OH NO! Brother Thomas called to inform us the price of gas has gone up 86% from
yesterday. We are now going to have to pay 6,000 Leones per liter! The people cannot
afford this. This means everything is going to cost more. Many people are now only
eating one meal a day and that is mostly a cup of rice. About a month ago rice went up
from 150,000 Leones for a 50# bag of rice to 220,000 Leones. The people are having a
very difficult time managing with this high cost. Now rice is going to go even higher.
I went over to the Doe's outdoor kitchen looking for Geneba and Michaella was there
with Aminetta and Souley and Michaella had some very black meat in her hands. It
looked like a leg and thigh from a chicken except bigger than a chicken and the foot
was a paw instead of a 3-toed foot. She was waving them around like a flag. I asked
her what they were. She looked at Aminetta and Souley and they all agreed they did
not know the English word. But they called it something in Kreo and said it was
smoked. Later when I was with Geneba, I described to her the meat and asked her
what it was. She laughed and said she had seen it earlier and smelled it and it was
bush-meat - porcupine. They were going to pick the meat off the bone and put it in
with their rice and cassava leaves.
Veteran's Day. Awesome people serve their country in the military. Thanks to all of us.
We spent the morning at the banks trying to find 13,600,000. Leones that was suppose
to be deposited into one of our contractors account and had not arrived. Accra sent
the money to our bank (which is the clearing house for all out-of-state transactions) on
the 24th of October. It was received and passed on to the contractor's bank on the
25th. His bank sat on the money. We were nice, but firm. The bank put the money
into the contractor's account while we were standing there.
The project for the bridge has been approved. We will be starting that very soon.
"THERE'S A PERSON IN THE WELL!" Seven heads swooped down to the well opening.
We had just hiked down Hill Station to a natural fetching point and determined that this
community is desperate for water and has a nice site to develop a spring box with a
clothes washing area. We can do a nice project with them. It will be a large and
difficult project but our contractor is excited about it. We hiked back up to the top of
the mountain and someone mentioned there was a functioning well not far from where
we parked the truck. We wanted to see it. We had many of the community people
with their community leaders with us plus our site manager, Brother Thomas and our
contractor, Samuel Samba. We were standing around this fetching hole that was just a
hole in a concrete slab that had a lid that opened up. People drop a jerry can tied to a
rope through the hole and lower it to the water and pull it back up. The lid was open
and two men were peering in to see how deep the water was and one yelled "There's a
person in the well!" Immediately 5 more heads had their faces in the well opening. 7
butts up in the air. My response was "alive or dead?" One of the 7 said "alive". The
opening to the hole was barely an 18" square. They peered into the hole for a while
when one of the 7 reached into the well and pulled out a Jerry can that barely fit
through the hole and a moment later a man popped out of the well. The well had not
been used in many days because the rope on the Jerry can broke and the Jerry can was
in the well and they did not have a replacement Jerry can. So this man decided to get
it. He went into the well with no one knowing where he was and he did not have a rope
to tie himself onto something to get himself out. I remember when I was a kid and my
brothers and sisters and I would stand in a doorway and put our feet and hands on
either side of the door jam and shimmy up to the top of the door. This is what this man
did, carrying a Jerry can to get out of the well. He had no idea the crowd that was
gathered around the well. We applauded when he emerged. He had to squeeze to get
out of that hole. The community asked if we could put a Milla Tank here. We discussed
options and we plan to do something there. Don gave the community an assignment of
collecting enough money to fill a 10,000 liter Milla tank with water before we start the
project. They said they would do that and we told them we would be back in two
weeks to check on them. When they have the money collected and in the bank, we will
do a project.
We had a very frustrating day. The banking system here in Sierra Leone is broken. We
have a contractor whom Accra paid on Oct 24th and the money still has not shown up
in his account. The banks hold American money they receive and speculate with it to
get the best price. In the meantime, people who live hand-to-mouth are suffering with
hunger and thirst because the bank is holding their money. This happened once before
and we went to the bank and as Don says "I had to stand on someone's desk to get
them to put the money in the contractor's account". We are going to have to do the
same thing again. Plus, another NGO we hired to put in a hand-dug borehole has not
been paid by Accra. We have been barking at them for more than 2 months only to be
told today they need more information plus the NGO requested to be paid in US
dollars. When they made that request over 2 months ago, Don called Accra and they
said "yes, we can do that". Today they informed us they cannot do that. Don called the
head accountant in Accra and told him about our plight and sent him all the necessary
forms via e-mail. We gave him a few minutes to absorb all the information and called
him back. He got permission to have the contractor set an exchange rate from USD to
Leones and then Accra is going to put the money into our working fund account and I
am to write the NGO a check.
I started the Kenema School Districts table and benches project today.
At about 1:00 we packed up and was leaving Makeni to go back to Grafton. As we were
going down main street there was a bus pulled off to the side and was loading and
unloading people. I saw a man stoop down as if he were looking under the bus and
then he fell over and had a grand-mall seizure right on the road and people were
walking past him and looking at him and cars and ocatas were swerving around him. I
was terrified for him. He was laying on a very hot, black, hardtop road and there was a
lot of traffic. Don stopped and I jumped out and directed traffic around him. I asked
the people on the bus if anyone had a towel, blanket, anything we could use to put
under him and no one did. Because I was there many people started gathering around
to see what was going on. The man had a huge gaping tear from the corner of his
mouth to his cheek and big chunks out of his knuckles. There is nothing you can do for
someone in a seizure except protect them. Once they come out of it all they want to do
is sleep. When this man came out of it that is exactly what he wanted to do. I asked
the people around if he was a passenger on the bus and they told me he was a local. I
suggested picking him up and laying him under a tree to sleep. A man on the bus said,
"look at this place, he will not be safe". Don asked some of the men standing around
to help the man to our truck. 3 men picked him up and tossed him up to the edge of
the truck like you would pick up a dead body and throw them on a pile of dead bodies
on a cart. I was appalled! But once they got him on the edge of the truck, they gently
lowered him into the bed. He woke up and started to fight, he had no idea what was
happening to him. The 3 men jumped into the truck and held him down. He was so
tired he could not fight long. We took him to our compound where we have a security
guard 24/7 plus Bishop Marcus was there building a shed for our generator. The 3 men
who came with us got the man out of the truck and tried to get him to walk up 2 steps
but he was so tired he just passed out. Bishop Marcus had a big piece of cardboard and
he put that in the shade on the porch, Don got a pillow, I got some cool wet towels and
the 3 men carried him onto the porch. There was a breeze. We left him some water
and Bishop Marcus said he would get him something to eat at the market. He slept for
two hours, ate, drank, and rested a while longer before leaving.
We met with Mr. Abdul Manasary at 11:00. He wanted details about the vision project
and was appalled to learn of the 22,000,000 Leone bribe. He said he will personally
take care of this. He has a staff meeting to attend Thursday and a government board
meeting on Friday. He asked us for copies of all the documentations and he will
present all the paperwork to the members of the board and he will personally get our
equipment out of customs. He understands that this equipment is all free and the
training of the doctors is free. He is not about to lose this opportunity for the people of
Sierra Leone to have better vision. However, he did tell us that the President has
commissioned him to open a school to train doctors here in Makeni and he could
possibly use some help. Understood! You scratch my back and I will scratch your back.
But that is OK. The church is very interested in helping in this kind of project this man is
going to do. It was no accident that Don and Mr. Manasary were in the material store
at the same time. When we got back to our apartment, we sent a text right away to Dr.
Turley in the States giving him a written list of what Mr. Manasary wants and then
called him. Dr. Turley will gather all the requested items and e-mail them to Mr.
The electricity did not come back on until 1:00 a.m. And then went off again about
10:00 a.m. It was blistering hot out. When we went to meet Mr. Manasary there were
people wearing down-filled coats and winter stocking hats. Don and I were sweating so
bad we had water running down our backs and Don had sweat dripping off his nose and
my hair was soggy and dripping sweat off the ends.
The electricity came on at 8:15 this morning. It was a really hot night until about
midnight when the rains showed up. It was Torrential! But that is good. The wells will
We had 2 young missionaries (Elders Turner from Arizona and Baddo from Ghana) over
for lunch today. I made a Texas sheet cake and Elder Turner took one bite and said
"Texas Sheet cake, ummmmmm!" His favorite. We got talking about thanksgiving and
how we miss our American holidays. We decided to get together for Thanksgiving but
will have to celebrate a different day because Don accepted an invitation from one of
the other American NGO who is having all the Americans he knows over for dinner that
day. Since Elder Turner wants Texas Sheet cake for our celebration, I asked Elder Baddo
what he is hungry for and I immediately said, "I am not making foofoo!" Oh, that
started such a fun discussion. But, after the fun, he did not hesitate to say "Pizza".
Really, when did Africans start eating pizza? I asked him what he likes on his pizza and
he said "onions, only onions". A man after my own heart. Elder Turner said he likes
BBQ Chicken. Ah, another man after my own heart. So, I told them I could make the
crust and the only expensive part would be the cheese. But, for Thanksgiving, who
holds back? No one. We will have our pizza.
6:00 p.m. The electricity is off again. It looks like another hot night. I hope the rains
The electricity stayed on until 1:00 in the afternoon and then went off for about half
and hour, came back on for about an hour and has been off ever since. The house is so
hot! Nevertheless, It has been a very relaxing day.
