Sierra Leone part 3

Sunday, October 31, 2010 – At the hotel in Bo – 6:55pm

Well, I was too tired to finish journaling last night.

We landed in Freetown and walked across the tarmack to the airport. I was snapping pictures of the building with my phone, but then Carey Jo told me that the authorities wouldn’t like that. Oops…

We walked up to the security stations where a lady named Agnes (an airport security agent) was holding a sign with “Literacy and Evangelism International” on it. Gregory was behind her. They quickly ushered us through the security gate and to the VIP lounge. Agnes took our passports, immigration cards, and luggage claim tags so we didn’t have to go anywhere. Because I didn’t have my tags (they were with my carry-on that had to be checked in Brussels), I went with Agnes, Gregory, and Lori to the baggage claim. There were only two baggage claim belts, and the room seemed way too small to accommodate both of them. After some time, our colleagues joined us. Our luggage took a long time to come, but finally we were able to leave with all of it.

Maxwell, Joseph, Daniel, and Titus met us as we were heading out. I had met all of these men in the past. Daniel and Joseph did the International Literacy Training Institute (ILTI) with me in 2005. Maxwell remembered me and Paul Stefan playing music at his ILTI. Titus was in Tulsa just this last summer for ILTI. They were so glad to see us; it was like being reunited with old friends.

We walked out the back of the airport and through a maze of people. It was somewhat stressful as we had two luggage carts loaded with suitcases and two jeeps to load them into. It was dark, and I didn’t know who was part of our group and who wasn’t. There were men trying to offer us rides or trying to help, but Gregory made sure everything was done correctly.

The ride to the Banguras’ house was another sign that I was definitely not at home. The mile drive took us 20 minutes or longer. There was almost nothing flat about the dirt road. At one point, the driver drove on the embankment because there was too much water in the road. It is rainy season.

We finally arrived at the Banguras’ house and were heartily greeted by his wife Agnes. She had a meal prepared for us. My stomach still felt bad, but the omlette, rice, potato leaf sauce, sweet potatoes (not like the ones at home), fried plantains, and papaya were delicious.

8:44 pm

I’m back in my room after dinner and a satisfying cup of tea. The power went out just when we were leaving the dining “room”, but thankfully Carey Jo had her flashlight so we were able to find our way to our rooms. Then after a few minutes the power came back on but now it is off again.

NEWS FLASH!!!

I just *swallowed* a malaria (prevention) pill. In four parts. Hey, I am improving. I’ve been crushing it up but that gets messy. My mom found me a handy little crusher/cutter/cup/storage container only the size of a pill bottle, and it has really been a great little tool. Speaking of little efficiencies, I am already gleaning helpful tidbits for my next trip. While I’m on this rabbit trail, I’ll list some:

1. DO bring non-water shampoo. I looked at it in Walgreens but decided I could do without the extra weight. I should have thought longer on that one. It would be *really* handy as the water supply is not adequate for a full shower. If it is, I wouldn’t know because I am not taking full showers. I’m not wanting to risk the water running out before I’ve rinsed my hair. So far, I have had water whenever I’ve decided to bathe.

2. Have a little cup. I’m so grateful for from-Pakistan-days-collapsible-cup that I just happened to stuff in my bag. It’s been tremendously helpful in brushing my teeth as I can’t use the tap water to do so. I just fill it with water, poke my toothbrush in it to get it wet, take a few sips to rinse my mouth after I’ve brushed, and then swish my toothbrush around in the remaining water to finish up.

3. A towel is really helpful in the likely case that you might stay somewhere that is less equipped than a Days Inn. 🙂

4. Soap is good. Bring a bar or some in liquid form.

5. An over-the-door hanging clip would be really nice for holding my clothes while I’m “showering”.

6. A plastic box would have been nice for storing my paper items since it is *so* humid here.

7. A largeish plastic totebag would have come in handy a couple of times already. I thought about getting one when I saw them in Office Depot. They were rolled up in a very non-bothersome size, so again I should have thought longer about getting one. However, I might get something similar here, which is a good substitute since it will be both functional and a souvenier. Solved!

Ahhh….the power just came back on. Now I’ll brush my teeth. And plug something in to charge while I have the opportunity.

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Carey Jo just came bringing a candle. Since the generator is broken, the management brought up candles for us. It would be kind of nice to have to use it even though I do have a flashlight.

