Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September 18, 2016

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?

September 17, 2016

Don went to the hospital this morning to pick up the hurt Elder. I did not go with him. The Elder was ready and eager to get home to rest in his own bed.

It was an easy day. I made a big batch of cookies and a carrot cake. It doesn't matter how much I bake, it all disappears.
 Geneba came over tonight to visit. She was hungry. I warmed up some leftovers and she ate. She told me that she is not getting enough to eat. Sister Doe has limited the cooking of rice to 5 cups per day.

That is suppose to feed 8 - 10 people and 5 dogs. It is not enough and many times, Geneba goes without. She has gotten thin.

 She has not come to church in over a month so I asked her to go with me tomorrow to translate for me in Relief Society. She said she would go.

September 16, 2016

Friday - We went to the hospital to pick up the Two Elders only to be informed by the doctor they wanted to keep the Elder for one more night. Which was OK because the Elder is in a lot of pain plus his wound is bleeding through his bandage. The Elder requested his bandage be changed and they told him they would do it "soon". An hour and a half later, I requested the bandage be changed and was told "someone is coming". An hour later, Don requested the bandage be changed and they told him "someone is coming". Half hour later Don demanded the dressing be changed. Again he was told they would do it "soon". Half an hour later Don was just getting ready to call the hospital administrator when they walked into the room to change the dressing. Don stayed in the room and watched. The Elder has a fist size bruise right where the leg connects to the pelvic bone that is dark purple and red. There is a small cut on the scrotum but nothing was bleeding. The Military Hospital poured iodine all over his groin area. Remember, we are in Africa and a/c is typically not used. The elder was sweating and the sweat made the iodine run. That is why he thought he was bleeding through the bandages. There was no packing. That was just something they said so they could charge for it. The Assistants to the President (2 young missionaries) made arrangements to have someone stay with the elder throughout the day and night. Don and I left and went to the grocery store to get water and food for those at the hospital. While at the Grocery store, a man came up to me and asked me if I knew the hurt Elder. Why, yes I did. He then explained he was the one who picked him up off the road and took him and the Ocata driver to the Military hospital. He said they were driving by the accident and saw that a white man was laying on the road so they stopped. He said the Ocata driver was laying on the ground and no one would help him at all. He was appalled that the natives have such little regard for life. (The people here have seen so much death and during the Ebola they were not allowed to go within 1 meter of a dead body. So they have been conditioned.)He and his buddy work for the military and they are in Sierra Leone on assignment. One is from Poland and the other from Hungary. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to acknowledge the goodness of their hearts

September 15, 2016 - another accident

2 More Accidents - The missionaries are not allowed to ride on the Ocatas. However, two of our missionaries broke the rules and one ended up in the hospital. His Ocata hit head on with a taxi. The Ocata driver and the Elder were both injured. The Elder said he flew over the hood of the taxi, rolled to the ground and the Ocata driver flew a different direction and was also laying on the ground. The taxi driver sped away and left them their. The Elder Companion said no one would stop to help them until two "English men" pulled over. They did an assessment on the hurt Elder and then helped him get into their vehicle. They then went over to the Ocata driver and helped him get into their vehicle. They took them to the 34 Military Hospital. Sister Clawson is in Bo and she is the one responsible for all the medical issues of the missionaries. She called Don and asked him to go to the hospital and take her place. We had just completed another hike 2 miles down and 10 miles back up the mountain looking at placing 5 spring boxes. We hurried over to the hospital. Remember That horrible hospital Brother Doe was in in Freetown? This hospital was equal to it. It even had rats running around in it during the day. We let them complete their assessment and they "Packed and dressed" a wound in his groin area and as soon as we possibly could got the Elder out of that hospital and moved over to Choithrams. While they were working on The Elder at the Military hospital I was sitting in the adjoining room. There was a dark man on a bed in a dark room in his underwear. No one was paying attention to the man. The Elder companion saw me looking at him and told me he was the Ocata driver. It was obvious the man was in pain. I watched for a few minutes and there were people in hospital attire walking, sitting, and standing around all on their phones. No one did a thing for this man. I went over and talked to him and he said his left let hurt. It was terribly swollen. I asked a person about getting him some help. She put her phone in her pocket and went over and stood above him and asked him if he had any money. He said "no". Without saying a word, she reached in her pocket, got her phone out, and walked away. Before we left this hospital to go to Choithrams, I requested from a "Doctor?" Some help for this young man. He said "No money, no treatment".

 Also while I was sitting in the adjoining room which was a waiting room, ward, and admitting room, a woman came in hurt from being in a bus on her way to Bo (4 hours away) and the bus was in an accident and 17 people were dead. President and Sister Clawson were on that road headed to Bo but they did not see the accident. It must have happened behind them.

Back to our hurt Elder who is now over at Choithram Hospital: Elder complained about his back hurting. Don called Sister Clawson and She called Dr. Anderson the West Africa Medical Doctor from the States. He requested an x-Ray and urine test to make sure there is no blood in the urine. The x-Ray was looked at by 3 different doctors and was determined that nothing was broken. The urinalysis came back negative for blood. The Elder said the "Doctor?" At the military hospital who cleaned his wound scrubbed it hard to clean it and then poured alcohol in it. It was excruciating. His pants and garment bottoms had the crouch ripped out of them. He does not know what he hit but we are assuming it was the lid on the gas tank and his lower back on the right side hit the handlebars. Of course being thrown though the air and landing on the hood of the taxi and then rolling to the ground did not help. The Elder's companion spent the night at the hospital with hurt Elder. We went to the local grocery store and purchased water and food for them.

September 14, 2016

An Accident - Thullay, one of our contractors was on an Ocata and the driver hit a van and the driver of the Ocata died at the scene and Thullay went to the hospital. His right wrist is sprained, swollen and very sore.

September 13, 2016

A day of remembrance for the Carley's and Joneses.

Another very busy day

September 12, 2016

A very busy day in the office. Many people came in that we are working on projects with.

September 11, 2016

A glorious day.

 We went to Kossoh town District Conference and were able to hear District President Sesay, President and Sister Clawson and Elder and Sister Davies speak.

