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?"

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Song of the Beautiful

Today was another holiday...we like to celebrate in Sierra Leone:) And a holiday = no school so as promised I took 4 of the older girls out...they helped me go to the grocery store to buy coke for Aunty Erica and they picked out Oreos and Crunch n' Munch for themselves. We drove to the closest beach and ate and talked and played. They got to watch a young man try to get me to be his "friend"...I'm not joking...he told me he wanted to take me to the club on Friday...when i said no...he asked if I wanted to run on the beach with him on Saturday "you're fat and if you're lazy the fat will take over"...NOT the best pick up line and I considered slapping him but instead chose to tell him I would not give him my phone number and I would never see him again (is that what Jesus would do? I'm just not sure.)...anyway I hope the girls learned that you can politely say no and I will be forgiven for laughing at the poor boy all day. It was a good opportunity for us to talk about boys...and laugh!

When we got back to the Guest House the girls dressed up and answered some questions for's what they shared:

R.(11 years)--Before I came to TRS I lived in Waterloo in a pink and green house with 10 rooms and lots of family. I lived with my mama, papa, 4 sisters named Fatmata, 6 brothers, Uncles, and Aunties. Some of them are dead now but I remember Aunty Marie, Mariatu, and Mariama. I went to school but after school I went to the market to help sell cement. I also helped to cook and sell food. What I like best about TRS is that I get to go to school, eat 3 or 4 times a day, have rest time everyday in the afternoon, and my aunties. I thank God for making me to see this wonderful day and brining me to TRS. When I grow up I want to be the President of Sierra Leone and I want to help people by sharing food with them. I want to tell my sponsors: I love you!

F.-- I am 14 years old and before I came to TRS I lived in Kenema and Freetown. I lived in a fine place with 1 room and 4 other people. I have 1 sister and 1 brother and they are both at TRS with me. I went to school and my job was to fetch water for my family. I am at TRS because God brought me here and I am grateful to Him for that and that I get to talk on the computer to my sponsors. The best thing about TRS is that I get to go to school and when I grow up I want to be an accountant and a bank manager. I dream of helping children by sharing money with them. I want to tell my sponsors that the Lord will bless them.

I.--(11 years) Before TRS I lived in Goedrich; my home had 1 room and parlor and there were 6 of us living there. I went to school but after class I had to go to the market to sell potato leaves to help my family. It is because of God's grace that I came to live at TRS where I eat 3 times a day, have aunties to care for me, and I have sponsors. I thank God because I get to go to school. When I grow up I want to be a bank manager and help people that don't have enough. I pray for my sponsors that God will bless them and protect them from danger.

B.--I am 11 years old and before TRS I lived in AllenTown at the Network; when I was there there were 98 people living with me. I went to school there; God brought me to TRS and I am grateful! I love TRS because I get to eat good food everyday, pray everyday, and go to school. I am thankful to God because I am here and I have sponsors and aunties and uncles. When I grow up I want to be a nurse and work with children. I also dream about being a pastor. I want to tell my sponsors I love you and God will bless you!

These girls are absolutely beautiful! Whenever I hear the "Song of the Beautiful" (Christy Nockels) I think of them and the work that God is doing in their precious lives.
The broken, weary and poor
Finding...You are the cure
The weak and dying, glorifying, You in it all...

It's the song of the beautiful, Jesus Loves Me...
It's the song of the beautiful, Jesus Saved Me...
The song of the redeemed, the echoes of those made free,
It's the song of the beautiful, Jesus Loves Me...

The fallen back on their feet
The fatherless now complete...
The innocent suffering, rising from wounding, to find...You were there all along!

It's the song of the beautiful, Jesus Loves Me...
It's the song of the beautiful, Jesus Saved Me...
The song of the redeemed, the echoes of those made free -
It's the song of the beautiful, Jesus Loves Me...

Oh how He loves me
Oh how He loves me
Oh how He love me...
The broken, the beautiful....

The prodigal running home...
The widow never alone...
The one who is waiting, rising and singing, "You...Jesus, You Are My All!"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Independence Day

Tomorrow is the official 50th Anniversary of Independence for Sierra Leone...but TODAY the celebration was at TRS! We invited the neighborhood, got some entertainment, and cooked up a feast! Here's a few pictures of the hundreds I took today!

