We are in Freetown presently to receive Bishop Sam Gray and Sister Donna Hurt. We came in yesterday and plan to leave for the village tomorrow. The trip to Freetown was fine and we do thank God for it. We only one three hour delay when the vehicle got stuck on a rock and could not move and we had to call the local villagers 4am to come and help us out. By 7am we were out of the there and on our way to Kenema. From Kenema to Freetown is a paved road. So by 6pm we arrived in Freetown. We thanked God that we had no more delay or problems on the road.
We have begun doing the Lunch program and is going well. We decided to have individual plates instead grouping five to eight students on one dish. We have about 214 students so far. We do thank you so much for all the goodies we found in the containers and the ones that arrived in the two barrels recently. Please tell Helen Gullege that we now have lunch for the Elementary students- we just give them the protein bars she sent. Thank you Helen.
The students at Moravian Secondary School are in great demand for note books, like one subject and five subject note books. We are also in demand for printer cartridges for ph printers. PH 74 and 75 are cartridges we our printer uses. We do have enough printer papers but no cartridges.
Our students came with the best results in the whole Luawa Chiefdom in the Basic Examination to senior high school in the area. Elections results are out. So far no problem. There are reports election irregularities, but no problems so far.
The construction of the next school building is at hold right now until after Christmas. We have reached the wall hight and is now waiting for the carpenters to do the roofing. After the roof is up, we will call the plumbers and electricians to do their part of the work.
As you all know Safie lost her mother two months ago. We are graceful she is home with the Lord. We are still waiting on the government to approve the school before we are allowed to have senior high. As for now we are only allowed to have the first three grades which are junior class one, two and three.
Last month we were able to visit other villages with donations of school supplies and medicines. Do please send this mail to all on the list.
We are doing very well. I have begone having sun rash but that is normal this time of the year. The temperature goes up to the upper 80s day time and down to 77 at night.
Note books and backpacks are in high demand in the village. We do thank you all very much for all your help. We do thank God that he has given us this privilege to serve him in this special way. It is a blessing that we could all work together like this to further his kingdom here on earth. Safie and I do thank God for all you do. We are bless to have you. We look forward to that day we will dedicate the school officially. We plan to do that sometime next year. Your suggestions as to what date you could come for it are welcome.
GOD BLESS! GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME.
Mohamed and Safie
2. Dried beans – limas (a village favorite), pinto, black-eyed, etc. (dried beans only – NO cans)
3. Powered baby formula
4. Infant Tylenol and fever-reducing children’s and infant’s products
5. Infant blankets
6. Warm baby clothing
7. Prenatal vitamins
8. Protein bars
9. Basic vitamins
10. First aid kits
12. Insect repellant
13. Other item to consider: used wheelchairs, used bicycles, used lawnmower, school supplies
You are invited to an afternoon tea to benefit the school in Sierra Leone, West Africa
Little Church on the Lane
Sunday, January 29, 2012
You are invited to a tea for Safie Braima before she returns to Sierra Leone in February. Many of you may be aware that the need for a high school is something that Safie and Mohammad are working towards.
They need about $60,000.00 to build the school, with about $30,000.00 already being raised. How wonderful that they are half way to their goal. Their government does not provide any funds for building the school. We would like to help raise money for this school.
Please ask a friend or friends to attend the tea with you so that they may learn about this mission, too. Safie will speak about Sierra Leone, her village, education, culture, etc. Education is a vital step in helping the children of her village step out into the world, perhaps one day helping their nation as a whole.
Education has already made huge changes in their village as Safie will share with us. Can you imagine your own children not being able to go beyond the eighth grade? Attached is an invitation to send your friend or friends that you may either email to them or print and mail. Your friends will love meeting Safie and hearing her talk about her vision for her village. This will be such a blessing to Sierra Leone, but also a blessing to all of us that attend. Thank you and we hope to see each of you and your friends at the tea.
Hosted by Susan Burrow, Nancy Jacobs, Beverly Pearson, and Ellen Robertson
Please come.....it will do your heart good!
