Saturday, March 30, 2013

Huge Project Day

Elder and Sister Miles (from Hooper, Utah) are the Humanitarian
Couple here in Liberia. They had a huge project Saturday. It was in
conjunction with the youth from our church in the Brewersville area.
The youth (and their adult leaders) came up with the idea to help the
local deaf and blind school. The Miles' went to the schools to see what
they wanted done and furnished all the supplies and the youth furnished
the manpower.
The Deaf School needed the dorm rooms and the kitchen painted, the
grounds cleaned, the grass cut (to help eliminate snakes!), screens made
and put on the windows (to help with mosquitoes and malaria), some
tables and benches for the children. The Blind School needed the grounds
cleaned, the grass cut, all the rooms and floors scrubbed and cleaned.
Between the 2 schools there were about 80 kids and there were about
80 youth from our church. Everyone dug in and they got everything done
but the screens and they will be finished at the first of next week.
The schools have gardens to supplement their food and the Miles'
also got them wheel barrows, shovels, rakes, and buckets to help them
with their gardens.
The Deaf School has kind of turned into an orphanage as well.
Normally, the children come for "the school year" and then go home for
the break. Some children have been dropped off and they have not seen
any family since.
Kids are kids, their needs are the same. They need love, safety,
and a feeling of inclusion. It seems they can do without food if they
have these. There are many many street vendors, lots of children
selling things like donuts (of some kind), bread, candy, towels,
charcoal, brooms and the list goes on forever. There was a small boy
selling a donut type sweet that came around the schools while we were
working. He made a few sales and then just stayed and watched. He
wanted to be a part of the fun and whatever it was that was going on.
They kids talked to him and he became "a part" of it.
When the work was done someone threw out a soccer ball. All the
kids started playing. Kids from the school, the church, the community.
What a great ending to a great project.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Our First "Snail Mail" Letter

We got our very first hand written letter today!
Each day as I check my email there is always a little anticipation of "who has written today." I did the same thing at home. An email with a friends name attached is so much more fun than all the junk mail that you get and delete! Emails are quick and easy. You can  write down all your thoughts and then if you don't like it you can cut, paste, undo, redo and delete with ease. Today as we went to pick up the mail for the missionaries, there in the stack of letters was one addressed to Paul and Eilene Hezseltine. It was from our dear friends The Almonds in London.  We were shocked.  Everyone has been so kind to email us that we never really expected an actual "real" letter. I know how time consuming they are.  I had forgotten the joy and excitement a real, handwritten, tangible letter can bring.   We sat in the post office and carefully opened the aerogram not wanting to tear the paper.  We both read it and then it went into my purse.  It has stayed there so I can read it whenever I want. Sometimes I just like to touch it.  Amazing what little things bring such joy. 

This is NOT a solicitation for hand written letters.  I would like to challenge everyone to take the time to write a letter.  Find a note card or some stationary (do they still make it?) and write a letter or thank you note to someone that has touched your life, that you haven't heard from for a while or that you think could use a kind word.  I think you will find that there is as much joy in the giving as in the receiving.

Since we are talking about letters I thought I would let you know how the mail system works here in Liberia.  There is no mail delivery service.  You can only get mail if you have enough money to pay for the rental on the post office box.  When you want to buy a stamp you must stay and watch the worker get out her roller ball glue stick and actually put the stamp on the letter.  They have been know to take the money for the stamp, wait for you leave, never adhere the stamp, toss the letter and keep the money.  Then there are the packages.  We have to go to a window and tell them our box number they then go and check to see if there are any.  That takes about 30 minutes.  If there are some it takes another 30 minutes for them to do what they do (recording the tracking number  or something - they usually do that 2-3 times in different books by different people) Every package we have picked up has been opened and re-taped shut.  When we ask them about it they say that it was opened in America.  We have packages coming from all over the world but they are all opened in America?  Or they tell us to open the packages and tell them what is missing.  We can't do that as the packages aren't ours and we don't know what  they contained in the first place.  This last time we were there at 3:15 and at 4:00 the lights were turned out and we were told we would have to come back even though our packages were on the counter in front of us. The next day another missionary went back at 10 am and she was told to come back at 2 pm.  She went back at 2 pm and it took her an hour to get the packages.  Be thankful for a reliable postal service!!!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mission Visitors

