We have been in Liberia now for about a week. In that time we have had no Internet service so I have not been able to send a blog. We travelled last Sunday from Monrovia to Ganta, which is in the far north. The road to Ganta is challenging. The first 2/3's is paved but with lots of pot holes. The last section is not paved and has a lot more rough spots. On the way up our driver swerved and braked sharply and accelerated suddenly after each pot hole. Although the road is fairly straight I got really carsick. It was 8 hours of torture. Edie and three men were crammed into the backseat and it was tough on them as well. I insisted on driving back myself on our return and it went better for everyone. I did not get sick and the driver went in the way back with the luggage so there were only three in the backseat.
Our time in Ganta went really well. The 18 men we trained were all good learners and did a very good job with the material. They did well in grasping the initial training principles and really engaged in the message of the book of Jonah. They thought through carefully their attitudes about other tribes, etc. that separate Liberians. There are still strong feelings about the civil war that occurred here and they wrestled with how to overcome these issues with the gospel.
The conditions there were a little rustic, although Edie and I had the only room in the hotel with air conditioning, for which we were very thankful. It is not too hot here but very humid as it is the rainy season. We had electricity only when it was dark. Everything is run on generators, although the town of Ganta got its first electricity on Friday. Everyone went downtown to see the street lights come on. We had no hot water and everything is makeshift in the way it is built. But in spite of these small inconveniences, we left there rejoicing in all the blessings we received from the people. It was especially good this time since the men and women spoke English so we could talk to them. We visited a number of small churches and came away so impressed with their tireless faithfulness in tough conditions. The food was simple but good, usually rice with sweet potato greens.
On Wednesday afternoon we traveled a couple hours to a refuge camp. About 11,000 people, mostly from the Ivory Coast, live there. The Evangelical Free church has a church plant there. I came away realizing that many of these people would never have the chance to hear the gospel if it were not for the war in their country. God uses disaster to bring eternal blessing into people's lives. They are hopeful that many will eventually return to the Ivory Coast and plant churches at home. The little church there put on a great welcome for us, inviting other pastors from the camp, etc. They insisted on feeding us, again rice and greens. The seasoned it just a bit spicy and it was delicious. The people all brought offerings of a little rice to give as a gift to us. We ended up with about 30#'s, quite a gift from people who have so little. Most live in small tents. Eleazor, the leader here, said when they do this, he just brings it back the next time he visits as a gift to the church. Eleazor is a fine godly leader. We saw him in various situations and were so impressed with his leadership, humility and love for the people. He had time for everyone from little kids to old folks. He gets up from midnight to 3 am or so to do computer work since that is the only time his cell phone connection to the Internet works well. We on the team felt privileged to get to know him.
We leave for Ghana tonight to spend a few days there meeting with various groups scouting training opportunities. We need real wisdom in making good decisions. Our team is at its capacity for training already. We need pastors to sign up to come along with us in the future if we are going to be able to maintain these trainings.