Luke 24:13-32
This is Jesus heartburn(I have to credit Dallas Willard for this term!)...31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Big Machine

This morning I went along with one of our boys to get a CT Scan of his facial bones and mandible. He has significant swelling on one side of his face and we are trying to discover how serious the problem is. We went to the government hospital where all the specialist work and where the difficult cases are referred. I should know by now, not to expect a clean, sanitary environment. You know the hospital smell that so many complain about in the US? I would love to smell that instead of urine, sweat, and dirt. We waited for a long time (which must be normal in Drs. offices everywhere!) in the room where you wait for xrays and non-emergency surgeries. I watched one mother send in her obviously ill 20 something son and then sit on the bench and weep. How different these waiting rooms are, in America, they seem to be filled with people who are hopeful. They are sick but sure that the Dr. will make them well; confident in science or technology until they are told with clarity not to hope anymore. This waiting room was not filled with people hoping for a cure or the latest technology to save them. It was filled with people who were suffering but were lucky enough to afford some sort of treatment, even if small.
While we waited I let Swaju draw in my notebook. He would draw a small picture and then look at me with the biggest smile, like he had just been given the opportunity to do something so special. I now have this beautiful page in my notebook full of the names of his friends here at the center; a portrait of me; and many other pictures. He was so proud to show his friends!

We finally got to the room for the scan and poor Swaju was so scared. I went in with him (the room had AC!) to get him settled on the table and then tried to have the radiologist explain to him what would happen. I tried to imagine what this would feel like for a young boy who has never seen or imagined a machine like this. The table moves by pushing buttons and it looks like a huge hole. We left him alone in the room and they went to get the picture. They told him to lay still but he was terrified and as soon as the table started moving and the lights flashing he got up which caused quite a commotion. They opened the door and everyone was yelling at him…the consensus was that Osseh needed to go in with him and hold him down. They got good pictures the second time and then Osseh came out and said that he understood why he was scared. Osseh was amazed at the table that moved around and the flashing lights…he would have run away too!
After the scan was done, the technician asked me 'how far are you willing to go to help this boy'. What a horrible question. How far?!? I wanted to shout, whatever it takes, but I caught myself and remembered that although this man demonstrated compassion and sincere worry for the boy, the question was primarily about money. We don't have a diagnosis yet and admitting that we are working very hard to make sure that he gets the best medical care may have an impact on the price and quality of the care he receives. So, instead of the lecture that I wanted to deliver I said, we can only make these decisions when we have all the information, and so we wait and pray until Friday.
As I sat in the waiting room I watched this quiet, patient boy and I was inspired. He has been in and out of appointments and clinics for the past month and yet he doesn't argue or complain. He simply waits and trusts. Even when the big machine terrified him and he cried, he trusted Osseh and went back and tried again. What a brave and strong little boy. I have often complained that I HATE the dentist, I would rather be anywhere but there…but I am starting to realize how privileged I am to go to the dentist and have my teeth cleaned and have them patiently explain everything that is happening to me and give me drugs to numb the pain. Swaju has been to the dentist and had multiple procedures, I'm sure without much pain medication or explanation, and yet he patiently and quietly waits for whatever happens next. I wish that I was more like Swaju when it came to my relationship with God…I don't wait patiently. I argue and complain, sure that the next step is going to cause too much pain or be uncomfortable. I want to know every detail of what is happening and if I get scared and run once, I am for sure not going to try it again!

Every day here I fall in love with these children…today it is Swaju. As time goes by you will hear more about him and how far we will go to help this boy. I pray that our efforts will not be in vain, that every interaction, touch, dollar spent, and treatment will remind him that he is loved by all of us…by Osseh who exposed himself to radiation, by the nurse who has patiently been transporting him to the Dr everyday and overseeing his treatment, by his new friends here who welcomed him home with happiness, by TRS—we'll do our very best to help him—and most especially by Jesus. The song coming home in the car was "He knows my name"
I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands

I have a Father
He calls me His own
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And He hears me when I call

Monday, June 28, 2010


Last week I got a list of kids who still need sponsors at The Covering. I decided today to tell you about one of them! Of course, I think that all the kids here are special and I pray that there are sponsors out there for each of them; this little guy is sooooooo cute. His name is Victor and he is 6 years old. He is one of 10 children born to the same father. He came to the center with 7 of his siblings and he and his best bud and brother Alusine are rarely apart. Victor is not afraid to get involved in the soccer matches with the older boys even though he is much smaller and often gets run over! Victor, like many 6 year olds, is missing his two front teeth and it is a joy to watch him smile. He is a little ball of energy but much quieter than many of the other kids. He holds back and lets everyone else have a chance to hug me before he sneaks in. He is a special boy who still needs someone to sponsor his personal needs. He is the child in the middle! How can you resist that face?!?!