We sat on the porch tonight and I got 11 mosquito bites. Itch itch itch. Yes, I do have
repellent but forgot to put it on. Dumb!
The electricity is still off. Good night.
Getting out of Freetown was a chore. Don went next door to see Sahr and he had a
violent muscle spasm that caused him to fly out of his wheelchair and the wheelchair
tipped over. Sahr was scared. Don helped him and someone is going to sit next to him
all the time. Don has become the voice of reason to a lot of people. The last 3 nights
he has been sought out for counsel by a young man called to be the branch mission
leader of the Grafton Branch and has no idea what to do. Don got out his handbook 2
and they went over his responsibilities item by item. Then an 18 year old missionary
came because he needs help adjusting to being a missionary and is miserable. Then
another young man came with a business plan he wanted to run by Don and asked for
some money to start the business. Then a young man sent Don a text and said he was
in pain and things were not good and asked to speak to him. Don tried to get him in to
visit with him, but Don's time was totally stretched and he could not do it. On our way
out of the compound this morning, the young man showed up and Don asked if they
could talk next Tuesday when we get back to Grafton or if he needed to talk right then.
The young man said it could wait. I know this young man has been working for several
months and has not been paid. He may need financial help, too.
We have to go right by 5 5 school in Waterloo to go to Makeni so we stopped to see the
finished product (a hand-dug borehole). This was our first attempt at this. The
borehole is 65 feet deep and has 32' of pure clean water. When we got there the
children and the headmistress and principal all came running to us. The Headmistress
threw her arms around me and thanked me profusely. We went to the well and they
asked me to pump water. I did. It was wonderful to have such precious water available
right in the middle of the school yard. The headmistress and the principal asked us if
they could talk to us and took us to the head mistresses' office. They thanked us
profusely and reiterate all the wonderful benefits. Then they started talking about
houses and clothes and the Carley house , and parliament and the local chiefs and a
"turn-over" ceremony on December 4th and everyone has been invited and has accept
and asked me what my favorite color is. I looked at Don and asked him "what are they
going to do to our house and what are the clothes they are talking about?" He
shrugged his shoulders and made a face that said "I don't know". Neither Don nor I
could follow what they were talking about. We were both confused. Luckily, Brother
Thomas our site manager was there and he explained to us that the school is broken
down into 4 houses. Each house has a color. In honor of us they are going to create a
fifth house which will be called "The Carley House" and this house will be forever called
"The Carley House" for as long as the school is in existence. They wanted to know what
color is my favorite so the house will have its own color. In my mind I am going "yikes!
We are getting too much credit. We are serving a mission for the Lord. We can't do
this. How can we slow this down without offending them?" I did not know what to do
so I asked what colors the 4 other houses are and they said "red, yellow, blue and
green". I looked at Don and asked orange or purple? Mrs. Scott, the headmistress, said
very enthusiastically, "Orange". Then a man walked in from an adjoining room and told
Don to stand. Don stood up and the man whipped out a tape measure and started
taking measurements of Don and then me to make us something they are going to put
on us at the ceremony. Whatever it is, it is going to be orange. Somewhere in the
ceremony Don is going to become an honorary member of parliament or an honorary
chief in the local tribe. We are confused on that. But the one thing we can both
remember is he will be the honorary (?) and I am "the woman who supports him".
We worked hard and long in the office. We submitted 2 more projects for approval
and two giant projects that will take some serious consideration by the West Africa
Area Presidency. The two smaller projects are: 1. Dwarzak has a spring box that is
located at the bottom third of the mountain and the heavy rains during the rainy
season washes trash and sewage down the mountain and it washes over the top of the
spring box and the fetching point. We are going to build a wall around the spring box
and put ditches on both sides to divert the water & debris away from the spring box. 2.
We are going to take what is now a fetching point (water flowing out of the rocks and
collecting in a small area where people come and catch the water right from the rocks.
We are going to build a spring box and place a 10,000 liter Milla Tank next to it so all
the water is captured. This is going to be a very difficult project. The spring box will be
way down the mountain in the community called "Down The Hole". 50 bags of cement
(80# each) will be carried down on the heads of men. They will also carry the sand and
gravel and everything else they will need to work down there. And I do not know how
they will get the 10,000 Liter Milla Tank down there. I imagine a group of men will
man-handle it. African men are extremely hard working (when they can find a job).
And remember, they work for 10,000 Leones a day ($1.40). The two giant projects we
are asking for consideration are: 1. a 14-stall toilet at the local bus stop. The only
reason this project is being seriously considered is we asked for 2 stalls to be wheelchair
assessable and a 3rd being big enough for a pregnant woman or women with children
or women who are disabled. There are no handicap assessable anything in this country.
If someone is handicapped in any way they are considered "broken" or "spoiled" and
are thrown away. They struggle mightily to do their shopping and business. 2. We
want to build a bridge in Kenema. There is an area that has a broken down bridge and
it is the only way in and out of the community. The bridge spans a small stream but
during the rainy season the stream floods most of the community and there is no way
in or out of the community. We have had contractors out to look at the situation and
to give us bids with drawings on how they would rebuild the bridge. The local
government has been involved and things seem to be moving along. We submitted all
our documents to our immediate supervisor and John Buah was here last week and we
ran the whole idea by him. He was intrigued and told us to submit it. There are 4 men
who have to approve each of our projects. John is the 2nd one. After he approves it,
he takes it to Brother Francis who is the director of temporal affairs, and then to the
West Africa Area Presidency (Elder Stanfill). The hand-dug borehole for the
Treeplanting community was approved last week and that will be started next week.
This has been a brutal week. With John coming last week and leaving Monday night
and the last 3 days we have been running on a treadmill we are very tired. We have not
had a day off since a Oct. 26th. Tomorrow we plan to go to Makeni and take a break.
Don went to pick up Brother Buah from his hotel and then picked me up. They had to
go right by here. So I stayed home and packed a lunch. We went to the 5/5 school to
check on the progress of the hand-dug borehole and it was great. They have gone
down 65 feet and have 30 feet of water in the well with a 13 gallon a minute recharge
rate. Yeah! Tomorrow they do a water test to see how pure the water is. We are
crossing our fingers. We then went to Lungi and visited the hospital we want to put 5
pieces of expensive equipment into and Brother Buah was delighted with this project.
He said this is exactly the kind of project the Church likes for us to do. Lungi is a town
that is remote from all other towns and the hospital serves 15,000 people and does not
have an x-Ray machine, anesthesia equipment, oxygen concentrator, blood testing
equipment nor a fully working (I can't remember what it is called) machine that they
rub over a woman's stomach to see the baby and look for defects, gender, etc. They
use old out-dated techniques. Dr. Sesay is a very humble man full of compassion and
every person is important to him regardless of their ability to pay. He is loved by
everyone who meets him. If ever there was a person on this earth that was/is "Christlike"
it is him. People are drawn to him. From here we went to the military base to
discuss their project of building a trade school. Only to find out the man we were
working with was transferred and his replacement came last night and had no idea
about it. We told him about the trade school and he is all for it but we told him to think
about it and talk to the enlisted men as well as the other officers and to get back to us
in a couple of months and let us know what they would like to do. From here, we took
Brother Buah to the Lungi Airport and dropped him off. Then on our way home, we
stopped at the 5/5 school to check on the project. The workers were done for the day
and were making spaghetti for supper. They have two huge tents and stay on site until
the project is done. They do this to make sure none of their equipment is stolen. They
are really nice men. Very hard working and, oh my goodness!, you should see the
muscles on these men. Their bodies are sculpted! We sent Brother Buah a text telling
him of the progress.
This was his reply:
From John Buah via text: Elder and Sister Carley, we have just arrived at Accra. I'm on
my way home now. I hope to get home by 9:30 p.m. Thank you so much for making my
visit to Sierra Leone very successful and a wonderful experience. Thank you so much
for your time. I really appreciate your generosity. I'm glad to know that the hand-dug
borehole is successful. Please convey my appreciation to the local priesthood and
auxiliary leaders. I appreciate their time and desire to learn. Thank you once again and
best regards. John
It has been a full week and we are grouchy tired. Good night.
We went to church in Grafton today but only stayed for Sacrament and Sunday School.
We left early to go to downtown Freetown to pick John Buah up and get him to Kossoh
Town for his 3-hour welfare training. We delivered John to Kossoh Town and picked up
the Heckels who attended church and did training in Kossoh Town and delivered them
to our apartment. Then we went back to Kossoh Town and attended the welfare
meeting that Took 4 1/2 hours. It was excellent training. The leaders all got into it and
didn't even want it to end after 4 1/2 hours. We took John back to his hotel in
Freetown and were suppose to have dinner with him at the hotel. But it was close to
8:00 when we got there and much too late to eat because the wait to get food here in
just about any restaurant is 1 hour. That is because most restaurants don't keep food
on hand. When you order, they send someone to buy the ingredients in the market
and you have to wait for them to bring the food back and then for the cook to cook it.
John said one time he ordered fish and he waited well over an hour and asked the
waiter why the wait was so long. His reply was "the fish aren't biting". John left. We
are very tired tonight.
Welfare training in 3 districts this weekend. Brother Buah is training Don to train the 3
outlying districts. They have two 3 hour meetings today and one tomorrow.
