Saturday Story Time: A Country of Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

Saturday Story Time: A Country of Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

My life was forever changed eleven years ago when my husband and I went to Liberia, Africa to adopt two boys. We arrived in Monrovia at the end of the civil war that had been raging for ten years. Under Charles Taylor, this beautiful country had been destroyed, children drugged and told to kill their families, women raped and left to die. No one was safe unless you were part of his select regime. The war had left thousands of orphans, malaria rampant, and poverty greater than I had ever seen before.

We were told not to go. It was not a safe place. They could not guarantee our safety and it was not worth the risk. We got off the airplane and were met by soldiers with AK-47 semi automatic machine guns. It had been a long series of days and hours that had led up to this point. I was mentally and physically exhausted already. I looked at Scott and he grabbed my hand, we were where we were supposed to be.

Tomorrow’s blog is about our blessing of Adoption day. This story, is about the people of LIberia, and their incredible resilience. People who travel to third world countries often talk about their surprise, in the joy that fills the children who are in such desperate states. They literally have nothing, and do not know if they will have food or water the next day, and yet they laugh. They have joy, they sing, and dance. As a country they have seen more death, cruelty, and unspeakable crimes done against their own, by their own, than most Americans could imagine in their worst nightmares. Yet, they find ways to celebrate. The Liberian people found ways while survival was questionable, to choose joy.

When we had been there for about three days, and had just come back from visiting the boy’s mother in her “home” I completely lost it. I could not reconcile myself to the fact that I had been given so much, and could do so little for the immensity of this country in crisis. I could give every last penny I had and it would be a drop in the ocean of need. I was sitting out on a camp stool next to the woman who was doing our cooking and cleaning while we were at the orphanage complex.

Her name was Ma Mary, she was a small robust woman with a strong hand and loving ways. I was sobbing uncontrollably. The injustice of the world and the goodness of God had come to a visual reality in front of my eyes and my heart was torn to shreds. This is not a world that makes sense, this is not the way it is supposed to be. Ma Mary held me in her large bosom and stroked my hair. “You gosta stop crying miss Kari, you gosta, everyone in Liberia have a sad story, if we all cried for the pain we suffered, the ocean would take over the world. You gosta stop.” I tried to stop the flood and the hyperventilating. She went on all the while rocking me and holding me in her arms. “The world is an unfair, hard place, and no body cares about Africa. Your heart breaking is good, but you gosta stop crying and choose joy. Help us all to choose joy.”

As I write this eleven years later, I still cry. I am reminded of my wealth, and my incredible random gift of being born in the United States. I am reminded of a country of war ravaged people who found a way to choose joy. I can hear the laughter of the children on a dirt field. I can hear them singing and praising God in the chapel. I can see Ma Mary’s face and I know this is a country of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I will dry my tears, stand with my brothers and sisters of Liberia and choose joy.


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