Tuesday, November 8, 2016

October 26, 2016 - Jeanne's Birthday and ceremonies!

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!

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