Sunday, November 12, 2017


Thursday & Friday, November 9-10, 2017

Okay, so I thought I was done with my trip, but I was not, apparently.  Since this is also my journal, there are things I don’t want to forget.  I have this obsession, you see, with putting things down on paper.  Just ask Jim; he will tell you that I have boxes for my journals, all typed (these are mostly my personal ones, but also our trips) and I wonder if some day they just get burned up in a fire after an earthquake or a wildfire spreads through our town.  Either way, I still have this compulsion…

Why was today unique?  Elder Carley picked us up at the hotel and drove us the few minutes to the Mission home/office to meet the guy that takes people to the boat and runs other errands for the Church.  He is a happy, jolly guy and so nice to be around.  He has taken Marcus’s place, who is now a Bishop and apparently doing other things to earn a living.  We missed seeing him this trip.  We get to associate with so many great people.

So we pile into his truck with our luggage plus suitcases of at least 4 young men and 1 young woman, all going on missions and heading to the Accra MTC.  One of the young men was going to the Provo MTC to learn Portuguese so he could go to Mozambique.  However, he will be in Accra till he obtains a US visa—who knows if he’ll ever get one or not.  Jim told him that if he makes it there, he will see and feel snow, and cold he has never felt before.  These people wear ski jackets in the heat—what an adjustment!  Also, his English will improve, because it will have to; and then he has to learn a new language. They do speak English here, but it is hard to understand and for them to understand our English. Most Portuguese-speaking missionaries go to the Brazil MTC but Brazil will not allow any Africans into their country…thus, the Provo MTC.
Meeting all of us there were the assistants to the president, which always consists of one White Elder and one from Africa.  They always need a young man with leadership skills, which the White elders seem to have, and always one African Elder—they are the ones that can give a sermon without notes at any time and on any topic.  They all know their scriptures.
We ended up visiting with the AP Elder from Washington State and we talked about all kinds of things as we waited for the boat to get ready to take us across the water.  Jim talked about fishing of course, but I talked with him about culture and how difficult it is to work in Africa and to somehow get through the culture to make a project sustainable. He also deals with culture.  These local boys are not used to having money and instead of using it properly, they are always trying to use it in another way—they save it for what it is not intended for.  He deals with the same ideas we do, such as integrity: one young man took something that didn’t belong to him so the AP said that he had stolen it.  The young man said he didn’t steal it because the Elder saw him take it, therefore it wasn’t stealing!  Yes, culture… a very hard and interesting thing to deal with. 

The new Elders going to the Accra MTC are, of course, terrified of water.  The AP tried to assure them and so did we.  Luckily, we got the smooth, really nice, large boat to go across in so it was exceptionally smooth. Also, they hadn’t been on an airplane either yet.  But our Church guy met them, the one that always meets us at the airport and gets us on the boat, and helped them through it.  Later we saw all the missionaries on the airplane.  We saw them praying a lot on this trip!

The newly completed Accra Missionary Training Center, right behind the chapel in the complex in Accra, where the Stake Center is, the temple, the couples’ apartments, and the office building.

Now, for our trip.  First of all I felt blessed again because of the incredibly smooth trip that we had.  What was interesting is that we were going by the old schedule that we had made reservations for.  We discovered that there was no longer such a thing as a flight that left at 3:45 from Sierra Leone to Accra.  The new flight was to leave at 5:50 PM instead, so we were hours early at the terminal and so were the new missionaries.  Jim and I hung out in this air conditioned spot that sells a little bit of food to eat and also have decent Internet.  We also found out that we didn’t have to make a stop in Liberia before going to Accra, so this made up for it.  The flight was one hour late though, and knowing we had a long cue at customs and having to get a visa, which was sure to take an hour, we were concerned about that too, about missing our last hotel shuttle ride. 