When we walked into the Mission Office yesterday we heard a whimpering
on the right side of the door. The man working on the office has 5 new
puppies that come to work with him. One was in the guard house and the
other 4 followed us around on the main floor. So fun! You don't see a
lot of dogs here. The few that you do see are owned by people and they
don't stray from their owners and they don't bark. If dogs are left to
roam they are eaten so owners keep them close.

The New Mission Office

The first picture is of the new mission office foyer as you walk in.
The upper level will be the Liberia Mission Office. The lower level
will be occupied by Temporal Affairs which includes Humanitarian Aid,
ERC (Employment Resource Center), PEF (Perpetual Education Fund), CES
(Church Education System), and Distribution. It is in a compound with 2
other homes. I think it may have been a home at one time but is now
rented as an office building. The owner of the compound lives in one of
the homes on the property. It is set on a point above the beach and has
a beautiful view. The picture of the ocean is actually taken from the
office I may be using!!!!! In the photo you can see the wall that
surrounds the compound. On the other side of the wall is what appears
to be bombed out or abandoned homes. Parts of the walls are still
standing but there are no roofs or windows or services of any kind, but
I think that there are some people trying to live there. As you enter
the main gate of the compound it is very "rough" looking and then you
come inside the gate and it is beautiful with palm trees and flowering
bushes. It is like that all over Liberia. A beautiful, well
maintained, gated home next to a slum-type home. Rebuilding takes time!

Monday, March 25, 2013

We Are On Our Own

This last week was crazy.  Our Mission President from Sierra Leone and his wife arrived on Wednesday along with 11 new missionaries.  We did orientation for all the missionaries on Thursday and got them to their areas.   The Kirkham's (the couple that we replaced) left on Friday.  Saturday was a clean up loose ends, get organized and take President and Sister Roggia to the airport.  Did I mention that the airport is a one hour trip one way.  Thank goodness the road is good.  It is kind of a scary feeling to be here on our own now.

Two of the 11 missionaries that arrived on Wednesday are from Murray, Utah.  They both went to school with James Low our nephew.  That was fun to catch up and swap stories.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

New Sea Treasures

Last week we had a really good rain storm with some high winds. The
next morning we walked on the beach and the sea left us some treasures!
There were all kinds of shells that we had not seen before. We found
more sand flowers, a small sand dollar and bits and pieces of what once
were probably big beautiful shells.

Monday, March 18, 2013

I Met Our Flatmate

It finally happened this morning - early.  I was going into the kitchen and I always consciously make a lot of noise so that the gecko will know that I am coming.  I guess I didn't make enough noise.  As I turned on the light and walked into the kitchen I saw a flash of something move.  I  screamed and it must of frightened the gecko (it frightened Paul) because he jumped my direction and I screamed again. The gecko used me a springboard to go where ever it is that he feels safe.  I was awake, Paul was awake and probably the whole complex!  I am hoping that it won't happen again but I fear it may become a regular occurrence.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Corina Court

We live in a 16 unit apartment building. Because of an on-site
generator we are blessed to have electricity 24/7 and A/C from 4 in the
afternoon to 8 in the morning. The "compound" has 10 foot high walls
that surround the entire property. On top of the 8 inch thick walls are
broken glass and bottles imbedded in another small layer cement, then
on top of that is 18" rolled barbed wire. There is a large gate that is
always closed. When we drive up we honk and the guard opens the gates
for us enter. Across the street to the north is a large beautiful
home. There is a shack where people sit outside a lot and sometimes
sleep outside on the west of us. To the south is a vacant lot and then
the JFK Hospital. West of us is another compound that we can't see much
of. Diversity surrounds us.

