Monday, May 8, 2017

Saying Goodbye...Going Home

May 7-8, 2017

We attended Church this morning and were able to get a ride with E/S Miner, the office couple, as planned.  They were so much fun to visit with.  Meeting us there also was Jonathan’s family, including the two extra daughters of John Blackie.  We were all late because we didn’t know that this is one ward that starts at 8:30, so we nearly missed the Sacrament.  There are so many converts here that they now teach Gospel Essential lessons during Sunday school so that new members will better understand the Gospel. The lesson was about Adam and Eve and we could tell that one new convert did misunderstand about taking the fruit.  She thought it was a sin, not a transgression as we believe, and that it was bad, not part of the plan as we know it to be--that if Eve hadn’t partaken, none of us would be here. 

From left, Jim, Karen, Amarachi, J.C. & Jonathan; lower: Martha, Jessica, Alberta, Amarachi Jr., Jim.  Our last goodbyes for now.  

We left the hotel all freshly showered for our long day.  It didn’t take much time though to get sweaty.  Jim came back to the hotel and actually showered after church, finished packing, and then ate lunch at the hotel with Miner’s before leaving. 
We arrived in time to get on the boat to go across the water to the airport.  They have this slick picture of a really cool-looking boat, and we’d seen it before (one of their fleet) but had never been on it.  You can ride up on deck or go down inside.  They had tiny airplane seats, even more crowded than coach, two on each side of the boat.  There was a sign above that showed how to connect to the Internet—cool.  But there was no Internet.  We could tell that there was air conditioning, but there was no air conditioning that was working.  I used my fan a lot and a gal brought us very cold water (a new perk), which helped.  Next time we’ll ride on top in the open air!

Inside our ‘luxury’ boat, riding across the water with no windows to open to get air and the air conditioning either not being used or broken.  It is a slick-looking boat though.

Then they put us on the crowded bus (the seats are also very small and close together in the bus) and drove us up to the airport--more sweaty conditions…so by the time we actually got to the air conditioned terminal, we were just as ‘uggy’ as ever.  It should be better going out of Accra for our two long flights home.  At least we hope so. 

Our flight out of Sierra Leone was an hour late.  I sat by a Liberian man who was addressed by one of the passengers as “Your Excellency’.  Later I asked him why he was addressed that way and he said he was a ‘director’ in the government.  He said he gets training and then comes back and trains in Liberia.  I didn’t really understand what kind of training he actually did. 

By the time we got showered and partly unpacked and into bed, it was long after midnight.  We knew that John Buah would be in the office (back from a long trip) and could see us in the afternoon.  He is a lovely man and we learned sadly that he is retiring in a few months.  We met the new couple, E/S Redlin that replaced the Baker’s, and visited with John.  When we asked him if there was anything he wanted us to do, he simply said, “More clean water and sanitation projects.”  We are in complete agreement with him on that!

We had gotten taxi rides out on the street to the church offices—the price at the hotel taxi, 30 CD’s one way.  The price on the street: 10 CD’s one way…

We asked for a late checkout since our flight leaves late at night.
It is always good to come home!

Love, from Accra. 

Jonathan & Jim at the beach.

Friday, May 5, 2017

A day at the beach

I just love taking pictures of the beach and the old fishing boats and the old way of fishing with nets.

I thought it looked rather random and messy the way they distributed or were grabbing the fish, but Amarachi told me that they have already paid for a certain number---those people are then selling to the hotels and restaurants.  The tiny fish are up for grabs for anyone who is not buying.

Jim with Alberta and Jessica--they think of us as their 'grandparents'.

We saw a lot of high rises going up around the beach and little fences being built on the sand where little restaurants will be springing up.

We see big rigs all over town as they pave all the roads--it is great!

Under the veranda: Jessica, Jim, Alberta, Martha, Amarachi, Jr. & JC.  Jim is named after Jim and JC after his dad.  Martha and Alberta and Amarachi, Jr. are actually sisters.  Jessica and the boys are cousins to each other and the girls.  

Last Days, Beach Day

Thursday & Friday, May 4-5, 2017

We woke up to pouring rain.  The window is closing to complete all these projects, so hopefully they will have moments in between rain showers to get some work done.  Sure enough, in the afternoon it stopped, so the guys rode up again to see that the walls had been poured in concrete at the Mende well project.

When they returned to see progress, they found all the walls poured, even after heavy rains this morning.  

         Kids goofing off in the Mende area.

Sister Carley and I worked on her papers at the mission office as she needed advice on turning in an area project.  Jim also helped her with the money aspect of it, figuring out payment schedules.  They will be doing desks for 6 of the neediest schools in the Kenema area where Jonathan and Amarachi, our good friends, live.  They (Jonathan & Amarachi) are now a registered NGO and this will be their first actual job in that capacity.  Sister Carley said that they recently completed building a bridge in Kenema for the city, and said it was beautifully done.  Besides the desks their NGO will be employing a few people, some young men to build the desks, some to weld as there will be an iron base to some of them, and one site monitor.  Amarachi has apparently been visiting a great many schools, determining which ones were the neediest, so she had been working for a couple of months before turning in the request to build school desks.  We wish them well.