Please RSVP with number of guests by January 21st so that we may prepare accordingly, a collection by email@example.com or 704.362.0809
If you are unable to attend, please consider a donation for the school. Thank you.
Just bring a bag of school supplies for a middle schooler as your admission. The schedule is:
Brass Band begins playing at 3:00 p.m.
Worship – 3:30 p.m.
The meal will begin between 4:15 and 4:30 p.m.
Our praise band will be providing the music in the worship service.
A Little Bag of Hope!
In conjunction with our first
Salisbury Road RCC Mission Festival
on Saturday, October 1st, we will be collecting book bags filled with school items for Mohamed and Safie to take back to their school in Sierra Leone. The Salisbury Road RCC has set a goal of collecting 70 book bags filled with school supplies. This will ensure that each child in the school will receive these needed items. You can work individually or in groups to help us meet this target.
The following items are needed for each bag:
Three 5-subject spiral notebooks
Two packages of twelve ball point pens
Two packages of twelve pencils
Two pencil sharpeners
One Solar Calculator
Mr. Matthew Koroma, the school principal, has also requested some physical education/sports equipment. If anyone wishes to donate soccer jerseys (blue & white), a javelin, or a shot put, he and the children would greatly appreciate it.
"I study to learn English and math," says Alpha with large eager eyes and a broad grin. "I want to become a doctor." Many of the children in Sierra Leone aspire to occupations that have brought the most good in their country. Their parents desire their children to acquire what the war took from them – the privilege of going to school. Even though the war ended in 2001, the opportunity to attend school has been difficult to achieve. Children who completed 6th grade in Yiehun had to walk 10 to 15 miles to attend middle and high schools. Unless these children have a relative to stay with during the week, they must fend for themselves. In fact, before the school was built in 2009, forty percent of the 12 to 14-year-old girls became pregnant. In 2008, when Mohamed and Safie, presented the idea of building a middle school to the village, the people responded enthusiastically, volunteering one day a week to help with construction. The opening of the Junior Secondary School directly impacted the pregnancy rate. In the 2009 – 2010 school year, only 2 girls became pregnant, and no pregnancies occurred in the 2010-2011 school year. In Yiehun, the number of young girls who became pregnant between the ages of 12 to 14 has decreased from a rate of over 40% to almost 0% in two years. The longer that a girl waits to have children, the better chance that she has to gain a higher education, and the more education that the people of a community obtain, the better the community as a whole improves. The next project that will ensue (finances provided) is the building of a high school in the village. The school, which will eventually become one of four universities in the country, is intended to be a place where the young people may continue their education in their own village, establishing a strong community in the chiefdom. Understanding the importance of a college education in Sierra Leone, Mohamed says, "They ask me for a high school. I want to give them a university."
Safie and I came back into the states Monday, August 22. We will be here for six months until February 21, 2012.
We do hope we will get to see you before heading back to Sierra Leone.
God truly is good all the time.
Mohamed and Safiatu
Just to let you know that we will be home sooooon!
We came from the village, and we are in Freetown waiting to depart for the US on Sunday the 21st of August. We will arrive in Charlotte on Monday the 22nd and will be happy to see all. Just to let you know, we received another two barrels and these are loaded with goodies: note books, filler paper, cashews, tote bags, chalks, pens/pencils, cough medicines, even things for Charles.
Your prayers to get someone to handle the finances for the school were answered. We decided to keep the school financial record under the church administration, and Safie's sister as the record keeper. She has done well thus far with the church finances; I hope that she will continue to do well with added responsibility.
We had our 'Youth Sunday' the second Sunday after Tom and Charles left, and it was very touching, very fantastic. Safie says, "Exciting!" We had a very spirit-filled occasion that Sunday and are very pleased to see our youth doing so well.
The mission house is now fully fenced and secured. We do not have to worry about people breaking in on us any more.
We have enough lumber now to build school desks and benches even after we are gone for six months.
The first building for the school is now finished and painted, and it is the talk of the chiefdom. Everyone driving by is talking about how beautiful the building is. We have started a small mini-library for the school. The children and the teachers all appreciate it very much.