Pink is BIG in Liberia. It is everywhere and worn by EVERYONE!

Our screen door is as big and heavy as it looks.

Our Place

I realized that I had not sent pictures of our new "home." So here you
are! The first thing we did on arriving was to put up our net. We sleep
under a net every night. It is a mission rule. This is to avoid
getting malaria from mosquitoes. At first it was like sleeping in a
fairy princess bed. It is a bit of a nuisance getting in and out but it
is all part of the adventure!

The bathroom is pretty basic and small (like our place) but it does the
job. The hot water heater is on the wall in the bathroom and is the
only hot water in the apartment.

The kitchen is the size of a closet, actually I think it may have been a
closet originally. What you see is it. The fridge actually sits in the
living room. I am so glad to have one I don't care where it is!

The living room has what we need. Someplace to sit and the fridge.

Our Place

Monday, March 11, 2013

Beach Finds

We walk on the beach most mornings. It is usually quiet with a few
people jogging, some singing to the sea and others using the beach as a
bathroom. So much so that there are signs everywhere - all are ignored.

Today on the beach we found something we have never seen before. We
thought it was a mutant sand dollar but our guard Joe told us that it
was a "sand flower." It is beautiful!!!

The beach is just sand and then about 30 minutes up the shore there are
these big, black rocks. They seemed to have been washed ashore like

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Flowers at Hard Rock Compound

As of July 1, 2013 Liberia will be it's own mission, no longer part of
the Sierra Leone Mission. That means that we are in the process of
finding a "mission home" for the new President who happens to be Elder
and Sister Kirkham the couple we were replacing. They go home March 22
for 3 months and then come back July 1 for another 2 years.

On Saturday we went and looked at a possible "mission home" on Mamba
Point that sits on 7 acres. It is an older home and comes complete with
a view of the ocean (through tons of trees), 5 deer, 2 alligators and 2
guard dogs. The grounds are somewhat overgrown but the flowers were


For the last 3 Sundays we have been going to church services on Sunday
at Kakata. It is a very small congregation an hour and a half drive
away on a very, very bumpy (sometimes non exsistent) road. For the last
12 years they have been meeting in an old school room with no power, no
fans, no bathrooms-only bushrooms. Each Sunday morning the whole
congregation would help carry tables and chairs from a storage shed in
the area to the classroom. They would time it so that they would have
30 minutes to sing hymns before services would start. They sing a
cappella and even though the numbers are few they sound like many!

As of last week they now have a rented space right in the middle of
town. It is complete with 4 rooms, fans and lights powered by a
generator, a baptismal font on the roof and a bathroom! Next week they
will get 2 sets of missionaries - the first ever!!! They are in
heaven!!!!! This whole congregation has grown through the efforts of members
doing their best to live Christ-like lives.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Odd Observations

*People don't have running water or electricity but everyone has a cell
phone. They charge them at little electric stands on the street.
*Every window has bars on it. Even if the window is on the 5th floor.
*We walk on the beach most mornings and we rarely see a sea shell. When
we do it is bright white or translucent.
*It is amazing how there seems to be no traffic rules but there are no
*It is shocking how many people can squish into a taxi (all pay the same
*It is amazing how many people they can get on a small motor bike taxi
(the most I have seen is 5).
*If it does rain everyone thinks it is cold and they put on coats - it
is still 80 degree's!
*Here the pedestrian have NO right of way making it an adventure to
cross the street. You are a target!!!
*They just installed 2 street lights. Both have left turn arrows but no
left turn lanes - crazy!!!
*There are NO public rest rooms. If you find a restroom (at a church or
elsewhere) there is no tissue so you always carry your own and there
will be no running water to flush. Usually there will be a large barrel
full of water in the bathroom with a bucket so that you can "flush the
toilet". It is common to use the "bushroom."
*It is so humid here that my naturally straight hair (I mean it is an
effort to get any curl in my hair at home) is uncontrollably curly. So
no photos of me will end up on the blog!!!