Sierra Leone October 21-30 2019


October 22, 2019 Pele Wala Village Sierra Leone

Took the long way into the village and passed where we turned in before. Road we took last year was impassable. The greeting we received was just like last year, but even bigger. This time they did a native dance and drums. Overwhelming for sure. I quickly saw Fatmala that is sponsored by Ken Baker. So glad to see a friendly face among a few I knew.

The local construction crew had the church walls up, and were working on the school as well which is right next door. Both just passed the well that was put in last year.

We had introductions again under the big tree, couple of speech’s then walked down to where the school was under construction. Santos is the foreman leading the construction and the walls for the school was about half done. After that they had lunch for us and played with the kids. Watching the kids eat lunch was crazy. They went for the food like they haven’t eaten in a week. No knives, forks or spoons, they eat with their hands in round plastic bowls and 2 to 3 feet wide. They just set them down at random and let the chaos begin.

Drove back to the house which is about 3 miles on a really rough road.  Just hung out on the porch, then had dinner with fish, chicken and couscous. The local kids hung out with us and played inside while I’m typing this. Matt and Josh are teaching them Rock, Paper, Scissors. This is going to be a really hard week. Just imagining how this will go. All 8 of us are staying in this small house with a broken tiny bathroom and no water. Interesting ... Well, we signed up for this, and as rough as it is, this is good compared to the rest of the village.

The name of the village we are staying in is called Kagbere. We are embedded in their culture 100%, 24 x 7.

Wednesday October 23
Started at 5am with the obnoxious Muslim call to prayer. Sounded like he was right outside my window. Just as he got going I heard a big fart coming out of the Miller, Duerlinger and Buell room. Had to be Matt, or Josh.  Nope it turned out it was Doug. I laughed tell it hurt. Had breakfast around 8 am in the house then devotions before leaving at 9 am for Pele Wala. Had eggs and no bake cookies, great combination. Work was oppressive. I stayed with Jonathan and Doug Wire to work on the church. The rest of the guys did concrete mixing to make brick for the school. Lori and Shelby went to the school to work with the teachers and kids. I didn’t do well in the heat at all. Really none of us did. About two hours of working on the scaffolding and I was about to boil. Took a long break then set in the shade for a good while. Then we had lunch, chicken sandwiches with Hawaiian style rolls. Very good and washed it down with coke which set me back into action. Carried cement mix latter in the afternoon to build the top beam of the front porch of the church. Work continued with Jonathan, Doug Wire and the construction guys. Felt like I couldn’t carry my weight. Left in the afternoon about 3 pm and headed back to the house. I was covered in sweat from head to toe.

Hanging around after work together we watched them take one of the goats they brought the night before to be prepared to be cooked. Yeah, right next to us. Not a fan of eating goat anyway ... Smelled it cooking all night. Hung out together after dinner on the front porch during heavy rain all night. An integral part of each evening is hanging out together with the crew from World Hope and lots of locals. This is what people do here, and for the most part it is very healthy.

Thursday October 24

Not the best night sleep, hot and a stupid dog was scratching all night out my window. Breakfast and left at 8:30 am, Williams’s mother died the night before so we were down to one vehicle. Started carrying block with Doug Wire until we moved them all to the front of the church where they were finishing the front. One hour of that and I was done. Hot and sweaty and had to sit for an hour. Went back to lift block up to the workers, but pace was slow.


Had lunch with a coke which was so good then we played with the kids for an hour at the school. It was mayhem and the kids were overjoyed. Afterwards the ladies were all meeting about various things including what major health care needs they had. We met with them for a while and then they sang some songs to us. Headed back to the house around 2:30. Fautu was the girl’s name that hung out with us a lot. She was friends with us all, but more so to Doug and Lori.

Friday October 27th

This was the morning when we started to crack from the heat, lack of sleep and tough conditions. Fanta called Carrie Jo for us about a rest and recovery in Makeni. Which they graciously were willing to do.

We started the morning by handing out our sponsored kids gifts. I handed out all the ones
from Faith Wesleyan and the one Charlene gave me. Then gave the one to Santigie. He was very appreciative. Later I saw his mom with her two smaller children. All afternoon we handed out school supplies to 168 kids. Backpacks with the supplies inside, and a new uniform. Only about half these kids are sponsored, but World Hope is trying to help every child in school. The goal was to have one for everyone, but more kids are in school now then before so a good 50 or so didn’t receive anything. Very joyous day for the village. When all was handed out we headed back to Kagbere to get a day’s supply in our own backpacks for the evening. Then we headed back to Makeni for some rest and recovery. Geoff hand us keys to the same rooms we had before, and it felt like pure luxury. Geoff and Rebecca took us to the Wassum hotel for dinner out by the pool. Carrie Jo joined us as she returned from work.  First time I felt comfortable temperature wise.  I was also full from a good dinner of cheeseburger and fries (chips). This was a good decision. That night I slept great.

Saturday October 26th

We had a lazy morning at Carrie Jo’s house, breakfast with pancakes, then just hung out for a while. Later around 1 pm we had pizza brought in. Afterwards we headed back to Kagbere. Can never get used to that drive. It is hard on all of us. We played with the kids, then took a walk and shared the gospel in several homes. Daniel (an intern for World Hope) and Doug used the evangelism cube to present the gospel. Several said yes, and had some interesting times with some Muslim’s who were thinking about it. Also ran into the guys who had the small crocodile they caught. Joseph was his name and they were cooking it for dinner. He got rather heated about the gospel, but did my best to present a clear case for Jesus fixing things in heaven. After we walked back Fanta gave us shirts she had made for us to wear to church. We are so impressed with her work as well as her help for us. Had a light dinner then finished small touches on the sermon. Hot as usual and didn’t sleep worth a hoot.

