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Post-Liberia Q&A with Ruby

30 Jun 17
Ruby Jones
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Hello! This could possibly be my final blog post  – a look back and summary of my time in West Africa. Here we go.

  • What are the things you miss most about living in the orphanage in Zuannah Town?

In all honesty, I liked nearly everything during our time living in that village. I was so happy every day to be there with many, many new things to learn and questions to ask and people to care about, that I couldn’t ever be bored or discouraged. When living in Zuannah Town I met some of the most important people in my life, some of whom impacted me in positive ways, and others in negative ways. Looking back, I feel like my eyes were blinded to the negative because of my naivete and perpetual cheer during that time. I was beyond happy, so to explain today what I miss te most about my life at the orphan home in Zuanah Town is no small thing.

I miss MY LIBERIAN FAMILY!! I miss my Hearwood family that I loved so intensly for so long. I miss Decontee, Moses, Felicia, Mercy, Bintu, Serrina, Diamond, Giftee, Leo, Small Princess, Oretha, Big Princess, Faith (Akos), Josephine, Patrick, and Gordon,and Auntie Vic and Uncle Rufus. I consider them my extended family, my brothers and sisters. Things I love to remember:

  • cooking with Serrina in the open-air kitchen over coal pots
  • talking with Decontee on the steps of the girls’ dorm
  • doing the girls’ hair
  • walking 45 minutes to school with my buddies,
  • brushing little kids’ teeth after devotional
  • taking my “best friends” – the little girls – to go pee in the middle of the night so that they don’t wet the bed
  • playing cards and Liberian games
  • Friday movie nights in the palavar house
  • doing puzzles in the new library after the donated container arrived
  • teaching Josephine and Akos how to say the sounds of letters
  • washing Faith’s and Jo’s (and my own) clothes by hand
  • learning about the 16 liberian tribes
  • having guitar lessons from my dad
  • having devotional every evening – especially the singing
  • playing in the flooding rain
  • eating rice
  • making donuts and plantain chips and kala
  • learning and speaking Liberian English (which I’m already forgetting)
  • playing foosball and kickball
  • going on the river in the canoe and rowboat
  • skipping rocks at the river bank and playing in the not-that-clean water with Charlie and Ivy
  • sweeping the dirt off of the dirt in the yard 🙂
  • drawing bath water and washing water
  • bathing, dressing, and preparing the little girls for school
  • walking in the bush to play at the quiet beach and warm lagoon
  • sleeping beside my lovely squishy baby Faith
  • the list goes on and on (in my heart, not on this blog)…

I loved Zuannah Town! I was well known as a friend in the town, and I knew every person’s name by heart. I had so many small friends that felt safe with me. I loved!

  • What are the things you do not miss about living in the village?

I do not miss the lack of privacy. We were in a chain link (see through) fence. There was no privacy, which I didn’t mind that much, but I don’t really miss. We were the most exciting thing happening in the village, and people tended to just hang out outside the fence to watch the show. I do not miss a few of the Liberian kids in our village, who were a bit racist, and at the same time clingy. Some kids liked to do things just to give people something to talk about, like spreading awful lies about me. Such gossip… this was something new to me, and I was comforted that a lot of people ignored and didn’t believe the lies. Those that ignored did so because they knew me. I do not miss the people that tried to cause me pain or hurt. But that’s logical, because I assume that nobody particularly enjoys being the object of somebody’s malicious imagination and big mouth.

  • How did life change when you moved from the village to the private compound in Bible College?

For me this was a very unwelcome change at first. As far as I was concerned, my life had just been ruined and my happiness scattered along with all my friends at the orphan home. After dealing with the torment of being separated from my Heartwood family, I felt I had no comfort at all, not knowing if I would see many of them again. One of the sole things that helped me through this time was Janet and Caroline. These girls are 12 years old, Liberian, and twins! They were at the orphanage home the entire time we were there and when the children were dispersed and transferred into the care of extended family, Janet and Caroline had nowhere to go. They stayed with us. They were there through all of the bad and worse. They are my sisters and always will be!

When we were having family prayer one night a few years ago, when I was about eleven, my mother made the announcement that we were going to have a foreign exchange girl come from Japan. She was my age and would share my room! I was so happy I started crying hysterically. I had always wanted a sister close to my age, that was like a full time best friend. I have had honorary big sisters like this throughout my life and through young womens, but this was one of the main reasons I love living at the orphanage home. I was so happy, and when they were gone, Carol and Janet were there. I still had them. They still had me. When we moved to Bible College, Brewerville, they came along. We were a family of eight. We three shared a room, slept together, played all day, read, ate, played some more, and that is what I held on to. I love them so much, and I let myself cling to the hope that maybe someday my parents would agree to adopt them. The girls would certainly agree, I knew that much. They were happy with us.
There were only 2 times that I truely cried in Liberia, and I mean truely cried. With my whole body, grieving. The first was the day the Tokpah family left Zuannah Town to live with their Auntie Princess in Monrovia. The other was when I was told that Janet and Caroline were going back to the AFAA House (the orphanage where they were when they were younger – long story), so they could have the chance to be adopted again. After they left, life was different. I had school to focus on. Piano. Survival 🙂

  • More pros and cons of Bible College:

Pros – more privacy than I could hope for. Proper space and equipment to take exercise. More family time. More attention on piano. More time to pursue what I wanted, and to read! Less pressure.

Cons – no small children to take care of. No close contact with friends that I cared about. Too much alone time. More anti-social-ness. The darned stupid 10′ cement fence. The city. The hurt of not knowing how my brothers and sisters at the orphan home were doing or where they were or if they were okay. No Faith. No Josephine. No Bintu. Nothing really to wake up and look forward to.

It took me a long time to get used to the place but eventually I liked it and deeply appreciated what we had there. Some of the children seemed to be in worse living conditions after being transferred out of our care and into extended relative care, and I worried about them constantly, but I had to have hope. I never stopped praying for them and never will.

  • Describe how you  grew and changed as a result of living in Liberia? Give three examples:

1) One of the most important things I learned in Liberia can be conveyed most accurately in a quote from Plato: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” I came to realize that I am not that important. My trials are nothing. I can deal with anything that is happening right now. I’m okay and I’m surviving with ease. Many are not. Many are not even close. Struggling to feed their children. Bereaved for the death of countless loved ones. I have not experienced this. I don’t know what it’s like. However, sometimes I could look into someone’s eyes and feel a little of what they have felt. I could understand a fraction of their tribulations. I remember I could sense the strife etched on the face of an old woman who is taking care of her grandchildren because her daughter and son-in-law were infected and killed by ebola. There was a weary strength in her aura. Sometimes if I really paid attention I could feel some of that. But I knew I could never fully relate. Some of the people I met and even had extremely close contact with had suffered beyond my comprehension and didn’t come out feeling like the victim. Their “…heads were bloody but unbowed”, and future years shall “find them unafraid” (Invictus-by William Ernest Henly). I learned eternal lessons from these individuals. Priceless conversations that I will never forget. I am so proud to know them.

2) I learned the lesson “Don’t let small things worry you”.  A friend spoke these words to me in an extremely consequential time in his life. I had so much admiration for the courage of this friend. He had the most important perspective, despite having lost his/her father to ebola and mother abandoning the family. I remind myself of this daily when I am tempted to overthink anything, which I often do. This friend taught me how to let go and let God carry me, and also carry fate. Nothing in life is an accident! Every possible thing is in God’s hands and if we are willing to be instruments in His hands, then we will never be anywhere or do anything that God didn’t intend. This is a lifelong quest that starts with letting God worry about it instead, because He is Almighty. He knows. I also tie this with another lesson I learned about freeing myself. This lesson has been taught to me by my (unorthodox) parents my entire life. To free myself from what I THINK people MIGHT THINK about me. To free myself from the critical eyes of others and do what I want without worrying what other humans may think or say or do. The point is to be yourself – your best, individual self. What people think of you couldn’t matter less. So be honest and unique and nerdy and whatever you really are without conforming to what lays inside the cage of fear. Be free! Don’t let small things worry you!

