By the time this blog post goes live, I will be somewhere between my home and my home for the next two weeks: Liberia in Western Africa.
The Foundation has been blessed by an endowment fund that for the last 20 years has sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to Camphor Mission Station in Liberian jungle. So for the next two weeks I will be visiting Camphor as well as Ganta Methodist Hospital, the Liberia Annual Conference and several Farmer to Farmer mission sites.
In recent months I’ve had various vaccinations, taken pills to guard against malaria and even got my first mosquito net as a Christmas gift. It was an interesting year for Santa.
It’s going to be an adventure.
I wonder which Africa I will find. Is it the Africa of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book? Or George of the Jungle? Something out of a Sally Struthers commercial imploring us to feed hungry children? Or the scene of Nelson Mandela’s funeral with a hundred thousand people in a state of the art soccer stadium?
It has occurred to me that I know little about Africa. I imagine people around the world have stereotypical views of Americans: Texans with big belt buckles, rude New York cabbies, tanned and siliconed Californians, Clevelanders who root for a team no matter how inept. But I see Africa in those same stereotypes.
At least for now.
The key to getting rid of stereotypes is to have something else to replace them with. Two weeks of walking the jungle will tell me how accurate Kipling was. Watching the United Methodist Church care for children at Camphor will give me more insights than Sally Struthers ever could. And preaching at a remote African Church will tell me a great deal about United Methodism around the world.
I will do my best to keep you up to date through my adventures. I will connect through this blog as well as the East Ohio United Methodist Foundation Facebook page whenever the technology allows.
As always I covet your prayers. Sure, for my safety but more importantly for my ability to understand and later to advocate on behalf of people who deserve so much more than to me stereotypes to the rest of the world.