Friday, September 21, 2012

Back to Freetown, Sierra Leone

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

It is early in the morning here and I couldn’t sleep so thought I’d write a little before the others wake up.  We arrived here at the house after staying in the office for awhile.  We stopped for groceries, but since it was so late I suggested we pick up a Shawarma at the little shop next to the grocers.   I always wonder if we’ll get sick, but no one is throwing up as far as I can tell (whew!).  A Shawarma is sort of an Arab tortilla—a meat sandwich with French fries inside and sauce. 
The dangling plug I used for my blow dryer at the Capitol Hotel…I was just a wee bit worried it might electrocute me.

When we arrived the house was hot, stuffy and smelled awful, but in time the air conditioning and our fan made us all feel better.  After plugging in my computer I eventually noticed that the dining room had no electricity going to its outlets—there is always something going on in these African houses—it is quite entertaining!  In the morning we realized the fridge was on that same circuit—we fixed it. The problems here do not compare to the home of the Schlehuber’s in Bo!  They are also having quite a time training people on how to do their church callings after so many years of being on their own.  It is a daunting task.  Also, their truck broke down and they have been stranded. 

I had washed only enough clothes at the Capitol to get us through the week so I had lots of laundry.  Their washing machine is an interesting little piece of work.  It has lots of buttons, but who knows what they are all for?  After much button-pushing Sister Burns managed to get it turned on.  When the spin cycle comes on the thing walks its way out of the alcove.  Luckily it can’t get through the door, so the worst that happens is all the connections come loose and floods the area, which it has done before.  You can tell when it is spinning because it sounds like an airplane is landing in the house (perhaps its engine comes from a plane?).  They have propped it in place with boxes in front and Styrofoam pieces on the side to keep it put.  It stopped anyway before it could spin out one of its many rinse cycles, leaving my wash still soaking.  It is now hanging all over the bathroom, our bedroom, chairs in the dining room, dripping away…  The dryer does not dry the clothes and it was pouring rain outside so we couldn’t hang it on a cord we’d hung earlier on the veranda.  Apparently the washer stops when there is not enough power to go around the neighborhood.  When the generator turned off, so did the machine.  With all the annoying problems, we always look out our windows and see those living in shanties and wonder how they live through these pounding rains.  It is a comforting thought to be high and dry in this pretty, if not perfectly working, house.

Slogging through the muddy mess of construction and rain over the Grafton Road.  The steepest hill was surprisingly less muddy than the rest making it passable with 4 wheel drive.

Elder Burns decided to fix the shower problem himself.  There was air in the lines, which was creating the problem of no hot water and very little cold water.  It worked so I was happy for a tepid, then slightly warm showering off, just to get off the grime.  In the morning, however, the hot water had disappeared again—perhaps we have to let air out of the line each time we use it?  Jim had been taking cold showers at the Capitol and was looking forward at last to a warm shower…woe is him.

Yesterday while I sat in the mission office doing some work, Jim and Elder Burns went with a local CES guy who lives in the area to look at the Freetown water project that the government would like us to do.  They have a large tank collecting water from a spring.  A PVC pipe extends down into the town.  People all along this pipe put a T into it and get water where they want it, close to their homes.  By the time it gets down to the last water point there is no water left.  None of these T’s has any kind of valve or shut-off so it runs freely while it rains; consequently it remains dry for the three months the rain stops.  They want us to try and solve this problem so that they can have water year-round by adding more water storage tanks.  Sister Burns and I see all this rain coming down in buckets and it is frustrating not to be able to capture it and use it later.  We don’t know if we can solve this problem but if we think we can, it will be one of our water projects.  Also, it is kind of fun to think of finally doing something other than hand pumps!

Just one of many T’s off the piped water.

We have a couple of days to relax, gather our thoughts and spend more time training this couple.  There is so much paperwork we have generated over the years that it is a lot to take in.  Sometimes too much information gets lost in our old brains.  

We drove a lot the last few days on such potholed dirt roads that it is rather jarring to say the least.  We made up a song to the tune of Nancy Sinatra’s, “These boots are made for walking…”  Here is the first of what we hope will become a longer set of verses: “These roads are made for walking, that’s just what we should do…’cause these roads aren’t made for driving…they leave you black and blue…”  (Okay, really dumb, but what else do we have to do while being beat to death for several days in a row?)

Onward and upward…

Love, E/S Greding, Jim & Karen, Mom & Dad, Grandma & Grandpa

1 comment:

  1. Stumbled across your story. Bless you. I am returning to Sierra Leone on the 28th for my 3rd trip. I am lucky as as I am installing a Water Treatment System for a new 4 Star Hotel being built on the beautiful Tokeh beach. Part of my job will be running clean water to the Village which boarders the Hotel Property. Though this is a pretty comfy project, I have spent my fair share of time sleeping in tents, and covered in bug spray morning, noon and night in Kenya. Leaving for Haiti in late March. Please follow us on Safe travels to you all !! Jim