Monday, March 25, 2013


 We are often asked by visitors which month is the warmest here in Liberia. The answer is: “the first three months you arrive.”  After that is just becomes a fact of life. That being said, March can be rather hot. March can also be dry or wet. Once again it is a month of change, from the dry season of little moisture to the rainy season.  Each morning we do not know what to expect when we leave our air conditioned bedroom. It may feel like a blast furnace or a relatively comfortable 78 degrees (always with some humidity, though).
March is the month we usually start painting the exteriors of buildings here. The exteriors walls get painted every eighteen months. On a morning when rain has fallen during the night, the maintenance guys wash walls the till noon and then paint until quitting time. In the other months, it is either too wet or too dusty from the dirt road to paint.

The month of March has two holidays here. This year they came one day apart. The kids went to school Monday and Tuesday; then had Wednesday off. Back to school on Thursday and then off again on Friday. This gives every employee the chance to show their work ethic. “Do I get up and go to work on Thursday, or do I call in sick and take a three day vacation?”  There are always those who opt for the latter which keeps us well versed on how to do all the jobs as we cover for “sick” employees. 

A holiday means that it is time to do something special with the kids. It was decided to do a beach walk on Friday. Going to the beach is always fun. Babs helps the kitchen staff pack a lunch (like one hundred sandwiches and lots of cookies) and there are plastic bags available for the kids to save those special sea shells. To Dave’s chagrin, for some kids, the sea shells are not the main thing anymore. Older boys want to bury large logs in the sand and chase sand crabs into the surf; and then a few of the older girls are on the lookout for that special male day student who is “so cute!” Dave is not too excited about dealing with Jr. High girls and all those emotional fluctuations.   

We also celebrate three birthdays in March: Miatta, Darris , and Romeo all turned seven this year. Babs tells them that the most special people are born in March! (Can you guess what month she was born in?)

This year, Good Friday and Easter also fall in March. Most churches will have Good Friday services, beginning at noon and ending at 3:00pm. The mothers will take the children to church, and most families will leave the village by 10:00am, in order to get to church on time. And, of course, Easter Sunday will be a special day in every church. March is one busy month!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Kingdom Thinking

I sat on the swing and pulled him onto my lap.  We gently floated back and forth. He nestled into me and began to enjoy the ride. I considered this little boy. He was four years old, and unable to talk. He was a happy guy, full of energy and he could understood what was being said; he responded appropriately. However, it was obvious that he was not "normal." He would say a word correctly now and then, but would be unable to repeat it. He was scared of dolls and stuffed animals. He had the attention span of a gnat. Definitely some developmental issues going on here.
How could this be? We are certain that each child in this place has been chosen by God to be here. To cut through the maze of bureaucracy and with all the hurdles that present themselves as each child is considered for placement in this village, it is amazing that ANY child comes through the gates.  We are certain that each child here has been placed in this orphanage for a special purpose; that they will have the opportunity to do some great work in the Kingdom. This village places a high emphasis on quality education; it is basically a college-prep institution, with the long term goal of preparing these children for godly leadership in their country.
So how could this be? Here was a sweet little boy who probably would never be a clever CEO or a discerning Supreme Court Justice or a dynamic preacher or a brilliant surgeon. Very possibly, this child might not even finish eighth grade. What special job could there be for him?   Swinging back and forth with my friend, I considered these thoughts.
And suddenly, it came to me and I understood! 
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said "the first shall be last."  There was a lot of discussion about this statement in our Bible study, and several different thoughts were shared.  One idea was that part of what Jesus was telling the disciples with that declaration was "Hey, there is nothing the same about my Kingdom. It is totally different from this world that you are used to!  Like the first will be last, and the last will be first;  and to be great, you have to be humble and serve others;  don't hate your enemies, but in the Kingdom, you love your enemies!"  Jesus said to stop making things so difficult: just remember to love God first with your whole being, and then love others.  He said those that self exalt themselves here will be humbled later, and those humbled here in this world will be exalted in the Kingdom.
It occurred to me while sitting on that swing with this precious child of God that I had been thinking like the world. I was not "Kingdom thinking." With God's eyes, when He sees my little friend,  He sees the potential of a young man who loves others without judging. God sees this boy as one who CAN accomplish whatever work God has set for him to do in the Kingdom. God knows the abilities of this child. He knows his weaknesses and strengths, and God will use them for the Kingdom.
My thoughts rambled on: is the Sunday school teacher less important than the preacher? Not in the Kingdom. Is the janitor less important than the choir director? Not in the Kingdom. Is the school secretary less important than the Minister of Education? Not in the Kingdom. In the Kingdom, nothing is as it seems here in this world. So is a "perfect" child (whatever that is) more important than one who has learning disabilities?  Not in the Kingdom. "The first shall be last". 
As the swing lazily drifted back and forth, I was filled with awe. I held upon my lap a person who had a great destiny before him. I may never know what purpose this boy will someday fulfill, but I have no doubt that as a member of the Kingdom of God, he will do great things. My young friend grinned up at me, and I thought how God had ALREADY used this boy to teach an important lesson.