Category: Simon

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 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
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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.



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.

slip and stitch

30 Oct 16
Simon Jones
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So about 3 weeks ago the container arrived which had the 2 vehicles and big dirt bikes. Naturally, I was pretty excited and could not wait to ride the bikes. I had been practicing on the small motorcycle for the past 2 weeks before the dirt bikes arrived, so that I could be ready and able to jump right on. The follwing Friday night, my dad came up to me and told me that he had time right now to take me out. I got right up and put my shoes on. I walked to the dome house, which is where all of the motorbikes are stored for now. He hopped on one, put the key in, put it in neutral, and wheeled it outside the gate. I did the same.

Once we were both outside the gate we started the bikes. He told me to get used to the throttle and the clutch, because they are a lot stiffer than the small motorcycle, which I had become so used to riding. I spent about 2 minutes messing with the clutch and throttle and then my dad took off. I was like, “Okay boss” – and I followed right after him. He lead the way to the school’s soccer field, which is just about a 2 minute walk from the compound.

He started doing figure eights, and I was just following in his tracks. Once we were about to finish another figure eight, I watched him fall when his bike slid and tipped. I started to go around him not knowing what had caused him to wreck, and then I tipped too. I didn’t know what had happened at first. I got up and my dad was already standing, just staring at the bikes, thinking. We had both hit a long pice of wet bamboo hidden in the long grass. When our front tires hit the bamboo, the tires slipped out from under the bike, causing us to tip. I stood there too for about 30 seconds and then I felt a really hot sensation on my right forearm, so I looked down. There was a 3 and a half inch gash. It wasn’t bleeding a ton, there was just white. I knew it wasn’t bone but I just stared at it and said, “Wow. That’s deep”. My dad told me to to come over to him so he could have a look. He said that we were going to have to get me to the clinic right away and that I was going to need stitches. He told me to go wash it really well and that he would be over in a little bit. He was going to try to figure out how to get the 2 bikes back so they wouldn’t get jacked or played on by kids.

I started walking, and then I turned my arm over because I was dripping blood from some place other than my forearm. Most of my palm was covered in blood and there was about an inch wide puncture wound, and I could tell it was pretty deep. As I was walking back to the compound, three people stopped me wanting to see my arm. I was fine with it because I wasn’t in a real hurry. It suprisingly didn’t hurt. I finally got back to the compound and everyone was just staring at me. I went over to the sink and started running water over it. I did that for about five minutes until my dad got back. He came over and took another look at the cuts and then got the alocohol to pour on it to clean it. It didn’t hurt. At least that’s what I told myself. It actually hurt like crazy! We then wrapped it up in gauze and drove to the clinic which was about a 45 minute-1 hour drive. My mom came and one of the other orphans named Leo who had a problem with his finger.

Once we got to the clinic, we checked in. They already had my name and all of my information because I had been there earlier in the week when I was diagnosed with Malaria (that’s another story…). The generator didn’t come on until 7pm, so the whole clinic was dark. We did the stitches outside on a white, plastic card table with sugar ants all over it – no steril pad for me to lay my arm on. Not the best of conditions, but then again, we’re in Africa so what do you expect? By the light of my dad’s iPhone, Dr. Bobby put the Novacain in my arm and started the stitches. He must have had a dull hook though because I could tell that he was really having to use his strength to get it though my skin. He finally switched out the hook for one he crafted out of a needle and it was a lot better for both the me AND the doctor. I got 12 stitches in my right forearm.

Next was my palm. I only got 5 stitches in there, but the worst part was numbing it. Putting the needle in hurt so bad! Once he was finished we got pictures (of course), and then he bandanged me up. It didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would when the numbness went away, but it sure was annoying having so many bandages on and not really being able to use my right hand at all. The bright side? I didn’t have to do dishes, homework, or most of my chores for a week!

Anyway the stitches are out now and there’s a gnarly scar on my forearm. My palm still isn’t healed though.

Look at the pictures on our online album. There’s a link somewhere on this blog site I think.

I love you all! Hope you’re all doing great!

brushing, blisters, and buddies

30 Oct 16
Simon Jones
one comments


This past week was not very eventful. The only time I leave the compound is to go to school and Saturday we went to the beach but that’s really it. The beach is really fun! The waves were amazing! They were huge and they were breaking pretty close to the beach which was nice to not have to go out so far. We also had to had to “brush” the area behind one of the houses that we are going to make a part of the orphanage and that took forever! Brushing is pretty much mowing the lawn with a cutlass. We’re just clearing weeds half as tall as me to bushes and small trees that are taller than me. I have 7 blisters but I got pretty tan so it was worth it 🙂

We have been here for 1 whole month already! I feel like it went by really fast. Just to think that there are only 8 more of those to go comforts me a little. It’s hard with the separation from my friends back home. Talking to them makes me miss them even more, but we’re not here forever. We will see them again. There is this one special person in particualr that I miss very much. His name is Jare. I can’t wait to be able to see him again!