If you, or anyone you know, are interested in sponsoring Victor or one of the other beautiful children at the center, please let us know! Check out information about sponsorship at

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Baby Allie

Last Wednesday I visited the children's hospital with the team that was here. I was difficult to see all the sick children and the lack of medical supplies and resources to help them. It was hard for me because I had a sore throat and a cough and I didn't want to get close to any of the children for fear of adding to their already fragile state. While there Regina was asked by a nurse to visit and abandoned baby. Baby Allie had been abandoned by her mother and brought to the hospital. It was immediately apparent that she was severely malnourished and in very critical condition. Regina held her hand and sang to her and showed her so much love. She stayed for hours and loved on that little girl. We had such hopes and prayed for her healing and rescue from such a desperate situation. I planned to visit her today and check in with her regularly while working towards getting permission to move her to our facility once she was stable. But the sad news came yesterday that she had died during the night.


The pain that the team is facing is great. I am so sad for the thousands of children out there who die from things that are totally preventable. 2 month old babies should not die from starvation; everyday is a struggle here. The cost to feed this child was very small and yet there were no resources available to do it. The nurses at the hospital gave what little money they had from their own pockets to provide some formula for her and watched over her and yet it was not enough. We did what we could, and yet it was to late…


If you have a chance, pray for the team that is back home in America now. That they will know comfort in this loss of a child who instantly captured our hearts!

Through the Children’s Eyes

A few weeks ago I shared that we'd taken 15 of the children to visit the Logos Hope ship that is docked in Freetown. Sam, one of the older boys at the center, interviewed each of the children. I promised him that I would type up his work and put it on the blog; so here is an exact (or as close to it as possible) replication of his work…enjoy!

Sam reporting from Hope, Help one child, one family at a time, on the 17 June 2010. Some of my brothers and sisters visited the floating library ship in the waterkey, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Reporting on what Melvin Koroma saw and what was his explanation.

I was surprised and happy when I was chosen as one of the kids to go.

I was very happy on my way going to the ship. I saw many people going up and down the street and I also saw some house that are beautiful that are not in my village. I saw the ship and the water where it was standing on top of the water, when we enter in the ship I saw a lot of books, pencil, and inside was having cold. I have never seeing that kind of thin. I pray that God will bless The Raining Season for that kind of thing they have done in my life.

Reporting on what Amidu Lahai saw and what was his explanation.

I was very happy to go with my brothers and sisters to the ship. It have been a very good time in my life since I was born, when I went there I was very happy and thinking of that kind of thing can be standing. When I enter I saw books and pencils.

Reporting on what Albert saw and what was his explanation.

I was very happy to go and see the ship. When I was chosen, that was my first time to see ship. When we reach the water key, we enter the ship, then I saw many books and television, pencil, pen and some white people in the ship. The inside was cold and I have never witness that kind of thing in my life.

What I love in the ship was books. I wish I will have them in my home to read. I was very happy for that kind of journey I have made in my life.

Reporting on what Alie saw and what was his explanation.

I was surprise and happy when I was chosen as one of the children to go. I was very happy. On my way going to the ship I saw many people and the cars going up and down.

When we enter the ship I saw books, pencil, pens, and the place was cold.

Reporting on what Yusufu saw and what was his explanation.

I was very happy to go and see that ship in town, that have been my first time to move in Freetown. On my way I saw some houses that are not in my village and I saw some lorry and a policeman standing and commanding the cars and lorry. (Cari: I do not know what lorry is!)

When we reach there I saw a policeman and a road to the ship and I felt the place was cold and I was thinking. What I saw were books, pencils, bathroom, and children from another place. They were watching in the ship and reading and I also saw the place of the sailor driving just like a car and also looked at the distance of the water.

Reporting on what Fatmata J. saw and what was her explanation.

I was very happy to go with my brothers and sisters to the ship. It have been a very good time in my life since I was born. When I went there I saw books, pencil, pen and the place was cold. The inside of the ship have movies.

Reporting on what Fatmata C. saw and what was her explanation.

I was very happy to go and see this great ship that is very big. My aunties have been explaining to me how that ship is, that it is very big and have many rooms, field to play games and there is also a church in it.