District President Sesay talked about the 5 most important days in his life. The first one was the day he met his wife. A very important beginning to his talk. Marriage relationships are so very bad here. For him to stand and say that his wife is the most important thing to him was shocking to the natives. One day a Stake Priesthood leader walked into a ward PEC meeting late. He took his seat and was shocked at the topic of discussion. They were discussing how many times a week is it appropriate to beat your wife. Families do not sit together at church and an outsider has no idea who the marriage partners are and who the children belong to. Everyone is scattered throughout the congregation. President Sesay's 5 most important days all centered on his family. Excellently done!

President and Sister Clawson chose the same topic unaware they had done that. After Sister Clawson Spoke, President Clawson stood up and said he was the 2nd testimony to the topic his wife spoke about. Which was saying harsh words to each other and offending people, being unkind, gossiping and just downright being mean. A very necessary talk. Sister Davies talked about love. Elder Davies gave a great talk on

September 10, 2016

A beautiful day with an unhappy ending.

After Breakfast, President Clawson, Elders Stevenson, Soares, Francis, Madu, Stanfill, and Davies met with all the members of the District Presidency and all the Branch presidencies.

 Our morning was free. We had no meetings to attend all day. However, Sister Clawson got the Sr. Sister Missionaries invited to a meeting the G/A wives were having under the condition we sit in the back and say not a word. It was a fascinating meeting and so very worthwhile for us to be there. They wanted to meet with 4 sisters to hear about their callings. Sister Clawson conducted the meeting then Sister Stevenson took over. She asked each sister to tell them a little about themselves and then talk about their callings. It worked out just the opposite. The back history of each of these 4 sisters was so harsh and their conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ so touching we sat in silent awe. I don't feel that I should share anything here. I may come back at a later time when my emotions don't overtake me.

After this meeting, there was another meeting between 9 natives and all the General Authorities, their wives and Pres. & Sister Clawson. These individuals were asked to share their experiences during the war or during the Ebola. Again, heartbreaking stories full of pain and grief. President Sahr Doe was invited to this meeting and he was asked to speak of his experience of his accident and life since. After all 9 of these individuals spoke, the 4 G/A laid their hands on each of the 9 and gave them a blessing. Sister Clawson cries every time she talks about it. She has not shared much but she did say that several of them were blessed to be free from the pain of what they witnessed and experienced. She said she had never heard such profound blessings. Sahr Doe was the last person to receive a blessing and it was so powerful that there were some very emotional people. Don was not in the room. He was there to help President Doe to get from the car, up to the 2nd floor of the church, and then back down to his car. So he was waiting outside the room. President Clawson was the first one to come out of the room and he and Don shared a sacred moment.

 Don says that when President Doe came out of that room his countenance glowed and he was so very very happy.

 We left the Stake Center and stopped by a decent restaurant for dinner. We both had so much to share.

An unhappy ending to a very beautiful day: Elder and Sister Sherwood were on their way home to Bo with one of the elders that was in the horrible accident two weeks ago. He is the one that had his spleen out and he was one that was on his way to his first assignment as a missionary. On their way to Bo tonight, this kid is still trying to get to his first assignment, they were 3 cars behind a vehicle that had a head-on collision with an on-coming vehicle. It was such a mess. They sat for one and a half hours watching bodies being taken out of the pota-pota and being laid on the side of the road. They didn't even have everyone out of the pota-pota before people were stripping the van. Elder and sister Sherwood tried to get this young Elder to talk thinking he may be dramatized. But he wasn't. He had seen so much death in his short life that this scene did not bother him. Elder Sherwood called Sister Clawson when they got to Bo to report what they had experienced. Sister Clawson was very concerned about the young Elder and Elder Sherwood said, "Sister Clawson, it isn't the young Elder you need to worry about, it is your Senior Couple".

September 9, 2016

All 100 missionaries converged on the Freetown Stake Center at 8:00 this morning. However, the day started at 5:00 for Sisters Clawson, Corbaley, Miner and Sherwood. They made 25 batches of rice, made a creamed white gravy that the 300 eggs went into with the Carmelites onions and the Pepe, one of them went to the market and bought 120 small loaves of fresh bread. They then had to haul all of it to the Stake Center and be ready to serve at 8:00. They also carried all of the clean drinking water for the entire day, plus all the paper products, plates, cups, silverware, butter, jam, Nutella, P.B., etc.

Don and I were not there for the breakfast because we were called last night by President Clawson telling us Bishop Davies, who is over the humanitarian efforts throughout the world, would like to visit the PVA and see the projects we have done there. So at 9:30 we were at the PVA waiting for them to arrive. (The PVA is about 1 mile from where we live and they were all coming about 45 minutes away from Freetown). We were walking around the PVA chatting with people when two large white Vans pulled into the PVA stuffed with men. One of the doors popped open and men started piling out. One man was obviously a security guard. His head was on a swivel and he looked at everything and everybody. As the men got out they began shaking hands with everybody. A tall man came up to me to shake my hand and I am looking at him thinking "I know you, but not really." I had no idea who he was. He did not introduce himself and neither did I. I shook several other men's hands and Elder Davies introduced himself to me as we shook hands. AHH! This is the man we are expecting. They all turned to Don and asked him to show us what we have done and how we have helped this community. Don indicated that we needed to walk up the hill a ways and we all headed up the hill. I was in the lead because I was at the back of the group until we turned to walk up the hill. The first tall man that shook my hand and I walked up the hill and I asked him if he had been to Africa before. No this was his first time. We made small talk until Don told us to stop and he pointed out several roofing jobs and explained how it all came about and what we as a church did and what the community did. They were impressed because we required the community to chip in on the cost of the project and together we got the job done and done right. From there we headed down to the blacksmith shop. While walking down the hill I was walking with Elder Madu, whom I had the distinct pleasure, and I mean that literally, about 2 months ago of feeding him in our home. I pointed to the tall man I had walked with and asked Elder Madu who he was. Elder Madu smiled and quietly said, "Elder Stevenson from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles". Kick me to the curb! We then went to the blacksmith shop and Elder Stevenson was intrigued by the polio victims sitting on the floor creating tools and cooking stoves over coal fires and anvils. Don explained that the church put in security bars in the windows and put in metal doors so that raw materials and finished products were not stolen at night. The owner, sitting on the floor, explained that since we installed those his business has really grown. He has hired 3 more men and they are producing a lot more stoves. This is exactly what the Church wants to have happen. The General Authorities then went and visited some sites that can possibly become chapel sites or a district center/stake center. At this point Don and I went to the Stake Center in Freetown (Congo cross). We got there in time to see the end of the missionary meeting and to help with lunch.

