Vin Chaud in Paris

Our first day on holiday was spent roaming the streets of Paris, sipping on Vin Chaud and enjoying the crisp chill of the fall weather we’ve been missing out on from Liberia. True to our MN roots, we love and have truly missed the holiday season unfolding back home.

This helps…

Nothing better for a bout of homesickness like a day in Paris

 

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Refugee Camp

Got to visit the refugee camp while out in Zwedru the last few days. Each time I go, I’m shocked by the progress our team has made and by the number of people living in the camp. To date, there are an estimated 8000 Ivorians living in the Solo Refugee Camp, making it the largest camp in Liberia. We met with and interviewed several of the refugees who SFL has been able to employ over the past several months…more on that later. For now, here are a few pixs we took walking through the camp.

Ivorian refugees working to pull up a large stump

They love getting their pictures taken.

Things seem to be calming down with our neighbors in Ivory Coast, although, several of the refugees say they are not ready to go back yet.

On a separate note, Happy (early) Thanksgiving, America! We are off to Paris tonight for a few days of R&R. Woohoo!

Later, Liberia!

the Dentist

I broke a tooth yesterday. Not surprisingly, I was munching on some popcorn when I felt the disgusting crack in the back of my mouth. It didn’t hurt. What really got me boggled up into a tether was the idea of having dental work done HERE.  Not that anyone especially likes going to the dentist anywhere, but I especially hate it.

I don’t know. I’m usually pretty laid back, pretty chill…but when I get in that chair, all senses are on high alert. My dentist back home continually has to remind me to settle down and not to hold my breath. He says that the reason the Novocain doesn’t work for me is because I am so tense.

I say, I’m tense because the Novocain doesn’t work, but whatever…

Plus, the timing of this is just bad. We were supposed to leave early this morning to head out to Zwedru for an orientation with our newest international staff member. We’re also scheduled to fly out to Europe on Tuesday for Thanksgiving. I knew I had to get it taken care of asap, but couldn’t think of anyone here I wanted digging around in my mouth.

We heard about some Canadian missionaries who had a dental clinic just outside Monrovia, so we decided to drive there this morning and check it out. As soon as we arrived I felt ashamed of the tizzy I had been in earlier. There was a young man in the waiting area sweating profusely and crying as he held his face rocking back and forth. He was obviously in terrible pain. Another woman sat in the corner with her face in her lap moaning softly into her dress.

After several hours waiting, it was my turn to see the dentist. A young Liberian woman escorted me back to the dreaded chair and I started to sweat as she asked what was wrong. Tim explained what happened while another Liberian, a man this time, came into the room and started poking around in my mouth.

“Where’s the Canadian?” I almost asked. Just then, a jolly, reasonably Canadian looking woman appeared and took over the scene. My muscles began to relax as she examined me and talked us through her recommendations. She could repair the tooth and it would cost $15 USD. I sheepishly asked if she would be using Novocain knowing that many of the Liberians being treated got no kind of pain medication. She said no, but that she used another numbing agent.

The procedure went off flawlessly and I think I can honestly say that it may have been one of the least offensive dental experiences I’ve ever had. When all was finished, Frieda, the Canadian dentist invited us to her beach house. I think that this is the first social invitation I’ve ever had or would have considered accepting from a dentist.

I’m still numbed up on the left side of my face and our travel plans have been delayed until tomorrow, but considering all, I’m in relatively high spirits.

Thank you, Jesus for helping is through another crazy day!

 

 

 

11.11.11

Whoa! TGIF.

Glad that week is over. Yikes…

Results of the election run-off were announced last night. As was expected, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won by a landslide after her opponent, CDC (Congress for Democratic Change) boycotted the run-off causing the rioting on Monday.

For anyone interested in more details…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/11/sirleaf-liberia-victory

The city remains uncommonly quiet, although UN troops still patrol the area. Thank you to the many who have been praying for us this week. We’re optimistic that the CDC will back away from any more political upheaval and allow Liberia to continue moving toward national health and economic stability.

As for us…just enjoying a quiet Friday night at home complete with snacks, tea and, much to Tim’s displeasure, some good old episodes of Dr.Quinn…the prefect “medicine” for a nerve-racking week. Haha! I was obsessed with this show back in like 5th-8th grade. Sully…what a dreamboat :). It’s crazy and kind of hilarious to watch it 15 years later.

Funny how much television shows reflect societal issues of their times and the messages that are being pushed throughout the series…not very subtle. BUT, despite the producer’s obvious political agenda, I still get suckered into the dramas of Jane Seymour.

 

The Calm

A calm seems to have settled over the city during the night. Unruly rioting broke out yesterday afternoon directly in the path leading from the office to our guesthouse.

You can view the complete story here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15624471

After the shots were fired, the entire city seemed to shut down. Shops closed their doors, street vendors fled and market places vacated within minutes. Tim and I, along with a few of our staff, jumped in the car and joined the thousands of other vehicles leading away from the mayhem. I’ve never experienced such a thing. Masses of people running, motorbikes weaving in and out of the stalled traffic while UN tanks make their way to the scene. We took an alternate route around the back of the city…a 20-mile commute that took nearly 9 hours! By the time we arrived home, my tension gave way to tears. It was over and we were safe.

This morning seems more composed. One thing I’ve learned is that the Liberians have a tendency to amplify most any given situation and although serious, I think this predisposition is partially to blame for yesterday’s pandemonium.

The international community has praised the Liberian people for the way they have peacefully walked through this election season. We hope and pray that yesterday’s incident does not spark any more violence and disrupt the course toward a healthy democracy.

As I lay in bed last night I felt so thankful not to be spending the night in the car, for our Liberian staff who throughout the entire day kept our best interests in mind and mostly for God’s protection over and around us.

Count your Blessings

Happy Thanksgiving, Liberia! No work today and most businesses are closed. When asked how they celebrate Thanksgiving, the Liberians just laugh and say they will “rest small and eat small rice.” Not sure how that is different from any other day, but nevertheless, Tim and I thought we should celebrate with some homemade sushi…

 A day at the beach…

and reflect on life’s many blessings…like electricity or clean, running water, things I never bothered being thankful for before.

Today I’m feeling especially thankful for my dad and mom…probably because I miss them so much. But more than that, I am more aware than ever of the uniquely fortunate circumstances surrounding my upbringing, particularly as I observe the stark poverty around me. I did not grow up in a wealthy home. When I was in the 9th grade, my dad was supporting us barely earning minimum wage at a tractor repair shop in rural Minnesota. I don’t know how my parents did it. We may not have even been considered middle class. All I know is that I was never hungry and never cold. In fact, I can’t think of much of anything that my brother and I went without.

Well, I guess I do recall a rather exaggerated dispute with Mom over some name brand shoes I wanted for volleyball that all the other girls had. She refused to buy them for me. There was also a certain, totally awesome (and ridiculously expensive) Tommy Hilfiger jacket that I was in love with that may have caused a scene at the West Acres Mall in Fargo. Today I am glad for a mom who did not indulge every impulsive whim of her, rather difficult teenager.

Thank you, Dad and Mom for serving Jerome and me so well! You’re amazing!!!

We are excited to spend American Thanksgiving with some friends in Vienna Austria in just a couple weeks! Europe does the holiday season so very well!