For some reason on our last flight from Liberia to Sierra Leone, we asked for and were denied a seat in the bulkhead even though they were all open.  However, Jim asked again anyway and we again got row 11, the bulkhead!  We were so pleasantly surprised.  No one else was anywhere near us.  We were so very happy!!

Then, when we got to the airport, (one hour late) we worried that if we had 1 hour in the cue and another hour getting the visas, we might miss the last bus for the hotel and have to pay for a taxi.  But, another blessing: when we got to the visa office she told us to take a seat.  5 or 10 minutes later it was ready!! What?!! One hour last time and this time it was short?  We have no idea why except, well, we have no idea why!  We were just so happy again!

That left us with a very long line, with the cue out the serpentine area and we were the last ones in it.  It went by so quickly though that we couldn’t believe it!  We grabbed our luggage (all by themselves going around at baggage carousel) and went outside.  Just as we got there the Accra City Hotel guy said he got a text and the hotel bus was coming.  We walked out, got in the van and got to the hotel by 10:30.  It was amazing!! Such a relief. 

So, it was a great day, and we so enjoyed being around the missionaries.  While in the cue we found two other new guys headed to the Accra MTC, both going to serve in West Africa (Ivory Coast and Benin), one from ILL and the other from Texas.  They were sweating and it wasn’t even hot in the terminal!  Boy, if they think it was hot in there…  It is so much fun to run into so many new missionaries—we obviously hit transfer day and didn’t see many, many others that we heard had arrived!  At breakfast this morning in the hotel, we ran into a couple that came in to deliver some Elders that were going home.  They are an MLS couple and lived in the middle of nowhere in Ghana.  There is not all that much to eat except street food, and no eating places that they dare go to.  They were really enjoying the food at the breakfast buffet!  And they were glad that someone was there to talk to.

In front of the new Accra MTC, with flags flying, and the large complex behind the gate.  We saw no missionaries out and about when we were there. 

Friday we visited the office and unfortunately John Buah was not there today.  So we will be reporting to him via e-mail. Instead we met with E/S Redlin who have been over the couples in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and also in other places in West Africa. We needed to drop off financial papers from the Carley’s since they will be finishing them up for them.  E/S Nay, that we met while they were in Mongolia, are departing on Wednesday.  They were over the other part of the Area mission such as Nigeria (we don’t know what else) splitting the load with the Redlin’s.  So, the Redlin’s are left with no one to assist them and now they have to finish up finances and such for Carley’s, and take up the countries left by the Nay’s, and do their own humanitarian projects that they are involved in, in Ghana.  In talking with them we could see that they were feeling the weight of it all on their shoulders. 

So, here is another couple in this area that needs to be replaced.  We need couples badly here, and elsewhere in the world where they are hurting for help.  Any takers?

After our visit we came back to our hotel, ate lunch, worked on final reports, rested, showered for our long trip home, and went to the airport early for our 11 PM flight.  Now that we’re home, arriving at the house by 5 PM, it was interesting to see that when we left it was so hot and now it is definitely fall, finally!

Now I can say goodbye till next time…

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Last Days, Sierra Leone

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Jim left with Don Carley to check out the last two spring boxes in the new project.  When Don and his wife were sick, Don also had a fever but she did not.  I wondered, did he also get the flu?  Don was still feeling wimpy yesterday but got stronger as the day went on, but Jeanie felt just fine.  Then last night Jeanie had to teach a lesson.  After she got home someone visited to say their last goodbyes in person.  As they visited Jeanie began to feel sick again.  Sure enough, the throwing up began again!  So, I wonder if they both had the flu and food poisoning.  This makes me sick.  Both of us have spent time with both of them; we do hope we don’t catch anything for our trip home—it would just be too cruel!

