Monday, December 17, 2007

A Working Birthday

Weather: Hot and Hazy most days, with daytime his in the mid 90sF and nighttime lows in the upper 70sF. Light, variable breezes through the day. Moderate humidity. No rain in two weeks.

Renita sees another birthday today, and the love of my life is spending it in Monrovia starting another three-day business workshop with women in the WFP’s HIV program. In the midst of the workshop, she needs to run off and attend a meeting with a large US NGO on behalf of LEAD. Then back to the workshop, run a few errands, and maybe get home by six. (She left at 7:30am) Meantime, I’m taking the day off to take over teaching duties, and make sure the birthday cake gets baked.

Last week, in addition to preparing for the new Gbarnga office, Renita also attended two graduation ceremonies as LEAD completed its sixth and seventh classes, these in Monrovia and Buchanan. To date LEAD has trained 233 businesses, offered 7 twelve week courses which impacted 755 jobs. She reports that 59 new jobs have been created. LEAD has approved 71 business loans and over $40,000 US dollars have been distributed, with a 92% repayment rate.

It has always been the case that Renita works hard and smart. Where ever she goes, she makes things happen. Projects get completed, contacts get made, employees get trained and supported, proposals get written, all while at the same time providing support to the local community and managing things around home. She is in an African culture, yet even here, as in the States, people respond to her, look to her, follow her. She is respected because she delivers results. Renita remains focused, regardless of how slowly everybody else seems to moving around her. She never quits, rarely lets up. She is forever imagining, planning, preparing, or completing. I do not know anyone who applies so much energy to doing a job right.

And yet, she is almost completely unsupervised. She answers to almost no one. Nobody monitors her, and she remains fanatically scrupulous. No one watches her clock, yet she shows up early and leaves late. She is a volunteer, gets paid nothing, yet fights to make sure LEAD continues to grow, that the staff gets paid fairly, and that every dime is accounted for.

There really is only one reason that anyone would work this hard. People never put out this kind of energy or generate this level of productivity unless they care about something. Ambitious people are caring people, passionate people. For some, the passion is for recognition, for others it is status, or money or influence. And the level of energy is proportional to the amount of passion. Care-- or passion-- can exist for anything and can drive us anywhere. For Renita, it is simple and obvious: she loves God. She loves seeing righteousness and justice prevail, she cares about His people, and she is passionate about pleasing him. She works because she loves. She works for Him.

Today, her birthday, is like any other for her. She’s got stuff to do.

Happy Birthday, my love. See you soon. The cake is waiting.

Just last week, two graduations.

Today, the birthday girl is in Monrovia all day in meetings and leading the WFP-LEAD workshop.

Meanwhile, the kids bake a cake and decorate the house (their faces too).

With one of a dozen "MOM"s hanging, the family awaits her return, cake in hand.