Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Week #23 - She Says

Dear Family and Friends,
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Today marks our 5th month on our mission. I Skyped my mom this evening and she asks when we are coming home – she misses me and I miss her!

Today's last session of the Freetown East District Conference was wonderful. Over 1,000 West African saints attended. 
A family who wanted their picture taken.

Handsome Matthew. His parents are some of the first members of the church in Wellington.
Here they come to District Conference.

Saints arriving at District Conference by taxi, motorcycle, or walking.

I was snapping pictures as they were walking through the gate and from the distance I was, didn't realize I had taken a picture of Fatmata James and her entire family. 
The James family coming to District Conference.
She is my dear friend from the District YW's presidency. I sat next to her in choir today and was on the very outside of the bench. Because they really pack people on the benches, at one point I was half off the bench. When she realized it, she just wrapped her hand and arm around my back side and pulled me back over. She is such a delight and I was able to meet her husband today.

All the white shirts!

The chapel was full at 9am and outside chairs quickly filled up.

President Patrick Swarray and Scott.

Kanzler's and the Curtis'

It was “I want to wear your hat” day so I got some cute pictures with the locals with my sun hat. It was hot this morning!!! But it is now raining! I actually much prefer the rain as it is cooler.

This evening we had dinner with our embassy friends, Robert and Berta. I am so grateful for their friendship.

Monday, September 16, 2013
As I opened up the cupboard to get out dishes for breakfast, there happened to be a cockroach on the door and it fell on my arm! Not what I wanted to experience at 7:30 in the morning.

The rest of my Preparation Day went well with 6 loads of laundry done, the car drained of the water and.....I actually got my hair cut by a “professional.” She was recommended by my friend at the US Embassy; didn't speak English very well but in only a ½ hour, my hair was washed, cut and blown dry for only 80,000 Leones ($20.00).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Tri Zone Conference today and Elder Curtis presided. It was delightful to be with over 50 missionaries gathered under one roof.
Tri-Zone Conference with Elder and Sister Curtis

Wednesday, September 18, 2013
I decided to rest today and stayed home while Scott went off to the Mission Office and meetings for the bulk of the day. I on the other hand, spent quite a bit of my time in reflection. My kitchen window here looks out to the view of three 3,000 liter Milla Water Tanks; the water that comes into our apartment and through our water filter system comes out of these tanks.

Today, as I looked out the kitchen window I decided to pretend I was home in Sacramento. What did I see? I saw my dad, when he was alive and living with Mom just two homes away from me, walking to the mail box in the afternoon with great difficulty; as he came back and with great effort stepped up on the sidewalk leading to his front door, he would teeter on his foot and it looked as though he would fall backwards. I would have to turn my head away with the hope when I looked back he made it back into the house for another day. I looked today and saw my brothers coming for visits to check up on Mom and Dad and to help see to some of their needs and how much I appreciated them coming because sometimes it was so hard for me to do it alone. I also saw Scott through my kitchen window, driving my parents to doctor's appointments or taking my mom to get her hair done; how grateful to have him in my life and to help out with my parents. Then, I saw my mom walking to the mail box because Dad was now gone. If she caught me looking out the window she would wave or approach the window and start to talk but half the time I couldn't hear what she was saying so I invited her to come in. I saw my dear neighbors coming and going throughout the day. I saw my friend drive over and we would go out together to do errands for most of the afternoon. Then there were the grandsons who would come over and play outside, climb the tree in the front yard, and easily coax me out of a can of root beer for each of them. I saw Scott taking Willard for his morning walk. I loved what I saw this morning looking out the kitchen window. In years to come, I will look out a kitchen window, and see my friends from Sierra Leone and love what I see.

Friday, September 20, 2013
Received two packages from home today – always such a happy day for treats from home.

