Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Liberia Day 6- Higher Up & Further In

Well, it was not a great night for sleeping.  I intentionally separated myself from my phone (only useful as a clock), so I wouldn't know what time it was when I went to bed or how the night was progressing, but I think I slept for a few hours (2-4?) then woke up and after that I just waited for daylight and maybe dozed a little.  It was hot and still and the mattress was rather thin, but I tried to stay calm, and through prayer God helped me.  I was grateful when it was time to get up.  I visited the latrine, as I had the night before, which was similar to an outhouse in structure.  It was a stone slab over a hole in the ground.  The stone had a key shaped hole in it, where "business" could be transacted.  You could see a sea of maggots writhing thickly at the bottom, and that, combined with the thrum of flies and being unable to stand properly because of the latrine's height and managing the heat made for a disturbing experience.

The residents of Tiah Town asked us to stay on for a little while so they could cook for us, which we obliged.  I toured the town to take pictures at Randy's request.  I was with one of our bodyguards and as we walked he basically told me, in very friendly terms, that I would give him my camera at the end of the trip.  This is African directness (they are not afraid to tell you what they are thinking or ask for what they want) and is not offensive in that culture.  You just say no with the same force, if you say no.  It's a strange experience though and much different from American culture.  I later applied this with Randy.  When he would offer a stick of gum I would try to just take the whole pack out of his hand.  No success though.  We then met with the village elders, including the man the town is named after, who is also the previous pastor of the church and very old by any standard.  They gave us a goat, which was extremely generous and sacrificial of them, and we listened as they shared their hope to finish their newer building which was started before the wars.  There are stacks of bricks in the old church, but they lack cement which is both expensive and hard to get to remote places like Tiah Town.  After experiencing the generosity of the people of the village, it stung that we (the GMC) honestly have very little to no resources to send their way.  After the meeting we were invited to watch and help prepare dumboi, a local dish.  It is made from cassava which is a starchy potato-like food.  First it is removed from its skin, then boiled, then crushed with pistil and rod.  Janga and I participated in this process, though the girls were much more effective.  I would hate to be on the business end of one of those rods.  Next, a little water is added and the cassava (with ample beating) becomes a sort of dough.  The final product is then placed in a soup and which is covered with tiny red-brown seeds.  Matthew said only the mustard seed is smaller.  When you eat dumboi, you do not chew, you swallow each bite whole.  I had just a little trouble preparing to swallow, bit it went right down.  After the dumboi was enjoyed, along with potato salad, we packed up and headed to the next village, called Say Town.

The drive was fairly uneventful and much shorter, two hours instead of nearly the whole day.  This village, to my untrained eye, seemed worse off than Tiah Town.  There was less clothes on the kids and the houses seemed a bit more disheveled.  The people were less welcoming, though still very much so, and the church was constructed of bamboo poles and palm fronds.  We arrived, greeted several people, and sat and talked in intense heat.  Bruce's thermometer read as high as 106 degrees in the shade.  The people of Say Town were also quite generous.  They donated a duck for dinner which Papa Richard, as he always does, cooked to deliciousness.  I had to confess that I was on the verge of stomach trouble though and did not eat it.  Thankfully, there was rice and collard greens (something green!) something light, which put me to rights again.  I think a daily dose of Coca-Cola has been helping settle my stomach as well.  After dinner, and a little earlier than yesterday, we had our worship service with even less light than the night before.  Bishop Bruce preached about discipleship, reinforcing many of Matthew's key ideas.  Both Tiah Town and Say Town should receive disciples very soon to help the less equipped pastors.  He preached well, like Randy the night before.  That's why they pay them the big bucks.  We sat outside and had tea again before trying to go to sleep in admittedly lesser accommodations than last night, though we were so grateful for the family who willing gave up their house.  The night ended at about 11:30 with an ardent prayer for some rest.

I read this passage from My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers today and will close with it's sentiment:

"It is one thing to go on the lonely way with dignified heroism, but quite another thing if the line mapped out for you by God means being a door mat under other people's feet.  Suppose God wants to teach you to say, "I know how to be abased"- are you ready to be offered up like that?  Are you ready to not be so much as a drop in a bucket- to be so hopelessly insignificant that you are never thought of again in connection with the life you served?  Are you willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister?  Some saints cannot do menial work and remain saints because it it is beneath their dignity."

Indeed amen, but oof, what a challenge.


  1. Thank you for sharing this, Josh. That passage from Chambers is particularly meaningful to me right now, and I am blessed by your account of being in the interior of Liberia.

  2. Thank you again for your encouragement Lisa. My Utmost will break you, but in a good way.