"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Friday, June 11, 2004 Couldn't get to an internet cafe yesterday, but I found one in Malam (the community where the CENCOSAD villa is) today, and Mackinnon and I are gleefully checking email! It's no Busy Internet (satellite and high speed), but it's a lot better than many!
Two days to catch you up on. I'll try to be brief.
Yesterday, we went to the Overseas Processing Entity -- the agency of Church World Service that processes refugees on behalf of the U.S. State Dept. for all of West Africa. They deal primarilly with refugees from Liberia, but also from Sierra Leone and some other places. The most amazing people were the "cowboys" ... the ones who meet with the refugees and take their persecution stories. We talked for awhile with one in particular ... mostly about how they could really use some counseling.
We learned a lot about the process of what happens to refugees ... which I won't get into now. Basically, it's a group of amazing,dedicated people who work incredibly hard trying to help the most vulnerable people on earth.
That was brought home last night when we sat around the villa talking with James and with Anne, a public health grad student at St. Louis University who is also a Liberian refugee. She told us not only her family story but gave us the basic history of the conflict in Liberia.
So many of the stories involve children being separated from their parents ... something that I am particular vulnerable to being emotional about as I miss my own children so much after just a few days! It is amazing and infuriating to me that our government and others has and continues to play with government and rebel factions like they are pawns in order to get the most favorable military and trade deals ... with innocent people being slaughtered and dislocated and families split apart in the process.
I've asked Anne if she would come share her stories with us at ECM ... and talk to us about what it is like to be a refugee -- hopefully this will stir up some interest in Andrew's and others' work at the INternational Institute(let me know what you think of this David ... and by the way, David ... we talk about you ALL the time!)
Today we went to a performance of one of the "Theatre for a Change"groups. It's a local group of volunteer players who go into schools and do street theatre about HIV/AIDS ... then they do a tag-off where they replay the scenes and the audience members have a chance to go up and strategize how they could have solved the problems or resolved the situations better. It was incredibly effective. The people leading it were VERY charismatic and the children were eating out of their hands. It went on for almost two hours and the kids were into it the whole time (age ranging from 7-8 to 14-15)
At the end, they introduced James (CENCOSAD sponsors this troupe) and he introduced me, and this whole school of children sang me a welcome song about how all nations are dear to creator God. I just stood up there and fought back tears. It was so beautiful.
I took lots of video of the performance and got a great interview with one of the players for the promotional/fundraising video I'm making for CENCOSAD.
Other stuff ... finally got a fan in my room ... HOORAY! Also, I got a call today from the pastor at James' church, asking me if I would "say mass" on Sunday. I said sure. Later, I found out that means preaching (they expect a 20 minute sermon ... I'm sure HOpie would tell them that was no problem for me!). I later found out that one reason I was asked is that the priest for that church got called away to sub at a larger church that morning ... so Sunday morning, I'll be flying solo at Christ Church, Malam. Should be interesting. Gotta have a crash course on Ghanian Anglican liturgy tomorrow!
EGR resources and connects the church to embrace what one person, one congregation, one diocese and one church can do to make this mission of global reconciliation happen.
Want to find out more ... check our our website at www.e4gr.org.
"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."