Saturday on our home church’s beliefs and structure to about ten area congregation reps who have requested the teaching. I did not think I was here to do this kind of work, but He with Renita’s help doth work in unpredictable ways. I think it’s ironic that a guy like me, who has gotten in trouble several times for challenging the dumb ideas and assumptions of my denomination, is now about to teach church theology and structure. More evidence of God’s existence, or at least Somebody’s sense of humor.

Here are a few shots to meet your image needs.

A typical front yard evening. Lionel doing the high jump ith Hannah and Renita on the rope.

Renita says Hi!

Noah testing his long distance reading ability.

Our noble watch dog, Nikki, showing her fangs. Unfortunately, she was fanging Noah. She licks strangers.

Here are some of the folks gathered for Saturday's workshop.

One of the workshop partcipants. She brought her baby, and of course Renita the self proclaimed baby hog held the kid all day.

Yours Truly expounding on reformed theology to a group of 30 very supportive Liberians. We had a great time. Unfortunately for this introvert, they want me back.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

What are We Doing Here-- Part 1

We know we have been giving updates all along on our work, but as time passes, our focus improves and our tasks become clearer. As we meet and listen to people in various organizations, we see better and better where we fit. Renita and I are involved in several activities, some independently and some together, so we thought you might like to see us at work. This peek includes some pictures from work that we each are doing fairly independently of each other: my work at Mother Patern College of Health Science and Renita’s activities with two local elementary schools. Well, they are not exactly pictures of us at work, but these are the schools and some MPCHS images. As time goes by, we’ll get you more shots of us actually doing something. Coming soon: Renita’s work with LEAD, Inc, and Bob’s work on the government Mental Health group.

Hannah, quit clowning and get out of the way! We're trying to show these folks some of our work. Next time, the cucumbers get soaked in vinegar, like mom used to do.

This is Christ's Friend Children Academy. It is partnering with Millbrook Christian in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

This is the other school, Sam L Dennis Memorial. We almost have a partner US school.

Renita, back at work, with our faithful watch dog guarding her every move.

The head of UNICEF Liberia speaks at the recent World AIDS day event, sponsored by MPCHS.

Some traditional dancing at the event.

Sister Barbara back at her desk laying down the law to Patrick, one of our HIV-AIDS specialists.

Finally, a shot of Larry. Not exactly a project, but we like him anyway.