Janjay Erickson woke up at 4:00 this morning to make the bread - small doughnuts, really. Each Wednesday morning she fries up roughly 100 doughnuts, puts them in the plastic container that she hoists atop her head and walks the three miles from her home at Camphor Mission to market to sell them. The sale of 100 doughnuts ($7USD) brings in enough money to supplement her husband's income so that her family can eat for the week.
This morning I walked with Janjay to market. I walked alongside my new friend and her husband down several dusty roads and through a few villages. Every now and then we heard a vehicle creeping up from behind. We stepped off the path, took shelter along the edge while a truck passed by - filled with nine or ten adults also on their way to market. As they passed, they slowed and opened the cab door, indicating that there was room for a few more passengers. We declined. We were walking today.
At the river we crossed the sturdy bridge made from dense fallen African trees. Janjay's feet walked a line as straight and steady as the length of her upright spine that balanced her wares. She walks miles, her gait both purposeful and serene.
Janjay's husband, Rev. Zach Erickson, knows the walking roads of Bassa County, Liberia. The pastor of J.F. Yancy United Methodist Church, is also a science teacher at the Camphor Mission School. In addition, he is completing his science degree at Grand Bassa Community College in the near-by town of Buchanan. He has no car (very few LIberians do). He has a bicycle, but the condition of the roads make it difficult to use. And so Rev. Zach walks. On any given Sunday, Rev. Zach walks the two hours to meet his congregation to preach the Good News of Jesus. On any given weekday, after teaching Camphor students general science all morning, he heads out to walk the fifteen miles to the community college. He makes it in time for evening class. He walks back to the mission long after dark. He is getting the science education that feeds his deep interest, the degree that he trusts will improve the quality of life his family lives.
As Rev. Zach, Janjay, and I walked to market this morning, he sang songs of his deep faith, faith in the sustaining power of Jesus. "This is my story, this is my song..." The story of Rev. Zach and Janjay Erickson is a story about walking and the strength that they find along the way. I was blessed to walk alongside them this morning.