After receiving the medical supplies from brother Jamie Davis and Jack, we decided to share it with the two local dispensaries and the hospital in Kailahun. They were very pleased and even announced it on the local radio station. Oh yes, we did give some to MJ, our nurse in the village.
We do sincerely send greetings to all, and we do thank you for your support. Pray that God Almighty will continue to use all of us this way in furthering His kingdom on earth. Once more thanks a bunch.
GOD TRULY IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!
May the Lord bless you!
We are so very glad to thank God Almighty and all of you for all that God has done through you for the spreading of His Good News, the Gospel. Once again thanks a bunch!
The church and mission house compound is fully fenced now. This is a project that took awhile to finish. I am happy that it is finally done.
At present, there are two mission areas now that want the Moravian church in the Luawa Chiefdom. The people and their leaders have come to us and asked us to extend our church to their villages. God willing we will be having at least two additional Moravian churches in this area comes next year after we return from Charlotte.
Solar batteries and lights are doing well. We now get enough lights though the batteries are not strong enough to provide any more than light the lights.
We thank Jeff a bunch for school patches. We love them and do pray that one of these days we will have ceremonial uniforms with school hats/caps for the students.
Please give Jamie Davis and Jack a big hug for all the medical supplies, baseball hats and all. We love you all!
We thank everyone for the barrels and all the hard work put into it. Protein bars, cashews, note books, filler papers, etc are always welcome.
We are still holding on to that day we will officially open the school. The first building of six class rooms, staff room and a mini library is finished. We look forward to building one more like this and then we will start building the college and the school campus. We still have long way to go. Our God is able! We can do it.
We do thank Moriah and Sharon for their contribution to the Sierra Leone Web. I will tell chief Lansana that many people will be waiting to say to him "Bika kaka".
We do thank Tom for forwarding this mails to all in the web. Haines Jr. requested that we add his address to our mail list. I do not know how.
We will be leaving for the village this Wednesday and will see you in August. God Bless!
GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME
The school is now completely painted, and we are working to make some bookshelves for the mini library that we will have for the school. We have hauled enough lumber to build the shelves and to make desks and benches for next year.
With the NGO status, we can now bring in anything valuable from overseas duty free. We can also buy a brand new vehicle here in the country with a discount of up to three to four thousand dollars. In addition, this status makes the Moravian Mission known to other NGOs that may want to help.
Our prayers go out to all in the Carolinas and beyond.
We pray for a safe trip for Tom.
Landing in Lungi International Airport spiked my heart rate and stress level. I was about to meet some peculiar Sierra Leoneans, official and unofficial airline security who would act as gatekeepers to our visit to Ngiehun. Billy had apprised me about the reception that I would receive at the airport, so when men yelled and cajoled me to extract the money that I had in my pockets, I should not have been surprised. I was.
Somehow, Moriah and I made our way past baggage carriers and airport security to see at least 50 people pushed against the gates that separated travelers from those they came to see. As our "helpful" attendant commanded us to stay in the confines of the terminal, I saw two welcome signs bearing our names. I turned the tables on our baggage manipulation specialist and began yelling at him, "That's my name! There they are! No, I am not waiting for the rain to quit. I am going! Now!" My stress dissipated with one quick hug from Sophie.
I cannot begin to convey the impressions that the people of Ngiehun made on us. As much as the airport personnel startled me with their aggressiveness, the villagers astonished me by their hospitality and love. Although Mohamed, Sophie, and Charles felt like family, one person who exemplified the openhearted hospitality of the village was Chief Lansina. Chief Lansina is quite a character who enjoyed small "gifts" as well as our presence in the village. Chief came with Mohamed as he escorted us through the village on our first day. Chief even gave me my Mende name of Jatu. Although he never spoke to us in English, he made us feel incredibly welcome. A typical meeting would last from 20 minutes to over an hour. He would continually call our Mende names, Mariama and Jatu, and say, "Besie" and then grunt. Through some tutoring from Charles, Moriah and I quickly learned to return the greeting, including the grunt. Chief's declaration of "Besie. Ka. Ka. Ka. Ka" said it all. Besie means thank you for your presence. Ka means much or big. By repeating the word "ka," Chief was saying, "Thank you very much for your presence." I cried as chief Lansina walked away from me for the last time as I realized that I might never see him again. He represented the open hearts that greeted us on a daily basis throughout the village.
