We are now in week three of our life in Liberia. Bolivia and the States seem like a long distant dream and our Liberian routine is beginning to feel normal. I want to share some more observations about life in Liberia and in contrast to Bolivia.
In Bolivia there was always an endless supply of fresh vegetables and fruit, all at reasonable prices. I sort of assumed in my mind that the case here would be similar. So far, however, it has not proven to be so. I understand that part of that may be that we have not yet ventured into the main market of the city. But that the variety is less is, I think, a fact. There is a young woman who is helping us some and has done some shopping for us. We discovered that certain vegetables, such as lettuce, green beans and carrots, must be purchased at the supermarket. A one pound bag of carrots was $8.00; four tomatoes, $8.00. Oranges and apples were less costly but still kind of high. Pineapples are high too, compared to Bolivia but really good. On the other hand, really good sweet potatoes, onions, green peppers, cassava greens and bananas can be had for not much more than a song. Even Irish potatoes are available at not too high a cost. I have also seen cabbage, mangos and cassava but we’ve not bought any of them yet. So we are learning to adjust accordingly.
The shops around town remind me a lot of the market area in Cochabamba. We have not seen any really large stores or department type stores, which is not to say that there are not any but only that we have not seen them. It is easier to get to town than in Bolivia, once you can find an empty spot in a taxi. Despite the heavy volume of traffic, drivers seem to have more patience here than in Santa Cruz. On the other hand, the volume of motorcycle traffic is huge and they seem to drive by their own rules. I am told that the police are, by and large, honest, an area that will prove to be a bit refreshing after Bolivia, if it proves to be true.
As for the two churches we have attended so far, they are lively, but in a different way than our Bolivian congregations were. They try to start on time, not that the people are all there on time. Last Sunday there were three offerings taken during the service, one for Sunday School, one for testimonies given and one for tithes and offerings. Afterwards the people were being encouraged to give an offering to help with a wedding at another church. Here, as in Bolivia, it seems that people are inclined to give even though they don’t have a lot of their own.
Finally, one other area worth mentioning is that of people asking for money on the street. I alluded to this in my last post. As a white person I really stick out on the streets. And my appearance sends out a signal that says that I have money. If you have read my post for quite some time, you are familiar with my struggles in this area. How do we respond to the need around us in a way that helps and doesn’t just ease my conscience or that doesn’t simply set up relationships all based on money? So far, the only people asking are people who see me on the street. In Bolivia it generally was never the church people who asked. The church seems to take care of its own.
We have committed ourselves to a house but it will not be ready at least until August. So until then we will continue to stay at the guest house where we are. While it is a bit hot and a bit noisy at night (lots of restaurants and music up the block) we are already thinking of it as home and are content to wait for the other to be ready for us.
So little by little Monrovia is becoming our new normal, our new home. I look forward to getting better acquainted to it each day.