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Liberia

Kimmie's eJournal.16 (archived)

Journal #16

In the youth mission, we were scheduled to visit an orphanage for possible future missions.  We brought gifts of toys and books.  When we arrived, it was raining as it had been for much of the trip.  The Reverend who supervised the operations pulled up in his expensive black SUV, welcomed us and began a tour.  We walked through a large common room and into a flooded courtyard framed with classrooms.  The classrooms had nothing in them other than the students and a few broken chairs.  Most of the kids were standing or sitting on the floor.  There were no books.

After that we were taken to the boys’ dorms where I was greeted by several boys who took my hand on the off chance that I was looking for someone to adopt.  As we walked through the dark interior, viewing small rooms that contained six or eight beds, some with two boys per twin bed, I began to smell something.  There were a few shredded mosquito nets hanging from the ceiling and as we neared the end of the hallway, I walked into the most horrific site.  The bathroom was a tiny closet type of room with a toilet that was a box with a hole in it and it was filled to the brim with putrid waste.  Seventy-some boys shared this one bathroom.

Outside I turned to Buck and said, “ This is so overwhelming.  Where would you even start?  He said, “You just start.”

A blind boy named Fitzgerald found my hand outside and I stopped to talk with him and a smaller boy who was guiding him.  He told me that he loved me.  He was 14.

We were told that the food supplies were constantly being robbed and the kitchen and dining hall were dungeons of filth.  In the hallway there was a seat from an old van with most of the stuffing having escaped through the gaping holes.  Two small children sat there with dark eyes that never left us.

 I could sense that the youth were approaching maximum capacity for these hard visions but we were invited inside for a few songs.  I had a hard time maintaining my composure as they sang The Lord Will Supply All My Needs, these orphans living in squalor, who had nothing and no one but each other.  They still had faith that God was there, loving them.

As we drove away, the radio in the car was playing.  No one could even speak.  Then Teddy Pendergrass’ song, Wake Up Everybody, came on and we all smiled small smiles laced with secret and unspoken promises. Another song played and then by some mistake or from D.J. God, the song played again.  We decided to use it for our presentation when we got back.  It was a call to action.

More than anything this song provided hope and levity to an otherwise hopeless situation. I did not hear the screams of the children of Liberia during the war but they reverberate in my core.  I don’t know the desperate pain of hunger or the terror in the eyes when a former friend slashes off a limb like tall grass, like thick bush that needs clearing.  I don’t know the delving humiliation bourn of rape or the wandering hopeless confusion of sleeping under trees, cold and alone.  I don’t know the riveting waves of shock and heart stopping paralysis of witnessing your pregnant mother’s belly sliced open, the baby ripped out and the slow unfathomable death that ensued. I don’t know the pain of all of these horrors leeching into your being, a lifetime of tortured images.

What I do know is what I get from the children of Liberia, eternal hope where there is no hope, belief that in a forsaken land someone will remember, someone will come home, someone will just do something. I do know that I will never turn my back, never close my eyes. I will always come “home,” home to the people who saved me from a life of complacency, from the illusion of me helping them, from myself.

Our souls flew together like magnets, light finding light, God within finding God within, love finding love.

Fitzgerald will always haunt me as will the Bromley girls and the faces of my many friends here but you, people of Liberia, are the saviors, the miracle workers, the angels and the therapy.  You are the light of God.

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