Moriah and I came to Ngiehun to teach the tabernacle and meet our brothers and sisters in Christ. We learned from them to embrace and appreciate people as beautiful gifts from God. My prayer is to help Mohamed and Sophie continue to grow their vision of educating students and introducing people to Jesus. I pray that Chief meets Christ so that I may sit with him for hours in heaven and say, "Besie. Ka. Ka. Ka."
I never quite got over my fear of airport security, but the next time that I get to venture into Lundi airport, I will be overjoyed.
Sharon and Moriah Kimel
The barrels have not yet arrived. We will not wait for them since we do not know when they will get here. We plan to leave for the village tomorrow or Wednesday. The rainy season is already upon us and with that the bad roads. I hope the roads will not be too bad in June when Tom Shelton comes to see us.
The ball joint on our vehicle gave out again and Sharon was there to attest to it. We are having lots of problem with this vehicle, wheel bearings, ball joint, brakes, etc. HELP! Billy, please email me and tell me how to bleed the break system. Probably the fellows at the Toyota place know how to do it. We will see. Also please send the break oil tubes and wheel bolts with Tom in June.
Thanks a bunch for the solar lights! Now we have enough light in the mornings for prayers. The school is now painted and Sharon will share pictures with you.
Yes Billy, Safie and I will be ready to come in August. Right now I am trying to have enough lumber at hand before the rain sets in for shelves and desks/benches for the students coming next years.
We have applied for an NGO(non governmental organization) status and are waiting to hear from them. With this status, one of the benefits is receiving shipments from overseas duty free and or waived duties. You can also buy vehicles here in the country few thousands off if you have NGO status.
We are looking forward to have Tom in June. I do pray that the roads and our vehicle will not continue to make driving difficult for us.
My prayers go out to all that are sick. Tell Melvin, Alyson Barnhill, Barbra Garwood and all others that they are in our prayers.
I have to go now. Lots of thanks go to all for your donations and prayers. God truly is good all the time.
-Mohamed & Safiatu Bramia
All the people at Luawa-Yiehun Community Church welcome Sharon and Moraih to Sierra Leone. We will be leaving tomorrow for the village and will be back Friday ten days from today. You will hear from me when we return from the village.
The School is now painted and Sharon will bring pictures for all to see. We are making cement blocks to get ready for the next building.
Easter services were well attended. From Palm Sunday through Passon Week to Easter Sunday the attendances were very good. Easter Sunday was the most in attendance, we almost ran out of seating places.
Right now I am trying to get enough lumber to start making desks/benches for next school year. Now all students at Moravian Secondary School in Ngiehun has an identification card. I am also doing some running around to get the mission established with a NGO status and will explain that later.
God is Good.
I wanted to write and thank all of you who contributed so kindly to my birthday wish campaign to supply medicines to Sierra Leone. It took us many months to get the barrels to Charlotte, but at long last they got here and were filled to the brim and are now making their way to the village.
We were able to collect a truly impressive array of medicines and supplies to send, and it was due to the generosity of so many folks who gave so much. Included in this shipment were an enormous amount of vitamins, both adult and children’s types, acid blockers like Pepcid and Zantac, antihistamines (Zyrtec, Claritin and Benadryl), pain medications and fever reducers (Motrin, Tylenol and Aleve), first aid supplies (Neosporin, bandages, peroxide). We also sent many donated prescription medications for seizure control, blood pressure management, pain relief and help with many other significant conditions. This all went with the large amount of medical equipment and supplies that I have been collecting from the hospital in the past couple of years, items such as surgical tools, needles, syringes, I.V. kits and the like.
With donated money I was able to purchase a great deal of very needful medication for the congregation in the village as well. There is a young lady who attends the Church who suffers from seizures and is horribly scarred from seizing and repeatedly falling into cooking fires and boiling water. In Charlotte, this type of condition is easily treated and prevented with daily medication. I have had her on seizure meds for a few months and Safie has told me that the change has been remarkable. The donated money enabled me to buy among other medications, several months worth of seizure meds for this young mother.
