Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Week #32 - The Joys of Being a Missionary

Sunday, November 17, 2013
We were up and out the door today at 7:35 am on our way out East to get the Temple Checklist form to the saints leaving for Accra, Ghana on the 25th. The road to Grafton was blocked, so we only got to Kossoh Town, Wellington, Thunder Hill, and Kissy. The saints who are going on the trip are getting so excited. We won't be going with them, but we will be traveling with them across the ocean on the Kissy Ferry where they will catch a bus to the airport to fly to Accra.

Our friend, Sahr Doe spoke in the Kissy 1 Branch today. It was the Primary program so his remarks were geared toward the little ones. He shared with us an experience he had with his two year old son, Bob a couple of weeks ago. Sahr was down sick with Malaria and was laying on the couch when Bob came home from school and saw him. Bob asked, “Are you sick Papa?” When Sahr told him he was, this little guy laid his hands on Sahr's head (as he had seen his dad lay his hands on his mom to give her a blessing), and with the faith of a child said, “Papa-God, please bless my papa, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Sahr went on to say the future of Sierra Leone and the future of the Church lies in the little children and how the parents treat them and raise them.

Monday, November 18, 2013
Another miracle day with the location of an apartment in Makeni. We traveled there today with the Burns; they had some business at the Polio Camp and we needed to look for an apartment. Little did we know that our time with the Burns and our Polio friends would result in the probable rental of an apartment. We met with Matthew from the Polio camp and followed him and his driver to the MJ Hotel in order to exchange American money for Sierra Leone money. The Burns had been gifted a large some of money specifically targeted for the camp to assist them in getting electricity and so we drove to the hotel to meet with the manager and exchange the money. In the meantime, the manager asks the Burns' what business we have in Makeni and they tell him we are there to look for an apartment as our new branch had just recently been established and our plans were to place more missionaries in the town. Well, this gentleman tells us he knows of a man who has a “home” for rent, not too far from the hotel and very close to the church building. Well, the man showed up within a matter of minutes and took us to see the place; he actually lives in the compound himself, has two wells Milla water tanks, electricity 24/7; 24 hour guard service, retainer wall as well as razor wire (I know, it sounds like a war zone around here). We were thrilled and the price was right!!! It will work for the transfer period in January.

All the busy workers at the polio camp making cards.

I am checking out the polio camp greeting card production room.

Found looking for shoes.
Sister Burns and I are somewhere down this road.

In front of the newly remodeled Makeni branch.

Every time I visit a polio camp, I am so impressed with the people. They are genuinely happy and they have so little. I walked into one working room and there must have been about 30 people sitting around tables, making hand-made greeting cards to be sold in the US. A couple of men from the states spend weeks at a time working at the camp helping with the cards; they take them back with them and promote them through the Rotary Club in their city. These men have a very successful commercial cleaning business and because they have felt so blessed, they have wanted to give back and chose Makeni.

We got back home late, but had not only a successful day with the apartment find, but a fun day with the Burns. They go home to Meadow, UT in February; such good people who have also served an 18 month humanitarian mission in Slovakia.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Worked in the office today; upon arrival I approached my white board to add more apartment needs, when I beheld some humorous artwork by Elder Wootton. He is a funny guy and fun to be around; Elder Nwosu was happy to see us as well. I think they might miss us when we are not in the office; probably because we usually feed them half of our lunch. It is so hard to eat in front of members as well as missionaries. They seem to always fail to pack a lunch and they are always hungry.

I came into my office today and found this artwork on my white board.

I look like one of the Everley brothers!

We are in the final countdown for the Temple trip on Monday. Bai Sesay stopped by the office today; he was just released Sunday as a branch president after 3 ½ years; he has only been a member of the church for 4 ½ years. A wonderful man, married with 5 children. He and the family are going on the Temple trip, but he came in to tell us of the challenge and frustration he had experienced today when approaching the Assistant Principal (ap) of the school his 13 year old daughter attends. Exams are next week, and originally when Bai approached the school to have his daughter excused, it was denied. But he went back later to explain the situation and permission was given by the principal, though she would have to take her exams the week prior to the trip (this week). He went back today to make arrangements for the exams, and the ap flat out denied his daughter permission to go. If Bai chose to take her out of school next week, not only would she be denied the opportunity to take make-up exams, but she would fail the entire year, and would be expelled from the school and any future attendance; Bai even offered to pay each of her teachers (13) a sum of money to change up the questions on the exams so there would be no cheating either by his daughter or any students who might want to get exam questions from her. The ap told Bai today, he had a choice. He told us this morning, he made his choice, the only option he could make, to take her with him next week to the Temple. He commented on the long awaited anticipation to go to the temple with his family, and “she can't take that away from me!” He is going back to the school one more time tomorrow with his entire family to introduce them to her and to tell her how important they are to him, and that the temple has the authority to seal his family together forever. Scott and I were so touched by the faith, devotion and dedication of this man. We assured him through our own faith and testimonies, that where one door was closed for his daughter, another better, bigger door would be opened to her.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Scott had to go to the dentist today; early on in our mission, one of his crowns came off, but he managed to save it; our friends at the embassy, have a list of “trusted professionals”, so we selected the recommended dentist and off we drove downtown. I stayed in the car to guard it and our laptops while he went in. Tried to re-fit the crown, but that didn't work, so an hour and a half later, he comes back to the car to inform me he has to have a new one. It is going to cost us $850.00 American. Thankfully, he doesn't require Novocaine which surprised the doctor, but no injection with a needle. He was given bottled water to rinse out his mouth...the joys of a third world country.

