by Megan McNulty
It’s October, and that means several things for most Americans. Saturday tailgates and football games, pumpkin spice lattes, and colorful leaves floating in the brisk refreshing air. We at Liberia Mission Inc. believe all those things are totally overrated.
In this beautiful month of October in Monrovia, Liberia we cling to the much finer things in life… like humidity and thunderstorms and the smell of pigs in the morning. Yes, if you want a break from all the drudgery of Halloween preparations and sweater-wearing, Liberia is the place for you!
I am the newest addition to the Liberia Mission Inc. staff team. Having arrived only two weeks ago, I am still right in the midst of adjusting to Liberia’s ‘Autumn’ weather conditions, the incredibly spicy food, and the strong accents. And I lied earlier. Most mornings when I wake up to join the students at 0500 morning prayer, I want nothing more than a warm, savory pumpkin spice latte. But I was still serious in insisting that we do get the finer things here too. Like an amazing community filled with passion, love, friendship and appreciation. Like opportunities to do legitimate, hard work and see the fruits of our labor. We are even blessed enough to see children and teenagers, most of whom are scarred by poverty and past violence, grow not just intellectually but spiritually, emotionally, and socially as well.
I guess tailgates and leaves are overrated when compared to smiles, hugs, and thank-yous. For example, a group of younger girls wanted to paint their room this weekend in preparation for the room inspection the next morning. When they asked me to help, I don’t think any of us really understood the undertaking we were about to begin. White wash on cinderblocks is definitely not the easiest thing in the world, nor is reaching the tops of the wall on a rickety wooden ladder. But alas, after hours – time when they easily could have been sleeping or socializing in lieu of going above and beyond for the inspection – we had washed and painted all four walls. Was there more paint on the floor and on me than on most of the walls? Yes, probably. But did the girls’ gratitude and excitement make it all worth it? Absolutely. They were so proud of their hard work and I could tell that they felt capable, strong, and important when watching all the paint dry.
It’s a few days after the painting party, and I am still finding bits of whitewash on my skin. My painting clothes finally dried off though and the girls can finally hang out in their room again without being inundated with paint fumes. All in all, it was a successful weekend adventure and I feel so blessed to have been able to witness it and participate. Although this sounds cliché, every time I do something for these kids (even though I have only been here for two weeks my job title has expanded exponentially from just financial officer to a mix between assistant house mother, soccer cheerer, painter, driver, cook, and pig-slaughterer) I feel like I am the learner. Learning to work with children is difficult, but when you cannot understand most of what they are saying things get increasingly more difficult.
But that is why I am so excited to be here, even without the perks of my favorite season. Every day is a new battle where broken stoves, leaking wells, and makeshift goal posts threaten our progress. Every day we laugh at God’s sense of humor and marvel at the blessings He bestows upon us. Life is not easy here. But we all know that we have each other and a pretty powerful Big Man Upstairs to make it through. So I hope you all enjoy your hot coffees and ciders. I am going to go grab a paint brush and a hardboiled egg and get back to work.