Pre-Party Jump for Joy!

Green and White and Blue!

A quick visit to Pa Kabbah (the former President of Sierra Leone and our neighbor!)

I wore my new dress in honor of the day:)

TRS kids gave up their chairs for the community...I was so proud of them today!

The Cotton Tree Kids came and sang for us.

TRS kids performed too!

And danced! 

And danced some more!

The neighbors lined up to eat FIRST.

The Freetown Players came and shared with us. AMAZING acapella group; they sang about Freetown, Sierra Leone, Child Rights, and History. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I will boast in Jesus Christ

I ate a hershey bar for breakfast…it was supposed to be my Easter treat…but this morning I needed it. 

In every culture, every nation, and every family there are stories and beliefs that bring life…that encourage us to persevere, to show love, to serve others and live without selfishness, and to "be a good citizen"…and then there are the stories that bring death and confusion…the superstitions, the stories that encourage us to but others down so that we can be elevated, to fear other people, and its all fate or its all me. 

I am speaking of things that I don't really understand and I am not sure if my interpretation of them is correct but I have made some observations this week. Early in the week there was a gathering of important people in Bo-Town and for entertainment they brought in several comedian groups and staged a competition. One group won, and the leader of the group died shortly after. My friends were sad about this death, lamenting that it wasn't right, all he did was make people laugh and now he's dead…how could they have done that?…I immediately thought he must have been murdered…so I asked, how did he die? I was told the occult men put a curse on him; they'd been asked by the group that lost to curse him for winning…is that murder? is that real? does it happen often?

This conversation lead to my understanding that some of my friends here believe that if they succeed the will be attacked, persecuted, and cursed. That getting good grades in school could mean the family of the other child seek to harm you spiritually. Then I was told that for them to spend time with "white people" (ME) and be known to be receiving support from us, then they are targeted even more. People want what they have. And I wonder why anyone would want to succeed if that means that those around you will seek your distraction. 

They go to the occult men or a family member who is in a secret society and seek what someone else has…money, connections, power, etc…and are told to get that they must sacrifice something else. 

Christians pray and when God doesn't answer their prayers or give them what they ask for they look somewhere else…here it is acceptable to "trust" in Christ for healing and life AND to ask the witchdoctor for help too…(in America we don't turn to the occult for help BUT we have our stumbling blocks too…it is easy to trust in Christ AND_____ um, chocolate?!?)

All this has been rolling around in my head and then something terrible happened. One of my friends was attacked…not physically although there were signs of that too…but spiritually. She received what some here call a witch slap…and she suffered. She came home aggressive, speaking gibberish, and scared. She lost nearly 2 days of life that she cannot remember anything, we don't know where she was or what she did for 12 hours of that time….And we prayed and fought and prayed for hours…and when she was again able to speak the name of JESUS all she could tell us really was that she had been slapped…that someone wanted to control her, destroy her, take away her opportunity, or use her connection to the white people for their own. 

I don't understand all that has happened over the last week. Yesterday I saw the power of the name of Jesus; I felt the overwhelming love of a Father who would send his son to die so that we might be 
FREE of what torments us…
FREE of what brings us shame…
FREE from superstitions and stories that bring death not life…
FREE from the schemes of the enemy. 
But I also saw that freedom, belief in Jesus to SAVE, and LIFE come at a price…for us the price was sleep, saying NO to other ways of "salvation" and offending family members, and standing in the path of the enemy and receiving a few wounds of our own.

And Good Friday, for me, will always contain this story…of the power of the NAME OF JESUS to save…of the enemy believing that he had won and defeated Christ…of waiting and watching for Christ to triumph…and we still wait for final triumph in this battle too; my friend is sleeping a deep rest but when she is awake there is still confusion and lostness…but I believe in the power of not just the CROSS but also the RESURRECTION…and tomorrow as we celebrate the victory of Christ over the grave…I believe that we will also be celebrating the victory of Christ over the enemy and the schemes of those who seek to destroy…and this beautiful, young woman will be restored mind, body, and soul...that she will carry the scars of this battle BUT she will not carry ANY shame and through this what seemed like defeat, she will be TRANSFORMED and that which was meant for evil will ultimately be used for good.