3) The last lesson I decided to write about that I learned was one that was made personal to me by the Spirit. The lesson was about humility. About destroying entitlement. I am less than the dust of the earth. I own nothing. I have nothing. I can do nothing. Everything I enjoy, a functioning body, a covenant family, enough food, clean water, talents, knowledge, a testimony, none of it was my fault. I did nothing to deserve it. Not even a little bit. My little friends in the bush in their underwear and infected with thrush and suffering from malnutrition and the product of an irresponsible teenage boy and girl, did nothing to deserve that birthright. I am no better than them. I have to be humble. If I can be obedient to Almighty God he will show me why I am born in a developed country and how I can use the resources and education I have as an advantage to serve His children, to feed His sheep. I must not waste a single moment because I will be held accountable for being true to the light and knowledge I have received (underline I – not the light OTHER people have or have not received). At first this thought made me feel that instead of being a blessing, this responsibility was a burden. But how selfish would I be to discard this advice and do nothing help my fellow men? I would never be able to look my Savior in the face. I’m not perfect, and these are by no means my own original ideas. I have been taught them, but I had to learn them too. I have become a lot more aware of these things through seeing how people lived in Liberia. I can’t say it is all part of God’s plan because I don’t believe He would ever wish a government to make its people suffer, but I know that miracles can happen and He does want us to come home, maybe bloody, but not unbowed.

  • What lessons did you  learn from making friends out in the neighborhood? Any experiences I want to remember?

Yes! I learned that sometimes you gotta take initiative. There were loads of friends outside the fence at Bible College just waiting for me to introduce myself, but I was kinda shy and reserved, and jealously missing my friends from the bush. One day my dad and I were coming home from working on water projects and he suggested that I go outside to “make fun” with the girls we saw playing Lappa outside the fence. Despite my reluctance, I went! I am so grateful I did because I was practically dying from boredom and depression inside the fence at the time and so… I made some friends. I met a girl named Faith Anderson who was a sweet soul that needed a caring friend. I’m not saying I was the perfect friend, but maybe I helped her a bit,and she helped me 🙂 She was my age, in first grade, and loved to talk. She was kind, knew how to cook, and had really, really good aim when she threw that old sock full of dirt. I’ll never forget her. I learned courage on the first day I stayed outside the fence. I’m afraid I would have hated Liberia after Zuannah Town because of my loneliness. But I didn’t! I enjoyed the time I spent outside, doing things I’d never done before, and meting some special humans.


Dear Rubbles, don’t give up! I know it isn’t always your nature, but it is sometimes and I advise you to fight it, even though chances are high that life could get a whole lot harder from here on out. Don’t let small things worry you. Be brave. Be humble. Be kind. Don’t forget about God’s business. Don’t be a shallow knucklehead. Listen keenly to people who know more than you. Treat everybody with the value and respect they deserve to be shown, even when you don’t feel like it. BE GRATEFUL! You don’t deserve anything. Literally. Appreciate people because you never know when they may leave you… or when you may leave them. Be happy as much as possible, and cry when you need to but don’t be fragile. Forget about how you look! The more you think about yourself, the less you think about others. The less you think about others, the less you think about serving them. The less you think about serving others, the more selfish you are. The more selfish you are, the less Christlike you are. The less Christlike you are, the more you are like the devil. The more you are like the devil, the more likely it is that you’ll be headed pretty quickly where he is.

Soooo… quit thinking about yourself. In fact, lose yourself. Stop worrying how you look and how people perceive you. That’s stupid. Don’t be stupid. Got it? Didn’t think so. Read it again. Good. Now, never stop praying. I’ll be praying too. Never let go of what makes you happy! Laughter in righteous happiness is of God! God never intended you to be down in the dumps! Learn as much as you possibly can and stay curious throughout your life.

That’s all I have to say. I won’t wish you luck because you have no need for it. Have fun, Kid!


Yourself (Ruby)


Thanks for reading, anybody who did! Congratulations if you made it to the end. I know I’m long winded (haha it’s an inherited curse). I dedicate this blog post to Andy and Kayla. I like you guys 🙂


Post-Liberia Q&A with Charlie

30 Jun 17
Charlie Jones
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Hello. Well, we are back to the United States of America now. I dropped from blogging for many, many months. Actually it wasn’t that many. Only about 6 months. Even though it has only been 6 months, a whole lot of things have happened between about January and today. Even so, I can only talk about a few things. That is why I have decided to talk about the 3 most important topics that have happened to me, which are questions my Old Man asked. Here goes…

  • What do I miss about the small, remote village that we lived in called Zuannah Town?

Well again, I do miss many things but I can only say a few. That is why this paragraph will be fairly short because this topic does not matter as much to me as the other ones do. To start off, I always have really enjoyed Zuannah Town. It had a rather large river named the Poe River. It was about 2 minutes away from the compound in witch we stayed. I recall swimming in it at least 3 times. I only attended it on very hot days, and with either Simon, or Ruby and Ivy. On either side of the river were extremely large, lusciously green trees in witch, if you believe Simon, monkeys live. It fits descriptions of the Amazon River exactly. Except this is not this Amazon River. Anyway, Zuannah Town was a great place to be. I enjoyed our stay there plenty. In conclusion, Zuannah Town was, and is fantastic.

  • What did you learn from your time working in the bush? Any lessons learned or experiences you want to remember?
     Simon and I labored in wilderness, or if you want to say it the African way, the “bush”. Both of us worked on the drilling te-am, as a part of witch we drill for clean water out in little, tiny , very remote villages out in the bush. The farthest one was Nyawusay. It is about 3 and a half hours to get there from where we lived, and the the roads sucked. I mean for an example, there was this thin palm tree bridge over this deep creek. That always gave me the willies whenever we had to cross it. They were all dirt roads with huge water-created craters from it raining in the rainy season, then huge trucks as big as American semis carrying a few thousand of pounds worth of sticks and logs or charcoal. You’ll start to see over time that it just morphs the earth in to, like, moon craters. I remember so vividly getting really carsick on those car trips that we had to have every day to get to work. One time I got so darn carsick and the gas tank in the trunk was left open, not on purpose, and I just felt so sick that I demanded that Simon stop driving and roll down the window. He did as I said and as soon as the window was down I immediately threw my head out the window and vomited. Since then I made sure that I always sat in the middle seat and that the gas tank in the trunk always either was closed or had a blanket over it. After that it never bothered me again. And I was super happy about it. On the drilling team my job was to be the scribe and photographer, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Simon’s job on the drilling team was to be just, like, the strong guy who does the really hard stuff. He’s strong. Well, working on the drilling team was worth while. Other wise I’d just be sitting at home being lazy and worthless. In conclusion, working on the drilling team made me feel full of use, or in other words use-full. I had a good time and Mentor was always like”Wow” if we hit rock. It made me laugh. The food we ate in the villages was good, especially the cassava leaf which was my favorite soup, over white rice. All in all, the drilling team really helped me see what I am and what I can be in this life. (A tear, and a Laugh).
  • How did life change when we moved from the village to the private compound at Bible College? What are your pros and cons about village living vs. private compound living?
     Hi again. This next paragraph is going to be my pros and cons and feelings about moving from village lifestyle to a private compound in Brewerville. Well, to start off, I enjoyed it a lot more. It was a more comfortable place to tan (haha). This is the place I would usually tan: The water tower. Umm, what?  Okay (laughs), where were we? Speaking of water towers, I also enjoyed the fact that there were no more bucket baths. We had running water from our hand-dug well. It didn’t run very fast though because it was just flowing down from the water tower (haha). It was the same temperature as the well water in the village. Also, we had a big fence around the perimeter of this compound. It had a rather large backyard and front yard. The front yard was probably about as big as the back yard. Okay. Back to the topic. We also, uhh…. wait. The house was a lot bigger than “the dome” or “the stinky room” (the library we all four shared the first few months). Well Simon and I shared a room at the house, and Ruby and Ivy shared a room except Ivy slept in my parents’ room. And of course, last but not least, Mom and Dad shared a room.
And there were lizards on the walls! Simon and I, two days before we left, would throw a spray of rocks and try to kill them brutally outside. It was a lot of fun. We only caught three though. Our plan was to catch a big gnarly orange one. But our plan (sniffles) never succeeded. For other entertainment, we had a small TV but we could only run it when the current was on, which was rare, and then we would have to unplug the little fridge. I liked to watch a movie once a week, sometimes. So I read a lot. Very much! It was a boring experience there until the drilling experience was introduced into my life. I owned two little dogs and nourished them and named one Bart and one Barticus (that’s a lie). I like those dogs but we ended up eating them ( this is also a lie, done by Charlie Jones). I did not have any friends in the compound. I was a loner and a rebel. Back to topic! Dang it! Uhhh anyway, I enjoyed the compound more than the village. I was sad when on the last day we were at the compound that we figured out that we could climb the big plum tree. For the months that we were there I always thought that there were ants up there that felt like fire shooting up your hand and through your body when the bit. But if you get bit on your foot it shoots up your kneecap (also a lie by Charlie Jones). Okay no more lies. I can’t think of anything else to say except that there were lots of fruit trees in the backyard. We had avocado and plantain and banana and also mango (plum) tree. We spent a lot of time when we first got there cleaning up trash. The place was a dumpland. To be finished with this paragraph, I like the closed compound more than the village life. Thank you.
  • Please describe how you grew and changed as a person as a result of living in Liberia. Give at least 3 examples.
     This next paragraph is going to be about how I grew and changed as a result of living in Liberia for 9 and a half months. I will provide you with at least 3 examples. Here it goes. Example no.1: Well, I gained a good 6 pounds and grew a rough 2 inches. To explain this example I had a rather large growth spert during the time being in Liberia. I am rather happy about that be-cause… I have always been the shortest person in my class next to my best friend, Hashim Ahmed. I guess you can say that’s why he’s my best friend. My feet also grew a big growth. Even though my dad says that I look a lot different I believe I look the same.
Example no.2: My skin got very tan. Although I  like the look of being tan, it is fading already. The sun is just not as hot or powerful here in Idaho (witch is the place from witch I am writing this). I enjoyed the sun in Liberia. I liked the heat, the humidity. I loved it all very much, not just because I wanted my skin to be darker or in other words more tan, it’s because that’s the kind of environment that I enjoy better.
Example no.3: The ways that I changed spiritually and emotionally are these. I think that being in Liberia helped bring my family closer together and I am quite full of gratitude for that cause. I also think that it helped to bring me and Hossanah closer together. It also helped for me to strengthen my own testimony. I am very happy for the fact that we went to Liberia.
     This is my conclusion paragraph. I conclude what I am about to type. In conclusion, going to West Africa was a fantastic experiance for me. I really did enjoy myself there. I like the country enough that it would not be the end of the world if we had to possibly go again. Thank you for reading this.
                                               Thank you
                                                            Thank you
                                                                        Regards, Charlie Jones