Additionally, I purchased antibiotics for both the adults and children in the village, anti-emetic medication to treat nausea and vomiting and a large quantity of non-narcotic, but very effective pain medication. I was also able to send protein powder and baby formula, which will greatly supplement the less than ideal nutrition of both nursing mothers and little children as possible.
As you can imagine, for a tiny community in a country that has very little in the way of healthcare and almost no access to even basic medication, these barrels will be a remarkable and meaningful gift. The medications and other items contained in them will ease the suffering and enhance the lives not just of our Moravian brothers and sisters there, but will serve the whole population. This to me is truly a sign of God’s hands working though us to do real good in a place that needs so much. Again, I can’t thank you enough for helping me with this project.
P.S. We have two more barrels waiting to be filled. My next wish is to send something less serious, but perhaps almost as important to the people in the village. If you have or know someone who has soccer cleats, gently used in any sizes, or a soccer ball gathering dust in your garage, let me know. Jack will tell you how important this sport is to life in the village, and I think a lot of us in Charlotte have equipment we can send where it will be better used than wasting away in our garages.
I also am pondering what foods we might be able to send. Basic condiments such as salt, pepper, garlic powder and the like are needful, appreciated and easy to ship. I will have more thoughts about this soon. Again though not as much a life saver as the recently sent supplies, these types of things are indeed life altering and enhancing over there and a tangible and marked sign of our love and support for our community there.
When I went to Sierra Leone in 2009, I thought it would be just a fun experience, I never expected to care about the mission as much as I do. What I realize now is that God sent me there to light a fire in my heart. I got a taste of what my life is going to be, and it excites me so much to know my calling.
Going back to school was a hard thing to swallow, but I'm in school for the right reasons. I always told myself that I'd go to school for me, not because anyone told me to do so. But I've realized that I'm not in school for me, I am in school for the people in Ngiehun
I am planning on getting a teaching degree so that when I return to Ngiehun, I will be able to serve as a teacher at Moravian Secondary School. I want to better myself, so I can serve the people of Ngiehun to the best of my ability. By getting a higher education, I will be able to make a bigger difference in the lives of my people, and that is what gives me the motivation to continue with school.
I was so angry at God for a while for not letting me go back to the village when I thought it was time, the day I got home last April, one of the first things out of my mouth was "I need to go back", and that's all I've wanted since.
God has delayed my leaving so that He can continue to shape me into the servant He wants me to be, and I am so thankful for that.
2 Timothy 4:2
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
For more information on the Sierra Leone Moravian Mission please contact Tom Dressler, Communications Director at 704-918-3123 or firstname.lastname@example.org
I have spoken with Safie and Mohamed since they've been back, and they are doing fine. Please keep them in your prayers, as they continue to do amazing things for their people.
I also ask that people be praying for me... ...Please pray that I will be able to truly listen to God, and not my own desires. I am frustrated with being in America, and while I love being with my friends and family here, my heart is still in Ngiehun, as is my 'second family'. I miss all of my friends, and the kids in the Village. So please pray for guidance for me, as I approach the next few months.
Mohamed Kanneh is my best friend in Sierra Leone, and he is a Muslim. He was brought up in a Muslim household, and his father is a prominent muslim in Ngiehun. Mohamed was not educated in anything except the Qur'an and he now almost has a resentment towards his father for not allowing him to pursue his schooling. Mohamed wants desperately to become a Christian, but he feels that by doing so, he would be betraying his family, and most importantly, he would be shaming his father.
Mohamed's father is a different kind of Muslim, in the sense that when I speak with him, I don't know how committed he is to his faith. He has told Mohamed that he doesn't care if Mohamed goes to church or to mosque, but he doesn't want Mohamed to be godless. However, members of the community feel differently, and pressure Mohamed into staying a Muslim. Mohamed has said that when his father dies, he will become a Christian, and so Safie and I have both (jokingly of course) offered to kill his father. He laughs when we say this and tells us not to kill his dad, he just needs time to come around. Mohamed also told me that if he ever comes to America, he will become a Christian, because his dad won't be there to stop him. Mohamed also prays "In Jesus' Name" when he wants something to happen, which I think is great.
