Saturday, September 15, 2007

ReedNews Update

The weather in our part of West Africa continues to defy prediction. In spite of the fact that September is considered the second wettest month of the year, the weather has been great for over a week. Relatively low humidity with mostly sunny skies. We are thrilled because every day we get closer to the end of the rainy season so we think that the worst may be behind us. But we do need some rain, otherwise the dry season will really hamper us, so a very wet Friday was ok. We saw about four inches. Today, Saturday, is sunny again.

Now to tidy up some news loose ends and create a couple that will need to be tidied later:

Item- Noah is fine. We took him off one kind of anti-malaria medicine, started him on another, and his nausea promptly cleared up. We appreciate the concern some of you expressed, even though it was never more than an annoying condition.

Item—The data in my hard drive has been recovered. Thanks to a team led by creative computer dude Steve Colthorp working with the guys at Compucraft in Grand Rapids, almost all the data was salvaged. The most urgent has already been emailed; the rest will follow on DVD. Thanks too to Kris Vander Stelt and Janette Vanderveen for their support.

Item— Hysterical dog pregnancy? It sounds weird, but I think Niki may be faking it. There is now a running debate in the Reed home. I know I’m in the minority, but I think she’s not pregnant at all, the lil’ faker. We’ll keep you posted on this developing—or not developing—story.

Item—Home school for Hannah and Noah has started, and I’ll be joining Renita as instructor, taking on the subjects of History and Logic every Tuesday and Thursday. I am not teaching at MPCHS this fall, but I have some training big gigs coming up. Being at home these two days allows Renita to get into Monrovia to keep up with rapid developments with LEAD.

Item—Speaking of which, LEAD has another big contract, this with the UN’s International Labour Organization and the Monrovia City Corporation, working on a project to establish 40 new waste management businesses. Waste management has huge ramifications for health and is essential for the future of any developing nation. This effort will hopefully provide jobs and clean up the greater Monrovia area.

Item—I have been as busy as ever this week, and I never left the yard. The short version of a long and convoluted story is that the owners north of us are building on their property, so our large car gate on the north wall must be moved to the south wall. Not only is there no driveway along the south wall, most of the area is swampland and will need to be built up to support SUVs coming and going. All day everyday this week I have been supervising a large home engineering project for which I am, of course, unqualified. Tons of crushed rock and clay had to be brought in from the truck, then hauled by wheel barrow and spread by shovel. But based on the work, I seem to know as much as the workers. See, my grampa Cain was a road man, so maybe I got some natural skills from him. Anyway, it’s been a gauntlet of stuck trucks and cars, red mud and cement, good workers and bad, but today, Saturday, we finish the job. The saga is illustrated below.

July 24, 2005: Our first day in Liberia. The southern view off our front porch. No wall, but the low land is full of silt and swamp, especially to the right. People fished it for crawdads.

January, 2006: Same view. The wall is complete, the grass is brown, and the warriors are tugging. (Our christmas party)

This week: A bi' ho' has bee' bus' out. (Liberian for "a big hole has been busted out" of the wall to make room for the gate currently on the north wall.

Current: The gate is up and getting finished while Enoch and Trokon play marbles with ones they made out of the red clay we are using for the road we need to build.
Mohammed, Steve and Tom finish the gate job while twelve year old Eastman supervises.
The view outside of our gate and wall, with Deacon Reeves' wall further down and the swamp and stream to the left. The road building has commenced, and the dump truck is stuck in the distance.
"De tru' is heesh." ("The truck is 'hitched-'" another way of saying "stuck.") It took them three hours and another dump truck to haul them out. Note the road behind taking shape. See, my grampa was a road man...

The dump truck was not the only victim of the partially finished road. One of us-- I won't say who-- got it hopelessly mired on the way in. Here our neighbors work to jack it up in order to get something solid under the rear tire.
There she goes! By the way, Hannah is taking these shots-- Yers Trooly is in the mud behind the right rear tire using his weight advantage, pushin' for all he's worth. Renita is at the wheel. Finally got out after an hour.
The red clay arrives on the road, now covered with tons of hand spread crushed rock. The clay is a mucky mess when it rains, but we'll lay sand on it. I've got a great shot of Enoch covered in it after a mud fight with Trokon. He looks like a mini version of the "Thing" from the "Fantastic 4" comic book characters.
The North gate that became a wall. the two-track goes nowhere now, but you can see where the gate used to be.