Author Archives: Ruby Jones

Post-Liberia Q&A with Ruby

30 Jun 17
Ruby Jones
No Comments

6.7.17

Hello! This could possibly be my final blog post Β – a look back and summary of my time in West Africa. Here we go.

  • What are the things you miss most about living in the orphanage in Zuannah Town?

In all honesty, I liked nearly everything during our time living in that village. I was so happy every day to be there with many, many new things to learn and questions to ask and people to care about, that I couldn’t ever be bored or discouraged. When living in Zuannah Town I met some of the most important people in my life, some of whom impacted me in positive ways, and others in negative ways. Looking back, I feel like my eyes were blinded to the negative because of my naivete and perpetual cheer during that time. I was beyond happy, so to explain today what I miss te most about my life at the orphan home in Zuanah Town is no small thing.

I miss MY LIBERIAN FAMILY!! I miss my Hearwood family that I loved so intensly for so long. I miss Decontee, Moses, Felicia, Mercy, Bintu, Serrina, Diamond, Giftee, Leo, Small Princess, Oretha, Big Princess, Faith (Akos), Josephine, Patrick, and Gordon,and Auntie Vic and Uncle Rufus. I consider them my extended family, my brothers and sisters. Things I love to remember:

  • cooking with Serrina in the open-air kitchen over coal pots
  • talking with Decontee on the steps of the girls’ dorm
  • doing the girls’ hair
  • walking 45 minutes to school with my buddies,
  • brushing little kids’ teeth after devotional
  • taking my “best friends” – the little girls – to go pee in the middle of the night so that they don’t wet the bed
  • playing cards and Liberian games
  • Friday movie nights in the palavar house
  • doing puzzles in the new library after the donated container arrived
  • teaching Josephine and Akos how to say the sounds of letters
  • washing Faith’s and Jo’s (and my own) clothes by hand
  • learning about the 16 liberian tribes
  • having guitar lessons from my dad
  • having devotional every evening – especially the singing
  • playing in the flooding rain
  • eating rice
  • making donuts and plantain chips and kala
  • learning and speaking Liberian English (which I’m already forgetting)
  • playing foosball and kickball
  • going on the river in the canoe and rowboat
  • skipping rocks at the river bank and playing in the not-that-clean water with Charlie and Ivy
  • sweeping the dirt off of the dirt in the yard πŸ™‚
  • drawing bath water and washing water
  • bathing, dressing, and preparing the little girls for school
  • walking in the bush to play at the quiet beach and warm lagoon
  • sleeping beside my lovely squishy baby Faith
  • the list goes on and on (in my heart, not on this blog)…

I loved Zuannah Town! I was well known as a friend in the town, and I knew every person’s name by heart. I had so many small friends that felt safe with me. I loved!

  • What are the things you do not miss about living in the village?

I do not miss the lack of privacy. We were in a chain link (see through) fence. There was no privacy, which I didn’t mind that much, but I don’t really miss. We were the most exciting thing happening in the village, and people tended to just hang out outside the fence to watch the show. I do not miss a few of the Liberian kids in our village, who were a bit racist, and at the same time clingy. Some kids liked to do things just to give people something to talk about, like spreading awful lies about me. Such gossip… this was something new to me, and I was comforted that a lot of people ignored and didn’t believe the lies. Those that ignored did so because they knew me. I do not miss the people that tried to cause me pain or hurt. But that’s logical, because I assume that nobody particularly enjoys being the object of somebody’s malicious imagination and big mouth.

  • How did life change when you moved from the village to the private compound in Bible College?

For me this was a very unwelcome change at first. As far as I was concerned, my life had just been ruined and my happiness scattered along with all my friends at the orphan home. After dealing with the torment of being separated from my Heartwood family, I felt I had no comfort at all, not knowing if I would see many of them again. One of the sole things that helped me through this time was Janet and Caroline. These girls are 12 years old, Liberian, and twins! They were at the orphanage home the entire time we were there and when the children were dispersed and transferred into the care of extended family, Janet and Caroline had nowhere to go. They stayed with us. They were there through all of the bad and worse. They are my sisters and always will be!

When we were having family prayer one night a few years ago, when I was about eleven, my mother made the announcement that we were going to have a foreign exchange girl come from Japan. She was my age and would share my room! I was so happy I started crying hysterically. I had always wanted a sister close to my age, that was like a full time best friend. I have had honorary big sisters like this throughout my life and through young womens, but this was one of the main reasons I love living at the orphanage home. I was so happy, and when they were gone, Carol and Janet were there. I still had them. They still had me. When we moved to Bible College, Brewerville, they came along. We were a family of eight. We three shared a room, slept together, played all day, read, ate, played some more, and that is what I held on to. I love them so much, and I let myself cling to the hope that maybe someday my parents would agree to adopt them. The girls would certainly agree, I knew that much. They were happy with us.
There were only 2 times that I truely cried in Liberia, and I mean truely cried. With my whole body, grieving. The first was the day the Tokpah family left Zuannah Town to live with their Auntie Princess in Monrovia. The other was when I was told that Janet and Caroline were going back to the AFAA House (the orphanage where they were when they were younger – long story), so they could have the chance to be adopted again. After they left, life was different. I had school to focus on. Piano. Survival πŸ™‚

  • More pros and cons of Bible College:

Pros – more privacy than I could hope for. Proper space and equipment to take exercise. More family time. More attention on piano. More time to pursue what I wanted, and to read! Less pressure.

