Monday, March 19, 2007

ReedNews Update

The weather is a-changin’ after four months of almost no rainfall. The days alternate sunny and cloudy, and every other night, it rains. This is the transition time, between the rainy and dry season. It mirrors the transition time in October, at the close of the rainy season. It is characterized by brief but strong nighttime winds carrying thunderstorms followed by steady rain that lasts hours, but typically over by morning. The mornings are relatively cool—low 70’s— but the day still heats up into the mid 90’s on sunny days. Now some news:

Item- The spring seems to be visitor season; we have just said goodbye to brother Brian and are awaiting brother Henry and mother Marrie in a couple weeks. Currently Madison Square Church and Nehemiah-Liberia Group member Mary Vermeer is here with her daughters Jennifer and Elizabeth. We’ll get a picture of them later in the week.

Item- FoCDA continues to produce. The area community development association collaborated again with my pals at Mother Patern College to present a workshop titled “Nutrition, Food Preparation and Preservation.” It was an excellent presentation, attended by about fifty neighbors. Renita said, “I think these workshop could save somebody’s life.”

Item- I had a chance to facilitate a seminar for about 120 people last week. It was a marriage conference, and we had a lively time addressing issues. Family life has been deeply affected by the turmoil of the last twenty-five years, so it was fascinating discussing Liberian marital and family realities vs. the ideal. The biggest issues relate to mutual distrust, and male/female roles in marriage.

Item- The market place continues semi-steady progress. Building the market has produced some tension and arguments between various groups in the community, which has in turn created lively community meetings. Intergroup and even intragroup yelling and finger pointing happen as some neighbors suddenly want a say now that the market is an inevitable reality. This conflict is all part of the process, and is in fact necessary to building a cohesive community. The underlying conflicts and mistrust have been there a long time, lying dormant. It takes a large community activity like this to bring the conflicts out so the members can transform them into something beautiful.

Item- We released the monkey. After several months of debate, we decided to go with our heads and take the monkey back to the forests and allow her a chance to be free. So we selected a spot where monkeys had been seen and let her go. It was sad for us, but we knew it was the right thing to do. Beyond principle, she had become aggressive toward some people, especially when she was being held by Renita or me. She was particularly hostile toward Hannah, giving her a nasty series of bites. After six months being chained to a tree, it was time for her to return to the wild.

Item- The Reeds are returning for a visit to Michigan! It started when Partners Worldwide asked Renita to come to Grand Rapids for a couple weeks for a conference. We got to thinking: “We are already one quarter of the way there. Could we find the funds to get us all over?” We did. Nehemiah-Liberia Group sprung for another ticket, and thanks to many of you, we are doing well enough for the remaining two. We will be in Michigan the month of June, working, visiting as many of you as possible, and taking a little break from West Africa after two years.

Noah and his bestest buds, Trokon and Eastman, and Hannah and her special friend Andrew, hangin' out amongst the blocks on an overcast day.

The latest on the market. Rafters up, waiting for zinc.

Yers Trooly, tired of washing laundry by hand, tries another approach.

Finally, a couple parting shots of our favorite primates. Here, Unca' Brian before he leaves, surrounded by Trokon, Odell holding Jackie, Margaret with Bandit, with Blessing holding Max, and Eastman.

Our last image of the Monkey, as she cautiously steps off into the bush.

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