The men visited the last two spring boxes and then Don took him to see one more spring box project proposal for the future.  Jim told them he’d consider it if they collected 20% of the cost of the work and save it.  Otherwise, they won’t collect fees, as this is a huge problem here.  If they agree, maybe we’ll do it on the next project.  If we do another project without a couple, we might do springs here in Freetown and wells in Kenema District.  Only time will tell if we want to do it this way again.  It is hard with a couple here in Sierra Leone, and it feels impossible without one as we used to do.  Brother Thomas the site monitor was thrilled with this new approach because he has to deal with these communities that refuse to pay for water.  He will be visiting them for the next several months till all work is completed by the communities and the contractor and beyond, and that they are collecting money for the water for repairs.

There is so much water here, coming out of the springs.  As you can see, children do most of the fetching, 
along with their mommas.

This morning Jim and I worked on the report of what he saw yesterday.  Water is coming out of these places like crazy and there is so much of it.  Unfortunately, much of the concrete work was poured in the rains and during heavy runoff and so it got eroded and it has to be fixed.  It is hard to work here as most people in Africa generally feel as though water is always free, even though it wasn’t free to fix it for them, still they feel entitled.  We pay for our water, as do people everywhere.  Water might be free here but clean water is not.  Brother Lionel Thomas is an excellent and strong site monitor, and he has a difficult job here.  Carley’s leave on Sunday.

Jim said the hiking the last couple of days was grueling, climbing over boulders in steep areas.  Each day he came back looking like someone had dumped a bucket of water on his back—he was soaked through with sweat—so very sorry I missed it, not! 

Some of the water projects were fenced so that they can collect money.  The excuse used for not collecting was always, ‘it’s the rainy season and we only collect in the dry’; ‘the project hasn’t been turned over yet.’  After which they would tell them, okay, we just turned it over to you—so start collecting!

The giant water tank where we had to re-concrete inside and out.  It used to leak like a sieve.  There is a spring above that was developed to get more water, and then it is gravity fed to this 200,000 liter tank.  There is a huge community all around this area. I have been to most of these places on other trips. 

We prepared to depart the next day, Thursday, to take our long trek back to Accra—across the water, fly to Liberia, stop 45 minutes, fly onto Accra.  Get another visa (1 hour minimum), wait in the custom line, another hour, hopefully see our luggage, and hopefully find our ride back to the hotel.  By the time we get to bed, it will be well after midnight, but we are happy that we can sleep in as long as we like.  Then we’ll get a ride to the office by taxi, visit with whomever is there (hopefully our Area Welfare Manager John Buah), go back to the hotel, stay over the checkout time, and go back to the airport for our 11 PM flight.  It’s always good to be home, even though for me this was an easy trip considering I didn’t have to work in the heat too much. 

Plans for 2018: Nepal, back to West Africa

Till next time,

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

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Another couple of Days in Freetown

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Monday I spent the day in my hotel room.  Jim went with John Blackie, site monitor on this project, and Jonathan Cobinah who had to drive.  The Carley’s ate some sausages from the USA that were obviously spoiled and got food poisoning.  They were out of commission Sunday and Monday.  Because we didn’t have enough time to wait for them to recover, Jim hired Jonathan to drive him, who was here to see us with his family, but also had some business to take care of.  He postponed his business so that he could take Jim around to finish up checking out the old Freetown project, which consisted of latrines, wells, pipelines and spring boxes that fell apart during Ebola like everything else.  We retrained, fixed some things, and are here to check it out and close it out.  Finally!  It has been a long time.  The only part of the project where nothing was working was the pipelines.  When China came in to widen and pave the roads, they tore them all out—thanks a lot…

I usually have lots to do, but Monday, not so much.  I did manage to do all my wash, which as you know makes me very happy.  After that, then what?  I had no reports till Jim came home with his report, and then I stayed up till 1 AM finishing them.  Otherwise, Jim had brought some Skip-Bo cards and even though I remember liking the game, I had forgotten how to play.  So I broke out the cards and read the directions and played a game with myself and one imaginary friend (pathetic, right?).  Luckily, I and my friend came out even—we each won two games.  I even loaded a game, Free Cell, onto my phone, and previously I have had none.  I think I will delete it after this trip.  I read my book, watched a movie on TV (no commercials, cool), and watched my clothes dry.  It was an exciting day, broken up with an ordered bowl of soup. 