I am too tired to enjoy the meetings today. I stayed home.
Don left at 6:45 to go pick
up Brother Buah and take him to a meeting with the Stake President of Freetown
before their meeting at 9:00. I packed them a lunch. After the Freetown meeting they
have 2 hours to get over to Kissy before the next 3 hour meeting starts. They will have
to eat in the car. I sent a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter with Don to feed
anyone else hopping a ride to Kissy.
I had a nice relaxing day started until Geneba and bob showed up to clean my house.
That blew a hole in my whole day. But the house got clean.
The Heckels showed up about 5:00 and going to stay overnight. They are the literacy
couple for West Africa and are working on a pilot program. They have meetings in Kissy
and Kossoh Town tomorrow and those towns are very near us. The brought spaghetti
and sauce and I did bread, salad and dessert. It was very nice.
Don arrived home at 8:00. He took Brother Buah to his hotel before coming home. He
was very hungry.
We picked Brother Buah up at 8:30 and headed out to the 5/5 school. We have a
project of a hand-dug borehole starting today. This is the first one that we are putting
in. When we pulled in the children (250 of them) were at recess. When they saw the
truck, they all began jumping up and down and screaming. They were so happy to see
us. To keep them from stampeding us there were older children using the canes to Flog
anyone within a few yards of us. Little children were crying. It broke my heart. I should
have stayed in the truck. We have been to this school several times and we had a
turn-over ceremony here in June. At that time, the children warmed up to me and
wanted to shake my hand and touch their thumbs to my thumb and then they would
kiss their thumb. That must be some kind of bonding ceremony because ever since
then they are drawn to me. There were enough children crying from being flogged that
Mrs. Scott ordered all the children back to their classrooms. I think today they were
especially excited because they know we are helping them to get a water well and they
will have to stop going down to the stream to fetch water. Unfortunately, the children
have been drinking unfiltered water from the stream and diarrhea and cholera are
prevalent. The well will provide clean drinking water and it is in the middle of their
compound. As we were watching the men get started on the borehole, Don and I Both
noticed three little boys were standing on the edge of the porch urinating into a ditch.
There were half a dozen little girls watching and judging which one could urinate the
furthest. Children can make a game out of anything. Competition is good for the soul.
From here we went over to Jonathan's Kiosk water business and introduced Brother
Buah to a whole new idea in providing water to the poor. He was fascinated. We spent
about 45 minutes here.
Then we went to welthungerinternational. This organization provides wells to
households instead of communities. They have developed alternative, toilets, showers
and tap water into homes. We were there for about 3 hours, talking, seeing slide
presentations and then taking a tour of their whole facility and seeing first-hand
demonstrations on their products. Again, Brother Buah was fascinated.
When we left here, Brother Buah asked if we would be going by the 5/5 school. Yes we
are. So we stopped to see the progress of the hand-dug borehole. We watched for
about an hour. School was out so there were not many children there.
I had invited Brothers Buah and Thomas to stop at our house for dinner. We go within
6 blocks of our apartment. I asked Geneba to make dinner for us and to start it about
3:00 so it would be ready to eat when we got here. We arrived at 5:00 and she was just
starting it. I was not happy but this is so typical of Africans. I jumped in to help her and
she was not happy. I only knew there was too much to do and we had to get Brothers
Thomas and Buah back into Freetown and Don back home before it got too late. We
have a full weekend ahead of us. We made groundnut stew, rice, fried plantain, and a
plate of raw vegetable. It was very good. But we made everyone wait for almost an
hour. Don was not happy. But everyone enjoyed the very good favors.
We picked Brother Buah up at 8:30 and went to the Mission Office for a meeting with
President Clawson. We discussed many things about humanitarian efforts here in
Sierra Leone but, also, Brother Buah has been assigned to do welfare training in every
stake and district and unit in West Africa. He has been given 2 years to accomplish this
but has completed it in 1 year with Sierra Leone being his last stop. He is going to train
Freetown Stake on Saturday morning, Kissy district Saturday afternoon, and Kossoh
Town on Sunday Afternoon. It is a 3 hour training. He is training Don to train the 3
districts out in Kenema, Bo and Makeni. These 3 areas do not have district presidents
but are under the stewardship of President Clawson.
At 10:30 we had a meeting with BioFil. We wanted Brother Buah to meet with these
men because we are going "outside the box" on this project and really would like to
know if this is something the Church would approve of. BioFil is a company that builds
toilets and uses digesters. We want to build a 14-stall toilet at the bus stop in
Wellington but we want it to have 2 handicap stalls and a stall large enough for a
pregnant woman or women with children. There will be a very small fee collected to
use the toilet. There will be a care taker to collect the money and to keep the toilets
clean. He will be paid from the collection. The rest of the money will go into a savings
account and when enough money is collected, BioFil will build another facility
somewhere else. They will continue to do that to increase sanitation facilities
throughout the Freetown area. We are asking BioFil to pay for 30% of the project and
LDS Charities will pay 70%. BioFill wants this to be a business for them. The Church
does not support businesses. There are many more details and we ran them all by
Brother Buah. He asked many questions and told us to submit the project. He is only
one of the 4 people to approve a project. But he did not tell us "no". We will submit it
next week when we are back in the office.
After this meeting,
Don, Brother Buah, and Brother Thomas, our site manager, walked
up to Bellair Park to view our completed project up there. While they did that, I made
lunch. When they came back we ate lunch and then headed to Hilltop and Boundry #1
At Hilltop, we hiked down about 1/2 mile (very steep) and viewed two areas that water
is flowing out of the ground at a very fast rate and is basically running off. We want to
build 2 spring boxes to capture the water and create fetching points. Then we went to
Boundry #1 and hiked down about a mile that was also steep and full of rolling stones
(not a fun hike). In this area we want to put in 3 spring boxes with a 10,000 liter Milla
Tank between two to capture water. These two areas have a lot of water that is just
flowing down to the ocean because they have no way to capture the water.
We were all very tired and we dropped Brother Buah off at his hotel and we headed
Stopped at the grocery store and then stopped and ate at our favorite chicken
place (they say they are comparable to KFC. That depends on who you ask).
My 66th Birthday.
Before I even got out of bed I received a text from my native twin -
John Blackie. He is one of our contractors and his birthday is also today. He sent me a
video that was so funny of 8 men & women dressed in white singing happy birthday.
What a great way to start my day. I received lots of birthday wishes. Thanks to
everyone who remembered me.
This morning we had a 10:00 turn-over ceremony (closing ceremony on a completed
project where we turn the project over to the community so they can take care of it).
We had installed two 10,000 liter Milla Tanks on basements and platforms in two
different areas. The program is put together by the community leaders. It was very
well done. It was suppose to start at 10:00 but people didn't start arriving until 10:30
(Africans have their own time and come whenever. It is frustrating to me that they
don't start their programs until they think they have enough people.) So we didn't start
until 10:45. By 11:45 most everyone was there and the formal part of the program was
just winding down. The man conducting the meeting was definitely not new at it. He
was very good. He told the people "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a
church that gives back. We have many churches here in Sierra Leone and they all take,
take, take. This is the only Church that gives back". They had a number of speakers and
on the printed program they had Don down as the Keynote speaker. Don was not
asked to do that but he has the ability to stand in front of a group of people and speak
from his heart. He did very well. When we first sat down with the program, I pointed
out to him he was the keynote speaker. He smiled. When it came time for him to
speak, they introduce him like this, "now we will hear from our keynote speaker,
Brother and Sister Carley with the woman first." I popped right up like I knew I was
suppose to speak and gave a very simple talk about being a humanitarian missionary
and how much Papa God loves his children in Sierra Leone. One thing I have learned
being here in Sierra Leone is the people here are so new to the gospel/or are not
members that the simplest you can make it, the deeper it touches their hearts. At the
end of the ceremony they presented us with presents; Don received a plaque that says
"greetings from Sierra Leone" that has African pictures on it and I received a pretty,
very strong basket. After this, we walked up to the 2nd site for a ribbon cutting
ceremony. I cut the ribbon and opened all 4 of the taps so water came out of each one.
With the opening of each tap their went up a roar of gratitude. Then the community
leaders each came up and drank water out of their hands and turned off the taps. A
young reporter came to me and asked if he could have an interview. I told him "yes,
after we finish at the next site".
From here, we walked back down to the first site and
did the same ceremony of cutting the ribbon and opening the taps. This time they
handed me a glass. When I opened the last tap, I put my glass under the flow of water
and got a glass full of brown water. YIKES! I gulped, but took a drink to the roar of
gratitude. I think they did not test the taps before we had the ceremony and the water
that came out was flushing the manufactured tap. Then the community leaders came
up with glasses and filled their glass, drank and turned off the taps. After the water
ran for about a minute, the water became clear. They then had Don remove a dark
piece of plastic covering a sign that said, "In partnership with the New England Ville
Association funded by LDS Charities, Strengthening Families" with the. LDS Charities
logo. Again, a roar of gratitude. After this, I motioned to the young report, who had
been lurking in my shadow, that I was now available. We walked across the street to
the shade of a building and he did a very nice interview. He was from a radio station.
Don was scooped up by a TV station and was interviewed and his interview was on the
local news tonight. Don's interview took a lot longer than mine so I found a chair in the
shade and a woman in a very beautiful African dress sat next to me. She put her hand
on my arm and said, "I am coming to your church".
