I arrived back in Oregon on Resurrection Sunday morning from my second visit to Liberia. I would like to share some observations and experiences with you that come from this trip.
1. Traveling with Niki and Mark was a definite improvement over the first visit. It was great to see Niki and Mark reacting to Liberia and to be confirmed in our sense of call to begin working there with the Liberian Evangelical Mission (LEM).
2. Living in Liberia will take some adjustments on our part. The food is different, driving has different rules (even from Bolivia) and the lights and water might not be overly reliable for some time. Not to mention that beautiful Liberian English and handshake which ends with a snap as your hand is withdrawn from the hand of the other person. I was still struggling a bit to get it down.
|So which came first . . . the chicken or the egg or the auto parts?|
3. I feel at home in Liberia and take that as a confirmation of God’s call on us to make a change of field.
4. The children of Liberia are delightful beyond words yet many of them are truly needy. The plight of Liberia’s orphans is almost beyond description. The 30 or so kids who live at the World Christian Heritage Home orphanage live in sub-standard conditions but at least have a roof over their head and a mattress underneath at night. And there is food every day. Still the orphanage is without running water and bathroom facilities for these kids. Yet the people running the home are caring for the children and have a good vision to one day have a complete home for these kids. (I am not saying that all orphans live in homes this sub-standard but for these kids this is their reality.)
5. Fish heads can be eaten and really don’t taste all that bad.
6. Participating in the receiving of the first ordained elders into the LEM was a great occasion and privilege. I am excited about the prospect of being a coworker with these very real men of God.
7. And now the story that many of you have been waiting for concerning our return trip home. We boarded the plane in Monrovia on Friday afternoon. We arrived in Accra, Ghana where some passengers deplaned and others boarded. As passengers to JFK in New York we stayed on the plane. As we were sitting there I began to feel light headed. This has happened to me before on airplanes so I knew what was happening but even so it is a bit disconcerting. I put my head down and told Niki that I was feeling like I was going to feint. Then I realized that I needed to use the lavatory to relieve some intestinal discomfort. I asked the flight attendant if I could use it. I guess in my oxygen starved brain I was thinking that other passengers were boarding and that I was not allowed to get up. After a trip to the little room I was fine and the light-headedness had passed away. However, the flight attendant who observed all this reported to the captain of the flight that I was a sick passenger. I was told that the captain wanted to speak to me (although he never did) and when I went forward I was told to step out of the plane and was then informed that I was being removed from the flight. Both Niki and I tried to talk them out of this decision and reassuring them that I was not sick but to no avail. So Mark, Niki and I gathered up our carry one luggage and were transported by ambulance from the plane to a small medical post inside the airport. From there we were taken to a hotel where we spent the night and most of the next day until the next flight to JFK. The airline never took us through immigration and so we had no legal right to be in Ghana. Indeed, the following night we had to be walked through immigration by Delta personnel since we had nothing in our passports to show that we were legally in Ghana.
After all was said and done, it turned out okay. While I was not very happy about being booted off of the flight I realized that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is a very serious thing and that the airline was being overly cautious just in case I was a carrier.
9. I am thankful for the privilege of making this return visit and would request your prayers for God’s continuing guidance in the days ahead and as the mission makes a final decision concerning our place of future service.