Category Archives: Kayla

Reflections on Liberia: The good and the… good.

23 Jun 17
Kayla Jones
one comments

June 5, 2017

After years and years of preparing and praying that the “right time” would present itself for us to move to Liberia, our nine months of living there have just come to an end. There were times throughout the experience when I felt it may never end! And if you had told me in month five that when our plane would race down the runway and lift off the ground to leave Liberia a few months later, that the tears would uncontrollably stream down my face, sadness consuming my heart, I would have said you were wrong. But now here I sit, on American soil. Liberia is still under my fingernails. I’m still itching bug bites. And people keep asking the question, “How was it?” Well, I’m still processing. I think it will be helpful for me to put some of my thoughts into words, and to share. The good and the bad. It’s worth a try, at least.

There’s a cute family movie I love about a modern-day Noah. In it, there is a scene where “God” is speaking to Noah’s wife, though she doesn’t know it is Him. She is having an emotional battle with what her family is being asked to do. God gives her this to ponder:

God:” Let me ask you something: If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prays for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prays for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”

When we embarked on this journey nine months ago, the greatest desire of my heart was that this experience would provide unifying opportunities for us as a family. Had I known at the time how painful these unifying experiences would be, I may have run the other way! Here is a list of physical ailments suffered within just the first 3 months, each delivered with its own special package of pain, inconvenience, expense, and worry of side effects, AND also trust, prayer, faith, and patience:

  1. Andy and Simon: painful, recurring ear infections that cause temporary, partial hearing loss
  2. Ivy, Charlie, and Kayla: severe heat rash
  3. Andy: malaria
  4. Simon: motorbike accident while learning to ride – 17 stitches on his right arm and hand, scarring
  5. Simon: malaria
  6. Ruby: cut right ankle on a rock in the lagoon: worst pain she has ever felt, nerve damage, 4 stitches, scarring
  7. Charlie: infected fire-ant bite on his foot
  8. Andy: venomous spider bite & staph infection on top of right foot – laid up for almost 2 weeks – permanent skin discoloration
  9. Charlie: malaria
  10. Andy: malaria (again)
  11. Simon: 3 infected spider bites on right hand – unable to use for 1 week – hand looked like a baseball glove
  12. Charlie: attacked by orphan home dog: 2 punctures – dog eaten by Haji & Follay
  13. Ruby: lung infection for many weeks, painful coughing
  14. Ivy: attacked by stray dog – 16 stitches on hands and face – dog eaten by Morris’s family
  15. Kayla, Andy, and Charlie: ringworm
  16. Simon: large motorcycle burn on right calf

The next 6 months, things slowed down a bit, but still…..

  1. Andy: while riding motorbike on road, hit by another motorbike driver, suffers minor bumps and road rash; but Kayla, who watched the whole thing, has mini heart attack!
  2. Charlie: malaria (again)
  3. Andy: persistent fungal infection on left foot
  4. Simon: motorbike wreck in the bush – BIG time road rash and burns for him and his passenger, Moses. (If not for helmets… can’t even think about it!), scarring on right knee
  5. Kayla: persistent fungal infection on left ear (evidently Andy should keep his foot away from my ear 🙂
  6. Ruby: motorbike burn on calf

Whew!  

Some mothers may be wondering why in the world we didn’t pack up our bags and get on the first plane out of there! Trust me, I considered it many times. Even Liberian friends were perplexed at our knack for attracting misfortune. But when I reflect on each ailment, how each one clearly could have been so much worse, and then consider what was learned, or gained, it was clear to see that God was teaching us – humbling us, and giving us opportunities to love and to serve each other. I watched my children who, pre-Liberia, had been so distracted and impatient, were now carrying one another through some very tough times – figuratively, and at times, literally.

The things we felt, the sadness we experienced, the prayers we said, are all too much to tell. I’m so grateful I used our friend MK McClintock’s new gratitude journal series throughout this journey. The first half of our trip, having to focus on three good things per day, was a saving grace. The second half, I didn’t have enough room to write ALL of the things I was grateful for each beautiful day. Some of my other blog posts include excerpts from those precious journal entries. The fact is, no one will ever know, outside of our family, the full extent of the frustrations, the love, the heartaches and the comfort we experienced. But I think it is safe to say, that we like ourselves and each other a whole lot more than we did before we left.

Notes to self: Kayla, don’t forget…

  • Andy’s tender tears when NOTHING on this trip was going as planned.
  • …the acoustics of the dome home – listening to the hymn Abide With Me each night during those hard months of December and January – tears wetting my pillow.
  • …witnessing with awe Andy‘s limitless capacity to love and to serve, NEVER thinking of himself.
  • …Gift. My dear, dear friend who loved me and my family so genuinely, and never asked for a thing in return. Remember massaging her hugely swollen, pregnancy feet while having a soul connecting conversation about the wonder of carrying a baby, and the agony and joys of birth. (See photo of me and Gift).
  • …Simon’s “Don’t mess with my sister” instinct after Ivy was attacked by the dog. He, along with our friends the Town Chief and the Imam, cornered it, and Simon did the very hard, very emotional job of making sure no one else got harmed by it. A true boy-to-man experience.
  • …Simon‘s smiles and tenderness with children, which I had never seen before – Snuggling and feeding an orphaned newborn, making Patrick, Josephine and Faith squeal with laughter, and becoming his own sister’s hero and best friend.
  • …Ruby throwing herself wholeheartedly into this Liberian experience. She loved everyone and everything so completely, even during hard times when that love was not reciprocated.
  • …Ruby‘s eager ear, talented tongue, and determination that enabled her to so quickly to pick up and perfectly speak the Liberian pidgin English “Coloqua”, winning the hearts of all she conversed with.
  • …Charlie’s abandonment of fears and anxieties. Walking taller than I’d ever seen him, and being completely free from the worries of what others think.
  • …Charlie tirelessly working with the drilling team alongside Simon, Mentor, Remember, Aaron, and Moses, like a grown man – twelve hour days, 6 days a week, deep in the bush, for 9 weeks – being the record keeper and photographer. He didn’t complain. Not even once.
  • …Ivy playing Lappa and other Liberian yard games all day, every day with her friends and coming home at dusk, covered in dirt with her hair sticking to her face and neck from sweat, and a huge smile on her face.
  • …Ivy‘s incredible love for her dogs, Olympia and Cosmo, which were so therapeutic after her dog attack. She became the best dog owner I’ve ever seen. They were her babies and her best friends.

