The main reason I was in Sierra Leone this past November was to create videos for several missions organizations. One of the organizations was World Evangelistic Outreach. They have been working in Sierra Leone for over 10 years and more recently have begun work in Liberia. They have built schools, churches, and orphanages all in an effort to introduce the people of Sierra Leone to Jesus while providing much need education, a safe home, or a church to worship Jesus Christ!
Please take a few minutes of your day and watch the video we recorded for their ministry to use as a fundraising tool to further the work in West Africa!
Wellington and Ebola Orphans
Today is Sunday and I traveled to Wellington for church at Lords Mission Church Wellington. This is the home church of the Lord’s Mission and the home to all of the orphans. We arrived to the familiar sound of Praises being sung in Krio. Rev Mansaray presented the message in Krio and I was thrilled that I could understand all of his preaching!
As he finished his message and the service ended a handful of the orphans clamored to his side, each of them wanting to grab his hand and talk to him at the same time. He is their Daddy and they love him. He knows all of their names. He treats all of them as his own children. His entire face light up as he talks to them, hugs them, and lets them climb up on his lap.
I caught up with a few of the older kids that I know. Timothy grew up in the Wellington Orphanage he is now 23, going to College for social work, and helping as support staff with the Ebola orphans! Everyone now calls him Pastor Timo.
The familiar hike up the steep hill to the orphanage building has changed to walking between houses and yards to avoid the road which has been washed out from their rainy season. The neighborhood shouts of “Hello!” still ring out as they see a white person hiking the hill.
There are so many new faces. I spent the day getting to know a whole new group of orphans I have never met before. The kids who live here in this building now have been orphaned from Ebola. They are from the Wellington area and have become family to each other. There are also about 25 kids living here from another orphanage who had to shut their doors and needed a place for the children.
When we arrived back at the New Steps building many of the younger children came running to the car yelling “Pastor, Pastor!” over and over again. When they were done greeting him it was my turn. And thus began the evening of just loving the kids.
The Wellington Orphanage – I MADE IT!
At last! I have arrived at the Wellington Orphanage! I have looked forward to the day I would see these faces again for three years! We arrived late and several of the orphans and pastor were awake to greet me. Due to the Ebola outbreak and in order to keep the orphanage safe, most of the orphans have been moved from Wellington, where there are more people, to the New Steps building near Newton where the towns and people are more spread out.
We spent the whole first day just filming life at the orphanage. The kids loved it and everywhere I turned there were kids shouting “Rose, Snap me! Snap me!”
Imagine the hottest humid day you know where the minute you step out into the sun you begin to sweat, a day where everywhere you have clothing touching your skin makes you feel 10 degrees hotter. It was one of those days. But I couldn’t ask for more space and move away from all of these precious orphans who just wanted to hold my hand and be loved!
Right away they have made me part of their family and want to be everywhere I was. I just want to hug them all and enjoy every minute with them in the small time I have here. They are teaching me their games and making sure I feel right at home!
Today Sierra Leone was declared Ebola free!! This day was long anticipated and everyone is excited for life to go back to normal.
Today we have teacher conferences with Terry and Gwen. Gwen has been here in Sierra Leone for 7 years running an organization she started called Transformation Education. She wrote her own curriculum and goes to schools throughout the country training teachers how to properly implement discipline, keep order in the class room, use Bible stories in class every day, and how to be consistent with each student.
In Sierra Leone, there is a lot of beating that happens. Some teachers carry a stick in the class room and switch a child if they get the wrong answer. It is common for husbands beat their wives for small mistakes: in turn women will often beat children out of quick anger. This is the process which is just a known and accepted form of discipline. Many times is taken too far and is over abused. This doesn’t happen everywhere but it happens often and is culturally unacceptable to interfere unless you are family.
