The Terry Family - Serving in Liberia, West Africa - February 2017
Battling with the schools...
Jennifer has had some good news this month. She was able to convince the school board that the principal should be fired. He is guilty of stealing about $300 from the school, then he got drunk and someone stole it from him. During the first part of the year he came to teach maybe 5 times. He is also accused of paying a 14 year old student to sleep with him. He is a world class sleazeball. If it had not been for Jennifer putting constant pressure on the school board they would have overlooked his grievous offenses and he would still be the principal. Thank God he has been fired! She has also pressured another teacher to quit. The man was recently outside of our property slobbering drunk. He was so drunk that he was falling off his motorbike. When Jennifer confronted him about it he said, his eyes were red because of the dust on the road, he was falling off his motorbike because he was tired from working, and he smelled like alcohol because of a cologne he was wearing. I have heard some tall tales but wow this guy must think we are absolutely brainless. She instructed the man that he would be signing a contract soon that would either curtail his behavior, or give them grounds to fire him. He has verbally told the new principal he is leaving, but has not officially quit yet. So one by one Jennifer is weeding out the bad apples. It is not easy work, everything is a battle and there are always people who are looking to take advantage of a situation. Please pray for Jennifer and the teachers of Liberty Baptist Elementary School. Pray that they would get some good teachers in the school.
One of the classrooms at Liberty
I have recently started battling with another school in town. We are paying for several students to attend Grace Baptist down the road from us. Ojuku (the boy that lives with us) is one of the students we send there. He recently came home and said that the teachers have started a class on Saturday to study for the WAEC which is a aptitude test for students in the 9th and 12th grades. The students have to pay to attend the class but it is not mandatory. Well some of the teachers were not happy with the attendance (because they get the money) so they stopped teaching their lessons during the week and started giving notes and quizzes on Saturday during the non-mandatory study class forcing regular students to attend. They then went as far as telling the students Saturday class is mandatory and they all have to pay or the teachers will fail them. Ojuku refused so the teachers tried to kick him out of class but he refused to go. He came home to tell me on Friday so the following Monday I went to the school to speak with the principle. They assured me they would take care of the problem but nothing here is that easy. I am expecting to have many more visits to the school. The teachers are no doubt crafting their punishment for Ojuku just for doing the right thing. I told him last night if we don't stand up and fight this it will never stop. Please pray for Ojuku and the situation at Grace Baptist.
Camp is over, and most of the fence is up, so we finally took a little break. To those who gave to help us get away we want to say thank you, thank you, thank you! We were able to spend a few days away from Gbarnga. No five o'clock wake up calls from people yelling on the road, no children calling in our windows at all hours of the day. No problems at the school, no cold showers, and the constant barrage of daily living here ceased long enough for us to catch our breath. It was so relaxing to spend a few days away with just our family. We played in the pool with the kids, swam in the ocean, and took it easy for really the first time since we came almost two years ago. I also had the opportunity to save a naked Liberian child from drowning. Believe it or not you can still be exposed to indigenous nudity at the hotels here. One day while we were in the pool a Liberian child came over and started playing with our children. They were throwing a ball back in forth in and out of the pool. Well, the child thought it was just too much fun so he stripped completely naked and got in the shallow end of the pool. I moved the girls to the deep end of the pool and soon the boy followed. As soon as he got to the place where he could not touch he went under. He kept popping up and waving his hands and at first we thought he was playing. As I got closer I realized he was struggling so I grabbed his arm. As soon as I grabbed his arm he literally clung to me like an octopus grabbing its prey and said, "Please help me!" I'm glad I was there to help the boy but let me tell you there is something very awkward about having a naked Liberian child cling to you in a swimming pool. When we got to the side I asked him why he went in the deep water when he could not swim. He didn't say a word. He just got out put his clothes on and left.
We also had an interesting perspective of short term missions while we were there. When we were at the hotel we saw groups of Americans come in chaperoned by Liberians. No doubt they were coming to help NGO's or Churches. We were privileged to get an insiders view of some of the scams that happen to Westerners who come in to help but are naive of the culture. It was kinda funny to hear Americans talk about how they were going to make an impact and the Liberians just smile and agree with them. When really we know they are thinking about how they are going to bilk them out of money. We were like that not too long ago. We heard the Liberians begin to make their pleas about helping the church by giving money for this or that. It was kinda like watching Discovery Channel where the fish dangles the worm like antenna above its mouth and unsuspecting fish come in to investigate, then boom its over! I had the desire to pull some of them aside and enlighten them but the opportunity never presented itself. I just pray that God gave them some discernment in their giving. Experience is a grand teacher, and I am thankful for the good and bad experiences we have had that are making us wiser and more effective.