Monthly Archives:January 2017

Christmas blessings from Liberia

23 Jan 17
Kayla Jones
2 comments

12.27.16

Hmmm… a post-Christmas blog. What to say… What to say…

Well, the week leading up to Christmas was a particularly hard week for me. One might assume that’s because I was was missing family, friends, and all of the general merriment that accompanies Christmas in the states. But, no. I really don’t think it was any of those things. It’s just that the arrangement here is difficult. I always thought that communal living wouldn’t be so bad for me, but alas… it is so much harder than expected. Personalities clash. Expectations fall short. Lack of clear communication happens all too often. Let’s just say frustrations were high. Contention and confrontation are probably the two things I hate most. I will avoid them at all costs. Luckily I have an amazing husband that will listen to and comfort me, no matter how busy he is. There have been many late night discussions between Andy and myself. What is to be done? How can things improve, and in a gentle manner? There is so much to do, it is daunting. And when overwhelm shows it’s ugly face, Kayla tends to shut down. Thankfully, I was saved by a Grand Day Out with the fam to Monrovia. We left at the crack of dawn, hoping to miss traffic. Not so. The trip took two hours, and we got pulled over by police three different times. Ha! Luckily, once we provided every single thing they wanted to harass us for – seat belts, fire extinguisher, official documentation, and license – they turned that frown upside down and sent us on our way. One officer that was a little slow to let us go, simply needed to hear the urgent words from Andy, “I’ve been in the truck a very long time, and I need to urinate!” That was language this officer understood.

This was my first time to Monrovia since our plane landed. The kids all declared, “It’s like Chinatown in San Francisco!” We felt like we were in another world. We don’t get out of the bush much. Apparently the place to do your Christmas shopping is a market called Waterside. It was unbelievably packed (Andy will post pictures and videos). I now feel like I have experienced Black Friday. For the first time since being here, I felt very grateful for our white skin, because it made it much easier to keep an eye on my family! Here in Liberia, instead of loads of gifts to open Christmas morning, the custom is to simply receive “Christmas clothes”, which is just a new, hip outfit to wear for the first time on Christmas. To see and been seen. Soooo, “when in Rome…” Our kids each had a $20 budget (same as the orphan children), and they spent their money on new (or used) clothes. Simon has a funny story about buying some jeans, but I’ll let him tell that. When there are six guys almost in a fist fight over who will hand the kid a pair of jeans, let’s just say his customer service was top notch!

After the clothes shopping, we hopped in a couple of kekes (think Indian rickshaw), and Andy took us on some sightseeing. Signs of the awful civil war are everywhere. We rode to the Ministry of Gender (which oversees the details of the orphan home), so Andy could show us where he goes so often, and to drop off an important letter. It is the place to go to work on adoptions or ask about policies. Then we went to the LDS Mission Home. It was fun to see some of our senior missionary friends again. Then we drove by the US Embassy and the Presidential Mansion. It was all very interesting, but traffic was so horrific, we were happy to get back to where we’d parked. We enjoyed (as always) lots of cheap and delicious street food – donuts, fried planains, tea bread with egg and mayo, peanut candies, etc.. Andy took us to a street corner near the customs broker office where he often grabs a bite to eat. A woman named Masa is there every day, all day, making wraps and selling them for $1. They were so good! It was flatbread with potato, cucumber, egg, sliced up hot dog, mayo, and ketchup. Rereading what I just typed through my pre-Liberia eyes, that sounds so gross and unhealthy! hahaaahhhaaaa! Anyway… it was quite the treat 🙂 AND… I musn’t forget to tell you that we also found ICE CREAM! A lady was selling these little baggies with about 1/2 cup of chocolate, vanilla or strawberry ice cream out of a cooler. You just bite off the corner of the bag and suck it out. It was COLD and creamy and SO GOOD. It was the highlight of the day for me and Ivy!

After that, we made the trek home – stopping off to buy a new mattress for me and Andy to use in the dome home (we’re pretty sure the one we’ve been sleeping on has critters living in it).

