The current economic situation continues to decline here in Liberia. The rate continues to rise, and the Liberians are feeling it. This past week I have seen more impoverished out on the streets than we normally see. Begging for food. Begging for small money. While driving downtown last Saturday in a keke I saw a man sitting on the sidewalk, his leg was wrapped and extremely disformed, almost as if his bone was protruding from his lower leg. He could not walk. When we were headed back through town to get home he was moving, he did this by scooting on his bottom with the injured leg in the air and flip flops on his hands. He would scoot and move his hands and scoot and move his hands. In that moment I wanted to get out of the keke, find a wheel chair for this man, DO something. I had the boys and Zachs mom with me and looking back now I am regretful for not stopping. I have looked for him every time we have gone downtown again hoping to see him but have not since that day. This kind of interaction happens multiple times a week, someti mes multiple times a day. A person with no legs laying in the ditch, a completely naked man or woman walking down the street mumbling to themselves, a child digging through heaping piles of trash picking things he/she thinks they can sell or eat.
Images. Etched into our memories forever. Images so sobering that I am anxious to leave seeing them one day. Images that will forever change us. Things that you cannot wrap your head around. People are living in extreme poverty ALL over the world. Mental illness going untreated, simply because their is no means to treat it or help to seek for it. Most days it is hard to grasp that we get to one day go home to our quiet house on our quiet street with our 8 grocery stores, mini van, green grass on the lawn, more food in the fridge than we need, drinkable water in the faucet(s), and so much more. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared to go home to all of this. Scared to be comfortable. To not see the poorest of the poor, interact with them, every single day.
I’m scared and anxious and I pray for it everyday. Pray that we can make the transition back but never fully. That we remember every single person and image that we encounter and meet in the time we have in Liberia and that we can etch them in our memory. That we can continue to fight for the people we have come to know and the children who don’t have the means to fight for themselves.
I pray we seek the poor out in our own community when we return and get more involved with the less fortunate in our very own town. Poverty is everywhere. It looks different in different parts of the world and sometimes it takes effort to find it, but it’s there, in small town USA needing help. We ALL have the opportunityto do something for someone else, but more importantly we have the privilegeof doing that something. It doesn’t always have to be money. Sometimes it’s your time. It takes time to make big changes, and we sometimes think our time is very very precious. That we must fill our days with lists of things that need to be completed. But what if we took one of those days, erased the list, and gave our time to someone else.
Over the past few weeks I have reflected on our time here. I have spoken to missionary friends we have met here and we talk about the work being done in Liberia. Those with small children serving here often have the same hardships that we face having our children. But the one thing we all strive to do is put God first, even though the hardest of times. Always trying to put Him first in every decision we make, even down to the information and things we share with all of our support in the states. We are here because God put us here. We are not here because of Zach, Allie, Brady, Isaac, or Max. We try to leave ourselves out of every interaction, every chance to help someone in need, and give all of the glory to God. We are just middle men. Nothing more.
It has been a hard thing to deal with. Praise is wonderful and makes you feel good inside, but that’s just it, makes US feel good. All of this is only possible with Him. All of it. Praise be to God, and God only.
The team started their journey home on Wednesday. Even with the interruption of the protest while they were here they were able to get much accomplished. It was truly a blessing to see them all and host my mother-in-law and the boys Bay Bay for a week and half. The boys miss her already.
While out at the orphanage OAL serves in Saclapea, city outside of Ganta in Nimba County, and the farthest orphanage from the city, the team met little Etta. Etta has been sick since our families visit for the dedication of their new well back in March. She ha slowly been declining since and she was in need of medical assistance. Etta is currently at ELWA hospital being treated for malnourishment. She will be there for quite some time but she is doing very well. She was on some oxygen the first few days there and is now off and handling her feeds very well. We pray for Etta to gain strength during her stay at ELWA in the care of some selfless Doctors here with SIM and her caretaker for the orphanage who took the journey from Ganta with her to be with her in the hospital.
Our family will be going on furlough for two weeks from the 21st of June to the 7th of July. We will be going off the grid completely. We are looking forward to a time for the boys to run and play outdoors and hopefully we will get a small bit of rest, not likely with this bunch, but a girl can dream! We are also looking forward to getting back to Liberia and getting back to work efficiently and diligently!
We have some specific prayer requests for Liberia and all of Africa, specifically countries that are dealing with an Ebola crisis right now. The Ministry of Gender & Social Protection in Liberia released some staggering numbers a couple of weeks ago. They include numbers that reflect cases reported that include sexual and gender based violence.
Total number of reported cases: 803
Medical Care Provided : 656 – 81.7%
Medical Reports Issued : 646 – 80.4%
Medical Reports Pending : 121 – 15.1%
Alleged Perps. Arrested : 216 – 26.9%
Alleged Perps. Pending Arrest : 578 – 72.0%
Cases sent to court : 76 – 9.5%
Cases in Court/pending/ongoing: 37 – 4.6%
Resolved/Settled : 19 – 2.4%
Convicted : 5 – 0.6%
The rape culture here is sadly one of the biggest issues. These numbers speak volumes. Please pray for Liberia, and this epidemic. Their are positive steps being made to change these statistics, it is just going to take time.
We ask for prayers for the Congo right now. The country has been experiencing an Ebola outbreak since the end of last year, 1500+ have lost their lives to this disease and now the first cases have been found in Uganda across the border with the death of a young boy and his grandmother. Liberia and neighboring countries experienced the worst Ebola epidemic the world has ever seen from 2014-2016 along with Sierra Leone and Guinea with a total 11, 310 deaths between the three. We pray that this disease gets controlled and does not claim the lives of anymore in the Congo, Uganda, or other neighboring countries. Please join us in prayer.