The December mission team members accompanied the Mercy staff on a village outreach. They helped with the tasks of administering malaria tests, distributing medication, and weighing babies.
We had all the children for VBS in the morning, which made things quite busy, but all went well. In the afternoon, we attended the Christmas party for the residential CRC children, as they returned today. We also got to catch up with some past residential CRC children who are living now in the community.
We had another great day of VBS "Hero Central"! The children have been wonderful, learning about the Beatitudes, blowing bubbles, making badges, and playing games. We also attended Mercy’s and CRC devotions today. We ended the night reading bedtime stories to the CRC children. 😊
Day 5: Most of the team members who sponsor children got to see them today (one was on holiday). We celebrated the MTC’s 10th Anniversary with fried chicken, French fries, popcorn, and cake. We also made final preparations for VBS as our last three days will go quickly!
Hero Central Day 1 Bo Style. We had about 40 Child Rescue Centre students come for VBS in the morning and another set of 40 come in the afternoon. The kids loved the play dough, making a mess in science, having snack, and most importantly learning about Samuel anointing David. It was also great to see past friends.
Street scenes from Bo Town, video below:
The October mission team included film maker Charlie Kendall, Floris UMC associate pastor Barbara Miner, educators Minister Gloria Daniels and Minister Jackie Chaney, and Dr. Carol McIntosh, who is an Ob-Gyn and HCW Board member. The team was also joined by Allen and Patty Morell, the partner church representatives from Osterville UMC.
The team participated in medical outreach and service at Mercy Hospital; filmed a series of short videos about the CRC and Mercy; and collaborated with local schools attended by CRC students. The team members also visited the children they sponsor, and even signed up to sponsor a few more.
You can view two of Charlie's videos and the team's photos below.
The Summer Team has been busy with teaching school, assisting at Mercy hospital and making repairs. Yesterday we had some children from the community join us unexpectedly for school. I was asked to teach this little group of seven precious children. Team mate Barbara gave me some books, some colored paper (not just white paper) and pencils (very sharp pencils, I must add). We read the book, A Giraffe and a Half. For those of you that don’t know this story, as I didn’t, it is a rhyming book.
I knew we might be in trouble when I realized as we started the book that the children did not know a giraffe. There was a rose on his nose that they knew as a flower – didn’t quite rhyme. There was a whale biting his tail that the children only knew as a fish – again, didn’t work with the rhyme theme. So, most of you who know me, can imagine how much fun I had reading this book with them. I can tell you, they all know now the special creations of a rose and a whale. It was certainly a whale of a tale!
After the story-telling was finally finished, each child was able to choose their color of paper and was given a sharp pencil to draw any parts of the book. They all looked up at me, mouths open. I started drawing on my paper for them and then they got busy. We all had giraffes, flowers, whales and a snake eating cake on our papers. We knew the flowers on our papers, although all very beautiful, were not roses because they didn’t smell like a rose.
We decided to go out on an expedition to the library to find pictures of whales. On the way, still in the Child Rescue compound, my precious children sited several whales (yes, on land). I just loved to see their imaginations unleashed! They ooohed and aaahed over the photographs of the whales in the encyclopedias.
We talked about how all of us together plus our reunified older student (who had joined us while drawing and was instrumental in translating for us) could all fit into the belly of a whale. I wish you could have seen their mouths drop and eyes bug-out on that one. What a fun, fun day! Praise God from whom all blessings flow and the joy of enrichment for His precious children.
God is good; all the time! Glory to God, Amen!
In His service,
I am certainly not being an original thinker when I observe that the people of Sierra Leone, at least those at the Child Rescue Center and Mercy Hospital, are filled with extraordinary faith and hope. In fact, that’s probably the most common comment I’ve heard team members make. Each of their meetings begins with a devotion including song, prayer and devotional thoughts.