In short, Liberia got under my skin. Sometimes it itched. Sometimes it ached. At times it was downright painful. But in the end, it soothed and calmed, and mentored. When the time is “right” again, I will definitely be going back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Gratitude journal entries this week

11 Dec 16
Kayla Jones
3 comments

12-11-16

One of the orphan sponsors and a Jones family friend, an author who goes by MC McClintock (of the Helm family in Jerome), created a series of gratitude journals with an African theme. She gifted one to each of our family, which we presented to the kids the day we left Salt Lake City. Her idea to inspire happiness is to write down three things each day which you are grateful for. I have actually been very diligent about doing this, and I’m so glad! Today, I feel a bit at a loss for what to write in a blog post, so I think I’ll just share with you my entries over the past week or two. (By the way, our author friend is donating all of her author royalties from the sale of these journals to the Heartwood Orphan Home, so come on…. get shopping 🙂 http://www.mkmcclintock.com/journals-africa-collection)

11/29
1. Working together as a family on the bamboo walls for our dome home.
2. Ivy’s dog attack could have been SO MUCH WORSE! 16 stitches altogether. So grateful to hold her tonight! Don’t forget: In the middle of her sobs and screams getting sewn up, “I love you, mom!” and then, in a calmer moment, her humor singing, “Sew, a needle pulling skin”, to the tune from Sound of Music.
3. So grateful for Simon’s “Don’t mess with my sister” instinct, and being helpful. I’m really proud of that kid tonight.

11/30
1. Good talk with Simon. Processing the events of yesterday. Tough stuff.
2. My tender feelings bathing, dressing, and combing Ivy’s hair – serving her while she can’t use her hands.
3. Friends from Zuannah Town village coming by all day to check on how she is doing.

12/1
1. Seminary lesson that was so applicable to all of my emotions/prayers/questions this week. God sometimes LETS us suffer, so He can teach us. Not because He’s cruel, but because He loves us. It’s for the greater good.
2. Simon and Andy spending the day together on the dirtbikes, networking with local municipal leaders to establish the Heartwood Homestead as a community partnership effort.
3. Rain not coming until after my laundry dried.

12/2
1. Trip to town with Joneses! My navigating the outside market craziness with ease now.
2. Simon’s awesome and helpful attitude.
3. Simon traveling safely on a new Water Project motorcycle all the way from Brewerville on his own.

12/3
1. One step closer to dome home move-in day. Lacquering the bamboo walls almost done.
2. Facetime with Jan. Couldn’t ask for a better mother-in-law.
3. Choosing to take the children to the beach instead of reading all day (always a tempation for me!)

12/4
1. My heart feeling especially tender at church today.
2. Fun drumming with Andy and kids, and teaching myself Edelweiss on the guitar – reminds me of my dad 🙂
3. The prompting to read the Book of Mormon to my kids each night after family prayer.

12/5
1. Helping Faith feel better after she got sand in her eyes, and the nap she took in my arms afterwards.
2. Simon and Ruby working out a guitar/singing duet together.
3. Seminary. Loving studying the New Testament. Loving teaching.

12/6
1. That I had my phone on (rare), when Andy ran out of gas and needed Simon’s help.
2. Laughing so hard with Decontee at our serious bread baking flop.
3. Seminary prep. I’m learning so much!

12/7
1. Fluffy pancakes! New recipe.
2. Simon’s gall bladder okay after all (whew!)
3. Charlie’s spontaneous act of compassion when he accidentally spilled water all over Ivy and her dinner, making her cry. Immediate expression of apology and regret and then quickly acting to fix it and make her laugh again. Such a milestone for him!!!
4. Evening heart to heart with Ruby. Love that girl.

12/8
1. Morning jog with Andy and Charlie. My conversation with God while I raced ahead while they stopped for a stretching break.
2. Finding recipes and shopping for holiday ingredients so I can fix goodies. It will take some serious effort to make it feel a little like Christmas here in the bush. It is definitely NOT “Beginning to look (or feel) a lot like Christmas”!
3. Wonderful dinner at the Collin’s home (ward members, retired American-Liberians who are volunteering to run a school they started). Much needed time away from the compound. They had a refrigerator!!!!

12/9
1. While taking my bath, I overheard the girls in the bath next door to me. Oretha always sings in a funny opera voice, and I heard her sing to Josephine, “Don’t pee pee in heeeeeerrrre. Go in the toooooooilet”.
2. Olympia (our puppy), crawling onto my feet and laying down on them, licking (not biting!) my toes as I did laundry.
3. Andy pulling me onto his lap spontaneously and telling me with controlled emotion, “Thanks for trying… Don’t give up.”, in regard to my cooking flops with that darned coal pot oven!

12/10
1. Four senior missionary couples coming all the way out here to visit us! Mission President and his wife, PEF, Literacy, and MLS missionaries. It truly felt like there were angels among us 🙂 Gifts for the kids. Genuine interest in our work here.
2. Interesting plant we found down by the river that closes up on itself when you touch it. So cool!
3. Whole wheat bread that turned out! HOORAAAYYYYY!!!win_20161211_19_12_07_pro

This week’s Top 10

11 Dec 16
Kayla Jones
3 comments

11-20-16

This week’s TOP 10 LIST:

1. All of Charlie and Ivy’s teeth are falling out! They are just baby teeth, so no need to fret. Between the two of them, they’ve been keeping the tooth fairy pretty busy though. In the 2 1/2 months we’ve been here, Ivy has lost 2 chompers and Charlie has lost 5!

