This past week has been a very emotional one for me - I have debated with myself whether to share it with you or not because previous emails have been more along the lines of humor and light heartedness; unfortunately, living in a third world country, not everything is funny and try as I might, I can't seem to find humor in certain situations. Please know through these difficult experiences, I continue to trust in God, that He is over all things, and "all flesh is in His hands."
Sunday, May 26, 2013 - Today, we attended church at the Kissy 1st Branch for the first time. We were greeted by the Branch President and he asked that we sit on the stand and take a few moments to introduce ourselves and share our purpose for being in Sierra Leone. Of course while sitting there, thoughts are just running through my mind as to what to say, let alone praying that they will be able to understand me....so I shared with them where I was from, that I left my home in America, my children, my grandchildren, my mom, my siblings, and my friends to come on a mission to Sierra Leone and that these wonderful Saints were going to be my family and friends for the next 18 months. I told them of my love for them and when I am with them and look into their eyes, I see the windows of heaven...it was very emotional for me to share with them of my love for Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ and because of that love, I was willing to make such a sacrifice to come on a mission.
After the meeting, this cute little girl who was about 10 years old came up to me and said, “I want to share something with you.” So, I took her aside and put my arm around her and she then proceeded to tell me she was an orphan, that her parents had passed away, and that she had two other sisters (YW age) as well and the three of them had been taken in by their auntie who was a member, and thus these three young women had been baptized. She pointed to her two other sisters across the hallway and motioned for them to come over to me and be introduced. I just started to weep and told them how sorry I was for their loss but how pleased I was for their faith and faithfulness. I couldn't contain the tears as I wrapped them in my arms as best I could (Sierra Leoneon's don't really hug) and we wept together. Because I had said they would be my family for the next 18 months these 3 young ladies wanted to become part of my family.
We traveled to Waterloo again today and attended church there as well. Scott and I decided to visit the Richard Carlos home and welcome their new baby boy; he was born yesterday morning around 5:00 am. So as we drove around the corner to the Carlos home, the rest of the members of the leadership of the Branch walked over to his home along with some of their children. In America, a baby isn't even exposed to other people for weeks (at least I think this is so...). This baby is less than 48 hours old and men and children are crowded in the house to see this precious little one. Mind you, these people don't have running water, no lights, no refrigeration They live in a 3 room cinderblock home with no windows or screens, and the floor is hardened dirt. Sister Carlos was up carrying on with all her household duties. As I walked in, she placed the baby in my arms, in a clean little white and green outfit as you would see on an American baby.
He was so clean and sweet with a precious little mouth that looked like his mom's and a head of soft, black curly hair. Richard, the dad was in the throws of packing. He was leaving to travel 5 hours by bus to a neighboring city for on-the-job training for his job and will be gone for an entire week, leaving his wife with a newborn, a 2 year old daughter, and a 10 year old son. There is no maternity leave for women in Sierra Leone. Life does not stop or get placed on hold for these people. These children in this family have the best of possibilities for happiness and safety. The rule of thumb in Africa is for children to be beaten by their parents, but because of the gospel, Richard and his wife are raising their young ones with love, kindness and respect.
Every week there is something I see, or hear for that matter, that fills me with sorrow and compassion and I drop to my knees to plead for Heavenly Father's help.
"5 minutes before church - everyone either walks or takes Taxi's to church."
"5 minutes after church."
"Kind-of looks like Hawaii."
"Picture this and torrential downpour and unable to see out the front and Scott driving!"
"The missionaries recommended a different way home - Big mistake!"