On the way back to the office, we stopped at the New Brookfield Hotel to confirm the
room for our boss, John Buah, for tonight. The reservation was made 6 weeks ago. Yes,
it was ready for him. Great!
Brother Buah is from Ghana and flew in on the 5:05 flight. In order to get to the airport
from Freetown, you have to either drive 3 hours around the bay or take a speedboat
across the bay. It is much faster to take a speedboat. John came by speedboat. We
were on our way to seabird to pick him up when we got a panicked phone call from
Sister Clawson. The hotel called her and told her that the room reserved for John was
now not available because the person who stayed in it last night decided to stay one
more night and they were 100% full. Sister Clawson said she would put John in the
General Authorities apartment for tonight and he could move to the hotel tomorrow.
"OK, but we were planning on having dinner with John at the hotel so we are still going
to do that." We received another phone call from Sister Clawson a few minutes later
and she had called Haja at the hotel, who manages the LDS account (we use that hotel a
lot because it is westernized and is close to the Mission Home.). Haja was very
apologetic and told Sister Clawson for us to tell the waiter we are from Latter-Day
Saints and our meals would be free.
We picked John up without any problems only to
find out he came in on the 3:00 flight and had been waiting for 3 hours. Not Good! We
explained to him the room mix up and he would stay the night in the General
Authorities apartment and he threw his had back, laughed and said "I am no where
near that level". He is a very humble man. He has been a bishop, stake president,
mission president he is now a patriarch in his stake in Accra and his employment for the
Church is Area Director of West Africa. Spending one night in the General Authorities
apartment seems apropos to me.
By now, it is 7:00 so we go to the hotel and yes our meal was free. As we were leaving,
we passed the check-in desk. There was a young woman sitting there that recognized
Brother Buah. He recognized her as someone he knew but couldn't place her. She
called him "President Buah". He apologized and told her she looked familiar but he
could not place her. She said, "you were my mission president in Nigeria". "Yes, Yes, I
remember now." He explained we were only there for dinner since his room was not
available. She scrunched up her face and said "did they check the other side?" The 3 of
looked at each other and none of us knew what she was talking about. She poked
around in her computer and said, "your room is available and waiting for you". So, he
stayed. A happy ending!
Today at our 9:00 all-staff devotional Sister Clawson
served chocolate chip coffee cake to celebrate. Very nice. Then she had invited Don
and me to have a private dinner with her and President Clawson. OH MY! It was so
good. She got a roasted chicken, made mash potatoes and gravy, peas and a decadent
chocolate cream pie. Then she gave me a loaf of banana bread. She had balloons,
candles and the birthday song. It was very wonderful. We celebrated today because
tomorrow is a jammed packed day. Tell you about it tomorrow! Good night!
I saw the suicidal woman that came to see me last week and she was very happy. I did
not get a chance to talk to her so I don't know what changed.
Walked to the Makama Branch for church today. It is about 100 yards away.
asked to bear our testimonies. This branch felt so good. Sacrament was done right,
Sunday School was done right, Relief Society was done right, Elder's Quorum was done
right. It felt like home.
I want to record something from our Sunday School lesson today that has a lot of
meaning to Don and me:
"President Joseph Fielding Smith said: 'Every person who embraces the gospel
becomes of the house of Israel. In other words, they become members of the chosen
lineage, or Abraham's children through Isaac and Jacob unto whom the promises were
made. The great majority of those who become members of the Church are literal
descendants of Abraham through Ephraim, son of Joseph. Those who are not literal
descendants of Abraham and Israel must become such, and when they are baptized and
confirmed they are grafted into the tree and are entitled to all the rights and privileges
8 Months ago we began our mission.
Don had a very frustrating day. We have a well here at our apartment in Makeni that
pumps water into a 3,000 liter Milla Tank. When he turned on the spigot to fill the tank
the pump was pumping but the tank was not being filled. He called our landlord, Sahr
Doe and he sent Mr. Davis out to see what the matter was. Mr. Davis was the plumber
who did the plumbing. Mr. Davis, Don and Brother Jones decided that the pipe was too
big for the pump and the pump could not put out enough pressure to get that much
water all the way up to the tank. Then, the electrical work is thoroughly messed up so
Don called Sahr Doe again and explained the problem. Sahr Doe sent out an electrician.
Mr. Davis and the electrician had to take a taxi 3 hours one way, do their work, and go
back to Freetown. Now that's a day! Don hauled Mr. Davis and the electrician all over
the place getting parts and whatever.
Makeni is known for its sudden windstorms. We had a severe one this afternoon. All of
a sudden there was an horrific wind and things were flying through the air. People
selling things in the open markets and outside of their storefronts lose a lot of
merchandise. This is the first wind storm I have seen here.
Don and I went shopping early this morning and we had a good laugh. At one of the
Lebanese grocery stores they were selling cans of De-icer. When we got to the
checkout stand, Don asked the manager if he would sell him the one and only yellow
mop bucket that has the squeeze handle for less than the asking price. The manager
asked Don what he wanted to pay for it. It had a price of 370,000 Leones. Don told
him 170,000. The man said no 250,000. Don said no 170,000. The man said "OK, I will
make up the difference". I blurted out "out of your own pocket?" Don grabbed my arm
and pulled me aside and told the man "it's a deal". I was appalled. I told the man that
this store was now the store I was going to do my grocery shopping. He smiled so
proud of himself and said, "I am a good business man".
Don later told me he had the
same discussion the other day with the owner and the owner told him he paid 250,000
for it and would not go below that amount.
President and Sister Clawson came for dinner tonight and stayed overnight. This was
the first time they have seen the apartment from the inside. They were amazed. Sister
Clawson has a degree in interior design and she designed the complex and the
contractors made everything to her specifications. She made it something "western"
couples would want to live in.
Left for Makeni at 9:00 this morning. We have to go through a police check point and
because we are an NGO they just wave us through. But today, we were stopped and
the police officer wanted a bribe. Don asked him what he wanted and he reached over
and pinched my shirt and said, "I'll take her". Don's response was, "You are going to
have to fight". He smiled and Don opened the glove compartment and handed him two
bags of peanuts. We keep small bags of peanuts in the glove compartment to hand to
the people who tell us they are hungry. Most of the time they are very grateful. This
guy looked at the two bags and said "this isn't enough". Don asked him "how much do
you want?" His reply, "5,000 Leones. I want rice from the market" (which was across
the street". Don handed him 5,000 Leones and off we went.
1:00 - The moving van showed up with our furniture. We have a beautiful office/home.
We are excited to get out of Freetown. The driving there is so bad. And this is why - all
a person has to do is give the DMV money and you can get a license. You don't even
have to personally show up. You can give the money to anyone and they can get you a
license. There are no learning permits, no lessons, no books outlining the road rules
nor tests of any kind. So a person gets a license and because they don't know the
driving rules, there are NO RULES! No traffic lights, no stop signs, everyone passing on
the right and left, making 3 lanes of traffic on a two-lane road, passing on blind curves,
going the wrong way around roundabouts, going the wrong way in a lane, turning
whichever way with no thought of anyone else. Everything is "me first". It is a
Got a contact for a professional American psychiatrist and e-mailed it to the woman I
met with last night.
We are scrambling trying to get some projects in before the end of the year. We have
unused budget and the Church is requesting we use it. We received approval yesterday
to provide a hand-dug borehole at the five-five school in Waterloo, we have submitted
a project of a hand-dug borehole at Treeplanting, are going to put in a request for a
springbox and Milla tank at "Down the Hole" which is in lower Treeplanting, are going
to build a diversion wall around a springbox that in the rainy season is covered with
trash and sewer from down-the-mountain run-off that washes over the springbox in
Dwarzak Farm, and we are building a small bridge in Kenema (which is a very
interesting project. This is a first for the Church in West Africa. There has been a lot of
consulting with professional bridge people. All the men involved, are excited about this
project). The City of Kenema has requested tables and benches for 65 schools. Don
asked me take this project. I will start on it next Tuesday when we get back into the
office. We have a list of about 12 other projects that have been put on hold until we
can catch up with ourselves. We meet with a lot of people requesting help, with
contractors, politicians, community people and individuals who just want some relief in
their community. If the project benefits a community of people, we explore the
options. If it only benefits a person or a family the answer is always "no". We have lots
of meetings. We also visit the site of a project several times before starting work then
several times during the work and at the end of the project. Then we have a "turnover
ceremony" where we turn over the project to the community for them to watch over
and take care of. We are quite busy. Time is going so fast, every other day feels like
At 6:45 this morning there was a knock on the door. There was a friend wanting to talk
to "Elder Carley". Don visited with him and the man wanted Don to go with him to help
settle a domestic/business dispute. Don counseled with the man and sent him on his
way. He was not going to get in the middle of it.
At 9:00 we went to the PVA to pick up Saidu Thoronka to go visit a school that wants
handicap ramps and toilets. We were just leaving when President Sesay (the district
president) called and said he was at the PVA and wanted Elder Carley to come and have
a discussion with him and a man in the community but who is also a member of the
Church. We were going out the exit and President Sesay was going in the entrance
and there is a building separating the two. So we went around the building and back
into the compound. The man is a man who is probably the wealthiest man in the entire
PVA. He owns a tailor shop, has 3 men working for him, he has a car, and you see him
all over downtown Freetown. But somehow he thinks we should pay for his children's
school fees, get him a generator, new sewing machines, material, supplies and build
him a new building. He was given a generator and his children's school fees were paid
by a previous humanitarian couple and he spoiled the generator by not taking care of it.
