New Year, Different Country

Chittenden+holding+a+child+she+met+in+Cooperstown%2C+Liberia.+

Photo courtesy of MaryAnn Chittenden

Chittenden holding a child she met in Cooperstown, Liberia.

Maddy Eubank, Fluco Beat Editor

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While most people spent their New Year surrounded by family and friends in the comfort of their own home, senior MaryAnn Chittenden spent hers in a small town in Liberia named Monrovia. 

Chittenden was there with a group of four people from Beautiful Gate Baptist Church as well as six people from Effort Baptist Church. Their adventure started off when they got stuck in Brussels for 24 hours after missing their flight. After that rocky start, the group arrived in Monrovia, Liberia on Dec. 28th and immediately began unpacking. Over the next few days, the group spent time in Monrovia giving the town’s residents medicine and getting to know them. Chittenden got to ring in the new decade joining with the locals in banging pots and pans. 

The group left Monrovia on Jan. 2 and made a three hour car ride, followed by a three-mile hike through the jungle to get to their final destination, Cooperstown. During their time there, they set up malaria nets and a small medical clinic from 8am to 8pm, giving all the residents of the town worm medicine and testing the children and mothers for malaria. Chittenden’s job while in the town was to take the names, ages, heights, weights, and temperatures of all the residents before sending them into the clinic. 

But Chittenden’s team didn’t just work the whole time while they were there; they also made sure to have a little fun by playing soccer with the children and showing a Jesus film, made possible because of a small theater that the locals built. “It was amazing. Six people accepted Christ that night,” said Chittenden. “The whole time, their eyes did not leave the screen,” she added. 

The group’s time in Cooperstown came to an end on Jan. 4. The group woke up the next day and went to a small church, also named Effort Baptist Church located in Paynesville, Liberia. Before heading to their next destination, the group went to a restaurant named “The Royal” which had American food. The next day they made their way to Cape Mount, where they set up another medical clinic.  Chittenden said that Cape Mount was her favorite place that they visited. “Everyone was so loving and affectionate and welcoming, and it’s sad that we were only there for a day,” she said. 

After making a short plane ride to the town of Foya on Jan. 7, they set up medical clinics in two villages. One night while in Foya, the group performed skits and handed out glow sticks to all the residents. 

Over the next two days, Chittenden was able to celebrate two firsts: co-piloting a plane and celebrating her 18th birthday. “The pilot was from Australia so he talked about how he got to Monrovia and he said that he loves being able to be a part of missions and taking the missionaries to their destinations.” said Chittenden. “It was like two seconds but i was in control. It was so cool to see all the controls and hear the dispatchers” she added. 

Chittenden woke up the next day in Monrovia on Jan. 11 as an 18 year old. They spent the day shopping and sun tanning before having a homemade dinner. The mission team even surprised her with a cake and a card. “I was overwhelmed with joy and felt so loved and grateful to be able to spend my birthday with those people.” said Chittenden. 

The next day, the group boarded the plane to return to the US. “This mission trip was the most life-changing mission I’ve ever been on, and I’m so grateful I got to be a part of it,” said Chittenden. Adding that Liberia is a place she looks forward to going back to every year.