Sunday, December 15, 2013
8 months today we have been on our mission! Where has the time gone (sarcasm) and how did we fill our time (more sarcasm)? I try to stay in the moment and not look too far forward, but the holidays are difficult as I long to be home with family and friends.
We attended church in Waterloo today; between the boom-box p.a.system, and the first speaker, Divine Gloria Fredrica Walker, I wasn't sure the ringing in my ears would stop. Church is always interesting – most of the time Sacrament meeting consists of the introduction of visitors for the first time, the confirmation of new members, welcoming the new members, sustaining any new convert brothers to the priesthood, and not to forget announcements. Once a speaker gets his/her time, members of the branch presidency have no hesitancy in standing up and passing a note to the speaker that their time is up. This usually happens within about 7 minutes into the talk. Women are “openly” feeding their little ones, cell phones are going off, metal legged chairs on tile make a horrible screeching noise when moved and the chairs are so crammed together it is impossible not to make noise. Just your typical reverent, feel the spirit, Sacrament meeting.
Monday, December 16, 2013
After Scott and I helped out the Freetown Zone missionaries this morning, we went grocery shopping. This consists of 3 grocery stores – Mona Prix, Freetown, Nassim's - Bashim's Bakery as well as my produce vendor who hangs her umbrella at Nassim's market. Bashim's has roasted chickens that we eat a lot and I buy all my bread from them. We spent a total of 948,500 leones which translated in dollars is $221.00 or two chickens and sandwich rolls; 4 pounds of ground beef (I think it is actually goat), frozen vegetables, butter, yogurt, cola, mayonnaise/mustard, candy bars; 25 pounds of rice, spaghetti sauce and noodles, Pringles, cream of chicken soup, tahini paste (to make hummus); canned peaches, mandarin oranges, cans of beets, kidney beans, garbanzo beans and oatmeal; crackers; grape/cranberry juice; and 10 rolls of toilet paper and a box of kleenex.
I am already having an emotional day with news from home of loved ones with health challenges, so when we pull up to Mona Prix and see little goats tied up out front, I know what their fate is and as I get out of the car and look back, there are slaughtered goats with pieces of cardboard covering them up – that did it for me; the tears began to flow and ran down my cheeks the entire time in the store. I know animals get slaughtered in the states, and yes, I still eat them, but it is a little more harsh here and difficult for me to witness. In the last two days while reading Christmas stories Megan has emailed me I note the following two quotes regarding animals:
“Kindness pardons others' weaknesses and faults. Kindness is extended to all – the aged and the young, to animals, to those low of station as well as the high.” President Ezra Taft Benson
“I believe in the beauty of nature – the flowers, the fruit, the sky, the peaks, and the plains from which they rise. I see and believe in the beauty of animals.” President Gordon B. Hinckley
Sierra Leone has quite a ways to go when it comes to the kind treatment of animals, let alone one another!
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
We had a 4:00 pm appointment with the single adults out East today; as we approached, the Primary kids were practicing their Christmas program and were dancing to, Feliz Navidad – really cute and of course I had to video it.
The drive out only took about 45 minutes to go 10 miles, but coming home it took 2 ½ hours and we were in the dark! I found Christmas music with jive on one of the radio stations, which helped keep Scott a little more calm and we were able to avoid him running down a motorcycle.
When I got home tonight I had an email from my grandson, Dallin (11 years old). He told me he was looking online for survival items to help us on our mission. Included in the list of 28 items for the Zombie Survival Kit, of which we have the majority, was a suggested firearm that uses common ammunition such as a 12 gauge shot gun or a .308 rifle. Don't think I could have packed that when I came on mission 8+ months ago, however..... he is thinking about our well being here and I am so grateful for his love, concern and daily prayers in our behalf.