We hosted the Elmer's for a day and a night. Dr. Elmer is the West Africa mission (covers 13 missions) medical doctor. Wonderful people from Spokane, WA. They taught us a new card game called Golf. Very fun. Paula is quite artistic. She sews, makes ceramics, does a lot of canning. They live on a 50 acre piece of property with 300 black walnut trees. We will be getting up at 3:00 am tomorrow morning because we have to get them to the sea coach by 3:30 so they can get on the boat by 4:00 to go across the Atlantic to Lungi to catch a flight back to Accra. Not sure I would want to get on a small boat to travel 30 minutes in the dark over the Atlantic ocean – definitely not!

Saturday, September 21, 2013
After coming home from sea coach this morning at 4:30 am, I tried to go back to bed and sleep, but that didn't work, so I got up at 6:30 am and went for a walk. The terrain here off the main road is very steep and slippery, so to walk on the road, I encounter a lot of vehicles, motorcycles and exhaust. I keep telling myself I will start walking again once the mission home is completed but the way that is progressing, I will only have 6 months left on my mission and will be a big ball of flab. So exhaust and all, off I went this morning and it felt so good to be outside.

By 6:30/7:00 am, the malaria carrying mosquitoes have gone somewhere but I still wore long pants and a long sleeve shirt. It is typically in the mid 70's at this time of the day, so I was quite warm when I returned. I walked up towards the US Embassy (the road is paved part of the way and will soon be complete all the way to the Embassy) and came across a young family off the side of the road hauling granite rocks and some other sand based stone by hand. They were gleaning the rocks from the construction in order to break them down into smaller pieces and then sell them. All were involved with the exception of two cute toddlers who were “penned” up in the newly constructed 18” high cement drains that are being built along-side the road construction. There are a lot of rock camps in Freetown and the people have short handled sledge hammers and they sit out most of the day pounding on granite rocks creating a size that the Chinese use for the road construction that is ongoing. I decided to help them for a little bit. They were quite surprised and by the time I had carried only 3 rocks to a pile, I was done. I tried hauling like the kids with an article of clothing tied through the handle of a pan and that was exhausting. But I made more friends with the locals and I will see them again and we will have a connection.

We spent a good portion of the day in the office working on our assignment to obtain 4 new apartments prior to October 15th. I also input 20 new members of the church into the computer in order to generate membership numbers for them. From the office we drove out to Kissy to participate in a single adult gathering that started at 4:00 pm. We have finally figured out West Africa time. 4 means 5, 5 means 6, etc. So there were a total of 5 single adults in attendance and the entire District consists of over 1,300 singles between the ages of 18-30. They have appointed us as the senior couple to help them with their program; so, we helped them calendar 3 super activities between now and the end of the year. We are hopeful more will turn out.

This has been the week of the cockroaches! I smashed/swiped/stomped more than I care to count.
Scott almost stepped on this critter.

Love, Robin

Week #22 - She Says

Dear Family and Friends,

Sunday, September 8, 2013
We attended the Wellington 2 Branch Conference today. The choir of mostly ladies was all dressed the same and were so excited to sing. In this particular building, the generator is running during services, and with no microphone, I can barely hear what is being said; combine that with West African accents and/or Krio and I am in a world of hurt trying to stay interested and engaged with the speakers.

A budding organist in the Wellington 2 Branch

From Wellington, we traveled to Kissy and attended services of the 1st branch. Tiangay Mazani was the chorister in Sacrament meeting. I continue to refer to her as Whitney Houston, because of the similar looks. After Sacrament meeting she came up to me and as I began to ask her if she had found employment, she quickly chimed in that she had and would be starting this week. I was so happy for her and with tears running down my cheeks, she took her beautiful black hands and wiped them away. Two weeks ago, she had called me and wanted to talk to me; Scott had a meeting two days later in Kissy, so I asked if she could meet me at the church to discuss what was troubling her. She has been married for only 6 months and her husband left shortly after the marriage to work in South Africa. They have been saving money so she could get a passport, other documents and airfare to reunite with him. Well, all was going smoothly and the plan was for her to leave this month, but they had a set back when some of his funds went toward medical costs for his mother. So in our meeting, Tiangay wanted to counsel with me on how to get a job so she could earn money in order to help replenish the funds. 
The happy working girl!