I am always interested in food in other countries.  The other day I ordered minestrone soup.  Yesterday I ordered vegetable soup.  I was asked if I wanted it to be cream soup—no.  So, someone brought the soup to my room—it was identical to the minestrone…  After Jim got home and we ate our dinner, we later went back to the restaurant to order dessert, strawberry cheesecake.  It was I think some not delicious frozen yogurt, still frozen, with a tiny dab of strawberry jam on top, with a crumbled cookie underneath.  Also on the plate with crumbs underneath, was one scoop of strawberry ice cream.  The next night we order the chocolate cake—in contrast, it was very rich and there was one scoop of vanilla ice cream and it was really, really good! 
I have become quite a vegetable these days—between my bad neck and Jim’s brain, I think we might one day consider retirement.  I said, hey, maybe another couple of trips and then maybe we’ll see—he said 5 more years—I had to laugh.  By then I’ll be wearing a permanent neck brace and he’ll be, well, dumbfounded--not sure…ah, the golden years!

Today was better.  I met Sister Carley in the office and we visited while we worked on our reports together and I helped her with the church’s program on an Internet site where they keep all humanitarian projects. This is so that anyone working on them in the future will know what went on when they take over a project after a couple leaves and the next one takes over.  We enjoyed our day visiting and I learned some interesting things.

This concerns the mudslide that the government said killed about 1,000 people, but as I mentioned before, people here think it was more like 5,000 even though no one probably knows for certain.  But many hundreds of people were displaced.  The Church does emergency relief and so they were working with other organizations to bring help to the victims.  One of the areas was near one of our spring development projects.  Brother Thomas, the site monitor, helped them with all the people that were truly involved in the mudslide.  Whenever there is any giveaway other people show up that have nothing to do with the disaster, thinking that they might get some free stuff too. Brother Thomas identified 105 people that qualified for the relief.  They were given a mattress, a bucket full of clothes, eating utensils, a large bag of rice, baby formula, and many other essential foods that were needed to sustain them.  Afterwards a large crowd had gathered hoping to get stuff too.  Nope.

Interestingly enough, as this was taking place, some government official came around demanding that the Church give them the money so that they could give the people what they needed (interpretation: keep all our money for themselves at the worst, or at the very least, give a little something to the people so they can look good, but keep most of the money).  Lucky for us, there was a policeman there that knew about us, so he defended the Church and didn’t let the official interfere.  He told the man that the Church members donated that money and they could spend it how they wanted. He even put a few policemen around to protect them during the handout.  You see, the Church was in the midst of doing something for this policeman and his group, so he knew us and what we do.  This was a very satisfying project for all involved.

What was not satisfying was this: there were a number of orphaned children and widows who had no place to stay after the mud slide.  The church with partner organizations found a building and they were going to refurbish it so as to house 150 women and children there for a few weeks till they could find a place to live.  They were going to provide medical care, health training, food, etc.  As this project was being developed, the government stepped in and stopped the work, saying that these women and children would be too close to their embassy and refused to allow the work to continue (terrorists for sure), and they were only going to be there for a few weeks.  Governments!  Ours is not great, but the countries where we work are beyond our imagination.  I keep thinking about what I read in the scriptures about how we treat the poor and the widows and the fatherless and how God feels about it.  These mudslide victims are going to be kicked out soon from where they are hanging out (school?)—where on earth will they go?  I hear in the news every day about the corruption that grinds the faces of the poor in many of the countries where we have served, and it eats at my heart. 

The mudslide area.  It saddens me every time I think about it.  So much suffering in the U.S. lately and all over the world.  Are we ready for our Southern California earthquake?  It seems like it might be coming.  I don’t think we are truly ever ‘ready’ for something to happen.  We only find out when it happens if we are prepared or not.

