Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thinkers Village Neighbors

We live in an area that goes by at least three names. Traditionally, it was called Borbor Town, after an influential family living on the other side of Robertsfield Highway. On some maps, it is called Foster Town, after the family that lives on this side of the road and owns much of the land. Lately, almost everyone refers to it as Thinkers Village, because of the popular bar and restaurant bearing the same name located on the beach. It is a dubious honor to live in a community named for a bar, but I’ve always liked the idea of the name. I live in a village of thinkers. Maybe people will view me as a thinker too.

When the Reeds came to Liberia, we came believing and still believe our most important task has to do with the way we live with our neighbors. While our work tasks include curriculum development, business and organizational consulting and teaching, we believe our primary vocation is to simply be good neighbors.
We are grateful to be able to work along side Liberians as they heal and rebuild, so the work at Mother Patern College and Lead are terrific ways to have a wider impact. But in our neighborhood, we can go deeper. We laugh and weep and worship and sweat and josh and argue and confront and eat with our neighbors. We are able to get close, to touch and change one another. With the adults, we are able to participate in organizing this community in ways that will make it safer, healthier, and more interdependent. We try to listen long and speak short. With the children, we find joy and delight in connecting soul to soul. With the children, Hannah provides leadership, teases and gets teased, Noah fishes and plays legos, Renita loans books and reads, I pinch cheeks and dance.

When the Reeds part from Liberia, if we have done nothing except shared love with the men and women, boys and girls of this ‘village of thinkers,” we will be confident that we did what we came here to do, and grateful that He gave us the strength and vision to do it. The rest of the work is overflow.

Sounds like life, doesn’t it. If at our parting, at the end of our journey, we have done nothing but laughed, wept, worshipped, sweated, argued, teased, read, pinched and danced with our neighbors in His name, we will have done well. Everything else will be overflow.

Renita has been working hard with community leaders and now they have their own community development organization. They are now launching a series of community awareness workshops.

The safety and security worshop was attended by almost a hundred neighbors. A great and exciting launch.

Noah and his dear friends Trokon (Not "Chokon" as we had been calling him for months) and Eastman go fishing in the local pond. They catch and eat catfish, crawfish and other little panfish. Noah learned to love fishing from his uncle Dale. Now he's hooked. (get it?)

Here is the trio working on their other project-- a Lego zoo.

Hannah is involved in a lot-- including a community play sponsored by Save the Children warning the kids about the dangers of premarital sex. Hannah is the narrator of the story.

Another scene from the play. Mother Garmi cannot believe that her daughter Patience is pregnant. "How could you have been so foolish?" she asks.

Finally, Dad Andrew tells begging daughter that she must leave the house. A sad ending to a sad story.

On to another neighborhood sport-- coconut pilfering. actually, the kids had been begging me to give them some of the large ripe nuts on one of our two trees, so I called a coconut party. Here's Trokon hacking away.

The little dears display a few of the twenty coconuts they brought down.