Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday, Jan. 17th, 2012

Yesterday was a nationa holiday here in Liberia as President Ellen Johnson Serliff was sworn in for a second term of office. Her term is 6 years and she will be 80 years old when she completes the term. She is asking for a show of patriotism in every Liberian resulting not only respect for the country but for each and every individual. Great strides were taken in the past years in the recovery efforts and I anticipate many more in the years to come as she continues to rebuild this country.

We now have 24 hour access to electricity available in our area. There was quite a cheer went up from the community when the street lights came on for the first time last week. There are four homes in our immediate area seeking electricity so we are going together to purchase a pole ($200.00 US) for the area. We have to provide our own line and then current will be connected to our homes along with a usage box. How wonderful to be able to have a fan running when the days are very warm and still plus power whenever we need it!!!!
We began the sale of our moringa products this week. Our sales people have red wagons that they pull around the area and explain to people the benefits of usage. Many have already heard about it and are welcoming the supply. Sales have been good and we are now looking for more leaves to wash, dry and process. It was quite a sight last Friday to see all our boys competing to see who could grind the leaf into powder the fastest. We were able to package over 50 small bags that will sell for about $1.25 USD or $100 Liberian. One teaspoon of the powder added to food will prevent malnutrition. We have the leaf and powder for sale along with the honey. In the future we will add moringa seeds and root. The root can be placed in a bottle of liquid (anything from Palm Wine, beer or water) and drank with the same nutritioal benefits.

The well project will soon be underway. We have enough funds now to rent the forms to make the 30" roun concrete tiles that will be placed in the hold as it is being dug for the well. It has been explained to me that as the hole is dug a tile is placed in the hole. As the hole deepens the tile will slide down and another tile will be placed on top of the first. This will continue until the well is the desired depth. We will be digging during dry season so when we get water we will be assured that the well will be deep enough to meet the community's needs. Once a sufficient level of water is reached the bottom of the hole will be filled with rock and gravel for the water to pass through thus cleaning the water. Then the well will be covered and sealed with the hand pump installed. Finally the water will be chlorinated on a regular basis to ensure that it is pure and drinkable.
We really thank Rev. Larry Houseman for his efforts to help us with the community well. The entire project will cost about $1500 USD and we have about $600 in hand. That will start us making the tile which takes 3 days for each tile to set in the mold and then an additional 21 days to dry. With our time frame will will not be able to install the pump and seal the well until April. There is still time to donate to this community project.

I am certainly enjoying having Christiana home with us. Her children are here as well so it makes for a lively house. Can you imagine that we still have trouble with the girls taking their turn at doing the dishes. There are 4 of them, and always an arguement about whose turn it is. Today I made all 4 of them do the dishes together. I guess that children are the same the world over for my siblings and I had a discussion one day around the table about this very issue. They were saying that I was the "Queen" of avoiding doing dishes and went so far as to call our older brother to confirm it. Just adding insult to injury - don't you feel sorry for me being the smallest and always picked on!

Chris is an excellent cook and loves cooking so I have been letting her take charge of the kitchen. Oh, the tasty meals she prepares with just the right amount of pepper to give flavor but not overpower the food. She has taken to frying me a fish each evening for supper because she knows I will enjoy it so much. The only problem is that I have to share with Timothy and Rolf so it doesn't go very far. But yes, I love fresh fish. Yesterday she took some ripe plantain, mashed it, added flour, baking powder, milk, pepper and ginger to make a batter. Then spooned into grease to fry as a donut without a hole. The fresh ginger and pepper mix gave it a real kick! Yummy!

The land issue still is an issue. The man who is selling our land filed suit against Timothy to try to circumvent appearing in court to bring his deeds to compare with ours. So far, it has stood in court that we are the rightful owners but we are not able to do anything as long as the issue is in court. It gets more and more interesting and now has been referred to the Temple of Justice and the Circuit Court rather than the local court. I dread each day that Timothy has to go because he gets so very stressed out over the entire situation.