Cons – no small children to take care of. No close contact with friends that I cared about. Too much alone time. More anti-social-ness. The darned stupid 10′ cement fence. The city. The hurt of not knowing how my brothers and sisters at the orphan home were doing or where they were or if they were okay. No Faith. No Josephine. No Bintu. Nothing really to wake up and look forward to.

It took me a long time to get used to the place but eventually I liked it and deeply appreciated what we had there. Some of the children seemed to be in worse living conditions after being transferred out of our care and into extended relative care, and I worried about them constantly, but I had to have hope. I never stopped praying for them and never will.

  • Describe how you Β grew and changed as a result of living in Liberia? Give three examples:

1) One of the most important things I learned in Liberia can be conveyed most accurately in a quote from Plato: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” I came to realize that I am not that important. My trials are nothing. I can deal with anything that is happening right now. I’m okay and I’m surviving with ease. Many are not. Many are not even close. Struggling to feed their children. Bereaved for the death of countless loved ones. I have not experienced this. I don’t know what it’s like. However, sometimes I could look into someone’s eyes and feel a little of what they have felt. I could understand a fraction of their tribulations. I remember I could sense the strife etched on the face of an old woman who is taking care of her grandchildren because her daughter and son-in-law were infected and killed by ebola. There was a weary strength in her aura. Sometimes if I really paid attention I could feel some of that. But I knew I could never fully relate. Some of the people I met and even had extremely close contact with had suffered beyond my comprehension and didn’t come out feeling like the victim. Their “…heads were bloody but unbowed”, and future years shall “find them unafraid” (Invictus-by William Ernest Henly). I learned eternal lessons from these individuals. Priceless conversations that I will never forget. I am so proud to know them.

2) I learned the lesson “Don’t let small things worry you”. Β A friend spoke these words to me in an extremely consequential time in his life. I had so much admiration for the courage of this friend. He had the most important perspective, despite having lost his/her father to ebola and mother abandoning the family. I remind myself of this daily when I am tempted to overthink anything, which I often do. This friend taught me how to let go and let God carry me, and also carry fate. Nothing in life is an accident! Every possible thing is in God’s hands and if we are willing to be instruments in His hands, then we will never be anywhere or do anything that God didn’t intend. This is a lifelong quest that starts with letting God worry about it instead, because He is Almighty. He knows. I also tie this with another lesson I learned about freeing myself. This lesson has been taught to me by my (unorthodox) parents my entire life. To free myself from what I THINK people MIGHT THINK about me. To free myself from the critical eyes of others and do what I want without worrying what other humans may think or say or do. The point is to be yourself – your best, individual self. What people think of you couldn’t matter less. So be honest and unique and nerdy and whatever you really are without conforming to what lays inside the cage of fear. Be free! Don’t let small things worry you!

3) The last lesson I decided to write about that I learned was one that was made personal to me by the Spirit. The lesson was about humility. About destroying entitlement. I am less than the dust of the earth. I own nothing. I have nothing. I can do nothing. Everything I enjoy, a functioning body, a covenant family, enough food, clean water, talents, knowledge, a testimony, none of it was my fault. I did nothing to deserve it. Not even a little bit. My little friends in the bush in their underwear and infected with thrush and suffering from malnutrition and the product of an irresponsible teenage boy and girl, did nothing to deserve that birthright. I am no better than them. I have to be humble. If I can be obedient to Almighty God he will show me why I am born in a developed country and how I can use the resources and education I have as an advantage to serve His children, to feed His sheep. I must not waste a single moment because I will be held accountable for being true to the light and knowledge I have received (underline I – not the light OTHER people have or have not received). At first this thought made me feel that instead of being a blessing, this responsibility was a burden. But how selfish would I be to discard this advice and do nothing help my fellow men? I would never be able to look my Savior in the face. I’m not perfect, and these are by no means my own original ideas. I have been taught them, but I had to learn them too. I have become a lot more aware of these things through seeing how people lived in Liberia. I can’t say it is all part of God’s plan because I don’t believe He would ever wish a government to make its people suffer, but I know that miracles can happen and He does want us to come home, maybe bloody, but not unbowed.

  • What lessons did you Β learn from making friends out in the neighborhood? Any experiences I want to remember?