The matriarch of the family to my right. Augusta Melville - a wonderful woman!

This all stems from the Career Workshop I have been participating in and teaching. There really aren't many jobs for people in the Freetown area and I didn't know what to tell her, but after praying with her, some thoughts came to my mind and were felt in my heart. I counseled her to follow any promptings to make contact with merchants, etc. and I assured her if she paid her tithing now and committed to pay after she got a job, she would, in fact, find employment. She starts this week working for a merchant just down the street from the church. Truly a miracle.

We visited with the branch president's wife today at the local government hospital. She had some minor surgery last Wednesday and must remain hospitalized for a few more days. Scott rated the hospital as barely a twinkle with no stars whatsoever. There is no accurate description of what we saw; let's just say, I am very grateful I had some bleach water in the car.

I participated in the District Choir practice getting ready for District Conference next week-end. Goodness, do these people love to sing, and sing loud! It is such a treat for me to sing with them.

Monday, September 9, 2013
P-day! It has been quite fun sitting most of the day beside Scott on our laptops each doing whatever. He has his Midway baseball hat on and looks so cute along with his BYU t-shirt with a red vine in his mouth. We received packages from home on Friday and included was his favorite licorice. He is in heaven!
One happy man - red vines!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
How fitting on this day to record a couple of experiences we had while we drove to Makeni and took our dear friend, Markus Wallace with us to look at the apartments, and meeting house we had scouted out on our previous trip out to this beautiful city. Markus fought in the civil war for 9 years and was shot 5 times and survived. We drove up to one little community named Lunsar and stopped because I needed to find a restroom; we ended up at the home of his uncle. He hadn't seen him for over 3 years and it was a wonderful reunion. Markus later told us that during the war, his uncle was captured in Lunsar and the rebels were executing 3 prisoners a day (men, women and children). When Markus got word of his uncle's capture, he took his platoon of men and raided the prison and freed him and all others. Markus also discovered today, that his cousin who he dearly loved and grew up with had just passed away 2 weeks ago from a liver disease. That was a sad moment for him.

On our way home, we stopped in Kissy to re-address an apartment we saw there and across the street from it is a cemetery. While the men looked at the apartment, I strolled through the cemetery with the caretaker as he showed me some very old burial sites. One was of a christian missionary who died in the early 1800's and he took me to the other side of the headstone where there was a very small overgrown opening. Come to find out, it led underground and on both sides were additional burial plots of people related to the missionary. During the war this cavern was discovered by some locals, and they hid in there from the rebels.
The Kissy cemetery.

I have never really appreciated what people experience and the horrific circumstances they endure when their homeland is at war until I came Sierra Leone. I remember where I was on 09/11, sitting at my desk at work on Marconi Avenue in Sacramento, when I began to hear the reports coming in over the radio. Even then, though shocked and dismayed, I wasn't there and I was watching the scene unfold before my eyes on the television. Here, in Sierra Leone, I am experiencing war through the eyes, lives and memories of people who endured a 10 civil war.

Thursday, September 12, 2013
We had a teaching assignment in Kissy today; we were told we had an hour and thinking it was just the two of us, we planned 20 minutes a piece. Much to our surprise, the entire District was involved and by the time the meeting started at 4:15 pm, the room was full and the overflow was standing outside. It was in fact a 2+ hour training of branch missionaries and branch missionary leaders, by the full time missionaries and us. By the time it was our turn, the meeting had already been going for over an hour, so both Scott and I opted to modify our remarks and kept our time to about 10 minutes each. We needed to get home before it got too dark and my guess, the meeting went on for at least another hour. We love being with the saints out East.

