Monday, August 14, 2017


Monday, August 14, 2017
Good morning all!  This is not an official post from Jeanne and Dad.  However, if any of you have seen the world news this morning, you'll have heard about the devastating mudslide that has struck Sierra Leon in the area that Dad and Jeanne serve.  Cho got a text this morning from Dad assuring us that they are safe and sound but several in their area and congregation have been killed.  I will keep you posted if we get any other pertinent news.  Just keep them and those they serve in your thoughts and prayers!

Sunday July 9

I saw President Sesay this morning at the Forut Branch and he told me about the boy drowning (which I already knew) but he added "They found the body this morning and removed it from the river but the fish had eaten his eyes, nose and parts of his face. The funeral is today because his body has already started to decompose."

In Sunday School today the lesson was on "Establishing the house of the Lord". There were about 20 people in the class and I was the only one who had been to the Temple. The young man was doing a great job until the class members started asking questions about the Temple and the young man, with the help of some of the men who only imagined they knew what they were talking about, was teaching false doctrine. I let it go so far and then I asked if I could explain about the Temple. Every person in that room was glued to my every statement. They were sponges, soaking it all in and were in awe of what beautiful blessings await them. I apologized after the class to the young man who taught the lesson for stepping in. He said, "Oh, no you are part of the class and you can make contributions. I learned from you. Thank you." Gracious!

Saturday July 8

OH NO! Tragedy! Today a group of teenage boys were at the river playing as they often do and one drowned. A 17 year old boy jumped off the bridge into the river but the Chinese are building a road and pushed all the loose sand and dirt into the river. When the 17 year old jumped into the river, feet first, he sunk up to his waist in the soft dirt and was lodged and could not get out. He drowned.

tuesday july 4th

Happy Independence Day America! We miss you!!

 No celebration in Africa. We all worked hard all day.

I taught my second Temple Prep Class tonight and it was very good.

July 3 Monday

We went to the office today and Don was beside himself. He is so tired he is grouchy and impatient.

He is working hard on writing up reports on each well he evaluated and 4 of them another NGO came in and painted our well with their colors and put their logo over the top of ours. These local NGO's are hired by very large NGO's from other countries. What the local NGO's do is paint someone else's wells, put their logos on them, and send pictures to the foreign NGO's billing them for the construction of the well plus their workmanship. When they get paid they pocket the money and all they are out is paint and the workmanship for painting. Don is so angry, he says he IS going back to the WASH meeting in July and confronting the local NGO in front of the entire committee.

Sunday July 2

Geneba's 60th Birthday - my African friend.

 A very nice Sabbath. Don came home from Kenema. He got all 58 wells evaluated this week. That was quite an undertaking. He is exhausted and went to bed at 7:00. At 8:30 he came out wide awake and can't turn his brain off. He is thinking about his victory vision and the farm and how to reorganize our facilities to make them easier on two people getting older but who don't want to throw in the towel quite yet.

 He brought me another nice batch of cocoa beans and two pineapples, We cut one up for supper and ate the whole thing, It was very sweet and so delicious.

Saturday July 1

Is there anything sweeter than getting an e-mail from your 5-year old granddaughter. Don left two of his favorite goats in the care of the Sodens and one of them delivered twins. Elizabeth fell in love with the little female and asked her grandpa if she could do work to buy the little goat. Grandpa told her "yes, we will discuss the terms when I get home in November".

 Elizabeth named the little goat Uptown Girl. Don received the following e-mail from Elizabeth this week: "I walked and brushed uptown girl. I walked her from the dog place in the yellow place where the sun is shining. And I found a place to get ready for the fair, And I got all my stuff that I need for uptown girl. And grandpa I want to do all the same things brushing walking and halters every day. Signed Ellie

Friday June 30

44 years ago today I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A sweet Spiritual 44 years.

The Clawson's have left for Guinea this morning to open the country to Missionary Work and Guinea will be part of the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission. It is a 6 hour trip there. It is really only a 4 hour trip but there are so many police stops it takes 6 hours.

