Moving to Liberia: A Volunteer's Reflection

Claire is a volunteer on Liberia Mission who joined the team last summer. Enjoy this reflection she wrote about her time in Liberia so far:

Claire helping prepare our grounds for our 15th anniversary celebration in November.

Claire helping prepare our grounds for our 15th anniversary celebration in November.

During my sophomore year of high school, the Caudle family who I knew from church, moved to Liberia Mission for 2 years (Greg Caudle was Liberia Mission’s former Director). They packed up their family of 6, left their jobs, and came to Liberia. They were so excited about coming to Liberia Mission, that they made the whole process seem easy.

I think that was the same time that God started working on me. By the time all of my peers were deciding where they were going to attend college, I had decided to take a year off. I graduated in May 2018 and left for Liberia in August. I have been in Liberia for 5 months now, and I’ll be here for one more month. My time here has been so exhilarating that it feels like I’ve only been here a month, and the sadness of my coming departure is slowly growing.

I’m often asked about what I like best about living here, but I never have an answer. There’s simply too much here to love.  If Liberia Mission had a marketing brochure, I’m sure it would provide the details of the residential program for the poorest of the poor, the school for 435 students, and the Catholic values that inform all that we do. But what’s far more difficult to describe is the excitement that fills this place, the community culture that cultivates personal growth, the energy of the students, and the unconditional love we have for one another.

Claire picking fruit on Liberia Mission’s farm.

Claire picking fruit on Liberia Mission’s farm.

My days here on the mission are spent in a wide variety of ways. I don’t have a specific job but I help kids with homework during study hall time, work on short term projects, and assist in the office. I sometimes “help” in the kitchen, where I’ve learned a lot about African cooking.

Then there are all the things that would have worried me if I had known about them before I came. From being awakened by a rooster or a donkey, to the persistent ant bites and the constant heat, I see that it’s these differences that make living here so special. When you add in Saturday water fights, volleyball, working in the community outside our walls, and quiet evening conversations, living here feels like paradise.

There were some routines I was not prepared for, like waking up at 5:00 for Morning Prayer, but the longer I am here, the more I love them. When our voices break the morning silence, God is present. Coming half way around the world has not been easy every step of the way, but it has given me the opportunity to see how people outside of where I have grown up live. I have seen a single motorbike carrying an entire family, gas stands selling fuel from old mayonnaise jars, and people living in houses made from corrugated zinc. I’ve also seen people filled with a joy so uncontrolled that they break into song and dance.

When our voices break the morning silence, God is present.
— Claire
Claire (on right) with Grace, our Financial Manager, celebrating graduation at Booker Washington Institute.

Claire (on right) with Grace, our Financial Manager, celebrating graduation at Booker Washington Institute.

There is so much more I could say about Liberia Mission and my experience here. I’ve learned to love all the pigs, cows, dogs and everything in between. I’ve felt God’s ever-present love through prayer and in worship. So when my day ends with three new ant bites and I’m longing to eat something other than rice, I think about how lucky I am to have had a day full of laughter, smiles, friends and unforgettable memories.

I don’t know of any place else like Liberia Mission; it’s truly special and will forever hold a special place in my heart.