Yes! I learned that sometimes you gotta take initiative. There were loads of friends outside the fence at Bible College just waiting for me to introduce myself, but I was kinda shy and reserved, and jealously missing my friends from the bush. One day my dad and I were coming home from working on water projects and he suggested that I go outside to “make fun” with the girls we saw playing Lappa outside the fence. Despite my reluctance, I went! I am so grateful I did because I was practically dying from boredom and depression inside the fence at the time and so… I made some friends. I met a girl named Faith Anderson who was a sweet soul that needed a caring friend. I’m not saying I was the perfect friend, but maybe I helped her a bit,and she helped me πŸ™‚ She was my age, in first grade, and loved to talk. She was kind, knew how to cook, and had really, really good aim when she threw that old sock full of dirt. I’ll never forget her. I learned courage on the first day I stayed outside the fence. I’m afraid I would have hated Liberia after Zuannah Town because of my loneliness. But I didn’t! I enjoyed the time I spent outside, doing things I’d never done before, and meting some special humans.

LETTER TO SELF-FROM LIBERIAN RUBY TO AMERICAN RUBY

Dear Rubbles, don’t give up! I know it isn’t always your nature, but it is sometimes and I advise you to fight it, even though chances are high that life could get a whole lot harder from here on out. Don’t let small things worry you. Be brave. Be humble. Be kind. Don’t forget about God’s business. Don’t be a shallow knucklehead. Listen keenly to people who know more than you. Treat everybody with the value and respect they deserve to be shown, even when you don’t feel like it. BE GRATEFUL! You don’t deserve anything. Literally. Appreciate people because you never know when they may leave you… or when you may leave them. Be happy as much as possible, and cry when you need to but don’t be fragile. Forget about how you look! The more you think about yourself, the less you think about others. The less you think about others, the less you think about serving them. The less you think about serving others, the more selfish you are. The more selfish you are, the less Christlike you are. The less Christlike you are, the more you are like the devil. The more you are like the devil, the more likely it is that you’ll be headed pretty quickly where he is.

Soooo… quit thinking about yourself. In fact, lose yourself. Stop worrying how you look and how people perceive you. That’s stupid. Don’t be stupid. Got it? Didn’t think so. Read it again. Good. Now, never stop praying. I’ll be praying too. Never let go of what makes you happy! Laughter in righteous happiness is of God! God never intended you to be down in the dumps! Learn as much as you possibly can and stay curious throughout your life.

That’s all I have to say. I won’t wish you luck because you have no need for it. Have fun, Kid!

Love,

Yourself (Ruby)

——————–

Thanks for reading, anybody who did! Congratulations if you made it to the end. I know I’m long winded (haha it’s an inherited curse). I dedicate this blog post to Andy and Kayla. I like you guys πŸ™‚

 

