I knew this would never be a walk in the park. I knew that we would have troubles and hard days. I knew we would have hard hard times with our kids. Being with them day in and day out with no family to come to the rescue for a moment of silence or a quick break. I knew all of this. But when you are actually in it, can’t go anywhere, there is not really anything accessible close by for children, and so much more, it’s just tough. I find myself having some major cabin fever, and my former independent self is slowly dying away. I have had a few times this week that I just found my mind wandering. My happiness has been up and down, I have times when I’m way up and times when I’m emotionally down and drained. But as my mind wandered and I sat looking out my kitchen window at the people on the street below I saw a little girl walking with two younger children, one being an infant on her back and one holding her hand. She was maybe 7-10 years old, and there she was taking care of her two siblings, cousins, friends, who ever it was. A very young girl, walking with no adult (on a main road in the city) on a day that school was in session, not in school because her parent(s) would probably be at work until 9 that night selling in the market and she had to take care of her siblings. Reality struck. Here I was dreaming of our yard back at home and how I longed for a bigger outdoor space with grass for my kids to play, and this little girl is taking care of small children when she is still a child herself. Not in school, not in a comfortable air conditioned home, probably going to fetch water from the nearest community well. Shame on me. 

Our happiness is like a colorful horse on a carousel. It can go up and down and up and down, and then the carousel slows and stops, where is your horse stuck? Up or down? Our happiness is ever changing because of the things around us. What we watch, listen to, everything. So finding contentment in the present is the only way to live, and live happily. Being content with everything and everyone in life, our family, our friends, our co-workers, where we are, live, what we are doing, our job, what we wear, eat, drink, EVERYTHING! If we can find contentment in those things than all will be ok. Contentment is stability. When you are stable you are better. A better parent, a better human being, a better wife/husband. Being content with everything we have here, right now, is how we are going to make this year successful.  We think that certain things we miss back home are what made us happy, but really finding the contentment in the now, learning how to live without these things and still be content is the attitude we need to have. Focusing only on the good things in our lives and how we are abundantly blessed, and trying not to think of things we may lack. The only way we can do this successfully is constantly seeking God’s will. We must trust in Him. It’s been a hard week, and I have done a pretty crappy job, but I am promising to be better. To find contentment in all things. 

Max and his friend, Titus

Monday the 11th will mark 3 weeks we have been in Liberia. It feels like we have been here much longer than that, but not in a bad way because the days are literally flying by. The living here never stops. We never stop. Maybe this is just part of the adjustment phase, maybe it’s just getting use to life here, but it is non-stop. I am thankful that the boys school day is a little longer here. If it wasn’t I don’t think I’d be able to get anything done. Hopefully by the time they have their little summer break I’ll have that figured out a bit more. You’d think for a city and for a culture that does things at a leisurely pace it wouldn’t feel like this, but it’s exact opposite. It’s constant. So in times like that when we feel like we are moving a mile a minute we need days like last Sunday to reset and recharge as a family. We visited a beach about 30 minutes down the road. The beach was clean, the kids ran around, jumped the waves, ate some really good hummus, swam in the children’s pool, and just smiled big huge smiles the entire time we were there. We have realized in moments like that we are all going to be just fine. The days and times of struggle will come, maybe they will start to come more often or maybe after this adjustment phase it will get easier. Only time will tell. We are going to make it a point as a family to get out of the apartment complex on the weekends, visit an orphanage, or go to the beach, or do something so everyone can have some fun. 

This week we have learned many new things. We have friends that live in the building who have been in Liberia going on 2 years. They have two little girls ages 4 and 2. Could it be anymore wonderful? The boys love the girls and I think the feeling is mutual. It’s been great to have playmates inside the complex because leaving presents many issues at times. A) bc I don’t drive and don’t have a car, so if zach is gone we are kinda stuck b) it’s just a hard city to navigate, the traffic is constant. Anyways, it’s just been great to get together with them and let the kids play. Forrest, the 4 year old also attends the boys school so we have been carpooling and it’s just been a huge help. I’ve never met anyone quite like Dan, their dad. He is business savvy, quick thinking, and just a good person to know when you are new to this area and you aren’t a born Liberian. He is teaching Zach a lot, and Zach is taking it all in. Danielle is a fast friend. We just click and it’s nice to have another mom to vent to and talk with, it’s just been nice and helped our transition. They have shown us a great market to buy fresh fruits and veggies, shown us and told us about some clean beaches to go to on weekends, and so much more. We are beyond thankful for them. Their hearts are what is so special about them, they are amazing people just doing Gods work bringing those way out in the bush of Liberia, West Africa fresh and clean water. A need that we have coming from our faucets in Cartersville, Ga. 

At the beach

I have been cooking more! Yay! We were cooking before hand to but just chicken in a skillet or something like that, but I finally had enough and so did the boys. I’ve been looking up recipes with limited ingredients and making dishes. Not to toot my own horn but everything has been pretty darn good. Who am I kidding, “Toooot toot!!!” It has made life feel a little more normal here having meals together that aren’t chicken and frozen veggies. Leftovers are always nice also! I even fried fish! Our apartment smelled like Captain Ds for a hot minute but it was delicious and totally worth it! 