I ask that everyone keep Mohamed in your prayers, as well as his family, and especially his father. Pray that God will move their hearts to see that Jesus is the only way, and to accept and embrace Jesus as their savior.
When people think of Africa, we think of the animals that live on the continent. In Sierra Leone, there are several types of bushmeat, but the ones everyone wants to see are the monkeys. In the bush surrounding Ngiehun, we have at least two chimps that are seen pretty regularly, and then there are a few types of smaller monkeys. I was lucky enough to see a chimp in the bush one day, but the most contact I had with a monkey was with my pet monkey, Carl. We were helping Mohamed Kanneh carry boards that had been cut in the bush back to the site where his family was building a new house, and on our last trip of the day, a hunter calls us over and he has a baby monkey with him. The hunter had caught the mother in a trap and the baby was with her, so he wanted to sell the baby. I was thrilled to buy him, for the a grand total of Le5,000 (which is $1.25), and then as a bonus, the hunter gave us some of the meat from the mother (yes, we do eat monkey in the village, it tastes like pork tenderloin, and is considered a delicacy). I named the monkey Carl, and began to try and figure out how to take care of a monkey. We tried to give him a section of the chicken coop, but Carl got out and was beaten up by my rooster, so we made him a house out of an old shipping barrel, and lined it with straw and a towel for him to sleep on. He ate a lot of bananas, palm nuts, a boiled egg once in a while, and drank water and milk. The first two weeks I had to handle him with gloves because he liked to bite, but as time went on, he began to get attatched to me. We think he thought of me as his "mother", and he really only let me handle him without a struggle. It got to the point where I would open the door to his house and put my hand down, and he would climb up my arm and sit on my shoulder and we could walk around. It was a really cool experience, and I loved having him as a pet. Unfortunately, Carl died about two months after I got him. We think he was sick, and we didn't know, and we also learned that baby monkeys rarely survive without their real mothers. I was pretty upset for a few days, but I was happy that I was able to give him a home for as long as I could. It is also a relief to not have to worry about him now that I am in the states, because if he had been alive when I left, somebody would have stolen him, and eaten him. But, for those two months, it was a lot of fun to have a pet that wouldn't have been possible to have here.
Mohamed was talking to me about continuing to pray about where God is leading me, and to continue to be strong in my faith. We talked about how the village really is my family, and although we are different colors, God has brought us together like brothers. I cannot explain the impact that living in the village and having a relationship with Safie and Mohamed and my people in Sierra Leone means to me, it's a feeling more powerful than I've ever felt. I am afraid that no matter where else I go in the mission field, I will never feel as close to anywhere as I do to Ngiehun, and my faily there. God has blessed me more than I ever thought possible, and it fills me with such joy, that I am brought to tears. After Nepal, I am going back to my village, and my family there before I return to the US. It will be like coming home for me, and my longing to be back with my people consumes me. I am feeling that after I go back to school, and finish college, I am going to go back to the village, only this time it will be for good. When Billy was preaaching about the early moravians today at LCOL, he spoke of how they would leave everything behind, and pursue that calling that was heard deep in their hearts. I could relate to that, but I don't feel like I'm leaving everything behind me. I love my family, my church, friends, etc., but I have a family in my village, I have a love for my people there, that is different than how I feel about my friends here. I left my heart in Ngiehun in April, and I don't know that I'll be able to bring it away. It's hard to know that I won't be able to return for so long, but it will make the return that much sweeter. I want to be the man that, when Mohamed retires, continues to work with the mission, and be with my people in the village. I am scared to go to Nepal, because it's not Sierra Leone. I know that it will be amazing, but I am afraid that I won't be able to love it as fully as I love Ngiehun. I need prayers for guidance and strength, and I know that God has it all worked out, He will reveal his plan to me on His time, and it will be perfect.
