After a long day’s travel we touched down at Lungi airport on Wednesday at around 6.30pm. The quick descent over the river gave us a glimpse of the atmosphere we would be entering – though the light was rapidly fading the “lion mountains” stood clear against a stormy backdrop with lightning and heavy rain starting to fall we disembarked.
From 3 to 31 C is quite a contrast though it didn’t hit us at first. The air has this sort of musty, fruity smell though in the city it also stinks of burning plastic and waste.
We were welcomed by Desmond and team in the Toyota vehicle we sent over (with seemingly half the airport staff there to help load our bags!) Great to see it already in use!
The next stage of the journey was more hectic – through the town of Lungi to the ferry before crossing the river and then making our way through Freetown to our accommodation.
So much to take in – shanty shops, candlelit communities along the roadside, glow worms in the bush, frequent fork lightning illuminating the night sky, crazy driving – a mix of massive pot holes, endless beeping, taxis weaving and dodging while women carrying ridiculous loads on their heads attempted to sell us fish, bread or flip-flops.
We spent most of the time wide-eyed trying to take in the obscure sights, smells and sounds and were glad to hit the hay after a mentally & physically demanding day.
After a great nights sleep, free from the dreaded mosquito bites (there’s none around at the mo as the rainy season was so bad) we experienced an African breakfast of fish, chicken and a sort of spicy pancake. A far cry from your average bowl of Coco Pops!
We rushed off to the first day of the Freetown conference and picked up Willie, our supervisor throughout the projects, who has been running around with Desmond to get everything in place in time for our visit. Pastor Henry in Lungi has already received the benches and stuff for the school so we look forward to staying with him next week to see how its working out there.
The conference was packed with over hundred pastors as we piled in and haphazardly assembled laptops, projectors and screens. Both Mick & Iain did really well engaging the guys and sharing their hearts and Desmond tied it all together. There was good interest and response but great just to enjoy these wonderful people – full of smiles, welcome & hospitality, though many are quietly shy but soon pick up confidence when you show an interest. The kids are always curious, affectionate and keen for your attention – it’s perhaps their first sighting of a white man.
We travelled through into the hilly area out of East Freetown to another house where we had fellowship over a meal with some of the pastors and a chance to rest a while before the evening meeting,
Myself and Joe were treated to a walk through the village to have a more personal encounter with the people here. Mango & banana trees stand amidst clusters of corrugated sheet & stick shelter homes with families sitting together – everything in the open. A Playstation 2 house is among the fun on offer here for the kids – a dozen of them piled into a curtained shack while opposite a small mechanic shop is in operation with motorbike taxis turning up for quick repairs.
We got a few pics but some people really don’t want their picture taken so you have to ask permission a lot of the time but at the same time, others drive up and get out of their car to pose for a snap. We are learning to take every opportunity to build esteem and wholesome pride in these people – there is a sense of hopelessness and shame here though they also have a tremendous resourcefulness and resilience.
The heat got to us all today and it feels like we haven’t really settled in yet so I’ll be glad for a rest. Joe has just fallen asleep so I think its time to shut down. Should get another blog out before we go over to Lungi so watch this space!