Song has played a large part in this…every night we sing and pray together and the songs that we sing were the ones that we used as we prayed and fought and cried out to Jesus for rescue…they soothed and comforted, encouraged and bolstered, and gave hope…the words of this one came back to me yesterday…I learned this song 11 years ago on a trip that God used to change my life…they are still as powerful today as they were then…

How deep the Father's love for us 
How vast beyond all measure 
That He would give His only Son 
To make a wretch His treasure 

How great the pain of searing loss 
The Father turns His face away 
As wounds which mar the chosen One 
Bring many sons to glory 

Behold the Man upon a cross 
My guilt upon His shoulders 
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice 
Call out among the scoffers 

It was my sin that held Him there 
Until it was accomplished 
His dying breath has brought me life 
I know that it is finished 

I will not boast in anything 
No gifts, no powr's, no wisdom 
But I will boast in Jesus Christ 
His death and resurrection 

Why should I gain from His reward? 
I cannot give an answer 
But this I know with all my heart 
His wounds have paid my ransom 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

No waste

It's cleaning day again on Saturday...and I will tell you that it is NOT a joke! If you leave your house and are caught on the street you will be forced to clean someone else's yard or the street and it's possible you could even be arrested. Every good citizen of Sierra Leone will do their part to clean and prepare for the 50th Celebration next week. As for me, I'll be sleeping in! 

We've already had several Cleaning Saturday's and there is much less waste on the streets!

I'm realizing that there is no wast in God's Kingdom, no garbage on the streets...everyday is a cleaning day:) and God doesn't waste a moment and this ache is real but it's preparing me for something better than I can imagine. This morning I was reminded that we often only listen to God's will when He wants us to do something we's harder to listen when He asks us to do something we don't want...and then when we do what He asks, and it isn't exactly what we expected it is even harder!
This song (and the WHOLE album by Charlie Hall called The Bright Sadness) is brining sanity and clarity today...

My Brightness
Well, I've been hit from every corner
And I've been thrown from side to side
And thm cracks up on the inside
So I come to You for life

Your presence always heals me
So I wanna drink it in
You know where we're going, God
And You know where I've been

And your love is like a rock when I'm spinning
Your love is like a rock, when I'm spinning
Your love is like a rock when I'm spinning around

Yesterday I felt so angry
And today so insecure
And I hate it that I wrestle
With the God that I adore

Your presence always heals me
So I wanna drink it in
You know where we're going, God
And You know where I've been

And Your love is like a rock when I'm spinning
Your love is like a rock when I'm spinning
Your love is like a rock when I'm spinning

And I know less about You
But my heart loves You so much more
You're the bright in sadness
You're my brightness

I wish this thing could pass from me
But I'm wanting what You want
So bring me high or bring me low
Just hold me in Your love

And Your love is like a rock when I'm spinning
Your love is like a rock when I'm spinning
Your love is like a rock when I'm spinning
Your love is like a rock when I'm spinning

Your love is like a rock when I'm spinning
Your love is like a rock when I'm spinning
Your love is like a rock when I'm spinning around

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Green and White and Blue

So next week Sierra Leone celebrates 50 years of Independence from England and today and tomorrow our children are going out to visit some historical and important sites in Freetown. I wish I could share all the historical information I gathered today but I can't…seriously, it was so HOT that the wax in my ears boiled and I heard nothing…I took a lot of pictures though…

Baby Cari LOVE Sierra Leone! (She did not get to go on the trip:( 

Ready to go! One Poda for boys & one for girls.

First Stop: Fourbay College...the University of Sierra Leone!

Just in case you get lost and need to find your way back to Freetown...

The steps to the ampitheater, where granduations happen. I PROMISED the children that if they graduate from this college, I WILL come to their graduation!

John F. Kennedy...they asked me if I knew, not personally...I guess he sent money for the school...

Second Stop: Parliament, public gallery

Future have to be 30...but wait someday they just might have a seat here!

Aunties and Uncles who work hard enough to be Parliamentarians...I'd vote for them. 

This is for all of you who still have your Christmas Tree does the Government of Sierra Leone so don't feel bad:)

Third Stop: The Peace and Cultural Monument

It's next to THE Cotton Tree...the center of Freetown

Did you see the movie?