He was trying to use President Sesay to get us to provide these things for him. It was
not a pleasant meeting. We are not going to fund this man.
We went over to the school that wants handicapped ramps and handicapped toilets. It
is a very worthwhile project and the school leaders have thoroughly thought through
their ideas. We will start collecting the contractors etc. and get some bids. While
there, I was approached by a man who has a terrible toothache. The whole side of his
face was very swollen. He wanted 40,000 Leones to go to the dentist to get medication
to reduce the swelling and to have his tooth pulled.
It was brought to our attention by our site manager of the New England Site #1 & #2
that things were not right on Site #2. The work of the platform, basement, and
plumbing were complete but the vendor says the Milla Tank would not be available for
4 more days (Friday). We had already paid for the Milla Tank and was guaranteed the
tank was available. There was no reason for the Milla Tank not to be delivered. We
have the performance invoice and the signed receipt from the vendor saying he had
received the money. We gave the vendor until Friday to produce the Milla Tank. He
was not able to produce it. We gave them until today (Monday) at noon to produce it.
He was not able to produce it. The Site Manager indicated that he felt there was a
money issue. We asked the contractors to come in this afternoon to discuss this issue.
In attendance were Elder and Sister Carley, humanitarian couple, the site manager, the
vice-chairman of the community, and the partner of the contractor (the contractor has
an absessed tooth and was at the dentist). It was a very intense meeting. We started
and ended with prayer. Don asked for the truth. The workers were not being paid and
threatened to stop work. Instead of coming to us to get the labor payment we owed
them, they went back to the vendor who sold them the Milla tank and requested the
money back and then used that money to pay the workers. They were intending on
using the labor payment to pay the vendor for the Milla tank. The timing of them
requesting the money from the vendor and receiving the money for the labor did not
coincide so the vendor did not get money for the tank. We were very relieved that the
money for the Milla tank stayed within the project and there was no theft. Unpleasant
consequences were given for the manipulation of money and keeping the truth from
us. But, they are temporary and a spirit of honesty and trust is being developed.
9:00 this evening there was a knock on the door. There was a woman wanting to talk to
me. We sat together and she bore her soul to me. She is so depressed and feels so
hopeless she is suicidal. Her problems are too big for an untrained person, such as
myself. I asked her if she would accept some professional help. She said she would. I
told her I would get a contact for her tomorrow and e-mail it to her.
Concerned Women of Treeplanting.
The Concerned Women of Treeplanting asked me to write a few words for their big
celebration on the 29th of their "launching" of their association for another year. This
is the beginning of their 2nd year. I am not able to attend their celebration because our
area supervisor, John Buah, will be here from Accra, Ghana, the 26th to the 31st. We
have welfare training on the 29th. The following is what I submitted:
My dear Sisters of Treeplanting. It is with joy in my heart that I call you Sisters for we
are all children of God and you are my sisters. My name is Sister Carley and my
husband and I are humanitarian Missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
Day Saints. Our home is in the United States of America and we are both retired. My
husband worked for 40 years in the telecommunications business and I worked for 26
years with the mentally handicapped. After we retired, we decided to raise goats for
food. We love to breed the nannies and to birth the babies. We have 3 children and 9
grandchildren. Our job as missionaries in Sierra Leone is to help communities become
stronger through basic needs such as water, sanitation, education and medical. At the
moment we are beginning two projects in Treeplanting. We are installing a hand-dug
bore hole and are working on a springbox in what is referred to as "Down the Hole".
We are investigating doing two more well projects in Treeplanting as well.
About 2 months ago Mrs. Blake, Mrs. Turay, and Mrs. Conteh visited me and shared
with me the constitution and desires of the Concerned Women of Treeplanting. I
studied their constitution and asked if I could attend one of the meetings that are held
at 5:30 every Sunday evening. It was very comforting to be part of that meeting. In my
Church we have a world-wide women's organization called Relief Society. Our goal is
very much like yours; to bring relief and comfort to the poor and needy. The President
of our Church, Thomas S. Monson, has often reminded us that we are "surrounded by
those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our
kindness - be they family members, friends, acquaintances, or strangers." He said "we
are God's hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children.
He is dependent upon each of us."
All of us can incorporate some service into our daily living. We live in a contentious
world. We give service when we don’t criticize, when we refuse to gossip, when we
don’t judge, when we smile, when we say thank you, and when we are patient and
kind. Other kinds of service take time, intentional planning, and extra energy. But they
are worth our every effort. What must we do? We must counsel together, use all
resources available, seek the inspiration of God, ask for His confirmation, and then roll
up our sleeves and go to work.
There is a hunger among many women in the world to be valued and to find purpose
for their energies. We have a lot to offer those around us and being able to be
associated with a women's group can be very fulfilling. Not only for helping those
who are in need but to help with our own feelings of self-worth. There is so much
satisfaction and feelings of joy associated with truly helping someone in need. The
added benefit of belonging to a group of women who are all focused on the same goal
is the friendship that is developed between each other. Women NEED women. Every
woman needs a female friend. Someone she can talk to and share her most private
thoughts and feelings. Someone she can trust, laugh with, cry with, and just be herself
with knowing she is accepted for being just the way she is. That is what being part of a
women's organization can do for you; to serve God by helping others, create new
friendships, and enrich your own life by using and developing your own talents and
skills while you are blessing the lives of other. I have come to know that it is through
love of God and neighbor that gives meaning to life.
I am so honored to have been asked to share a few of my thoughts this afternoon. I
am sorry I cannot be here to look into your beautiful faces.
My dear Sisters, may God Bless each of you with His choicest blessings.
We walked into church today and as I went to sit down, I turned and there was Junior. I
sat down and picked him up and set him on my lap. He sat very quietly until after
Sacrament was passed and then he slipped off of my lap and went to his mother.
A different perspective: Our Sunday School teacher told of the following experience
which sheds so much light on why so many African people are the way they are. He and
two other men were cleaning up the chapel after church was over one Sunday when all
three of them at the same time noticed someone had left their purse on a chair. They
all went to get the purse. They were standing there looking at the purse and one of
them picked it up and opened it and saw there was money in it. A second man said
they should take the purse to the clerk's office for safe-keeping until someone claimed
it. The man holding the purse told the other two men that it was his because God was
providing for his needs. The teacher did not tell the end of the story. But it sure made
me think. If this man truly in his heart felt that God was providing for his needs and this
money was a blessing from God, is it stealing to take it? To me, yes it is stealing. But
how would the Lord look at it? The Lord knows the intent of someone's heart. If this
man truly did not feel he was stealing, was he? I wouldn't want to be the judge. Many
of the African people feel that whatever is in their hand, it belongs to them. If you loan
them a pen to sign a contract, as far as they are concerned, the pen is theirs. If you put
a strap on their propane tank in the back of your truck to keep it from falling over, the
strap is theirs. If they need a drink of water and you give them water in a cup, they
think the cup is theirs. If it is raining and they need an umbrella and yours is sitting
there they take it. It is not stealing it is God providing. Only the Lord knows the intent
of ones heart.
Today at Church, I was asked for medicine (which I don't have), to help with school
fees, to buy a woman a small hymnal from the distribution center, 400,000 Leones so
someone could get medical treatment, and a sandwich. I said "no" to everything except
the sandwich. I brought the Sister home with me and made her two sandwiches and
gave her two bags of water. She was beyond thankful.
I could say I have not written much because life has been dull. But it has been anything
Don and I finished shopping for apartment & office furniture we will need in Makeni
and then we took Sister Clawson with us to get her approval for what we picked out. It
is cheaper here to have furniture made than to buy something that has been imported.
So we are having two beds, 2 wardrobes, 2 study desks made and a couch reupholstered.
All couple apartments have two bedrooms so they can have the mission
president and his wife, or other senior couples, stay with them. It isn't cheap setting up
an apartment. Hopefully, this apartment and all its furnishings will be used for many
years to come by many senior couples. We were told in one of our meetings with the
general authorities that 78% of all senior couples who apply to go on missions do not
qualify to go out of the country they live in due to health. That is really too bad. Africa,
and I am sure other places in the world, are in desperate need of senior couples. There
are many different kinds of missions and the Lord will use everyone according to their
capabilities - whether in the country they live in or abroad. People need loving
We spent two days in Makeni this week with an overnight. The appliances were
delivered and Don connected them all. We were so excited to get a washer and dryer.
In Makeni we will be on electricity. Here in Grafton we have a generator and it only
runs at night. The generator isn't strong enough to power all the electricity we need to
run the appliances so in order to wash one load most everything else has to be turned
off in our house and the house across the street. And the dryer never did work, so we
hang our laundry all over the house. So we sat in front of the washer and watched it
wash clothes and pretended it was a sci-fi movie and then we watched the dryer and
the washer both work at the same time. Amazing! It felt like we were at a laundryMat.