Life in Sierra Leone is very harsh and matter of fact. Nothing is sugar-coated it is said like it is and when tragedy happens it is a part of life; you pick up and move on. It is hard to break away from the cycle of normal life here. Children born to farmers are often not able to attend school. It is too far to walk to school, their parents cannot afford to send them to school, or the parents do not see the need to send the child to school since they are expected to work the farm and continue with the work when their parents cannot.
It has been interesting learning more about the culture and people here in Sierra Leone. There are so many people who have many needs.
New and Expanding Schools
Today was a busy day of recording. Juggling the camera equipment and mic’s kept me busy. I found myself looking for my sister Kim to help. But she wasn’t there.
Today we visited lots of primary and high schools. One of the schools we went to has over 1,000 students and they take school in shifts with the primary schools in the morning and Jr high in the afternoon. They have expanded this school many times in order to host the growing amount of students.
We saw a new school building which will be dedicated in January, it is still under construction and will be a huge addition to the community here. Before this school, children had to walk several miles to the nearest school in order to get education.
We visited building that was donated and will be used as a children’s home for handicapped, orphaned, and underprivileged children.
I was able to get allot of video for the Rescue A Child program. Which will be used in the promotional video to raise money sponsoring schools, teachers, and students.
We are only 4 days away from Sierra Leone being declared Ebola free! I am told that there will be dancing in the streets and lots of celebrating. It has been nearly two years since the first case in Sierra Leone. In those two years Ebola has set this small country back in their efforts to rebuild their country. Schools were closed for nine months, setting kids back a whole grade. With 3,955 deaths from Ebola there is an estimated 12,000 children have lost their primary care giver and are now considered orphaned because of this disease.
This small country is ready to move on with determination to continue rebuilding and recovering. School classes have begun again and many students are doing extra work to catch up to where they should be in school.
Today was a full day of travel. We arrive in Gbangbatok area. It was a long drive with the normal horrible Freetown traffic. As we drove along the African roads with the occasional village and roadside markets, we talked about Sierra Leone and learned allot about the different tribes and customs.
There were several Ebola checkpoints along the way where they check our temperature and ask to make sure we have hand sanitizer. At one of the check points we all had to get out of the car and walk through a makeshift, orange fenced pathway to a blue tap covered shack where we were required to wash our hands with soap and water and have our temperature taken. We were then permitted to return to the car and be on our way.
At every Ebola stop and police checkpoint people have set up stands and carry their wears that they are selling on their heads calls of, “cold water, Coke, Fanta!”, “pineapple”, and “fresh bread” are the familiar calls as our van pulls up to a stop. But my new favorite food to buy on the street is plantain chips.
While we are in the Gbangbatok area we are staying with the chiefdom of this area. We met her family and they had a meal of rice with sauce, chicken, bananas, and banana bread balls prepared for us.
In just the few days here I understand more and more Kreo every day! I can follow conversations when they don’t talk too fast and I can speak a bit more.
November 1st, 2015
The Journey begins! I arrived safely in Sierra Leone and even got to meet Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma on the plane from Belgium.
While standing in line to go through customs we were all required to wash our hands and have our temperature taken, a ritual that will be daily here in sierra Leone with all the Ebola check points.
We begin filming tomorrow.
November 2nd, 2015
It is so good to be back in Sierra Leone. I can see the markets and hear the horns of the busy Freetown streets from the balcony of the house I am staying in. It is the familiar sights and sounds of frenzied order. Despite the chaotic look of everyone seeming to have somewhere to go or something to do with no order to the process of getting there. Just below the surface there is order if you take the time to just stop and look.
Today was the first day of filming and my first full day in Sierra Leone. Everything went smoothly and I was able to capture a few interviews for WEO’s RAC Video (World Evangelism Outreach and Rescue A Child). This video is the primary focus for this leg of the trip.
Here is a quick clip of the youngest kids in school!
We drove by the building on work in with my very first trip to Sierra Leone (2005). It is now a High School with over 1700 students who go to school in shifts because of the limited space. It is encouraging to see the work still ongoing after 10 years since my first visit.