2. Just as the sandman was starting to do his magic, I noticed a peculiar noise in my room. Come to find out a bat was flying around (outside of my mosquito net, thank goodness). Then, waking in the morning to a scurrying noise coming from the ceiling. It was no small critter. I don’t even want to know what that was…

3. Itch Itch. Scratch Scratch. It is never ending! Ants, mosquitos, spiders, ringworm, heat rash. The name of the game is to put alcohol on any potential itchy places, and then carefully get into bed and hold the position. If I move, I may aggrivate an itch I didn’t even know I had, and then… I’m done for. It will itch ALL NIGHT LONG. ARGHhh!

4. Massive beetle dropped from the ceiling of the carport onto our windshield at the supermarket yesterday. It was about as wide as a golfball and as long as 1 1/2 golfballs. Seriously. SO BIG!

5. At church last week, one woman was wearing a skirt that had the heads of all the latter-day prophets of the church printed on it. It was amazing 🙂

6. The missionary from Ghana played the keyboard for sacrament meeting last week. During the prelude music singing time, he was told to just choose a song he could play. One of the two American Elders requested The Star Spangled Banner. We about fell out of our chairs laughing as our family and the Elders sang through it with the rest of the Liberian congregation trying to follow along. The Elder was bright red, equally embarrassed at his whimsical request and amused at what resulted. SO FUNNY.

7. Friend from SLC that does some work here in Liberia came for a visit. Before she came, she offered to bring anything to us that we needed and couldn’t find here. We had a few items sent to her via Amazon. It was like Christmas when she arrived Monday! I now have measuring cups and spoons (I have so much more confidence cooking now that I’m not just guessing quantities), a stainless steel hand juicer (freshly squeezed orange, grapefruit, lime juice each morning!), and a new tablet (I forgot what it’s like living with small children. The one I brought mysteriously got a major crack in it and is now useless). Karen also threw in a special treat for me – a box of Godiva Chocolates! Oh my goodness… heavenly!

8. Dome home floors and walls finished. White tile. White walls. Move-in day is right around the corner now!

9. Books, books and more books! Between the kids and myself, we’ve read 45 books so far. Charlie’s in the lead – 20 of those being his. Ya, maybe he’s not being very social, but for a kid that wouldn’t read anything but Wimpy Kid before we left, I am LOVING watching him devour books!

10. I passed off my daily Proper English Class to Simon. He is now responsible for the lesson planning and teaching of that class, followed by multiplication flash card memorization. It is awesome to see him take on this role (and with very little resistence)! He’s doing great with it, and the kids enjoy him being more involved.

Banjor Branch Blues

11 Nov 16
Kayla Jones
4 comments

In my blog post this week, I will attempt to paint a picture of what a typical Sunday here is like.

We are in the Banjor Branch of the Bushrod Island District. It meets at 9am.

We awake the same time every day of the week, and in the same way – between 5:30 and 6:30 to the alarm of the Imam in the mosque next door (have I mentioned how much I love waking up to his prayer song? Really. It will definitely be one of the top things I miss when we leave here).

I prepare a quick breakfast of oatmeal or cream of wheat and then at 7:45, we pile into one of the two vehicles going to church. In “Gavin” – the six seat belt truck donated by my nephew for his Eagle Project – we take…. all six Joneses, Faith, Josephine, and Patrick, and our neighbor (and investigator), Joe Prince Bishop. He hops in the covered bed of the truck. Rufus leaves about 20 minutes after us in the Suburban with the other 15 people. One person always stays behind (by rotation) to guard the compound and prepare lunch. It is a long and bumpy ride that takes about 45 minutes.

We get to the chapel in enough time for Andy to set up the keyboard and practice the hymns that are on the program for the day. Having a keyboard is a new thing in the Branch. Songs have always been sung a’capella. So the tune and speed of the songs have been sung the same way for so long that introducing the proper way, (with accompaniment) sounds a little like a tug-o-war! At 8:45, a conductor goes to the front and requests are yelled out from the congregation for songs they want to sing as prelude music, “One four four!” “One nine!” The conductor then sings the first line, to give the tune, and then he says, “One, two sing.” Which signals everyone to begin. The chapel is just a concrete box. There is not a picture on the wall anywhere. Tile floors. Plastic chairs – every one of which is filled. I would guess attendences is…150? Anyway, put all those enthusiastic voices in this room and we can really raise the roof!

Since we get there a bit early, we are there to watch everyone walk in, all dressed in their Sunday best. Boys and men wear just what we’re used to – white shirts, ties, dark pants or slacks, church shoes (if they can afford it – if not, sandals, tee shirts and long pants do just fine). They look sharp. Women and girls are in a bright array of colors – mostly tailored dresses in African prints. The women often have matching head wraps. Others are just in regular dresses that we’d see back in Utah. One thing I quickly learned though was that each week as I meet new women, I need to pay special attention to their faces. I made the mistake the first couple of weeks of just remembering their hairstyles, which are often interesting and intricate. Well, turns out that this changes from week to week in elaborate ways, because most women wear wigs or have weaves or extentions! One of the first friends I met had long braids one Sunday. You can imagine my embarassment the next week when I didn’t even recognize her when she came with short cornrows!

Names are also tricky. I’ve taken to writing them down in a notebook as I meet people. They are hard to remember. “Massa Twampo”, for example.

Sacrament Meeting and Gospel Doctrine, which are both held in the chapel, are a challenge. There is no microphone (well there is, but they don’t use it. The first week the Branch President tried using it, he was shouting into it. Everyone was giving funny faces at him, so he put it down and shouted, “You can all hear me, ya? I don’t need this.” And we haven’t seen it since), but there ARE ceiling fans (thank goodness). However, the ceiling fans make it impossible to hear the speaker from the pulpit unless you are in the first five rows. I often just read my scriptures through the meeting. Truthfully, it’s hard to stay awake, and several DO try to snooze. Funny tidbit here though: sleeping is totally UNacceptable – even if you are 2 years old. I’ve seen many little kids get wacked on the back for nodding off, even by complete strangers during District Conference. There is also NO CRYING. It is seriously the quietest meetings I’ve ever been in. Children just sit on their chairs like zombies through the whole hour. No Cheerios. No “quiet books”. It’s truly amazing.