Post-Liberia Q&A with Ivy

29 Jun 17
Ivy Jones
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Hi. Ivy here! I’m going to tell you some of the things I miss most about Zuannah Town. I must continue to write until I have finished answering the questions Andrew Dee Jones wrote out for me.

  1. I miss that place (I wrote “that place” because  Zuannah town is too hard to write). I miss it because….. Because the cooking was really good.
  2. I loved the river too. I love the river because you can go swim in it, and you won’t get eaten by piranhas.

My life changed when we moved from the village to a private compound in Bible College because I had a lot more friends my age to play with (at the orphan home the kids were younger or older than me, but we were still friends). All of my friends at Bible College were really nice to me, except for Tina. But she was like, 25. Angela and Tina were the best Lappa players. Jaqualine was my friend too, but she left. She was very nice, but sometimes she didn’t wear a shirt! And she was a sort of grown up girl.

Lappa is a game you play with three or more people. You split into teams with an equal number on each side. If you just have three people in the game, then two people stand on the side and one person in the middle. That person is trying to line up all of the slippers while the other people on the sides try to throw and hit the person in the middle with a ball that is made from a sock filled with sand and plastic and then tied. If there are five people and you want to split into even teams, one team gets three people and the other team gets two. And the team with two people chooses the best person on the team to play for the last man. If you line up all the shoes and then scatter them, it’s called, “making a game”. If you make a game, then everyone on your team that’s out, can get in again.

So, all in all, I liked living in the private compound in Bible College better.

The way I grew and changed in Liberia….

  1. My dogs really made me happy. They made me laugh. I was the only one who took care of them. One time during a rainstorm, Cosmo was hiding in a corner on the porch. So I took a blanket and covered him so only his head was sticking out. I learned that dogs have a lot of energy and love to play.

The things I learned from making friends in the neighborhood is…..

That Angela is a very naughty girl. But she will always be my best friend there. I also learned that some Liberian kids will set their mind to something and then try really hard to do it, until they know it is impossible. Like, one time… Like, all the time… someone would kick the lappa ball onto the roof. And they really try to get it down until they do.


Post-Liberia Q & A with Simon

29 Jun 17
Simon Jones
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  • What are the things you miss the most about living at the orphanage in Zuannah Town?

The thing I miss the most about the village is the cooking. We had chicken and rice almost every night. I didn’t like it all that much at first, but as the time went on I got used to it and began to like it more and more. Another thing I miss is when me and some of the boys would sometimes go out on the river in the canoe, and sometimes we would jump in and take a swim.

  • What are the things you do not miss at all about living in the village?

I felt like the kids had their own groups that they stayed in most of the time. I wasn’t very outgoing and didn’t try to make friends so I was kinda doing my own thing most of the time. A few of the kids there also were just not very nice. They would laugh at me if my clothes were dirty or didn’t fit right. When I was gone some of them would use my stuff without asking. At one point some would also steal, and sneak out of the compound at night. Even though I know I had some good times, the bad experiences that I had there sort of don’t really let me remember the good memories.

  • How did life change when we moved from the village to the private compound at Bible College?

We went from being in a loud compound in a quiet village to a very quiet compound in a loud city. It was great! We had more privacy, and running water with flushing toilets and showers. For as much as I knew, I thought it was 100% better. But it was boring. It was just us Joneses in the compound, and again I didn’t go out of my way to make friends with any of the neighbors. It was definitely the dullest part of the trip, until the water projects got moving.

  • What are your pros and cons about village life vs. private compound living?

With village living I feel like there were more people my age. Therefore, there was more pressure to act a certain way so I couldn’t really show my true colors; whereas in the private compound, there was no one around except my family so there was no pressure to act a certain way or to do certain things. My siblings and I got pretty close because of that.

  • Describe how you grew and changed as a person as a result of living in Liberia. Give at least three examples.

First, I learned how to work with people that I didn’t get along with. This was a hard one for me because, before this time, if I didn’t like someone I would just stay away from them. But in this situation I couldn’t just stay away from the guy because he was my boss, and we had to share ideas and work with each other. Second, I learned how to be a hard worker while I was working with the drill team. I learned the when stuff gets hard you shouldn’t just quit, even though that’s what a lot of the Librarian’s I met do. Third, I learned how to be a better problem solver. When we would hit rock while using the drill we would have to figure out what to do about it and that could be challenging at times.

  • What did you learn from your time working with the drill team in the villages for 2 1/2 months?

I learned about the layers of the earth and how they affect the work we do. I learned that we Americans are very spoiled with all of our luxuries such as: dishwashers, washers and dryers, air conditioning, a grocery store, and running water.  

All in all, I think that it was a great experience. Thank you.


My daughters, Olympia and The Cuteness

26 Jun 17
Ivy Jones
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Hi. This is Ivy. Today I will be blogging about my dogs, and a few other things. Let’s get started!

I have two dogs. A girl and a boy. The girl is Olympia, and the boy is Cosmo. Well, we’re still thinking about the boy’s name. It’s either Cosmo, The Cuteness, or pup. I bought him with my toothfairy money. He cost five hundred L.D.= five U.S. dollars. He’s so tiny (and fat) (and soft)! And I love them so, so, so, much! That’s why every morning before I do literally anything, I go to greet my best friends. When The Cuteness gets really excited, his tail wags so enthusiastically that his whole entire rear end is wagging too. It’s so funny and cute when he does that! Olympia ran away a couple of times. Last time it was for like three days! But she’s always sitting at the gate waiting for us to open it so she can get in and eat. But last time she ran away, I was sick. And I didn’t go outside for a while. Then I finally realized that I hadn’t seen my dearest, precious, darling daughter for a while. So I went outside to greet my dearest, precious, darling daughter. Man, you should have seen how excited she was to see me! The way she ran towards me and her ears flipped back in the wind and I swear that I saw her smile.

Today I was thinking about our trip to Hawaii. A couple of years ago, we went to Hawaii. I remember snorkeling at the beach. And then I saw a turtle. It was rather big, and then I found a way to get behind it. I distinctly remember reaching my hand out and touching its shell. Just a little bit. It was cool.



Reflections on Liberia: The good and the… good.

23 Jun 17
Kayla Jones
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June 5, 2017

After years and years of preparing and praying that the “right time” would present itself for us to move to Liberia, our nine months of living there have just come to an end. There were times throughout the experience when I felt it may never end! And if you had told me in month five that when our plane would race down the runway and lift off the ground to leave Liberia a few months later, that the tears would uncontrollably stream down my face, sadness consuming my heart, I would have said you were wrong. But now here I sit, on American soil. Liberia is still under my fingernails. I’m still itching bug bites. And people keep asking the question, “How was it?” Well, I’m still processing. I think it will be helpful for me to put some of my thoughts into words, and to share. The good and the bad. It’s worth a try, at least.

