Monday, January 23, 2012


January 21-22, 2012

Dear Family & Friends,

We spent our time in Freetown returning our rental car, swatting mosquitoes, writing reports, washing clothes, working out, swimming and eating.  We had dinner with the new office couple, Elder & Sister Randall, and talked them into taking us to church and then to the water taxi so we could get to the airport and fly to Ghana.  At first there was one boat that crossed the water, but competitors keep coming.  We were tempted therefore to take the new water taxi because it was $30 compared to $40.  After enquiring we realized that even though the new boat is roomier and even has bathrooms, it is a little bit slower.  This would not be a problem coming into Sierra Leone, but leaving and trying to be in front of the line to get on a plane is more important.  Elder Randall decided that since so many missionaries use this service they ought to give us a discount.  With the new company trying to get us to purchase their tickets, Eco agreed to let us pay $35.  In fact, Elder Randall got them to agree to let all our missionaries receive this same discount from now on.

The yellow Eco Water Taxi getting ready to take a load of people to the Lungi Airport.  When we were dropped off at the other side we looked over to see two yachts at another dock--must belong to the president or something.

This turned out to be a good decision.  Getting out of Sierra Leone and onto the plane is usually a tedious and sweaty process and we managed to stay out in front of the group.  When we got to the airport Jim got attacked by guys trying to get money to take our luggage, which we usually do ourselves.  This time Jim told the man that he’d pay him IF he got him through the airport quickly.  We were both lucky.  We ended up in front of most of the people and got through so fast that we were doing a little happy dance.  Jim paid the guy and he complained that it should be more—why is this so typical? 

One very funny thing happened after we got off the boat and onto their old bus to be transported to the airport.  On the way there is a very steep dirt hill to climb.  We got about ¾ of the way up and the bus just stopped—it couldn’t go any further!  I had visions of barreling backwards out of control down the hill.  The men on the bus quickly realized our plight and jumped out of the bus.  Sure enough, the old vehicle slowly creaked up over the top—I think I can, I think I can--I thought I was in a storybook about a train.

Because we were ahead of the pack, we were able to get matching aisle seats for the flight to Accra, which always makes us happy.  On the way over from Accra to Sierra Leone Jim got an aisle seat, but it wouldn’t recline and I got a window seat in another section of the plane.  On that flight I sat next to a young family man with three children who was traveling back to his stationery business in Sierra Leone.  We talked the entire time so that I never felt claustrophobic even when all our trays were down.  On today’s flight I sat next to a man who was not only uninterested in conversation, but kept bumping my arm throughout the flight even though I gave him the use of the armrest.  The point is that I didn’t have that seatmate when I was stuck three seats in next to the window—I was on the aisle where it didn’t matter.  After the flight all these people were shoving us out of the way trying to get past to get in the back of the plane for when they opened the back doors. I don’t ever remember this happening before.  Finally we put a stop to it—rudeness personified.

When we arrived in Accra we also were ahead of the group and quickly got through customs—another small miracle!  We quickly got our luggage and the hotel van was there to pick us up. It was a surprisingly easy day, which I had been dreading.  It turned out so well that I still feel like dancing, well, except for the fact that I can barely walk without Tylenol.  The speed on the treadmill I was using yesterday morning was either too fast or too slow.  I chose too fast…

While in Sierra Leone we noticed that both the Capitol Hotel and the Country Lodge are doing a lot of remodeling and room additions.  The manager of the Country Lodge said that people are finally beginning to invest in the country again.  They are building to meet what they presume will be future needs.

Today while the Randall’s were taking us to church we noticed that they are building nicer roads with sidewalks and even medium strips with plants!  Note that we are on the right side of a divided road in Freetown.  Look across the street to see a sidewalk.  Then they had some plants in the middle of the medium strip!  This seems so out of place in Africa!

We talked with the office couple to see how Schlehuber’s were doing.  They finally hooked up to the Internet, Marcus got the car running (he had to stop every hour on the way to Bo with the couple following them, to make repairs), and their furniture is coming on Monday.  The only thing that does not fit on the truck is another fridge.  Their brand new fridge that they brought with them to Bo doesn’t work, so someone else will have to bring them another one.  I noticed this trip that I got less frustrated.  Perhaps when we come here now we are so used to disappointments that I guess we sort of expect it.

Now if they could just do something about the garbage…
The boat landing being rebuilt is one that apparently fell into the sea. 

Tomorrow we can get up leisurely, get a ride with the hotel shuttle to the airport, and travel to Liberia, something we haven’t done for at least two or three years. 

See you in about a week.

Love, mom & dad, Jim & Karen, E/S Greding

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