November 28, 2013 – Thanksgiving
This morning about half of the team woke up with irritation from the food – stomach aches, head aches, diarrhea, vomiting – all that fun stuff. We’re not sure what exactly caused it, but it was probably either the fresh cucumbers or the mayonnaise from supper last night. Thankfully we are all feeling better, although we are weak (this is mid-morning).
11:50pm – Wow! It has been a good day! We had our first children’s session in Zorzor this afternoon. We started around 2:30pm, after a lunch of gibi (spelling?), which is pounded cassava root that is dipped in a fish sauce and swallowed (the sauce has an entire fish, eyeballs and all, mashed into it). The dish was a staple during the war, because cassava root expands in the stomach.
The accents of the children here in Zorzor are harder to understand, but I have found all of the children to be so friendly. I am trying to learn their names. We are encountering some more unusual names in the mountainous regions. We had a group of about 75 today, which made it easier to connect with each of the children. And we had enough supplies for everyone, including the parents and pastors! Here the children understand the message of identity in Jesus clearer. As Pastor Steve said about Zorzor, “There is a kingdom atmosphere.” I had the opportunity to speak for about 5 minutes during the session today about what it means to look like Jesus. (Based upon Genesis 1:27 – “God created man in His own image,” and 2 Corinthians 3:18 – “But we are all being changed to look just like Jesus, so that when we look in the mirror, we see the glory of God.”)
All the pastors at the conference are strong but gentle men of God. You can see the love on their faces. They have all given so much thought into making us feel at home. We arrived at the church this morning to signs reading “Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends.” My heart was filled to overflowing at their thoughtfulness!
Tonight at the revival service, us girls sat with the Liberian kids in the back of the room. The children here worship with their whole heart. We danced with many of them and also engaged in some African dance with Famata. Toward the end of the service, the little ones began falling asleep around us or on our laps. One of the girls, who had been diligently following me throughout the day, laid her head in my lap. The love and acceptance is such a gift. It was as if we were all family, which in Christ we are!
I could spend years here among the Liberians, if I could get used to the heat that is. These people have suffered so many atrocities, it brings me to tears. Tonight Owen and Viola were recounting the civil war from their perspectives. The cruelty and injustice committed by their leaders is heart wrenching and unimaginable for us as Americans. Even today, in relative peace, many do not have food to eat and water to drink. Tonight I was brought to tears as one of the sweet little boys, David, was crying because he was hungry. And on this day in the United States we stuff ourselves sick with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. We do not know what it feels like to be so hungry that all we can do is cry.