Liberia 2017

Kwendin #26 | March 12, 2017

Sunday evening. We leave tomorrow morning so today has been very much a day of packing up and saying good bye. It's not yet 8 pm so there is still lots to do before we drive away.  

This morning we left for the church in Boyee about 1015 so there was time to start tidying up before that. I spent a while clearing off the work table in the living room--mostly my stuff I think. Quite a bit of the clutter was tools and wires relating to the solar. I needed to have enough to have the two systems up and running on their new roofs before we left, and all the rest of the bits needed to get packed away in the store room. That was a tedious process, sorting things bit by bit, finding things to give away, finding things to throw away, finding things to keep. Generally a healthy process. As I write there is very little left on that table.  

We drove to Boyee and stopped at the clinic to drop off some small boxes of supplies--some drugs, a few sutures, some of the little dresses that we brought. They were very appreciative.  

When we got to Boyee at least some people were expecting us. Bob's old friend Robert Saye appeared on the side of the road as soon as we got there. Remember that it is a tiny village--a rough dirt road with mud brick building on each side, perhaps 500-1000 people total, no electricity, no running water, no roads running away from the main road. Mohammed pulled off the road and we walked to the church building where no one was waiting. A crowd of kids followed us in, and our liaison fellow George got them singing for us. Over the next half hour a number of people drifted in, including Robert Saye who reappeared wearing quite a nice grey suit. It turns out he has been the pastor of this little church for many years. All Bob knew about him was that in 1980 he used to look after the chickens Bob was raising at the college--500 chickens. There is more to that story but I will not relate it here.  

Eventually I would say there were about 20 adults and 30 kids in the little church. There was singing and welcoming. The church building was of mud brick, with about 2/3 of the walls covered with nice cement plaster, open rafters and a nice new galvanized iron roof. They were obviously in the process of building or renovating. Bob had been told that and brought a gift of $100 for the building project. The thanksgiving and singing and dancing that erupted was a complete surprise to us and quite delightful.  

Bob introduced each one of us and had primed us to share something brief each. That was well received. Then Bob preached on Isaiah 42, which I found a blessing--it is a passage that has spoken to me in the past during difficult times.  

After the service they sat us down and presented us with pineapples and bananas and pawpaws and expressed lots of gratitude for our visit.  

As we drove home we went through Gayestown, a tiny village of about 100 people. And a friend waved us down--a man Bob had known when he was a boy of about 10 back in 1980, who we see every year that we come. He gave us a pawpaw and a live chicken. Kristie took a picture of Morris handing the chicken to Bob through the window. As we drove away, she commented "our drive through chicken nuggets!" Only in Liberia I tell you.  

Then as we drove in the last road to our house we met a couple of young boys who were carrying a live aardvark, curled up tight in a ball. Mohammed negotiated a price for it (bush meat for his lunch) and we brought it home. We got some interesting pictures of it before its untimely demise.  

When we got home for lunch I cut up two of the pineapples--a very small one and a very large one. Bob had opened up some trail mix he saves for the last days of the trip, and that was about all we had for lunch. Nothing better.  

Bob had been dealing with headache and a strange pattern of aches and pains that he new was characteristic of malaria. So I got him started on treatment and he went for a nap, which was very helpful.  

This afternoon has been actually quite pleasant. Time to stop and read for a bit, time to talk to people who come to say good bye, time to organize things and continue giving away things.  

Eventually our second vehicle arrived. At 4 pm the driver called to say he was in Tappita and wanted to stop and fix something on one of the car doors. Bob nearly popped a gasket. We have heard stories like that before and it ended up to be a very bad situation. The driver was persuaded to come straight here--that conversation will not be repeated here but let me assure you that the argument was presented forcefully. He arrived about 35 minutes later and we were very happy to see him.  

One of the reasons we wanted him here, was that his vehicle has roof racks and we needed to carry our ladder with us when installing the solar panels on the medical clinic We had put some up there in 2012 and the battery was completely flat, unable to charge cell phones any more. So we added another rack of small solar panels and put the new battery in place, taking the old battery back to our house. That should keep them going for a few more years I think. Spencer and I and the driver worked on that and it seemed to be working nicely. We were about to leave when the midwife Angeline showed up. She begged us to look at the new delivery table which they had received.  

It was in two huge cardboard boxes which have been sitting in the middle of the waiting room the whole month we were here. I had really not understood why they had not been unpacked, and now she was telling us that she had no idea how to assemble them.  

Spencer and I wasted no time opening the boxes and pullling out the pieces. Really we needed some tools and fortunately we had brought along a tool kit to help with the solar installation so we were well prepared. It did not take us long to assemble things and set them up in the delivery room--it is a nice table with the flexibility to do the variety of things that are needed in delivering babies. Angeline was absolutely pleased and we were happy to be able to help. I wished her Merry Christmas at the end and she laughed.  

Meanwhile Bob and Kristie had slaughtered the chicken and the pressure cooker was going. Supper was ready in a short time and we had one last feed of rice, fruit and pressure cooked chicken. A fine feast fit for a king.  

Washing dishes was a bit more detailed than usual tonight since we are packing dishes away for a year. Kate and Spencer have done a great job of it--there are a few things left out for breakfast early tomorrow and then we'll be done.  

Today there was a bit of rain and so the day has not been so blistering hot. Bob was still sweaty ( we all were at least a bit) and at one point Kate commented provocatively " I can't believe you're hotter than me." That produced a roar of laughter including from Kate. I think she said it on purpose but then again I'm not sure.  

OK it's now 9 pm and we need to get to bed soon. I'll send this off and talk to whoever is waiting outside to say goodbye. And to bed!  

Dr. John Potts