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

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