The classes are hard because I’m still getting used to the accent/dialect. I got the giggles last week in Gospel Doctrine because the teacher reminded me of Martin Short’s character, “Fronk”, from Father of the Bride. It takes all my concentration to follow what is being said. By hour three, the heat and hunger have gotten the best of me and the little bit that I was grasping seems to just switch off. All of the sudden everyone might as well be speaking Japanese. This is particularly embarrassing if I’m called on…. eeekk! Luckily, in Relief Society there is a 70-something Liberian woman, Sister Collins, who has lived in Maryland for many, many years. She’s here running a school. Anyway, I’m grateful for her help translating when I get that deer in the headlights look on my face!

Bathrooms? Well, best if you go before you get there and hold it until you get home. Which is about… 5 1/2 hours. We made the mistake of sitting near the back window in Sacrament Meeting last week. Let’s just say, the grass grows pretty well back there 😉

Relief Society never ends on time. Every week it ends 15-30 minutes after church should technically be over. The teacher just goes until she makes it through ALL the material. Also, there are no clocks ANYWHERE here. And most women don’t wear watches. And then they round up every woman in the ward to squish into the room to sing the 4 verses of “Happy Birthday” to anyone who’s had a birthday this month, or last month, or…ever (so it seems).

1.”Happy Birthday to you (as we know it…..)
2. We wish you success, We wish you success. We wish you success, dear, Happy Birthday to you
3. How old are you? How old are you?…..
4. May God bless you. May God bless you….”

The baptismal font is outside. I have seen one baptism, which was right after church. There have been MANY though. There seems to have been at least one new member being confirmed each Sunday. The missionaries are doing a great job! We have two sets of Elders in our Branch. One companionship is an Elder from Ghana (who also plays the keyboard), and one from Ivory Coast. The other companionship is a couple of white boys from the USA.

Overall, I have been extremely impressed at the knowledge  the members have of the scriptures. They love to memorize them as well.  Also, hymns are beloved. There isn’t a lot of variety in those chosen, but they LOVE the hymns they do know (And they aren’t just for Sundays either. They are sung and whistled and hummed all through the week by the orphans as chores are done.  Someday I’ll try to record our rousing rendition of Secret Prayer during devotional, accompanied by the djembes. It’s a Heartwood Family favorite!).

I love my calling as a seminary teacher. Studying the New Testament and testifying four days a week has really brought peace and light to my soul as I strive to realize my  individual “purpose” here.

Is it different attending church here? You betcha! But it is a privilege to worship and serve with the Saints in Liberia. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true no matter where we are in the world, and I have learned something new each week that I put in the effort to be taught by the spirit and feel closer to my Savior.
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my typical day consists of…

30 Oct 16
Kayla Jones
2 comments

10-23-16

This experience is starting to feel like a blur as one day fades into the next. I just realized today that we’ve been here nearly two months. I rarely know the day, let alone the date. The passage of time for me is marked by the diminishing of supplies and books read. I’m down two tubes of toothpaste. My church shoes and flip flops are both ruined, and I’ve read The Book of Matthew (Seminary), Jacob-Mosiah, Mary Poppins (to Charlie and Ivy), The Light Between Oceans, and am now making my way through Anna Karenina.
I love reading, and it is glorious having time to do it. Ruby has always been a voracious reader, but it’s been so great for me to watch Simon, Charlie and Ivy all come to the library and finish book after book too. That has definitely been a positive thing about being here to me. Love it!

I will give you a little snippet of what a day in the life of Kayla is like here in Zuannah Town.
5:30am, awake to the Imam’s call to prayer next door, and then listen to the Muslims prayers (which are a lot like singing chants) for the next half hour. This is a beautiful way to wake up!

6:00am, Andy and I roll out of bed, but all older children are up and about already, busily getting their chores done before they have to leave for school

This week was awesome because Simon had a late start to school, so I didn’t have to do early breakfast. Due to this slight change in our routine, Andy and I went on a jog together each morning (except once, when it was raining). I discovered that this small thing could be the key to my happiness – an exercise date with my love!

Usually though…. by 6:15, I’m in the kitchen making breakfast for my family. – eggs and toast, banana pancakes, hashbrowns and eggs, oatmeal, fried plantain, cream of wheat – something like that.

6:45am, family prayer and breakfast

7:00am, Simon and Ruby are off to school and I clean up breakfast and start the coal pot for the oven. I make 6 loaves of bread every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Two for my family and 4 for the 20 other people. They are BIG loaf pans. 1 is equal to about 1 and 1/2 a regular loaf I used to make at home. Anyway, this bread making process can take anywhere from 2 hours to 4 hours depending on if the coal is wet or dry. The coal pot is my nemesis! I SO miss the ease of baking with the ovens I have known my whole life. I’ve always loved baking. Now I dread it, because it is so time consuming and the outcome is so unpredictable. I WILL figure it out though!

By 9:00am, if the sky looks favorable, Charlie, Ivy and I start laundry. I really try to do a load each day or else it can get overwhelming very quickly. I only do mine and Andy’s washing. The kids all do their own. If it’s a smallish load, it takes about an hour. Double that for a bigger load. Andy designed and had built a standing washing station built over by the sink, which really saves my back. I have to pump 3 buckets (about… 3 gallons each) from the well to fill the washing and rinsing tubs. I have noticed pronounced arm muscles growing on each one of us! The washboard is between these two tubs. Soak clothes, scrub clothes, rinse clothes, wring clothes, hang clothes. If the sky is being temperamental, that last step can last all day – hang clothes, run and take down clothes QUICKLY, hang clothes back up, run and take down clothes QUICKLY, repeat as needed 🙂

In between these chores I start Charlie and Ivy on their lessons. After an explanation of the math concept for that day is taught they are pretty independent with their assignments. It’s so great. And I love that just being here and having this experience, and doing these chores are all part of a valuable education too. They love staying home and the quiet time we have while all the others are off at school. I don’t regret the homeschool decision one bit.

