By Marsha Wilcox, EdD, ScD
Marsha works with the education aspects of the mission and as a photographer. She is an epidemiologist working in pharmaceutical research and development, primarily in neuropsychiatric conditions. She has taught grade school through graduate school. Her education includes 2 doctorates (epidemiology and education), and 5 master’s degrees (education, epidemiology, and others), in addition to a Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy. Marsha has been involved with short-term missions in several countries and participated in church and campus missions groups. She recently visited GLTC with Jon and Kathy Rossman in February of 2020 and shared the following reflection on her trip.
Jon and I got up while it was still dark, before the sun had begun to turn the mist grey with the early dawn. Kathy held the fort at the Guest House. As we left, Mission Dog greeted us with appropriate cautionary barking. He settled down a little when he heard Jon’s voice. The guards greeted us as we passed the guard house and dawn was unmistakably unfolding. We left the campus by the path the students take from the school to Deanville.
Jon had arranged for me to make a video of a “Day in the Life” of one of our students, Comfort Jonah. We were on our way to meet her as she started her day. It’s something less than a mile from the school to the village. The sun came up as we made our way through the bush to Deanville, roosters greeting the day as we went. We arrived in the center of the village and Comfort’s house. Someone had a radio in a nearby window and Radio Gbarnga filled the air.
Comfort began her chores sweeping clutter from the dirt in around their home. When she was done, she and her younger sister Nora, went down to the pump to get buckets of water for the day (5-8 gallons)–which they carried back up hill on their heads. Next, Comfort built a fire to cook the morning meal, collecting hot coals from a neighbor. Her skill and efficient use of firewood would make any American Girl Scout proud. She used the fire to make a pot of rice to which she added some spices and 2 small deftly cleaned fish. She and Nora managed the fire and prepared the meal.
The household reminded me a little of the VW bug commercial–many people in a fairly modest dwelling. It is a large household with extended family ranging from toddlers to seniors. Adults were served first, then 3 or 4 kids shared the remainder in the cooking pot. There was no squabbling, no fighting, they shared a small meal to begin their day. Ma Sarah (Ma is an honorific for a woman–think “Mother”), Comfort and Nora’s mother, came and went as she prepared for her day. In addition to managing the household, Sarah’s day would bring her fishing, both to feed her family and to add to their income, and to their garden. She’s got quite a sense of humor. In the middle of the morning, Sarah and a couple of accomplices sauntered into the video with some very comical drama. You can get a glimpse of her indefatigable attitude in the picture I made of her carrying bricks to rebuild the preaching point in the village. I asked if I could take her picture and she gave me a sassy look–then posed.
Everyone in the village who was tall enough helped carry bricks from the block making machine on one side of the village across the road (and up a little hill), to the worksite. It was a privilege for me to spend time in the village with some of the families of students in our school as we conducted surveys. I look forward to spending more time working both from here, and perhaps, making another trip to Liberia.