Some important people....

Peace and Justice for all. 

This Sierra Leonean is just too cute!

Monday, April 18, 2011


Today I talked with the very first resident of The Covering…our first lady…and the first thing I discovered is that I've been calling her by the wrong name all this time! I learned long ago that one should always ask a child what he or she wants to be called…I forgot in her case until today and discovered something new! (I struggled the rest of my time with her to use the "right" name! ug!)

She is a beautiful 10 year old who has a favorite dress that is white (or was white once) with pink flowers. Hugs are always a part of every interaction with her…she gives the best squeezes. She is quiet and gracious but very strong and often demanding…these are qualities that will serve her well some day! 

She shared with me that she came to TRS because her family wanted her to have the chance to go to school, something they could not provide for her; her house was too small for all the people that lived there. Her favorite thing about TRS is school and she likes gym class best. The thing she thanks God for is that she sleeps well at night. She told me that she is very good at prayer and that makes her special. She wants to be a nurse when she grows up and she also loves to sweep:) and someday she would like to see a giraffe! 

If she could say one thing to all of you who are reading this, she would tell you about God, who is Spirit, who gives us wisdom and who loves us!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Aunty Alice aka HM

Aunty Alice

I'm without notes from my reporter-friend, so I get to share with you about Aunty Alice on my own. Aunty Alice moved into the basement of the Guest House in January with her youngest son Daniel (4 years). She is a strong woman and we asked her to come and minister to our teen moms and help them to care for their children. I went to the other aunties at the center and asked them, "who can handle teenage girls?" She was the immediate answer…she's uncompromising but full of love for them.

Aunty Alice has many children. Some are her own biological children; some she has adopted and others she has pulled from the streets and nursed back to health and the Lord. To come and stay with our girls she left a 10 year-old daughter with other family members to finish school. Gifting is her name and she is a beautiful, intelligent child. 

A while back Aunty started talking about giving these teen moms practical and creative skills so that they would learn to use their hands and have something to sell. After some loving donations, they now have their own sewing machine and another aunty coming in to teach them how to sew. Today they have been learning to tie-dye, or gar as it is called here. Here are some pictures! The finished products will be for sale and be used to help these moms buy more materials, contribute to the cost of feeding and clothing themselves and their children, and create a savings for them to take wherever God calls them next. 

Every night Aunty leads us in prayer and praise and we never go to bed without being reminded that God hears our cries and that to truly follow Jesus we must give him our whole life…and she recites Psalm 121 to us all 
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 
2My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
 3He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
 4Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
 5The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
 6The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
 7The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
 8The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Friday, April 15, 2011

TV face happens EVERYWHERE!

Today I learned that if we want to cut the food budget at the center (It cost a lot of feed 90 children 4x a day!) we should install TVs in the dinning room! No joke…this is what will happen…

and no one will have time to eat:)

These two turned 12 and 13 this month so as promised to all 12+ year olds, I took them out for pizza at Mamba Point…this is a TOTALLY selfish thing as I am the one who wants pizza…They did eventually manage to eat and they liked it! I also finally got them to answer 2 questions…what was the best thing that happened to you last year and what do you want to happen this year…they both said, "coming for pizza today" and "coming for pizza again"!…there are 2 girls turning 12 next month…yeah pizza (and next time we are going to sit away from the TV)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I recognized something today…I was standing at the bottom of the hill dreading my climb to the top…wondering if I should be brave and pay a motorcycle 1000 to take me to the top (wouldn't that also be EXTREMELY lazy and a waste of $.25)…and watching two of our older children climb in front of me. I have the same debate with myself every day…is it better to walk up as fast as possible and just get it over with or to walk up slowly…either way I end up tired and SWEATY by the time I reach the top! But as I watched these two children walk up the hill the way most Sierra Leoneans do…a slow zigzag…constantly moving from one side of the road to the other…I had 3 thoughts…1st they are making the hill 4x as long as it is…and they are REALLY smart…and this is a clear picture of our cultural differences.

