Monthly Archives:November 2016


20 Nov 16
Ivy Jones

We got a puppy! The way we got the puppy was one day we went to the beach and we were walking home and the kids saw some puppies. They were newborns. We found out that they were for sale, and so we planned to buy one. We had already had a dog, but then we found out that he was violent. So we gave him to some people that killed him and ate him.

So anyway, we saw the puppies and planned to buy one. But they were still nursing, so we had to wait two weeks. When we got the dog, I did not go. But when they did come back whith her, she was twice as big, and sick, and smelled really bad. That’s because she puked during the car ride. Mom and I gave ger two baths, and then she slept in a towel the rest of the day. She slept in the hall by my room, and she whined during the night. She improved a lot the next day, and for dinner that night, we gave her some dry rice and milk. She liked it, and ate until the bowl was clean.:)
I wanted a puppy because it would be fun to train it from the start. Everyone here took a vote on names, and she is not named Olypia. The only bad thing is that she whines almost every night.:( But I like that she is very playful. There is a toy dog that we have. it has a cord from its neke like a leash. if i hold onto the leash so the toy dog is on the ground, and bounce it up and doun, she will fight it. and i also got a peice of rope whith a knogt at the end like a ball. i tied that rope to a stick. i hold onto the end of the stick, and she trys to catch the knogt at the end of the rope hanging on the stick. when she does catch it, we play tug of war wheth the rope. Me and Simon made a dog house for her.:)

Homeschool and home-works

20 Nov 16
Simon Jones

I started home schooling! I was just sick and tired of going to school and only having one or two teachers show up. It was a complete waste of time! Most days I slept through more than half of the school day because either there is no teacher to teach so it’s just an unsupervised room full of teenagers, or the teacher was there but he just stayed outside and was on his phone or talking to another teacher who was also not doing his job as a teacher. Once this second container arrives which has the village drill in it we will start doing water projects, and with me being home I can go and help with those.
About two weeks ago I got three spider bites. All on my right hand. One on my thumb, one on the tip of my index finger, and one on my middle finger. My hand swelled up huge and I couldn’t bend my middle finger at all.
Three weeks ago the tile got put down on the floor of the dome and yesterday we painted! The tile is white and walls are white. It’s so much brighter than it was when it was just the gray cement. In preparation for the tile I had to sweep out the whole thing. It’s kind of hard to get a cement floor clean but I did my best. The next thing to do was to tape over the skylights. The was particularly hard because the ceiling and the walls are round so I had to wedge the ladder in between the floor and the wall/ceiling. The ladder was straight up and down for some of the lights. For the lights that were near the middle of the dome I put the ladder in an A frame and had to stand on the second to top rung to be able to barely reach the top and be able to cover the light. The last step was to sweep the walls and ceiling of cement dust so the paint would stick. When we painted I had to hold the suction tube of the paint sprayer in the paint buck, and mix the paint (with my bare hands).
We got a puppy about two weeks ago. Her name is Olympia. On the way home from picking her up from a community by the beach I sat in the bed of the truck with the puppy on my lap and she threw up on me! I think we have a special bond now haha. When we bought the dog (for only $5) they told us that they didn’t feed her anything but milk, that was a total lie. She threw up three whole peppers and it smelled so bad. Me and Ivy made her a little dog house and she sleeps just outside our door. Last night she was crying until about 11 o’clock at night because she had run through a nest of driver ants which bite really hard. I felt bad and I wanted to go help her get them off but I didn’t want to get bit.
Last Friday Diamond’s (one of the boys here at the compound who is about my age) motor bike broke down and I happened to pass him on my way from taking the mechanic (who was at the compound fixing the suburban) to the main road about 6 miles away. On my way back from taking him I passed him and we talked a little about the problem and decided that we would have to fix it once we got back to the compound. I had the bright idea to tow his bike with my bike because I was riding the big, powerful dirt bike, which I had wrecked about a month earlier. So I rode home and got a tow rope and rode back. We hooked it to the front of his bike and to the back of my bike. He put his bike in neutral and then I took off with him behind me. It worked! We didn’t wreck! I still can’t believe that it worked, Diamond said that we are the first ones that he knows of to “hold” (or tow) a motor bike with another motor bike.
Anyway it’s been smooth sailing for the past week and I haven’t had any new injuries and I hope I’m able to keep that up for at least another week or two.

A fine balance

13 Nov 16
Andy Jones
one comments

I’ve been intrigued recently by the balance between homeostasis and extremes across many elements of life and paradigms in a new culture and environment. This post draws from my own experience and from observations of all family members, and is about  going (or trying not to go) from zero to manic way too superfast.

There is a fine balance between…

Maintaining a low enough level of physical activity to not perspire Vs. drenched shirt sweaty hot stickiness. Zero to flooded in a matter of a couple of nails pounded or just a few seconds in direct sunlight.

