Tuesday, July 25, 2006
As we pass our one year anniversary being here, it is a good time for an update. We are witnessing a nation turning a corner, and we have turned one ourselves. We have seen free and fair elections in a war ravaged land, the first elected female national leader in African history, theft and violent death in our neighborhood, dysentery, malaria, and adjustment to a completely different climate and culture. We now eat torpagee, collard greens, cassava leaf, palm butter, eggplant, potato greens, pumpkin soup, peanut soup, and cabbage as regular entrees on a menu that sees rice or bulgur wheat and lots of pepper every day. We have adjusted to lizards, thumb-sized cockroaches and palm spanning spiders living with us, coal pots, hauling water from a well each day, flushing toilets with a bucket, never feeling very clean, limited electricity in the day, none after bedtime, no TV, and having to travel a half hour for unreliable internet access. We accept as a matter of course that here, if it breaks you don’t “get a new one,” you fix it or live without, and here the climate and country breaks everything faster, from fuel pumps to high tech inverters to mufflers to dishes to shoes.
We live in and among some of the poorest people in the world, who survive day to day on whatever they can find or eek out, who have lived through fifteen years of war, displacement and have seen terror and death close up, who fight hunger and disease, and who still say without hesitation that “God is good all the time.” We have seen two of our neighbors, a husband and a wife, die of different unnamed illnesses three weeks apart, leaving behind four orphans. We have seen another kill three intruders with an AK-47 who were attempting to break in to his home and hurt his family.
On July 24, we celebrated our year anniversary with me being arrested briefly for accidentally driving into a Presidential convoy, the car’s electrical system giving out, my computer screen beginning to fail and Dell telling me I need to take it to the US to get it fixed. But that day we also celebrated LEAD’s second class graduating, me preparing for some exciting training I’ll be doing for about 25 Liberian psychosocial workers, still so thankful for a succesful visit from Calvin and Kuyper Colleges, looking forward for a trip with the family to Mali later in August for the CRWRC West Africa Ministry Team meeting, and eating real chocolate cake baked by Hannah in our new propane stove.
So a year later Liberia is still Liberia, but a little more stable, a little less corrupt. The roads are a little better. Electricity is returning "small small." The rogues are still active, but losing as much as they are winning. Our neighbors are still heroically making life work day to day in the most challenging circumstances. The Reeds in Liberia are stronger, by far, and more adjusted to the “fix it or live without” way of life here. And you are still here—reading this, supporting us, supporting Liberia, and letting us know our journey is shared. We hope our picture of Liberia thus far has been fair and accurate, and we hope this second year will see us all still dancing with the One What Brung Us.