And speaking of our friends, they drove all the way from Kenema just to visit with us, staying with Jonathan’s brother-in-law John Blackie, who also happens to be one of the site monitors for the spring capture water project.  They brought with them their two boys and Alberta, the girl that they have raised since infancy, who actually is the daughter of John Blackie and his wife, who at the time could not care for her as they didn’t have work.  John Blackie also has a ton of relatives living with them full time, only they have a much smaller house—3 rooms. 

Our good friends the Cobinah’s with three of their children: Jim, JC (Jonathan Jr) and Alberta.  They now have 9 living with them.  They drove up from Kenema so that we could visit this weekend.  We found a place outside the hotel where we could visit and eat. 

This is the last day that we were with E/S Carley, who will be returning home in November.  They are going on a couples’ retreat with the Mission President, his wife, and all the couples serving in Sierra Leone.  While in the office we were able to secure our ride to church on Sunday with the office couple E/S Miner, and our ride back to the water so that we can fly back to Accra before heading for home.

Friday the Cobinah’s arrived about 10 AM, bringing with them more extended family—Martha, John Blackie’s oldest daughter and Amarachi (Jr.) their youngest.  They also brought Jessica who for most of her years was raised by Amarachi and then went to live with her natural mother (Jonathan’s sister), and ended up living with John Blackie and family when she could no longer care for her.  Blackie’s wife is also the sister of Jessica’s mother.  Are you confused yet?
They arrived with a little rain, but we headed to the beach with all the little ones crowded in the back of the SUV.  While at the beach they changed into clothes that would allow them to play in the water.  They were really dressed up nicely before we got there.  The three oldest girls, Martha, Jessica and Alberta, played in the shore break with Jim watching over them.  He was very surprised to learn that they had never done this before!  Jessica was particularly brave.  Little Amarachi was so terrified of the beach that she would not even go near it.  After a time we purchased P & J, bread, sodas, water, potato chips and cookies and went back to the hotel.  During this time Amarachi was feeling ill from a cold/flu she’s had for a week and so she slept in our room while we all watched over the kids.  By early afternoon they departed for home.  Tomorrow just mom and dad will be coming for their last visit.  The little boys are still very little, and the older girls will be watching them.

Martha, Alberta & Jessica acting like pros during their first time playing in the surf.  

While there we watched the fisherman bring in their catch.  It rained only once during our beach day, clearing up later and ending up rather sunny.

Our trip is winding down…

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A very restful day!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Today we got to rest!  I didn’t know it would be, so I dressed in my tennies and pants.  Jim & Don went up to the site they always go to (Mende Well), to see how the project was progressing.  Sister Carley & I spent time in the office and we worked together on some things she needed to know about all the paperwork we need to do for projects.

Each morning the guys go up and check on the Mende well, the one where they take bike taxis to get up there.  Each time they see some progress.  Today they were pumping out the water so that they could pour a concrete wall to stop the flow.  Then they can pour more concrete in the box (walls and floor) where the water will be contained.

After this we traveled back to the handicapped latrine and saw the progress going on there.  We learned that the hand drilled well (that we saw on Monday) once again hit dirt, not water, and so they have to move elsewhere—not good (this was an area project of theirs).  We returned to the office, stopping for a chicken lunch, and did more paperwork with Carley’s before they returned us to the hotel on their way home. 

They have made progress on the latrine for the handicapped.  Jim checked the concrete work to see if it would be strong enough.  All the concrete work we’ve seen is okay.  The toilets will be in the sections on the right side, with two showers in the back where the men are standing. The hallway will be on the left. 

Tonight and tomorrow we will be washing clothes and doing paperwork—some for us and some to help the Carley’s.  It is good to stop and rest and get caught up and go to bed earlier than normal.

A woman sifting her water through cloth to clean it.

Children make this hiking look so easy!  It is steep and rocky!

My favorite picture of the trip.  The African hammock…

May we all get some rest…bye till tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Freetown pictures from our hikes

The beautiful, clean water out of one of the springs being developed.

Lots of water is coming out of the spring and it is at the end of the dry season.  When this project is completed they will be taking it out of taps from the holding tank.
The beginning of a new day and another hike--longer but easier till we got to he rocky bottom.
We got to cross on this unique bridge.
This is the tank at the bottom of the hill.  They are thinking of also taking it to a lower tank since there is plenty of water to share.  

It was very rocky down at the bottom; there was also a stream where people came to wash their clothes.
This was the most difficult hike.  We went to 'Down the Hole' and it was aptly named.  It went down a very long way and was very steep.  Coming back up was difficult (we could name it 'heart attack ridge') and embarrassing when little kids ran up the hill past us in their flip-flops.  
Two tanks at 'Down the Hole' with taps at the bottom and a man collecting fees per bucket.  A very successful area project that we might duplicate in the major water project.
A family barbecuing their fish--looks pretty good!
Last walk of the day to check out the stolen batteries for the solar panels.
The gardens are so lovely here!
This was the last place we walked to.  They had a tank up on a tower with solar panels that pumped the water up to it.  Someone stole their batteries (not our project).  We might cover this source and add a bicycle pump because the water is so close.