11:30, Charlie, Ivy and I make some lunch. Usually Ramen, or PB&J with the bread I just made. And fruit. Oh yes, we have made sure we always have an abundance of fruit! All fresh from the market, sourced from surrounding villages and farms, and organic. And cheap!

12:15, the little kids come home from school. Usually our lessons are done for homeschool but sometimes not, and we can’t play yet.
I also take an hour for myself during this time before the older kids come home, to prepare my seminary lesson for later that afternoon.

2:45, everyone is home from school and I do a “Proper English Class”. Usually it’s just reading Hymns or a Shel Sylverstein poem together, enunciating each sound and listening to each child make the sound. In their accent they typically drop the last sound off of nearly every word, making it so hard to understand. It also means they have a hard time spelling the last half of many words 🙂
After this class, I do homework help, reading lessons, and multiplication flash cards with any and all children that want it.

5:00pm, Seminary class is held. I have 9 students. It is slow and difficult having to explain each thing in such detail. And having them do the journal writing they’re supposed to be doing during class is very time intesive. Any reading aloud is VERY SLOW. I started homeschooling Simon through Seminary, apart from this class. It was too tedious for him. Besides, I’m only ever able to make it through about 1/4 of the material. I’d like him to get more out of it just because he can.

Sometime between 6 and 7 is dinner. We always eat what is made for dinner (different from my plan in the last blog post which was to only share dinner meals three times a week). It’s usually fried chicken or fresh or dried fish with rice (ALWAYS), and some sort of “soup” – cassava, bitterball, potato greens, palm nut, etc…. Some are better than others, but my kids are being real champs about the food – better than I, I’ll admit. Simon and Ruby actually love the rice bowls a lot.

Between 7 and 8 we do dishes and take our bucket baths.

8pm, is devotional. We all gather in the Palava House for Hymns, declaration of “thank yous” for good deeds done that day, talks (assigned the previous night) on topics from For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet, sometimes a reading and discussion of one of the rules of the home, and discussion of any issues that need brought up.

9pm, brush teeth and go to bed. It’s amazing how much sleep we’re getting. The heat is just exhausting. We NEVER sleep in past 7 though, even on the weekends. We’ve all been having wild and vivid dreams. The kids often dream about going back to SLC and finding no one missed them – haha! I dreamed the other night of M&Ms – peanut, plain, pretzle…. We all had a good laugh at that 🙂

That’s about it! Reading through this, it doesn’t seem much different than what I was doing back in the states – cooking, cleaning, laundry, helping kids with school work, church callings, family spiritual nourishment. I guess the biggest difference is the time it takes to do those chores. It really is hard work. It’s not hard to feel just fine about not exercising, when your everyday tasks make your muscles burn and sweat run down your back. Because of the extra time required little attention is given to leisure.

Things I’m happy about right now:

1. Saturday shopping. For the past few weeks, every Saturday the Jones fam hops into the 4WD truck and makes the trek into town. This is a big deal for me – being the only day, apart from Sunday, that I get out of Zuannah Town. I can tell Andy hates it because the traffic is so bad and he battles with it all week, but it is the highlight of my week! I love just having our own little family time, and buying snacks on the side of the road from vendors – meat pies, tea bread with mayo, cinnamon rolls!, COLD water bags.
Things I’m looking forward to:

1. Internet. A tower is being built right now so that we have internet access out here in the bush. While I do not desire any more connection than I’ve had for myself – DIS-connecting was one of the top things I was looking forward to! – if having internet HERE will allow Andy to be here more, the sooner the better!

2. The completion of the DOME HOME.

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coexisting at the orphanage

30 Oct 16
Kayla Jones
one comments

10-2-16
Well, month two of the Liberia experience has officially begun, and let’s just say that I face it with much more ease than month number 1. Up until now it feels as if I have been struggling to keep afloat. I’m grateful that perserverance and prayer have changed that. With a little effort and tweaking this is really starting to work for our family now. I can’t say I didn’t have many days when I seriously doubted it!

Things that have changed:

1. While I planned to help teach at the school, the NGO that is supporting it decided that it was best to have the actual teachers teaching phonics. Apparently, not only do they need to learn how to teach it, but they can also greatly benefit from it. Language skills, written and spoken, are lacking quite a bit. This worked out fine for me, because now I am now homeschooling Charlie and Ivy! They went to the village school for a few weeks. They learned some Liberian history, and the National Anthem. They got a good feel for what it’s like to attend school (which is mostly just “loud”), and then decided they wanted me to teach them this year. I was more than happy to oblige. I have greatly missed private time with my kiddos. There are 26 of us that live at the orphanage now. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by noise and chaos. We LOVE our four hours, just the three of us, until the four little kids get home from school at 12:30. This is ample time for us to re-charge and feel ready to play nicely with others 🙂
Simon and Ruby haven’t complained about school and seem to be enjoying the experience. We are working on getting internet out where we live. If we’re able, they may choose to stay home for their lessons as well. If nothing else, they will at least be able to better supplement their education beyond just the math text books we brought for them.

2. A whole new world has opened up to me now that I have gotten past my fear of the motorcycle. Andy took me into town TWiCE this week. It is a bumpy ride, with the potholes and enormous washed out parts of the dirt roads. I am literally sore from my body being so tense on these rides! It’s about a 20 minute ride to the paved road on a motorcycle (35 by car). Up until this week, my only ventures into town have been going to church on Sundays. Andy has been busy with this container, so I’ve just been staying out in Zuannah Town all the time. I was feeling a little stir crazy. Okay, maybe A LOT stir crazy. Also, it was really frustrating having to go to Vic to ask for things like toilet paper or laundry soap. And my kids were ALWAYS hungry! This is a new feeling for them – haha. Charlie said, “there are NO snacks here!” True story. This situation wasn’t working for us, and certainly was not helping me feel at home here. This brings me to number three….