I don't want to be too simplistic but hear me out…I'm an American, I do things right away, as quickly as possible, and my main goal is to "get r' done". I will march straight up the hill, while carrying my laptop, loaded purse, and extra large planner all while talking on my cell phone and complaining that it's hot and the hill is too much! I approach life with an attitude of urgency and high productivity being the answer. My Sierra Leonean friends enjoy (maybe enjoy is not the right word) their walk up the hill…they talk to each other while walking and carrying their load. They meander a bit and eventually make it to the top…as do I but I am OUT of breath, sweating like crazy and cranky…they are in total control of their breath and pleasantly warm and ready to walk up hills 7x as big. 

And they can walk up a hill with a 5 gallon bucket filled with water on their head! AMAZING! Which means they are not lazy…just patient, strong, and survivors. Me I don't feel like much of a survivor most of the times…I freak out when it comes to bugs (THERE WAS A GINORMOUS SPIDER IN THE PARLOR YESTERDAY!!! PUKE, PUKE, PUKE!) and lizards in my shower. I couldn't even lift off the ground much less put it over my head and carry it up the hill. I feel a great deal of humility when the 7 year olds at the center go and fetch gallons of water and I sit at home and wait for it to be delivered! 

And I can live without water…but the HILL…my new prayer will be...
Please, Lord, give us an escalator…I will still "walk" up it…people who stand still on escalators are CRAZY…oh, and while you are working on getting me an escalator, can you make sure it runs on batteries or solar power, never needs maintenance and is lizard friendly (meaning I don't want those poor little creatures to get chopped up into little bitty pieces, eww); I am an American after all. Thanks, Love Cari.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Deh...The Best Behaved Boy at the Center

On Sunday, Pastor Daniel called up one of the boys and declared to everyone that he was the best behaved child in the whole center. He  is a quiet child, honestly, I don't think I met him until I had been here several months:) but he is very obedient and helpful. Last week found him cleaning up after all this brothers and sisters without being asked. He is usually the first to stack chairs after service and enjoys sweeping the floor if he has a broom! So, as a reward for his good behavior he was recognized in church and given some biscuits (which he sat down and ate RIGHT away, I think he was afraid of having to be nice and share if any were left at the end of service); and I told him I was going to tell all of America about him in my blog (I recognize that this was a bit of a stretch, as not ALL of America reads my blog, but the important people do:)

I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the boy I've nicknamed Deh…
He was born in Shenge in a village called Mokombetti (didn't spell that correctly for sure) and he has 2 brothers living with him now at TRS…he's the oldest of the three. Deh is 6 years old and was born in October. He remembers his village as having lots of mangos, which he loves, and that there he slept on the ground in a 3 room house that 36 people shared. He never got to eat 4x a day like he does at TRS but he did go to school. His parents were farmers and they grew cassava and potatoes. He helped them sometimes on the farm.
I asked him what he likes best about living at The Covering and he said EVERYTHING! When he prays he tells God thank you for his family, his sponsors, and that he can be together with his brothers at TRS. I asked him what he wants to be when he grows up and he responded…LIKE JESUS! and a teacher (like Jesus!). I also asked what he would like his sponsors to know and he said "My family is poor. I love God. Thank you!"

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Birthday Party

Today Aunty Marie baked cakes and helped us have a WONDERFUL Birthday Party for all those who were born in January, February and March! Here's some pictures of our fun...

Friday, April 8, 2011

What a difference...

I was reading about the disaster in Japan today..."In the end, this reality about the aftermath of natural disasters should remind us of the limitations of GDP as a measure: it tells us what happens to output, to economic activity, but tells us NOTHING about welfare and happiness." At first glance that's a DUH! but we all spend a lot of time equating money with happiness and welfare with material things. I am sure that our children have been transformed because they have found themselves in a place where there is enough money to ensure that their bellies are full and they are healthy...that there is material things to enjoy BUT the real transformation comes not from that but from being surrounded by aunties and uncles and pastors and leaders who love them and show them who Jesus is!

I have been working on organizing and tagging all the pictures of the children I've taken since June! It is taking forever! One thing I have been struck by is how much they have changed...and I'm not just talking the growing up and getting bigger's the fullness of once hollow cheeks...the glow in healthy skin and hair...and the joy! I want to share with you some of the pictures of this transformation...including some pictures of the baptisms that took place last month. Last Sunday, those who were baptized celebrated communion together for the first time...what a joy to be a part of these special moments in their lives!

This precious 9 year old has only been with us for a month!