Fried fish

Our stomachs are still here and there. Max has had a bit more issues than anyone else, simply bc he is young and doesn’t get that he can’t drink all the unclean water or put his nasty hands or dirty things in his mouth. I’ve been on top of him but it’s just tough. It comes and goes and never seems to stay for too long to become worrisome about him not getting nutrition he needs, his little bum takes the brunt of it. The boys have been good and we are thankful for that. They are starting to learn some of the people’s names around the complex and walk around like little mayors, “what’s up Jeremiah? How ya doing Peter?” It’s pretty funny. The Liberians that work here cannot stand to watch them fall. They rush over and help them and tell them to “take time, take time” while I’m sitting in the background like “get up, you’re fine..bleeding? Bone sticking out, no, ok get up!” They probably think I am crazy. They love school. Last week was Sports Week at school. They played and learned about a different sport everyday. They were on Cloud 9, and I knew they were having fun coming home every day filthy from dust and dirt, a pound of sand pouring out of their shoe, and a wash cloth bath before they took a little nap. I cannot say how grateful we are to have found a school for them. We are crossing our fingers that Max will be able to join after his 2nd birthday in July, when school starts back in September. They will have a break from June to September. I think he is craving some interaction besides hanging with his mom. He needs some more kiddos his age to play with. 

Playing futbol at school

Zach went to Margibi on Thursday to begin the Best Version Project. It was a sigh of relief that we are finally doing all the things we came here to do, and some! The list grows, in a good way. These children deserve so much. They have lived with so little for so long. Pray for them. He took some great pictures of the kids. They are just so beautiful. So full of life. So full of hope. 

We also hosted some friends for the night on Friday night. A young couple from the states who come here to help their orphanage, Standing Side by Side. It was an awesome night with great convo and fellowship. Going to bed that night i fell asleep feeling fulfilled. I have been struggling with what I will do here besides be a mom, cook, house keeper, etc. and honestly with the time it takes to do all those things I don’t think I am going to be able to get to the bush much with Zach to get my hands dirty. I’ll go when I can but it’s just not feasible with the kiddos, transportation, etc. so I fell asleep feeling like God put me here to serve those who serve. To open our home to those who need a place to regroup and reset. To be able to breathe, have a good meal, and leave the next day to conquer whatever tasks God has placed in front of them. It felt right and in turn felt like God saying, “that a girl”. 

Well it’s Sunday again and I’m going to close out this blog for Week 3. I went to church this morning, Zach’s gone the past couple Sunday’s and I went this morning as he got the boys prepared to go to the beach. We are still trying to figure out how to get them to church. Brady and Isaac especially. Max isn’t quite ready for the longer Mass time here in Liberia. Mass back home ranges from 45 mins-a little over an hour. Here it’s an hour and 20 mins to an hour and a half. So a bit longer for a 3 year old or 1 year old to sit still. It was so nice to go, and it was beautiful. The music is beautiful, the church itself is beautiful with the stations of the cross in stained glass windows lining the walls. The priest spoke about vocations. How we are each given different tasks for a specific vocation, whether you were called to the priesthood, a bishop, or deacon. Whether you were called to religious life, or have devoted your like to the church, like sisters of the church, taken a vow of chastity, a vow of poverty (nuns). Whether your vocation is in marriage, that you and your husband/wife share a love that replicates Jesus love for us. It was beautiful. There was even some Sisters there from the Missionaries of Charity, which was Mother Teresa’s order she started, that was so neat to see. They are here in Liberia helping the poor. After church we headed to the beach! It was so nice to get out. The boys have so much fun there, it’s so refreshing and nice to see them having so much fun. Everyone is super sleepy tonight and we have a big day ahead of us tomorrow as the boys have a holiday so they do not have school. 

Please keep our Ethan in your prayers. He is getting better but was diagnosed with pneumonia last week and has some increased seizure activity as of late. He has a broken nose from falling off his favorite ball he bounces on. Just pray for him, and that these awful seizures slow. That his pneumonia clears and he doesn’t have to go to any hospitals. 

Thank you all. We love you and pray for you everyday. 

The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved. -Mother Teresa

One Reply to “Contentment”

  1. Ali- not sure if you remember me or Kristi from church and the “twisters”! I just wanted to tell you how I look forward to and enjoy reading your blogs. I keep thinking about you as a little girls bouncing around the gym and at church with a big smile! Always that bubbly smile!! The work you are doing and young lady and momma that you are makes me proud to say I knew you way back when🤗. Keep on being Ali and know we are here praying for you, your family and the people/children you are helping so much. Give those boys a hug and know what a wonderful experience you are providing! They will no doubt grow up to be humble and loving young guys😊
    Suzanne Stajkowski


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