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 🙂