Friday, September 13, 2013
Nothing better on a Friday night at 10:15 pm than sitting in our apartment with my favorite Walmart sweatshirt on (just had to bring it for comfort) even though it is 79 degrees outside with 89% humidity, eating a Big Hunk candy bar. How good can life get? Scott sits next to me at his computer and he is munching on licorice (his favorite). Thanks to loved ones who sent us care packages, we are enjoying life tonight with sugar!

I saw Tiangay (aka Whitney Houston) tonight at the District choir practice. She was so excited to tell me that she had worked all week for a family restaurant just down the street. She was sent to town with money to buy produce and fruit for the store, she cooked, she cleaned the owners back store apartment and she shared something very interesting – as she was making up the bed last Monday, under the pillow she found some money. She thought it curious that it was there, but left it alone and continued making the bed. For the rest of the week, through today, she found the same scenario – money under the pillow. She was convinced it was a test and thankfully, she passed with flying colors. With her working and her husband replenishing what had to be used for his mom, she now thinks she can be reunited with her husband in November.

It has been a very busy week with a lot of time in the car, but has been rather soothing as I have felt like I have been at the ocean with the waves constantly breaking at the beach....our car took on a lot of water not too long ago and for some reason just this week I noticed the sound of the “ocean” and asked Scott where it was coming from and then the explanation. It is somehow trapped in the undercarriage of the car and until some holes are drilled underneath to allow the water to drain out, I will continue to be at the “beach” for awhile.

Tonight coming home from Kissy in the dark, as we were driving down Kissy Road in stop and go traffic, 100's of people were walking on the sidewalks with many locals just sitting outside their shops with, I presume family and friends, chatting and eating. It reminded me of my West Jordan summers when the Russell family and I would sit out almost every evening until midnight talking, eating and watching the kids play. Neighbors would come and go, but the Russell's and me were usually the last holdouts to go in because it was so wonderful to be outside. Tonight I missed those evenings and was a little envious of the locals who seem to be unconcerned about the mosquitoes and aren't about to let them spoil their evenings with friends and family.

Busy week-end starting tomorrow with Freetown East District Conference. The saints are pretty excited about it and have been working very diligently to get the building ready for our visiting general authority, Elder LeGrand Curtis and his wife. It would be nice if they could clear out all the junk cars that are parked around the entrance, white wash the graffiti off the security wall, get rid of all the sand bags that are set up to keep out the water when it overflows out of the sewer drains during heavy rains, but it is what it is and it will be a wonderful 2 days in spite of how the grounds look.
Kissy Chapel - Getting it ready for District Conference

Saturday, September 14, 2013
First and second session of District Conference today; Sister George, the District Relief Society President conducted the women's auxiliary training session. She is such a wonderful woman. I know I keep repeating myself, but the saints out East are such wonderful people. Scott and I just love being with them; we just hope we are leaving them better than when we found them 5 months ago. They have certainly changed me.

Love, Robin

More snaps:

Cute little feet!

Dancing and singing together.

Okay, we have danced and sung together - now what do we do?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Week #21 - She Says

Dear Family and Friends,
Sunday, September 1, 2013
Made it through the night at the hotel in Makeni with about 2 hours of sleep. The locals gathered at the hotel during the night and talked, yelled and partied to music until 4:30 in the morning. Not only was the bed hard, but the pillows. Got up and had breakfast at the hotel (complimentary), and off we went to meet Prince so he could help us find the vocational school where church services were held. 

We were about 20 minutes before the meeting started at 9:00 am and people began to arrive dressed in their Sunday best. I still can't get over how beautiful the women are here. We manage to get through Sacrament meeting in relative peace, but as soon as Sunday School starts, two other congregations of different faiths begin to gather behind our building, and they have microphones as well as music. Loud beyond words and one is preaching hell-fire, while the other is preaching damnation. Didn't phase our Sunday School teacher one bit. These people are not easily bothered by little or big irritations. I on the other hand start to come unglued when I hear someone clipping their fingernails in church.