There’s a cute family movie I love about a modern-day Noah. In it, there is a scene where “God” is speaking to Noah’s wife, though she doesn’t know it is Him. She is having an emotional battle with what her family is being asked to do. God gives her this to ponder:

God:” Let me ask you something: If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prays for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prays for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”

When we embarked on this journey nine months ago, the greatest desire of my heart was that this experience would provide unifying opportunities for us as a family. Had I known at the time how painful these unifying experiences would be, I may have run the other way! Here is a list of physical ailments suffered within just the first 3 months, each delivered with its own special package of pain, inconvenience, expense, and worry of side effects, AND also trust, prayer, faith, and patience:

  1. Andy and Simon: painful, recurring ear infections that cause temporary, partial hearing loss
  2. Ivy, Charlie, and Kayla: severe heat rash
  3. Andy: malaria
  4. Simon: motorbike accident while learning to ride – 17 stitches on his right arm and hand, scarring
  5. Simon: malaria
  6. Ruby: cut right ankle on a rock in the lagoon: worst pain she has ever felt, nerve damage, 4 stitches, scarring
  7. Charlie: infected fire-ant bite on his foot
  8. Andy: venomous spider bite & staph infection on top of right foot – laid up for almost 2 weeks – permanent skin discoloration
  9. Charlie: malaria
  10. Andy: malaria (again)
  11. Simon: 3 infected spider bites on right hand – unable to use for 1 week – hand looked like a baseball glove
  12. Charlie: attacked by orphan home dog: 2 punctures – dog eaten by Haji & Follay
  13. Ruby: lung infection for many weeks, painful coughing
  14. Ivy: attacked by stray dog – 16 stitches on hands and face – dog eaten by Morris’s family
  15. Kayla, Andy, and Charlie: ringworm
  16. Simon: large motorcycle burn on right calf

The next 6 months, things slowed down a bit, but still…..

  1. Andy: while riding motorbike on road, hit by another motorbike driver, suffers minor bumps and road rash; but Kayla, who watched the whole thing, has mini heart attack!
  2. Charlie: malaria (again)
  3. Andy: persistent fungal infection on left foot
  4. Simon: motorbike wreck in the bush – BIG time road rash and burns for him and his passenger, Moses. (If not for helmets… can’t even think about it!), scarring on right knee
  5. Kayla: persistent fungal infection on left ear (evidently Andy should keep his foot away from my ear 🙂
  6. Ruby: motorbike burn on calf


Some mothers may be wondering why in the world we didn’t pack up our bags and get on the first plane out of there! Trust me, I considered it many times. Even Liberian friends were perplexed at our knack for attracting misfortune. But when I reflect on each ailment, how each one clearly could have been so much worse, and then consider what was learned, or gained, it was clear to see that God was teaching us – humbling us, and giving us opportunities to love and to serve each other. I watched my children who, pre-Liberia, had been so distracted and impatient, were now carrying one another through some very tough times – figuratively, and at times, literally.

The things we felt, the sadness we experienced, the prayers we said, are all too much to tell. I’m so grateful I used our friend MK McClintock’s new gratitude journal series throughout this journey. The first half of our trip, having to focus on three good things per day, was a saving grace. The second half, I didn’t have enough room to write ALL of the things I was grateful for each beautiful day. Some of my other blog posts include excerpts from those precious journal entries. The fact is, no one will ever know, outside of our family, the full extent of the frustrations, the love, the heartaches and the comfort we experienced. But I think it is safe to say, that we like ourselves and each other a whole lot more than we did before we left.

Notes to self: Kayla, don’t forget…

  • Andy’s tender tears when NOTHING on this trip was going as planned.
  • …the acoustics of the dome home – listening to the hymn Abide With Me each night during those hard months of December and January – tears wetting my pillow.
  • …witnessing with awe Andy‘s limitless capacity to love and to serve, NEVER thinking of himself.
  • …Gift. My dear, dear friend who loved me and my family so genuinely, and never asked for a thing in return. Remember massaging her hugely swollen, pregnancy feet while having a soul connecting conversation about the wonder of carrying a baby, and the agony and joys of birth. (See photo of me and Gift).
  • …Simon’s “Don’t mess with my sister” instinct after Ivy was attacked by the dog. He, along with our friends the Town Chief and the Imam, cornered it, and Simon did the very hard, very emotional job of making sure no one else got harmed by it. A true boy-to-man experience.
  • …Simon‘s smiles and tenderness with children, which I had never seen before – Snuggling and feeding an orphaned newborn, making Patrick, Josephine and Faith squeal with laughter, and becoming his own sister’s hero and best friend.
  • …Ruby throwing herself wholeheartedly into this Liberian experience. She loved everyone and everything so completely, even during hard times when that love was not reciprocated.
  • …Ruby‘s eager ear, talented tongue, and determination that enabled her to so quickly to pick up and perfectly speak the Liberian pidgin English “Coloqua”, winning the hearts of all she conversed with.
  • …Charlie’s abandonment of fears and anxieties. Walking taller than I’d ever seen him, and being completely free from the worries of what others think.
  • …Charlie tirelessly working with the drilling team alongside Simon, Mentor, Remember, Aaron, and Moses, like a grown man – twelve hour days, 6 days a week, deep in the bush, for 9 weeks – being the record keeper and photographer. He didn’t complain. Not even once.
  • …Ivy playing Lappa and other Liberian yard games all day, every day with her friends and coming home at dusk, covered in dirt with her hair sticking to her face and neck from sweat, and a huge smile on her face.
  • …Ivy‘s incredible love for her dogs, Olympia and Cosmo, which were so therapeutic after her dog attack. She became the best dog owner I’ve ever seen. They were her babies and her best friends.

In short, Liberia got under my skin. Sometimes it itched. Sometimes it ached. At times it was downright painful. But in the end, it soothed and calmed, and mentored. When the time is “right” again, I will definitely be going back.










Christmas blessings from Liberia

23 Jan 17
Kayla Jones


Hmmm… a post-Christmas blog. What to say… What to say…

Well, the week leading up to Christmas was a particularly hard week for me. One might assume that’s because I was was missing family, friends, and all of the general merriment that accompanies Christmas in the states. But, no. I really don’t think it was any of those things. It’s just that the arrangement here is difficult. I always thought that communal living wouldn’t be so bad for me, but alas… it is so much harder than expected. Personalities clash. Expectations fall short. Lack of clear communication happens all too often. Let’s just say frustrations were high. Contention and confrontation are probably the two things I hate most. I will avoid them at all costs. Luckily I have an amazing husband that will listen to and comfort me, no matter how busy he is. There have been many late night discussions between Andy and myself. What is to be done? How can things improve, and in a gentle manner? There is so much to do, it is daunting. And when overwhelm shows it’s ugly face, Kayla tends to shut down. Thankfully, I was saved by a Grand Day Out with the fam to Monrovia. We left at the crack of dawn, hoping to miss traffic. Not so. The trip took two hours, and we got pulled over by police three different times. Ha! Luckily, once we provided every single thing they wanted to harass us for – seat belts, fire extinguisher, official documentation, and license – they turned that frown upside down and sent us on our way. One officer that was a little slow to let us go, simply needed to hear the urgent words from Andy, “I’ve been in the truck a very long time, and I need to urinate!” That was language this officer understood.

This was my first time to Monrovia since our plane landed. The kids all declared, “It’s like Chinatown in San Francisco!” We felt like we were in another world. We don’t get out of the bush much. Apparently the place to do your Christmas shopping is a market called Waterside. It was unbelievably packed (Andy will post pictures and videos). I now feel like I have experienced Black Friday. For the first time since being here, I felt very grateful for our white skin, because it made it much easier to keep an eye on my family! Here in Liberia, instead of loads of gifts to open Christmas morning, the custom is to simply receive “Christmas clothes”, which is just a new, hip outfit to wear for the first time on Christmas. To see and been seen. Soooo, “when in Rome…” Our kids each had a $20 budget (same as the orphan children), and they spent their money on new (or used) clothes. Simon has a funny story about buying some jeans, but I’ll let him tell that. When there are six guys almost in a fist fight over who will hand the kid a pair of jeans, let’s just say his customer service was top notch!