When I went there with my aunty I saw so many things that I have never seen before. I saw books, bed to sleep and bathroom.

What I love in the ship is that I saw so many books. I wish I will have them in my home to read and study. (Cari: This is a girl after my own heart!)

Reporting on what Sorie saw and what was his explanation.

I was very happy when I was chosen as one of the kids to go and seet hat ship. On my way in the car going I was very excited because I have never been there, then when we enter the water key, I just looked at the ship. It was very big and I was wondering, how can a big ship stand ontop of the water like that. I saw a lot of books and I also watch television in the ship.

Reporting on what Abdul Fornah saw and what was his explanation.

I was happy in my mind, when I was chosen as one of the kids to go and see that ship.

When I went there with my uncles and auties I saw a lot of books. I was surprised to see so many rooms and so many food in the ship.

Reporting on what Isatu K. saw and what was her explanation.

On the 17th June 2010 I made a tip to the ship at Water Key. I was so happy and excited to go and see that ship and the other children that they picked.

When we came out for lunch, the Home Father told me to tak off my uniform and dress up. And I put on my beautiful cloth and saw Mr. Mohamed coming, and before we enter to the car we prayed first. And when we were going I saw many cars coming down and going up. And when we reach in Water Key I saw the ship first and we walk to it.

And we enter inside the ship, I felt cold and I got sick. And my head was turning. I saw plenty of things, books, movies, chair, food and many people. And we took a family pictures and came out of the ship and got outside. And the name of the ship is called Logos Hope. And when we were going home the Home Father buy fur us some bread and we ate and enter into car, then Pastor Daniel prayed for us.

Reporting on what Fatmata A. saw and what was her explanation.

On the 17th, June 2010, I was in class then I saw the Home Father coming to my teacher. He told her to choose some children that are going to see the floating library ship. I was among them.

I was very excited when they said we are going to see the ship, when we came out for lunch, the Home Father told us to dress properly and we did. Mr. Mohamed told us that he will go and gind a car for us, we waited for some time then we saw Mr. Mohamed coming with the car, before we entered into the car we prayed first.

I was seating closer to the window, I saw many things through the window. The car stopped and we came down, when we came down I first saw the ship. I saw many container and we climb the steps before we entered into the ship.

The name of the ship is "Logos Hope", the ship was very big and beautiful, when we entered into the ship, the place was very cold, then we seat and watch movies, and they allow us to look all around the ship. I saw many reading books and I saw many things that is good for children. And I went to the bathroom and urinated, I was my hands with hot water.

Reporting on what Hawa saw and what was her explanation.

I was surprise and happy with I was chosen as one of the kids to go. I was very happy on my way going to the ship. I saw many people and cars going up and down.

I saw the ship and the water where it was standing on top of the water. When we enter into the ship I saw a lot of books, pencil and inside was very cold. We watch movies.

Reporting on what Katiatu saw and what was her explanation.

I was very happy in my mind that I was chosen as one of the kids to go and see that ship.

When I went there with my uncle and aunties I saw a lot of books. I was surprised to see so many rooms and so many food in the ship.

Reporting on what Fallah saw and what was his explanation.

I was very happy when I was chosen as one of the kids to go and see that ship. On my way in the car going I was very excited and having joy in my heart because I have never been there. On my way going to the ship, I saw many people and cars going up and down. When we reach the Water Key, I saw the ship very big standing on top of the water. Wondering, if you take a little stone and put it into the water it will go down, then I ask my uncle where can a ship work, he told me that on top for water, then we walk to the ship.

When we enter the ship I began to feel cold, but I was happy because I saw many books, pens, pencils and foods in the ship and that kind of thing can walk on top of water. Then I watch movie in the ship. I was afraid not to run so that it will not go with me down in the water, but other children were running inside.

Reporting on what Rugiatu saw and what was her explanation.

On the 17th June, 2010. When I was in class this morning I saw the Home Father coming and told my teacher to choose some kids that will be going to see the ship. I was the last child that they picked and I was very happy. When we came out for lunch, the Home Father told me to take off my uniform and dress up. When we went in the car we prayed.

On our way going I saw many people in the street, they are selling. And I saw many things on my way to the ship. When we reach the Water Key we all come down. When we came down I saw containers, and the ship was very big and very good to look and I was happy too much in my heart.

When we enter inside I saw a place with many books and pencils and pens. I asked a man he told me that there is a church in the ship and a place to play games.