Rachelle and I were back walking this morning after a 10 day “rest” (she was in Bo/Kenema). Good to be back at it; I keep forgetting to mention a no trespassing sign we have seen in the past. “Private property; keep off! Violators will be persecuted!” Got a chuckle out of that.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Today was the Kissy/Waterloo Zones' Christmas Celebration. We met at the Kissy building and it was so much fun to watch the missionaries mingle and celebrate. They were having a great time reuniting and just enjoying each others' company. This was the 1st of 2 celebrations where we handed out the gift items that came from home. Scott and I told them of our dear friends from our Stake who wanted to share in our mission by offering gifts for all the missionaries in the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission. We really are blessed with wonderful friends. After the gift bags were handed out, they spontaneously burst out in “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” I love these missionaries – stripling warriors as far as I am concerned and Helaman would have been honored to have them join his band of 2,060. See the video here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niDcjBO1yKE&feature=youtu.be and here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPH7PoArEkU&feature=youtu.be
We got back into Freetown, dropped off the office elders and made it in time for our birthday dinner appointment at Crown with Marian Ghazzawi (dock lady) and her daughter, Malan to celebrate dock lady's birthday. Just a delightful evening with my Lebanese friend.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Woke up this morning to “fog” and wind! Love it! Shorts and t-shirt weather for Americans here in Sierra Leone, but all the locals have on coats/parkas and ski caps. They think it is cold!! It is the month of Harmattan which is defined as follows:
"In some countries in West Africa, the heavy amount of dust in the air can severely limit visibility and block the sun for several days, comparable to a heavy fog. It can even break the trunk of the pine trees, growing in that region, through their dryness. The effect caused by the dust and sand stirred by these winds is known as the Harmattan haze."
Just as defined, it is very dry and what I thought was fog is dust. I felt its affects when we walked this morning and I had to stop because I could not swallow. Our white car is covered in a butterscotch colored fine dust. Eyes, nose and lips very dry – but it is cooler!!! I am thankful for cooler weather.
We drove out east for two apartment inspections in Waterloo. The back road is drivable now and cuts down drive time by ½. It is so beautiful driving in the country. I captured pictures of spring gardens growing in December and West African women (of course the women) working in their gardens. Loved the drive out east today.
Plumbing problem in the kitchen tonight – the water heater has a leaky hose – Scott the plumber is hard at it right now 9:20 pm and I am staying out of his way; I peeked in and saw black liquid running down the wall – not good....
Friday, December 20, 2013
Next morning and a trip to “Emigh” Hardware resulted in finding the right parts to fix our problem in the kitchen – yay!
Today was the final mission Christmas celebration in Freetown that consisted of the Lumley/Freetown zones. I snapped quite a few pictures while they were gathering and Scott handled the gift giving from home; I stayed at the mission office so the Lauritzen's could be part of the party and actually enjoyed being by myself and taking an inventory of the mission's water filtering supplies in order to place an order for the upcoming year. There is a lot that goes in to ensuring clean water for all the missionaries and all the pumps, hoses, filters, and systems come from Salt Lake City.
We took 2 missionaries home after the celebration and stopped at Nassim's Market to get a snap with the jiving Santa's outside as well as a video. See the video here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpyAGHEztws&feature=youtu.be
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Today was the wedding of Sidikie Kamara and Elizabeth Campbell, and I was on the program to toast to the health of the guests during the reception. Well, the wedding started at 1:00 which actually meant 2:30 (any scheduled time here usually means it will start an hour later). We are sitting in the chapel listening to a choir sing Christmas carols when I hear drums and a trumpet blaring outside and it isn't stopping. I go out to investigate and find the wedding party (minus the groom) all huddled together and rocking to the racket of drums, etc.
Groom shows, and the party is escorted into the chapel. The branch president, I thought, gave great counsel that certainly applies to this country. While speaking, bridesmaids would stand up and take turns fanning the bride; usherettes, in the meantime seated late arrivals and later served refreshments to 300+ guests. Ceremony complete, and the newlyweds were ushered out of the chapel to sign the registry and other necessary paperwork to make the marriage valid.
Guests sat in the chapel and as they were called out over the pulpit, went into the branch president's office to sign the registry as well. It is now 4:00 pm and I am thinking we may make the missionary's fireside in Kossoh Town yet. Not so as the entire wedding party got in the 3 decorated vehicles and left the church to drive around Kissy. We waited and waited and I said to Scott, if they don't get back by 6:00 pm we need to leave; no sooner got that out of my mouth and they showed back up, however, the reception has a list of 13 events and I am #10 – that is at the very least another hour and a half before they get to me. I was truly honored to be the only “white man” on the program, but we opted to leave. It was a very colorful day not only with what took place, but with the women in their native dress – absolutely beautiful! As I sat in the chapel and looked around at many men and women I have come to know and love I felt deep gratitude for being in Sierra Leone.
Driving past St. Mary's market just before driving up the hill to home, the store was lit up with Christmas lights!
Merry Christmas and Much Love to All!