Monday, July 22, 2013

Week #13 - She Says

Dear Family and Friends,
Another busy and fulfilling week.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Up at 6:00 am this morning and off to Waterloo for the blessing of Richard Carlos' baby. Going down Kissy Road, it takes well over an hour to get there so we left home by 7:15. We got there in time for the meeting, but Richard was no where to be found, so the blessing had to wait until the end of the first hour when he showed up. He named him Michael Ron Carlos and mom and baby were dressed in white and both so beautiful. 

Little Michael holding on to the finger of one of our beloved missionaries - Elder Burton

We left Waterloo after 3 hours and traveled to Kossoh Town to visit President Sesay. From there we drove to Wellington for Scott to meet with President Kellie and his 2 counselors. He spent an hour with them and then we drove on to Kissy so I could practice with the District Choir one more time before our Devotional next Sunday. Choir practice was at 4:00 pm, but we didn't get started until 5. These people have no concept of what it means to start anything on time so I either go with it or feel frustrated all the time. I love singing in the choir so much, that the joy far outweighs the frustration.
It has been a very busy week-end and I am very tired.....

Thursday, July 11, 2013
Out with the Thunder Hill elders for the last time using a GPS system to locate members of the Thunder Hill Branch in preparation for splitting the branch. The places they take us! The temperature this time of year (rainy season) is quite pleasant though wet; but by the time I get to a destination, I am dripping with perspiration. These young men walk these distances and up these hills all the time! 
The Thunder Hill missionaries said it was just up a little ways - right! The member who lives up here only goes up and down once a week.
On our way up we came across this woman doing her wash - clothes and baby!
This is a first for me - using a toothbrush. The last one I saw used a stick.

Our view

This is the view looking down! Add water and slime - oh boy!

We arrived at one location and I looked up this steep hill and Elder Seraphine said, “she is just up there a little ways.” By the time I got up there all out of wind and weak in the legs, I could see over the city to the Atlantic Ocean! I must say, it is a very fun adventure any time we are with the missionaries, and I am just grateful that I can keep up with them for the most part.

We stopped at a street vendor while Elder Seraphine purchased some “plumpy-nutty.” Some service organization developed this packaged food for the express purpose of donating to 3rd world countries to nourish children. It is a free donation, but instead of using it to feed their children, Africans sell it on the street and Elder Seraphine likes it. It is squeezed out of a foil packet and looks like peanut butter gone bad! When I asked him what it was made from, I kept hearing, “it is made from babies.” Being the calm person I am....from babies???!!! “Why are you eating it?” Well, he had a mouth full of the stuff and was actually saying, “it is made for babies.” He offered me a taste but I declined.

I can't remember if I have mentioned our pet gecko – Gary – I thought at first I was seeing mice droppings so I had Scott stuff a towel into the drain spout from the washer thinking that was where they were getting in...that didn't help; then I mentioned it to my neighbors and they commented that it was probably a gecko that is hanging out in the kitchen, and that it will take care of the cockroach problem for me if I let him. Well, I saw evidence of him when we got home tonight – in the kitchen sink. He probably hangs out there because if I leave any bit of food behind, the little/big cockroaches make a beeline to it when we leave, but Gary to the rescue. As long as he stays in the kitchen I am fine.

I forgot to mention that I discovered mangoes about a week ago. Of course they are everywhere on the street, either on top of someone's head, or lined up on the curbs; there is no shortage of them in this country. However, everytime I see a local eating one of them, they are sucking it out of the skin and all I see is stringy fruit hanging from their mouths and I do not like stringy/mushy fruit. Well, last week, we were invited upstairs to the mission president's home for dinner and his wife served some mangoes; it was passed to me and I tried it – wow! Tangy, tart and sweet all in one and no strings! It depends on the variety (duh) and the bigger ones with a red coloring on the skin are delicious! So, we have been eating mangoes weekly ever since.

Friday, July 12, 2013
Worked in the office today and entered 30 convert baptisms with about 60 more to go. While working away, in come the local sister missionaries to talk to the mission president. They are so delightful to be around. I gave them all CTR rings that I found and we had our pictures taken.
The Freetown sister missionaries paid me a visit in the mission office.

Saturday, July 13, 2013
Busy day as usual, though it started off with a trip to downtown Freetown and the main street, Siaka Stevens to look for plastic containers, tennis shoes, malaria treatment medicine, and thermometers. With my backpack attached to the front of me (lots of pick-pockets) off we went and we were able to find everything within an hour and a half. 

In addition to these items, I also went looking for a native African “blouse.” Singing in the District Choir tomorrow and I want to look more like a traditional Sierra Leone, even with the white skin. I found one that is a beautiful dark purple and accented with green and black with a silver stitching around the neck. I must have had 10 other vendors pressing around me as I was trying on the blouse as they were coming up with shoes, skirts, and purses to help me complete the outfit. It is quite an experience being so white amongst so many black people selling and just milling about. I don't blend in very well....

We got home from our shopping excursion and took off by 2:30 pm with the mission president and his wife to attend a 4:00 pm baptism out in Waterloo. The back road is open again, and though quite muddy it still saved us an hour's worth of travel. Twenty minutes into the trip, we see a van up the mountain with wheels spinning and unable to move out of the mud. Everyone around us is honking their horns; one guy gets out of his car to go see if he can help and he has plastic bags on his feet, so he is bent over trying to hold them on, and walking 300 yards at a 90 degree angle holding on to the plastic. By the time he arrives, one of these huge earth movers with a very long arm and a huge bucket attached to it, makes its way up to the car traveling on the side of the mountain, maneuvers behind the troubled vehicle, drops the bucket down and literally lifts the back of the vehicle out of the mud, pushing it forward and on its way allowing the traffic to flow freely again. We caught up with the van a few minutes later stopped by the side of the road. Seems like the bucket lifted his fender off the frame and he couldn't get the hatch to close anymore so he was tying it down.

On our way to Waterloo - this takes hitching a ride to a whole new level!

Arrived in Waterloo in time for the baptism(s) and of course made our way down to the river to witness 5 baptisms. Richard Carlos and his family accompanied us – 3 year old daughter and almost 2 month old, Michael Ron. I failed miserably at carrying 25 pounds of who knows what on my head, so I decided to try bundling a baby on my back and carrying him from the river back up to the chapel; this African experience went well.

Love, Robin 

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