This is one of several Bio-Fil latrines.  It is an interesting system where they put natural bugs that eat the waste, not need to ever pump it out.  This bus stop latrine was so successful that they added even more 'digesters' as they call them so as to meet the needs of this busy latrine.  It is well kept, very clean in and out.  We did not think this spot would work so well, but it has proved to be a wonderful project.

The man in the blue shirt has taken charge of his gift.  He collected some money from others, donated some of his own money and deepened the well himself without the help of LDSC.  He put tile on the apron floor to preserve it for a long time.  It was very clean and in fact he kept his flip flops at the gate and didn't wear them in the well.  Another awesome man who appreciates this great gift of clean water. 
This young man was so proud of his tool kit.  He has repaired the well many times.  He ought to be proud of what he has done.  Is another rare person that loves the gift he has been given, not expecting anyone to take care of it but himself and others in his community. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Saturday & Sunday in Freetown

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Yesterday I took the day off.  Jim and Don Carley and John Blackie (site monitor) went to check out what they could on one of our older projects that we will be closing, as soon as all the money clears.  It was from before Ebola and had since had some rehabs if it was ‘our fault’ in the construction, such as deepening a well.  They managed to see 5 of the projects, 4 wells and 1 spring box development.  All the projects were working, but at one, the chairlady had to lock it up because the people refuse to pay for it.  She thought that if someone from our church came back to do a little training, they would listen to that representative, but would not listen to her.  Perhaps we will send John Blackie back in for a day if they set up a meeting with the community.  All of them though are getting clean water still and most are cooperating and paying for it and keeping them running, using technicians for repairs, so all in all, a pretty good report, but we have to see many more. While traveling John Blackie told Jim that even though the government reported that 1,000 people died in the mud slides a few months ago, but he said there were about 5,000 killed.  I presume they wouldn’t want to feel guilty about their striping the hills of trees and their lack of good construction practices for homes on those hills. Maybe nothing would have helped in those heavy rains this year.

One of the wells that is working very well and they are collecting money.  We had to refurbish this well to deepen it.  Notice the kink in the back?  There used to a tree there and they finally realized that they had to remove it.  Uh…we told them it wouldn’t work, ha, ha. 

Here back at the hotel, I happily washed lots of dirty clothes, which always makes me feel good.  I worked on our trip report, adding pictures, and sending it along to Teerlink’s for their corrections.  I read my book, I exercised a bit, and worked out some problems.  The problems were at first no Internet at all on my laptop, after which a guy came in and hooked me up in a few seconds, only to discover I was not getting e-mail in or out.  I went on the Internet and worked on whatever they said to do, and after getting nowhere except to get a headache, I finally gave up and asked for the IT guy at the hotel to come up and help me.  Then, for no apparent reason, my e-mail decided to work again—what?  It probably had nothing to do with I did---who can figure these things out?  Oh that’s right, the IT guys…

The spring box—the taps are still there and working.  They had to put in a retaining wall (right) to keep the rain water away from the site.  It works very well. 

We called around to get a ride to church, so the AP’s (young missionaries, Assistants to the Mission President) picked us up at 8:15.  They have an 8:30 AM meeting time.  Two wards meet in this building next to the mission office and home.  Our Sierra Leone friends, Jonathan and Amarachi met us there, having driven up last night from Kenema, staying with their relative, John Blackie (Jonathan’s sister’s family).

