Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Week #8 - She Says

Wednesday, as we were driving to the office and stopped in traffic, there was some space between us and the car ahead, so an oncoming man in his truck, decides to use the space and back up a little hill to the side of us in order to turn himself around and go back the way he came; so there are two cars on this little hill, one of which is a gold color Mercedes Benz and the guy in the truck backs up the hill and as I am watching, I am thinking he is awfully close to the Benz and apparently he thinks so too because he begins to pull away in order so he can back better into the spot. So as he is doing so, I see the Benz begin to move and I think...is there someone in the car and they are simultaneously driving down the hill together???? Oh, no, the guy has hit the Benz during his first attempt at backing and somehow has hooked the Mercedes on to his right back bumper and is dragging the car down the hill with him! So he backs up again thinking he can dislodge the benz but it just won't work, so he drives ahead again and this thing is following him down the hill! It is absolutely hilarious! In Africa, when you hit a vehicle that is unoccupied, you don't stick around for the driver to show up nor do you leave a note, but this guy is caught in the act and can't get away without dragging the car with him.

What a Saturday, one filled with missed turns on foot and in the car that resulted in us being lost and having to be rescued. We traveled to the Thunderhill Branch for a baptism of an entire family (minus a toddler); 4 children and the parents – The Stevens family. 

The service started at 10:00 (though originally it was 9:00 am) and our plan was to leave from Thunderhill and then drive to Waterloo for another baptism at 11:00 in our usual spot by the river. So we got in the car and due to traffic and time, we were arriving late to Waterloo so we called the missionaries and told them not to wait and that we would walk down to the river as soon as we got there....this is where the fun begins....we started off alright, but then took a wrong turn (Scott isn't always accurate with the direction we should take) and we ended up who knows where, but completely lost and in the “bush” along the river. We walked and we walked and then I saw a Muslim church that I recognized as a landmark, but when I mentioned it, Trail Blazer Kanzler says, “no, the river is over this way.” We walked through so many peoples front yards, gardens, and muddy streets as well as over a creek and through brush. I finally told my guide, “I am not going any further until we ask someone!” What was I thinking – they speak mostly Krio and they don't understand me nor do I understand them. I am thinking, maybe we should text the missionaries and have them come and find us, but Scott has a good point, “What are we going to tell them. No street signs and every house looks the same.” After at least 3 miles of hiking, and mind you it is hot and humid and we have no water, we are climbing this incline and come across a woman with 4 children and she comes up to us and begins speaking with us. We tell her who we are and where we are trying to go (by this time, we just want to get back to the church) and she tells us that she is the sister of the branch president and she knows exactly where we need to go and that she was planning on going to Church on Sunday. Talk about a tender mercy....so she speaks to her two oldest children, they put on their thongs, and proceed to lead us out of the bush and about another mile later, they have us at the backside of the Church. I was so grateful; we rewarded them for their service and sent them on their way knowing full well they would not have a problem finding their way back home. Twenty minutes after we arrive, completely exhausted, two of the missionaries show up. They had been out looking for us and had given up and had come back.

After the service in Waterloo that we completely missed (though we did get our exercise for the day), we took two missionaries to an appointment that was off the beaten track (what isn't) but as we drove through palm trees and beautiful countryside, we ended up at a air plane landing strip! Go figure. Come to find out, it was used to transport troops into the country in order to fight the rebels during the 11 year civil war.
Air strip used during the civil war

We left Waterloo and traveled back home by way of Wellington to visit with the sister missionaries (4 of them). The landmark for the turn up to their apartment is a dead tree, and Scott thought it had been cut down because we couldn't find it and he was absolutely positive that it was before the road divided and so when we got to the division, “we had gone too far” so he turned around and went back and turned up some road he was convinced was the road leading to their apartment.....oh my goodness! It was so narrow and packed with people and we drove and drove but no sisters apartment, so he finally relented to my exclamations that this was not the right road, and turned off it and headed back down to the main road with the intention of trying to find the sister missionaries because we called them and they told us to turn up Phillip Road; they are waiting for us as they are home for lunch. However low and behold, as we come to the divided highway and drive on just a tad more, we find the dead tree, the landmark, and drove right to the sisters apartment! They seem to be doing better and they are always happy to see me as I am them. I felt prompted to ask when the last time was that they had received a priesthood blessing; it had been quite some time, so Scott proceeded to give each of them a blessing.

