Where is Liberia and what is it like?

Liberia is located in West Africa. It is a small country that is about the size of Tennessee (43,000 sq mi) with almost 5 million people. While one quarter of the population lives in the capital city of Monrovia, the majority of many of the other people are subsistence farmers. Liberia is just a little bit above the equator and so the climate is  tropical and very hot most of the year. There are two seasons in Liberia, both rainy and dry. The rainy season is from April to November and the dry season is from December to March. It is currently ranked as country 176 out of the 189 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI) scale, which is a metric that measures and compares countries based on their social and economic conditions. In Liberia, 83.8% of people live below the poverty line ($1.25/day) and more than 70% of the country’s food is imported, despite thousands of acres that are available for farmland. Corruption in the government is a common problem that plagues the country and keeps things from moving forward.

Why/How did you choose Liberia?

From the beginning of our marriage, we knew that we wanted to use our love of agriculture and serving others to serve His Kingdom and we were open to what that might look like. in 2016, after much discernment and prayer, we quit our jobs and joined AgriCorps to teach agriculture in a developing country. We didn’t know what country we would be placed in, but it ended up being Liberia. What was supposed to be just one year abroad has now turned into almost four as God has continually laid it on our hearts to return. For more information on why we keep going back to Liberia, check out this blog. 

What language do you speak in Liberia?

There are more than 30 tribal languages spoken in Liberia with the national language being English . However, only about 50% of the populations speaks English. Luckily for us though, because we live and work in a more urban area and on a college campus, all of our students speak English. Though it may not necessarily be like the English that we are used to in the US. Liberia uses a form of English known as “Liberian English” that has different pronunciations, sentence structures, vocabulary, etc. To be honest, the first time I heard it being spoken in a taxi within my first few hours in Liberia, I legitimately thought it was a different language. Here is a pretty cool video of a man going back and forth between Standard English and Liberian English. Both Nathan and I (Anna) have gotten pretty good at it and our students and friends really love it when we talk Liberian English.

What is the food like in Liberia?

Rice is the main food here in Liberia. It is eaten everyday. If someone has not eaten rice for the day they will say “they have not eaten.” Even if they ate mangoes, bananas, potatoes, plantains, chips, fried meat, etc. Lol. With the rice that they eat everyday, they will typically serve an oily and often spicy soup on top. The soups pretty much all have the same base with just one or two ingredients that vary. They typically will have different pieces of dried meat or smoked fish mixed in as well. Liberians don’t usually eat 3 meals a day, usually one big meal and maybe some small snacks like fried plantain chips or fresh fruit, of which there is an abundance here. You will never want to eat a pineapple or banana in the US after eating one here, it is NOT the same 🙂 Here is a post with a little more information and pictures.

What religions are common in Liberia?

According to census data, about 85% of people practice Christianity while 12.5% practice Islam. Religious synctritism, or the combining of different beliefs and the merging of or assimilation of several originally discrete traditions, is very common in Liberia. There are many people who will identify as Christian or Muslim but then also practice traditions from their ancestral religions at the same time, some of which are in direct conflict with the values and principles found in the Bible or Quran. Because of the history of the country and the many missionaries that have come before, Christianity is well known and accepted. However, many would say that it is still not well understood. Many people know of Jesus, but just like we see all over the world, there are many people who still do not know Jesus. The prosperity gospel is also very common here in Liberia, probably because the high levels of poverty. Despite all this though, there are many solid preachers and evangelists throughout Liberia who are doing their best to spread the true gospel and mentor disciples in the Word.

What needs/prayer requests do you have right now?

Some of our everyday general prayers are listed here on this page. To sign up to get our monthly newsletters with prayer requests and stories from the field, you can enter your information here on this page. Thank you for your desire to join us in prayer.

When someone donates to you, what do the donations get used for?

We could not be here in Liberia without the help of our donors. The donations that support our ministry go toward our basic living expenses in Liberia, travel and residency documents, airplane flights, mandatory professional development trainings and workshops, project and ministry expenses, health insurance, social security, retirement, etc.  One of the amazing things about the organization that we work with is that 100% of your donation goes to us and the ministry here in Liberia. In addition they are tax-deductible as we are working for a registered 501c-3. Read more about how you can make a donation and become a partner at this page. 

What is the hardest thing about being in Liberia?

People often ask: Is it being away from family and friends? Is it the “strange” food? specifically the lack of cheese and bacon? Is it the bad roads? The unstable electricity? The lack of clean drinking water in your faucet? The lack of healthcare? The different languages? The heat? The mosquitoes? The tropical illnesses? The snakes? The truth is, it is none of those things. Don’t get me wrong, those are very real challenges (even the one about the cheese….) but if you want to know the one thing that makes living in Liberia hard…the one thing that keeps me up at night and makes me question whether I belong here or not and makes me feel so so tired and weary and like I just want to give up and go home…it is the gray. See this blog to better understand what I mean.

What does a typical day look like for you?

The one word I would use to describe a typical day in Liberia is “blur.” Everyday is different and absolutely nothing is predictable. We typically start our days with personal quiet times and breakfast before we head to staff devotions at 7:45. These can last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. From there, I  (Anna) will generally go to the classroom and teach or go sit in my office and being working on lesson planning/grading, emails/networking, or marketing/social media things. I know that I will generally never have more than 15 minutes of uninterrupted time because as the Department Head, I have students, teachers and visitors flowing in and out of my office all day long. At 11:40 we take a break for chapel with all the students and teachers, then lunch at 12:30 with the other missionary family here on campus. I head back to my office around 1pm and will basically do the same thing as I did in the morning, try to squeeze a little work in in between all the meetings, both planned and not. Around 5pm we will generally head out for a little walk through the community to clear our minds, exercise, and catch up with each other at the end of the day. Then we come back and make dinner and read, talk, blog, watch a dvd, call family, work on our hobbies, or unfortunately keep working.