A sad story, all too common here: John Blackie bought a piece of property and put a house on it, only to discover that the person who sold him the property did not own it.  The guy that did own it, waited till John had completed building his house before he claimed it.  John went to court and lost, and now has to pay the guy money for the lot, and a lot more money than it was worth because the owner knew he had him ‘over a barrel.’  I wish I could say that this rarely happens here but it is fairly common.  The only way you can get around this and have the courts go your way, is to pay the judges a large amount of money, which others have done if they have it.  Then they would rule in their favor, even if it wasn’t right.  So, he is paying off his lot, again…

Church is always hard for us because even though they tell them to speak English, the women don’t, a few men do, so most of church is like listening to any other language we don’t understand.  We couldn’t figure out if it was the American Elder playing the little organ that was playing so slowly, or the leader was leading it that slow.  All I know is I almost fell asleep singing because after each phrase, the organ held the note for a long time.  Sunday school and Relief Society is a little more interesting because we can read the lesson and figure it out.  Some are even nice enough to speak to us in English.  It is always nice to hear the questions, and realize how little they understand the Gospel, but that there is always some that do to dispel wrong ideas.  We found out from John Blackie that two new Stakes will be formed in just Bo, the city closest to Kenema where Cobinah’s live.  Kenema will remain a District, and Districts are under the Mission President.  The Stakes report to the Area Presidency.  Our Area Presidency here in West Africa is in Ghana.  Jonathan is still the Kenema District President. 

Jim age 4, named after Jim.

 JC, named after his dad, age 2 1/2 

Alberta, age 9, John Blackie's daughter, raised by Cobinah's

After church we drove back to the hotel with Jonathan and family.  In tow today they had Cynthia, who is Amarachi’s niece, who used to live with them but is now attending university and living with Amarachi’s older sister because she lives in Freetown where the college is.  But today we met Amarachi’s sister and we brought Cynthia with us, and she helped with the little boys.  Also with them was Alberta, who is now 9.  She is the one that they have raised since she was a baby because John Blackie and his wife had no money to take care of her at the time.  Since then John Blackie and is wife have had another daughter named Amarachi, Jr., and Alberta has spent more time with them, but recently went back to Jonathan’s again.  John used to have almost 20 people living in his smaller home but now that he has a little larger home, he only is there with his wife and daughter.  Confused yet?  And Jonathan now only has Alberta and their two boys.  Everyone else is living with other mutual relatives—they come and they go and it is hard to keep track of where they all are at the moment.  There will be a test at the end of this letter…

Amarachi with niece Cynthia, her brother's daughter.

Jim & Jonathan, Kenema District President, good friends, good, honest people.

So, as I was saying, we went back to the hotel where some of them changed clothes and then we ate pizza on the back patio area and we had brought some Uno Cards and played with them, along with teaching them how to play ‘War’.  Our mistake was not to bring something for the little boys, but they ran around and ate and made a nice, little mess with the food.  Jim gave the gal more money for cleanup afterwards.  Later we ordered dinner and then they left to go back to Blackie’s till tomorrow.  We all have things to do, but hopefully we will meet up in the afternoon and maybe go to the beach again.  They are departing on Wednesday. 

You’d think I could have consolidated the pictures?  Me too….

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Leaving Liberia, on the way to Freetown

Friday, November 3, 2017

We departed for the airport at 1:30 PM, a very short ride by hotel shuttle for our flight to Sierra Leone.  It is nice not to be worried about any more cancelled flights.  Our fancy hotel bed was a bit hard…I think I will leave them a little note, just in case we ever get to come back!  But, our travels tire us because of the oppressive heat in the afternoon of the day, so we are exhausted enough to sleep anyway, propping pillows around our hips.  This was a nice respite from the grueling look-see work.  It would not be at all difficult, except for the heat.

When we arrived at the breakfast buffet this morning we were surprised to see how minimal it was—no hot food.  After all, this was a very fancy hotel.  But as soon as we sat down they brought us the hot eggs and things menu, ordered what we wanted, and it arrived very quickly.

Yesterday we had seen the only other White person out by the hotel pools besides us.  This morning I saw him emerge from the back where they cook the food.  Ah, he is not an NGO, he is the hotel owner or manager.  With him was a man who looked Italian?  Other than that, this hotel was being used by local people on Thanksgiving holiday, most of them with their little kids.  They probably just purchased day passes to swim and eat lunch; there were a ton of people there.

