top of page

Under the African Sun

Author: Ashley Wagner

I felt the heat even before leaving the plane. I was definitely in Africa, no doubt about it. I had been hopeful for cooler weather, with it being rainy season in Liberia, but as I stepped outside my first morning back, I was met with the familiar blanket of thick humidity and the unrelenting heat of the sun. I smiled though, despite the disappointment of not being greeted with cooler temperatures. As a friend said, when he welcomed me into the country, this was my “home away from home” and it felt so good to be back. 

I took in all the sights, sounds and smells that I’ve become accustomed to over the years but that still intrigue and fascinate me. In many ways, this is a place that feels very familiar and in others, I know I still have so much to learn and grow and do each time I return. 

The countless number of faces I see, some of them a blur as we drive past on the road, each tell a story, like a silent movie full of emotions but where the viewer is forced to imagine the storyline. This is where I find myself; silently wondering about each one. Young, old, broken, curious, happy, innocent, tired, strong, desperate, and hopeful are all words that could be used to describe the unending sea of passersby as we head to our final destination. 

I wish I could adequately describe for you the scenes around me as we navigate the crowded roads, where traffic laws are non-existent, and everyone has the right of way. The constant sound of horns honking, people talking boisterously and young children and adults reaching out to your moving vehicle with their wares of soft drink (soda), plantain chips, tissues, sticks of gum, bread… anything. Anything to try and make a living in a country where survival is the way of life for most. Mothers, with their babies tied to their backs with colorful pieces of the traditional fabric called lappa, its head bouncing up and down as it sleeps, while skillfully balancing a large container of food on their heads, weaving in and out of the ever-busy streets overcrowded with a mixture of pedestrians, stray dogs, and vehicles. Motorcycles and cars, overloaded to the point that it’s almost a constant gamble to see just how many people you can fit into a van or how much a motorcycle can truly hold without it giving up but in reality, that’s just the way it’s done. I am always amazed at the ingenuity of the Liberians to get things transported where they need to go. The saying “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” is proven to be 100% fact here. 

Soon enough all this is behind us as we travel out of Monrovia, and out onto the highway, which is a smooth trip, for the most part. The sights are changing in fast forward motion now as the car is able to pick up speed. This is a relief for a couple of reasons…for one, the constant slow down, speed up motion in the city, is enough to churn even the strongest of stomachs and secondly, it means we will get to our destination that much sooner. 

I felt myself growing more anxious as we turned on to the dirt road that would eventually lead to the orphanage compound. The place that has been years in the making, full of hard work, sweat, tears, so many prayers and much faith. As we crest the hill, Abba, our driver and my “big brother”, slowed down to give me a chance to soak in the view that I had waited so long to see. The pictures I had seen of the completed project just didn’t do it justice. I could try to explain the feelings of taking it all in, but I feel that words would still somehow fail. I want so badly to take you there because then I feel that you would understand just a hint of what I am trying to say. It left me speechless and thanking God at the same time for bringing Hope 4 Liberia to this point. It was a place that none of us would have ever dreamed we would be, but God had plans bigger than any of us could imagine. It was a visual representation of the faithfulness of God to provide for His children. 

The days were filled with activities in preparation for the day when we would finally welcome the children to their new home. You could feel the growing anticipation in the hearts of the staff, new and old, as each day, things were checked off the list, bringing us closer to the long-awaited day. When I say that God really blessed us with an incredible team, that is an understatement. I found new friends and sisters in Christ among the new women that joined our Hope 4 Liberia staff, which feels like family when we’re all together. 

On one of my first mornings at the orphanage, I woke up to the sound of muffled female voices out in the main living area, the sun barely up over the tops of the palm trees. I dressed and walked out to see our head mother, with her ever constant smile, scrubbing the large living room floor. Using a towel under her feet, she shuffled around in a rhythmic fashion, almost as if she was listening to a lively African beat but there was none. There was only the faint sound of her feet brushing along on the tile floor and her smile never faded as she worked. Our cook was in the kitchen, bending in half in true Liberian fashion, mixing a pot of rice pudding on the kitchen floor (or what they would call soft rice), singing an African gospel song. Both women greeted me with bright smiles and when I commented on how early they were both up and working, our cook laughed and replied, “The morning is very used to me.” I laughed then and mentally tucked that clever phrasing away so that the next time someone asked if I was a morning person or night owl, I could just tell them that the morning is not used to me. I witnessed so many things like this, of people helping each other, stepping out of the bounds of their job “titles” to help each other, and encouraging others to do the same. Working alongside of them, I knew that only God could have brought together such a team as this, all working together towards the same goal. What a blessing! 

 Despite the hot days, becoming a tasty snack for the mosquitos, and getting scared half to death by an enormous spider in the bathroom (thanks to my mom and our dear cook for killing the hideous thing), it was an encouraging trip, overall. What made it hard to leave was the beautiful sunsets, peaceful mornings, occasional bursts of rain that cooled the air to temporarily give us relief from the blazing African sun and of course…the wonderful people. 

Lord willing, I will be back again but for now, dear Liberia, I will miss you. 

33 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Eating What We Grow

At H4L we have a vision to become self-sustainable in food production. Early impression from the farm indicates that this goal is achievable in the near future. In less than a year period our farm is


bottom of page