While the men were doing the above, Sister Clawson held a meeting with all of the 100 missionaries and 3 of the 4 Senior Couples. They talked at length about the car accident the 4 missionaries and Bishop Marcus were in and the many miracles that happened. They talked about rules and obedience and who to call when. They received their newsletters, they honored the 16 missionaries who had birthdays by singing happy birthday, giving them a cupcake, and then choosing a treat from the Birthday Basket, and finally, they received the journals we made.

We then ate a catered lunch. We had swarmas. That would be an African version of a Runza. It is a tortilla filled with a variety of things but today's was cabbage and beans. I ate all but the last three bites and ran into a hunk of meat. I was so surprised. I dug it out and said, "Hey Don, Look, I got a piece of meat." He took it, looked at it and said "that's beef!" and popped it into his mouth and walked away. He was about 3 steps away and turned with his face scrunched up and yelled "that's liver" and he spit it out.

After everyone ate and cleaned up, Sister Clawson had the missionaries bring in benches and stools and she arranged us so we could have a picture taken with the general authorities. She said they will only give us 5 minutes for the picture and if we can't do it in that time frame we would not do it at all. So, while we were waiting for them to finish the lunch Sister Clawson provided for them somewhere else, we positioned ourselves on all those benches with enough chairs in front for the General Authorities and their wives. President Clawson texted Sister Clawson when they arrived in the parking lot to let her know they were there. All the missionaries were quietly singing "I am a Child of God" as the G/A 's walked in. It was quite moving. We sang 2 verses and they stood in front of us and watched. At the end, Elder Stevenson thanked us and moved to a chair and held his hand out to his wife to sit next to him. Once they were seated, the rest of them joined them. Only a couple of pictures were taken and Sister Clawson promised she would give everyone a copy. After this, the G/A's and their wives formed a receiving line at the door and greeted and shook everyone's hand. Every missionary got to shake the hand of an Apostle of Jesus Christ. They were full of joy. After each missionary went through the receiving line, they went into the chapel for a 3 hour meeting with the G/A's. It was apropos for the young missionaries. It gave them an uplift and a desire to move forward in faith. At the end of the meeting Elder Stevenson pronounced a blessing on us. The things Don and I remember are (and these are not in any particular order. They are snippets we remember):

Because of our service, when we leave our mission we will be rewarded with blessings from Heavenly Father and these blessings will continue throughout our lives. 1.

2. Our wards/branches at home will be blessed for our service.

 This meeting was to be over at 4:00 but it didn't get over until 4:30. The Clawsons were involved in taking the G/A back to their hotel and had left for a short while. Sister Clawson had arranged with a caterer to provide 110 "take Away" boxes (to go) so the missionaries going to Bo, Kenema and Makeni on the bus would have something to eat. The caterer was suppose to have the dinners there at 4:00. Typical of Africans, she was not even there at 5:00. The bus driver said that if they did not pull out and get on the road by 5:00 the company would not allow them to go at all and the church's money would be refunded. So the only thing to do was to give the missionaries what we had. We gave every missionary two muffins and a can of juice and sent them home on a 4 1/2 hour ride - hungry. Don and I left at the same time. When Sister Clawson got back to the Stake Center she was very disappointed all those missionaries went home with only two muffins and a can of juice. She gave the security guards each a take away box and anyone else that was still around that were not missionaries.

The church had rented vehicles and hotel rooms to put up all the priesthood leaders from the outlying areas who had meetings the next day (Saturday). They arrived about 7:00 p.m. and called Sister Clawson telling her they were in their hotel rooms but they were hungry and wanted to know if she had any food. Sister Clawson only had 13 of the take away boxes left so she sent someone to the mission home to gather bread, PBJ, Nutella, anything that could go into a sandwich, and raid the freezer for muffins, cookies, anything that would be finger food for about 30 men.

September 8, 2016

What a day - A very tiring day! All the General Authorities arrived tonight. They include the following: Elder Gary Stevenson from the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Dean Davies from the presiding Bishopric, Elder Ulisses Soares from the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Vern Stanfill from the Africa West Area Presidency, Elder Madu an area Seventy, and Elder Francis from the Department of Temporal Affairs and all their wives. President and Sister Clawson left at 3:30 to pick them up at the Freetown International Airport in Lungi. They drove them to the Radisson Blue Hotel. Sister Clawson wanted to put snack baskets in their hotel rooms so she and I made up baskets from the baskets I bought on Monday and the snack foods we purchased on Tuesday. We didn't have anything to wrap the baskets in but she remembered seeing some clear basket wrapping plastic in a store and sent someone to buy a large roll of it. We got the baskets made and wrapped and she delivered them to their hotel rooms on her way to pick them all up at the airport. At 1:30 she received a phone call from her husband saying 4 of the local priesthood brethren he was meeting with were coming up for lunch. We dug into the refrigerator and pulled out some chicken salad, made sandwiches and cut up some cucumbers and Sister Clawson found a can of pop for each one of them. We called it good. At 2:00, she received a phone call saying the 48 missionaries coming on a bus from Bo, Kenema, and Makeni were going to arrive and they were starved and they would be there in 20 minutes for lunch. YIKES! They were suppose to come in later in the afternoon and dinner was going to be catered. Sister Clawson sent someone out to buy 7 loaves of sandwich bread and Sisters, Corbaley, Miner, Sherwood and I worked like crazy making lunch for 48 missionaries. Thank heaven for Peanut Butter and Jelly and all those eggs we cooked yesterday. We whipped up a huge batch of egg salad, cut up a ton of cucumbers and called it good. Finally, The Clawsons were at the airport, the 48 missionaries were fed and just hanging out until dinner arrived and the 4 of us set to work bringing all of Sister Clawson's ideas together. I swear Sister Clawson and Cholena are made from the same creative mold: At the eleventh hour this is what we were working on:
Cooking, peeling and slicing 60 more eggs (to replace the ones we used for the missionaries this afternoon.) 1.