When Don is out running he sees all kinds of people and one young man called to him
and asked him about the red rag he was carrying. Don explained it was used for wiping
the sweat off the top of his head. That was OK because that meant he was not a
member of a rival gang. Don asked him what color his bandana should be. The young
man pulled out a blue bandana from his pocket and said "it should be this color". Don
replied "I'm a Chelsea (a premier soccer team) Fan, I am blue (their team color)". The
young man responded happily "I like Chelsea, too". Don continued his run in peace.
He was almost home when he was passing a house and he heard "Mr. Don, I need to
talk to you". Don invited the young man to walk with him. The young man asked Don
to help him with his school fees. Don gave a heavy sigh, and told the young man that
we get so many requests for help with school fees that we just can't help everyone. We
When we are at the office, we go to a nice little garden in the mission compound that
has concrete benches to eat our lunch. The Mission Compound sits on a hill so we can
look down and see a lot. Yesterday, we were having a peaceful lunch when suddenly
there was a lot of commotion and people were running from all directions to a
basketball court adjacent to the mission compound. There were men with canes
(switches) and they began beating on one man. There were a lot of people, many with
canes, but only a few used the canes they were carrying. We have no idea what made
everyone so mad. They were all talking/yelling at the same time and even the native
on-lookers could not understand them. It was "mob-justice".
Just as I am writing this, the young woman who came last week to ask for help with her
school fees came again. I explained to her again that her mother had already made
arrangements with the school to pay for her books and that we are not going to buy
them. She cried. I asked her if she could share books with someone and she said "yes, I
share but I cannot bring them home". My heart broke, but I stuck to my guns. After
she left, I told Don that I am going to go see her mother again. He agreed I should.
His name is Junior. Today during the Sacrament a very small child appeared at my knee
wanting up. I picked him up and set him on my lap. He sat perfectly still during the
entire meeting. Don looked at me and asked who he was. I shrugged my shoulders. I
didn't know. Don asked me who his mother was. Again I shrugged my shoulders. After
Sacrament the child slid off of my lap and found his mother. During Relief Society his
mother was sitting in front of me and I asked her her son's name. She said, "Junior".
2 Marching Bands and a Funeral: Don and I spent the afternoon finalizing the furniture
for our apartment in Makeni. We were leaving downtown Freetown in stop-and-go
rush-hour traffic Just as we reached an intersection, we were stopped by a motorcycle
cop. A marching band, with people in high school graduation cap and gowns, entered
the intersection from our left and it was followed by a ton of people who were walking
and they were followed by a hearse which was followed by another marching band
which was followed by a ton of walking mourners. After all of that turned down the
road we needed to proceed on, we followed the end of the funeral procession and all
the other non-funeral traffic which was behind us followed us. Then we came to a fork
in the road and the police had the road blocked that we needed to go on so we were
forced to follow the funeral procession down the other road that seemed to run
parallel to the road we wanted to be on. But lo and behold, it only went a short ways
and we ended up being forced to go into the cemetery with all the other non-funeral
traffic behind us. Turning around on a one lane road was a CHORE and getting out of
the cemetery was a nightmare. It took us over an hour to go less than 5 miles. Home
never looked so good.
In the movie Fiddler on the Roof the song "Sunrise,Sunset " depicts a life of routine. In
Sierra Leone you never have routine. We never know from one day to the next what to
On the way home from the above experience, Don called the American vision Doctor
we are working with on a cataract training project for local doctors. The local doctors
will be trained on a new surgical procedure of removing cataracts practicing on pig
eyes. Don asked the doctor if he would be allowed to be trained and allowed to
practice on the eye of a pig. The doctor said, "yes" and chuckled! Oh boy! I sure am
glad I had my cataracts removed last November. Whew!
I visited the mother of the young woman who wanted me to give her 260,000 Leones
for books. As I visited the mother, I had the impression that the mother did not know
anything about the letter her daughter gave me. So instead of broaching the subject, I
just visited with her. Our conversation naturally came around to school and the mother
told me she did not have enough money for all the books for her children, but she had
made an agreement with the school to pay a little now and the rest later. The school
trusts this woman and made the deal to let her children have the books they need now
and receive payment as the mother can afford it (which they would not do for
everyone). I felt that this woman has done all she can do and she is doing well. I did
not bring up her daughter's letter and did not offer to give her money for books. I will
speak to this young girl and ask her why she was asking me for money when she has all
the books she needs.
Don received a text from Saidu Conteh a few minutes ago that read: "I'm currently
watching evening news on the TV a local TV program called 'We Yus'. They just showed
you, Sister Carley and President Clawson on the TV. I was very happy to see you. It was
fun showing you on our local TV show of the opening of a well project around the
Bellair community." Don texted him back saying "Thank you for the update. I will
come prepared to sign autographs tomorrow."
We have received many letters from individuals requesting financial help. We received
another one tonight. At 9:00 a young woman was knocking on the door. She handed
me a letter. I read it and told her I would discuss it with Elder Carley and then I would
visit with her mother. She needs 260,000 Leones for books. Holy cow! No wonder so
many young people do not go to school. Their uniforms are more than 210,000 Leones
each depending on the size. Bob is 5 years old and his was 210,000 for one.
General Conference weekend. This is the first time in the history of Sierra Leone that
the saints here get to hear conference live. There was a lot of excitement. I thoroughly
enjoyed it. We only got two sessions. We viewed the Saturday afternoon session on
Sunday morning and the Sunday morning session was live at 4:00 p.m. Our time. I can
hardly wait to get the printed copy of the Liahona.
A most interesting day. We attended an opening celebration for two 10,000 liter Milla
Tanks the Church supplied to the the Bellair Community (in two different parts of the
community). It was not well attended by the community, which was a surprise.
However, the political leaders were there plus the contractors, workers, the press,
some community members, President Clawson, Don (all men) and me. They began the
program with a prayer and they asked Don to say it. Then all the political leaders spoke
and then they asked Don to Speak. He explained to the people that the members of the
church all over the world sacrifice to contribute to the humanitarian fund and this is
where we get the funds to help them. He told them they are looking at him, but there
are thousands of people standing behind him. He said more than that and it was a very
nice speech. After Don spoke, they asked me if I had anything to say. They only asked
out of respect. Now keep in mind, women here are considered lower class and are
typically not included. However, during the meeting many men and 3 women showed
up and were standing behind all the previously mentioned men. When they asked me if
I had anything to say, I politely said "yes". I parted the men and went back and hugged
the 3 women. I didn't hear what one of them said, but Don told me later when I
hugged her she said giddily "just like Hiliary Clinton". REALLY? Then still with my arms
around two of the women I spoke to the men about the women, young girls and
children being the ones to fetch water and this will help them. I talked about all of us
being children of God and helping each other. I don't remember what I said but it was
appropriate and it elevated the women. The interesting thing was I had a microphone
in my face being held by a reporter. That was a first for me. Don told me later "you
stole the show today". I did not know what he was talking about. He said the shining
moment of the whole ceremony was when I hugged those 3 women and involved them.
I did not plan to do that. I only knew that the women were being left out and they are
the ones who do all the fetching, cooking, cleaning, etc. to provide for their families.
After the whole thing was over there began to be a huge argument. Many men were
yelling and screaming at each other and they were all talking at the same time. I kept
hearing the word 1,000. The political leaders were yelling at the community men and
the community men were yelling at the political leaders. It was getting very heated and
I truly thought there was going to be a brawl. Don stood up on the Milla Tank Platform
and called everyone to order. When they all shut up, he explained that it was he who
demanded from the political leaders they charge "small, small" for a jerry can of water
(40 lbs.). The leaders came up with the price of 1,000 leones ($.14). The community
thought that was too much to ask. Don explained that if they want to continue to have
clean drinking water then they would have to refill the tank. The only way that was
going to happen was if they collected a little money for each jerry can. By the time he
explained why we are doing what we are doing, they were very understanding. Plus
Don put all the blame on himself and took it off of the political leaders. Don is the one
with the "purse" and they were not going to fight with him. This is the first time we
have tried this water approach. The community leaders are determined to bring clean
drinking water to their community and will fight for it. That is exactly how this
approach will succeed.
Attended a WASH (water and sanitation) meeting today in Kenema. Then we went out
with Jonathan Cobinah to see a small bridge badly in need of repair. When it rains, a
very large part of their community is flooded. They wanted to know if we can fix it for
them. We told them "we don't know - no one has ever asked about a bridge. We will
find out". Don attended a priesthood meeting with President Cobinah. Then we went
to eat at the restaurant associated with our hotel. There was a man who walked in just
behind us and sat alone. Before we got seated, Don looked at him and asked if he was
alone. He said "yes". Don invited him to join us. He is a microbiologist/Veternarian
specializing in rabies. He was fascinating to visit with.
Don contacted Elder Greding in America and asked if we could do a bridge. He said "I
don't think so, but you can ask".
Friday, September 30th - Got an E-mail from Brother Buah (our Boss In Accra) saying he
would like more information on the bridge. Well, he didn't say NO. We will get back to
him on Monday.
We came to Kenema today. We stopped in Bo on our way and ate lunch with the
Sherwoods and left some subsistence money, some mail and a 4 drawer filer cabinet for
one of the branches. Then we came to Kenema and met Jonathan Cobinah. He is a well
digger, our site manager, and the district president. He was contacted by the Mayor. Of
Kenema wanting to meet with us. So Jonathan called him and told him we were here
and wanted to schedule an appointment for tomorrow. He insisted we come over right
away. So we went to see him. We met with him and one of the community
counsellors. The mayor told us that Kenema does not need any wells or toilets. Don
and I were both shocked. He wanted to know if we could supply the schools with
books. I told him we could supply the schools with furniture and chalkboards. He was
so excited about that. There are a dozen schools in this town and most of them are
overcrowded and the students sit on the floor. Yes, we can supply benches and tables.