Thursday, November 21, 2013
I was supposed to pick up my order from the Dock Lady yesterday, but was so busy at the office and I didn't think she had called me. I found out this afternoon when I went down to check on my order and saw her, she was quite relieved to see me and she actually called me twice yesterday, but I didn't recognize the number so I didn't respond. She had been praying to God for my welfare as she feared something had happened to me. That was one of those aah moments and I was grateful not only for prayers from home, but prayers in Sierra Leone for my well being.

Friday, November 22, 2013
I read this evening on Face Book that a dear childhood friend lost her fight with cancer and passed away last night – Julie Labrie Porter. She and her family fellowshipped me at Church and became dear friends. I felt impressed to visit with her just days before we left on our mission and now I am so glad I did.

We drove downtown this morning to pick up the items I purchased from the Dock Lady in preparation for the 3 new apartments we are setting up this transfer. Driving down Shaka Stevens we see thick black smoke from a distance; a little concerning though we see smoke all the time because garbage is constantly being burned on the sides of the streets and roads. Lots of people coming towards us as we continue our drive as they are curious; when we get close, I realize it is the post office! It is the only post office in all of Sierra Leone and flames are coming out the windows and we hear glass shattering! All I can think of are Christmas packages that are waiting for us to pick up!!! We find out later that they are kept at the very back of the building and it looked as though it was contained in the front – keep in mind there is only 1 fire truck in the city of Freetown. 

Freetown post office on fire!

The only post office in all of Sierra Leon.

We at dinner tonight at Gina's, a new restaurant featuring crepes and yogurt; didn't compare to crepes from the original Crepe Danielle's. Scott ordered a milk shake for dessert and it was very thin with something that looked like a golf ball floating in it. Not good, not good.

Saturday, November 23, 2013
We attended the baptismal service in Thunder Hill this morning. Good thing 10:00 am actually meant 11:00 am as we were running late and thought we would probably miss the service, but we got there in plenty of time. It was a very emotional and touching service. There were 9 candidates who were baptized and 6 out of the 9 had to be re-baptized due to the shallow water – we are just coming out of the rainy season and already there is a shortage. Due to this problem, when laying the candidate back to be immersed, it is so far to go that they feel like they are out of control and struggle to stand back up and thus something isn't completely under the water. One young man was also very afraid and petrified of the water – I felt so bad for him as he had to be re-baptized and struggled to maintain his composure; the 1st attempt he came up gasping for breath and he held on tightly to Elder Seraphine who was so kind and loving with him. Another young lady, living with her grandmother was told this morning that she couldn't be baptized because she hadn't gathered water yet; but she stood her ground and told her grandma, she would gather it when she got home. This sweet little thing did not have Sunday clothes to wear, so the sister missionaries who taught her loaned her some of their clothes. We were asked to share our testimonies at the conclusion of the service – I was filled with joy and love for these wonderful saints. More people baptized than there were clothes, so as one came out of the water, he/she would quickly change out of the wet clothes so another could wear them.

Elder Seraphine

Footprints in the sand of the Thunder Hill baptismal candidates.

Julius James with his nephew.

This brother was petrified of the water. Elder Seraphine lovingly comforted him.

This is how we dry baptismal clothes.

Thunder Hill baptismal service.

Very touching scene - a missionary and a convert!

Daily water gathering is not an easy task, as people show up at the local water well and wait for Guma water to release the flow. It's mostly kids who do the gathering and they fill up 5 gallon containers and then carry them home on their heads. This usually takes place two times a day and it is hard work form them.
Stopped by the Mission Office on our way home to do some final preparation for transfers next week and setting up 3 new apartments. We already have one apartment secured for next transfer in January 2014; I keep writing about apartments, but believe me, it is ongoing and constantly on our radar. We feel so blessed to be led to them as well as locals coming forward helping us to find them.
That's it for another week!

Love, Robin

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