I woke up this morning after an absolutely fabulous night’s
sleep. We’ve arrived during a
respite from the heat and it’s really nice here right now.
It’s time for breakfast and there’s a nice touch to the meal as
our family has a Christmas breakfast each year where we invite others
that don’t have a place to spend their Christmas. So having a breakfast with a large
group of people on Christmas morning fills a void.
Just before breakfast I tap on Elizabeth’s room and she is up
and ready in 5 minutes. As it
turns out she couldn’t sleep last night because she slept for about 6
hours straight on the flight over.
She only got to sleep a couple of hours before I woke her up for
breakfast. So she told me
everything that happened during the night (dogs howling, roosters crowing
all hours of the night, etc.). But
she’s in good spirits. I’ve asked
her to write some of her thoughts so far and will try to get it into
I’m supposed to have a car today but it’s not working. Christine has called someone she knows
and we will rent the car and driver for the rest of today. Hopefully he will actually come. I’ll write more (and hopefully post a
lot of pictures) later today.
Okay, it’s later.
Christine got us in touch with a driver and he arrived around
3pm. Elizabeth and I took off
while the Normans and Oogie were still at home (they finally left at 5pm
on a visiting spree that was supposed to have started at 10am this morning. Oogie kept trying to explain to
Elizabeth the concept of Liberian time.
We first went to ELWA Beach.
In Liberia, as in the U.S., many people use holidays, even one
celebrating the birth of Christ, to get drunk. This is common enough in Liberia that
roadblocks were set up on most roads to help identify and arrest those
who were driving drunk. The guard
at ELWA would not let cars into the compound so you had to park outside
and walk in. Elizabeth and I
walked down so that she could see the beach and take some pictures. This is my first experience walking
around with a very young, pretty girl that also happens to be my
daughter. I was not appreciative
of the young guys’ looks when they walked by. She’s going in Muslim dress next time.
We stopped at the Chapman’s house just to say hello and met the
Ekridge family (I probably have the name mutilated). They serve on the Mercy Ship docked in
Monrovia’s Freeport (that isn’t free).
Since it was Christmas we just stayed for a couple of minutes and
then got on our way. The day was
beautiful and the walk was good.
Upon getting back to the car (did I mention that it had air conditioning
that worked) we went a mile or two further to the Equip property. A lot of progress has been made but it’s
frustrating that we still are not ready to make ice. There’s no pump in the well and the
generators are not hooked up to the refrigeration unit. This is supposed to be the first
business we start which should pay for our basic operating expenses in
Liberia. Maybe we can get
something going while I’m here. A
couple of the guys on the 12Stone team are interested in business so
perhaps I can make this a project for them to work on. While at the lot I met our day watchman
named Marcus. Any facility with
something of value inside has to be protected. Once we get things up and running we
will not need a watchman during the day but we will still need someone
there during the night.
Leaving the Equip lot we head to the Cato property in Congo Town. We have received funding to build a
protective wall around the 1 acre property and have someone estimating
the cost and time to complete now.
It looks like about $9,000 and 45 days based upon the initial
estimate we received. The next
step after the wall will be to put in a wide driveway/parking strip
strong enough to hold a tractor/trailer unit loaded with goods. A dock will be at the back of this
strip and storage containers behind there. This will give us a permanent place to
set up our unloading operation for the containers we ship each
quarter. The step after that will
be to renovate one of the houses into an office and then the other into a
I’m trying to quickly get Elizabeth up to speed on some of the
primary areas of Monrovia as well as our ministry work there. So we leave for downtown Monrovia.
First we drive by Pastor Wesley’s church although I know he will
not be there on Christmas day. But
we do stop for a few minutes just to see where the awful fire took
place. The final member of the 5
man team that was involved in the fire was buried yesterday. While talking to Pastor Wesley on the
phone today I could still hear the anguish in his voice.
From there we drove into downtown Monrovia to see City Hall, the
Executive Mansion, the Capital building and the Temple of Justice. Although I should say that we drove by
Providence Baptist Church on the way in to see where the Liberian
Declaration of Independence was signed.
On the way back to the Norman’s compound we stopped at the Royal
Hotel to eat at their restaurant (I like the hummus and I know they have
pizza which Elizabeth likes) since I doubt we will have an evening meal
at the Norman’s tonight. As we
stop I ask Alex, our driver, if he would like to eat with us. He hesitates just a moment and then
says that he’ll just remain with the car.
As we’re leaving I ask him one more time but he still
declines. After Elizabeth and I
sit down I try to explain the tension that exists regarding Alex and his
eating with us. It would not be “normal”
for your driver to participate in what the person paying him is doing
whether it be attending a meeting, visiting with someone or eating. Yet my mother and father have always
shared whatever they had with anyone they were with. So I’ve just never been able to not
offer. Yet I’ve also experience
times when that has lead to a distraction for the business that I was
trying to work on. But if I have
to err on one side or the other, I’d rather go with Mama and Daddy’s way
of doing things.
We finish our dinner of pizza (Elizabeth) and hummus (me), pay
our tab and head for home. On the
way I ask if Alex will be available to drive if we need him again. He says “tomorrow?” When I say “yes” he says fine. How much will it be? $75 if he provides the gas or “because
I’m a friend of Mr. Norman’s” $60 and I pay the gas. That’s a little higher than I want to
pay but it’s a nice van with working air conditioning and Alex is a very
nice guy. So he’s driving us
around at least for tomorrow.
We arrive back to the compound to only the watchman. The generator is off, it’s dark and
there’s no light. So Elizabeth and
I get our flashlights, go into my bedroom and read. Before long I don’t see her flashlight
anymore and discover that she’s asleep.
I keep reading until I finish “The House on Sugar Beach” by Helene
Cooper. I mentioned earlier that
Chuck had given this to me and that it was an excellent book for those
wishing to understand Liberia in a very readable and interesting
way. I recommend it.
The Normans make it home and the generator is on. So I wake Elizabeth up and send her to
her room. I’m on the porch where
there’s electricity and internet.
I need a batch and some more sleep so I’ll post again
tomorrow. Good night and Merry