Now that Scott is the Mission branch clerk, we will be traveling to Makeni once a month to collect the members' tithes and offerings. I am not really expecting much in offerings as ½ the people in attendance are investigating the church. Thus, when Prince begins to gather the collections and hands them to Scott, I am humbled and touched as I can see the offerings because they have no envelopes and of course they don't write checks so it is all viewable to my eyes. One sweet and faithful sister, donated to every category on the offering slip. I became somewhat emotional when I saw it and thought of the faith and sacrifice of this woman. I reflected on the story of the Widow's Mite in the New Testament, and saw it first hand in Makeni, Sierra Leone. I have so much to learn from these people.

It was very touching and humbling to view this donation slip from a sister in the branch.

Prince Kailie and Scott

Prince Kailie and his family. 

Missionaries went with us to Makeni to interview baptismal candidates.

The wonderful members of the Makeni unit.

It is nice to be back home in our apartment. I appreciate it much more now that I have spent a night in a hotel in Makeni!

Monday, September 2, 2013
I completely forgot to mention the Couples Conference held last Thursday evening and all day Friday. I can only justify my forgetfulness to the memory of my dad's birthday as that was the only entry on Friday the 30th. The conference was wonderful. In attendance were the Burns', Schlehuber's, Lauritzen's, Assistants, Mission President and wife, and the Kanzler's. Scott and I are not only the youngest senior couple, but the least amount of time on mission. The Schlehuber's go home in December of this year after 23 months of service; the Burns' go home in Febuary 2014 after 18 months and their 2nd mission; the Lauritzen's go home sometime in April after 23 months of service. The Ostler's are serving for 3 years. All such remarkable and dedicated people. It is such a privilege to serve with them. So many moving pieces for a mission to run efficiently and effectively. I must do my part!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013
19 new missionaries arrived in Freetown today. 26 more coming in October and Scott and I have an additional assignment of finding 5 missionary apartments before the next transfer in October. Quite a daunting task.

19 new missionaries and a boat-load of luggage!

Looking pretty chipper after 24 hours of travel the day before.

Welcome 19 new missionaries!

We took a branch missionary home tonight back to her village in Kissy, called Looking Hill. I believe we drove our car where no car has ever been before, and in the dark. Our original plan was to leave her at the Kissy Chapel and let her walk home, but when we picked up a fulltime missionary to transport him to the mission office later that evening, we discovered Looking Hill was his territory and there was no way this little missionary would be able to haul her luggage up the mountain to her home. She called her father, and had him meet us at he halfway point, and she kept telling us it was just a little further. Elder Hovley told us in all his days in this area, he had never seen a car and that was a blessing because if we had met one going up or coming down there would have been no way to pass.

Thursday, September 5, 2013
Spent a good portion of the day looking for missionary apartments. Finding apartments here will take nothing short of a miracle, and we have to expect that through faith, prayer and work.

We checked out a possible apartment near the new Hill Station Chapel that is under construction. The facility was supposed to be ready last November, but they encountered problems when they brought in heavy equipment to demolish the granite foundation and level it; they discovered that the size of the granite included homes just above the construction site and when they used the equipment the homes began to shake on their foundation so they had to stop. This resulted in them using jackhammers to break up the granite which took much more time of course and extended the completion date. We were given a mini tour of the almost finished facility. I walked into the chapel and looked up towards the pulpit and had a moment of reverence and gratitude and felt the spirit of what would transpire in this chapel in the future; I also viewed the baptismal font and had the same feelings, and was then shown the Relief Society room; nice and roomy for all the beautiful West African sisters.

The baptismal font.

The future chapel.

The building is built upon a granite foundation. The same rock as the home above.

They had to use jackhammers to break up the granite because the use of heavy equipment was shaking the homes above.