After the clothes shopping, we hopped in a couple of kekes (think Indian rickshaw), and Andy took us on some sightseeing. Signs of the awful civil war are everywhere. We rode to the Ministry of Gender (which oversees the details of the orphan home), so Andy could show us where he goes so often, and to drop off an important letter. It is the place to go to work on adoptions or ask about policies. Then we went to the LDS Mission Home. It was fun to see some of our senior missionary friends again. Then we drove by the US Embassy and the Presidential Mansion. It was all very interesting, but traffic was so horrific, we were happy to get back to where we’d parked. We enjoyed (as always) lots of cheap and delicious street food – donuts, fried planains, tea bread with egg and mayo, peanut candies, etc.. Andy took us to a street corner near the customs broker office where he often grabs a bite to eat. A woman named Masa is there every day, all day, making wraps and selling them for $1. They were so good! It was flatbread with potato, cucumber, egg, sliced up hot dog, mayo, and ketchup. Rereading what I just typed through my pre-Liberia eyes, that sounds so gross and unhealthy! hahaaahhhaaaa! Anyway… it was quite the treat 🙂 AND… I musn’t forget to tell you that we also found ICE CREAM! A lady was selling these little baggies with about 1/2 cup of chocolate, vanilla or strawberry ice cream out of a cooler. You just bite off the corner of the bag and suck it out. It was COLD and creamy and SO GOOD. It was the highlight of the day for me and Ivy!

After that, we made the trek home – stopping off to buy a new mattress for me and Andy to use in the dome home (we’re pretty sure the one we’ve been sleeping on has critters living in it).

One of the things that I’d hoped for, embarking on this adventure, was for my children to become better friends. Back in the states, there are so many distractions away from family. So many social stresses and pressures, that even when my kids weren’t WITH their friends, they seemed to be thinking about them or processing interactions they’d had. This seemed to lead to a lot of snippy comments and hurt feelings between our kids. But here, there is very little of that. VERY little. They spend a ton of time together. And for the past four months, they’ve all been living in one room! Because of this, I have witnessed a bond develop that makes my heart swell with joy. They’re silly together. They laugh together. They talk with each other. They work together. They watch out for each other. They’re more united than I’ve ever seen. It is beautiful for us to observe. I’d go through all of the hardships we’ve had again to get to this point of bringing our children, and our family, closer together. We said we were going to Liberia to be of service and to save our family. I’m thankful for this long prayed for transformation.

I’ll let the others tell about Christmas and dome home progress. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday 🙂



My Christmas in Liberia

23 Jan 17
Simon Jones


This Christmas was quite a bit different than what we’re used to back in the States. About a week before Christmas all of the kids in the compound were split into two groups. One group was to go shopping on Tuesday and the other was to go on Wednesday. Each child was given a budget of about 20 US dollars to buy a “Christmas outfit”.

Our family (the Joneses) went seperate from the orphans, with our own parents. The huge shopping market was in Monrovia in a place called Waterside. All of the Jones kids got 20 dollars just like the rest of the kids. We followed my dad into the market and just started walking around as a group until what we saw what we wanted. I was looking for a new church outfit, a pair of jeans and a short sleaved collared shirt (because it is so dang hot in our church building). After we were all done getting what we needed/wanted and took a drive in three-wheeled carts around the city and got some food, we got back in the truck and went back to the compound.

No one was allowed to wear their “Christmas clothes” until Christmas day, so my mom packed them away. This year Christmas was on a Sunday so every one just went about their Sabbath day as usual. But then on Monday, when Christmas was observed, it was a party all day. Loud music, dancing, good food and every one wearing their Christmas outfit. The whole village was allowed in the compound and every one had their outfit on to see and be seen.

It was really fun to be able to have the opportunity to experience what Christmas is like one the other side of the world. It was good to be able to focus on the real meaning of Christmas without all of the presents, the trees, and usual music.

Bush biking

23 Jan 17
Simon Jones
one comments


My dad has been wanting to go look at some land that he wants to work with the community to turn into the Homestead. This land just so happends to be right on the beach. So last Wednesday I and he took the dirt bikes and rode for about 20 minutes through some super thick bush and really deep sand in order to get to that beach. It was really weird not being able to see 5 feet in front of you when we were riding in the bush, I remember going through the thicket on this foot path and not being able to see the sky and then once in a while I could catch a glimps of the sky and I felt like I could finally breath again. My shoulders and forearms were sore after that because I was gripping the handle bars so tight.

Once we got through all of the bush we got to the beach. We rode on the beach for about 6 miles. I have never ridden on sand like that so it was hard to get used to. We didn’t have any problems with the bikes this time, thank goodness. We had tried to make this same trip previously but once we got to the beach my bike stopped working. We had to have some of the locals from that area help us push it back up to the trail, then once we got it up there one of the men who helped us started to figure out what the problem was. The guys name was Struggle, or at least that’s what everyone calls him. He just took the spark plug out and put it back in; the bike started but we could tell that that wasn’t the real problem.

The next morning my dad took it into a shop and they had to take apart the whole carburator and put it back together. There was just a small part that was loose and they fixed it and now it works better than it did before. The machanic spent about 2 hours working on it and it cost 10 bucks whereas in the states it would have taken weeks to get into a shop and would have cost 300-400 dollars! Plus this machanic had never worked on this kind of bike before so he just figured it out as he went.

So back to the story, we rode for about 6 miles on the beach and arrived at Digbe (pronounced dig-bay). My dad had a meeting with the town cheif about the land and then we went to go see that land. It’s right where the Po River connects with the Atlantic Ocean. There was trash every where which has washed onto the shore from Monrovia, where there is no real trash management system. It would have taken weeks to clean up. Other than the trash it’s a really pretty place.

On that same day once we got home we rode to Royesville for antoher meeting with the Township commissioner which is like the mayor. To get there we had to ride on the paved rode where all of the cars are. I had never ridden on the rode before let alone go above 30 MPH because I only ride on the dirt rodes. I was riding behind my dad, honking our horns at taxis as we weave past the slower cars/trucks. I had quite the addrenelin rush, and really liked spending the day on the bikes with my dad.



Locks of dread

23 Jan 17
Ruby Jones


I apologize for my lack of commitment with the blogging, I’ll try to do better. My topic today is…dreadlocks!

I have had quite the experience with dreads here in Liberia. A few of you know that I tried (and failed, terribly) to get dreads in late November/early December, I forgot when. I had been interested in getting them for quite a while, and was really excited when my dad came home one day and said he had found a guy who claimed he could do dreadlocks on white peoples’ hair. So, trusting that, Simon and I rode down on the motorbike and spent about 3 hours in a roadside salon (spelled saloon. haha). The first step was to wash my hair in a solution to “make it rough”. This meant going to the side of the one room building, getting a towel thrown over my shoulders, and bending at the waist while cold water was poured from a bucket (by a cup), slowly over my head. When it was all wet, he scrunched it a little, and we went back inside. Then, he and a woman did 53 tight twists with two strands, sectioning it as they went. The twists, which they call a “two finger plait”, went from root to tip, and I only know there were 53 because I counted them when I got home. During this process, a ton of gel was applied, making them slick and sticky. Then, the guy wrapped thread around the base of each twist, meant to hold it so it wouldn’t loosen. Then, I’ll never forget, this dude, named D-Boy, put something similar to a fishing net around his hand, and rubbed all around my head, using a circular motion and a ton of pressure. I have named this specific part of the process “The Net of Terror”. My head was already so sore at this point from the thread being so tight and all the pulling, that I could hardly stand the pain of this step which they call “rubbing”. Because of the thread, each strand sort of stuck out, and it was pulled as tight as it could possibly be. In other words, it was incredibly ugly. After this initial installation, I had to go back a few times a week to get them re-geled and “rubbed” again.
Pretty soon (about a month after I got them) it became clear that this fella didn’t know how to do dreads on white hair. This was certainly the way to dreadlock black hair, but they would never lock on mine. My dad did some research on how to really do dreads on hair like mine and then told the guy he didn’t know what he was doing and that I would not be coming back. My mother and I spent one agonizing day undoing them. Loosening the plaits, removing the thread, and washing all the gel out took an entire day. Hours upon hours I was sitting on the floor while my mom gently combed, trying not to break my hair any more than it already was. That night and the next day I was grieving for my hair! I know it’s a stupid thing to get upset over, but my hair was broken, dry, brittle, and even cut in some places. Not at all worth it. My hair was an inch shorter, and unhealthier than it had ever been. But… now, my hair is doing okay. The cut places are taking their own sweet time to grow out, but it isn’t as dry, so I’m happier.

It was sure an embarrassing turn of events, and painful, but if I could get dreads for real, I would do it. It seems like the real way to do it is much easier than what D-Boy tried, so maybe we can try again on our own. I like the style and I like the sound of little to no maintinence after they’re locked.

Thanks for reading! -Rubies


I’m brave

23 Jan 17
Ivy Jones
No Comments


Hello! I have not written in awhile because of my dog attack (not MY dog, but A scared dog that attacked my body). You did see the pictures, didn’t you? Well, if you didn’t, you should. Because then you just have to see how brave and tough I am! I got about eight punctures altogether. Two on my left hand, three on my right hand, two on my face, and one on my neck. The one on my neck is less then half an inch away from my juguler vein. And if it was actually on my juguler vein, my dad said it would be a danger to my life.