Carmelizing 25 onions and making Pepe after sending Yetta out to buy the onions and peppers 2.

Icing 16 birthday cupcakes for the 16 missionaries who had birthdays in August and September 3.

Making 100 journals with the picture of Christ emerging out of the tomb glued to a piece of colored paper that had the words "Always Remember Him". Then we had to laminate each one and then we used double sided tape to tape the picture to the book. Laminating took about 3 hours. 4.

Sister Clawson's Daughter in America whipped up a really nice newsletter to give to each missionary. 5.
6. We made 16 handmade birthday cards
When Sister Clawson got home she had to do the following because none of us knew what she planned: She had to fill the birthday basket with treats for the missionaries to choose from, Get the Snacks ready for the General Authorities and their wives for between meetings Write personal notes on each of the 16 birthday cards Print off the newsletter her daughter prepared And GET SOME SLEEP! NOT! President and Sister Clawson were invited to eat dinner at the Radisson with the General Authorities and their wives and did not get home until after 10:00. The mission home is not big enough to house 48 missionaries so they rented hotel rooms to house the missionaries that came in by bus to night and then tomorrow night the priesthood leaders coming in from the outlying areas will use the same rooms. The missionaries leave tomorrow at 4:30 to go back to their areas.

Don spent the day in the office and then spent this evening transporting missionaries to their hotel which was at the top of a mountain. On one trip, Don saw a huge rat and pointed it out to the American Missionaries. They were dumbfounded to see such a huge Rat. They were not pleased to see that the rat was across the street from their hotel. The hotel is in the New England area and all the Africans know that the New England area is noted for its rats!

September 7, 2016

Africa has numerous secret societies that have been borne out of long-standing tribal relationships. A friend of ours has been gone for about 2 weeks and we wondered where he was.

 He reappeared today and told us the following: When he was a young man, still living at home, they were trying to get him to join the secret society his father belonged to. His father would not allow it. Two weeks ago the son (now a man with a family of his own) went home to one of the provinces to visit his family. While there his father asked him to deliver a trunk to a certain village. The son loaded the trunk into a taxi and went to that village. Upon arriving at the village, his father called and said he changed his mind and wanted him to deliver the trunk to a different village. Then the father told the son "but do not sleep there". The son didn't think anything about that statement. Even though it was getting late and it was storming, he went to the other village and delivered the trunk to an elderly woman who said to him, "Do not sleep here, they are waiting for you". The son knew exactly what that meant and he jumped back into the taxi and told the taxi driver to go and to go fast. The taxi took off. The storm caused a tree to fall across the road and the taxi could not go passed it. The son told the taxi driver "they are not after you, they will not hurt you." The son jumped out of the taxi, jumped over the tree and ran as fast as he could until he came to an Ocata driver who had just dropped off a passenger. He jumped onto the Ocata and slapped the driver on the back and said "go fast". The driver took off and that is how the son got away. Don asked him what would have happened if they had caught him. His reply was "I will either come back in December or not at all". The son had no idea what was in the trunk. He also says he will never go visit his family again.

Sister Corbaley and I cooked and peeled 300 eggs and sliced them to be ready to make egg salad.

September 6, 2016 - accident update

Sister Clawson came into our office and asked if I would be her companion doing some of her errands. We went to Choithram Hospital to pay the bill for Bishop Marcus who was released from the hospital this morning and airlifted to Accra this afternoon to have his wrists rebroken and set again for the third time. She checked on two other missionary business items.

 From there we went shopping to 3 different Lebanese grocery stores. She is responsible for providing a ton of meals this weekend and we bought a whole lot of food. It was so fun. She and I are twins when it comes to how we shop. When we got back to the mission home I helped Tity make banana muffins and corn muffins. We made 220 all together and 21 cupcakes. We froze all of them for use this next weekend.

September 5, 2016

Don went for a run tonight and came across the Eman (Imam) we have had meetings with 3 times for a well here in grafton. He had an absolute glow about his countenance. He was incredibly happy. The event that brought so much happiness to him is he had received an invitation to make the trip to the Haj (the pilgrimage the Muslims make when they go to Mecca). What profoundly struck Don was how filled with joy the Eman (Imam)  was at this point in his life - to have this invitation. Most Muslims only do this once in their life. The Eman's joy would be equivalent to the joy members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have who are so poor that to be able to go to the Temple one time in their life to have their family sealed together for eternity.

Don, Alie and I spent the day shopping for Sister Clawson. We have a special conference this coming weekend. We have coming the following: Elder Gary Stevenson from the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Dean Davies from the presiding Bishopric, Elder Ulisses Soares from the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Vern Stanfill from the Africa West Area Presidency, Elder Madu an area Seventy, and Elder Francis from the Department of Temporal Affairs and all their wives. There are meetings to plan and prepare for, meals to make, and a ton of things in Sister Clawson's head yet to be finalized. What we went shopping for today was 300 eggs, 10 lbs of margarine, a muffin tin, 105 books we can use for a journal, a ream of pink paper, pens, baskets, picture hanging hardware, and other stuff. It took us most of the day.

September 4, 2016

We received a most wonderful gift from the Sodens before we left for Africa. They made these 6" squares (one for every Sunday we are on our Mission) and on the inside is a quote from someone in the family and a question from someone else in the family. Today's square had a question from Gavin asking if it is hard to understand the people here. The answer is absolutely! Most of them speak and understand English but they have a very heavy drawl and they use English and Kreo in the same sentence. They flow back and forth between the two languages. Today in Relief Society about half way through the lesson the teacher asked me if I was understanding the lesson. I said "no". At the end of the lesson a Sister made a contribution that lasted 4 to 5 minutes and she talked very fast, has a heavy accent and most of it was in Kreo. After she finished, the teacher asked me to make a contribution. I had no idea what the previous Sister said and I told them the way they would say it "I didn't get it". The teacher looked stunned. After the lesson was over, the teacher came to me and said "Next week we will speak in English".