3. Instead of us just putting money into the orphan home monthly budget to cover the expenses of our family, we are now taking care of our own needs seperately. This sounds so logical, and you may ask why we didn’t do that to start with. Well, it’s a bit trickier than you may think. It can feel very divisive. And just try to eat with a hungry child watching you! Impossible. (Not that the kids at the orphanage are underfed or anything… it is more a matter of timely food preparation). So Andy and I sat down with Vic and Rufus and figured out how to make this work for all of us. We decided what was needed was a very scheduled eating system, which included times and menu that everyone could count on. The existing system worked well enough for those already here, but not really with us in the mix. Breakfast and dinner are always prepared, but most days lunch isn’t provided as a meal. Not because no one is hungry. Everyone is hungry. Just no one makes anything. They just eat a piece of bread with butter or leftover rice. With the new plan Vic and I will rotate days when we will be in charge of having food for the kids when they return from school, and I won’t feel guilty about providing lunch for my own kids.
Also, instead of our family always eating what is prepared – which isn’t ALL bad, but I would like a bit more variety and a say in how we are nourished. Nine months is a long time of eating fish, rice and cassava leaf. So… Andy bought me a little single burner propane stove, and we will go into town twice a week to buy food. There is a supermarket run by some middle eastern people that have most things I’m familiar with. Some prices are astronomical, while some are the same or cheaper than in Utah. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it, but can I just say one word, people? NUTELLA! 🙂 We are now making our own breakfast, lunch and 4 dinners per week. The other 3 nights of the week, we will eat with the others. Friday nights I make cookies, and three times a week I bake bread for us all. Last night I fixed for my little family of six, eggplant parmesean. My goodness, it was heavenly! That was our first day having dairy since being here. I’m glad our guts didn’t seem disturbed by this long lost food group! We have no refrigeration, so anything I buy that would require it needs to be consumed that day.

That’s all the news for this week! We are currently at the stake center. They are broadcasting the Saturday second session and the Priesthood session. I’m so glad we could participate, even if it’s just a little!

Love you,
Kayla

Kayla: Teacher and Student

28 Sep 16
Kayla Jones
4 comments

This week had some highs and lows. We’ve been here nearly a month now and the surroundings and way of life seem normal now.

I was initally asked by an NGO that is working with the Zuannah Town Elementary School to provide reading support to the students at the school – which would mean having teachers identify which of their students needed extra help with their reading skills. This I know how to do. When I showed up to do this on Monday morning though, the principal and teachers decided that they didn’t want me taking kids out of the classrooms, because they would miss out on lessons. It was decided that it would be more beneficial if I just taught phonics in all of the grades. 15 minutes per class, per grade. Also, I am to “Develop your own lesson plans”. Okay… being the agreeable person that I am, I enthusiastically said that I would. Well, I quickly discovered that what I remember about teaching my own kids phonics will run out in no time at all. After three days of teaching, I called the woman from the NGO to ask if she had any materials for me to follow so I could better do this. She said that she did not want me teaching phonics. The teachers needed to be the ones to do it so that: a. they learn how to teach it, and b. they improve their own skills of phonics (phonics is not part of the educational system in Liberia). For example: my kids copy teachers’ notes off the board that are most often grammatically incorrect. Ivy’s teacher wrote her a note to remind her that her beaded ankle bracelet is not allowed in school. The note read: “Please, Ivy. Tell me you are not wearing beans.” She was SO confused, and laughed and laughed when she told me! Also, fish is “fich”, beach is “beash”. The reason for this is that most Liberians speak in pidgin english that drops the last half of most words. If a person doesn’t read the words in a book there would be no way of knowing how to spell (or pronounce) the full word in most cases. Another one of my favorites: if something should be thrown away, you “chunk it”. Or if they want you to throw a ball, “chunk it”. Hahahha! Love that one….

Anyway, back to the school. I did love being there. So the next day I went, I told the principal that I had spoken to NGO lady from New Jersey, Christina, and she didn’t want me teaching phonics. That day, I took it upon myself to work my weeding out/organization skills that I got obsessed with this year and organized their library/teacher’s lounge. They have a ton of text books and storybooks that were EVERYWHERE – no order to it whatsoever. So I got my earplugs (the school is SO loud because each room is just a cinderblock amplifier box), and found my happy place going through every single book. Weeding out outdated materials, and organizing by subject so that you can clearly see what’s what to be utilized in a classroom. And cleaning. Oh my word, the dead critters I found! Not to mention the dirt and droppings. One book I removed from the shelf caused a lizard to jump out at me! It took me 5 hours, but I transformed that place 🙂 It felt fantastic and the staff was so appreciative. The principal kept saying over and over what a hard worker I was. Which is so funny now that I’ve seen the way things run here. The motto seems to be, “Why do today what can be done tomorrow?” haha

The day after that, the NGO team showed up at the school again and were doing reading and math assessments on all of the children. I was asked to help, so that was enjoyable. I love the children. It’s fun to work at the school, but I’m just not sure in what capacity I would be helpful. I’ll pop in tomorrow and see what’s up.

I guess the frustrating thing I’ve faced that I didn’t foresee happening, is the feeling that we didn’t move to a new home but that we’re just staying at someone’s place – for a really long time. In reality, this IS our place. We created it. It is easy to feel that this is Rufus and Vic’s place though. They run it. They oversee the chores of the children. Vic does the shopping and runs the kitchen. Rufus directs the nightly devotional. If I think about it too much, I feel like the annoying guest that seriously outstays their welcome. The fact is though, these children have no parents. They are hungry for love and affection (which isn’t really the African way, from what I’ve seen). There is no one that seems to be assigned to attend to the little things, like making sure the small children are bathed regularly, or brush their teeth. The older girls are pretty helpful with the little girls (braiding their hair), but poor Patrick. He is the only small boy and he is terribly overlooked and under cared for. He is the obvious place to start.