We have a little garden with okra, cucumber and tomatoes in it. It is a trial to see what we can do. We are using the soil that is here at the house but have been advised to add dirt, manure, and sawdust to it to strengthen it and hold the water. It is a start and if it does well we have plenty of room to make it larger.

As I sit on my porch to write, I can see Sawsee wheeling a tire around the yard. He has so much fun and will do it for hours. It is his truck because he can put things in it and they will ride along. His car is an old 5 gallon water jug that he pushes or sits on and scoots around the yard. He found an old key so he has to come in and hang it on the key rack when he is finished for the day. I hope to be able to get him a tricycle for his birthday in May. He will the be "hottest" kid in the neighborhood. Earlier I saw two little boys with their handmade cars of tin cans and wheels made from old flipflops. The girls play a jumping game with a "rope" made from unraveling a rice bag and tying the strips together. It is more knots than rope but it does the trick. One has made the circuit of the entire neighborhood as they will lay it down when they are finished and someone else will pick it up. At times there is a game of kickball going on with the girls in one area and soccer with the boys in another. One evening the women were having elimination races to see who could run the fasted from one palm tree to another about 25 yards apart.

So it goes here at Lulu Parham community at the 1603 turnoff across from the Cellcom tower on the Barndersville Road.

Peace and joy,
Anne and Timothy

Monday, January 9, 2012

Friday,Jan 6th, 2012

Friday, Jan. 6th, 2012
Greetings and a very Happy New Year to everyone!
The New Year celebration in Liberia is in some ways similar and other ways very different than I have celebrated in the US.
But first, let me back up just a little – Wednesday and Thursday (the last of December) Timothy and Zayzay went to Cape Mount to bring back moringa leaf to have dried. Then we would package and label it for sale as one of our Liberia’s Own products. Well-----they brought back moringa leaf ----- more that we could actually handle. They returned about 6 pm with their haul plus four bags of charcoal, fish, and other assorted goodies that I was supposed to be proud of my “mighty hunters”. The only problem was that it was almost dark, we have no refrigeration, supper had already been prepared and we had all this wonderful fish and crab that was going to go to waste. Patient pan fried and parboiled it to save for the next day.
The moringa had been packed in 100 pound rice bags and was already hot from the moisture that had gathered in the bags from the leaves. Zayzay quickly began spreading it on my living room floor (even though it is cement) I was a “little bit” disconcerted, however even more so when I didn’t have any extra sheets and they had to spread it out on my 4 best tablecloths because they are so large. At the time I was not able to laugh about it, but now I guess one will do almost anything to make sure a product is taken care of to avoid spoilage.
The next morning, some of the moringa was carried to a nearby community where it could be washed and dried and ready for packaging. The balance was gathered up in the tablecloths, carried to the warehouse to be washed in water and salt, strained through a large strainer and mosquito netting and then spread to dry in the warehouse. This was a process that took the entire day.
In the meantime – people were marking our property for foundations for new houses requiring Timothy to go to the Court to lay his complaint to have the man selling the land unlawfully arrested. They went to serve to papers and the man fled. To date, I believe that people have started to mark for foundations or begin to build on the land. Ironically, the man resold some of the same property that he had sold to one person who lost his suit against Timothy. The man just doesn’t know when to stop. We also have a complaint to have him give to us the value of our house that he had knocked down in all this process.
In fact, Timothy is in court today, on this very issue once again. I truly hope that it can be settled and we can use our land for farming as was the plan. All this fuss over a dirt block house and 3 acres of land has consumed most of Timothy’s time this week.
However, at this point, the moringa is drying to be packaged, we have honey to package as well and then we will be able to actually get it in the market. We have been selling honey privately up to this point.
On Friday, December 30th, Chris arrived home safe and sound from Ghana. She is very weak, still has pain, tired and frustrated, but home! For that we are very thankful. She is staying with us and is able to help some with things that she enjoys doing and don’t involve a lot of physical activity. Her girls are thrilled and couldn’t wait for their time for her to plat their hair. She seems to be gaining strength from being around those who love and care for her. She also brings her own unique sense of humor, authority and no-nonsense that I appreciate in her so very much. Everyone is happier since she is back with us.
