Last week at this time we were finishing up the last touches on our suitcases and making sure they were the right weight. On Tuesday we left for the airport early to begin our long journey with a stop in Atlanta, New York, and Accra, Ghana. We finally landed in Monrovia Wednesday afternoon. Thanks to some sleep on the plane and in the Accra airport, we arrived relatively rested. Our first afternoon in country was spent unpacking suitcases and exploring our new place as people from the team stopped in to introduce themselves. That evening we joined the Aviation staff for dinner at a hotel nearby. We ate fish and chips, watched the kids play, and enjoyed getting to know our new team members.
The aviation staff has three families including our family. Noel will be flying the caravan and be the aviation director providing leadership for the team. One of the guys is a helicopter pilot and mechanic and the other guy is a mechanic specialist. They also work with about 9 Liberian staff who help take care of booking, finance, washing the plane, and other things. Even though Liberia is not very big, the roads are either really bad or nonexistent. The Aviation staff helps make it possible for Samaritan’s Purse to do work in those areas that would be hard to get to otherwise. They also help save on travel time which helps Samaritan’s purse be good steward of their resources.
On Thursday, our first morning, we went to devotions at the Samaritan’s Purse office. They start each day with devotions for the whole staff. The devotions included singing and a lesson lead by Liberian staff and then ended with praying together. Then we had some orientation before heading back to our house to work on getting settled in. Noel started work on Friday so he could get familiar with the plane and airstrips before his boss had to head back to the states. He has been busy with learning about the operation here and how best to lead the aviation team. Pray for him as he learns more about this new role and leads here. There is much to be done.
While Noel has been working hard, I have been settling in. On Friday, one of the wives took me into town shopping. We went to two different stores and had lunch out at a Lebanese place. They say you can get about anything here if you are willing to pay for it. At first I didn’t know what to think of that but after going to the stores, I think they are right. For example, I did see Tide liquid detergent but it was $50. Not to worry, they do have other brands that will work just as well and are much cheaper. Overall groceries are more expensive here and good produce is harder to find. On a positive note, they do have frozen veggies which are pretty good which will help us get our daily five in. All the prices in the store are in dollars. It takes about 92 Liberian dollars to make $1 USD.
One thing that will be different for me here is that I can and will probably need to drive. Already I have driven in our little area. Good thing I remember how to drive a stick! It is nice to have more freedom but I think I will wait a bit before driving to the grocery store by myself.
It is the rainy season here and very humid. When it rains, it really rains. One day I did get caught out in the rain when I was walking. At first it felt refreshing but then as it kept coming down harder, I decided maybe it might be good to run the rest of the way home. There is about a 1.6 mile loop around the neighborhood where we live that we can walk or run. Part of it is really close to the beach so we have enjoyed some walks to get familiar with our surroundings. The waves on the ocean are beautiful to watch and listen to. As far as learning about the Liberian culture, it will take some time. Liberians seem much more reserved than other cultures we have been too. It is nice that they speak English even though sometimes I have to concentrate to understand what they are saying because their accent is different.
Many blessings, Teresa