Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sekou Toure Avenue

For a very short time our family lived in a small apartment on Sekou Toure Avenue in Monrovia, Liberia. We had just spent a year in the states and had come back to Liberia to live in the city instead of returning to our rural Ganta mission home. Bill, Sandra, and I didn’t have much to do all day, since we had left our few friends and family back in the states, and our friends in Liberia were upcountry in Ganta or Phebe. Mom and Dad had been to a missionary conference at Lake Junaluska while we were on furlough, and they brought back a cassette tape of praise music called De Colores. Having little else to do in this new environment we listened to the tape frequently, and I especially remember the upbeat title song. We listened to it so often that De Colores has always seemed like the theme song of this interlude in our lives.

Although our stay was short it was eventful and memorable. I remember the violent tropical storm when a transformer blew outside our window in the middle of the night, with a blinding flash, and we children were frozen with fear until Mom and Dad came to us in our dark room. Another night we sat down to dinner and bowed our heads while Dad said grace. When the extra-long grace was done we looked up and Bill calmly said “there’s a fire in the kitchen.” We rushed into the kitchen to find the grease in the frying pan on fire, and while Mom and Dad frantically tried to find something with which to smother the flames Bill reached over and put the lid on the pan. The fire was out, but we were washing smoke off the walls for days. And Mom and Dad suggested to Bill that in the future he should feel free to interrupt the prayer for an emergency!

We soon moved into a more permanent house, started school, and life again took on the busy pattern of childhood. But I have always remembered that time on Sekou Toure Avenue, in between one season of our lives and the next, when it was just our family and the music of De Colores. Imagine my surprise many years later when I attended a Walk to Emmaus spiritual retreat, and for the first time in about 35 years I heard De Colores again. We sang it frequently throughout our weekend and I loved thinking about the connection of my faith journey between my African childhood and my American adulthood; and for a little while I was 11 years old again, playing with my brother and sister on the other side of the world, in that little apartment on Sekou Toure Avenue.

“De Colores and so must all love be of every bright color to make my heart cry.”

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