Sunday, February 10, 2013
Been Here ONE Week
We arrived one week today! That week has flown by but also seems
like a couple of months at the same time.
The civil war really destroyed the country. Liberia use to be very
modern with roads, 5 star hotels, electricty etc. Everything was
destroyed, bombed or burned. You see skeletons of what was once a 5
star hotel or an office building empty and blackened. Most buildings
are cement or cinder block because of termites and bugs. There are so
many buildings that get part way done and then are abandoned because of
the war, lack of funds or interest (not sure which).
President and Sister Roggia are here for the week. President
Roggia is the president of the Sierra Leone Mission of which Liberia is
a part. He has the difficult job of trying to keep both countries on
track with missionaries and all that that entails. They make the trip to
Liberia every 6 weeks. They use to do it by car (4x4) but it is a 14
hour trip one way so just recently they have started flying (he goes
home in July). They are wonderful people, very loving.
Today we went to church at the Harbel Branch. It lies within the
boundaries of the Firestone Plantation which is the largest rubber tree
plantation in the world! We met in an old school. There were about 30
in attendance (5 of us were missionaries). The school is also home to 2
other churches. While our meeting was going on there was another church
holding services in the classroom next door - really close neighbors!
As we finished Sacrament meeting President Roggia asked Sister Roggia to
teach the Sunday School lesson and me to teach the combined Relief
Society/Priesthood lesson after Sunday School. What a shocker. So, I
chose the lesson gave it and we ended early (of course).
It is hot all the time. Right around 80 degrees in our apartment
and warmer outside. It cools down a little at night but not much. We
do have electricity 24/7 (kind of) because the compound we live in has 2
generators that run 24/7. Not everyone has electricity, actually very
few. There is Liberia Electric but it is not wide spread and you have
to live in "the grid" which is not very big. Individuals will buy a
generator and sell electricity to their neighbors.
Right now it is the dry season and it always seems to be a little
overcast, kind of like a haze. The haze is actually the sands being
blown up off the Sarah Desert. We have a fine sand on everything and in
The ocean is not far from our apartment but we have yet to make it
there to walk on the beach. We have been told to be very careful where
we walk as they have no sewer system, much of it ends up on the beach.
Even so, we can feel the coolness of the ocean as we get closer to our
home and away from the city area.
The internet is sketchy. We have found that it seems to work best
around 3 in the morning until around 8 am. We were hoping for a better
connections so our postings may be fewer than we had hoped.
The people here are beautiful. Everyone has a smile that is
fabulous. The children are so cute and curious about us "whities" that
they come up and just touch my skin to see how it feels.
We are still in "sticker shock" from the prices of things. Because
of the UN presence stores cater to them so I can get most anything I
want. I just have to be willing to pay the price. A 5 pound jug of
honey that I would pay $12-15 at home was $27, a Costco size bag of
tortilla chips (if they have them) is $10. If you see something that
you like you buy it. It may not be available again for 6 months or
never. Shopping is an adventure! I can't take Elder Hezseltine with me
when I go to the store - he wouldn't let me buy anything!
We are still trying to adjust our diets. Like I said because of
the United Nations there is a large variety of food available but very
pricy so we are trying to figure out what the locals eat as that food is
a lot cheaper. We were told we cannot eat cat, dog, monkey or snake.
The rest of the meats don't look that appetizing anyway.
There are tons of fresh fruits. There are local vendors on most
every corner. The fruit doesn't look perfect like at home but it tastes
so sweet and is so good. We still have to wash it and then soak it in
Clorox water to clean it before we can peel it, cut it or eat it - even
the bananas and oranges. We were told not to buy things like lettuce,
cauliflower and broccoli as we just can't get them clean enough. Thank
goodness there is a variety of frozen vegetables. Matthew will be happy
to know that we can't have any salads!!!
We are still learning what we will be doing for the next 18
months. It seems to be changing every day. I am learning the "office"
details from Sister Kirkham. She is the branch office manager for the
mission office here in Liberia which is the corner of their living
room. Elder Hezseltine is learning what an "assistant to the President
in Liberia" does from Elder Kirkham. The Kirkham's leave in March. I
fear we will be lost when they go!