Don is still in Kenema. I talked to him shortly after they left to do well evaluations and Lamin told Don they were going to do "small Africa" today. That means they are only going to go on roads that are paved. Yesterday was a nightmare for all of them.

"Just a friend thing" - I opened your card today because I miss you.

Thursday June 29 - thats one way to find a bride

The rains have come and have hit hard. Many of the dirt roads are washed out or have big ravines running down them. Don, Lamin and Jonathan went to evaluate wells in the Kenema District today. They have 40 wells to evaluate. They did 4 today. The wells were so far out into the provinces and what was once roads are now just paths big enough for an okada or are deplorable ruts full of water. I do not understand why they forged on. I would have written up a report saying this is the wrong time of year to do an evaluation telling them why we need to wait until the dry season. Don says he is sure there is damage to the underside of the truck. All three men are basket-cases tonight from being on an adrenaline high all day.

Don shared one story from today. They were in a far-out village and they were asking the caretaker of the well how often the well has broken over the past 3 years and who they get to repair it. They told Don they have their own technician. REALLY!? Now the rest of the story: When the well crew were putting in the well, one of the men from the village paraded out several single women and asked if any of the men were interested in taking a woman to wife. Their was silence among the men and then one of them said "I am". He chose a woman, has stayed in their village, and maintains the well.


Monday, August 14, 2017
Good morning all!  This is not an official post from Jeanne and Dad.  However, if any of you have seen the world news this morning, you'll have heard about the devastating mudslide that has struck Sierra Leon in the area that Dad and Jeanne serve.  Cho got a text this morning from Dad assuring us that they are safe and sound but several in their area and congregation have been killed.  I will keep you posted if we get any other pertinent news.  Just keep them and those they serve in your thoughts and prayers!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Wednesday June 28, 2017

Jack and Jim's 70th Birthday!

Don attend the WASH (water and Sanitation) meeting in Kenema only

to have it cancelled after 4 men sat for over an hour to have no one

else show up. The man who conducts the meeting is always telling

everyone how important it is they attend. He chose to attend a

different meeting. No one was happy. Don doesn't think he will attend

another meeting. I vowed not to attend another WASH meeting last

month when they asked us to contribute a ream of paper for their

copier. These people beg money, supplies and food for this meeting

from the NGO's monthly and the meetings are a waste of time.

Nothing of value is accomplished. We have not contributed from our

Humanitarian fund, but we have contributed out of our own pocket.

Tuesday June 27, 2017

Don and John finished evaluating the other 14 wells. Three or four are

not working because the water committee failed to function and did

not collect any money for the water so when the submersible pump

failed, they did not have the money to repair it. One well was

completely abandoned because the people would not pay 1.3 Cents for

40# of clean-drinking water. So they get all their water from a dirty

contaminated stream. They use this stream for a toilet, washing their

clothes and for cooking and drinking water. They get free medication

monthly for everyone in the village from the government to keep them

from getting cholera, etc. So here is a perfectly good well not being

used. Frustrating!

Tonight I taught the first lesson in the Temple-prep class which was to

be for the District Presidency and the 8 branch presidencies. There

were over 30 people there but many of them were women. I don't

have a clue who many of them were. I was later told two of the

branches opened this meeting up to anyone in their branch who was

interested in attending. Because most people here speak Krio and

many women in Sierra Leone are illiterate that put an interesting twist

on the class. I taught the class as simply as I could and I am very glad I

had visuals. That helped many to understand. President Charles, the

man who asked me to teach this class was skeptical, originally, to

having a woman teach a class of men. But after the class, he held my

hand in his and said "I couldn't have done it any better". I later learned

he is a counselor in the Stake Presidency of the Freetown Stake and

works for the Church and is over seminary and institute for all of Sierra



Monday June 26, 2017

Don left for BO this morning with John Blackie our site manager for 18

wells in the BO area and with Samuel Samba our favorite contractor.