 There is a lot of excitement here in the church this week. Next Sunday we have Elder Stevenson from the Quorum of the twelve coming along with two seventies, a member of the Presiding Bishopric, and some of West Africa Area Authorities for a special conference.

 Don and I are excited because the Presiding Bishopric is over humanitarian efforts and Elder Davies has requested that Don and I take him out to some of our projects so he can see first hand what has been accomplished. Our Area Welfare Manager, Elder Buah, has requested we take him to the PVA to see the two projects we have done there. He will see the poorest of the poor.

Sister Clawson called and asked if I could help her in the kitchen tomorrow. She is feeding 95 missionaries on Friday and needs some help. She said she made 110 banana muffins yesterday and when she went to put them in her freezer, everything in the freezer was thawed. Her freezer died. We are having lunch at her place tomorrow to eat some of the stuff that thawed out that can't be refroze. I have no idea what we are going to make. It should be fun. It will be like having R.S. Sisters working together for a branch activity. Sister Miner the office worker and Sister Corbaly a MLS missionary will also help. I really miss Relief Society and my association with the Sisters.

September 3, 2016 - bob's new haircut

Jan and Jay's 64th birthday. We are so blessed to have them in our family. Happy birthday to the two of you. You are loved!

Bob came over this evening with a new hairdo. He gave himself a reverse Mohawk. When asked who cut his hair, he said, "I did. I used mom's shaving stick." He put his hand to his head and showed us how he used the razor to scrap back and forth on the center of his head. I asked what his mother said and he said, "Oh My!"

September 2, 2016

This morning we picked up a police officer in grafton that needed a ride to downtown Freetown. We were on our way to the Mission Office so we got him close. His name was Richmond and he was very chatty. Actually, he can out talk Don. He told us all about how the police extort money from the poor and how he refuses to do that. He says the police make good money (between 700 and 800 Leones per month, plus a big bag of rice). He says the police should treat people according to their economy. He showed us the church he attends which brought up the subject of religion. When we told him we are Latter-Day Saints he said, "ahhhh, a very good church! I read about Joseph Smith. Reading is my hobby". He went on to tell us about his relationship with his wife. He said that many of his fellow police officers have girlfriends. He said "I have a housewife… If I want to play, I play with my wife. We have been married for 18 years and we have never had a fight. When I wrong her, I buy her a bottle of nights in heaven". "Uh, is that a perfume?" "Yes". Then he told us about a time when he gave a pair of his shoes and a shirt away to a friend and did not tell her he did that. She saw his friend one day and saw he was wearing her husbands shoes and shirt. She was upset with her husband for not telling her. So he bought her a bottle of perfume. Another time he was suppose to buy 4 gallons of paint for her sister and used the money to buy something else. She was upset with him so he bought her a pair of shoes and placed them on top of 4 gallons of paint. He found her in the parlor and told her to close her eyes. He lead her into the other room and told her to open her eyes. When she saw the shoes and paint, she was full of hugs and gladness. She was so happy she forgot all about being mad at him. When she wrongs him, he gets quiet and refuses to talk to her. She will make him a really nice meal and apologize and he won't forgive her until she coaxes him in a playful manner and then he will eat her food. He is a man of integrity and fidelity. Instead of going to the bars and spending money on liquor and gambling he goes to the store and buys soft drinks for his family and they enjoy themselves together. He has two children. He is a family man and would make a wonderful bishop.

Sister Clawson called and invited us to lunch. The Peines are still here and will leave to go back to Ghana at 1:00. So we had a wonderful lunch and another round of goodbyes.

September 1, 2016

Elder and Sister Peine, the West Africa Mental Health Specialists, we're here to visit with all the missionaries involved in last week's vehicle accident. They also included Brother and sister Doe in that. So President Clawson called about 5:15 and said they were coming back from Bo and were in Masakia and were going to stop and see Sahr Doe. I invited the Clawsons and the Peines to stay for supper. They so appreciated the invitation. Sister Clawson said all they had to eat all afternoon was some ground nuts. I hurried and made some spaghetti, garlic bread, raw vegetables and I cooked some chicken breasts. It was a real treat not to have rice. The Peines are wonderful people. They just clicked with Don and me. We all hope we will have the opportunity to visit with each other again. Maybe in America. They left the MTC on the same day we arrived at the MTC. They are also on an 18 month mission. We exchanged e-mail addresses.

August 30, 2016

Dad's Birthday.

We met with Michael Ropieka who is with the NGO Wellemet International and went out into the bush country to see how a hand-dug borehole is done. It was quite interesting but OH MY GOODNESS! I don't know how much those men get paid, but I am sure it is not enough. It is very hard work. Don recognized the apparatus they are using as something his grandfather used in Kansas in the 1950's. On our way back down this very narrow pot-hole filled "road" we passed a group of children outside of a hut. Michael slammed on the brakes and said "I have to get a picture of that for my girls". There was a young woman about 12 years old holding a baby monkey. It was very small. I asked where the mother was and was told "in a pot". I asked the girl what she feeds the baby and she said "milk". Don took pictures.

After leaving the hand-dug borehole site we went to see how someone is going into business for himself by drilling a well and then pumping the water high up in the air into a Milla Tank and then below the tank he has opened a KiosK and is selling water. He has a complete purification system. So far he has only opened one Kiosk and it is making money for him. He has sites for a couple of more. It seems like a very reasonable business. Don is excited about his whole plan and has made it part of his presentation to communities requesting our help for water. From here we went to the Kambo Secondary School and asked Michael if his team could drill a hand-dug borehole (well) at this site. We walked the area and Michael felt comfortable that we could find a suitable site,. A hand-dug borehole costs $5,000 USD to drill versus a mechanically drilled borehole that costs $40,000 USD. Then we went out to During Town to visit a broken well that the church built over 5 years ago. We will put in a project for that.

August 26, 2016

President an Sister Clawson has asked us not to reveal the details of the Wednesday accident. The church wants to make a public announcement when more is known. The accident was gruesome but all 4 missionaries and Bishop Marcus are alive.

