Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Let us go to the house of the Lord" Psalm 122:1

Today is Sunday morning and Babs and I are "on duty" this weekend. This means that we will stay on site while the other staff and children leave to attend church. It becomes a ghost town around here shortly after breakfast as all the children are old enough to now attend church with their mothers. So this morning, everyone is gone...well, all except Obadiah. He has had malaria since Tuesday. Malaria is not that common with the Rafiki children since they are in cottages with screened windows and they sleep under mosquito nets. Last year we had one confirmed case of malaria with the children and it was about this time of the year.
Every morning, two year old Obadiah has been saying to his mother and the medical manager (Babs) that he is all better as he laid listless and feverish on his bed. The closer we got to the weekend, the more he tried to convince them that he was all better and that he would be going to church. These kids love going to church!
The "outing" of attending church takes an effort. At breakfast, they are all be dressed in their Sunday best. By 8am or 8:30am they leave through the front gate. They walk a mile down a muddy road to the the "junction" where they hail a cab. This morning it is raining. I think it rains every Sunday morning.  Hailing a taxi is a process, as there are more people than cabs to transport them into the Monrovia area. It is not uncommon to see adults verbally fighting over who will get the empty seat when someone gets out of a taxi. Our mothers and children have an advantage because they can fill the whole cab and pay for each person riding. More children can fit into the cab than adults; a lighter load too. Taxi drivers like that!
Church lasts for about two hours. Some of the churches have Sunday school for the children; but some do not or it is sporatic because they have a hard time getting people to lead Sunday school. After church, it is back to the street to find a cab to get back to the village.  
This whole process of going to church can take hours to accomplish. Somewhere in this process the children and mommas eat their sack lunch that they took with them. Any time between two and five o'clock the four families will come walking back through the gate. We have voiced our concerns to the mothers about walking out into the mud when it is pouring rain. The mothers replied, "This is Liberia; it will rain. The children need to go to church". What a good attitude!

 So, this morning everyone is at church except Obadiah and the auntie who is with him. He is bummed. He is feeling better, and has been without fever for twenty four hours. The duty personnel are thinking that they may show Obadiah a video when the power comes on at noon. It will be our secret; hah! like it is possible to have a secret in the village! But I don't think we have to worry about the children faking malaria to stay home from church to see a video. Going to church is too big an adventure!
Hope you enjoy going to church this Sunday!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sweet Dreams

There's a scene in the movie "The Sound of Music", where Maria looked at the Von Trapp children in their stiff uniforms, and asked if they had play clothes. No, she was told, the children had uniforms!
Later, Maria eyed some curtains slated for replacement, and then in the next scene, all the children are wearing new play clothes made out of old drapery fabric. Good recycling, right?

We had our own recycling program here. Every child needed new pajamas. For one week, we were blessed with a clever, gifted seamstress from the States. She took an overabundance of crib sheets, and operated her own little sweatshop out of a vacant home here at the village.

Voila! Nine sets of boys' pajamas, and nine nightgowns for the girls! All out of crib sheets! The woman is a genius! Plus, she also made seven dresses and two skirts: a new Sunday outfit for each girl! The dresses are not made out of crib sheets, but fun African prints. The girls felt very pretty going to church this past Sunday.

Don't you love how God gives different abilities to His people, and then uses them so creatively?

P.S. In the pictures, the children have had their evening baths, and several of them have baby powder rubbed all over. That is the "white" on their necks and chest.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fire Ants vs. Babs


OK, it was a perfect day to get some serious yard work accomplished. A breeze was blowing in from the ocean, and the sky was overcast. I donned my official gardening apparel (capris, ratty tee-shirt, gloves, flip-flops) and grabbed my favorite gardening tool, a eighteen inch hoe/chopper thing. The gardener's here call it my "baby hoe." It is a tool from Smith and Hawkins' store. I recently found out that Smith and Hawkins have not made it through this economic downturn. I am sad. I will miss their good garden items.

I began hoeing weeds around the hibiscus with my "baby hoe." All was going well...I was happy, the hibiscus was happy...until I stepped on the ant hill. The ants were not happy.

Our village is situated on a huge sand hill and ants love it here. So we always have many, many of them around, and when the rainy season begins, they get especially cranky. I guess they do not like having 180 inches of rain flooding out their tunnels. So, now, having size nine flip-flops standing on top of their village made everyone of them come boiling out of the hole...and right onto my foot.

Being completely absorbed in my weeds, I did not noticed until my foot was covered and the little guys were heading up toward the kneecap. At that moment, some General Patton ant gave the word: "Bite now!" Yikes! That got my attention.

I began to do the "Fire Ant Shuffle!" With arms and legs flailing about, it only took 15-20 seconds to get all the little monsters off my leg, but it seemed forever. It got the guards attention (could have been the screaming). The guards were concerned, as I now had several ant bites all over my foot. Well, so much for gardening. I soaked my feet in the tub, rubbed on the aloe gel, and generally felt sorry for myself.

My question is: How is it possible for such a tiny creature to inflict such a painful bite? And why? Yes, I did remove my foot from their home, but then I sent Dave out with the ant spray. So, really, who won?

My advice for the week is: Do not step on the ants.
Have a good one.