Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Week #14 - She Says

Dear Family and Friends,
Sunday, July 14, 2013
We were up and out the door this morning by 7:30 and took the Ostler's with us as the much anticipated devotional was held at 4:00 pm at the Kissy Chapel. We attended church at the Wellington 2 branch that started at 9:00 am and once church was over at noon, we headed back to Kissy and attended Kissy 1's Sacrament meeting and then met with President Kpullum for an hour so President and Sister Ostler could get better acquainted with him. He is a very soft spoken man and speaks rapidly and I struggle to make out about every 5 words, but I actually understood most of what he said today; my language interpretation skills must be getting better.
President and Sister Ostler with the Sierra Leone church historian, Brother Sellu

We had a few moments after the meeting and before the devotional, so Scott, Rachelle (Ostler) and I sat outside the chapel on the plastic chairs that had been set up as overflow for the devotional. A nice breeze was blowing and we were just talking when all of a sudden – this loud snap and crack with a body moving out of the corner of my eye – I looked over and there is Scott on his way down to the ground, though trying to catch himself amongst a sea of plastic chairs that are moving right along with him. As he was sitting quietly in his chair, one of the legs just snapped off and the rest was just hysterical to me; everyone came to his rescue but me, as I was bent over in laughter. Apparently, African plastic isn't quite as sturdy as American.....
The chair leg snapped and down he went - I thought it was hysterical. The members doubled up on his chairs.
President Ostler speaking at the Freetown East District devotional
The Devotional was wonderful; the choir was exceptional. All the ladies came in matching dresses and even though I had on an African blouse, its color along with my skin color added much to my sticking out amongst these beautiful women. In my 40's while living in Utah, I wanted to be a member of the Tabernacle Choir, but when I inquired about the requirements, I discovered I had exceeded the age requirement amongst other stipulations and that was a disappointment. I love music and I especially love choral singing and have been a member of choirs for years – tonight, singing with these wonderful people was one of the highlights of my life – there was no previous formal training or music workshops for the choir director; just a wonderful gift and love for singing and the harmony was just beautiful. It may not have been the Tabernacle Choir, but I will long remember this experience and forever be grateful for the opportunity to sing with the Saints of Sierra Leone.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Today, Scott and I were in the office which I needed as I had many convert baptisms to enter and it is very tedious work and takes up most of the day to enter approximately 60 baptisms. After Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday out East all day and into the early evening, a day in the office is much needed to rest and recuperate after all the driving; I can't say enough or describe sufficiently how rough the roads are here. If I don't have an organ detachment before the end of our mission, it will be a miracle. That is how rough it is!

I sent out a distress email to friends and family regarding a missionary out East, Elder Penia who has not had a letter from his family since he entered the mission field. Every time we go out East to Waterloo and I deliver mail I feel so sad that I never have anything for him; this week-end is going to be different and I am excited to deliver mail to him from my home. Scott has been assigned the camera and video camera to capture this moment.
Yesterday was another Zone Conference in the East, specifically the Kissy Zone. 

My heart continues to wrap itself around the missionaries and the people of this country. It doesn't seem to be a question as to whether I am going to like a person, the moment I meet them, my heart surges with love! I had a call from the District Relief Society President tonight, Sister George. I don't know how much that cost her to call me, but I am sure it was more than a $1.50 (what the average Sierra Leonian makes a day). We are going out together on Saturday with a young woman to visit her “godfather” and request that he release her from her marriage so she can be baptized. Her husband left her and has already married another woman. When a traditional/tribal marriage is arranged, there is a godfather who coordinates the marriage and the acceptability of a dowry. Because she is not released at this point, we can't baptize her because she is in a polygamous marriage; so I get to go with Sister George and meet the godfather and negotiate a release for this young woman. I can't wait for this experience!

Thursday, July 18, 2013
Today Scott and I drove out to Wellington and went out with them to their assigned area and taught investigators. We took them lunch and as we were sitting around the table, Scott asked them about the dried fish that is sold locally and how they prepare it. The sisters actually purchase the fresh fish, which they then proceeded to tell me about how delicious fish eyes are and the brains! When they boil fish, the eyes are easier to eat, so they start to bite down and the eye pops out of a white membrane that they discard; and then there are the brains of a fish that are soft and sweet – I made them stop or I wouldn't be able to finish my lunch. Scott actually admitted he tried both on his mission to New Zealand – the fish brains were sweet and okay, but the eyeball was chewy and disgusting and he spit it out.
Sister missionaries in Wellington

Friday, July 19, 2013
Stayed around locally today and worked in the mission office, and much to our delight, we received two packages from home! I get every bit as excited as the young missionaries, and what added to the anticipation as to what was inside the boxes was the time it took me to open them. They were wrapped so securely with duct tape I couldn't get them open with scissors so I had to resort to a box cutter. I especially love the different stickers people find to place on the outside. The packages offer a little bit of home which I miss so much. Couple the delivery with a video call to the Kanzler's in Sacramento and a look at 3 of the grandchildren and I was ready to get on the next hovercraft headed towards home.

Saturday, July 20, 2013
Out the door this morning at 9:00 am, destination – Kissy, Waterloo and Grafton. The roads are so rough and we are gone almost 12 hours a day on the week-ends so as we are driving out East, Scott and I are grumbling about the difficulty of getting anywhere in a vehicle and how tired we are at the end of the day and somehow, we need to take more down time, that our 60+ year old bodies just can't keep up with 20+ year old missionaries. Then, we finally arrive at Waterloo and find just Elder Penia and his companion, Elder Nwosu. I get all the other missionaries' mail and packages out of the way and commence calling out Elder Penia's name as I hand him one-by-one, letters addressed to him from loved ones of mine in America. It was a very tender moment for Scott and me to see the excitement, emotion and then gratitude from Elder Penia; it was pure joy. Rough roads, long days, old bodies...I will do it all over again for the next missionary who isn't getting any correspondence from home.

Just as a side note to myself – watching the video exchange between Elder Penia and me, I particularly noticed the gray hair, the semi-decent haircut and the same old clothes. I am not looking my best these days and I am definitely looking like I am 62 years old! Not good, definitely not good...

When we arrived at the elders' apartment in Kissy, I unfortunately needed to use their restroom – mind you there are 6 elders in the apartment with only one bathroom. This is the bathroom that did not have a toilet seat and I managed to scrounge one up for them about a month earlier, but when I approached the room, the toilet seat wasn't even attached. Then, I close the door and the handle falls onto the floor, so when I attempt to insert it back into the door, in order to exit the bathroom, it won't work and I can't get the door open! I hear Scott's voice, so I bang on the door and call to him, and he tries to get the door open to no avail. Finally, out of desperation, I somehow get the door handle inserted just enough and the bolt clicks open and I am able to get myself out of another jam. I should write a book just on my bathroom experiences in West Africa.

I met with the District Relief Society President in Grafton in order to visit with the godfather to help out a sister; well, the story was completely different from what we were told earlier in the week. The husband had only the one wife (his previous wife had died), but he had 2 sons from the 1st marriage living in the home and they didn't respect the second wife. She in fact was not looking to divorce him, but wanted to reconcile; however in the meantime, he was in jail for being disrespectful to his commanding officer – he failed to salute him. So all my excitement to visit with a godfather was dashed by the revelation of routine domestic issues...

The letters continue to arrive for Elder Penia - it is so gratifying and as the need arises, I can modify them and address them to another missionary not receiving correspondence from home.

Love, Robin

More Snaps:

Doing the laundry at a very young age!
Kossoh Town recycle center - someones front yard!
They keep getting bigger! And yes I am holding it!

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