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

WIN_20170122_15_17_46_Pro

Paradigm postulates: Liberia vs. America

11 Dec 16
Ruby Jones
one comments

11.20.16

Hi. Today I will explain a bit about my understanding of some common paradigms that exist in Liberia that are not as common in the US. These have for sure taken some getting used to, and I want to share them with you. I see these different paradigms as manners, in a way. General rules of politeness or understanding that is agreed on without words, but is differentiated from place to place, country to country. Paradigm number one is:
Sharing. In Liberia, I’ve learned, sharing is WAY different. For example, if someone offers something to you (usually food) it’s rude to refuse. I’ve unintentionally offended quite a few people this way, because I am accustomed to turning down spontaneous offers of food in order to be polite and not burden someone or cause inconvenience. This was according to how I was raised, being taught the manners of many in the United States. That being said, another rule of thumb in Liberia is you should ALWAYS share (or at least offer) if you have something and somebody else doesn’t. If you have food and someone else doesn’t, it is safe to assume they’re hungry. As a side note on this, I just want to mention that today we had a guest coming with us to church that my dad invited, our friend Joe Bishop. Twenty-two years old and investigating the Mormon church, I couldn’t help but notice that he wasn’t his happy, brotherly annoying self. After a bit of an interrogation, I discovered that he hadn’t eaten for almost 24 hours. I could have guessed. Anytime you see someone sleeping in the daytime, looking dejected or listless, chances are they’re literally in the earliest stages of starving for lack of food (aka hunger). Anyway, side note over, it’s even rude to eat alone because there’s someone close by who could use some nourishment. This is always difficult for me, because there are so many neighbors who are hungry, and even though I have access to food, I don’t have enough to feed them all. The sensitive part of my heart grieves every day to see this. Sharing is always a good thing, and don’t take for granted anything that you have, even basic nessessities like enough food, clean water, adequate shelter, and parents. I look back with disgust at the Ruby Jones who lived on Cavallo Dr. who had the audacity to complain, despite having all her needs met and then some. I apologize to all who knew me. Okay I’m talking about paradigmes here, and the next one is:
The Acceptance of Abuse of Authority. For some jacked up reason, everyone here sort of just deals with the fact that teachers/educators, use corporal punishment to their own advantage of proving power and dominance. The teachers of Kpekor Public School will use a thin stick to hit a 5 year old (or younger. or older. or whatever they feel like) for being late, when they themselves will consistently be late for school, generally by a lot more time than the child they’re punishing. I’m not saying that every citizen of Liberia agrees and approves of this, not at all. But nobody is protesting, and it seems like it’s accepted, to say the least. Let me tell you a story. (haha when someone wants to tell a story here, they say “story story” and their audience says “story” and they begin.)
So the story goes like this. My dad and I had gone on a motorbike to Faith Clinic at about 7:15am to get my ankle stitches out. I was dressed in my school uniform and was planning on being dropped off at school on the way home. When we got to the school, I decided to just go all the way home because my foot was paining me. On the dirt road home, we discover my brother, Leo, and a few of his friends walking home. We stop to ask why they’re going home only 30 minutes after school was supposed to start. They tell us that they were sent home because their hair was too “bushy.” (too long) So we make space for Leo on the bike and he, my dad, and myself go back to Kpekor. My dad asks Leo if he is willing to stand up for himself and say “It is my right to be in school”. He says yes. So my dad takes Leo straight to the principal’s office where they protest the expulsion, proclaiming that every child has the basic human right to be in school, and that they are abusing their authority sending students home, and that they don’t have the right to deny a child her basic human right, etc. etc.. While they were benevolently fighting for justice (making a big stink) I was waiting just off campus with the motorbike, where my friends Chris and Jerry and a few little girls were loitering. They were between 5 and 8 years old, and the boys told me that he was put out because of his hair being too long, and the girls because they didn’t have socks. I sent them to where my dad was, and he was able to at least sort of make the principal see reason and let the children back in class.
Gender roles. Here in Liberia I’ve observed quite a difference in men and women’s roles than I’ve seen. For one, it’s a bit more common for boys to know a bit about cooking. The teenage boys inside the fence cook a breakfast meal for the home a few times a week, and sometimes lunch. Males also are pros at washing clothes. However, I’ve seen little to none interaction between older boys or fathers with small children. Women do washing, cooking, looking after, bathing and essentially raising the little ones. Lots of women are capable of doing “man” work as well. All the time I see women out in the bushy parts near their house with a hoe or a cutlass, brushing. I personally like this mix of roles. The men are able to do some of what would be considered a womans responsibility, and vice versa.
Dress and appearance. Obviously, it’s extremely hot and humid in Liberia. I know that some people think that Liberians are so used to being cooked by the sun that they don’t think it’s hot. This assumption is dead wrong. Of course they would notice that it’s so hot that it looks like someone wasted water on them. Since the heat is so brutal, it’s perfectly common to see people, mostly women, wearing less clothes than would be acceptable in the States. Something I’ve discovered that I love about Liberians is everyone is so comfortable in their body. Any overweight person would have nothing against lifting up their shirt when they’re hot. People here seem less ashamed of their body. In the United States, in the culture I was used to,it’s normal to always cover up, all the time in public, use something to cover up when breast-feeding, and seem ashamed that, yes, they have a body. But, this isn’t always true just because of the climate. For instance, I can differentiate between whether a young girl has her shirt up, bearing her midriff, because she wants a breeze because it’s hot, or because she’s being intentionally immodest. Personally, I like the comfort that people feel in their body. Unlike how I felt in Utah, here I rarely feel self conscious about the way I look, or if I’m gaining or losing weight or stuff like that. Lifestyle here for me is an active one: walking to school, playing outside the fence, kickball, jumprope, hopscotch, lapa, (a fun outside game I’ve learned) heck, even doing chores is exercise. You try pumping water for a bathroom barrel! It’s quite a workout.
Okay I’m tired I’m done writing. My gmail is ruby.jonesforever@….. I’ll write again when the periodic times when I want to write and I have time to write overlap. Goodbye.

Magical ankle-biting beach rocks

11 Dec 16
Ruby Jones
2 comments

11-6-16

Hello friends and family! This week has been more difficult for me than past weeks, but I have reason to believe that this next one will be better. For quite a while I’ve been battling a violent cough, runny nose, mild fever, and fun stuff like that πŸ™

I’m also recovering from an…adventure from last Saturday. We went to Kpekor Beach Saturday afternoon, but nobody would get in the water. Everyone was scared of the rocks – a superstition of demons or witchcraft kept them from swimming. To show them there was nothing to fear, my dad waded into the lagoon and sat on one of the rocks that was halfway under the waterline. Ivy and I went with him, just playing on the rocks. When my dad and the others had moved on farther down the beach, I decided to go too. When I was coming off the rock into the water, my foot slid on a rock topped with moss, and my ankle bent in a painful way that made me catch my breath. My foot had slid into a small crevice between two rocks, and when I had pulled myself together and gotten to the beach where my mom was standing, I realized that I was bleeding pretty badly from a gash on the outside of my right ankle, maybe and inch wide, just below the bone. It was painful to walk, but I still could, so that was a good sign. I went and soaked my foot in the salt water of the ocean, which didn’t hurt as much and it sounds like. My mom and I followed the others down the beach, walking in the water, and sitting on the sand when I couldn’t walk so well anymore.