We’ve also attended a vespers service at the CRC and experienced a short devotion in a small village before the start of a medical outreach clinic. These events were unlike a typical US worship service in many ways, but perhaps the one that struck me the most is how democratic and participatory they are. It’s a bit like the scene in a bar in Spain my husband recalls where each patron, in turn, took the guitar being passed around and played a beautiful tune as the rest of the crowd sang along. In these worship services the microphone is passed from person to person, as one leads a song, another shares a prayer, and yet another delivers a message. Men, women and children participate fully and equally.
In the beauty and joy of their singing, their faith and hope shine through. In the sincerity and assurance of their prayers, their faith and hope shine through. In the strength and depth of their thoughts, their faith and hope shine through. As a neophyte missioner, I naively thought the goal of the mission trip was to share faith and hope with the people here. Nope. I’ll stick to sharing my knowledge of teaching reading and math, because they clearly don’t need me to give them hope or teach them faith. Quite the contrary, I’ve gained far more than I have to give in those regards.
The Bible tells us that “… faith comes from the hearing of the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” (Romans 10:17) The people of Sierra Leone have undoubtedly heard that message! From where, then, does hope arise? And how is it that these people who have suffered greatly – and often are still experiencing significant obstacles – are so filled with hope? Shouldn’t we, who by comparison have suffered little, be able to give them hope? According to Romans 5:3-5, that’s not how it works. “And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
It makes sense, then, that I, who have had a scant thimbleful of suffering in my life, have little to offer in the way of endurance, character and hope. I guess I was right that the mission of this trip is to impart faith and hope. I just misunderstood who would be doing most of the giving and who would be doing the receiving.
After saying our goodbyes we made it to the airport and are now checked in and waiting for our flight.
(filed by Bill Hafker)
It was a shock to wake today and realize that it was already our last day working with our new friends at the CRC and Mercy. Each activity from breakfast, to our meetings through the day, and our devotions in the evening, took on special significance knowing that we were experiencing each for the last time, at least for a while. Seeing how much the folks here have done, and are doing, with such limited resources and against a backdrop of such significant need, is humbling.
While the CRC and the MTC have had consistent internet connectivity through a satellite dish on the CRC property, Mercy has been forced to rely on cell modems for their Internet connection for several years. Today the IT Team connected Mercy to the satellite system, so they no longer have to rely on the the cell modems. They worked that magic with some equipment they found in storage. The IT team also taught a small group of CRC Aunties and older children the operations of the new sound system in the Great Hall, perhaps inspiring a crop of future Sierra Leonian MC's or DJ's.
Jessica, Bill B., Vicki, and Ilene joined a nutrition and prenatal care outreach to Nyandehun, a village significantly more impoverished than the one we visited when we first arrived, where they provided vitamins and Benemix (similar to Plumpy'nut) to those who most needed it. They also brought a woman who was having serious difficulty with her pregnancy, and a child suffering from what appeared to be severe malaria, back with them to Mercy. Leo also debriefed Kim on our observations from the prior outreach, which she will share with the Mercy staff.
Bill H. attended the opening devotions/meetings at CRC and Mercy, and was able to thank the teams at both for their openness in allowing him to work with them and offer them some final thoughts on the good things they were already doing, and the areas where they might want to concentrate to go to the next level. He also had fun with the Mercy Manager and CRC Director doing an exercise of each drawing, and explaining, a picture of our visions of how CRC and Mercy should work together. We agreed on many elements of what that would look like, but mostly on the fact that none of us will be moonlighting as artists!
Joseph Junisa, the Sponsor a Child (SAC) Coordinator at the CRC, his assistant Henry, and the guidance counselor Princess, spent an hour with several of us discussing the details of that program, and expressing the hope that we would share this information with our friends back home, in hopes that sponsors might be found for additional children. You can learn more about SAC by clicking here.
We were pleased that before we left Jess was able to be with Dr. Kanneh to confirm that Abu’s burns were healing well.
Tomorrow morning we say goodbye to the MTC and begin our journey back home, taking with us fond memories of meeting shared challenges and light-hearted moments, inspirational stories and images, and new friendships, that we hope we can build on ourselves, and share with our families and friends.
(Filed by Bill Hafker)