Monday, October 16, 2006

Church Roof Goes Up, Pastor’s House Goes Down

Renita's mom Marrie Kranenburg has been busy. After she and Renita's dad visited us in April, she decided that she wanted to support one of our neighborhood churches in a tangible way. The church pastored by Augustine Zar and Sam Befolon is the church the Reeds attend most often. It is a woven reed mat structure on the sand, and since we've been here, it had only leaky mats and tarps for a roof. The tarps were vulnerable to theft, and were stolen once. When she returned to Georgetown, Ontario, Marrie mobilized. She got her church and friends involved, and raised enough money-- about 750.00 US dollars, to put corrugated zinc on the roof. The church rejoiced that now its sevices can be held in this very rainy season drip-free. A big thank you to Marrie and the good neighbors of Georgetown.

Then last week, Pastor Befolon's joy was tested. In about fifteen minutes Wednesday morning, his house was gone. He was trying to build a cement structure, but it was still mostly reed mats covered by zinc. A guest left a candle burning and the resulting loss was total. His baby was inside, but he and the baby's mother were out. A nine year old neighbor girl went in a rescued the infant-- literally seconds from certain death. When he arrived on the scene, Pastor Befolon praised God. Of course, there is no insurance for the Befolons, and the church could not afford to pay him a salary. They were poor before, they are destitute now.

But they are not devastated. It is almost surreal to a Western guy like me, but Liberians seem to be so adjusted to catastrophe that they immediately pick up and start over with an almost casual matter-of-fact determination. The Befolons are sad of course, and they are suffering. But in a country where suffering and loss are part of the culture, they have learned how to continue.

Yet still, I find myself wondering for Sam Befolon, and seventeen year old Trokon Garway who I mentioned earlier, and so many others in Liberia: "When will the grieving end? When will the 'days of the storm' be over?"

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