Sister Carley and me resting on some rocks; I borrowed the hat from Sister Carley.
Sister Clawson, Mission President's wife, invited us to join her and the Elders and Sisters for lunch.  It was transfers day and she had them 'sing for their supper'.  Many others joined us as we ate.
There are always rivers filled with garbage.
Jim had been up here before several years ago with Elder Burns, a former humanitarian missionary.  He noticed how much this area has grown since then.

A typical African iron
The contractor for the Freetown projects on the left.  If they can clean up the spring source and get more water here, they will refurbish the large concrete tank below.

The last place on the first day where Don & Jim went to.  This place will also be refurbished to access and collect more water to serve more people. The contractor is working hard to get everything completed before the rain begin in earnest.

A typical barber shop.

We will refurbish this huge tank because it is leaking and being undermined by rainwater, if they can get more from the spring source.  It is clogged above and also others are using the spring.     
We hiked down gravely roads, trying not to slip; we ended up in a rocky place where another spring development is in progress.
Standing on top of the capture box; the water will fill a tank below where they can collect water from the taps.
Painted on the rocks in this same area.
A very rocky place in this same area--a bit of a hike for us old folks.

Until the springs are developed they find creative ways to capture the water!
A lady was selling bark; you boil it and drink the liquid.  These are a natural cure for many diseases, such as malaria.
It's okay, this tire on the big lorry is on the inside...

Elder Carley says this guy's business does very well and his manicures and pedicures look really great!

I love to see community rules; this was by the Milla Tanks project.

The Billy Goats Gruff

Monday & Tuesday, May 1-2, 2017

The Carley’s picked us up at 9:30 to begin our hikes up (or down) to the projects. 

We eased into our day as we walked up the hill from the Mission Office to a couple of area projects Carley’s had done.  They put in some Milla tanks and city water was being driven up there to fill them.  They charge for the water, pay their bill for the city water, and make a little money on the side.  After this, Sister Caley and I went to the mission office while the guys rode motor taxis up the hill to check out part of the spring development project.

An area water project; city water delivered to tanks, paid for out of monies collected by community.  One of the men that spoke on Sunday is chairman of this project.  He is a good guy.  We suggested that they build a covering for the tank, add gutters and collect rainwater to fill the tanks, saving money during the rainy season.  Also, the tank will last twice as long if it is covered.

This is the place Jim & Don Carley went to on the motorbikes, which is up a hill that he doesn’t like to drive to.  They are expanding the collection boxes because the large amount of water needs to be captured.  This is in the dry season, and still they get large volumes of water out of these springs.  When we are finished with these projects it will help thousands easily access clean water.  This is just one of several places that are being developed.

These projects were turned in earlier this year and recently got approved.  We drove to the first place, but after that it was walking down to a project, and then walking back up.  The problem with the walks was the gravely road that we often slipped on as we trudged down the hills.  Then we would encounter large rocks, or small trails strewn with large rocks, holding onto our husbands so we wouldn’t fall on our bottoms.  The problem also was of course the heat and humidity, but luckily I was sweating like a little piggy, which keeps me from getting sick.  Today I actually wore pants, something I rarely do because they are hotter than dresses, but for hiking, essential. I also left my umbrella and borrowed a hat from Sister Carley because I couldn’t hold an umbrella and hold onto rocks as I hiked.  I also wore tennis shoes for hiking instead of sandals.  We sought out shade whenever we could, and when we stopped we sought out rocks in the shade so we could sit while the men jabbered on.  We took the contractor with us. 

This was the only place we were able to drive to, to check out the spring development projects.  The area next to the new spring development box had lots of gardens.  It was beautiful here. 

Towards the end of the day we sent the men on their way on their own with my camera (nothing was done yet in that place) while Sister Carley and I went back to the hotel and drank a soda, ate Kit Kat and sat by the air conditioner.  The men were soon done and joined us for dinner. 

Tuesday was no different as we continued to look at area projects, this major water project, and possible future water projects.  Freetown is built on the side of hills, so we had lots of hiking to do.  We come home sweaty and dirty from head to toe, but at least we are getting our exercise! 

This project is in the middle of construction.  The water they have accessed is pouring out of the pipe and the water is so pure. 

The beginning of our first long hike down through slippery little rocks, later boulders.  The funny thing is watching little kids do these walks with flip-flops and buckets of water on their heads! Without buckets they run past us up hill just to make us feel even more stupid.  We hang onto each other to keep from slipping or twisting our ankles.  This is E/S Carley beginning one of the walks.  They have made walking sticks, and they are very helpful.

Many pictures to follow.

Love, from Freetown—knowing they live in a hilly place and hiking the hills are two different things!