Of course the dog died, (I’m not telling you how) and then it fed a hungry family. (They eat dogs here don’t ya know.) I had to get stitches that very day.:( It was a long drive to the clinic, my dad singing primary songs almost the whole way. We started somewhere in the afternoon, and ended when it was really dark out.

Unfortunately, before they sew the stitches in, they have to give you shots around the wound. I’m not gonna say how many because I don’t know. All I know is that it depends on how many stitches you’re gettin’ in that dang old hand. I had to get sitches on every wound except for the ones on my face and neck. And man, when they put those dang shots in it hurts so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so dang bad! Man, I was screamin’ so loud in Dr. Bobby’s ear! The dumb thing is those shots are suppost to make it not hurt. That’s messed up. But my mom hugged me tight and dad gave me a blessing and kept telling the doctors what do to.

The second container came last week. There were two things that I was really lookin’ forward to. The Christmas tree, and the keyboard. Well it turns out that there ain’t even a Christmas tree in that ol’ container. Well, what do I know, maybe there’s a Christmas tree in that container. In one of the boxes. There are hundreds of boxes! And the keyboard is probably in one of those boxes, too.

Merry Christmas! I got some treats, I got some clothes, we moved into the dome house, ok. See ya’ll later!:)



Half time ice cream break

23 Jan 17
Ivy Jones
one comments

Hi! This is Ivy! Remember me? I moved to Africa about four months ago. We’re at our halfway mark, I think. I don’t know what to write about…

I wonder what we’re gonna do on Simon’s birthday this week!

We are taking a break in Monrovia while my dad makes some “changes” or something like that. Living here is… AWESOMELY AWESOME!!!! Last week we went to this pretty-much-American ice-cream shop! It had a bunch of different flavors and everything! I got a ginormous ice-cream cone!:) I got some good flavors too.

I made a friend here that lives next to where we’re staying. Her name is Tia, and she’s from Lebanon.

I don’t really like writing blog posts. That’s why I only write one every two weeks or so. Hahaha! Just kidding. Not funny. I’m forced to do it.

Monrovia is really crowded. The first time I was in Monrovia was at the airport. But the second time I was there I was actually outside, where it was SO crowded. I was Christmas shopping. It was so crowded that I almost started crying.:( Bye! 🙂



Living in the dome house

23 Jan 17
Charlie Jones
one comments


Hello. Here I am. Our family has passed our half way mark, and finally moved inside the Dome House on Christmas day. We were all very eager and also exceptionally excited. Especially me, because now I only have to share a room with Simon (which I am already used to) and no more disgusting b.o. smell or girl underpants everywhere! I am very happy about that. The bad part is that Simon doesn’t do his washboard laundry until the week is over, and so the dirty clothes hamper is almost always full of sweaty clothes, which is not a very enjoyable smell. But the reason for that is because the amount of grimy clothes builds up BIG time and when clothes in that condition are just sitting in a hamper all bunched up together like that, well they just start smelling rather terrible. But wait, now that I really think hard about it, I’ve come up with the solution to this perdicament that Simon and I are both trapped inside of. It is anybody’s blame to take because it is not his fault that it’s so dang hot and humid outside. And it is not mine either. So my two options to solve this problem are: Hope it rains so we have to stay inside and then we won’t be all hot and sweaty, or my other option is: To ask Simon nicely to please take care of his dirty clothes earlier in the week.

Okay, where was I?

Oh yea, the Dome.

So anyway the dome is pretty awesome because it has tile floor now and bamboo walls that didn’t actually work out very well because even though we lacquerd them all, we are beginning to think that they are attracting bugs and insects, and that really stinks since we still have not put our mosquito nets up yet. Sometimes in the middle of the night, when all is quiet except for the crickets chirping outside, you can hear insects crackling around inside the walls (that’s not really true but it is interesting and funny). And then you get really afraid that you’re going to get bit or feel one moving around in your hair or shirt or something like that. I hate it when I get bit because then I itch it but I know that it could start bleeding so I try not to itch it but it is a huge temptation because it itches so, so bad!

The Dome Home also has these very cool “Basket Chairs” that are practically woven peices of thick bendy sticks. They are fairly comfortable but only if you get the pillow before sombody else does. Anyway we each are “assigned” the one we chose because Andy really hates it if anybody feels entitled to anything (he doesn’t let us “call” things). We also have blue and white designed curtains so we can cover the windows at night because the ceiling is painted white and the light just reflects everywhere and makes it extremely easy to look into the dome even from a distance. Simon and I share a bunkbed, Ruby and Ivy share one too. Mom and Dad just sleep on a matress on the floor but their advantige is that theirs is comfortable and Simon, Ruby, Ivy, and mine are not as thick. So anyway we all really are enjoying where we are staying now.

All in all, the Dome House is supurb and my family is enjoying it very much. At last we are all under the same roof once again. Goodbye.
– Charlie Jones




11 Dec 16
Ivy Jones
one comments


When I wake up in the morning, I usually have to go to the bathroom really bad.:( I go to the bathroom and then I come back to the room that I share with all of my brothers and sister, and lay in bed for a while longer. Then I eventually get up and get ready for breakfast. I like oat meal for breakfast the best. I allways eat a golden plum with my breakfast. Thats probably my favorite food here. I have to peel it with a nife then eat it, but the pit has a bunch of like ropes on it. Then I wait around for a while goofing up with Charlie. And then the Mom is ready for me to come and do homeschool. After I finish allmy math, we go and eat lunch. Then we do the other part of homeschool.


Dogs and cats

11 Dec 16
Ivy Jones
one comments


I “have not yet learned to appreciate” (hate) sharing a room whith all of my two brothers and sister.

I “very much looking forward to” (can’t wait) until we move into the dome house. That will be so fun! We don’t have doors to the rooms in the dome house. We just have curtans.The only door we have in the house is the front door.

We used to have a pet dog but he got eaten after he chomped on Charlie. So we are getting a new dog! This one is going to be a girl. Mom and I want to name it Alice.

There is also another pet that we own, but we did not really plan on having it. There is this family of a cat and its four kittens. They are so cute! Sometimes I catch one that is not very afraid of me because I have caught it so many times. Sometimes I feed it. One time I cought one of Bingo’s sisters. Bingo is the cat that I usually hold that is not very scared of me. (Bintu named it.) And Bingo’s sister was way more scared than Bingo. That’s why I let it go after like five seconds (ouch).


General Conference (without cold cereal)

11 Dec 16
Ivy Jones
one comments


I am at church right now. I am watching general comfrence on a t.v. I kind of wish I were at home staying in my p.j.’s all day, eating my box of ceareal. But sitting in an uncumterble chair at church with a bunch of other people is not that bad.I did not like public school here so I am now doing home school here. At least the church that I am in has fans.

friends: Flecia is very nice Small Princess is very social. Maby a little too social.

It is really hot here all the time exept when it is raining. and it is’nt even dry season yet! I DO really like it here so much a lot very good!