August 24, 2016

An Accident - Sister Clawson called to check on me this evening and told me that the group of new missionaries being transported out to Bo and Kenema for their first assignment were in an accident and she and President Clawson were on their way to the Choithram Hospital and she would let me know the outcome. Don called and said President Clawson called him and said all he knew was one missionary had a broken leg and another one was more seriously injured. They were waiting for the missionaries to arrive at the hospital.

August 23, 2016

We received 20 new missionaries today. Don went to Makeni, Bo and Kenema this morning without me. I am not feeling well so am staying home. The Doe's and all their hired help are here plus the 6 missionaries next door are in and out. I am safe.

August 23, 2016

We received 20 new missionaries today. Don went to Makeni, Bo and Kenema this morning without me. I am not feeling well so am staying home. The Doe's and all their hired help are here plus the 6 missionaries next door are in and out. I am safe.

August 22, 2016

We entered the MTC 6 months ago today.

August 20, 2016 - the mussel is still in the truck....

Don went out to the car to get something and came in mumbling about how bad the car smells and he can't find what is stinking so bad. Uh-Oh! I said from another room, "it's the mussel Cholena gave me. I dropped it into the cup holder in the door behind the driver". JEANNNNNE! (Sound familiar?)

August 19, 2016

Brother Doe came home one month ago today. He has come a long way in one month. He will have many years of therapy and will probably never be able to walk. But he is on his way to being able to do some things for himself. Cholena rigged up something that he can hold in his hand and type on the computer and with practice he will be able to use a phone independently. He has little movement but Cholena has him on a program to use and develop his thumb and index finger on his right hand. His left hand has no movement. Cholena is of the opinion it would be better for him to let his left hand atrophy and become a hook. With his forearm and hand as a hook, he will be able to manipulate his body in many ways. Sampson is still working hard on helping Brother Doe keep his muscles flexible. The Internet is still down today at the mission office. That really limits us on what we can get done.

August 18, 2016

The Internet and A/C are both down today at the mission office. We had several meetings today and are working on a milla tank (water) project. The contractor came in needing an additional 1,500,000 Leones ($250.00 USD) for an unforeseen expense. He had to hire day-laborers to break a huge rock that was in the way of the site. Don had asked for 1,000,000 Leones ($170.00 USD) over the quoted amount of the project - just in case. We gave him the 1,500,000. I hope the rest of the project comes in under budget, otherwise, we have to apply for a supplemental budget and the Church does not like that to happen.

Cholena reminded me of the mussel I dropped in the cup holder in the car. I said OK and then promptly forgot.

August 17, 2016 Cho and Gabby Go home

Cholena and Gabby left for America today. Their plane left at 6:15 p.m. We drove them around instead of taking the ferry across the bay. We got to the airport and hour and a half early so we went down to the beach. The beach this time of year is nasty. There is so much rain that the trash is washed down the mountains and out of the ditches into the ocean. Then the ocean tide brings it all up on the beach. Needless to say, it stinks and looks awful. But they were able to put their feet in on this side of the Atlantic. I had no desire to walk thru the garbage to get to the ocean so I stayed off the beach. Three young men in their early 20's came walking down the lane towards me. They stopped about 30 yards from me where there was a puddle in the lane. They took off all their clothes except their underwear and bathed themselves in that dirty puddle. Then they all drank from that puddle before washing their clothes in the same puddle. Clean water is a serious issue in this country. That is why Don and I are here - to bring relief to as many people as possible. Cholena and Gabby came back with sea shells and handed me one that had a live mussel in it. I dropped it into the cup holder in the back door behind the driver and promptly forgot it.

We received several texts from Cholena keeping us informed of where they are. We wish them a safe journey!

August 16, 2016 - package from Jo.

Received a test package from Jo today. She mailed it on June 10th. It came in tact. Gabby is here and she was as excited to open the box as I was. We got it opened and examined everything. There were 2 bags of chocolate chips and we ripped into one of them. Don grabbed one of the two summer sausages and held it under his nose and took a big sniff. What a sweet box. Obviously Jo lived outside of the U.S.

August 14, 2016 Sunday - Bob makes us laugh

Cho, Gabby and I went to the PVA for church today. Bob was over and was cutting up paper with a pair of scissors and abruptly said "I have to go wee wee, I am going home". He left. Don walked out the front door seconds after Bob and there was Bob peeing on the porch. Don gave him some guidance on where to pee outside. Later Cho was getting ready to go over to Brother Doe's and she said something to Bob about not peeing on the porch. Bob was adamant that he did NOT pee on the porch. Cho was insistent that he did. They argued back and forth. Cholena left to go over to Brother Doe's and Bob came to me and said "Sister Carley, what is a porch?" I told him the porch is another name for the veranda. His eyes got big and he said, "I DID wee wee on the porch!"

August 13, 2016 - Reusable Fabric Menstrual Kits Given out!!

We had a Healthy Lifestyle conference with the Kossoh town District. The Days for Girls project that the YW did in the Lincoln, Nebraska Stake was presented to the YW here by Sister Clawson, Cholena and Gabby. It was very well attended. There were 39 young women. The presentation was plain and easy to understand and for some young women, it was all new information. They have no clue how the body works. They received their kits with joy and they were excited to see pictures of the American girls at girls' camp working for them. Pictures were also taken on this end of the girls receiving their kits and will be shared with the YW/RS in Lincoln. It was such a wonderful service project by the Lincoln, Nebraska Stake and it was wonderful Cholena and Gabby hand-carried the kits to Africa.

A little Extra from Cho:

This was truly the culmination of a lot of work. Sister Bryan, Sister Oliver, and Sister Berry organized us at Young Women's Camp this summer to make these kits. With the help of many volunteers and donations from the Lincoln Nebraska Stake Relief Society we were able to have the girls, ages 12-18 make these kits. They cut fabric, surged ends, top stitched and added snaps to make these kits. The girls also wrote notes to include in the kit. The kit included 2 reusable waterproof shields, and 8 reusable washable flannel liners. They all came in their own fabric bag which was also made by the girls. We made 39 kits at camp and we had 39 girls come to the class to learn about their bodies.

this was a miracle to me. we asked the girls what they learned that day, these were some of their responses:

I learned what the law of chastity was
I learned that i shouldn't drink alcohol
I learned that my body is a temple
I learned that my body is a gift from God
I learned that I can track my periods so they don't have to be a surprise

Doing this a camp was ALOT of work, but if it made a difference in the life of even one girl it was worth it. Knowledge is empowering. Knowledge brings stability. The knowledge these young women gained will do that for them and all they share it with.