Hopfully we will be able to move into the “dome home” this month. These guys that my dad hired to help out with the house, have been working on it for the past week – patching up leaks and what not on the top of the roof. It always scares me when I see them up there because the roof is round so they could fall off any time! My friend took me down to the Poe river on Saturday and told me about how we would be going craw fishing during the dry season when the water is lower and not moving as fast. I’m exited for that.

I miss you all and I can’t wait to see you again!

The new normal

28 Sep 16
Simon Jones

These past weeks have been full of new experiences. I started school as an 11th grader at a private school about 6 and a half miles away from the compound. Every morning Princess Dennis and I are picked up by Skill. He is our personal motorcycle-taxi driver that picks us up and drops us off every morning and afternoon. He gets paid $40/month for this contract. School is from 8-1. We have 6 subjects a day, all in the same, small, hot, classroom. There are different teachers for every subject, which is nice.

For lunch everyday, me, and usually 3 other kids go across the street to a small house/restaurant to eat. It costs $170LD – Which transfers to about a $1.70 US. I like the food. I can’t say that I really enjoyed spicy food back home, but now I look forward to it every afternoon. We are all sweating by the the time the food is gone. And it’s not just me who’s fanning himself and sweating like crazy, so that make me feel a little better.

About a week ago I found out that I am by far the youngest kid in my class. Every other one of my classmates are no younger than 20! They all call me “small boy” cause I’m so young. I have a different name in almost all of my classes too. In Bible class, I’m Simon Peter. In Physics, I’m Simpson. In Trigonometry, I’m Sammy Johnson. It’s just takes so long to correct them that I just let them have their way. At the orphanage the little kids call me some version of Samuel.

We went to the beach the other day, and I learned how to “dig crab”. All over the beach there are these holes about a half inch to about 3.5 inches across. About 2 feet down that hole, is a crab. Depending on the size of the hole it could be a crab about the size of my 2 fists or the size of my thumb nail. That was quite the adventure! What they do when they catch them is rip off the pinchers so that they can’t hurt them and then they just play with them until they end up killing them, so they just go dig another and do the same process. That night I saw a bit of crab claw in my dinner, I think.

We’ve been here for almost a month, so everything we do here is just starting to be normal – the showers, the food, school, going to the bathroom, watching the dog get beat up and he seems to kinda like it (no kidding). It’s all just part of a routine now. Not for long though. We get the first container in a few weeks and it has the vehicles, and 2 dirt bikes! For the past week my dad has been teaching me how to drive one. The gear shifting is a little tricky, but I’m getting the hang of it.



Week One Done

10 Sep 16
Simon Jones

We arrived here last Thursday, since we have been here I have met many new people, Moses, Leo, Diamond, and some of my closest friends so far. Moses and Diamond are 17 years old and Leo is 15. They have taught me how to “beat” a coconut or chop it open with a machete/cutlass.

Our new home here is not finished so we have been staying in our own dorm, all of the Jones kids are sharing one room which isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Moses took me to the river near our house a couple days ago and showed me a canoe. It is carved from a tree, it is about 15 feet long and about a foot and a half wide so its vary tippy you have to be a good swimmer to go out into the river just in case it tips.

Here we have to take bucket baths. You have to go pump your own water from the well which is on our property, and then you go into the stall, you have your cup, soap, and shampoo. That’s it. The first pour of the well water over your head is always a shock. Even though it’s so hot and humid the water still feels a little chilly but it’s still refreshing.

I haven’t struggled with much here. The food is different but i still eat all the meals, my favorite meal so far has been rice with cassave leaf and fish on top. It’s actually really good! The thing that I have a hard time with the their language. They call it colloqua. It’s very fast and I don’t get any of it so they have to break it down into “proper english” so that we can understand it, but there is still the accent that is difficult to get.

We start school Monday, it is from 8-1. Me and Princess (one of the girls here) who is 17 have to take a motorcycle taxi every morning to get to school. It is about an hour away and it’s a bumpy ride because the roads are so bad.

Over all i’m having an okay experience here. I miss you all very much. Until next time.

Simon Jones.


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