Monday, February 16, 2009

Another Month

Each month, we are asked to fill out a monthly report form to send to the home office.  Basically, we are asked to give a recap of what has happened in our life, both positive and negative, as we strive to accomplish certain goals within our area of responsibilities.  The following are some of the things that were recalled in the past month:

---We have been working and praying about a young man named Jonathan for some months now.  Our social worker introduced us to him.  He lived at another orphanage and was the apple of the proprietor's eye.  This caretaker had given Jonathan his own last name, as no one knew Jonathan's family.  The war has caused this scenario to be repeated often.  After the caretaker visited our village, he wanted Jonathan to have the opportunities that were offered here.  Everyone is in agreement---sounds like a slam dunk, right?  Well, there is bureaucracy and paperwork and forms and bureaucracy at each turn of the road.  Did I mention the bureaucracy?  Waiting begins...

---At the village, there is a certain amount of maintenance that is required to maintain the status quo, and besides that, we try to take a few steps forward as we develop this new facility.  As plant manager, I try to stay ahead of the expected light bulbs burning out and doors falling off their hinges.  Then there are the unexpected things (which has become more expected the longer we are here).  This month an "unexpected" was a fire that crossed our side of the fence to the east.  It burned up to the edge of the school but the only damage it did was rob us a few hours of sleep while we monitored it.

---The next weekend, while we were out of town, a fire came in from the west.  This is the area where I had an encounter with a very large cobra.  The grass was very high.  Unknown to all, under the grass, about 15 feet of the PCV pipes from our water tower had never been covered with dirt.  So, when the grass burned, so did the PCV pipe, causing some leaks.  This was another fine use of duct tape, as it took about four days to locate the pipe and fittings necessary to repair the leaks.

---The following Friday, we were in Monrovia, interviewing potential mothers for the village.  You may have seen one of those movies where everyone's pagers go off at the same time because of some catastrophe?  Well, this is kind of how we felt.  All kitchen and laundry personnel buzzed Babs, while the security staff called me to report that a taxi had lost control and plowed through the chain link fence at the village.  No one was hurt, and now we are still looking for fencing to fix the thirty foot hole in the fence as quality fencing is in short supply here.  In the interim, we have covered the hole with razor wire.  Not a good look for an orphanage!

---We are also in the middle of a malaria outbreak.  Malaria comes in phases, kind of like the flu season.  One person gets it and more soon follow.  (Sneaky mosquitos.)  We currently have 6 security guards with malaria.  They will miss only one day of work, or maybe none, as they do not want to miss a day of work.  This is an impressive work ethic, but it also adds to the cycle of infecting more people as mosquitos go from person to person.

---Well, this past Monday we got the word:  The long-awaited letter was ready for us to pick up.  With that in hand, we could go pick up Jonathan.  Two ladies who had invested much effort in this process would be the ones to pick him up.  They left at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning with eager expectation for the four hour round trip while things were being readied here.
At 11 a.m., the ladies called me;  the letter was not what the orphanage proprietor had in mind.  He felt it was not specific enough.  I was resigned to the fact that Jonathan would not be arriving on Tuesday after all, but the ladies would not give in so easily.  They went right back to the government office for a more personal letter.  (Yah, right!  It only took a month to get this letter, thought one pessimistic village director).  After a prayer, they went in and found the case worker and her boss in her office.  "Yes, we will write the letter right now" was the response.
So, with the new and improved letter in hand, back to the orphanage they went.  Everyone arrived back at the village some 8 1/2 hours after leaving that morning.  Jonathan is happy, playing with his new brothers, and adjusting well.

So, there you have it:  another monthly report!  We are thankful for God's protection this month and for blessing our village with a new child.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Fishy Tale...

The children at our village are served Liberian dishes for noon meals everyday, and they eat a lot of fish.  Garden Egg soup, Fried Potato Greens soup, Groundnut soup, Okra Stew, Pepper soup, Pam Butter Soup.  These dishes all call for fish and are served over rice.

We are fortunate to be living so close to the ocean to have wonderful, fresh red snapper available.  The locals go out in dugout canoes.  Yes, on the ocean!  At night!  Dave asked to fish with them, and they told him he was too wide for their boat.  Thank goodness!

After a successful night of fishing, they bring their fish to the gate at daylight.  Often around fifteen to twenty pounds, these fish are beauties.  We can purchase them for less than market price as then the fisherman does not have to transport it to town.  So we get very fresh fish at a great price, and the fishermen get to go to bed.  It is a "win, win" for all!

Our cooks clean it, cut it up into steaks, and throw them into the freezer for a week of good eating.  The cooks tell me that the head of the fish is the best part, and is a favorite in Pepper soup and Palm Butter soup.  I personally avoid the kitchen on those days, as I find it disconcerting to have an eyeball looking at me while preparing a meal.  Kind of creepy.

Above, you can see Dave pretending that he caught the big catch of the day.
Below, you can see two of the cooks cleaning a red snapper.