Today was a great day! We went back to the LLTW site with the main purpose of exploring more villages. We hiked about 45 min to a village called Kpanjah (pronounced Panja). On the way we found a school and a medical clinic. We stopped by both. At the school we were told by one of the head teachers that it was the end of the day so they brought all the classes together to sing a couple songs before they release them. The children sang a song for us, one we have heard before in this area, called “He Didn’t Have to But He Did” a song about Jesus’ sacrifice for us. There must have been about 35 kids and maybe 5 adults. The head teacher said that the teachers were all volunteers.
About 2 minutes down the road was a clinic which we stopped by. They said the clinic took 7 years to build and had been open only about 5 months. I thought it was pretty nice and actually quite naturally cool in temperature inside. They had a delivery room, a women’s ward with 2 beds, a men’s ward with 2 beds, a typical exam room, a laboratory (I saw one little microscope for equipment), a pharmacy (looked like mostly over the counter drugs) and two bathrooms. In the 5 months they said that they have seen over 145 patients and delivered 3 babies. I used their bathroom. Sadly they didn’t have toilet paper, which worked ok for me, and they had some stuff in the sink so I just rinsed my hands with water in the shower that was also in the room and dried them on my pants. Still, I would use that clinic before I used some others that I’ve seen on the sides of the streets of Monrovia.
While we were in the school I had an important thought. The teachers asked us (the white people, as we are called) if we had anything to say to the children. Bruce, one of our pastoral leaders, went ahead and said something about the children being the future of the country and that the country needs them and that education was important and that they should strive to better the country. Something like that. I had a desire to say something, and my team certainly respects and trusts me enough that I could have also said something to the kids, but I felt that I didn’t have anything well formed enough to say. I decided I need to come up with something to say in circumstances like this.
So, in many of these African nations, Christianity is prevalent. Yet, also is poverty and often crime. I have been told, mostly by Liberians, that Liberians cannot be trusted. That even your family will steal from you. That is of course sad, but I have wondered, are these same people Christians? I also have seen a lot of yelling, criticizing, and some physical abuse, by people that who do claim to be Christians. This is certainly too bad. Jesus commanded that we love each other.
We went to church on Sunday and the main thing I remember hearing is the preacher emphatically yelling “God will destroy you”. I asked some of the team members what they thought later and they seemed to pick up more than me (maybe my brain turned off after I heard that sentence), and they said that the sermon was about drinking and fornication. Great. So basically, “Don’t do this, don’t do this, don’t do this or God will destroy you.” Being yelled emphatically at me. I don’t like being yelled at.
I believe it is better to speak positively, “Do this, live this way and the Lord will bless you.” Perhaps it was just a downer of a sermon, or maybe most of them are like that. Maybe it was just that church, or just that guy or maybe it’s a common theme I will see through out Africa. I’m a Christian, and although I mostly came for a non-profit consulting and website design/development mission, perhaps I can introduce some of the good/positive news, rather than the scary/negative news.
So here is what I’d like my message to school children to be about.
The Lord has sent us here, just as he has sent you to school. God wants you to learn so that you can become great and that you can help those around you. Jesus’s main command is that we love the Lord. His second command is that we love each other and those around us. Everything will be better when we do this. Be nice to those around you. Be good. And stay in school so that you can bring great things to your country.
When I just read this to my roommate Saliha, she told me that she recently had a convo with a Liberian-American who said that Liberians don’t love each other and that they lack respect for each other. No wonder they shot each other for almost 20 years. With so many Christians, why aren’t they loving? So Jesus’s message of love was not only lost on some sects of Christianity in the US, but also in Africa.
Then I said, “Well our organization is called Love Lights the Way…”. So hopefully our school and church and mission can preach that message and that it will flow out and transform the communities.
Otherwise, I worked up a big sweat, had a nice coat of the red/yellow dirt on me and my clothes, ran to the shower when we got home and then gave myself a pedicure to the best of my abilities.
Tonight is date night! Saliha and I got dates. Well, she got a date with a guy from her airplane and I am the wingwoman. But I met the wingman and he works for a non-profit that does water and sanitation in Liberia and spends many monthseach year in the states.