By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.

August 12, 2016

An Accident - Gabby went to the office with us today. We took the Campbell's to the Mission Home with us this morning and they were in the vehicle with us on the way home. We were on the outskirts of Grafton and Don was passing a slow taxi when a big yellow pota-pota (taxi van full of people) began passing us. So we were three wide on a two lane road. The pota-pota side swiped us and when he did he almost lost control of his vehicle and began to swerve. He got it under control. At a safe place, Don pulled off the road and the yellow pota-pota was forced to pull in behind us by Ocata drivers. Many people piled out of the pota-pota. Immediately Ocata (motorcycle) drivers began stopping and there was getting to be a crowd. They were all yelling and talking at once. Hands were just a- flying. Someone asked who the driver was of the pota-pota and someone pointed to a young man who looked to be about 14 years old. He denied he was the driver. An Ocata driver hauled off and punched him and a scuffle ensued. At this point, Don got on the phone and called President Clawson and told him what was happening and that the crowd was getting nasty. President Clawson told Don to get out of there and they would deal with it under safer conditions. Don got in the vehicle and we left. Don told us all the Ocata drivers were standing up for him and was against the black pota-pota driver. I was terrified. A white man against a black man doesn't hold a candle here. I kept saying in the vehicle, "Oh, I hope they don't hurt him". I heard all the yelling and saw the commotion but I did not know they were standing up for Don. Don learned that the pota-pota driver had hit an Ocata and had "damaged" the driver and took off. He was being chased by the Ocata drivers and that is why the pota-pota driver was trying to pass us as we were passing the slow taxi. He said the Ocata drivers were asking him for money to get the "damaged" Ocata driver some help. That would have been fine under different circumstances. But to pull out a wallet in front of all those hot-heads would have been very dangerous for Don. The damage to the truck isn't as bad as it could be. The mirror is torn off and the driver's door is sprung and of course there are scratches all along the side and front fender. Having Brother Campbell in the vehicle with us was a blessing. He was able to speak Kreo and translate for Don. Gabby was sitting on the driver's side of the vehicle and it really shook her up to have been hit on that side of the truck. No one was hurt. We drove about a mile to the police check point to report the accident. There was only one police officer there and he would not take our report because that was someone else's job and that person was not there. So the accident did not get reported

August 11, 2016

With a whole lot of help, I have my new iPad up and running. Only problem is, all my recipes in OneNote have to be downloaded from the cloud individually. Who has time for that? We only have internet service when we are at the mission office. Well, I guess that would be me. Luckily, my IPhone is synced with my IPad and until I can make time to download to my new IPad I can use my IPhone. Technology is wonderful and frustrating at the same time! Cho and Gabby have been here for the last 10 days and it has been so very nice.

August 8, 2016

Cho, Gabby, Sister Clawson, Santos (our tailor) and I spent the morning shopping for material in a wonderful market in downtown Freetown. Santos advised us on all kinds of things: what was good quality, what was too hot for Africa, what colors went together best, etc. Cholena bought about 12 pieces of material and Santos is going to make some clothes for her to take home to her family and friends.

Sister Clawson and I both fell in love with the same piece of material and decided to get matching skirts made. My top will be a dark pink and her's will be a beautiful shade of purple. We have an Apostle and 2 other General Authorities coming in September and for some reason everyone having a new dress to wear is the thing to do. I don't get it.

August 6, 2016

Don went for a run and ran up the mountain road the Chinese are building. Part way up a young man came out of a zinc house and called to Don asking him if he was M.O.B. Don did not know what that meant and shrugged his shoulders with his arms outstretched with his palms up. The young man asked again "are you M.O.B.?" Don made the same motion and included "I don't know what that means". The kid pointed to Don's red bandana that was tucked inside his shorts. Just then two young people appeared behind the first young man and they were both wearing red bandanas. The first young man said "member of blood". Again he asked "are you a member of blood?" Don told him "No, I am an old white man out for a run". Again the young man pointed to Don's red bandana and asked if uses it to wipe his head. Don wiped his head and said "yes". The young man said "you are OK". Don continued his run. He went about 3km and the same thing happened. This time he was asked if he was R.F.M. Again, Don shrugged his shoulders and lifted his arms with the palms up to indicate he did not know what that was. The kid said "Red Flag Member". Don said "NO". Don asked the kid what would happen if he were a M.O.B. The kid told him then they would "fight". After a short dialog and Don declaring he was just an old white man out for exercise Don was declared "OK" and that he could continue his run. Apparently there are a number of gangs here. They are called "cliques" or "bad boys".

August 5, 2016

Brother and Sister Corbaly were on there way to Bo and was t-boned at a round-about. They were not injured but there is serious damage to their truck. This was Sister Corbaly's first out-of-town drive.

August 4, 2016

Elder Samchee has a 103.6 fever. Sister Clawson called and asked me to go over and give home 2 Tylenol and to sponge him down with some cool water. His companion, Elder Carlson, went to the Doe's and asked them if their driver could take him and Elder Samchee to the hospital. When I got over to their apartment, they were coming out the door. The driver was getting the car out. I gave Elder Samchee 2 Tylenol and felt his head. Oh My! He was very hot.

Cholena has Brother Doe picking up balls from one bowl and placing them into another bowl. She said after he moved 7 balls he was very tired. He had "porridge" for breakfast so Sister Doe would not let him feed himself. She does not like him making a "mess".

 Gabby is in the outdoor kitchen with Amenetta cooking something for dinner for the Doe family and all their helpers. Gabby came back and said she did not know what they were cooking but she did eat one bite of it and it was not pleasant and she did not want to know what it was.

We are having dinner tonight with the Clawson's, Miners, Coberlys, and the AP's (2 young missionaries who are assistances to the President - President Clawson). We are having Spaghetti, garlic bread, raw vegetables, which we are bringing, and baked apples with some kind of a glaze sauce. Everyone is tired of rice. Spaghetti will be a nice break.