The best part about that is, we can have them made locally and give business to half a
dozen or more carpenters. This is a win/win situation.
We just had the saddest thing happen. Saidu Thoronka came over very upset because
he called his mother who lives in Makeni and learned his 23 year old sister died this
morning. She went out into the bush yesterday to collect firewood to sell and was
bitten by a snake. His mother was crying "bitterly" when he called her. He came to us
asking for money to go to the funeral which is tomorrow morning. He is very concerned
for his mother. His sister would go out and collect firewood and then help her mother
grind ingredients to make sweet breads to sell on the road. Without her daughter's
help, she will not be able to work. Saidu has no money. He has worked for the last 6
years in a government secondary school and has not been paid one cent. School
started a couple of weeks ago and Saidu did not go back to teach. He is looking for
another job but here in Freetown, you don't get a job unless you have a connection.
There are way more men here than there are jobs. Saidu is a polio victim so his choices
of jobs are limited. I asked him about his mother's religion and if they would help
her. He said his mother is a Muslim and his sister was a Christian. Her Christian church
will pay for her burial. The Muslim's will not help with any of the expenses nor will they
help take care of his mother. He has a very sad heart.
Tuesday, September 27th - Saidu came by this morning to tell us his mother has a place
to live and the people who took her in is only asking Saidu to provide 1/2 bag of rice a
month to feed his mother. That is 100,000 Leones ($14.29) a month. That is a huge
amount for someone with no job. He agreed to pay it but is very worried about how he
can get that kind of money. A tender mercy: a polio victim that lives in the same PVA
compound as Saidu is a principal at one of the local schools. As a matter of fact, we are
going to do a project of handicap ramps and a handicap bathroom at this school.
Anyway, he contacted Saidu yesterday and asked him to put in an application. He
needs another teacher. Saidu has to get his paperwork from the university he
graduated from showing he graduated.. He has to pay 30,000 Leones to get the
paperwork from the clerk (bribe). He does not have it so he came asking for more
money. Don gave it to him. He also told us his grandmother died last night and the
funeral is tomorrow. This was his mother's mother. Can you imagine having your
mother die one day after you buried your daughter? I can't. Now my heart is heavy.
President Armstrong passed away today. They do not know for sure what he died from,
but they are guessing liver cancer.
A very busy day.
We met this morning with the Bellair Community Development Organisation to receive
their deep appreciation for the completion of the project WE16SLE0008 which was for
two 10,000 liter Milla Tanks on platforms and basements. There were 10 people in
attendance including Don and me. We began with prayer which was given by the
Chairman Elect and then we were given a blessing by Bishop Samba, the Chairman of
the project. The blessing extended to us came from Psalm 41:1,2 & 3 "Blessed is he
that considereth the poor: The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. 2. The Lord will
preserve him, and keep him alive, and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt
not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. 3. The Lord will strengthen him upon the
bed of languishing: that will make all his bed in his sickness. (Heal all his infirmities
when he is sick.)"
Allusive Kamara, Chairman of Bellair Community Development Organisation, then
extended the deep heartfelt appreciation of the community. He re-emphasized their
commitment to take care of the Milla Tanks, to have a caretaker who will watch over
the tanks and collect a small fee for each liter of water promising the fee will be equal
to the economy of the people yet be enough to keep the Milla Tanks full. He made the
following statement: "You have let us into your purse and you are testing us." The test
is to see if they will take care of the tanks and keep water in them to ease the suffering
of the people. If they do, we told them it is possible we will do another project in their
area. The other thing he said was "Spiritual Development is the most important part of
a person's development. We will let the Latter-Day Saints into our community".
After he spoke a woman representing the women and children of the community
thanked us for helping them because they live in an area where there is no water and
the young girls have to go more than a mile from their homes to fetch water. They
leave their homes at 4:00 a.m. To get to the water then have to wait in line. Sometimes
they do not get home before school starts and they do not go to school at all. If they do
go to school, they are very tired. When they come home from school they have to
fetch water again. She also said that having the girls stay within their own communities
will reduce teenage pregnancy.
There was a closing prayer offered by Bishop Samba. We all stood and held hands.
This community would like to have an opening ceremony on October first.
We started a new project today. We are installing two more 10,000 liter Milla tanks
with platforms and basements in New England Ville. We went to see how it was going.
There were about 20 men all standing around and only 4 of them were actually
working. Two men were using pick axes and were chopping up the ground and two
men were following them shoveling out the rocks and dirt. There was a lot of
excitement in the air. These people live in a community where there is little water.
We made sure the workers all had plenty of water. Unfortunately, we did not have any
food. These men either don't have food to bring with them (which is probably the case)
or don't think about bringing lunch. We are going to have to be more diligent on
making sure the workers have water and food. They will work better and longer if they
have some energy to draw on plus they will want to work for us if they know they will
be taken care of. All the men that have been hired by our contractors have been hardworking.
We are pleased with the quality of work.
Sister Clawson and I went furniture shopping to put into our apartment in Makeni.
We met Michael from Willamett International (NGO) at Treeplanting to look at a site for
a hand-dug borehole. We met the community chairman, Saidu Conteh, Our site
manager Lionel Thomas, and several other people just interested in knowing why
these white people were in their community. We walked way down what they call a
"road" to the site and Michael determined that it was a good site. We will move
forward with this project in December or January when the rains have slowed so they
can dig deeper and get a better result. We were just heading back up the mountain
when a truck from the other direction came by. The natives called to the driver and he
stopped. They arranged for us white people to get a ride up to the top. Oh, how very
nice. But it did give us a view of how a vehicle maneuvers the hillside.
sunday sept 19
Once a year in Freetown, in the month of September, there is a terrible storm that does
a huge amount of destruction. That happened today. Oddly, the storm only hit the
south side of Freetown (it did not go over the mountain). The damage was huge. Many
houses and outdoor kitchens were destroyed, retaining walls fallen over, trees
uprooted, and many bodies washed down the mountain and found on the ocean
beaches. A sad day for many. The mission home and office were not affected and we
live on the back side of the mountain and did not get any rain at all.
Three women came into the office to see me today. They are from a group called "The
Concerned Women Association of Treeplanting". We went into President Clawson's
office and sat around the round table. They explained to me the purpose of their
organization, showed me their constitution and then asked me to be the "mother" of
their organization. I asked what the "mother" was suppose to do. They said, "you
know, give advice, teach how to grow, be a mother". At this point they handed me an
envelope. I opened it and it was an invitation to a huge celebration on the 29th of
October launching their organization for another year. The invitation read "The
honorable Mr. And Mrs. Carley invite you to the Celebration of the Association of the
Concerned Women of Treeplanting, on Saturday, October 29th. . . Keynote Speaker,
Mrs. Carley. . ." I had to tell them I am not available on the 29th of October. Our boss
from Accra is coming on the 26th and will be working with us for 2 days on
humanitarian projects and then on the 29th & 30th we are in training. However, I told
them I would read through their constitution and think about it but I was not promising
anything. They have a meeting every Sunday night at 5:30 and I want to attend a
meeting. They thought that was great. I committed to attending their meeting this
next Sunday. I asked them a ton of questions. Basically, they are a Relief Society. They
go out and do odd jobs for pay and contribute the money to their organization. Then
when they know of someone having a hardship within their community, they use their
funds to help. Basically, what they want me to do is help them with business
opportunities and help their organization to grow.
Sunday - September 25, 2016 - I went to Treeplanting to attend the Concerned Women
of Treeplanting meeting. I met Mrs. Blake at the top of the mountain and walked half
way down the mountain to the home of one of the members. I saw a side of the "poor"
I have not seen before. This house was made of concrete and was among all the zinc
houses. When I walked in there were 25 black women sitting in a dark room that was
much too small for that many people. I was the last person to arrive because Mrs.
Blake and I have a different definition of a "round-about". When we finally found each
other, it was passed the starting time. But when I walked into that dark room with all
those dark women, my eyes were not adjusted to the dark yet and I could not see the
women. But a round of applause rose up so I turned toward the direction of the noise
and curtsied. They laughed. I saw white teeth. My eyes adjusted and I could see their
beautiful faces. Each of them was eating something. I learned later they were eating
homemade yogurt. I was positioned on a couch facing the women. Mrs. Blake called
the meeting to order, briefly introduced me as their "mother" and then had each sister
stand and introduce herself to me. Once that was done, Mrs. Blake looked at me and
said, "the ball is in your court." I was surprised but prepared. I thanked them for the
invitation to attend their meeting and for Mrs. Blake, Mrs. Turay, and Mrs. Conteh
coming to my office to visit me. I told them I had read through their constitution and
believe their organization is a wonderful asset to their community. I told them that,
indeed, the Sisters (Blake, Turay, and Conteh) had invited me to be their "Mother". I
told them that I do not feel I can do that. We are moving to Makeni in two weeks and I
will not be here to attend their Sunday evening meetings plus I am not available on
October 29th. However, instead of being your "mother" I would like to be your Sister. I
referred to their constitution that said one of the goals of the organization is to "Be my
Sisters Keeper". I explained our humanitarian work which takes in all of Sierra Leone
and that I work with many other NGO's (Non-Government Organizations) and if an
opportunity arises that I can steer work to their community, I would. There was a
round of applause. I do have a job opportunity for them, maybe. We are working with
Willamette International, a hand-dug borehole NGO who has a man on their team that
is trying a new thought. He drilled a hand-dug borehole , mounted a 5,000 liter Milla
Tank above it and built a Kiosk to sell water. He has a water purification system within
the Kiosk with a flow meter. He has a man stationed in the Kiosk all day selling water.