Friday, June 25, 2010

If you say…”I love the rain”…they will flog you!

This morning we had the opportunity to visit Kroo Bay, one of the areas of Freetown where the poverty is so desperate and obvious. It was my first visit and I've heard the stories and seen pictures but I was unprepared for what I encountered. We had been saying the last several weeks that the rain was nice. I've always found rain to be so soothing and a good thing. The Sierra Leoneans would laugh and say just wait…the raining season is not good. Yesterday, we were told, "if you say, 'I love the rain!' in Kroo Bay they will flog you!" Today I discovered why! We were there to give out soccer balls and to visit the soccer field; while we were there it began to rain very hard and the amount of garbage and water flooding down the hills into this community was unreal. If you can imagine a place where people are already living in the worst of conditions…there is garbage everywhere, giant pigs, naked children, and shelters build of mud, sticks and some tin; pile in 20000 people and tons of garbage you are in Kroo Bay. I watched as a young girl and boy tried to cross a fast flowing river of garbage and sewage; risking their lives because we were handing out beanie babies. In that same river boys were collecting plastic bottles as they swept past. During the rainy season, children die daily in this community from disease, starvation, and flooding. The soccer field where the kids played was calf deep in water and garbage.

Everywhere I look in this country my heart breaks. Babies die in the hospital because of starvation and abandonment. Teen moms are shunned by their families and schools and have no where to go. No one to help them figure out a way to survive and raise their children. Boys who play football all day (these are the lucky ones) instead of school because they cannot afford an education and there is a dream that soccer might be a way out. Organizations and groups that have given up or have moved on because life and work here is so difficult; my heart breaks and calls out to God…what can we do to serve and love them. How can I be a part of the solution, not just another who gives and forgets but one who teaches and creates ways to help these beautiful people sustain life and thrive.

And then I return to my home and Aunty Marie shares with me her heart for the children at The Covering and her heart for her people. She was so excited to tell me that she dreams of micro-finance loans for single parents to help them support their families. She loves the children at The Covering and is a wonderful aunty, but she raised her 4 children alone, and admits that she considered leaving them at an orphanage when they were young. It was impossible to feed them and send them to school and she felt that they would have opportunity and better if she gave them up. BUT someone came alongside her and helped her to start a business and receive some training. They encouraged her to care for her children and work hard to feed them. They helped with education and gave her the ability to stand on her own two feet. Today she has 4 grown children and she is a strong woman…she has so much to offer these girls who are coming up behind her. I am excited to see how God will use her in my life and in the lives of so many that she will continue to encourage and touch.

It has been a busy week with the team from America here visiting the kids and Freetown. Unfortunately for them they were only able to be on the ground for 4 full days. They made the most of it though and we ran (or I should say sat in trafficJ) from early morning until nearly midnight each of the night they were here. We had the opportunity to visit the children's hospital, Parliament, Kroo Bay, Moyumba (I'm pretty sure I spelled that wrong) and of course time with the children at The Covering. I left them at the helicopter pad today with mixed emotions. I will miss them, especially Ashley who has been my roomie and confidant for the last 3 weeks! But I also was so glad to not be getting on that helicopter and coming home yet. I miss everyone but God has called me to this place for right now and I had this overwhelming sense that there is so much to do. My purpose here has become clearer and it's time to get to work! So, I'm taking tomorrow (Saturday) as a day to rest and settle into my living space alone and Sunday afternoon I will go visit the children and then Monday I will begin to really move forward into this ministry.

Just one last picture...I tried to take a panoramic of all the kids at the welcoming celebration on Monday. Kids move though so the "stiching" together made for some interesting poses!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I sing this song…

Take this heart and make it whole,

And interrupt the part that won't let go,

This world is broken and dying God,

Forsake the earth but save me from my lot.

They are dying even as I sing,

Were love a song and my offering.

And I sing, I sing this son,

For the broken and dying where I belong.

            C.J. Bergmen, "Song for the broken"

Jesus come take me away, I long to see your face,

This world is broken yet beautifully made, Jesus come take me away

Jesus I'll patiently wait, Until like a vapor I'll fade,

Help me fulfill all your dreams for these days, Jesus I'll patiently wait.

And you'll come again with a shout, Like a thief in the night you'll come riding on clouds,

And finally the voice I have followed for life, Has a glorious face that is lit up with lights.

And you'll come for me,

No more pain…peace, No more fear…release,

Just lost and consumed with my glorious King.

