001We landed yesterday at O’Hare and it did feel good to be back in the USA.  I have more reflections/thoughts than time to type and some of them relate to my different perspective on the USA now that we are back.  I’ll nibble on a few of those here…

1.  The USA is a great country.  Some would argue that it is the greatest nation that has ever existed.  I personally think  — even with some troubling flaws — that might be an accurate assessment.

2.  Monrovia is the capital of Liberia and an article appeared in the newspaper there shortly after we arrived about a 26-person USA delegation that was in town.  I had a double take to realize the article was about OUR TEAM.  Such American groups don’t travel to Liberia so it was pretty major news.  Some of our team was on a main radio station live early in the week.  The radio station also came to the church Sunday to do a story where they interviewed me and a few others from our team.  

3.  It was common when we were stuck in traffic for the van drivers to turn on their flashers and then just pull out into another lane and go around everyone.  It seems this was regarded as acceptable since it was the “American Delegation”.  It felt weird (and even wrong at some level), but it does say something about the view of Americans in Liberia.  There were some exceptions, but most everyone wanted to make our time there very positive.

4.  Some of this, no doubt, is that Americans are seen as a people with great resources to help their country.  This is true on a national scale…George W. Bush left office in the USA with low approval ratings, but is a hero in Liberia because he stood up to their rebel dictator and made a path back to democracy after years of civil war.  It is also true on a personal level…as each of us had multiple Liberians ask us for personal help…or even for us to take them home with us.

5.  There was always a possibility someone would steal your stuff (thieves are everywhere and more pronounced in desperate conditions), but I never felt personally in danger because most Liberians were watching out for us Americans.  One of our vans had made a stop and the driver got out, leaving a few things on the dashboard including his cell phone.  A minute later,  one man distracted the Americans in the van while another reached in to grab the stuff.  However, a group of Liberians nearby saw what was happening and ran off the potential thief.  They came over to the group in the van and said ” You are Americans.  Be Wise.  Roll up your windows and be cautious.”

6.  I’ve tried to be a voice in our church to remind us how wealthy ALL of us in America are.  When you experience it, it generates A LOT of feelings inside.  In one of our nightly reflections, a team member from Muncie framed it in this way, which I thought was powerful.  “I see the conditions they live in and I know the conditions I live in.  I don’t want to feel GUILTY, but I want to make sure I am GRATEFUL.”

Even sitting here in my corner office early Thursday morning typing this, I know life will creep back to “normal” here very quickly.  I have a sermon outline due at 2:00 today for the bulletin.    I have 2 weeks of mail to go through and next week’s appointment calendar is over-booked.  I’m speaking at the Crown Point rotary club next week.  I’m craving time with my kids.  There are thank you letters to write to our supporters. 

So, I’m trying to decide the FEW things I will RESOLVE not to forget about this trip…to carry with me to our church and through my life and toward putting together more trips to help these beautiful people.  I’m going to pray about that today…

I’ll be writing about Liberia for a while and I’ll just include a few new pictures each time.  The one at the top and …these are from the Sunday Church service:

Top picture: Me teaching (with a tie!) with Bea Buegar in the foreground.

005Pictures below: 

The youth choir…they were incredible!

0111Children’s overflow seating…The church usually has an attendence of 200-250.  Sunday they had over 600.

012The main seating area of the church (empty seats were for our american team arriving)

~ by Greg Lee on February 26, 2009.

One Response to “Home…”

  1. Hello Greg, I am a member of E 91st St. CC in Indianapolis. I have been to
    Africa 4 times, once to Liberia. I know the Buegars very well and was the tutor
    for their children for 2 yrs while they were at E91. I visited them 2 yrs ago in Liberia. When I first went to Africa several yrs ago, I had many of the same
    joys and frustrations you mentioned. God blessed me with the realization that
    I must look only at one person at a time, one day at a time, not the whole over whelming conditions. We cannot fix anything, only God can, and it is a priveledge to work with Him. Also, a verse that was pointed out to me years ago, Acts 17:26, tells us that God appoints where each person will live. This relieves any guilt concerning how and where we live on this earth, as we will
    all end up in Heaven. God bless you in your ministry and thank you for
    sharing! I look forward to reading more! In Him, Cindy Wacker

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