Monday, November 8 – 7:00 pm
I have 30 minutes before dinner starts. I’m sitting on my bed with the fan on and the balcony and hall door open so as to air out my room. When I come back in the evening, it needs it. There is quite a bit of mold in the building. Airing out the room as often as possible is helpful.
Oh, dinner is ready early. Be back later!
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Dinner was delicious fish and french fries. I’ll probably eat more fish during my time here than I have in my whole life previous.
On Saturday evening, Putsy braided all of Carey Jo’s hair. It took her five hours. We learned some Mende during that time.
We also learned some things about Putsy’s life. She is part of the team cooking for us these three weeks. Every day she has to do some laundry and the cooking for her family before she comes here to help get breakfast ready for us by 8am. So she gets up around 4. She only returns to her home after we have eaten dinner, which starts at 7:30pm. She does not live here in Bo. She is seeing her task of cooking for us as a ministry. These people’s concept of ministry is so different than mine. Often, I think first about accomplishing all I have to do and then with whatever time is leftover I can serve others. She is spending her day serving us and has to squeeze her other responsibilities around that. She will be doing my hair in braids while I am here, and that also is something she considers a ministry.
Yesterday, we visited Alfred’s church. It was a small congregation, but very passionate. I filmed some of the worship and took pictures. There were 3 offerings. The sermonette before the offering and Lord’s Supper were similar to what I would hear at home, but somehow the same type of message is intensified here. When they speak about giving to God primarily to honor Him, and worshipping Him for Who He is rather that what He does for them, I think of how little they have on this earth, and am challenged by their deep devotion to God. Perhaps we in the West are actually done a disservice by our wealth. Our desires are met in many material things that many times we don’t even perceive a need for God. Really, that’s what it is. At least for me.
In their worship I see souls so thirsty and hungry for and satisfied by God. Yesterday, they kept singing and dancing for a long time. Almost everyone was in action. The only musical accompaniment they had was a drumset. Their singing was beautiful. I think everyone here can sing well. During the offering, they kept on singing and dancing up the aisle to drop money in the baskets.
At the end of the service, Michael (one of the members) addressed our group and spoke about the history of their church and current situation. Their denomination has been discussing what steps to take to expand their reach to the interior. Literacy has been among the things they discussed, so us being here at this time is providential. Their congregation may be one of the first to make use of the primers to reach out to its neighbors. Hearing from coworkers about the relevance of literacy ministry is one thing. Hearing it from these people is quite another.
After exiting the building after the service, I took a picture of Carey Jo with a bunch of the children on the steps. The children then swarmed down to me to see the picture. They almost pushed me over as they crowded around my camera. I wished someone else had a camera to capture that moment.
Alfred invited us to his home next-door where we were treated to a meal of cassava and fish. We piled into a vehicle and Michael drove us back to the hotel. I was squeezed in the front between Gregory and Michael, but from that position was able to capture a picture of all those in the back including me in the foreground.
In the afternoon, we went to the internet cafe. This time, I had more success with sending e-mails. Uploading pictures to Facebook, however, was a no-go. It was nice that because of the slowness of the connection, I was only charged for 45 minutes even though I was on for 1.5 hours.
This morning, Gregory spoke to us about numbering our days. It was a timely message, and Carey Jo followed it up with writing a timetable of our work for the next two weeks on the blackboard.
Then, we started the construction of the Themne and Mende primers. Carey Jo said that last week was play and this week is work. I am on the Mende team. Since I don’t know the language, I am doing word control, at least for now. It took me awhile to figure out how to work the custom dictionary in Microsoft Word, and I still am dissatisfied with how it functions, but came up with a system that should work. The goal for today was 6 lessons, but the team came up with 8. We have to revisit lesson 8 tomorrow, but so far progress is great. My task is to make sure that they aren’t using too many new words in the lessons. It was organized chaos today, but from my perspective it was more chaos because of my troubles with the computer program. It should be much more pleasant tomorrow.