Best. Day. Ever.
Today we held a New Year’s party for the kids at the ELWA guest house. We were going to go to the orphanage, but we asked Emmanuel if the children would like to get out a bit... And he assured us that they would be thrilled at the prospect of a little adventure!
We started off our day with pancakes thanks to Brent, and then a group of us headed to the grocery store to pick up supplies for our party. Groceries are limited in Liberia, but we managed to scrounge up hot dogs and ketchup, popcorn, fresh fruit, and even Mr. Freeze pops for dessert. (Plus lots of soda as it’s a treat for the children!) Emmanuel started bringing van-loads of kids around 10:30, and we entertained them with bocce and other lawn games as he carted kids back and forth. He fit fifty-some kids in three van-loads... Don’t ask me how! ;-)
We had lunch on the front lawn, and marveled at how Elijah (one of the teachers at the orphanage school) was able to laugh and play tirelessly with the children. He’s amazing. Absolutely, positively amazing. He should be sainted!
As fun as it was to simply play and have fun with the children, the highlight of the day was an event that Emmanuel called “historical”... We took the kids swimming.
Swimming. That might not sound like such a momentous event to most of us, but Liberians are typically afraid of the water. In fact, for the past few days when we have gone swimming as a team, Liberians have gathered on the beach to watch us (the crazy white people). But today, Emmanuel and Fatu, as well as all the older children from Christ Our Hope, braved the water and surfed the waves for an entire afternoon! To say that we had fun would be a ridiculous understatement... Even though many of the kids were terrified at first (Julie has tan lines from where the little girls clung to her arms, and I have bruises on my wrist), they absolutely loved it. We “swam,” body-surfed (or tried), played Five Hundred in the waves (thanks to Todd), and had an all-around wonderful time. It would be perfectly safe and completely accurate to say that today will go down in history as one of the best days of my life. The kids were delighted--and tireless. I’m sure they will all be sleeping like babies tonight.
After all that fun in the sun, we were pretty much ready to call it a day. We hung out with the children until late afternoon, and then they all headed back to eat. (Our American food does not fill their tummies--they aren’t full until they eat rice!) As for our team, we spent some time decompressing and planning our day tomorrow. And for supper Lucia brought over Brent’s favorite: sweet potato greens with fish and rice. Sounds awful, tastes amazing... Sweet potato greens are definitely a new favorite of mine!
Tomorrow we get down to work in earnest. We have meetings with the pastors and governing members of the Abide in the Vine Fellowship churches, as well as a visit to Firestone Liberia and the new church that AVF has planted there. We are also hoping that Nick and Brent can spend a few hours with “Big Time Joe” talking about the possibility of opening a garage and salvage yard--with opportunities for the kids at Christ Our Hope to work alongside him and learn a trade.
I feel like up until now we’ve been relationship building. And what a joy it has been! Tomorrow we get down to business... And we’re praying the God is ready to fling open some doors before us! Please join us in prayer--we are so anxious to see what God has in store!
With love and hugs,