Ah…my favorite piece on Yo-Yo-Ma’s Ennio Morricone CD just came on!

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So, after the first meal at the Banguras, we drove to Kay’s Guesthouse back over the very bumpy road. It was nice of Carey Jo to let me share a room with her because my stomach was still upset and so I wouldn’t have to be alone. The light was *very* dim, but thankfully there was a fan that stayed on during the night except for one short while when the power went off. Carey Jo played Tedd and Emily’s cd from her phone. I’d never taken the time to listen to it, but now I have to download it! I love listening to good lyrics, and theirs are no exception. We ended the night with prayer, including a petition that my stomach would recover. I didn’t lie awake very long, but slept soundly till my alarm woke me at 6. I didn’t know the time when I was setting it, so just set an 8-hour timer. Oops. My stomach was okay when I got up, thank God!

I decided to go another day without washing my hair since we had a journey ahead of us and the water was not coming out from the shower head with much velocity. I filled a bucket slightly less than half full with water and used that to wash off. It was cold, but it was water. I found out later that most of the other rooms did not have water.

As I got ready for the day, I was amazed by how I was becoming grateful for various things. I startled myself by thinking it was a nice place to be. I surprised myself by being able to relax in the room. When I heard running water, I was promted to be grateful. Wow. It’s amazing to see the grace God gives in such a situation.

We left at 8:40 for the Banguras house for breakfast. The meal of omelettes, boiled eggs, spam-like meat that had been fried, and bread was all delicious. I think I’m doing better with Agnes’s cooking than I did with the plane food.

Gregory introduced members of his team while we ate. One of them prays continually for him, and he said that sometimes he has to tell him to stop praying and eat.

We left at 10:10 for the ferry which was leaving at 11:00. The cars came with us on the boat. We went to the first class cabin where there were comfortable benches. For a time, several of us were on the deck taking pictures and enjoying looking out over the water toward Freetown. A lady came up to some of us and wanted money for a cause. She held out a certificate for her cause. But…she held it upside-down. I wanted to take a picture but didn’t feel that it would have been appropriate. There, in front of my eyes, was someone who obviously could not read. And that is why I’m here.

When we finished the 45-min. journey across from Lungi island to Freetown, Gregory was able to get me to a place overlooking where everyone was leaving the ferry. From that vantage point, the variety and brilliance in attire was stunning.

We got back on the jeeps and started the drive to Bo. It wasn’t so hot in the vehicle because the windows were open. My hair looked like it had been tousled 100 times, but I was glad for the cool air. Two times the other jeep broke down because the gas tank was leaking. I asked Carey Jo how they fixed it, but she said one does not ask such questions. 🙂 The driver was able to use Patty’s fingernail clipper as a screwdriver. You never know what things can be used for until you’re forced to do something, right?

Amazingly, both times the jeep broke down, we were right by a village. At the first one, Agnes distributed cookies and gum (that they had just purchased at a gas station) to the children. What kindness! The children loved having their picture taken, and especially that they could see it right away. Gregory found the village chief and started making arrangements to build a school where church could also be held. At the other village, he made a video asking people to pray that funds would be raised to build a cover for the well. He also found out that the people at that village listen to his radio broadcast. I was amazed how he made use of every opportunity to make connections and help the people.

Finally, we arrived in Bo ~4 hours after we left the ferry. We had reached our final destination! We were shown to our rooms in the Sahara Hotel. Not only did I have my own room, but the lights were bright, the water was running, and I had a balcony off of my room! This was luxury! I’ve only had my own hotel room a couple of times in very unusual circumstances, and after finding out what can or can’t be expected in this country, the accommodations really did seem luxurious.

We settled in and later Agnes served us a delicious dinner of rice, chicken, peas and carrots, and french fries at the hotel restaurant. She got permission for her team to use the hotel’s kitchen to cook for us the entire time we are here. They are using pots over coals in a dimly lit room which would shock anyone who would be expecting USA standards to be upheld. But, the food they produce is delicious and they are making sure that what we are served is not going to cause illness. Gregory and Agnes are doing way more than their duty in caring for us.

Lori came and spent the night in my room since her room has a bad case of mold. Mine is great compared to hers.