Sunday October 27th

Today was sermon day. They started the service with some music in their style which was pretty fun.  My first and good chance my last sermon. Delivered it to a packed house. Thanks literally to God I gave it with some authority about the beatitudes with Pastor Andrew interpreting for me. He was authoritative so it made me much more so than about any other time. It seemed to be the right words for that day, and I gave it my all.

After a last walk in Pele Wala to the school and church for pictures we made the trip back to Kagbere. There we had goat soup with the local Paramount Chief (who is a very interesting fellow), his brother, Pastor Sorrie, Pastor Andrew and the team. It was hot, but not really that bad. It was the goat they brought when we first arrived plus a small one the chief brought. The chief brought cokes for all as well and it was a delight. After goodbyes with the local kids and school teachers who followed us back. We headed out for the rough ride back to Makeni.

Rebecca made us a spaghetti dinner that was really good, and after a bit we made a journey into town to meet with a guy whose cousin owned the guest house we stayed in at Kagbere. Turns out she let us stay there for free. Carrie Jo had a gift picked out that we delivered. She wanted us to give it very specifically, and not use the word “gift”. I was the one who was supposed to give it, but only after others had said a gracious word to him. All went smooth, then we headed back to the house. Had a good night’s rest, and made plans for Monday and the departure to Tokeh Beach.

Monday, October 28th
After coffee we headed out about 8:20 am for the World Hope office in Makeni. Had devotions with them, sang a couple songs, then we went for a tour. MOMOH the kid I talked to last year came by and I told him about the iPad I had for him. After the tour we headed back to the house and MOMOH came with us. Gave him the iPad and said our goodbyes. Said goodbye to Issa as well. Loaded up the trucks and made the 3 hour drive to Tokeh. Rebecca and Fanta along with drivers William and Nat made the trip with us. All paved roads for a change except for the last mile drive to the hotel. What a relaxing place. Beautiful view and a nice place for dinner which we had around 3pm. Went for a nice walk down the beach to near the end which was about a mile. The hotel turned on the power about 12 hours a day so it came on around 7pm, and turned off at 7am. Odd, but after a week in the villages it was no big deal. Place is run by a British fellow named Matt. Kind of a laid back surfer guy who added to the ambiance.

Tuesday, October 29

Had breakfast of omelets or scrambled eggs and toast then headed out to visit with the ETC team. They do therapy on kids with Cerebral Palsy all around Freetown.  Then did 2 home visits with teams of 3 plus the two therapist Alfred and Eve. My visit was to see Ernest that I sponsor.
We went to his school where he is in 2nd grade. Met with the lady pastor who had just started that school In September. So very encouraging with how he is doing all things considered. Gave the family a small gift, then we said our goodbyes. Next we visited a child that was in poor shape. He could not sit up, speak, and wasn’t eating. His mother was maybe 20, and not in good spirits. Had a long visit there, then they did a number of stretching exercises with him. Left and headed back to where we split up. From there we headed into Freetown which was a bumpy, traffic filled drive. Had lunch where we ate last year, then headed to the market downtown. So crowded and passed the slums where it is just burning trash and tin homes. Awful! The market was fun, and we stayed about 1 ½ hours. From there to the World Hope office for a short tour. Afterwards we had gelato by the beach that was sooo good. Afterwards another arduous journey back to Tokeh. Road construction and traffic was pretty bad. Dinner at the hotel again, and then headed straight to bed. Whooped.

Wednesday, October 30th

Started breakfast at 8 30 then got in a really nice swim in the Atlantic Ocean. Had some sit time at the beach before grabbing some lunch. Back in the cars for the long ride. Drove half way back to Makeni then we dropped off Rebecca and Fanta when Carrie Jo arrived. Said our goodbyes then drove another 45 minutes to the airport. Again goodbyes to the drivers William and Nat. They were as much a part of this journey as anyone. Inside the airport we ran into a 75 year old lady from North Carolina who makes this journey often for the Moravian church. What a positive person to meet. The first flight to Brussels was about 6.5 hours and it actually seemed easy. Plane wasn’t full so I could spread out a little.

Brussels, Chicago, Indianapolis Thursday, October 31st

The layover in Brussels didn’t go too bad, but we were running low on energy for sure. The last 9 hour flight just did me in. I wasn’t worth anything when I got off that plane. When we landed in Chicago the weather was atrocious and we quickly found out our flight to Indy was canceled. Only call was to rent 2 cars and make the 4 hour plus drive to the Indy airport to get our van. We did stop to get a full meal, and I slept for 2 hours so it wasn’t terrible, but I wasn’t driving either. From Indy on the drive home went fairly quick. We said goodbyes as we all dropped off one place or another. No emotion was shared, just didn’t have it at this point. Was so glad to see Sherrie and be home. No words ...

Benediction

I’m sure it’s possible to just write this experience off and just say the problems in Sierra Leone are just too big. To just chalk it up as another crazy experience in life. However, I’m just not wired that way. I feel it in my inmost being. Individuals, the places, the kids living there on a day to day basis. They are a part of me. Where do I go from here, and what do I do with this. Some ways I don’t know I’m up for another experience like that again. In some ways I want to be in the midst of this every day for the rest of my life. No answers at this point. I only know that I serve a God that cares deeply for everyone I met. What Jesus would have me do, well I’ll just have to wait and see.

Comments

Unknown said…
Awesome Paul. Thanks for taking the time to document this for the rest of us.

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