Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Camphor Mission, Liberia

We are at the Camphor Mission about 100 miles outside of Monrovia. We are in the bush, with no electricity until the generator comes on from 7:00-Midnight, 9:30 during the week. We don't have running water in the house. The kids pump from the well and haul to do all washing and cooking. Makes you use much less water for bath and think twice about throwing clothes in the laundry. There is certainly need here. We are living in the home of the Principal/Headmaster of the school Jimmy, his wife, many kids and extended family. We have our own bedroom and bathroom.

Danny will be working at a clinic that currently does not see many patients. There is a well stocked pharmacy, a lab, and a nurse working with him. A few of the medical people are in India for more training so Danny will be filling a hole that has been left in their absence.

The Camphor Mission is the home to the clinic, a Garfield Memorial UMC, and a boarding school. The children who live here, about 80 in total are in primary school through 9th grade. Some of the students are older and off the typical tract of age and grade due to the upheaval of the war. They have only had peace and calm since 2004 and elections in 2005 with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf being elected. I give these 21 year olds who are in 6th grade so much credit for being here living with younger children and following the rules in a boarding school setting. They are not orphans, they have families scattered throughout Liberia who have sent them to school here. The interesting part about the Camphor Mission is that all of this has happened with local initiative and support. There are small partnerships with Annual Conferences in the states but no missionaries have ever worked here long term.

We are spending our time meeting people, hearing stories about Camphor, discovering what is happening in the area and community. As I describe where we are, I realize that I have not taken the time to describe the sounds and sights of nature all around us. At night we see a true African sky that shows almost all of the stars and streaks of the milky way, a crisp bright sharp crescent moon overlooked us last night. Beauty. The sounds at night can only be God's symphony, birds, frogs, bugs, creatures of the night that are singing at full force kept me awake the first night, more in awe than annoyance. The cool end of the rainy season air makes sleeping very pleasant.

In the morning we rise to the quieter sounds and songs of birds waking and the nocturnal creatures now resting from their evening concerto. We can hear roosters crow in the village and small chirpings of many birds. You can hear the chatter of children as they gather water, begin their chores, and eventually gather for morning song and devotions. All of this before 7:00 a.m.

The mission is set in the bush about 2 miles off of a main road. There is over 100 acres of property and the building are all spread out with soccer fields in the center of life at the school. As you arrive and come through the gate the church is on the hill to your right, up a very steep and no so solid road. A straighter more level road on your left takes you past housing for clinic staff and the business manager, then the small clinic with lab, vaccination room, pharmacy, consultation room, and labor and delivery. Continuing up the road is the boy's dorm and the sports fields that separate the boys from the girls. A circle/horse shoe shape is created with the school set on a small hill at the curve, a dining hall, Jimmy's house where we stay, and the girl's dorm at the opposite side of the horse shoe from the boys. Green grass, paths, trees, and all of this is surrounded by jungle.

There is a beach, ocean, and a port just 10 miles in the 2nd largest city in Liberia, Buchanan. We will be at this location until the first of November.

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