Monday, September 5, 2011

Kenema, Sierra Leone

Tuesday evening, August 30, 2011

Dear Family & Friends,

Last night the hotel began preparing food for a very large crowd.  We found out this morning that this group included the Vice President of Sierra Leone and many ministers, their drivers, and policemen to guard them.  They had to serve this group buffet-style.  Because of that my ‘hot water bucket shower’ guy didn’t come with the water.  I had to take a spit bath because I was too chicken for a cold shower.  I’ll live…

Today was such an interesting day.  Jim and I left Kenema in the morning to travel to Bo where we would meet Turay and also Christopher who had driven up from Freetown to look at sites we wanted fixed there from last year’s project.  It was the Ramadan holiday, which is very big here because there are many Muslims.  We soon discovered that almost all gas stations were closed and we had less than a quarter of a tank to drive to Bo, which is one hour away, then drive to the well sites, and make it back to our hotel in Kenema.  We found two gas stations open in Kenema, all with horrendous lines.  It would have taken us half a day to get a little bit of gas.  We were in trouble.  We drove to Bo to find the same situation.  What were we going to do?

We picked up Turay who had driven his car to a mechanic to work on it and then we tried to see about the gas.  We drove to the one station in Bo that was open.  The chaotic scene was incredible and can’t be shown in just a picture.  Policemen were beating on people; there was yelling and swearing, and people crawling over bikes like ants.  No one put a car in there—they only had gas cans.  We had none.  I was praying in the car that somehow we’d get gas and this is how Turay managed it in that maddening throng:
He went up to the station manager and told him we were missionaries and we had to get our work done.  He let Turay go to the front of the line and get a young man with a gas can to get his can full and give almost all of it to us.  He had a motorbike.  Jim paid him a lot more than it was worth, but they put it in our tank and we were done.  I feel it was a little miracle because if you could have seen the masses like we did I am surprised they didn’t kill us for getting in front of these incredible lines.

We picked up Christopher and went to some wells.  Some he had fixed and others not, so one of the worst ones will have to be done during the dry season.  Then we will say that this part of the project is completed, along with a few fixes in Kenema—will this project ever end? 

The best part of this day was when we asked Christopher if he knew of an orphanage we could go to; yes he did.  We drove into this compound that was large but a little dilapidated.  They had 12 girls and 12 boys from very young to young adults.  Most were in rags.  Most were handicapped.  We had found a great spot to leave our pillowcase dresses, cars, dolls, and even a blanket.  We loved this place so much that we promised to bring things again next year when we come, and then we’ll bring things for the older ones too.  We still have dresses left after all of that--more fun days ahead to look forward to.
We went back to Kenema with Turay and this evening had our meeting—Jonathan and Amarachi, Turay, and us.  We put our heads together and once again had ideas to share to improve our next project.  We also discussed the fixes the contractors were going to have to make on the Makeni project that we just completed, and we decided on our next project request.

Tomorrow we’ll take Turay to his car and head back to Freetown.  We don’t have a reservation so we’ll probably stay at the beach again till we can get into our regular hotel, the Country Lodge.  Besides, I haven’t been bitten lately and they have so many mosquitoes there that I think they miss me.  We’ll be doing lots of reports and turning in our new project request.

That’s all folks…

Jim & Karen, Mom & Dad, E/S Greding

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