Keeping calm and carrying on through the heat and dirty and tired Vs. blow-your-top eruption of “I’ve had it up to here and so help me I will not take another minute of this…”; not directed at anything or anybody in particular. Zero to boiling in a matter of a few fruit flies or the thousandth bounce over a pothole today.

Appreciating, adapting to, and adopting the beautiful and good of a new culture Vs. going full-on native, toss out all wisdom of prior experience, “If it works for ‘them’ it works for me”, swallow it whole, no-filter abandon. Zero to “How did I get white skin? I thought I was Liberian!” in a matter of, say, a crush or two 🙂

Looking forward to feeling refreshingly cooled by a bucket bath with well water Vs. Dreading feeling chilled to the bone by the first cup of a bucket bath with well water

“I’m getting the hang of village life; this is working out well enough for our family in the bush.” Vs.”Why are we even here?! There is no way this can work out for another seven months. We’ll all be dead, guaranteed.”

Knowing how and when to do favors Vs. Setting up unrealistic expectations of future service (e.g. driving 10km to the main road in the truck and picking pedestrians up on the way who are asking for a ride, which adds time, liability, wear and tear, and opens the door for additional criticism and not meeting heightened expectations). From “We were totally fine before you came along” zero to “There is no way we can function now without you” in a matter of a kind gesture or two.

Comfortably sharing living space with critters, spiders, and bugs Vs. Freaking out on the unlucky guy with 6 legs who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Zero to territorial silverback in a matter of one brown recluse bite.

Playing nice to get along with police officers who stop me on the road because they smell money Vs. Becoming quasi-militant and creating a public scene by calling out the cop for corruption and extortion, refusing to “cooperate” or “put myself together” and generally not playing nicely with others. Zero to nearly arrested in a matter of just three measly pull-overs in one day.

Fighting to retain the optimism of Rousseau Vs. Surrendering to the skepticism of Hobbes. To trust but verify, or to verify then trust? To be taken advantage of because of generosity, or to hedge against deceit by withholding as a rule? From Rousseau zero to Hobbes in a matter of one or two construction projects.

Time and energy spent caring for self while still maintaining selflessness Vs. Putting one’s needs before the needs of others needlessly. Where is the balance between investing in myself by allowing my “needs” (physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and social) to be met only to the point that I am more empowered to be of service to others, and over-indulging with legalistic justification that “I’m not good for anybody else if I’m not (happy/healthy/wealthy/etc.)”. Needs Vs. Wants. Self Vs. Service.

Knowing at what point professional medical care is required for any given ailment or injury Vs. DIY home-style remedies that are probably good enough.

Maintaining connections with friends “back home” Vs. Being fully engaged here, now.

Giving adequate attention to the discomforts and mini-ailments of others as a means of sympathizing and providing relief or support Vs. Indulging hypochondria and promoting whining.  Also applies internally between self and self.

Buying fruit green enough that it won’t all spoil in 24 hours Vs. Having to wait a week for any fruit to reach a minimum level of edibility. Green…green…green…green…green…..riperotten.

Creating dependence mentalities through charity Vs. Enabling and promoting self-reliance and self-confidence through charity.

Practicing a level of personal and family health care that is sufficiently prudent and proactively preventive Vs. Giving way to an overly-cautious, experience-limiting, worry-fermenting, or faith-inhibiting timidity toward all things new, challenging, or “fun”.

Knowing when to push for changes toward improvement of a public good (at the family, organization, community, or national level) but ruffling feathers and stepping on toes in the process Vs. Let it be so because it seems to be working well enough for most people served as it now is, so just shut up and sit down and deal with it.

Democracy Vs. Tyranny in family life and in organizational leadership.

this list may grow…








Banjor Branch Blues

11 Nov 16
Kayla Jones

In my blog post this week, I will attempt to paint a picture of what a typical Sunday here is like.

We are in the Banjor Branch of the Bushrod Island District. It meets at 9am.

We awake the same time every day of the week, and in the same way – between 5:30 and 6:30 to the alarm of the Imam in the mosque next door (have I mentioned how much I love waking up to his prayer song? Really. It will definitely be one of the top things I miss when we leave here).

I prepare a quick breakfast of oatmeal or cream of wheat and then at 7:45, we pile into one of the two vehicles going to church. In “Gavin” – the six seat belt truck donated by my nephew for his Eagle Project – we take…. all six Joneses, Faith, Josephine, and Patrick, and our neighbor (and investigator), Joe Prince Bishop. He hops in the covered bed of the truck. Rufus leaves about 20 minutes after us in the Suburban with the other 15 people. One person always stays behind (by rotation) to guard the compound and prepare lunch. It is a long and bumpy ride that takes about 45 minutes.