The manufacturing facility of wheelchairs for all of Sierra Leone is

located in BO. They need their facility re-wired and a 3-phase electrical

system connected. A local contractor has given the church a bid but

the work of most Africans is so poor the Church wants a second

contractor to look at it and see if they can do it for the same cost of the

first bid. Don and Samuel stopped and took a look at the project and

were aghast! I don't totally understand electrical language but the

problem has something to do with the first contractor trying to put 3

phases into a one-phase box. Samuel is going to put in his own bid

which will be considerably more costly but it will be done right.

Don and John visited 4 wells this afternoon and were pleased all four of

them are working and the water committee in each village is collecting

small amount of money for each jeri can and are using the money to

improve their village and our keeping their well maintained.

Sunday June 25, 2017

We went to the Jui Branch today. I didn't know it, but Don agreed to

have me speak to the Branch Presidency and their wives, Elder Quorum

President and his wife, clerk and his wife, Relief Society President and

her Husband about the Temple. He told me as we were walking up the

stairs to the Sacrament room. He said I was suppose to talk to them

and find out what they know about the temple so I would know how to

prepare my lesson for Tuesday. After Sacrament, we met in a small

room and my goodness! They threw one question after another at me.

I answered everyone of them. I actually felt invigorated. It was so nice

to be in a teaching situation.

Friday June 23, 2017

We are out of budget so we are concentrating on finishing up the many

projects we have going. However the 14-stall toilet at the PMB Bus

Stop has not started yet and I just finished writing the contract for the

200 tables/benches for the schools in Kenema. When those are

completed, we will be out of projects for this year. We are beginning

writing up projects for 2018 for the couple that will come in after us.

They will get a new budget January 1.

Don will be going to Kenema and BO next week to do an evaluation on

58 wells we have put in in the provinces. The roads are nothing but

huge pot-holes (they call them pit-falls) and this is the raining season.

Those pot-holes are now full of water and you cannot tell how deep

they are. Don is going to hire an okada (motorcycle) to take him

around. An okada can go around most of the pot-holes. I am going to

stay at the Mission Home for the week except for one night. I have

been asked to teach the Temple-Prep class to the Kossoh Town District

Presidency and 8 Branch Presidencies. Of the 8 Branch Presidents only

2 have been to the Temple. The other 6 are return missionaries but all

served missions when there was not a Temple in Africa so they did not

have a chance to go to the Temple. I am thrilled to be given a chance to

teach. This is the first time since I have been in Sierra Leone that I have

been asked to teach. They really want the natives to do the teaching.

That is how they will learn. I really miss teaching.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Jeremiah (11 year old grandson) had knee surgery today. He will have a

3 month recovery period.

We miss our grandchildren and our children.

I made a cake and hot chocolate out of the cocoa beans I got in Kenema

a couple of weeks ago. It takes a little more cocoa than the storebought

stuff to make a good tasting cup of cocoa. The cake was good


Monday June 20, 2017

We visited 6 of our job sites today. That was a lot of climbing up and

down the mountains. On one hike down, my feet slid on the loose

gravel and I slid into the back of Don. I was going pretty fast and I

intuitively tried planting my walking stick into the ground. Instead, I

planted my walking stick right on the top of Don's right foot. That kept

him from going anywhere but luckily I didn't throw him off balance. He

turned and looked at me with the sweetest smile and look of happiness

on his face. Melted my heart.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Don is still not bright this morning. Still running a fever and runny

tummy is worse. We will not be going to the office. Don has a hot spot

on his phone so we can have internet service, but all our data is on the

computer at the office. So today will be a P-day.

Friday June 16, 2017

Don has been ill most of the week. We have not worked hard or as long as normal.

Monday June 12, 2017

Don is not bright today. He is in bed with a massive headache, body

aches, runny tummy and fever with feelings of freezing. These are the

classic symptoms of malaria but he has been faithful in taking his

malaria medication so the chance of it being malaria is small.

Bob asked me tonight if I would make a birthday cake for him. His

birthday is in March. I asked him if he got a cake for his birthday and he

said "no". I wasn't aware of that. I told him I absolutely will. He got so

excited. I will let him help me make it and we will have a party for him

and Michaella together. And they will each get a present!

Saturday June 10, 2017

Vickie Cantrill's Birthday - Don's Sister.