Jesus today I am tired, And I need your music to come and inspire,

And I give myself to be refined in this fire, But Jesus today I'm so tired.

And you'll come again with a shout, Like a thief in the night you'll come riding on clouds,

And finally the voice I have followed for life, has a glorious face that is lit up with lights.

And you'll come for me,

No more pain…peace, No more fear…release,

Just lost and consumed with my glorious King.

Charlie Hall, "Come for Me"


These two songs are among my favorites and last night as we drove back to Freetown they were the anthems of my heart. I wanted to share them with you!

Here's the story of why:

Yesterday we traveled out to the villages near Shenge where 32 of the children at The Covering came from earlier this year. Last September a boat carrying 200+ people from Shenge to Freetown via Tombo sank and there were only a few survivors. The area was already economically depressed and struggling to regain what they had lost during the war. The people on the ferry were taking goods to sell in Freetown or going to work to bring home food and necessities for their impoverished families. Can you imagine what happens to an area when 200+ of their "breadwinners" die in a single day. The children who are living at our center now have a place where they have clothes and food and education, and I am so grateful for that, but yesterday we interacted with some grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and communities that were missing their children. We had pictures and they were so excited to see their little ones. I wept at their sacrifice, to give up these children is good for the village—less mouths to feed means more to go around; it's good for the child. BUT these mothers and grandparents LOVE their children and long to see them and know they are okay. Can you imagine the heartbreaking choices they made in the midst of their grief and suffering?

It's my hope that we can find a way to help these families in the villages to have what they need for their children so that some of the precious children we are caring for in our center can go back to their families and homes; that we can develop these communities so they'll never have to face the choice of giving up their children again! I have so little to offer but to pray and to work to show love to these broken people. Last night I all I could do was allow my heart to sing out to God for the "broken and dying where I belong".

In one of the villages I met a young girl, perhaps 15 or 16, named Sophie. She immediately latched onto my hand and held it the whole time. The people thought it quite interesting that I would spend all my time with this girl who was obviously disabled and dirty. They kept telling me that she is unwell. I finally got a part of the story…that she became ill as a baby and has never spoken. Her mother died in the boat accident and her Grandmother is caring for her. It was obvious to me that Sophie didn't have much hope, I don't think there were many who took the time to hold her hand or speak to her. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I misread the cues of the people…but she was dirty and lonely and it broke my heart completely. She is so vulnerable to others who would use her or neglect her. I took time to hold her face in my hands and tell her that she is beautiful and loved. We had a small stuffed animal to give to her, and I'm sure that it isn't what Sophie really needs but I am praying that in it she will see a glimpse of a Savior who loves her. As we drove away I cried for Sophie….I hope to go back and visit her again soon…but I was comforted by the hope and promise that Jesus is there. I have heard so many stories all over the world of Jesus, coming to comfort through dreams and visions. I hope that she somehow knows the one who loves her and sees her and hears her. That mysteriously she can follow his voice for life and that He will come for her some day with an offer of no more pain or fear.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tell Pappa God Tanki

Last year when I was here I helped to hire a beautiful, very qualified woman to care for the kids. She came to us highly recommended—a nurse and rehabilitation therapist—I was so excited to have her as part of the team at The Covering. It was apparent that she loved the Lord and she loved children and that she had a heart to serve. She took one of the older boys to the hospital and the nurses their thought he was her son because of the enormous amount of love she showed for him and the care that she gave him. In January she was in a terrible accident and was hospitalized for many months.

This morning she was at church for the first time in 5 months. She walked in with the help of crutches; there were so many people excited to see her. She stood and gave her testimony and I saw on her face and heard through ½ of her words (she spoke KrioJ) the glory of God in her life. She shared how her church and her friends had come around her and prayed. They visited, called, and gave to see that she got the care that she needed. Others sought donations on her behalf so that she could have the surgeries that she needed. She gave the credit to the Lord and declared that He had saved her from the clutches of death. She lead, tearfully, through 2 beautiful songs of thanksgiving to Pappa God.

I spoke with her after service and was overcome again by the joy on her face. It was as if the contentment, peace, and hope oozed out of every pour. I am praying for her continued recovery, I am longing for her to return as a caregiver for our children. What an example of grace and love she will be for them. She told me that she is going to try to visit the children soon and the 30+ that were there before her accident will be so excited to see her! As you think of her, please pray for her continued healing.

