We live in a fallen world and to think any different, one has to walk the planet blind. Every single person needs Jesus and the continual sanctification that only comes from a relationship with the Father. This human condition shows up in every country regardless of its state of development.
Our day started off at Services sitting through a “committee” meeting. This was a long meeting where every single person needed their time on the stand. Everybody wants to be involved and everybody wants a piece of the action or at least their sticker/branding on the action. They wanted distribution to happen at the Services camp and not out in the field. BUT, this is why I love WHI…they listen patiently, then go back to the field to get the work done. The people in need are more important then making a committee happy. Context right? We always have to remember context. This country works differently than ours and change is never dictated, but modeled. Saidu and his team “model” leadership and compassion!
From here we went to the field with another NGO to distribute water filters to households in need. This was a far different experience than traveling with people under Saidu’s leadership. Not necessarily bad just different. The group we traveled with were far less organized and allowed outside influence to alter the plan of distribution. In the end, through heated conversations we got out in field.
In the field our first experience was walking up on a body being pulled from the river. Considering we are almost 2 weeks past the disaster it was good we did not see details. It is simply a painful reminder to the community they lost so many family and friends. As a side note, out of respect we took no photos of this location. From there we went climbing in and around the very rocky surroundings of the river basin. We went from house to house training families on how to use and clean the water filters. This is a rewarding experience when you see a family with a look of astonishment on their face when you convert tainted river water to pure drinking water. Understand, they believe the water from the river is untouchable due to the decomposing bodies. We hiked in approximately 1.5 miles, then back out through some intense trails by our standard.
From there were picked up by Saidu, had dinner, and enjoyed the very efficient traffic of Freetown. Honestly, I would prefer to live in a nice quiet farming village, rather than anywhere close to this traffic:)
This was a day of contrast. People were helped, they have clean water. But this is the contrast of great leadership and… I don’t know the leadership of the people we traveled with today, but I do know the “fruit” was far different. World Hope International, Saidu’s leadership in Sierra Leone, their people, and their compassion are what makes a huge difference. I am so thankful they are Jesus following people who simply want to serve their communities and demonstrate the Father’s love!
Blessings From Sierra Leone…we are coming home tomorrow. Please pray for safe and on time flights home!
A normal experience for me when I come to Africa is realizing how much I do not know. As Americans we move so fast…always doing, always fixing, always trying to solve some problem, and very little listening. I don’t care how much we practice, how much we think we listen, I am convince we simply do not listen enough. Going into a disaster situation people are hurt emotionally and physically, and sometimes all they need to do is get it out. Disaster situation or not, when emotional conversation starts there is always context. Today we experienced a lot of high emotions; both joyous and anger. We arrived at the compound (which I now know is referred to as “Services”) this morning at about 8:30. Rewind for a second…we arrived after the most bumpy drive I have ever experienced. My kidneys still hurt! Back to Services. Harvey and I received our marching orders and headed to Crab Town to deliver water filters with the team. Crab town is a costal community on the river that flooded.
We arrived at Crab Town and walked along the river through people’s houses. Bedrooms were flooded, full of debris, and were caked with red mud…this is real. We toured through the community and gathered all the residents to come to one main area. In the main area we trained the residents how to properly use the filters so they would last them 5-10 years. The team registered and verified people lived in the community and then we distributed buckets and filters. Harvey and I were able to serve the team and put together filters and help distribute. This was a large and desperate crowd full of emotions. At one point you could sense the tension and then a single individual walked by and started calling us out for being their just for show. Remember these are hurting people…hurt people, hurt people. There was nothing physical, just verbal but it was a good reminder to just pray…I spent the remaining time praying and taking pictures of the operation.
From there we went back to Services and chilled out for a bit; we were hot, sweaty, and burned…oops. About 5:30 we took off with Saidu and visited a sight by the river where a cement platform was built for a water tank. The community leader at this location took us to a place by the river where they collected 65 bodies last week. As we were viewing this location a local resident grabbed Saidu and took us to his house. It was a disaster and he had received no help yet. Turns out this was a guy who was making trouble at Services the day before. Guess what? Hurt people, hurt people. Saidu NEVER got mad at him and simply listened so the man could get it out. He understood he was hurting, because he had lost everything. This was convicting to me…I need to listen and not respond! Saidu promised him that we would be back the next day and I guarantee you, we will be. There was know way this was by chance, this was a divine appointment.
Our day ended with a nice dinner with Saidu. I am more convinced today that we should give people an attentive ear, turn our cheek the other way if necessary, and when they are finished show them the love of the Father. Even when they do not deserve it, because that is exactly what grace is! Grace shows love and does not respond in a like manner. I am not saying we allow ourselves to get run over, I am suggesting we slow down, we listen, look past the emotion, and simply respond with love and truth.
Thank you for the prayers. Please pray for Saidu and his team, they need your prayers and support!
Coming into Sierra Leone was a little different experience this time. I left Dallas, Harvey left Grand Rapids and we met in Minneapolis. From there we went through Paris to Freetown. We landed in the light, approximately 6:05 pm local time. Customs went smoothly and we picked up all 9 bags seamlessly. We are extremely thankful we did not fly Brussels Air today, because they are dealing with an employee strike right now. What does that mean? Well, those fortunate people flying Brussels Air into Freetown today arrived with no bags. Thank you Jesus for Air France:)
One of the first things I noticed was how wet everything is. It is obvious it is the rainy season and you can understand the flooding and land slides that have occurred. We will see the extent of that tomorrow and I will share what we encounter.
Our friend Salifu, from WHI picked us up from the airport. For those of you on the trip in May, we had lunch with Salifu at Bashar in Freetown. It is always good to see a friendly and familiar face when you arrive here. Salifu has a great smile and is such a welcoming man. We loaded our bags and headed east about 9 miles to a vehicle/cargo ferry. As I typed right now we are rolling in the waves and I am wondering if I should have brought some Dramamine. Oh well, too late now. Here is an interesting fact, it cost 55,000 ($6.75) Leones per vehicle for the ferry. The people ferry on the other side of the airport is about 300,000 Leones per person ($40). All I will say is a ferry ride in the dark with very few lights to see where you are going, is an act of faith.
I am using Salifu’s hotspot right now and I am unsure if we will have wifi where we are staying tonight, so I will cut it short. Praise the Lord Harvey and I made it safety, all of our bags made it, and Lord willing we will get to sleep soon in a horizontal position. Thank you for all the prayers.