Paradigm postulates: Liberia vs. America

11 Dec 16
Ruby Jones
one comments


Hi. Today I will explain a bit about my understanding of some common paradigms that exist in Liberia that are not as common in the US. These have for sure taken some getting used to, and I want to share them with you. I see these different paradigms as manners, in a way. General rules of politeness or understanding that is agreed on without words, but is differentiated from place to place, country to country. Paradigm number one is:
Sharing. In Liberia, I’ve learned, sharing is WAY different. For example, if someone offers something to you (usually food) it’s rude to refuse. I’ve unintentionally offended quite a few people this way, because I am accustomed to turning down spontaneous offers of food in order to be polite and not burden someone or cause inconvenience. This was according to how I was raised, being taught the manners of many in the United States. That being said, another rule of thumb in Liberia is you should ALWAYS share (or at least offer) if you have something and somebody else doesn’t. If you have food and someone else doesn’t, it is safe to assume they’re hungry. As a side note on this, I just want to mention that today we had a guest coming with us to church that my dad invited, our friend Joe Bishop. Twenty-two years old and investigating the Mormon church, I couldn’t help but notice that he wasn’t his happy, brotherly annoying self. After a bit of an interrogation, I discovered that he hadn’t eaten for almost 24 hours. I could have guessed. Anytime you see someone sleeping in the daytime, looking dejected or listless, chances are they’re literally in the earliest stages of starving for lack of food (aka hunger). Anyway, side note over, it’s even rude to eat alone because there’s someone close by who could use some nourishment. This is always difficult for me, because there are so many neighbors who are hungry, and even though I have access to food, I don’t have enough to feed them all. The sensitive part of my heart grieves every day to see this. Sharing is always a good thing, and don’t take for granted anything that you have, even basic nessessities like enough food, clean water, adequate shelter, and parents. I look back with disgust at the Ruby Jones who lived on Cavallo Dr. who had the audacity to complain, despite having all her needs met and then some. I apologize to all who knew me. Okay I’m talking about paradigmes here, and the next one is:
The Acceptance of Abuse of Authority. For some jacked up reason, everyone here sort of just deals with the fact that teachers/educators, use corporal punishment to their own advantage of proving power and dominance. The teachers of Kpekor Public School will use a thin stick to hit a 5 year old (or younger. or older. or whatever they feel like) for being late, when they themselves will consistently be late for school, generally by a lot more time than the child they’re punishing. I’m not saying that every citizen of Liberia agrees and approves of this, not at all. But nobody is protesting, and it seems like it’s accepted, to say the least. Let me tell you a story. (haha when someone wants to tell a story here, they say “story story” and their audience says “story” and they begin.)
So the story goes like this. My dad and I had gone on a motorbike to Faith Clinic at about 7:15am to get my ankle stitches out. I was dressed in my school uniform and was planning on being dropped off at school on the way home. When we got to the school, I decided to just go all the way home because my foot was paining me. On the dirt road home, we discover my brother, Leo, and a few of his friends walking home. We stop to ask why they’re going home only 30 minutes after school was supposed to start. They tell us that they were sent home because their hair was too “bushy.” (too long) So we make space for Leo on the bike and he, my dad, and myself go back to Kpekor. My dad asks Leo if he is willing to stand up for himself and say “It is my right to be in school”. He says yes. So my dad takes Leo straight to the principal’s office where they protest the expulsion, proclaiming that every child has the basic human right to be in school, and that they are abusing their authority sending students home, and that they don’t have the right to deny a child her basic human right, etc. etc.. While they were benevolently fighting for justice (making a big stink) I was waiting just off campus with the motorbike, where my friends Chris and Jerry and a few little girls were loitering. They were between 5 and 8 years old, and the boys told me that he was put out because of his hair being too long, and the girls because they didn’t have socks. I sent them to where my dad was, and he was able to at least sort of make the principal see reason and let the children back in class.
Gender roles. Here in Liberia I’ve observed quite a difference in men and women’s roles than I’ve seen. For one, it’s a bit more common for boys to know a bit about cooking. The teenage boys inside the fence cook a breakfast meal for the home a few times a week, and sometimes lunch. Males also are pros at washing clothes. However, I’ve seen little to none interaction between older boys or fathers with small children. Women do washing, cooking, looking after, bathing and essentially raising the little ones. Lots of women are capable of doing “man” work as well. All the time I see women out in the bushy parts near their house with a hoe or a cutlass, brushing. I personally like this mix of roles. The men are able to do some of what would be considered a womans responsibility, and vice versa.
Dress and appearance. Obviously, it’s extremely hot and humid in Liberia. I know that some people think that Liberians are so used to being cooked by the sun that they don’t think it’s hot. This assumption is dead wrong. Of course they would notice that it’s so hot that it looks like someone wasted water on them. Since the heat is so brutal, it’s perfectly common to see people, mostly women, wearing less clothes than would be acceptable in the States. Something I’ve discovered that I love about Liberians is everyone is so comfortable in their body. Any overweight person would have nothing against lifting up their shirt when they’re hot. People here seem less ashamed of their body. In the United States, in the culture I was used to,it’s normal to always cover up, all the time in public, use something to cover up when breast-feeding, and seem ashamed that, yes, they have a body. But, this isn’t always true just because of the climate. For instance, I can differentiate between whether a young girl has her shirt up, bearing her midriff, because she wants a breeze because it’s hot, or because she’s being intentionally immodest. Personally, I like the comfort that people feel in their body. Unlike how I felt in Utah, here I rarely feel self conscious about the way I look, or if I’m gaining or losing weight or stuff like that. Lifestyle here for me is an active one: walking to school, playing outside the fence, kickball, jumprope, hopscotch, lapa, (a fun outside game I’ve learned) heck, even doing chores is exercise. You try pumping water for a bathroom barrel! It’s quite a workout.
Okay I’m tired I’m done writing. My gmail is ruby.jonesforever@….. I’ll write again when the periodic times when I want to write and I have time to write overlap. Goodbye.

Magical ankle-biting beach rocks

11 Dec 16
Ruby Jones


Hello friends and family! This week has been more difficult for me than past weeks, but I have reason to believe that this next one will be better. For quite a while I’ve been battling a violent cough, runny nose, mild fever, and fun stuff like that 🙁

I’m also recovering from an…adventure from last Saturday. We went to Kpekor Beach Saturday afternoon, but nobody would get in the water. Everyone was scared of the rocks – a superstition of demons or witchcraft kept them from swimming. To show them there was nothing to fear, my dad waded into the lagoon and sat on one of the rocks that was halfway under the waterline. Ivy and I went with him, just playing on the rocks. When my dad and the others had moved on farther down the beach, I decided to go too. When I was coming off the rock into the water, my foot slid on a rock topped with moss, and my ankle bent in a painful way that made me catch my breath. My foot had slid into a small crevice between two rocks, and when I had pulled myself together and gotten to the beach where my mom was standing, I realized that I was bleeding pretty badly from a gash on the outside of my right ankle, maybe and inch wide, just below the bone. It was painful to walk, but I still could, so that was a good sign. I went and soaked my foot in the salt water of the ocean, which didn’t hurt as much and it sounds like. My mom and I followed the others down the beach, walking in the water, and sitting on the sand when I couldn’t walk so well anymore.

After being treated with some country medicine by my kind friend Morris Jaleibah, and a bumpy ride home, I could barely walk because of the pain. I was feeling what I completely thought was just a sprained ankle, not really thinking about the cut. When I had finished eating and bathing, my dad and I sat down in my dad’s ofice – small, extremely hot room with a shelf full of medical supplies – to clean my injury. I’m not entirely sure what he was doing (I didn’t watch) but I was in more pain than I’d ever experienced. Imagine having something sever your skin, and then having someone separate that skin and scrub under your flesh. With alcohol. Not exactly pleasant. In fact, it was the longest 10 minutes of my life. After what felt like an hour and plenty of tears and sweat and blood, my dad told me he was finished and that we needed to go to the clinic for stitches. Knowing that it was 8:45pm and that the drive to the clinic would take about 40 minutes on an agonizingly bumpy road, and we had JUST been there for Simon’s stitches and he said he could partially feel it as they sewed him together, (this thought really scared me) I refused (in vain) to go. I changed into a dry shirt and was carried to the truck as my dad, Simon and Uncle Rufus climbed in. On the drive my dad told needed to convince me why I had to get stitches, so he revealed that the gash was so deep – through all layers of skin, through the muscle, through the fat – that he could see some of the the tendons. (gag reflex)

We also discussed how strange it was, considering the depth of the laceration, that I didn’t even know that my skin had been lacerated. A possibility was that the end of my nerves had been severed, eliminating pain of that nature. Deciding that this was the most likely explanation, I thanked God for this. The only thing in my mind that could have made it much worse was more pain at the time of the accident, causing a traumatic scene on the beach. On the long commute to the clinic I solved my own perplexity on exactly how I was hurt. When my foot went into the creavice, the skin there, just below the bone was taut. There must have been another sharp rock there between the two rocks I knew of, farther down. That taut part of my foot just pushed right into that rock, and all I felt was the turning of my ankle. It makes me shudder to think of how I pulled it out.

When we reached the clinic, my dad carried me inside where I was registered and set in a small room on a bed as Prince, the doctor (not really a doctor, more of a technician), prepared the necessary supplies. After receiving a priesthood blessing from my dad and Rufus, the first procedure was a few lidocaine shots, (major ouch) after which Prince shoved something that looked like a thread with the consistency of a wire through one side of my gash and out the other, making a knot, and sewing the skin. I was astonished! I could only feel pressure as he flossed it through, nothing more than a tugging sensation. He did this four times, and then it was over. After getting bandaged up and getting an antibiotic shot (ahem – in my right buttock) I was free to go. For some reason the ride home was more painful. I could feel every jolt and bounce in my foot. Upon reaching home and exhausted, I splashed cold water on my face, took some pain killer and knocked out for the night.

