I know…You’ve all been desperately waiting for the answer to the Question. Well folks – 29 it is! We counted one by one as they jumped off and strolled into a roadside mosque. Unbelievable.
Other important news – mozzy bites are dramatically increasing. I’m on 11 but Joe takes the lead with 19. It must be my bitter Irish blood.
It’s been a challenging few days. The traffic in Freetown is so manic and it has taken us up to 3 hours to get home from During Town where the animal husbandry is being set up. After contracting the local villagers to dig and lay the foundation for the base, with the engineer to supervise (God’s provision!) we joined in on the Sunday (Yes we missed church – pagans!) and grafted, marking out the perimeter & digging out the holes for the fence posts.
The villagers have given our now good friend and brother, Willy, a fair bit of hassle with regards pay. The difficulty being the whole village wants to be paid even though it was just a 6 man job! We finally settle it and by Monday, while we were at Grafton, the base was finished with time to set. Tuesday was the big day to fit the shelter. What a turn around since Friday when it felt like all hope was lost.
We left earlier on Tuesday morning so we would have a fuller day on site as we had a lot to do. We soon had the frame up and within 5 hours the corrugated roof was fixed and the doors were fitted, thanks mainly to the component drawings we’d made up. The speed of the build humoured the villagers who were keen to learn, gathering round and watching with fascination the genius of Makita drilling technology, unseen in these parts. Sierra Leonians are a humble people – always wanting to learn and gain something from their surroundings.
The war of 12 years ago is not talked about much. Everyone is trying to forget about it but the effects go deep. Some of our new friends have shared some of the horrors they went through. Behind the smiles, kindness and dancing all have a story to tell. One pastor told me how his thumb and index finger were blown off when he picked up a grenade the rebels had thrown into his house, to dispose of it. It blew up on its way out of the window, but his family had been saved. Another of our newly made friends told me that he and his brother were arrested by the rebels while working for the red cross, stripped naked, tied up and told they would be killed. Fortunately they spotted an old friend, who had become a rebel, who happened to come past. He had pity and let them go.
The ex-rebels remain in the city and many of them drive the “Okada” – the taxi motorcycles that whiz around, often on the wrong side of the road. On one hand there is some sort of peace here at the moment, if you can call it that – but it’s been born in great suffering. On the other there is stress & frustration that things are so slow to improve and the poor infrastructure & economy creates a lot of waste and damages expectations.
The visit is drawing to an end. Desmond, Mick & Iain have just rolled in from Liberia and it’s been great to share stories. They’ve had a significant conference there with powerful encounters with God, pastors traveling over 6 hours to be there and cracking thunderstorms which I’m most jealous about to be honest. It’s been bone dry here.
We’ve been stretched on all fronts. When you are on mission its like God draws out of you everything he’s been forming in you in the last few years. We’ve learnt many things here and our hearts have been shaped and challenged. You cannot just turn up to a place like this, do your stuff, get a few pics and leave, happy that it’s over with. No – you become part of what is happening and see the picture of what the reign of God should look like. You get drawn further in. The risk we take I suppose. We will need to work out practically what more we can do but we’re committed to this for the long-term.
Are you coming with us?