The man gets a fraction of the sale and the owner gets the rest. Because there is a flow
meter, the owner knows exactly how much water was sold and how much money
should have been collected. There is no skimming off the top. He has only built one of
these as a pilot project, but it is working incredibly well. He is looking for another place
to put a kiosk. We have suggested Treeplanting. I put a bug in his ear about using the
Concerned Women of Treeplanting to man the Kiosk. There are a lot of "ifs" here, but it
just might work out.
The women were disappointed that I would not be their "mother" but we're quite
happy to have me as their "Sister". I sat down and waited for the meeting to continue.
Everyone sat there staring at each other. OK, what was this all about? I looked around
the room, and there were two fans running on electricity, a big screen TV with a bunch
of small boxes with a lot of cords going from the boxes to the TV. Wow! All this among
a bunch of zinc houses where no one has water or electricity. The hostess produced a
case of cold soft drinks and gave everyone a choice. How could she afford that? Mrs.
Blake did not have an agenda and was lost as what to do. Was this normal? After a few
awkward moments, Mrs. Blake produced the most beautiful piece of lace I have ever
seen. It was a soft shade of pink and gold. For their October 29th celebration they are
all going to have "uniforms". Which simply mean they are all going to have dresses
made alike out of the same material. The lace was the outer part of the dress and it will
have a matching pink underlayment. It will be gorgeous. But, the dress is going to cost
every Sister over 200,000. Leones. Yikes! 200,000 Leones for one dress. Most of the
people in this community barely have enough food to eat and water is a major issue.
How in the world can they afford 200,000 Leones for a dress? Then I learned that each
woman pays 10,000 Leones a month to belong to this organization plus if you comets
the Sunday evening meeting late you are fined 2,000 Leones and if you don't come at
all you are fined 5,000 Leones. This is not an organization for the poor. But where do
all these women get their money? And why do they live so poorly? What is it we don't
Monday, September 26 - Saidu Conteh asked me if I attended the Concerned Women of
Treeplanting meeting last night. I did. I told him of this woman's house, the dresses,
the fees and fines. He was shocked. He could not get over 200,000 Leones for one
dress let alone someone with electricity and could offer yogurt and soft drinks to that
many people. He asked me the name of the woman who chairs the organization. I told
him Mrs. Blake. His eyes got big and he said "Ohhhh". He explained to me that Sierra
Leone has a program here called the Diversified Visa Lottery. You can join the lottery as
a single person or as a couple. If you win you get to go to America and they will give
you a house and a job and help you in you new culture. If you play the lottery as a
couple, then you and your spouse have to go together and you have to live together.
The trick is, you have to pay for your own passport and transportation to America. Mrs.
Blake's husband played the lottery 8 years ago as a couple and won. But they did not
have the money to get passports or transportation. So, Mr. Blake found a wealthy
woman who would go with him as his wife and pay for his expenses to go to America.
He has not come back and has not sent for his wife. But people say (rumors) he sends
her money. But that doesn't explain how 34 other women get their money. I am back
to wondering what is it we don't know? Are these people as poor as they say they are?
I had an experience on Thursday that prepared me for today and the rest of my
mission: Don and I met with the community leaders and the contractors for Boundry #1
and Hilltop. We hiked down a very long steep mountain to 5 different areas looking at
water pouring out of the mountain naturally. These communities would like for us to
help them capture the water in spring boxes. At one point, I was standing maybe 12
feet higher than the men. I was standing under a big palm tree that had sand and
gravel heaped up around it and a single rock ring around the sand/gravel. I was in the
shade and there was a slight breeze. There were 14 men standing below in a small
clearing with a stream going between them. There were 9 men on one side of the
stream and 5 on the other and there was a young girl (about 13) washing clothes in the
stream about 8 feet from the men. They were standing among palm trees, many
variety of bushes and flowers. It looked to me that I was peering into the Garden of
Eden it was so beautiful. Don was the only white man. They were counseling together
on how to capture the water most efficiently. There voices were just a murmur to my
ears but I could tell by the tone of their voices that they were throwing ideas back and
forth and everyone was engaged, respectful of each other's opinions, listened to each
other and thinking through the issue. I said to myself, "If I were Heavenly Father
looking down on this scene, I would be saying, 'yes, my sons, figure it out. I have the
answers to your questions and I can tell you how to do it, but you need to learn for
yourselves'". And then there was this sense of not belonging to the group but only
peering into a scene. I was watching earthly men studying the situation. It was really
an odd feeling and yet so spiritual.
Now how does that fit into today and the rest of my mission. In Sunday School today
the teacher asked What does God do if we are disobedient? The very first answer from
a sister in the front row was "he forgets us". The teacher said, "yes" and wrote "he
forgets us" on the board. Then there were a couple of other answers and he wrote
them on the board. I could not let that stand. Heavenly Father does not forget us. I
raised my hand and when called upon said, "God Never, Ever forgets us. We are his
children and he will never forget us. However, if we are slow to remember Him, He will
be slow to remember us. If we are going through a trial and call upon God to help us He
may not answer us right away if we have been slow to remember Him." The teacher
crossed out the word forget and wrote above it slow to remember.
Then in Relief Society (OH MY GOODNESS). The counselor in the R.S. Started by
welcoming a certain sister who had not been in church for over a year because she was
annoyed because she missed two Sundays in a row and no one called or came to visit
her to find out why she had not been in church. So, Sister Mariama, the counselor, and
two other Sisters went last week to visit her and learned why she was not in church.
When they learned why, they apologized and told her they need her in Relief Society.
So today she was there. That would have been fine if the Counselor would have left it
at that and moved on. But, she said the same thing 2 more times and that gave enough
time for Sisters to remember when they were not visited and they all piped up.
Unfortunately, they were all speaking at the same time and no one was listening to
anyone. This went on for 40 minutes. I had such a headache from all the noise and 4
sisters got up and left.
Geneba was sitting next to me and was translating parts she
could understand from the different sisters. One Sister was talking about no one
coming to visit her when someone in her family was ill. A witch shot her family member
and their leg swelled up very big. Geneba explained to me that the witches have two
kinds of cartridges. One will go in you and it will not come out and you die. The other
one will go inside you and if you go to the witchdoctor he can pull out of you the barbs.
She said when they shoot you, you don't even know you have been shot until your leg
swells. There is a mixture of confusion between the Gospel of Jesus Christ (their new
teaching) and witchcraft (where they are coming from). The transition is not complete.
I just wanted to stand up and tell them that Jesus Christ had 12 disciples to help him
teach the gospel. He couldn't do it all himself. He needed help. The Relief Society
President cannot do everything all by herself either, that is why she has visiting
teachers. And then explain the program. What they really need is a visiting teaching
conference where these Sisters are taught what visiting teaching is.
The Branch was
reorganized today with a new branch presidency. Hopefully, he will choose his own R.S.
President and get this branch back on track. The last Branch President died about 3
months ago, the Elders Quorum President moved to Liberia, and Sister Doe is the R.S.
President and has not worked in her calling since Brother Doe had his accident in April.
The Branch has really been hurt. I hope next Sunday they will have a new R.S.
President. Then I will discuss with her about having a V.T. Conference.
How does this
help me. I have to look at these people as God does. His children. They are learning
and they have to have the opportunity to work out their own understanding of the
Gospel. They have to study it out. I have to study it out. I am far advanced from them
in my understanding of the Gospel but I Have so much more to learn. There is so much
to the Gospel. A lifetime on earth will not be enough time. Thank goodness we have
eternity. The last 5 minutes of R.S. They discussed the Christmas dinner. It will be
potluck (which was a new idea to many and they could not understand how they were
going to get contributions). Geneba explained to me that the R.S. Presidency will
choose a color and then everyone will come in costume. I asked what kind of costume.
I was thinking Halloween. She looked at me like I had 3 heads and said, "African
costumes". Oh, This should be interesting.
During the business portion of Sacrament Meeting a new Branch Presidency was
formed. District President Sesay gave a talk afterward. He talked about having a new
Branch Presidency and said there will be many callings extended during this next week.
He said, "when you are extended a calling and you know you will not magnify that
calling then don't accept it. Because if you do, you will hinder the Lord's work". Don
and I looked at each other. We never heard that one before.
An after thought: During R.S. When the sisters were all talking at the same time many
times money was mentioned. I asked Geneba what that was all about. She said that
the sisters are all required to chip in money, whatever they can afford, so those going
out to visit people, they can take money to that person. The person being visited
expects to receive money. So, guess why no one goes out to visit anyone. These
people are dirt poor and cannot feed their families more than a handful of rice once a
day and they are expected to visit an inactive person and give them money. Who thinks
up these rules?