I am traveling with two other Americans who will be teaching students and teachers as we go from school to school. For 4 days Rev Solomon Gorvie and the team will be traveling to many of the different schools and churches the ministry has started. In Sierra Leone WEO has 15 churches, 11 schools, 1 seminary, and the beginnings of one children’s home. In Liberia they have 5 churches, 4 schools, and 2 orphanages. We will not be visiting them all on this trip.
When was the last time you prayed with a client, customer, friend, or family member?
When was the last time you prayed before moving on to a new activity?
When was the last time the only option you had in a situation was to stop and pray?
Everyday as I walked into the hospital in Togo
I saw a pastor reading the Bible to a patient and sharing his faith.
I saw nurses and doctors praying before or after changing bandages.
I saw surgeons and OR techs praying before starting a procedure.
Among the hectic and busy life of working in a hospital, each staff member took a moment before their task to acknowledge their weakness and the healing that Jesus Christ gives through prayer. Every single patient who stepped through the doors of the hospital had someone pray for them and share the gospel with them at least once!
Being in a third world country makes you realize how helpless and weak you really are. It makes you take a step back and see that without God providing, giving us wisdom, giving us strength, and keeping us in the palm of His hand. There isn’t much we can do in our own strength. It made me think of how often in life I rely on my strength or knowledge to accomplish a task. It reminded me again how often I make quick decisions without taking the time to pray.
I was challenged as I watched these missionaries live out their faith. As I saw them pray for patients, and share their beliefs without fear. They challenged me to continue to live out my faith, to be more open, to be ready without fear to share what I believe, to make more time for prayer, and to be bold in my prayers.
I pass this challenge on to you…
We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing;
1 Thessalonians 5:14-17
The last few weeks have been a whirl of activity. It is incredible how God works in details and change of plans.
Many of you know of the trip to Sierra Leone that was planned for September. Due to the Ebola outbreaks the trip was postponed. However, the trip to Togo was still safe and plans to go continued. As I type this I am back in the states from a two week trip to Tsiko and Mango, Togo.
Togo was an incredible time filled with opportunities to meet many missionaries and just talk with them. I spent much of my time getting to know them and listening as they shared with me their heart and passion for missions and reaching people with the gospel. It was so inspiring to talk with so many people who know without a doubt that this is the call that God has placed on their lives and they are exactly where they are meant to be.
This got me thinking, how many of us can say with confidence that we are living the call that God has for our lives? Can we say without a doubt that we are walking the path that God has laid before us? That we are not just living, but thriving in our walk with God knowing that He is in complete control of our lives. Guiding us. Giving us grace. Growing our faith.
And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.
Stay tuned to see and hear more details from the trip and get to know a few of the missionaries I had the privilege of meeting!
Just the other night I was proclaiming that we would still be going to Sierra Leone, even with the deadly outbreak of Ebola. That decision was not made lightly. I spent time in prayer and sought Gods will. I asked God to show me clearly when we weren’t supposed to go. Through my prayers I had complete peace to go. I would continue as planned to go until Sierra Leone closed travel across it’s borders or the US embassy closed travel to Sierra Leone. This would be my sign from God that we should not go.
I am now writing this post with a heavy heart. The CDC has raised the travel alert level to 3 banning nonessential travel in the country. Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency and closed travel across it’s borders.
We are postponing our trip until God opens the doors for us to travel to Sierra Leone. We will go. But it will be in God timing.
Please keep Sierra Leone in your prayers. This is a hard fight. Pray for the Orphans at the Wellington Orphanage. Pray for the missionaries who are staying in Sierra Leone to continue reaching people for Jesus Christ. Pray for the people who do not know Christ. Pray for the health care workers. Pray for the people who are sick and fighting for their lives.
I will still be traveling to Togo, West Africa to work with ABWE for 9 days. There are no cases of Ebola there. :-) Please continue to keep me in your prayers as I work with them on their videos. I will be leaving August 25th.
Thank you all for your prayer and support. This journey is not over.