While looking around the area where the current Hill Station meetinghouse is, I came upon a woman by the name of Mama Jarr. She owns/runs a “mini mart” that is open from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm daily. I decided to check it out to see if she sold slurpies.....anyway, I struck up a conversation with her and she had just come back from 3 months in Maryland visiting 3 of her children. She was there for medical issues. She was sitting out in front of her store, surrounded by family members and behind the store was her compound or living quarters encased in a high wall and razor wire. I asked if she had any apartments for rent. She said no and also said if she did, she wouldn't rent them as they would be available for family members if they needed a place. She said, “I know what you Americans do.” “You place your family members in other homes, etc., and I get very good pay to take care of them.” She lived 20 years in America before she decided to return home to Sierra Leone.

Scott and I listened to a BYU Speech last night titled – A Miracle in the Making, Finding the Meaning in Adversity – Ramona Hopkins. 27.Sep.2011 - One of her final comments struck a cord with me. “The Refiner's fire burns bright! It is up to us to decide if it will consume us or mold us into something new, something better, something great.” Not that I have felt like I would be consumed here in West Africa, but I haven't always dealt with the challenges as nobly as I would have liked to, and if I could re-wind my Sierra Leone life's tape I would have handled situations better but, there is always today and hopefully more tomorrow's to embrace them, live them, and wait for them to pass through me, hopefully leaving me more Christ-like.

Friday, September 6, 2013
Grapefruit is in season here and I have been able to find pink! So I stopped at my local grocer and purchased 3 from her for 10,000 leones. As I was getting ready to leave, she impulsively placed another grapefruit in my bag for free, so I impulsively leaned over and kissed her on the cheek and thanked her. I have never felt to do that before here, but as we drove off and I waved to her, she looked up, waved back and smiled.

The 1st ever Sisters Conference was held today; Rachelle Ostler organized and planned a very fun and “active” day. She introduced a 7 minute exercise program and demonstrated it to the sister missionaries. I was exhausted by the time she was done and I barely lifted a foot off the ground! Fun was had by all; we have 10 wonderful African sisters serving in our mission at present.

Looks like the exercise leader is a little tired!

Sisters conference for the entire mission. 10 wonderful sister missionaries.

They always have to pose for a funny snap.

Love, Robin

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Week #20 - She Says

Dear Family and Friends,
Sunday, August 25, 2013
We attended church in Wellington today so we could bring back two sister missionaries who will be going home on Tuesday – Sisters Owusu and Awuoche. Before traveling out East, we stopped by the sisters' apartment in the Mend Street apartments and picked up Sister Brown as she needed to go out to Wellington to replace the two sisters going home. We picked her up at 8:00 am and couldn't believe how much stuff she had let alone how much it weighed; I thought Scott was going to pop a blood vessel trying to get the luggage in the back of the SUV. We finally get it all in including her, and I can smell the strong odor of bleach; now I like that fragrance but this morning it was taken to a whole different level. Come to find out the lid to the bottle was loose and came off and thus spilled inside one of her zippered bags. Not good, not good at all as she had quite a bit of her clothing in the bag.

We get Sister Brown to the apartment to drop off her luggage and belongings before church and question the two sisters coming with us as to how much luggage they have and they assure us it isn't much. Oh my! Between the rain and the sweat, Scott could have been wrung out he was so wet.

Good-byes are to hard!

Wellington 1&2 missionaries saying their last goodbyes to missionaries going home.

Elders saying good-bye to the Sisters.

Sister Owusu

Sister Awuoche

We get to church and afterward, some of the elders were there to say good-bye. It was quite touching to watch as missionaries bid each other good-bye. It is very hard for them to part as they have been so focused with a single purpose to bring others to the Savior. We take the departing sisters back to the apartment to pick up their belongings so we can head back to Freetown – we can't get into the apartment because they have the wrong keys with them and we must now wait for the soon to be ex-companions to come back to the apartment so they can get in. A boat-load of luggage later, we finally set off for Freetown and have a delightful time with them in the car.

