Monday, September 5, 2011

Letter by Jim

Friday, September 2, 2011

Freetown, Sierra Leone

Normally I let Karen do all the letter writing, but yesterday I was touched as we visited the polio orphanage in Grafton.  Sister Gibbons once told us when we first arrived in Kenya on our mission, ‘If it looks different, take a picture because in a few months it won’t seem strange or different.’

As we drive around the highways and through the villages of different African countries, everything is familiar to us.  We know that if any of our friends were with us they would be amazed—we now take it all for granted.  We enjoy doing what we do, but some days are more special than others.

Last night I woke up about and could not go back to sleep because I was reflecting upon the feelings I had while visiting the polio orphanage.  During my childhood polio in the United States was a real concern and was affecting many young children.  Every time we would get sick my mother was always afraid that we had contracted polio.  Today it is almost unheard of in the US because of the polio vaccine.

I wake up in the morning and walk to the bathroom and enjoy standing in a nice, warm shower.  After I have dressed for the day I can cook my breakfast, sit at the table and eat nourishing food as I read the morning paper.  I do all this without any thought that others are not so fortunate.  Today I feel more gratitude for these blessings.

Yesterday while visiting Grafton we passed by a community where the refugees of the war live in the amputee camps.  There was a polio orphanage that we wanted to visit and give out some of the things we brought with us.  We walked down a narrow hallway with children sitting on the cold, tiled floor eating their lunch from bowls without silverware.   They were using their fingers to scoop up the same food that they will get at every meal.  These children all had deformed legs and could not sit in a chair at a table, but then there were no tables to sit at, only the cold floor.  They were reliant on others to help them do just the simple things we take for granted every day—a hot shower is something they may never enjoy, or a fresh-cooked, nutritious meal eaten from a clean bowl.  My heart was touched to think that for a few brief moments we could bring a different moment to their lives.  Even through all of this they always have a bright smile on their faces.

I pray I will never forget these moments.


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