Several others shared their testimonies and I was overwhelmed with the goodness of God. We all, no matter where we live or what we do or what we have, are treasured by our Pappa God. He works in our lives in incredible ways…tell Pappa God tanki!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Ship!

On Thursday, Ashley and I and 3 of the TRS staff took 15 children to visit the Logos Hope, which is a large ship that makes stops in many countries and allows people to visit. The pictures of our day are in chronological order below. We had so much fun…as you can see from the pictures it was quite a day! The children were so cold on the ship because they had the AC on! Ashley and I thought it was wonderful!! The boat has a huge bookstore with many Christian books for sale and the children had fun looking at all the kids books. I had a hard time not buying a bunch of books for myself…I kept reminding myself that I sold all my books for a reason, these children, and replacing my library during my first month in Freetown is not a good idea! The other fun part was the bathrooms! The children were amazed at the flushing toilets, running water in the sinks AND hand dryers. Some were scared of the hand dryers but others wanted to wash their hands over and over again just to use it!

In the PodaPoda
Watching the Film about the ship! (Ashley and Kadiatu)
The Bookstore!
Driving the Ship
More books! (Hawa)
House Father Daniel...Captain!

Captain Sorie
The whole crew

Leaving the boat.
Lunch! Mayo, sweet milk, or sardine juice sandwiches (or some combo of the three)! YUM!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

African Child Day, Da Bush, and Sierra Leonean Sledding

Today, Wednesday, June 16th is African Child Day. The whole continent stops to recognize the value, power and needs of children in Africa and remember the students who died in South Africa and helped end Apartheid there. For the children at The Covering, it was a day of fun: no school, special meals, birthday cake, juice, and popcorn. They spend hours watching the World Cup and even got to watch a movie. We arrived mid-afternoon after the program, which included singing, speeches, and prayers; we were sorry to have missed it. The children had so much fun though. Some were wearing traditional African dress and others were simply enjoying a day of rest and football. As we drove up-country this morning we listened to a radio program about the plight of children in Sierra Leone. It is very common to see young girls and boys on the roads selling small items instead of going to school. It must be a difficult choice for a parent to choose between having enough money for food or for school. It is a choice that is unimaginable to me. Many people in Sierra Leone put so much hope into their children…they know that these children can grow up to change the country. They can make Sierra Leone strong again; they can stop the suffering of the next generation!

So, I mentioned that we went up country today. Not so far, just 67 miles or so, but it was 8 hours round trip! The countryside here is so beautiful! If you've ever seen the TV show Lost, it looks like that. We went to see some land that is a possibility for us to build out own center on. We even got to get out of the vehicle and walk about 20 feet into the bush! I felt just like Kate (again with the Lost reference) although I am sure I didn't look like her! How did she always have nice hair and makeup after running through the jungle and I was drenched in sweat after just stepping out of the vehicle. Wait, if I had a crew of 25+ people or so following me around to make sure I looked good I could manage tooJ Sorry that was way off the path!

One other thing to note today was the Sierra Leonean Sledding. I had so much fun watching two of our little boys take plastic soda bottles and flatten them and "sled" down the sloped area in the drive way. Antie they would call…watch! I am continually amazed at how these children will take anything they find and turn it into a game or toy. Everything becomes a small treasure to enjoy and to hold onto. Sticks become parts of games, bottle caps are great for table/floor soccer matches, rocks become goal markers, plastic bags become slippery shoes, and bottles become sleds. They are so creative! I wish that too would continually treasure the little things…small beads, and bottle caps can bring such joy!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Car Seats?!?!

My goal today was to get 3 of our children to the Doctor at the Family Kingdom. As Ashley and I were talking about how to accomplish this, she asked me a question that struck me as so funny I couldn't help laughing out loud. It was one of those moments when I was overwhelmed (again) with how much we (Americans) do to protect our children, here they would call it spoiling. She asked me if they had car seats here; a practical, good question but the answer is no. I imagined asking the staff here for car seats to use to transport the children and their faces of disbelief. So, instead of strapping the babies safely into car seats, we took 5 adults for 3 children to the doctor down the hill, over multiple bumps and through some crazy traffic, and the whole way each of those children were lovingly and tightly held onto by a caregiver who was ready to meet their needs. I watched them talk, sing and play with the babies. Encourage the 7 year-old who was afraid of another shot, and make the trip as safe and enjoyable as possible.