This morning, I took a shower using a 1.5 liter bottle that I cut the top off of with my pocket knife. I was wondering how it would work without a bucket, but this solution was great. The bottle fits the shower head perfectly, so I could easily fill it with water. I used approximately 6.25 liters for my entire shower, including washing my hair. What in the world am I doing not showering like this at home! I even have hot water in the States, which should make it no hardship at all. Hmmm…why not?

Breakfast was omelette, boiled eggs, and bread. A cup of coffee also was a treat. We went to worship at the Harvest ministries church service. The building was large, and when we arrived there were four Sunday School classes going on — each in one quadrant of the seats. But each group was to pay attention to their own teacher. As we climbed the steps to the front door, I saw the cutest nursery — 4 cradles end to end on the top step right outside the door. We were led to the very front row. There was only 1 other white skinned person in the service.

But now I must do some more teaching prep for tomorrow. Journaling will continue later. Perhaps even before we go to the cybercafe tomorrow evening!

Sierra Leone part 2

Saturday, October 30, 2010 – 10:45 pm – Bo, Sierra Leone

Wow have I got a lot to record!

After the meal on the flight to Brussels I felt horrible. My stomach was having the hardest time digesting, and I felt like a might throw up. I tried to sleep, but wasn’t able to very well. The only movie showing that appealed to me was Mary Poppins, but I knew I needed to do some teaching preparation instead. But, basically that flight can be remembered by my terribly upset stomach. Breakfast was served about 6 hours or less after dinner, and I just saved it for later. I finally ate the pastry this morning but threw away the yogurt.

In Brussels, we found where we were to go, but because the bus to take us to the gate would come every 10 minutes, and there would be no stores there, we decided to hang around at a laptop station where we could charge electronics. I was able to e-mail an update to all who are praying for me, update Facebook (with a message saying that I would be doing so again when I found wi-fi somewhere), and respond to an e-mail.

Ha! There is now a very slim chance that I will be able to use the internet to send even a few updates during my time here.

At the laptop station, we met 3 ladies who had been in Africa for work at a college that is developing a women and gender studies program, I believe. Two of them were from Canada. It was a great sight to see all five laptops at the station were Macs.

I purchased a chai at Sarbucks and then we headed over to our gate. Carey Jo and Lori were there waiting for us. We enjoyed catching up and then boarded the plane. We had to check our bags that were too big to carry on.

The plane was a Blue Panorama aircraft. The seats were comfortable, but there were no individual movie screens. Some western type movie set in Australia was showing on the screens in the front of the cabin, and later on a film about war time in Afghanistan (or something like that). I tried to sleep a bit, but my stomach was upset again. I didn’t eat the meat and sweet potatoes that were served. At that point I was suspicious of the food. The roll with cheese and butter, vanilla waffle, and chocolate piece were good, though. I did some teaching prep. The African mountains were a beautiful sight. We flew over Algeria and Mauritania. We landed in Dakar, Senegal, to let off most of the passengers before continuing our journey to Freetown.

Sierra Leone part 1

Thursday, October 28, 2010 – 6:17 pm EST – flight from D.C. Dulles to Brussels

This morning at 4:45, Patty, Kenyon, and I checked in at the Tulsa airport. Our plane left at 6. Everything went smoothly. We arrived at Chicago O’hare and I promptly phone Katie because I was going to be at the airport for 4.5 hours. She decided to come meet me with 3 of her siblings! We enjoyed a couple of hours catching up on each others’ lives. When the time came for me to go back through security, she kindly purchased lunch for me. It was a delicious feta and tomato pasta salad. After arriving back at the gate, I ate the salad and was well served by a United worker who got my flights registered under a miles account. I had to sign up for one, and it will be interesting to see how much credit this one trip gets me. Before boarding the plane, I purchased a bottle of water ridiculously priced at $2.59.

The plane we took to D.C. Dulles was a nice one with full First and Business Class sections also. We were served drinks, and they gave a full can to those who asked for soda. Generous! I’ve been noticing a lot of good things about United’s service. Everyone seems friendly…more than I remember. Perhaps I just haven’t flown enough or I am just too cynical. We are now on the flight to Brussels. And food is here!

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That hit the spot. It was rosemary chicken (with a stuffing-like thing/rice and peas), salad, a roll, and a triple-chocolate brownie. I’m listening to Valley of Vision now before which I was listening to Yo-Yo Ma. And now I must do some more teaching prep.

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