Monday, August 19, 2013

Week #17 - She Says

Dear Family and Friends,
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
We had 3 missionaries come into the mission office from their fields of labor today – Elders Donaldson, Nickel and Stewart. They begin their journeys home tomorrow after serving faithfully for two years. I have had encounters with all 3 of these wonderful young men in the East. They were there when I arrived in the mission field and my second Sunday in Sierra Leone began my sweet association with them. 
At the dock in Freetown as Daniel Donaldson begins his return home to California.

At the dock as Hunter Stewart begins his return home to Louisiana.

At the dock as Jacob Nickel begins his return home to Arizona.
These four all came together but Elder Liufau goes home in 18 days.

This is a continuation of farewells that started with Elder Adah last week, of missionaries going home with whom I have a connection, a bond. For a brief moment in time, I cared for them, prayed for them, worried over them, loved them – maybe just a little like their moms would if they were here; I am grateful for this experience I am having serving with these young men and women – an experience parents don't get to have, that of serving along side their children in the mission field. It feels good and I am grateful for Heavenly Father's tender mercy in allowing me these feelings/experiences to help fill in the space in my heart that was left open for the children I didn't have as a young woman.

Thursday, August 8, 2013
The mission president had his new car delivered yesterday, and we were fortunate to get his old one and our truck went to another senior missionary couple. We are now driving an SUV that has more room and can be secured without too much worry of our things being stolen out of it. The truck had a cover over the bed, but it didn't lock so we could never lock anything in the back; we are hauling stuff all the time out to missionaries – books, rain gear, mail, water pumps, cooking gas, water filters – it would all be gone if we left it briefly to enter an apartment. 

So today, with the “new” vehicle, we are at the mission office loading it with all the items that must go with us and I am re-arranging everything Scott had just arranged in the back end with the hatch open (that swings like a door – nice feature). He is back there with me, but it starts to rain (so what else is new now that the rainy season is here) so he moves towards the front of the vehicle and I assume he is getting in! I go to shut the door and he yells “don't shut that door!” How was I to know he had left the only set of keys we had in the car and my shutting the door locked them in there! I decided to stay outside while he went inside to call the mission president and have him drive down from the mission home with the other set of keys.

Once we got the keys all figured out, off we went out East to look at apartments for missionaries. We currently have 90 missionaries but by the end of November we will have an additional 42 new missionaries and no where to put them at this time. With the mission president's directive, no missionary or member is to live beyond 20 minutes walk from the church building (center of strength). Presently, some of our missionaries, if they were to walk, spend over an hour just getting to their area of proselyting. Members spend more money than they should to travel to church and the mission president wants the focus now closer to the church.

We took Marcus Wallace with us to inspect the apartments. He works for the church with the specific assignment to help find apartments, and then to maintain them. There is so much that goes into keeping an apartment running in this country. There is a generator that needs maintenance and fuel, there is a stove that requires cooking gas that is always needing to be replaced; the water filter/pump system that has a hand pump the missionaries use to take contaminated water, hand pump it through a filtering system into water bottles so they can cook and drink it. The hand pump is made out of pvc pipe and the missionaries get a little carried away with their muscles and they break quite often, so those are in constant need of repair/replacement. Each missionary has a fan for their use, as well as a net for their beds that need replacement and repair. What can I say about the bathrooms – they always need repairs (I need my brother-in-law Stan here).

Back to Marcus. He joined the army when he was 17 and when the civil war broke out he was 19 and fought for 7 years. While he was fighting the rebels in Kissy, his wife and daughter, who was 7 at the time, were in Freetown, but the conflict was so horrible, they escaped and made their way to Guinea, then eventually to Liberia. Marcus lost all contact with them and he has not seen them since and his daughter is now 22. He has tried to find them through the Red Cross but been unsuccessful. 

So, as I continue my story about Marcus; the church produced a video of 4 West African countries, one being Sierra Leone, that traces the history of the church, and the difficulty the members had during the civil war. While watching the video on Sierra Leone, we saw actual footage of the war, and suddenly, on the screen is Marcus as a soldier! It was not staged and Marcus was so surprised when he viewed it for the first time to see he was part of church history in Sierra Leone. What would be the odds of one soldier out of thousands to be filmed and be a member of the church? Remarkable...

Friday, August 9, 2013
What is it about some days that feel so good and sweet? This morning was one of those days, at least at the Mission Office. It has been raining heavily for 4 days, but this morning, the sun was out momentarily and so I went out back and up the little hill to burn some garbage. It was then I had a moment with Heavenly Father, and Nature; Grandkids came into my mind and heart. I prayed, as I was missing them, Heavenly Father wouldn't let them forget me...then I turned around to see a banana tree with fruit ready for picking, and thanked Nature for her bounties. It felt good being in Sierra Leone....

And then.....the past 3 days or so, the foulest order has been wafting from the bathroom – every time I went in there I didn't think I would come out again, succumbing to the fumes, but I couldn't figure out what it was or where it was coming from. I could smell it in the sink and at one point, I saw something dark and thought it was the hind-end of something dead thinking that was the reason for the smell, but as I pulled it out (with tweezers) it was a twig with something attached. Then I got closer to the drain (?) or whatever it is that I pour a cup of water in every week – Oh my goodness! That was where it was coming from, so I poured anything I could get my hands on to try to “flush” out the problem – Draino, bleach, baking soda, boiling water. They all worked momentarily but then back it would come (truly awful). So I checked with my neighbor across the hall. She advises more water than just once a week. Because we use more water during the rainy season (so much more flushing), the drain is dryer (go figure) and the fumes come back out into the bathroom! I also had a stroke of genius (doesn't come very often) and took a dryer sheet (thank you people for sending me dryer sheets!) and placed it over the drain. A little bit of heaven....

Love, Robin

More snaps:
An ordinary day hitching a ride.
Bo dental clinic

Kissy Zone Conference - Meet the new mission president and his wife.

The fillings from digging well. Like a miniature city. Once the lighter color is found water is imminent.

The foundation of the Waterloo font. Soon, we will no longer walk to the river for baptisms. 

Waterloo Zone Conference - meet the new mission president and his wife.

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