AS WE PREPARE TO HEAD BACK TO SIERRA LEONE, I THINK ABOUT ALL THE WONDERFULL TIME WE HAD WITH YOU. I ALSO THINK ABOUT THE WORK HE HAS FOR US IN SIERRA LEONE. AND MY PRAYERS FOR US ALL IS THAT GOD ALMIGHTY WILL CONTINUE TO GIVE US THE SPIRIT OF WISDOM AND REVELATION THAT WE WILL KNOW HIM BETTER. AND THAT THE EYES OF OUR HEART MAY BE ENLIGHTENED IN ORDER THAT WE MAY KNOW THE HOPE TO WHICH HE HAS CALLED US, THE RICHES OF HIS GLORIOUS INHERITANCE IN THE SAINTS. I DO PRAY THAT WE WILL REMAIN OBEDIENT TO DO HIS WORK.
THE CHURCH IS THE BODY OF CHRIST. WE ARE HIS BODY AND HE IS THE HEAD. WE ARE EMPOWERED WITH GIFTS TO DO HIS WORK. IF WE DON'T DO HIS WORK WHO WILL?
GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME
We were hanging out after church one day, and Safie invites us to come to a man's house to pray for him. His name was Sao and he'd been sick for a long time with liver problems. He had been to the hospital in Kailahun, and the basically said, "Go home to the village, and try to make yourself comfortable, there's nothing we can do for you." We went to see him, and the first thing I noticed about him was the look in his eyes. He didn't look like he was in pain, he wasn't happy to see us, he had a look of pure fear in his eyes. I'd seen scared people, sick people, and people who were just hopeless, but I'd never seen this look of fearful helplessness before in my life. I can still see his eyes in my mind. It moved me so much and I realized at that point the extent of the terrible medical care and what these people have to deal with if they get sick. Something that would be pretty simple here, is a death sentence in the village. These people put up with so much that most of us never have to think about. I am haunted by my memories of Sao, and the little boy we saw die, but I am glad that I've had those experiences. I can really appreciate how blessed I am to live in America, and have access to good medical care.
It pains me to think about these things, and it's one of the reasons I want to get back to the village as soon as I can. It's because I don't know how many of my friends will still be alive when I make it back. It's very morbid, but, with the kids especially, it's a realistic worry to have. It hurts me so much to have to think like that, but to think otherwise would be me lying to myself. Please continue to pray for the village and the mission.
I've told y'all abpout my good friend Mohamed Kanneh, and now I'm going to tell you about how much he values our friendship. We were at the mission house one day, and he tells me his sister is back from school in BO, and she wanted to meet me. I said I'd be happy to meet her, and so we went down to his house. When we got there, not only was Isha (His sister) there, the whole family was there. I was thinking, "Awesome, I get to meet the whole family." After hanging out for a bit, I went back home. Safie was waiting there for me, and when I walked in the house she asked me, "How is your wife?" I kind of froze up and asked her what she meant, and I learned that (in the village culture) when you go meet a girl at her house and the whole family is there, you are married. I was freaking out a little bit, but thankfully Safie and Reverend explained the misunderstanding to the Kannehs and there are no hard feelings. I am still good friends with Isha, we spoke on the phone about once a week when she was in Bo, so it wasn't a big deal (I think). So the joke is that I'm only 20 years old and I am already a divorcee.
What I realized was that Mohamed Kanneh wasn't trying to trick me, he thought that since we are such good friends, it would be nice for him to 'give' me his sister as my wife. We laugh about it everytime we talk, and while it was kind of scary to think about, it's a great story that always makes me smile.