My thoughts though continue to turn to what I know about the emotional, physical, social, and spiritual needs of children and how to use what we already have been given to meet those needs in the best way possible. What is a necessity and what can a child learn to survive without…maybe the better question is what are we willing to allow a child to live without? Car seats don't seem so important in the light of basic things like clean water and healthy food, but there are so many things that fall in that grey area between what is essential and what is good and right and what is excess. Having a teddy bear to go with you to the hospital and someone who will explain what is happening might seem like extra in a world where there is little to go around but it doesn't seem like extra to me. Having someone that makes sure you take a nap and get a bath may not seem like a lot but to these dear children it means the world.

I struggled today with one of the little boys. He has grown attached already and cries and gets so upset when we leave. At rest time he kept sneaking down to sit on our laps and be with us. As a preschooler he needs his rest and he needs to learn that temper-tantrums are not the way to get what you want but it was so hard to follow through on that because he just wanted to be held. I could be accused of spoiling him if I sat and held him for hours at a time (and there are several other boys that would throw tantrums or hit him if I paid too much attention to him) but that is exactly what this little boy needs; someone who can do that for him every day until he decides he is too old to cuddle and he begins to trust that if he falls asleep someone he loves and trusts will be there when he wakes up.

These are my thoughts for today. Maybe you have some answers…

Friday, June 11, 2010


Yesterday, because of a generous gift from one of Ashley's friends, Osseh and I went to the "outdoor mall" in Freetown and bought the children new underwear. I had so much fun! As you can imagine, buying underwear for 80 children is not an easy assignment. Especially when they come in 2 sizes and you are not entirely sure how many children are what size! But that comes later…So, first we found a man who was selling underwear from his table and he told us that we could buy a bale of underwear with all kinds of sizes…800 pairs at once! Then he took us to his "shop" by leading us through a maze of small walkways, in between what seemed like hundreds of stalls filled with purses and shoes and clothes, until we came to a little concrete building filled with bales of underwear! It was so hot in there and I was sure that we might never make it back out to the street. We decided to wait on the bale at that time and went back out to the street (Osseh has a good sense of directionJ) and found someone who was selling underwear a dozen at a time instead of hundreds. We bought the underwear…it was hard because they didn't have enough size selection and I don't know the numbers of kids in each age/size yet but we got some!

I wrote all of that because today we got to be there when they passed out the underwear to the kids. The girls were so excited to receive 2 pairs! It was as if we had given them the greatest gift! I have never seen anything sweeter than that. Who would have thought that underwear could bring such joy. The boys were excited too but more so for the plastic bags the underwear came in than for the underwear. Many of them have not had underwear to wear. The caregivers told me today that for many of the kids they've had to start with the basics…they aren't used to wearing clothes or shoes or sleeping in a bed or using a toilet…so underwear is yet another thing to learn and remember for these little ones who I am sure and confused about so much.

Ok, so I never in my wildest imagination thought I'd be blogging about underwear. But there are just some things that are too precious for words. It reminds me to be thankful for all the things that God has blessed me with. Sam (14) told me today that he and his sister Betty (11) are fasting for us from midnight to noon so that God might bless us and take care of us. Wow! Such strength and passion for the Lord and others from children is amazing. I fight back tears every time the children pray for us and thank the Lord for all He has given them. What a joy it is to be working with them!

Oh, and here's a picture of the little boy I wrote about on Monday, Maligie. He decided to give his bear a bath today! We are so excited because we received the funds to get the treatment he needs from the doctor! Praise God! I hope and pray he'll be well soon.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It takes time!

I was reminded today, as I suppose I will be everyday in Sierra Leone, that patience is a necessary part of life here. When something needs to be done it seems to take much more time than I think it should. I needed to go "downtown" to get my cell phone reconfigured or something and it took us 3 hours round trip…we spent about 5 minutes at the cell phone storeJ Then we had to drive to the doctor's office twice. The first time he was not in, even though the sign clearly states that he is there from 8am to 8pm. Come back at 2pm they said. So we went back at 2pm to talk to the doctor and then back to the center again. And that was a full day! It takes so much time to go anywhere or do anything. It's going to be difficult for me to get used to accounting for travel time and all the extra time it takes to do anything.

I have many moments throughout the day when I have to remember that it takes time to adjust to a new country and a new culture too. I would compare myself to a young child again. I have to get a ride from someone if I want to go somewhere…no car or driving for me…I carry a huge stack of what seems like play money and it disappears as fast as play money too…I can't communicate with everyone…I understand pieces of what they are saying (which comes in handy when they are talking about meJ…but I am not always understood. I am not sure if it is the loss of independence that is bothering me today or just the reality that it is different here; that adapting to life here will not be as easy as I had thought and that it will just take time!