The other day Vic went to the market (since we have no refrigeration, she has to go buy perishable food every other day), and I was the only one home. The small children get out of school around 12:30, which is about an hour before others start coming home. They were all so hungry, but Vic had her room locked up – which has the food they usually eat after school (gari). I had access to the pantry, so I decided to try to make them some spaghetti. I couldn’t get the dang coal pot lit though! There were only had 3 matches, which I quickly wasted. We decided to get everything else ready and hope Vic got home soon to get more matches out of her room. I was slicing up the onion and Faith was eating it as soon as it hit the cutting board! Raw onion! Then I opened some cans of tomato paste to put in the pot, and these kids were licking the remains of the tomato paste from the cans. Ah! Did I mention there’s no can opener? Cans are just opened with a knife. So I snatched away the cans before someone cut off their tongue, and gave them dry spaghetti instead. Luckily, Vic came home soon after that, and we got those kiddos some food. Boy, did I feel helpless though. I never want that to happen again.

I know there has been a system in place for many years that seems to work well enough for everybody living here at the orphan home. They have their budgets, their methods for getting things done, their division of chores, etc. Stepping into that system and developing my own system within it has its challenges. Ownership needs to be more fully felt though, on my part. I’m such a tentative person that hates to step on toes. It takes real effort for me to step in. I’ll figure it out 🙂 Tis a process!

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Questions from a love one answered

18 Sep 16
Kayla Jones
6 comments

I am taking advantage of limited opportunities to charge the laptop and get a good connection, by posting an excerpt from an email as a blog post. A concerned and worried loved one had a lot of questions for me. Here is my attempt to provide a few answers, which other friends and family may also have but have not asked…


Dear ____________,

I’m sorry that you feel so tormented by worry. I know that in your language, worry translates to an expression of love. And I feel that. Thank you for loving my family so much.

Because you got my email and I got yours, be encouraged that we can communicate in this way – hooray!
To answer you questions:
1. Why are we not in our dome home yet?
It’s not finished. Our first container with the vehicles is already here! Andy’s time has been spent running around Montovia getting official paperwork completed so that it can be released to us. Getting anything “official” done is quite the inefficient process, so to answer your question, there hasn’t been time yet. We are comfortable in our current situation though.
2. What are we sleeping on?
We each have a 3 inch foam pad. In the kids’ room there is a linoleum-like floor that their pads are on. They each have a bottom sheet, a top sheet a pillow and a mosquito net. They each have one shelf and bamboo rod hung from the ceiling to hang their clothes up. Their room is painted white with 2 Windows with bars on them. They have curtains and a lock on their door. It’s in a building that also has a storage room and a library room. Andy and I are 10 feet away in another building. I can call to them from my window and they can hear me. Our room is a lot smaller than the kids’. Probably 7 feet by 7 feet. We have a queen size foam mattress that is atop a bamboo bed frame. We have more bamboo clothes racks, a 4 tiered shelf and a chair. We also sleep under a mosquito net. We sleep soundly and well.
3. How does food prep work? Are we healthy?
They have a very organized chore system. One of the older girls is in charge of the main meal each day, with younger girls helping with food prep. It is primitively done with coal stoves, but works just fine. They have a big metal box with a glass front that works as their oven, once you put a coal pot inside it on the floor. I have taught them to make bread. It’s delicious! I have so far only made one meal – yes, for everyone. I made tortillas, and then mixed together beans, onion, eggs and some chicken seasoning. Not too shabby 😉 I’m learning. I’ve started helping a lot in the morning to make sure the kids have food before leaving for school. As with every family, school mornings are rushed!
We are healthy. Ivy had a little itchy heat rash on her face and arms the first week, but that has gone away now. She also threw up a couple of times Sunday night, but was right as rain by morning time. They are all eating so well. The other night there was a drum stick atop our plate of rice and all of my kids did like everyone else, and ate the ENTIRE BONE! Ha! I remember hearing that you shouldn’t feed a dog chicken bones..?? anyway, not for me, thank you. But I did eat it the meat down TO the bone. My family probably may have more protein in their diets now than they did in SLC!
4. Do we have private time with our family?
It’s true that there are MANY more people around, but I still manage one on one time with each of them. I am often in my room journaling or preparing lessons for seminary or the elementary school. My kids come in and talk to me, do their homework, journaling, or we lie on my bed and read together. At night the 6 of us gather in the kids’ room and have family prayer and then I read the kids a chapter out of the book I’m reading to them. After we get this container, Andy will be around A LOT more. And when the village drill gets here in the second container, Simon will be working with his dad. I’m excited for that.
5. Am I expected to “parent” the orphans?
Well, my children certainly come first, but if a child is crying, an argument has broken out, or little people say, “let’s play cards”, I certainly don’t just walk by. We are also free with affection, as they seem so hungry for a hug, or a story read to them. It is natural and easy to oblige.
6. Can I grow a garden?
They already have one in place, but I did bring several types of heirloom seeds and gardening supplies given to us by a dear friend before we left. It is still the rainy season though, so I’ll wait a bit. The rain is truly unbelievable!
7. Church?
Thanks for sharing about the new RM booklets. Haven’t even thought to try to get on lds.org. If I get any reception out here, which is very rare, I’m usually trying to look up a recipe that I could fix with the ingredients available here.
I’m not sure how General Conference will work. We’ll figure it out. This week we have a regional conference with 3 general authorities coming!
Yes, we will go to church each Sunday. Andy has already been earmarked for Young Men’s, and Simon has already taught in his Quorum. I teach seminary out here at the home each evening to the 10 teenagers. Ruby, Charlie, Ivy and I didn’t make it to church this past Sunday because it wasn’t our turn in the car, and it was a complete downpour. Since Andy and Simon had responsibilities at church, they donned rain suits and hopped on the motorcycle.
8. How far away are the missionaries?
They have come out here to the home 3 times because they were teaching Mercy the discussions. Simon and I sat in on them, along with two others Andy had invited to join the discussion. She was baptized last Saturday, and asked Andy to do it. I met the mission president and his wife (from Midway, Utah) at church. Andy already knew them well. They’re great. The missionaries that taught the discussions were from Ghana and Sierre Leon. The missionaries at church were from Nigeria and California.
9. Are we clean?
Haha 🙂 Yes. I even scrub behind my ears. Ivy often takes her bucket bath with me and Charlie with Andy – so we make sure they’re thorough. You get yourself all wet, then suds up from head to toe and then rinse. No big deal. We bathe every night. It’s nice to get into our beds clean after these sweaty, humid days.