One of the things that I’d hoped for, embarking on this adventure, was for my children to become better friends. Back in the states, there are so many distractions away from family. So many social stresses and pressures, that even when my kids weren’t WITH their friends, they seemed to be thinking about them or processing interactions they’d had. This seemed to lead to a lot of snippy comments and hurt feelings between our kids. But here, there is very little of that. VERY little. They spend a ton of time together. And for the past four months, they’ve all been living in one room! Because of this, I have witnessed a bond develop that makes my heart swell with joy. They’re silly together. They laugh together. They talk with each other. They work together. They watch out for each other. They’re more united than I’ve ever seen. It is beautiful for us to observe. I’d go through all of the hardships we’ve had again to get to this point of bringing our children, and our family, closer together. We said we were going to Liberia to be of service and to save our family. I’m thankful for this long prayed for transformation.

I’ll let the others tell about Christmas and dome home progress. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday 🙂

Kayla

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My Christmas in Liberia

23 Jan 17
Simon Jones
one comments

1.22.17

This Christmas was quite a bit different than what we’re used to back in the States. About a week before Christmas all of the kids in the compound were split into two groups. One group was to go shopping on Tuesday and the other was to go on Wednesday. Each child was given a budget of about 20 US dollars to buy a “Christmas outfit”.

Our family (the Joneses) went seperate from the orphans, with our own parents. The huge shopping market was in Monrovia in a place called Waterside. All of the Jones kids got 20 dollars just like the rest of the kids. We followed my dad into the market and just started walking around as a group until what we saw what we wanted. I was looking for a new church outfit, a pair of jeans and a short sleaved collared shirt (because it is so dang hot in our church building). After we were all done getting what we needed/wanted and took a drive in three-wheeled carts around the city and got some food, we got back in the truck and went back to the compound.

No one was allowed to wear their “Christmas clothes” until Christmas day, so my mom packed them away. This year Christmas was on a Sunday so every one just went about their Sabbath day as usual. But then on Monday, when Christmas was observed, it was a party all day. Loud music, dancing, good food and every one wearing their Christmas outfit. The whole village was allowed in the compound and every one had their outfit on to see and be seen.

It was really fun to be able to have the opportunity to experience what Christmas is like one the other side of the world. It was good to be able to focus on the real meaning of Christmas without all of the presents, the trees, and usual music.

Bush biking

23 Jan 17
Simon Jones
2 comments

11.27.16

My dad has been wanting to go look at some land that he wants to work with the community to turn into the Homestead. This land just so happends to be right on the beach. So last Wednesday I and he took the dirt bikes and rode for about 20 minutes through some super thick bush and really deep sand in order to get to that beach. It was really weird not being able to see 5 feet in front of you when we were riding in the bush, I remember going through the thicket on this foot path and not being able to see the sky and then once in a while I could catch a glimps of the sky and I felt like I could finally breath again. My shoulders and forearms were sore after that because I was gripping the handle bars so tight.

Once we got through all of the bush we got to the beach. We rode on the beach for about 6 miles. I have never ridden on sand like that so it was hard to get used to. We didn’t have any problems with the bikes this time, thank goodness. We had tried to make this same trip previously but once we got to the beach my bike stopped working. We had to have some of the locals from that area help us push it back up to the trail, then once we got it up there one of the men who helped us started to figure out what the problem was. The guys name was Struggle, or at least that’s what everyone calls him. He just took the spark plug out and put it back in; the bike started but we could tell that that wasn’t the real problem.

The next morning my dad took it into a shop and they had to take apart the whole carburator and put it back together. There was just a small part that was loose and they fixed it and now it works better than it did before. The machanic spent about 2 hours working on it and it cost 10 bucks whereas in the states it would have taken weeks to get into a shop and would have cost 300-400 dollars! Plus this machanic had never worked on this kind of bike before so he just figured it out as he went.

So back to the story, we rode for about 6 miles on the beach and arrived at Digbe (pronounced dig-bay). My dad had a meeting with the town cheif about the land and then we went to go see that land. It’s right where the Po River connects with the Atlantic Ocean. There was trash every where which has washed onto the shore from Monrovia, where there is no real trash management system. It would have taken weeks to clean up. Other than the trash it’s a really pretty place.

On that same day once we got home we rode to Royesville for antoher meeting with the Township commissioner which is like the mayor. To get there we had to ride on the paved rode where all of the cars are. I had never ridden on the rode before let alone go above 30 MPH because I only ride on the dirt rodes. I was riding behind my dad, honking our horns at taxis as we weave past the slower cars/trucks. I had quite the addrenelin rush, and really liked spending the day on the bikes with my dad.