I have grown up in the church, I always believed that Christ was my savior, but it didn't really extend past basic faith. I always put on my 'good kid' face at church, and at home, but outside of those two places, I was leading a very different life. I was never big on rules, and so I didn't pay much attention to them. This caused me trouble all through school, I would cheat, forge signatures on things, skipping class, etc. I got away with a lot of it, and began to get pretty cocky, believing that nothing could touch me. I made friends with the wrong people, hung out in the wrong places, and I thought I was pretty. I tried marijuana for the first time my junior year of high school. I thought I was so cool, being dangerous, "sticking it to the man". I had no concerns about breaking the law, because I was having a great time. My social status at school went up, I got more attention from girls, I pretty much got the same grades in my classes, so I wasn't worried about anything. I continued smoking weed, even though I could see what drugs were doing to a lot of my friends. I never went beyond pot, but I had alot of friends get into cocaine, LSD, mushrooms, ecstacy, and rather than drop everything Iwas doing and abandon the partying lifestyle I had, I just went on doing what I was doing. I never picked up on the signs God was giving me to tell me to change. It all ended October 18, 2008. I was a senior at Myers Park High School, and I came home from work that saturday night, my parents were waiting for me. They had found out about my 'activities', and at that moment, God broke my world into pieces. I was angry at first, but then I began to see things in a different way. I began to question my plans to go to college after graduation, and I just let go of all my pllans and listened to God. He answered my prayers in such a huge way, I am moved tto tears when I think about it. I was speaking with my church pastor, Billy Flippin, and he suggested maybe taking some time and going to work with Safie and Mohamed in Sierra Leone for a while. I kind of shrugged it off, because I knew that my parents would never let that happen. But whenI told them about it, they immediately thought it was a great idea. That was the moment I knew that this was God's plan for me. As time passed, we got a timeframe worked out for my service, a budget, a leadership plan, and my faith strengthened throughout the whole process. I left for Sierra Leone on July 21, 2009. I was there for 10 months thatwere the best months in my life. I got to see how blessed I am to live in America, but I also saw a lot of my shortcomings by seeing the people's faith. I have so much, and can still doubt my faith at times, but to see people who have nothing and have the faith that they do is truly an amazing thing to behold. I learned so much about how God is working in me, and my faith and love for Christ grew so much that I can barely contain myself. I am bursting at the seams with joy over what God has done for me. I am such a more solid Christian now than I was 2 years ago, and I thank God for that everyday. I also thank all of the people who have supported me and been there for me along the way. My parents are so wonderful to allow me to be who I am, and be so supportive of me in my work. I also want to thank Billy Flippin, who is like family to me. He has always been there for me, and my relationship with him is so important to me, I wouldn't be where I am, or who I am without him. My church congregation and loved and supported me for so long, I am so blessed to have the people in my life that I do, and I can't wait to see what God has in store for me in the coming years!
I was thinking a lot about the village during the presentations today, and I was thinking about my best friend in the village, Mohamed Kanneh. Mohamed Kanneh was always with us in the village, and since you would rarely see me without him and vice-versa, people in the village began to call him Small-Jack. He is 24 years old and he cannot read or write, his english is poor, but he is genuine. A lot of people wanted to be my friend in hopes that they would recieve something out of it. Mohamed never asked for anything, nor did he ever expect anything from us. His friendship means so much to me, and I owe a lot of mt success in the village to him. I want to repay him for everything he's done for me. I have been praying for a long time about bringing Mohamed to the US for a visit, and I think God has finally answered that prayer. I was told on Thursday that I am going to have to wait to go back to Sierra Leone until I am coming home from Nepal. I pretty much broke down when I heard this news. All I've wanted since I've been back is to return to the village, and to have to wait over a year for that to happen hurts so much. But as I began to pray about it, I felt in my heart that this was the way it needs to happen. I will be returning to the village on the way home from Nepal, and when I leave the village, I am planning on bringing Mohamed Kanneh with me to Charlotte. This way, he can be with me in the airport, through customs, on the planes, etc. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the only way for it to work is by doing it after Nepal.
It was last September, and I was coming back from the school, and I saw one of the kids who lived next door to us. He is about 4 years old, and he'd always come running when he saw us at the house. When I first met him, he told me his name was T-Boy, which is what everyone calls him. But on this particular day, when I greeted him as T- Boy he got an angry look on his face, and said, "It's not T-Boy anymore. It's T-MAN" when I asked why he changed it, he told me it was his birthday. He was now 4 years old, which is obviously too old to be known as T-'Boy'. Man was much more fitting now that he was basically full grown. T-Man continued to hang out with us, and we loved his company. I'll post more stories about him and other kids later on.
Hope to see you there.