I love Sister Owusu and Sister Awuoche! Scott and I spent a lot of time with them assisting with the set up of their apartment, going on teaching appointments, comforting them when their apartment was broken into and other issues they encountered. It will be a tearful parting at the dock on Tuesday when they depart.

The longer we are on our mission and the deeper our hearts are embedded in the wonderful missionaries, members and this country, the more difficult the good-byes, particularly with the African missionaries, because the chances of ever seeing them again is pretty remote.

Monday, August 26, 2013
We bid farewell to Elder Liufau today; he was an office missionary so we saw him each time we were in the office and grew to love him! I had no idea how difficult it would be to bid missionaries good-bye as they depart for home. Now until we go home, all missionaries departing we will know...emotional days ahead.
Our last picture with Elder Brant Liufau.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Today we drove Sisters Owusu and Awuoche to the sea coach and bid them farewell. Sister Awuoche and I were very close – just a feeling of soul sisters (no pun intended). She isn't going home to a mom and dad as they have both passed and will likely be married within a year; as we embraced prior to her parting she whispered in my ear how she wished I could be with her for her wedding; not sure how I could swing that one given she lives in Kenya but what a surprise that would be to her if Scott and I could find a way to be with her on such a special day.

Our last picture with Sister Mercy Owusu.

Our last picture with Sister Awuoche.

What do you think sisters?

Just hanging out at the docks.

They are going home to Ghana and Kenya.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
One of the first members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Sierra Leone, passed away; Samuel Bangura. The call went out for burial clothes as he had been to the temple maybe once in his lifetime and had none. I was able to gather everything out of the Distribution closet with the exception of a white shirt and white tie. Scott just happened to have some long sleeve white shirts that he planned to give some local members and he brought 2 white ties. I had already ruined one of them, but he willingly gave up the second tie in order to contribute to this good man's burial.

Friday, August 30, 2013
Yesterday was my dad's birthday. He would have been 92. I thought about Mom knowing how much she loves/loved him and how much she misses him. Their love for one another was quite remarkable.

Saturday, August 31, 2013
I am sitting in the hotel room of the Wusum Hotel in Makeni, Sierra Leone. We drove here this morning with the two office elders with the specific assignment to look for missionary apartments and a facility for the members to worship. Our friend and fellow saint, Prince Kailie met us in town and took us around all afternoon and into the evening looking at places. This 33 year old man is quite remarkable. He has been working tirelessly for the past 7 years, locating members of the church, and providing church services for them while meeting at a vocational school, all the while, pleading with the mission president to send missionaries and create a branch. 

So, how can I describe our hotel room.....it is maybe a ½ star at best and the only reason there is a hotel in Makeni is because the country's president was born here. Because we have 2 missionaries with us, our plan was to get two rooms, but they only have “suites” so we thought it best to put them in the room with us and save a few leones. It does come with 2 bathrooms, so that is a plus. The first thing I check out is our bathroom – oh boy! 

The shower head is something from “I don't know where.” How can I possibly sanitize it! So many heads; none of us took a shower as it was so creepy. No possible way to dodge the contaminated water and keep it off of our faces. Then I look for the amenities of hair shampoo, etc. and find two bottles and they have already been used (not going to touch that). Next, the mattress – hard as a rock and no sheet between us and the blanket. I am getting the heeby jeebies and decide I am going to wear socks to bed so I don't have to feel something crawling around my feet. Scott does the same and wears long legged pajama bottoms. He kept thinking of the movie, The Other Side of Heaven, where the main character leaves his feet outside his bed and rodents nibble on his heels....Scott, who always brushes off my phobias!

Nothing like previously used toiletries to make one feel real welcome in the hotel room!

The shower head at the Wusum Hotel in Makeni. No one took a shower with contaminated water coming at you in all directions.

 Love, Robin

More snaps:
The mountain in Makeni was majestic to me.

This handsome goat was freely grazing in the back yard of one of the homes we looked at in Makeni.