From the sisters apartment, we drove onto the Kissy Building...so let me indicate the order of the towns we visit...Kissy, Thunderhill, Wellington, Grafton, Kossoh Town and Waterloo. Kissy, on one end is approximately 20 miles from Waterloo at the other end on a two lane road at about 30 miles per hour and surrounded by street vendors and 100's of people! If we drive Kissy Road to get to all of our towns, just driving from our apartment to Kissy can take an hour or more and it is only 15 miles from home. All the other towns, we actually take the “country” road, where the Chinese are constructing a four-lane road and it only takes us 30 minutes to get to Grafton though we are not on the new road, but off-roading for most of the trip. This is our much preferred route, but when they are dynamiting a granite mountain, we have to turn around and go back to Kissy Road.....so back to the rest of my story this week. 
 Cute munchkins of the Kissy 2 Branch

From the sisters we drove to Kissy to attend a District Young Men/Young Women meeting that started at 4:00 pm. There were over 100 youth and leaders in attendance and once again, we had the only vehicle in the parking lot. So, kids and leaders all got there by either walking or taking transport; transport one way will cost $1,000 leones (approximately $.25) so they spent at least $.50 round trip to get to and from the activity. The average Sierra Leonian makes $1.50 a day. The faith and commitment of these wonderful people. 
Diana Ross and Whitney Houston. I can't pronounce their names and they love nicknames.
The Pointer Sisters. They loved this name as well.

District Young Men and Young Women activity. No cars in the lot. They either walked or they took transport.

They had youth from each branch speak, and the young man who had joined the church in Waterloo and walked 7 miles to church to be confirmed, spoke. He had slacks and a white shirt on and looked so handsome! I met the District Young Women's President – Fatmata James. Oh my, was she ever fun and dynamic! I will be getting better acquainted with her as I offer training and support and I can't wait to visit with her more.

Fatmata James - District YW President. I love this woman!

So we leave the activity around 6:00 pm to drive home by way of the grocery store, but as we are coming down Kissy Road going the normal way we come across 1,000's of young men, and I mean thousands coming down the very narrow two way road all walking and I am thinking some sort of protest rally or something, and everywhere we try to turn, we can't as they are blocking the roads and traffic is stuck everywhere we turn. I look off in the distance, and see transport motorcycles going down a road, and suggest to Scott that maybe we should turn slightly right and go down an unfamiliar road but seemingly a way to go now that I have seen motorcycles using it...nope, not the way to go apparently as he took off down another road only to be hedged in by cars and more young men; we ended up in the heart of downtown Sierra Leone and seemingly no where to turn and it is getting dark, so forget about the grocery store, I just want to get home. All of a sudden, I see missionaries to my side and I exclaim, “honey, missionaries, maybe they can help us, but for some reason, Scott just drives by them and doesn't stop....what???? So we drive deeper and deeper into Sierra Leone, twisting and turning just trying to find some way out, when out of nowhere, we see the missionaries again! By this time, Scott is sufficiently frustrated, humbled, and lost enough to be willing to stop and get directions from them – yes! We finally got home, having stopped at the store and had one of the worst dinners I have fixed since we arrived here 7 weeks ago!

Love to you all!

More snaps:

 No, this isn't tennis and there is no ball in the air. A mosquito zapper and it really works.

 This takes a handcart to a whole new level! A truck axel converted. They are everywhere!

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