After being treated with some country medicine by my kind friend Morris Jaleibah, and a bumpy ride home, I could barely walk because of the pain. I was feeling what I completely thought was just a sprained ankle, not really thinking about the cut. When I had finished eating and bathing, my dad and I sat down in my dad’s ofice – small, extremely hot room with a shelf full of medical supplies – to clean my injury. I’m not entirely sure what he was doing (I didn’t watch) but I was in more pain than I’d ever experienced. Imagine having something sever your skin, and then having someone separate that skin and scrub under your flesh. With alcohol. Not exactly pleasant. In fact, it was the longest 10 minutes of my life. After what felt like an hour and plenty of tears and sweat and blood, my dad told me he was finished and that we needed to go to the clinic for stitches. Knowing that it was 8:45pm and that the drive to the clinic would take about 40 minutes on an agonizingly bumpy road, and we had JUST been there for Simon’s stitches and he said he could partially feel it as they sewed him together, (this thought really scared me) I refused (in vain) to go. I changed into a dry shirt and was carried to the truck as my dad, Simon and Uncle Rufus climbed in. On the drive my dad told needed to convince me why I had to get stitches, so he revealed that the gash was so deep – through all layers of skin, through the muscle, through the fat – that he could see some of the the tendons. (gag reflex)

We also discussed how strange it was, considering the depth of the laceration, that I didn’t even know that my skin had been lacerated. A possibility was that the end of my nerves had been severed, eliminating pain of that nature. Deciding that this was the most likely explanation, I thanked God for this. The only thing in my mind that could have made it much worse was more pain at the time of the accident, causing a traumatic scene on the beach. On the long commute to the clinic I solved my own perplexity on exactly how I was hurt. When my foot went into the creavice, the skin there, just below the bone was taut. There must have been another sharp rock there between the two rocks I knew of, farther down. That taut part of my foot just pushed right into that rock, and all I felt was the turning of my ankle. It makes me shudder to think of how I pulled it out.

When we reached the clinic, my dad carried me inside where I was registered and set in a small room on a bed as Prince, the doctor (not really a doctor, more of a technician), prepared the necessary supplies. After receiving a priesthood blessing from my dad and Rufus, the first procedure was a few lidocaine shots, (major ouch) after which Prince shoved something that looked like a thread with the consistency of a wire through one side of my gash and out the other, making a knot, and sewing the skin. I was astonished! I could only feel pressure as he flossed it through, nothing more than a tugging sensation. He did this four times, and then it was over. After getting bandaged up and getting an antibiotic shot (ahem – in my right buttock) I was free to go. For some reason the ride home was more painful. I could feel every jolt and bounce in my foot. Upon reaching home and exhausted, I splashed cold water on my face, took some pain killer and knocked out for the night.

The following day I didn’t go to church. Monday my dad drove me on a motorbike to school and back. The next day I stayed home sick. The next day Simon took me on a motorbike to school. The next day was Thanksgiving. (I’m not lying) The next day I stayed home sick. This is such a shame because I really do love school. Believe me, in the US for some reason I would have had no problem with skipping huge amounts of school attendance, but only going to school twice this week kind of depressed me. Luckily my ankle is doing well, and the only sickness I have now is what is called GYC in Liberia. (Grave Yard Cough) I’m basically a professional now at my twice daily cleaning of my wound, and I’ve gotten used to the sting of the alcohol. “By the Grace of God I will reach on campus tomorrow.” This is a common phrase here, and applies to me πŸ™‚

Thanks for sticking with reading this whole thing. It makes it more enjoyable to use my time writing when I know somebody is actually interested.

Love,
your grandaughter, niece, young woman, friend, sister, cousin, bestie, and buddy, Ruby <3

OH! Btw, in the picture, it’s me and Faith Tokpah. Myself and all her family calls her Akos, which is her “house name”. This sweetie is the cutest darned thang you ever saw! Whenever this 5 yr old sees me she calls out “Hey my beeeeeeeest friend!” πŸ™‚

 

win_20161106_17_21_48_pro

a (mon)day in the life of a ruby in a liberian village

30 Oct 16
Ruby Jones
4 comments

10-29-16
Hello dear friends and family!

Today I’d like to explain a little bit about everyday activities. Any given Monday, for example, here is what I generally experience: I wake up about 5:30am to the rooster and E-mom, crawl out of my mosquito net, throw on some clothes and head out to do my chores. My chores vary depending on the day of the week, but include drawing water for the bathroom, drawing water for the washing and drinking water, cleaning, sweeping, etc. Usually I finish by about 6 or 6:15 and then I go and get ready for school and eat. I try to leave the house by 7-7:15 to walk to school with Bintu or whoever else is ready to leave. I call Bintu “Ma” because her name is Bintu Ma Sowah Paye. Walking at a moderately fast pace it takes between 45 minutes and 1 hr.