We do laundry often, before our load gets overwhelming. Doing it by hand is quite the chore! We will all come home with more arm muscle.

10. Am I sure my kids are safe?
I feel just as comfortable as I did in Rose Park. Our compound is completely gated in, and the kids stay within it, with the exception of school and church. They never go anywhere alone and walk to school in big groups. Starting next week I will be teaching phonics at the elementary school where Charlie and Ivy are.
We’ve met all our neighbors here in Zuannah Town – 26 houses. Everyone already knows and loves Andy and are happy to meet his family.
11. Are we planning on doing this every school year?
No clue. We’ve been here two weeks. We’ll see how it goes, make it a matter of prayer, weigh our pros and cons and have a family council about it. We love our children and want what’s best for them. I guess we’ve learned that sometimes what is best isn’t always the most comfortable or the most easy option.
I know this is different from the way of many.  I’m not “running away”. I just find a lot of value in different experiences and different cultures and we wanted to share that with our children. They may decide they have no appetite for this kind of thing, which is totally their opinion to form and deserves respect. We decided to have a family experience this year though. One that would challenge us and provide a wealth of learning experiences that will hopefully lead to growth for all.
I love you! Thank you for your love and concern.
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Settling In…

08 Sep 16
Kayla Jones
4 comments

Sept. 1, 2016
For so long we have talked about taking our children to Africa. And now, here we are! Such an interesting year, looking back at everything that has led up to this.
so now, i can’t believe we’re actually here. I keep having this moments where I think, “this is it. i’m IN liberia – back in africa, like i’ve always dreamed. with my children!” I’m so happy we made this happen.

in all honesty, i DID have a moment the first night of total displacement; wondering and worry about every little thing while andy sawed logs next to me. i finally decided to wake him up so he could listen to me, kiss away my tears, and give me the priesthood blessing that we got too busy to do before we left. it was a good decision. although, i blame this little breakdown on utter exhaustion from the travel. i haven’t felt that way a moment since.

FOOD – well, my vegetarianism is offically taking a 9 month break. alternative sources to animal protein are scarce. so…. this is what we have eaten so far:

Breakfasts:
– cream of wheat
– oatmeal
– onion eggs
– fried, sugar bread (donuts!)

Mid-day (can either be a proper meal or just a snack, depending on who the cook is that day):
– butter rice with hard boiled egg.
– fried plantain
– grapefruit
– fried potatoes (think big french fries with no salt)
– coconuts picked from the tree on the property and cut with a cutlass to perfection so we can first drink the water, and then you hit the coconut on the cement to crack it so you can scrape out the meat with your teeth.
– rice with a red sauce and topped with crawfish

Dinner:
– rice with kidney beans and fish in a red sauce
– rice with casava stew, topped with fish
– rice with potato greens, topped with crawfish and fish

Dessert:
– Fruit (watermelon, oranges, cucumber)

Amazingly, we have all done quite well with this. I find that it’s so hot, that we are rarely hungry, or even think about food. I brought multivitamins for all of us to take each day, and I am happy to offer Ivy and Charlie their “gummy-vites”, which feel like quite a treat.

Mentionables:
1. Upon arriving and seeing how we’ll be living, Charlie asking, “Can we stay longer than 9 months?”
2. “3 guys on a scooter” StudioC reference by Ivy when driving through the craziness of Monrovia
3. Andy, Rufus, Simon and Charlie running errands “in town” (Monrovia) and get completely stuck in a washed out road on the way home. After an hour, a prayer said, and inspiration given, they return home – but not until well after dark, giving me a bit of a fright.
4. Simon and Moses riding home from Liberia on a motorcycle taxi.
5. Prior to coming, I was so worried about Charlie, who is prone to anxiety and shyness. I have barely seen this kid during the days. He jumps in and is so happy to do everything just like the other kids do. he has made a good friend in rufus and vic’s son, gordon. he’s Not made a single complaint about the food, and not had a single fear sleeping in a whole other building away from me and Andy. AMAZING.
6. Walking to the Heartwood Homestead property today with all the children, and then on to the SEA!!!! Wonderful afternoon playing in the waves. The small children: Giftee, Faith, Patrick, and Josephine were absolutely terrified though. faith was on simon’s shoulder and she was clinging to his head for dear life!
7. Ruby, loving on all the young kids and being wonderfully positive each step of the way. She and I helped the children’s tutor that comes each Friday and did a little reading lessons with them.
8. Spending an abundance of time with Ivy. She and I have become special buddies and I am focusing the majority of my energy on her. I have been completely suprised that of all my children, she is the one struggling. We spend most of our days together playing cards, talking and snuggling.
9. because of a lack of vehicles, they take turns who gets to go to church each week. we all went. ruby, ivy, and i smashed in the 5 seat belt ex Terra with 9 other people for the 45 minute extremely bumpy ride through washed out dirt roads to church. simon, andy and charlie took a motorcycle taxi in. i’d say there were a little over 100 people in the branch. 15 young men, andy said. in the concrete room sacrament was in, it was so hot. for some reason they weren’t running the generator, so no fans, lights, or microphone. when we sang songs, it was nearly too loud for my ears! they LOVE to sing hymns. we sing probably five per day here at the homestead, and before sacrament meeting starts they sing song after song waiting for everyone to arrive. my throat literally hurts from singing!

Well, that’s our first few days in a nutshell. So far, so good! It is 100% different than life in Salt Lake City. Our ears are slow to understand what they’re saying, so I pray to overcome that stumbling block quickly! Tomorrow is Monday and all the kids start school – so that should be interesting…

sorry for all the typos and grammatical errors. i am not used to this keyboard and i hurry as to not run down the battery. i don’t know when i’ll be able to charge it again!

 

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Love to you all!


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