Saturday night, New Year’s Eve, the adult children all went for watch night services at various churches. Since I was preaching New Year’s Day, Timothy and I did not go out but stayed home with all the grandchildren. Watch night services begin around 7 or 8 pm and go through midnight. Singing, praying, singing, preaching, singing, testimony, and did I mention singing? Everyone came home hoarse from so much singing.
Here at home, Timothy and I listened to the drummers going around the neighborhood; others with portable stereos were grouped together singing, and parties. It was quite exciting, and very noisy, but we all took it in stride.
Sunday morning we were awakened to singing and stereo music outside our bedroom door. The girls who live in the houses behind us were over to wake us to the New Year with their own kind of music. We prepared to go to church and arrived late, almost just in time for me to preach. However, I did beat the pastor there and discovered that a church is able to carry-on whether there is a pastor or not. The sermon was well received, the offering was taken (several times) and money was raised for the various programs in the church.
Sunday afternoon I cooked with what we had on hand. I thought I would make spaghetti with cucumbers, onion, garlic and mayonnaise. However, we could not find cucumbers anywhere. So, I got creative with diced hot dogs, spaghetti, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, garlic, kidney beans and made spaghetti/chili without chili power. We had guests for dinner and served Timothy’s birthday cake (without frosting which would have cost me an additional $10.00). Everyone had a great time.
The older children went out to celebrate New Year’s Day, so once again we had all the grandchildren. There was a wedding reception with a DJ at a nearby house, so we all danced on the porch till dark and the party ended. Monday was a rest day for everyone and a sense of back to work on Tuesday.
Tuesday afternoon, I began to feel bad and ended up going to the clinic on Wednesday morning. We figure it must have been a bad case of the flu for I tested negative for both typhoid and malaria. I spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday in bed. By Friday, I was pretty well back to normal and glad it was nothing serious.
The trip to the clinic was an experience in itself. As we entered the building set back from the road accessible by a back alley, it was dark with rows of benches for the patients who were waiting to register. We went up the iron staircase to the second floor where Timothy and Jasper (his nephew who is living on the farm) knew a nurse. She then carried us back downstairs to the emergency room. There I was registered, blood pressure checked, temperature taken and paid my money for fees. It was $150 Liberian Dollars to register (about $2.00 USD) and $1,000 Liberian Dollars (about $15.00 USD) for treatment and lab work. Since I would require a drip they had us go back upstairs where I was taken to a semi-private room. It consisted of two old iron beds with bare mattresses. They put two hospital gowns on a bed as sheets for me. They started a drip line with about a pint of fluid. They also injected into the line medication for nausea and diarrhea. Later the nurse gave me an injection for the pain.
While we were waiting for the drip to finish, an evangelist was preaching to the people downstairs waiting to be seen by the Doctor. We could hear it all because an interior window in our room opened into the lobby below. She was preaching repentance and was really into it. I commented to the Physician’s Assistant that I was a pastor and would really prefer to hear prayers than preaching. He agreed and commented that I was already the second pastor that day in the clinic. At the completion of the drip the lab technician came and took blood for tests, they we waited some more.
After about 2 ½ hours total, we learned that I probably had food poisoning since I had tested negative to their lab tests. They gave me 4 different kinds of medicine and sent me home to rest. The next day, Timothy’s nephew Dennis who is a PA came by to see me. We were discussing the illness, diagnosis, and treatment. I commented that nobody else got sick on the food, and I really felt like it was the old-fashioned flu. I asked if they had flu in Liberia and he said “Oh, yes” That is what you have when we don’t know what else it could be. Ah, the wonders of medical science in a third world country.
Life goes on and we are doing well. I am learning to praise God for every little thing and trust God even more .
Peace and joy, Anne and Timothy
Sawsee and Candy Girl on Christmas morning before church. I made Candy Girl’s dress for her Christmas present and we gave Sawsee a small toy car.