When we reach school around 8, when school is supposed to start, we wait around for a while for a teacher to show up and unlock the doors. When we do get in, who knows what classes we’ll have or if we’ll even have any. There’s a lot of messing around with no real authority nearby to care. Sometimes if a teacher remembers to ring a bell we’ll go out for recess, when some people go home, and some stick around to see what class could possibly be next. I usually go down the road with my friends and get something to eat, or Ma brings bread for us from home. We come back in class a while later, (nothing is specific time wise. No one cares how long anything is in school.) and wait to see if a teacher will show up. If there is, we take notes, and rarely get homework that never gets collected or checked. I have all male teachers by the way. I have no idea why but there isn’t a single female employed at Kpekor Public School. At about 1pm we all leave and begin the trek home. If the sun is hot that day, when we reach home I look like someone wasted (poured) water on me. Soaked through my clothes with sweat.
At home I go change, sometimes bathe, and go in my moms’ room for a snack. Usually bread that she made that morning, or gari. Gari is my favorite snack that is made from ground casava stick. It looks like tiny white flecks which can be very messy. It goes in a cup with water, powdered milk, sugar, coconut, peanuts, whatever your heart so desires. It’s easy to fix and it’s sweet. After my gut is full or at least satisfied I go and do my washing if I need to.
Laundry washing is quite a task that has taken a lot of practice and that I’m continually getting better at. First I draw water and collect the materials I need: dirty clothes, soap packet, ball of soap, and chloride. These all go in the water and begin washing by hand. After washing and rinsing and hanging everything on the line, (this could take anywhere between 15 minutes and literally 6 hours depending on how much clothing need laundered) I’m finished.
Then I help make dinner or do homework, or read or play or whatever I feel like. Around 6pm someone rings a bell and we all gather in the back kitchen to pray over the food. Then we eat rice and soup and fruit. Every day. I am so much in love with this meal πŸ™‚ Then I draw (pump) water and take my bath. It takes around 35 pumps to fill a bucket big enough for a bath and can take 1-5 minutes depending on if you’re me or Ivy. After I bathe I plait (brid) my hair or ask someone else to if I want more than two.
Devotional is at 8pm. On Mondays that means FHE which is a time where anyone who has a joke or a riddle or a skit or a song or dance can come share it. It’s our day of the week to share fun (make each other laugh). Then Tuesday through Thursday is regular devotional when two people gives talks like they would in sacrament meeting, and Friday and Saturday are movie night. Last week we watched Frozen, and I sang every single song. Not lying. Sunday night is testimony meeting. All of these nightly devotionals happen in the palaver house, behind the building we stay in.
Then I get ready for bed and crawl into my mosquito net. The end.
Life is different in such a good way. It’s less complicated. Less crowded. Less lonely. Less sad. Less monotonous. Even though every day here I’m doing mostly the same things, it feels different. It’s so much fun. πŸ™‚ Love, Ruby Roo, Rubicks cube, rubizzlee, rubbles, and little sis Jones

 

win_20161029_04_28_08_pro

my happy place

30 Oct 16
Ruby Jones
one comments

10-2-16

Hello friends!Β I’m going to use some of the Liberian vocabulary words and common sayings I’ve learned and use often. The definition is in parentheses.

This has been a crazy week! On Monday I wasn’t feeling well so I didn’t go to school. On Tuesday we came home early because no teachers showed up. On Wednesday, same thing. We found out the teachers were on strike, so we didn’t even go to school on Thursday and Friday. Which is good, because I’m ruining shoes just walking to and from school! Two pairs were trashed just last week. I’ve said before that I LOVE the walk to school, and it never fails to interest me. On Friday, just for fun, my best bud Leo (14) says “Ruby I’m tired. Come tow me.”(carry on your back) We were just messing around, but there was no way I would mean him. (deny) So I handed my backpack off to Morris and carried Leo until I my body gave up. Just as a side note, the sun was flogging us. (SO hot and humid) Then, to be fair, he towed me for a little. Then I towed Diamond, Bintu, and Morris. I was shocked when I put Morris on my back! This 19 year old guy was about as heavy as Charlie. He is super short, and built of muscle. He’s called “Gospel” because he is strong and can use tools. It was plenty fun and even though I was dangerously overheated, it was an enjoyable workout.

I spent most of my week with Leo and Diamond. They taught me a ton of games: Police, African Tic Tac Toe, G, and they even tried to teach me a Liberian rap that I now love. I don’t know if you can look it up, but you should try. It’s called Unto You I Give My Praise by Soulfresh. Leo tried to teach me how to cut a coconut, but I couldn’t have failed harder haha πŸ™‚ I nearly cut my finger off. A machete is harder to aim with than I thought. My dad taught Leo and I how to play a rythem on the new djembes, so he and I played almost every day. Diamond started teaching me how to sew, and that is thanks to Grandma Jones, who taught him. I had a great time doing that.

