Monday, February 9, 2009

Now We Are Four

Brenda, the fourth member of our Training Team arrived in Monrovia last night and will join us at Lott Carey today. We are looking forward to being together with her in her home country. We can't wait for her to see us in our African finery - we are very happy with our African clothing!

There is a good internet connection now so I will try to get everything into this post. Church yesterday was absolutely wonderful. All three of us were powerfully moved by the service and the music. We brought formal greetings from Browntown and Ridge Churches to the Effort Baptist Church. Everyone was most welcoming and kind. Effort Baptist Church is located in the neighborhood where Emile grew up and just in sight of the beach and the ocean. There are some spectacular views along the beach. Emile forged a relationship with a church in Palmyra, VA also named Effort Baptist when he lived in Richmond. The Virginia Effort Church sends a mission team every year to work with children here in Liberia setting up and running camps for kids. The Effort group just left here before we arrived so Emile and his church have played host to Ameicans for several months now.

After church we went to the Royal Hotel for lunch. It is an older hotel and well-preserved, frequented by ex-pats. The parking lot was entirely filled with vehicles marked UNMIL, Medicins sans Frontiers, World Food programme, etc. Interesting spot and the buffet was lovely. We drove around Mamba Point afterward and saw the U.S. Embassy where we will register today (Monday) which is huge. Mamba Point is the area where the UN and other larger NGOS ae headquartered. The Mamba Point Hotel used to be quite a luxury spot in it's day but, like much else here, the war has taken it's toll.

One of the striking things we notice driving around (besides the people and how BUSY they are) is the new construction. There is building going on all over and building materials businesses are everywhere. Many of them are mom and pop operations consisting of huge piles of sand that are shoveled all day long and made into bricks by hand. Others have milled lumber and hardware as well. Concrete is the building material of choice and all homes are brick (handmade) or concrete. It appears that most public buildings are also concrete so there is a huge demand for it.

The roads are being improved and, it seems, quite quickly from what we have seen. President Ellen is moving as fast as she can to repair and rebuild. In fact, traffic was held up for hours on Friday night because she was out (in the night!) inspecting the road construction. The Masonic Lodge, a well-known Monrovia landmark and familiar to those who have followed Liberia history and news, was gutted during the war and nearly destroyed. It is being renovated and the lowest level even appears to be in use complete with jalosie windows. The Executive Mansion is also undergoing renovation since it was mysteriously burned after President Ellen took office.

This is an incredibly busy place with people everywhere. The roads are choked with traffic and all along the roads are markets, communities and neighborhoods. People are walking, pushing wheelbarrels or riding motorbikes everywhere. From what we understand, Monrovia is a city of 1.5 million people jammed into a space big enough for only 500,000. Market and community activity spreads into the shoulder of the road inches from the edge of the paved surface. Navigating a vehicle through crowds and dodging people requires great skill, daring and patience.

We have all been struck by the beautiful children. Pictures have suggested it and we have read about the exceptional beauty of Liberian people, most especially the children. It is true! Emmalee, Phylis and I are all children watchers from way back. The little heads bobbing on Mama's or Big Sister's backs are precious and the little ones toddling along and school children in their uniforms are a lovely sight.

Got to go. We are getting ready for Day I of Training. Today is Observation in classrooms for Emmalee and Phylis and Lott Carey School Tour for me and Emile! Em will try to post pics.


  1. Beth, your blog is wonderful! I feel like I'm piggy backed on your shoulders taking it in. Your descriptions are terrific and the pictures are amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with all of us. You all are in my thoughts and prayers. You haven't mentioned the food yet - I hope you are enjoying many new dishes! :o)


  2. Beth,
    How exciting! How blessed you four must feel. I am sure that you will learn far more than what you can teach ( which in no way is meant as a derogatory comment). I only mean to that to be able to absorb the culture, the warmth of the Liberian people must be so incredible. The pictures are great. Please give Emile a hug for me. I miss him. I am busy collecting more books to fill the library he would like to have. Also, if you could bring home a list of books neeeded, that would be wonderful.
    Hugs and prayers,

  3. Thank you for sharing, this is wonderful! What a privelege to be able to follow you on this journey through your stories and pictures. I think what you are doing is so amazing, and you remain in my thoughts and prayers.

    By the way, Em, Harper had her baby!! Miss you!