There is lots of time for relationships here though. It seems that people are always stopping to chat and share with each other. Talking about family and life comes before business and I like that. There is so much community among the staff at the center, they seem to genuinely enjoy working with each other and the children. The woman who we are staying with also works at the center and we have delightful conversations about the children every night when we come to dinner. She loves those children so much! Tonight at dinner one of the older girls from the center called her and asked her hoping that she was coming soon to help them go to bed tonight. These children need more people in their lives just like her…she makes them birthday cakes and makes them feel so special. She truly sacrifices to love them and I feel so blessed to get the opportunity to stay with her and know her better.

Well those are my random thoughts for today….

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Doctor

One of the little boys at the center has been sick for some time and today Ashley and I took him to the doctor. The poor little guy was so scared and confused about what was happening to him. I fought back tears as they drew blood and gave him shots because he was screaming and we had to hold him down. We took turns, Ashley held him for the shots and I for the blood and it sounded like he was yelling “why? why?” and then “momma, momma”. How heartbreaking! I continually rubbed his head and his back and tried to reassure him that this would all help in the end but he doesn’t understand me and my language and for a 7 year-old who has probably been sick most of his life, the idea that this would eventually make him well would be difficult even without a language barrier. After the shots were done and the blood collected he wanted nothing to do with us. We couldn’t touch him or hold him or come close to him….until he fell asleep and Ashley held him...then we got ice cream, which he liked the first bite and then he really just wanted rice:), I wish I thought about rice when I needed comfort food instead of chocolate, candy, or ice cream!

I had 2 thoughts after this experience: first, I was thinking about how difficult it would be to be a mother or father, and to have to take your child to the doctor or the dentist, both places where they are likely to get “hurt” in order to get better. I remember my own momma (love you!) crying when I was tested for allergies at about the same age as the little boy, and I am grateful that she watched me suffer for a bit in order to make me well. Second, I am thinking about God…Pappa, as they call him here, and how often he allows us to be “hurt” in order to make us well; to she watched me suffer for a bit in order to make me well. 

Second, I am thinking about God…Pappa, as they call him here, and how often he allows us to be “hurt” in order to make us well; to experience the pain of suffering which leads to life. How hard it must be for Him to watch His children scream, “why?” and “Pappa!” To trust him in the difficult moments is not easy and I don’t think He wants us to hold back our screams and tears, but it is comforting to know that He loves me enough to do what is best, right and good, even if it is painful and not so pleasant. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

In Sierra Leone!

Yesterday, after 24 exhausting hours of air planes and flying, we (Ashley and  I) arrived in Sierra Leone. It was so fun to get off the plane and see Osseh waiting for us! Of course, Ashley’s bag was the absolute last one to come through the baggage claim, which caused some panic for us but all of our luggage arrived! We were greeted by Qwami and Mohammed at the helicopter and they all helped us settle into our home for the next 3 weeks (or moreJ).  The AC is wonderful, and even the cold shower felt good.

Last night, after trying to put everything away, I went to bed sad about so many things…the week before was a hard week of saying “see you soon” to so many people…the thing  I found myself the most concerned/sad about was that there were no shelves in the closets for all my stuff! I cried and told God I want to go home because I can’t live out of a suitcase! This morning when I woke up the other closet door had come open last night and guess what was inside?!?! SHELVES! It seems so silly now, in the midst of all that is happening and changing, but I am so excited about those shelves!
This morning we got to go to The Covering and meet the children. When we arrived they were lined up outside the gate singing very loudly and holding up signs to greet us. What a beautiful, overwhelming sight. All 79 of them and the staff so excited to see us. I could barely get out of the vehicle before I was swarmed with lots of hugs and kisses.  And then they welcomed us so sweetly and some of the older children led us all in worship. I was overwhelmed with how wonderful it was to be surrounded by children singing praises to God…I have missed that the most the last months! And to hear them pray and shout loudly to Jesus without embarrassment or fear was so encouraging.

I had to break up several fights over who got to sit on my lap…what do you say when they don’t understand English and when you say “No!” they think it’s funny and laugh at you?!? Yet, another thing I’ll have to learn! We did enjoy our Saturday morning with them though, watching movies and playing football. I am sure that Saturdays will become a favorite day of mine as the children just get time to relax and play.

I am looking forward to church tomorrow and maybe some more time with the children.