Just outside the fence, behind the kitchen, under the big mango tree, there is a bamboo bench in the shade. This is my happy place. I bring my book out there and lay down looking up at the inside of the beautiful tree, watching the same small spider spinning it’s web and catching its meal. For some reason this is a really peaceful place for me to go and relax, most times taking a nap. Usually when I’m there, Leo will come and sit with me and we talk. Even though I’m a person that seriously needs alone time, I always love talking with Leo. He said “Nobody on earth wants to be alone.” He’s a gentleman and my best friend so far, so he keeps me company when I’m alone or troubled.

Last night I ate sugar cane for the first time. It’s just a stick that has bark on it. I’m not entirely sure I was eating it right, but what I did was bite off the bark a bit at a time and suck on it for a bit. Then I took bites of the core and suck on that. It is sweet! When it lost the flavor I chunked it. (chucked, or threw) I also ate pig feet, condensed milk on bread, and chicken. When I say chicken, I mean everyone in my family got a drumstick and I ate my chicken. And my bone. And my moms’ bone. And my dads’ bone. And then my teeth hurt from all the intense crunching.

I finished my book this week!!! Loved it! Thank you Britanny! The Secret Garden is going on my long list of favorites.

We went to the beach yesterday, and I held a crab! Last week I accidentily made it known that crabs freak me out, so the boys entertained themselves by trying to force me to hold one. Not fun. However, yesterday Leo showed me how to find them, safely hold them, and even remove the claws so they can’t burn you. (pinch) It was actually enjoyable after that. I held a few dead baby crabs, a few living, and even a huge harmless one. As we were about to leave Leo came to me with one in his hand that he wanted me to hold. I asked “Is it big? Did you rip off the claws?” but he just smiled, didn’t answer, and handed me a medium size crab with its pincers!! It burned me a few times and I dropped it. I was kinda mad at him for that, but he caught it again before it could get away, and I held it again, more careful this time. I don’t want to dig for them yet, but at least I’m not as scared of them anymore, so I’m proud of myself πŸ™‚

I love it here, I love my life, and I love the Lord, who made this beautiful journey possible. I have made an effort to memorize a few hymns that I like. So far I have Lord I Would Follow Thee and I’m familiar with The Lord Is My Light. The first week I was here I was actually scared that I would wake up from this living dream to my less challenging life on Cavallo Drive. I love hearing from you all, and I hope some of you will consider or further look into visiting Liberia!

your buddy, Ruby Jones
P.S. in the picture, it’s me, Ivy, Leo, and Diamond. Sorry the light isn’t very good πŸ™‚

Tales from the 9th grade in a Liberian village

28 Sep 16
Ruby Jones
2 comments

Greetings! I’m sorry I have been so inconsistent with my writing, but I feel like there’s not much to talk about! I’m experiencing so much but it’s so hard to summarize. Tomorrow I will be starting my third week of school, which has been all new ups and downs. I wake up at about 6am, do chores, get ready, eat breakfast, get an umbrella for the rain that I prayed wouldn’t come, and embark on a trek to school. The walk is usually enjoyable. I get to be surrounded by beautiful green palm trees and lush plants as far as the eye can see. If I stay still and listen I can hear birds and bugs, and I can nearly feel the life that is growing before my eyes.

The walk is about an hour, and every once in a while when I have to literally wade through the middle of the dirt road, knee deep in water, it feels like a whole lot more than an hour. I walk to school with Diamond, Leo, Moses, Bintu, and sometimes Decontee and Felicia. It’s wonderful quality time that we use to: sing, discuss school, discuss politics, discuss fears and hopes, discuss goals, discuss our pasts, and tell jokes. My favorite is when the boys give me koloqua lessons. It’s always a diverting way to pass time πŸ™‚

At school, all the grades have their own classrooms, K-9. There are 14 9th graders, not including me. I think I am the youngest, and the oldest is my friend and neighbor Morris, who is 19. The classroom is small, hot, and worst of all, dim. It is SO hard to stay awake when there is a boring teacher giving a lecture that I can’t understand in a dark room. I end up drawing or passing notes, taking notes, or even falling asleep. No one cares really. In class we just copy the notes written by the teacher on the blackboard (with horrible spelling and grammer errors), and listening and mostly not listening πŸ™‚

The uniform is a white button down shirt every day, a green skirt every day, and black shoes. I have no clue why this is the uniform and why they make it sound so mandatory even though nobody in charge enforces it. There’s a boy named Abraham in my class that has never worn uniform once and literally nobody has mentioned it. It is probably understood that he cannot afford one, and his grandpa is one of the teachers.

