Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Springs, Wellington & Kissy Town, Sierra Leone

Sunday & Monday, September 23-24, 2012

Dear Family & Friends,

This country could be so beautiful with its lush green foliage, sparkling ocean and flowing rivers if it weren’t for the blight of poverty and garbage that sits like a pockmark on its face.  We went to a place on Monday called Thunder Mountain, which is up from Kissy Town and Wellington where the Mission President wanted us to do some water projects.  I couldn’t stop taking pictures, either looking up at the beautiful mountain or gazing at the view of the sea from its great height.  We saw beautiful springs with children frolicking in the larger parts of the river; people bathing, washing clothes, or filling cans with water coming out of the pipe.  It was so much fun and breathtakingly beautiful.  We might be able to further develop those springs and also add hand pumps down below in the valley.  Many have tried though, and they hit rock, lots and lots of rock.  We saw a few broken down pumps too.

Children frolicking in the river below the spring development.  Above them were women washing clothes. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of this beautiful place, Thunder Mountain.

We drove home late a filthy, sweating mess, and brought the Branch President with us through the looking and even back to Freetown where he works fixing computers.  We saw a very big church building in Kissy—not too many that the church has built here—most are old rented homes.  We were so late getting home we ate at the Country Lodge where we usually stay and discovered they had completely remodeled the dining area—it was beautiful, but in the bar area there was this flashy gold couch—I could picture some sports star sitting there dripping with gold, two beautiful ladies hanging on his arms!  The new buildings under construction were not completed but they were making good progress. 

Yesterday, Sunday morning, we went to church and actually understood most of what was said, at least till we got to Relief Society.  If they asked us a question, we had to ask them to repeat it for us. 

When we parked near the building we noticed another car, very familiar—it was our ‘toaster’ car that we had rented from Sahr Doe.  Sahr is in Hawaii going to school for three years!  He had remarried and has a wife and child.  I thought maybe he’d sold the car, but when we got inside we saw his wife and there she was, getting confirmed a member of the church!  We met her the last time we were in Sierra Leone, several months ago.  She took her time studying the Gospel but we could tell she has a very strong testimony.  She said she missed her husband terribly and maybe they would let her visit him in April.  She couldn’t get a visa (they probably want to make sure he comes back!).

After Relief Society the President thought Sister Burns ought to visit a lady who lost her father last week.  She also thinks Sister Burns ought to be the Relief Society President and the current President should be her counselor!  I guess she doesn’t get the program yet!  Also, Burns’s are here to do humanitarian work, not train branch members. 

We get in the truck and are supposed to follow Sahr Doe’s wife to the house of this lady and all of a sudden a bunch of people jump in the back seat!  Right away Jim said that it was not allowed.  Somehow they were still in—two ladies and two kids and someone in the back of the truck!  On the way Sister Burns explained that this was against the rules!  They are so fast and sometimes a bit pushy.  I also told Sister Burns that unless she knew the lady personally, it was not up to her to visit a lady she didn’t know—the members of the Branch are supposed to do that.  So she visited the lady but left all the hangers on at the house…and it wasn’t ‘just there’ (meaning short distance in African lingo)—it took a long time to get there on that very crowded, very bad road. 

Finally we got home, had dinner and walked down to the spring area below the house.  While checking it out I really thought they already were well taken care of.  They have city water most of the time, which is clean to drink.  When the city water stops they buy drinking water.  There are several springs in the area with beautiful, clean looking water that they use for bathing, washing and cooking.  But, it would be fun to do!  The area is beautiful with ample water coming out of the ground flowing into little rivers and streams around crops and into spring boxes. I tried to picture the area without garbage, how divine it would look, like a little piece of paradise.  While there we met a bunch of little boys playing soccer.  We told them we’d bring them some uniforms and a ball next week if they could provide a needle and pump to blow up the ball.

Can you imagine how beautiful this place would be without the garbage?  This was below our house near one of the many springs.

We discovered today why we are not getting water in our tank.  The city has turned off our pipe because some people in the area don’t pay their bill.  Elder Burns called the landlord and told him to get it turned back on again.  He said he would, but then we don’t know if it will work or not.  In the meantime I saw a young man and asked him if a big water truck could get down here and he said he thought it would (he helped deliver the furniture).  They may end up having to do that and deduct it from the rent.  It is not the landlord’s fault, but I don’t think the Burns’s can stand one more glitch.  The water tanks are so low that neither of us have hot water in our showers because there is no water pressure.  Also it now takes over one hour to fill one bottle with clean water through the filter.  Each night I warm a pot full of water for my shower.  We have to heat water every time we do dishes.  Each time these things come up, Sister Burns just thinks about how lucky we are to be here in this nice house and not in a shanty.  I suggested to save water we could do dishes once at the end of the day, but then I realized we don’t have enough dishes to do that, even using paper goods.  And each night I get eaten by a mosquito, waking me up, itching. 

With all of these problems there are always tender mercies—for me it has been that my hair doesn’t look stupid, and I have no idea why.  If I did things this way at home I’d definitely look like a drowned rat…  We also are enjoying Elder & Sister Burns very much.  

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

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