As for NGO’s, we were interested to hear from the Teerlink’s that most are leaving the country.  They discovered this as they visited with a man who owned a stationery store.  He was shutting down since his business was no longer being supported by all the NGO’s who used to be here.  This is surprising to us.  In Sierra Leone this is not the case.

Thanksgiving here is a bit different.  We asked Morris what is the most typical: they usually visit friends or relatives and maybe go to the park or something else that doesn’t cost money to do.  Food is not part of it considering most Africans typically eat one meal a day.  Once while Teerlink's were  talking about Fast Sunday and how  we skip two meals, they had shocked looks on their faces—they thought that meant they couldn’t eat for two days!  It appears that they fast just about every day unless they happen to get lucky and get a couple of meals.

Jim and I enjoyed a nice swim in the youth hotel pool Friday before we left because no one was there but us.  Bathtub water, almost, just slightly refreshing.  I went back to the room and took a shower and washed my hair so I wouldn’t look too travel weary by the time we got to the other side of the water in Freetown.

Our favorite quote from yesterday was from the little gal who was requesting a hand pump for their area.  The population is high and even though they have enough dip wells, still, clean water usually comes from hand pumps, and the closest one in their area always has a long cue.  When we asked how long it takes to get water in this line she remarked, “The lines often extend into the night and our girls come back pregnant…”  Okay, we had not heard this one before—laughing, crying?!!!  If we had said this we’d be joking, using exaggeration to make our point.  Africans are not known for their joking…

Our flight departed at 3:10 PM, and even though it is the shortest of all the flights, it takes so much time getting to our hotel because of the bay we have to motor over.  E/S Carley picked us up at the boat dock and we went directly to the hotel, washed our hands, had them take up our luggage, and visited and ate dinner with the Carley’s.  We have a somewhat plan, which we will no doubt play by ear.  The Carley’s will be leaving for home in a week, and they have no replacement—any takers for an unusual adventure??  We could use a lot of new couples everywhere.  They are beginning to lose senior couples in all the missions we are familiar with.

We are happy to be in Freetown at the Brooksfield Hotel and finally be able to fully unpack.  This always makes me extraordinarily happy!  Yesterday was the only time I felt I had time to do some wash and get it dry before we left.  Now I can wash whenever I want, and I always need to.  I’m so happy to be here!  I love this bed!  I love that we’ll be here for almost a week before we go home.

Sister Teerlink was upset that little girls only had broken White dolls to use as their babies.  I told her about our project a few years ago when the Relief Society made 100 African dolls to pass out.  Since she has started a sewing project, she wants me to send her the pattern and also pictures of the dolls.  She will give this order to the new sewing group.  The only problem is what to stuff them with, as there won't be much batting available; we discussed different ways that she could do it--a fun experiment.

Note the little generator sitting there.  Everyone was hooking up their phones to charge them.  I don't know if they had to pay for this service or not.

This is a dip well that does not go dry.  The owner said he would be glad to donate it to the community if we would transform it into a hand pump and that the water committee would take care of the running of the well.

This is at the boarding school home that is being remodeled.  One of the things we liked about this place as that this humanitarian makes sure that everyone works.  This little girl was sweeping out this area.

At the same boarding school--a girl was washing a lot of clothes.

These homes are across the river from the Farmington Hotel.  I think that the area looks lovely with all the vegetation.  When we were at the Royal Grand Hotel in Monrovia, I thought the contrast was terrible--out of every window the streets were ugly with old, dirty buildings and streets

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Last day Liberia

This picture is out of order, but this is where we ended up at the end of our day; The Farmington is near the airport.  This is the main pool, one of three.  It is a gift at the end of a trying day--an amazing place!
Elder & Sister Teerlink with the children.

The little lady in front of Jim is quite the community organizer.  They want a water project and as soon as she heard what Elder Teerlink told her, she immediately began figuring out how it could be done.  They already have a water committee.