At about mid-day when some teacher feels like it, they will bang a bell with a spoon signaling lunch break. The break can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and a half. The length just depends on when a teacher remembers to ring the bell again. On recess, most kids go down to the small shops by the road to buy a snack. Lots of days I walk with Bintu or the boys down the street just to get “fresh air”, but sometimes I stay by the school and read The Secret Garden. Everyone is interested with my book, but I have to be careful not to let it out of my sight so it doesn’t get stolen or damaged. When I read or walk, I have a large entourage of small children holding my hands and my skirt, just following me everywhere. These are my friends, these first graders that I end up spending lots of time with. My absolute favorite tiny human at school is a little girl named Sata who loves to loosen my plat (braid) and do it up again.

My classes are honestly based on which teachers show up that day. Sometimes it’s 2 or 3 subjects, sometimes it’s 7. In between, the students take turns telling jokes, messing around, literally saying prayers as a class, and rarely but possible, just leaving school entirely. This is always a lot of fun, and I feel like it’s sometimes more educational than if a teacher was present.

Anyways, my time here is just dandy in every way and I miss you all so much! Thanks for reading!

Wow. I really love it here :-)

18 Sep 16
Ruby Jones
5 comments

Hello everyone!

This is my second blog post. I have been in Zuannah Town, Liberia for a week and 3 1/2 days. I’m loving life here so much! It sounds weird, but living here seems like the most natural thing in the world. It took a matter of one or two hours to adjust to everything, but since then, it feels like home to me. Bucket baths, mosquito nets, frequent rain, laundry by hand, dishes by hand, cramped bumpy car rides, spicy food, rice for every meal, the humidity, and tons of singing, (I guess some africans love singing, because we sing the longest songs for devotional every night and at church) it all brand new, but I feel like it’s the way I want to live my life. I love everything. I’m making many friends here, and I love spending time with the little ones, Josephine, Patrick, Faith, and Gifty. Everyone is so happy and helpful. They never complain, even though some of them are working all day. Laundry takes hours! My knuckles are all cut and by the time I was done with the washing yesterday, they were bleeding badly. Washing clothes by hand is not as easy as it sounds, and drying…forget about it. It’s rainy season. No point in even trying to dry clothes after washing them.
I’ve been asked what I do on the daily. There’s honestly not much to it. I wake up, eat, get ready, sometimes do laundry, eat, play cards, play volleyball, chat, read, eat, devotional at 8pm, take a bucket bath, go to sleep, repeat. Not in that order or anything, but whatever I want to do basically. There is so much chill time during the day. This will all change tomorrow, because I’m starting school. I will be a 9th grader at Kprekor middle school. I will be doing homeschool math when I come home, so I can keep up on 8th grade education in the U.S.
I miss you guys so much, and thank you for reading this! I love and miss my 3 other musketeers, Luisa, Josie and Janey. I’m trying to send letters but who knows if they’ll reach you πŸ™ I miss my grandparents, and Grandma Jones <3 I hope you are doing well. I can receive emails, so I hope I can keep in touch with more of you, and I appreciate the occasional email from Luisa. Love you guys so much! I love it here, and if it weren’t for you guys, I would never want to come back. Thanks to the Vaenukus for all of their love and their friendship. Heni, I have that picture you gave me! Thank you all so much! Thank you to everyone who wrote me letters, I read them often. Thank you to Brittany for my book, which I’m working on finishing. Thank you to everyone who came to drop us off. That was one of the most touching and memorable moments of my life.
I’ll write some more next week, bye! Ruby Jones (Rubizzle, Rubbles, Rubes, and Rubics cube)

win_20160911_11_16_44_pro

Very first blog!

15 Aug 16
Ruby Jones
4 comments

Hey there! This is my first blog post.. and I don’t really know what to say. This is for us to keep in touch and let you all know what’s up in Liberia. It’s gonna be really fun to take videos of Β what life will be like. (which, to my understanding, will almost kill me) My most relevant worry is what I will take with me! What the heck would you bring if you were uprooting your life to travel to another continent? We each get to take two suitcases, and I want to take things to help keep me from getting homesick. So that means I’m taking pictures of people I love, gifts and letters from friends, and things that make me happy. Which means OF COURSE I’m taking my Pride and Prejudice book, that I’ll probably read about 5 times while I’m gone πŸ™‚

I’m going to miss so many people and places. Who am I kidding with taking keepsakes? No matter what, I’m for sure going to be homesick. I’ll miss my ward family (Youth and leaders especially) and extended family, who mean so dang much to me I can’t even say how much I’m going to miss you. And no pressure if you don’t want to spend your time reading a blog, who knows if it’ll even be interesting… I’ve never done a blog or anything like it before, so I’m sorry if it’s not what you thought. Thanks for at least pretending to be interested though. Thanks for being so supportive and thoughtful, taking time to be my friends, and showing so much love to our family. I love the young women so much, you’re making it hard to leave!You guys are my besties! You’ve always made me feel so happy and at home. I’ll think about you every day. I found a quote recently that I love (and may have shared it with a few of you already) and it says “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” -Winnie the Pooh

Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚ Ruby Jones

 

WIN_20160814_21_09_13_Pro


Notice: ob_end_flush(): failed to send buffer of zlib output compression (0) in /home/ixhiocpz/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 3721