The following day I didn’t go to church. Monday my dad drove me on a motorbike to school and back. The next day I stayed home sick. The next day Simon took me on a motorbike to school. The next day was Thanksgiving. (I’m not lying) The next day I stayed home sick. This is such a shame because I really do love school. Believe me, in the US for some reason I would have had no problem with skipping huge amounts of school attendance, but only going to school twice this week kind of depressed me. Luckily my ankle is doing well, and the only sickness I have now is what is called GYC in Liberia. (Grave Yard Cough) I’m basically a professional now at my twice daily cleaning of my wound, and I’ve gotten used to the sting of the alcohol. “By the Grace of God I will reach on campus tomorrow.” This is a common phrase here, and applies to me 🙂

Thanks for sticking with reading this whole thing. It makes it more enjoyable to use my time writing when I know somebody is actually interested.

your grandaughter, niece, young woman, friend, sister, cousin, bestie, and buddy, Ruby <3

OH! Btw, in the picture, it’s me and Faith Tokpah. Myself and all her family calls her Akos, which is her “house name”. This sweetie is the cutest darned thang you ever saw! Whenever this 5 yr old sees me she calls out “Hey my beeeeeeeest friend!” 🙂



Gratitude journal entries this week

11 Dec 16
Kayla Jones


One of the orphan sponsors and a Jones family friend, an author who goes by MC McClintock (of the Helm family in Jerome), created a series of gratitude journals with an African theme. She gifted one to each of our family, which we presented to the kids the day we left Salt Lake City. Her idea to inspire happiness is to write down three things each day which you are grateful for. I have actually been very diligent about doing this, and I’m so glad! Today, I feel a bit at a loss for what to write in a blog post, so I think I’ll just share with you my entries over the past week or two. (By the way, our author friend is donating all of her author royalties from the sale of these journals to the Heartwood Orphan Home, so come on…. get shopping 🙂

1. Working together as a family on the bamboo walls for our dome home.
2. Ivy’s dog attack could have been SO MUCH WORSE! 16 stitches altogether. So grateful to hold her tonight! Don’t forget: In the middle of her sobs and screams getting sewn up, “I love you, mom!” and then, in a calmer moment, her humor singing, “Sew, a needle pulling skin”, to the tune from Sound of Music.
3. So grateful for Simon’s “Don’t mess with my sister” instinct, and being helpful. I’m really proud of that kid tonight.

1. Good talk with Simon. Processing the events of yesterday. Tough stuff.
2. My tender feelings bathing, dressing, and combing Ivy’s hair – serving her while she can’t use her hands.
3. Friends from Zuannah Town village coming by all day to check on how she is doing.

1. Seminary lesson that was so applicable to all of my emotions/prayers/questions this week. God sometimes LETS us suffer, so He can teach us. Not because He’s cruel, but because He loves us. It’s for the greater good.
2. Simon and Andy spending the day together on the dirtbikes, networking with local municipal leaders to establish the Heartwood Homestead as a community partnership effort.
3. Rain not coming until after my laundry dried.

1. Trip to town with Joneses! My navigating the outside market craziness with ease now.
2. Simon’s awesome and helpful attitude.
3. Simon traveling safely on a new Water Project motorcycle all the way from Brewerville on his own.

1. One step closer to dome home move-in day. Lacquering the bamboo walls almost done.
2. Facetime with Jan. Couldn’t ask for a better mother-in-law.
3. Choosing to take the children to the beach instead of reading all day (always a tempation for me!)

1. My heart feeling especially tender at church today.
2. Fun drumming with Andy and kids, and teaching myself Edelweiss on the guitar – reminds me of my dad 🙂
3. The prompting to read the Book of Mormon to my kids each night after family prayer.

1. Helping Faith feel better after she got sand in her eyes, and the nap she took in my arms afterwards.
2. Simon and Ruby working out a guitar/singing duet together.
3. Seminary. Loving studying the New Testament. Loving teaching.

1. That I had my phone on (rare), when Andy ran out of gas and needed Simon’s help.
2. Laughing so hard with Decontee at our serious bread baking flop.
3. Seminary prep. I’m learning so much!

1. Fluffy pancakes! New recipe.
2. Simon’s gall bladder okay after all (whew!)
3. Charlie’s spontaneous act of compassion when he accidentally spilled water all over Ivy and her dinner, making her cry. Immediate expression of apology and regret and then quickly acting to fix it and make her laugh again. Such a milestone for him!!!
4. Evening heart to heart with Ruby. Love that girl.

1. Morning jog with Andy and Charlie. My conversation with God while I raced ahead while they stopped for a stretching break.
2. Finding recipes and shopping for holiday ingredients so I can fix goodies. It will take some serious effort to make it feel a little like Christmas here in the bush. It is definitely NOT “Beginning to look (or feel) a lot like Christmas”!
3. Wonderful dinner at the Collin’s home (ward members, retired American-Liberians who are volunteering to run a school they started). Much needed time away from the compound. They had a refrigerator!!!!

1. While taking my bath, I overheard the girls in the bath next door to me. Oretha always sings in a funny opera voice, and I heard her sing to Josephine, “Don’t pee pee in heeeeeerrrre. Go in the toooooooilet”.
2. Olympia (our puppy), crawling onto my feet and laying down on them, licking (not biting!) my toes as I did laundry.
3. Andy pulling me onto his lap spontaneously and telling me with controlled emotion, “Thanks for trying… Don’t give up.”, in regard to my cooking flops with that darned coal pot oven!

1. Four senior missionary couples coming all the way out here to visit us! Mission President and his wife, PEF, Literacy, and MLS missionaries. It truly felt like there were angels among us 🙂 Gifts for the kids. Genuine interest in our work here.
2. Interesting plant we found down by the river that closes up on itself when you touch it. So cool!
3. Whole wheat bread that turned out! HOORAAAYYYYY!!!win_20161211_19_12_07_pro

This week’s Top 10

11 Dec 16
Kayla Jones


This week’s TOP 10 LIST:

1. All of Charlie and Ivy’s teeth are falling out! They are just baby teeth, so no need to fret. Between the two of them, they’ve been keeping the tooth fairy pretty busy though. In the 2 1/2 months we’ve been here, Ivy has lost 2 chompers and Charlie has lost 5!

2. Just as the sandman was starting to do his magic, I noticed a peculiar noise in my room. Come to find out a bat was flying around (outside of my mosquito net, thank goodness). Then, waking in the morning to a scurrying noise coming from the ceiling. It was no small critter. I don’t even want to know what that was…

3. Itch Itch. Scratch Scratch. It is never ending! Ants, mosquitos, spiders, ringworm, heat rash. The name of the game is to put alcohol on any potential itchy places, and then carefully get into bed and hold the position. If I move, I may aggrivate an itch I didn’t even know I had, and then… I’m done for. It will itch ALL NIGHT LONG. ARGHhh!

4. Massive beetle dropped from the ceiling of the carport onto our windshield at the supermarket yesterday. It was about as wide as a golfball and as long as 1 1/2 golfballs. Seriously. SO BIG!

5. At church last week, one woman was wearing a skirt that had the heads of all the latter-day prophets of the church printed on it. It was amazing 🙂

6. The missionary from Ghana played the keyboard for sacrament meeting last week. During the prelude music singing time, he was told to just choose a song he could play. One of the two American Elders requested The Star Spangled Banner. We about fell out of our chairs laughing as our family and the Elders sang through it with the rest of the Liberian congregation trying to follow along. The Elder was bright red, equally embarrassed at his whimsical request and amused at what resulted. SO FUNNY.

7. Friend from SLC that does some work here in Liberia came for a visit. Before she came, she offered to bring anything to us that we needed and couldn’t find here. We had a few items sent to her via Amazon. It was like Christmas when she arrived Monday! I now have measuring cups and spoons (I have so much more confidence cooking now that I’m not just guessing quantities), a stainless steel hand juicer (freshly squeezed orange, grapefruit, lime juice each morning!), and a new tablet (I forgot what it’s like living with small children. The one I brought mysteriously got a major crack in it and is now useless). Karen also threw in a special treat for me – a box of Godiva Chocolates! Oh my goodness… heavenly!

8. Dome home floors and walls finished. White tile. White walls. Move-in day is right around the corner now!

9. Books, books and more books! Between the kids and myself, we’ve read 45 books so far. Charlie’s in the lead – 20 of those being his. Ya, maybe he’s not being very social, but for a kid that wouldn’t read anything but Wimpy Kid before we left, I am LOVING watching him devour books!

10. I passed off my daily Proper English Class to Simon. He is now responsible for the lesson planning and teaching of that class, followed by multiplication flash card memorization. It is awesome to see him take on this role (and with very little resistence)! He’s doing great with it, and the kids enjoy him being more involved.

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