 

 

Locks of dread

23 Jan 17
Ruby Jones
2 comments

1.22.17

Hello!
I apologize for my lack of commitment with the blogging, I’ll try to do better. My topic today is…dreadlocks!

I have had quite the experience with dreads here in Liberia. A few of you know that I tried (and failed, terribly) to get dreads in late November/early December, I forgot when. I had been interested in getting them for quite a while, and was really excited when my dad came home one day and said he had found a guy who claimed he could do dreadlocks on white peoples’ hair. So, trusting that, Simon and I rode down on the motorbike and spent about 3 hours in a roadside salon (spelled saloon. haha). The first step was to wash my hair in a solution to “make it rough”. This meant going to the side of the one room building, getting a towel thrown over my shoulders, and bending at the waist while cold water was poured from a bucket (by a cup), slowly over my head. When it was all wet, he scrunched it a little, and we went back inside. Then, he and a woman did 53 tight twists with two strands, sectioning it as they went. The twists, which they call a “two finger plait”, went from root to tip, and I only know there were 53 because I counted them when I got home. During this process, a ton of gel was applied, making them slick and sticky. Then, the guy wrapped thread around the base of each twist, meant to hold it so it wouldn’t loosen. Then, I’ll never forget, this dude, named D-Boy, put something similar to a fishing net around his hand, and rubbed all around my head, using a circular motion and a ton of pressure. I have named this specific part of the process “The Net of Terror”. My head was already so sore at this point from the thread being so tight and all the pulling, that I could hardly stand the pain of this step which they call “rubbing”. Because of the thread, each strand sort of stuck out, and it was pulled as tight as it could possibly be. In other words, it was incredibly ugly. After this initial installation, I had to go back a few times a week to get them re-geled and “rubbed” again.
Pretty soon (about a month after I got them) it became clear that this fella didn’t know how to do dreads on white hair. This was certainly the way to dreadlock black hair, but they would never lock on mine. My dad did some research on how to really do dreads on hair like mine and then told the guy he didn’t know what he was doing and that I would not be coming back. My mother and I spent one agonizing day undoing them. Loosening the plaits, removing the thread, and washing all the gel out took an entire day. Hours upon hours I was sitting on the floor while my mom gently combed, trying not to break my hair any more than it already was. That night and the next day I was grieving for my hair! I know it’s a stupid thing to get upset over, but my hair was broken, dry, brittle, and even cut in some places. Not at all worth it. My hair was an inch shorter, and unhealthier than it had ever been. But… now, my hair is doing okay. The cut places are taking their own sweet time to grow out, but it isn’t as dry, so I’m happier.

It was sure an embarrassing turn of events, and painful, but if I could get dreads for real, I would do it. It seems like the real way to do it is much easier than what D-Boy tried, so maybe we can try again on our own. I like the style and I like the sound of little to no maintinence after they’re locked.

Thanks for reading! -Rubies

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I’m brave

23 Jan 17
Ivy Jones
one comments

12.27.16

Hello! I have not written in awhile because of my dog attack (not MY dog, but A scared dog that attacked my body). You did see the pictures, didn’t you? Well, if you didn’t, you should. Because then you just have to see how brave and tough I am! I got about eight punctures altogether. Two on my left hand, three on my right hand, two on my face, and one on my neck. The one on my neck is less then half an inch away from my juguler vein. And if it was actually on my juguler vein, my dad said it would be a danger to my life.

Of course the dog died, (I’m not telling you how) and then it fed a hungry family. (They eat dogs here don’t ya know.) I had to get stitches that very day.:( It was a long drive to the clinic, my dad singing primary songs almost the whole way. We started somewhere in the afternoon, and ended when it was really dark out.

Unfortunately, before they sew the stitches in, they have to give you shots around the wound. I’m not gonna say how many because I don’t know. All I know is that it depends on how many stitches you’re gettin’ in that dang old hand. I had to get sitches on every wound except for the ones on my face and neck. And man, when they put those dang shots in it hurts so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so dang bad! Man, I was screamin’ so loud in Dr. Bobby’s ear! The dumb thing is those shots are suppost to make it not hurt. That’s messed up. But my mom hugged me tight and dad gave me a blessing and kept telling the doctors what do to.

