These past 8 days have been amazing and exhausting, as you’ve probably gathered from Sarah Jane’s posts. Today was no different. We started the day off with a visit to the Vice President of Liberia, Joseph Boakai. The cooks at the ELWA Guesthouse helped the ladies wrap our new African skirts, and Doran borrowed a pair of dress pants from an English man also staying here. In Pete’s words, our goal for the visit was to not cause an international incident. This seemed likely when Tony (a Liberian who lives in Littleton and is staying at ELWA right now) instructed us on how to say “good morning” in the VP’s dialect, and Russ pronounced it as “I wanna choke your neck.” We arrived 20 minutes early to his office and sat anxiously in his reception room. It felt surreal because he had a TV in there that was replaying some of the commentary on last night’s State of the Union address. How crazy that we were about to meet Liberia’s second in command!
When the VP came in, Reverend Luther explained to him his vision for the children of Liberia, and Nancy explained how Global Strategies and First Presbyterian fit into this project. Then Mr. Boakai thanked us for coming and agreed on the need raise a generation of Liberians who can lead with integrity and Christian. Kent even piped up and told Mr. Boakai what an honor it’s been working with the people of Liberia and seeing how hard-working they are. And we invited him to our party on Sunday, hopefully he will make it. I guess since Liberia did not declare war on the U.S. after we left, we were successful!
After the meeting we split up. Chris, Russel and I scoured downtown Monrovia for supplies. We looked for an oven to roast the peanuts in, and then we picked up Sarah Jane and a man who works at ELWA and went to the Red Light district. It sounds scandalous but this is one of the large markets in Monrovia where you can buy anything from shoes to canned beans to live chickens. It was a very interesting experience being in such a large crowd in such a small space. We bought some materials to make some test batches of peanut butter with, and figured out about how much everything else should cost.
We got back to the PB house around 4:00 and the roof was a little over halfway complete. It has been amazing to watch it go up so quickly! We are always surrounded by children at the site who want some attention, and there are a couple of kids who I’ve been particularly drawn to. One little boy, Alfred, told me on Monday that his Pa was sick, and that his mother has already passed away. I was heartbroken to think that this sweet child could soon be an orphan. Finally today I had some time to go to his house with him to meet his father. His house ended up being pretty far away, but luckily Chris and Cindy came along. It turns out he lives in the burnt out shell of a house that once belonged to ex-President Samuel Doe’s brother! It is quite large but completely barren, and there are 2 or 3 other families living there. We met his father, Jerome, who has been numb on one side of his body for about 7 months. He can’t work and said they have very little money. He can’t afford much food or to send Alfred to the public school b/c they can’t afford the uniform and books. And yet, he just kept saying “Thank God” – this is something that has really touched me about the people here. They might be going through the most difficult times but they always give thanks to God. Amazing. One of the women living there gave us the tour of this once-grand home, and one of the men gave us some sugar cane. For people with so little, they were extremely warm and hospitable. We prayed with Jerome but I wonder if there is something concrete I can do for him and Alfred.
Today was Kent’s last full day. We will all be sad to see him go! He has worked so hard on this trip, and has managed to still stay level-headed and compassionate. To celebrate him (and for an excuse to eat pizza), we went out for dinner at the Monaliza. It was nice to eat fresh vegetables for the first time in a week! Now it is very late though! Thanks for reading this long post and for all your thoughts and prayers! Please leave a comment, we love hearing from you!