Jim playing hopscotch.

Some colorful peppers for sale.

It is rare to see any grass--it makes everything look better.

Because of the Teerlink's the blind association can now work instead of beg for their living.  No one will give them a job, so Teerlink's created one.

The man on the right is head of the blind association, of  which there are 50 members.  The school cuts all the pieces, then blind sand them (using seeing helpers).  They are shipped flat and assembled at schools with an overseer.  Teerlink's are professional furniture builders.  And now the local people are being taught the proper way to do it.  He has also purchased power tools for them to use.  The canes we brought are to go to this association since there are none to be had in this country. 

This is one of the pieces of furniture that they are making.  The seats lift up so that books can be store inside, and then they can be locked up.  This is also for the schools. 

As we have traveled around we have been training site monitors and contractors.  This is one of our contractors, Simeon, who also works with the blind association.  He is a very good contractor, but Jim asked him to re-plaster the apron of the well I sent a picture of earlier--it was pitted right after by hard rains--not his fault, but he'll fix it anyway.  He is a good man.

We visited this school/dorm that a lady is refurbishing to help others, as she has done ever since the war.  They have done everything themselves, but got unlucky after hitting flat rock after two well attempts.  In order to make it work, the rock has to be jack-hammered out and drilled.  They are getting water out of it anyway, but need it to be a hand pump. 

The Farmington Hotel next to the airport.  Because of the election and rallies, Teerlink's didn't want us to miss our flight if they managed to close the roads, so we are staying here overnight, departing tomorrow.   It is places like this that can heal the soul.  It is huge and gorgeous and the river is right behind it.
Out of order, but more showing blind men plus their mentors--they now can work for a living, all because of E/S Teerlink.

One an sit and eat on the cantilevered balconies.

They have 3 pools--this one is the kiddie pool.

This pool was for the teenagers as they played games, with the edge of their pool, right on the edge.

The lobby of the Farmington--it is huge and beautiful. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Liberia Day 1

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 

Teerlink’s picked us up at 8 AM, after we’d had an interesting breakfast—the best part was a fruit smoothie.  We drove to various places, either looking at some area projects the Teerlink’s or others have done, or to check on projects under construction, or to look at some areas we might put together for a 2018 project.

The morning was pleasant, as it usually is in Africa this time of year, just after the end of the rainy season.  But after lunch it was typically hot, humid, and energy-sapping.  Sister Teerlink had prepared a lunch for us as usual, sandwiches made from homemade bread thanks to Elder Teerlink. Apparently they are passing around a Bosch bread mixer that the last Mission President had given to the couples to use.  They don’t like the bread here much because it is dry.  We also had cookies and Pringles, drinks and bananas.  Morris was with us as usual, but even though he seemed okay to me, they were concerned that he was untypically quiet. 

A pretty little school, requesting a hand dug well.   


 We liked this community that would like a well.  They have to go    
 across the street and one little girl got hit by a car, luckily she was okay. 
 This is a very cohesive community that are always working at something—a good sign.

There’s something special about a sweet African child.   

Not at all sure what this writing was all about.

A couple of men preparing a burn to make charcoal, which they say will take about 2-3 days.  
It has to smolder to keep it from burning up.  
They cover it with grass and dirt I think and then let it do its work.  
No air must get to the stack or it would be a bonfire instead of a charcoal making venture.

We saw a lot of small, home latrines in our travels today.

Elder Teerlink is a furniture builder, and he wanted to teach a few people in Liberia to do better work, especially on school desks, which usually last a year before they trash them.  Above is a workshop at a school where Elder Teerlink provided them with some tools and know-how to build a better desk, as below.  They do the wood work and I think he said the blind group is putting them together.

 We stopped by one of our latrines that was being built near a school.  The contractor (left) is doing a good job.

Tomorrow we travel down the road to the hotel near the airport so as to avoid election rallies that
 might close the road, causing us to miss our flight Friday.