August 3, 2016

Sahr fed himself for the first time since his accident. Cholena brought a bowl with a rubber gasket around the bottom to keep it from slipping and a fork and spoon that have large handles for people who have trouble gripping and the part that goes into your mouth bends for the person who cannot bend their arm well. He was so full of joy to simply be able to feed himself. She also brought him some very long straws so he can get his own drink when he needs it. These are small items that makes a huge difference in a person's independence. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to have to ask someone to help you with your basic needs. Cholena said he was feeling overwhelmed with the amount of things she brought to help with his physical therapy. She has come with a desire and how to fabricate 3 pieces of equipment that will help him: a set of parallel bars, a tilt table so he can be stood up, and a standing harness. She talked to Brother Doe about these things and he wants to do the tilt table first and he called his welder. His welder came over right away and listened to what the idea is and is coming back tomorrow with suggestions on how to construct it. Cholena worked with Brother Doe all day and Sampson came twice. Brother Doe is exhausted tonight - but very happy.

August 2, 2016

Cholena and Gabrielle arrived at 4:50 p.m. It is so good to see them. Cholena brought with her wonderful pieces of equipment for a physically handicapped person. Things this country does not have. Not only did she bring these things, Sister Clawson and I gave her a whole list of things we wanted that we cannot get here. She got everything plus some things that just makes life easier here. What a blessing she is. When we arrived at the compound, she and Gabby met most everyone and went in and met Sahr. We spent the rest of the evening receiving all the things we asked for plus gifts. It was Christmas in August.

July 28, 2016

What an incredible day. We went out with Elder and Sister Greding to look at 12 wells. These are wells that were done between 2010 and 2014. All of them are still working and well taken care of. We went out into the bush country to 12 small villages. At the first village, the children gathered around me and just stared at me. I said "hello" and they responded "hello". That was all the English they knew. Uhm? How was I going to communicate and what was I going to say. I remembered from previous experience that all schools here have a school song. I asked if they had a school song. An elderly gentleman from behind me translated. The children broke out in song. A very peppy song that required clapping along with the singing. They sang for about 3 minutes and I was beginning to wonder if they were ever going to end. Just then Sister Greding came up behind me and whispered in my ear that the singing was interfering with the hygiene training and to stop the singing as soon as possible. I tried but the children would not stop singing. So I decided if I moved they would probably follow me. So I started walking away from the hut the training was taking place and the children followed me. Then the older children got in front of me and led the way. They sang and we clapped and walked all over the village. The children were singing at the top of their lungs. Same song over and over. Mothers and grandmothers were all coming out of their huts to see what was going on. They loved it. They smiled and waved and was quite encouraging. We probably walked around the village for a solid 15 minutes when Jonathan Cobinah (the site manager for all the wells) came and got me. He grabbed my hand and told me to "come". The children followed us and sang most of the way.He took me to the hygiene meeting. When I saw where we were headed, I turned to the children and put my finger to my lips and said "shhhh". They did the same thing. I pointed to the meeting and they got the point. They became quiet. When I walked into the meeting the children followed and all sat on the floor around the facilitators. They had a reserved chair for me. Hygiene training was excellent and was something the children could relate to. Afterward, Sister Greding thanked me for entertaining the children while they got the meeting started. She said it was a big help. It was not planned on my part. It just happened. And it was so fun.

At the 2nd well, the children again surrounded me. The men of the village and Don and Elder Greding and the hygienists were around the well. I looked at the children and asked their names and tried to converse with them. They could not understand anything I said. The smallest children were afraid of me and if I bent over to get closer to them they would run away. I finally asked if they go to school. They stared at me. A 12 or so year old girl understood the word school and shook her head yes. I asked who their teacher was. The same girl understood the word teacher and pointed in the direction of the men. I looked for a woman in that direction and could not find one. Then a man very stiffly stepped forward with a very unpleasant look on his face and stood in front of me. I stuck my hand out to shake his and he shook my hand. I asked if he spoke English and he said, "yes, of course, I will try". I asked him if the children had a school song. "Yes, of course". He told the children to sing the song. I motioned to the children to follow me. I needed to get them away from the men discussing the well. We walked around a number of huts to a big open area and the children began to sing very loud, clapping and swaying. Several mothers joined them and one woman especially sang with the children and encouraged them to sing and sing and sing. I joined them in the clapping and swaying and thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular display of joy. Then the woman asked me if I liked to dance. I said "yes" and then all the mothers and grandmothers stopped and stared at me. Uh-oh! Was I suppose to dance for them? In horror, I asked "do you want me to dance by myself"? She shook her head yes. I grabbed her and told her to dance with me. Without hesitation, she began to dance and I joined her. The children broke out in joyous laughter and continued to sing and another woman appeared with a drum and kept time with the children's song while this woman and I danced. The group was joined by many adults, men and women, who all stood around the children. The stiff teacher was standing on something to make himself higher than everyone else and he was clapping, singing, swaying and had the biggest smile on his face. I decided to spice it up and I shook my hips, did the swim and the monkey (for you younger folks that is old time dancing) and my word what a whoop went up and laughter. It was so very very fun. When we had to leave, my dance partner and I at the same time reached for each other to give a hug and then I hugged the drummer. It was a sweet sweet parting. All the children lined the road as we drove off yelling "bye, bye". I threw them kisses! Jonathan had my iPad and captured the singing and dancing on video. If I can figure out how to add it to my blog, I will attach it.

The natives love to have their picture taken. At the other wells, I used my iPad to take their pictures and oh how the children loved to see themselves. There were squeals and laughter as they pushed each other to get a closer look. I made sure everyone was in at least one picture and made sure they each got to see themselves. Many women joined in.

On the way back to Kenema, the man who was with us that represented the WASH (water and sanitation department) committee was in our vehicle. He said that no other NGO people had ever gone into the communities and met with the people "like your wife". They all come to the edge and look in and decide what they want to do and then tell the people what they are going to do. They do not ask the people what they need or want. So they give the people what the NGO wants to give and if they community does not want it they will not take care of it. He was appreciative of the work Don and Elder Greding are doing and for me mingling with the people.