The second container came last week. There were two things that I was really lookin’ forward to. The Christmas tree, and the keyboard. Well it turns out that there ain’t even a Christmas tree in that ol’ container. Well, what do I know, maybe there’s a Christmas tree in that container. In one of the boxes. There are hundreds of boxes! And the keyboard is probably in one of those boxes, too.

Merry Christmas! I got some treats, I got some clothes, we moved into the dome house, ok. See ya’ll later!:)

Ivy

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Half time ice cream break

23 Jan 17
Ivy Jones
2 comments

Hi! This is Ivy! Remember me? I moved to Africa about four months ago. We’re at our halfway mark, I think. I don’t know what to write about…

I wonder what we’re gonna do on Simon’s birthday this week!

We are taking a break in Monrovia while my dad makes some “changes” or something like that. Living here is… AWESOMELY AWESOME!!!! Last week we went to this pretty-much-American ice-cream shop! It had a bunch of different flavors and everything! I got a ginormous ice-cream cone!:) I got some good flavors too.

I made a friend here that lives next to where we’re staying. Her name is Tia, and she’s from Lebanon.

I don’t really like writing blog posts. That’s why I only write one every two weeks or so. Hahaha! Just kidding. Not funny. I’m forced to do it.

Monrovia is really crowded. The first time I was in Monrovia was at the airport. But the second time I was there I was actually outside, where it was SO crowded. I was Christmas shopping. It was so crowded that I almost started crying.:( Bye! 🙂

 

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Living in the dome house

23 Jan 17
Charlie Jones
one comments

01.22.17

Hello. Here I am. Our family has passed our half way mark, and finally moved inside the Dome House on Christmas day. We were all very eager and also exceptionally excited. Especially me, because now I only have to share a room with Simon (which I am already used to) and no more disgusting b.o. smell or girl underpants everywhere! I am very happy about that. The bad part is that Simon doesn’t do his washboard laundry until the week is over, and so the dirty clothes hamper is almost always full of sweaty clothes, which is not a very enjoyable smell. But the reason for that is because the amount of grimy clothes builds up BIG time and when clothes in that condition are just sitting in a hamper all bunched up together like that, well they just start smelling rather terrible. But wait, now that I really think hard about it, I’ve come up with the solution to this perdicament that Simon and I are both trapped inside of. It is anybody’s blame to take because it is not his fault that it’s so dang hot and humid outside. And it is not mine either. So my two options to solve this problem are: Hope it rains so we have to stay inside and then we won’t be all hot and sweaty, or my other option is: To ask Simon nicely to please take care of his dirty clothes earlier in the week.

Okay, where was I?

Oh yea, the Dome.

So anyway the dome is pretty awesome because it has tile floor now and bamboo walls that didn’t actually work out very well because even though we lacquerd them all, we are beginning to think that they are attracting bugs and insects, and that really stinks since we still have not put our mosquito nets up yet. Sometimes in the middle of the night, when all is quiet except for the crickets chirping outside, you can hear insects crackling around inside the walls (that’s not really true but it is interesting and funny). And then you get really afraid that you’re going to get bit or feel one moving around in your hair or shirt or something like that. I hate it when I get bit because then I itch it but I know that it could start bleeding so I try not to itch it but it is a huge temptation because it itches so, so bad!

The Dome Home also has these very cool “Basket Chairs” that are practically woven peices of thick bendy sticks. They are fairly comfortable but only if you get the pillow before sombody else does. Anyway we each are “assigned” the one we chose because Andy really hates it if anybody feels entitled to anything (he doesn’t let us “call” things). We also have blue and white designed curtains so we can cover the windows at night because the ceiling is painted white and the light just reflects everywhere and makes it extremely easy to look into the dome even from a distance. Simon and I share a bunkbed, Ruby and Ivy share one too. Mom and Dad just sleep on a matress on the floor but their advantige is that theirs is comfortable and Simon, Ruby, Ivy, and mine are not as thick. So anyway we all really are enjoying where we are staying now.

All in all, the Dome House is supurb and my family is enjoying it very much. At last we are all under the same roof once again. Goodbye.
– Charlie Jones

 

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