Liberian Ties That Bind 31 Days {Day 3}

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We have ties to Liberia.  Our youngest arrived almost 8 years ago.  Of course she was so little she doesn’t remember, but Liberia is often a part of our every day conversations.

We’ve told her about the great love that her birth-family had for her because as difficult as it was to make the decision to let go, it was even more difficult to know that Tabitha would have died had she not gotten help.  She was 6 pounds when she was 6 months old.  A crooked trachea prevented her from eating well…lack of money prevented her from being fed well…  It’s hard to imagine that it’s been almost 8 years since Shane traveled to bring her home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith her new Daddy on the beach in Monrovia.

Can you see the spunk all over her sweet, tiny face?  It’s hard to believe this is the same girl.

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Horn Creek, Colorado August 2014

When we first heard of Tabitha, I wasn’t even sure where the country of Liberia West  Africa was.  I had to go look.  See that tiny dark blue rectangle-ish shape?  Yep.  That’s Liberia.

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 We’ve had the blessing of keeping in touch with Tabby’s foster family in the years since she came home. And we’ve even had the blessing of seeing “Uncle Mark” and “Aunt Nancy.” twice in the last 8 years.  Thankfully, their youngest daughter got married about the time the epidemic broke out, they are safe here in the U.S. right now instead of in Liberia where they’ve served as missionaries for over 20 years.

Tabitha’s birth-family is, of course, still in Liberia.  I have often wondered over the months of this terrible illness if and how they have been affected.  I won’t often let myself go to the worst case scenario.  But I pray often that they are safe, and so does Tabitha.

I think sometimes in America we forget that other countries are not so blessed.  We complain about gas prices, a president that, well I won’t go there cause I could run a bunny trail REAL easy with that one. Obamacare, common core, etc.  While those things are extremely frustrating, they are nothing compared to what others face.

Will you allow me to paint a picture for you???

I wasn’t there, but Shane brought pictures and told stories.  So while this is 2nd hand information, it’s about as close as one could come without actually being there myself.

Shane saw first hand the devastation from the effects of 18 years of civil war. He saw first hand the bullet holes in street lights and the craters that were nothing like any pothole he’d ever seen in this country. The buildings that hoards of people lived in that had no walls because of damage from the war.  The U.N. driving around in bright yellow SUV’s trying to keep the peace.  One room in the house he stayed at that week had an air conditioning, and it could only be ran for a few hours a day.  Computer access?  Sketchy at best.  Phones?  Connections weren’t very good.    I seriously doubt things have changed that much in the past 8 years.

This is the road in Monrovia outside Tabitha’s foster parents home.

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Normal traffic, the way Liberians drive

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe saw first hand the focus on self.  In the airport, if someone touched Shane’s bag, they expected a “dolla.” In the road, drivers felt had as much right to the spot your car was currently in, as you had to be there.  Thankfully Shane did not have to drive in THAT mess…imagine Boston on steroids and then some!

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A street view as Shane was riding through Monrovia.  No car seat for Tabitha either.  Let me remind you that Monrovia is the capital city of Liberia.

Liken that to our countries capital of Washington, D.C.  On second thought, forget comparing it to Washington, compare it to the main street of any small town, USA.

There is NO comparison.

We have hospitals on almost every street corner…Liberia has ELWA.  With the outbreak of Ebola, they have some makeshift medical facilities; but even the best of Liberia would be worse than the worst in America.

We have an abundant supply of medical personnel here in the good ole U.S of A.  Liberia has relied on missionary doctors for many years…very few trained nationals.

We have food abundantly.  Liberia has short supply.

We have septic/sewer systems.  Fresh water. Liberia does not.

Let me remind you that Liberia is what we call a 3rd world country! (as are the other countries with Ebola outbreak).

 8 years ago Tabitha was starving.  Foster family “couldn’t” start her on cereal.  Want to know why?

The country was out!  The entire country!  No baby cereal to be found.

They hand-wrote their visas and passports…but only a handful each day…don’t want to work too hard you know.

Ebola has been in the news for several months.  But I haven’t heard many people talking about it in our country.  A few people have asked us about it. But the percentage is hardly worth mentioning.

But now that Ebola has landed in the U.S. the sleeping giant wakes.

Thomas Eric Duncan has brought awareness.

The consequences of this man’s selfishness could be devastating.  Part of me wishes they’d put him back on a private plane to Liberia without receiving the medical treatment he came to receive…yep, that’s the ugly side of me.

President Ellen says it nicer than I did:  “The fact that he knew (he was exposed to the virus) and he left the country is unpardonable, quite frankly,” Johnson Sirleaf told CBC. “I just hope that nobody else gets infected.” 

Lest you’ve forgotten and gotten tangled in the fear monster…

Look around the place you’re sitting right now. Yes. Physically stop and look at your surroundings. Is this what you see?

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No, I didn’t think so.  While there is reason for concern because of Ebola, at this point, there’s no need to panic.

I pray that those exposed to Mr. Duncan will test negative and it will go no further, but at this point only God knows.  Last I checked, He is still on the throne and knows exactly what is going to come of this, even if we don’t.

I do however, believe that it’s time for the CDC to stop the madness.  Their website recommends that people not travel to Liberia; but the border is still open for folks to travel freely.  As evidenced by Thomas Eric Duncan, people lie!  Mr. Duncan lied and now he has put many people in harm’s way.

Travel from Liberia should be limited to medical personnel (and possibly limited media) and mandatory quarantine should be put into place for those returning to our country after traveling to offer humanitarian aid.

If these restrictions are not put into place, others will lie and we will have a reason to fear, eventually.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the St. Louis airports moments after Shane and Tabitha arrived home

 We’re so thankful that Tabitha is part of our family.  She is such a blessing to us and everyone that she meets! I pray her Liberian family is safe.  I pray that no one else in this country will contract Ebola.  I pray for Liberia and the other African countries that are battling Ebola.

Will you join me?

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For those of you interested in more, here is a link that Tabitha’s foster dad posted on his FB page.  It outlines how Ebola spread across Africa.

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