We get to the chapel in enough time for Andy to set up the keyboard and practice the hymns that are on the program for the day. Having a keyboard is a new thing in the Branch. Songs have always been sung a’capella. So the tune and speed of the songs have been sung the same way for so long that introducing the proper way, (with accompaniment) sounds a little like a tug-o-war! At 8:45, a conductor goes to the front and requests are yelled out from the congregation for songs they want to sing as prelude music, “One four four!” “One nine!” The conductor then sings the first line, to give the tune, and then he says, “One, two sing.” Which signals everyone to begin. The chapel is just a concrete box. There is not a picture on the wall anywhere. Tile floors. Plastic chairs – every one of which is filled. I would guess attendences is…150? Anyway, put all those enthusiastic voices in this room and we can really raise the roof!

Since we get there a bit early, we are there to watch everyone walk in, all dressed in their Sunday best. Boys and men wear just what we’re used to – white shirts, ties, dark pants or slacks, church shoes (if they can afford it – if not, sandals, tee shirts and long pants do just fine). They look sharp. Women and girls are in a bright array of colors – mostly tailored dresses in African prints. The women often have matching head wraps. Others are just in regular dresses that we’d see back in Utah. One thing I quickly learned though was that each week as I meet new women, I need to pay special attention to their faces. I made the mistake the first couple of weeks of just remembering their hairstyles, which are often interesting and intricate. Well, turns out that this changes from week to week in elaborate ways, because most women wear wigs or have weaves or extentions! One of the first friends I met had long braids one Sunday. You can imagine my embarassment the next week when I didn’t even recognize her when she came with short cornrows!

Names are also tricky. I’ve taken to writing them down in a notebook as I meet people. They are hard to remember. “Massa Twampo”, for example.

Sacrament Meeting and Gospel Doctrine, which are both held in the chapel, are a challenge. There is no microphone (well there is, but they don’t use it. The first week the Branch President tried using it, he was shouting into it. Everyone was giving funny faces at him, so he put it down and shouted, “You can all hear me, ya? I don’t need this.” And we haven’t seen it since), but there ARE ceiling fans (thank goodness). However, the ceiling fans make it impossible to hear the speaker from the pulpit unless you are in the first five rows. I often just read my scriptures through the meeting. Truthfully, it’s hard to stay awake, and several DO try to snooze. Funny tidbit here though: sleeping is totally UNacceptable – even if you are 2 years old. I’ve seen many little kids get wacked on the back for nodding off, even by complete strangers during District Conference. There is also NO CRYING. It is seriously the quietest meetings I’ve ever been in. Children just sit on their chairs like zombies through the whole hour. No Cheerios. No “quiet books”. It’s truly amazing.

The classes are hard because I’m still getting used to the accent/dialect. I got the giggles last week in Gospel Doctrine because the teacher reminded me of Martin Short’s character, “Fronk”, from Father of the Bride. It takes all my concentration to follow what is being said. By hour three, the heat and hunger have gotten the best of me and the little bit that I was grasping seems to just switch off. All of the sudden everyone might as well be speaking Japanese. This is particularly embarrassing if I’m called on…. eeekk! Luckily, in Relief Society there is a 70-something Liberian woman, Sister Collins, who has lived in Maryland for many, many years. She’s here running a school. Anyway, I’m grateful for her help translating when I get that deer in the headlights look on my face!

Bathrooms? Well, best if you go before you get there and hold it until you get home. Which is about… 5 1/2 hours. We made the mistake of sitting near the back window in Sacrament Meeting last week. Let’s just say, the grass grows pretty well back there 😉

Relief Society never ends on time. Every week it ends 15-30 minutes after church should technically be over. The teacher just goes until she makes it through ALL the material. Also, there are no clocks ANYWHERE here. And most women don’t wear watches. And then they round up every woman in the ward to squish into the room to sing the 4 verses of “Happy Birthday” to anyone who’s had a birthday this month, or last month, or…ever (so it seems).

1.”Happy Birthday to you (as we know it…..)
2. We wish you success, We wish you success. We wish you success, dear, Happy Birthday to you
3. How old are you? How old are you?…..
4. May God bless you. May God bless you….”

The baptismal font is outside. I have seen one baptism, which was right after church. There have been MANY though. There seems to have been at least one new member being confirmed each Sunday. The missionaries are doing a great job! We have two sets of Elders in our Branch. One companionship is an Elder from Ghana (who also plays the keyboard), and one from Ivory Coast. The other companionship is a couple of white boys from the USA.

Overall, I have been extremely impressed at the knowledge  the members have of the scriptures. They love to memorize them as well.  Also, hymns are beloved. There isn’t a lot of variety in those chosen, but they LOVE the hymns they do know (And they aren’t just for Sundays either. They are sung and whistled and hummed all through the week by the orphans as chores are done.  Someday I’ll try to record our rousing rendition of Secret Prayer during devotional, accompanied by the djembes. It’s a Heartwood Family favorite!).

I love my calling as a seminary teacher. Studying the New Testament and testifying four days a week has really brought peace and light to my soul as I strive to realize my  individual “purpose” here.

Is it different attending church here? You betcha! But it is a privilege to worship and serve with the Saints in Liberia. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true no matter where we are in the world, and I have learned something new each week that I put in the effort to be taught by the spirit and feel closer to my Savior.

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