Don spent the day doing a service for Saidu Thoronka. He is having a

house built and Don worked alongside the natives in building a

foundation. He says he carried over 50 headpans of sand and granite.

The young natives carry the headpans over their heads with their arms

extended straight up. These headpans, filled, weigh over 50 lbs each.

Don was not able to lift the pans over his head. He could only get them

waist high so he carried them in front of him. The natives thought he

was so funny and made great light of him. Of course, he is also 50 years

older than most of them. On one of his return trips to get another

headpan full, Don was walking behind a young man who had ear-buds

in and was dancing to music. When the young man realized Don was

behind him, Don started mimicking the young man's dance. Oh that

tickled the young man and he began dancing with Don. The two of

them put on quite a show and brought more laughter and delight to the

hard-working men. Don bought the men fish and sausages (hot dogs)

for lunch. Don really has a fun personality. Many people here love

him - but what can I say - I do, too.

Thursday June 8, 2017

While going down the mountainside to check on the progress at

Boundary one, Don slipped on wet pebbles and his feet flew out from

under him. He fell backward bracing himself with his hands and was

very glad he did not break his wrists. All our projects that Samuel

Samba is the contractor of are doing great. We are very pleased and

the communities are beyond excited and grateful. We have many

communities who see what we are doing for others that they want us

to help them as well. We have used up our budget for 2017 and are

working up the paperwork for additional projects to pass on to the

couple that comes here in November to replace us. They will get a new

budget in January and will have many projects to choose from that all

they will have to do is make visits to the sites, meet the people and

submit the project to Accra, Ghana, for approval. When we came here,

we re-opened the mission after it had been closed for 15 months due to

Ebola. So, we had to start from scratch.


Sunday June 4, 2017

Several women left church today sad. Part of the culture here in Sierra

Leone is to give your children to someone else to raise. I cannot tell

you how amazed I am to learn of the vast amount of child swapping. I

may give my baby to someone else to raise but yet take someone else's

to raise. There are some legitimate taking in of other peoples' children

such as the parents die. That is understandable. The child swapping

escapes my understanding. In Sunday School, the lesson was on

Temples and the reason for them. A discussion came up about who can

be sealed to whom. The teacher had no idea and asked me. The

question was asked "if I take in a child and raise it as my own, can that

child be sealed to me?". I explained that children had to be sealed to

their own parents unless the parents give up their parental rights and

give permission for you to legally adopt them. This cut to the heart of

at least one Sister. Another Sister asked, "Can I have my grandchildren

sealed to me?". Again, I explained that children are sealed to their own

parents. That if your child is not sealed to you then your grandchildren

will not be sealed to you either. But if your child is sealed to you then

their children are sealed to you. You are linked together. More Sisters

saddened. There were a couple of more questions but I can't

remember them. There were no questions about parents being sealed

together. It was all about the children. I, myself, was in tears. I don't

understand this culture and I don't know how God will help these good

women, who love with all of their heart, not have these children as part

of their immediate family. I am sure He has a plan and they will be


Sunday, June 4, 2017 2:16 PM

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The 3rd borehole attempt at Kobba Farm has produced enough water
to produce a 6- gallon-a-minute recharge rate. We are so excited. This
is going to bring water to as many as 2,000 people who are now
fetching all their water for everything out of a dirty contaminated
stream. They will now have clean drinking water.
Evil has appeared at two of our other work sites. We are wanting to
close down those work sites but feel we must push forward for the
innocent people who are suffering for water and sanitation. Don is
over at one of those sites this morning dealing with the wickedness.
Don went for a run this morning and ran for two hours. Going up a
mountain trail, a man hollered to him and wanted to talk. Don could
not understand him and it finally occurred to him what the man was
saying. It sounded like he was saying "do you want to blue a chair". He
repeated himself a couple of times and then Don realized what he was
saying". He was saying blow not blue. So his sentence was "do you
want to blow a chair". He was asking Don if he wanted to sit in a chair
and blow or "catch his breath".
Don went to Mende Well to check out the work. It is going very well.
The capture box is built and the concrete is drying. The lid has not been
put on yet. The people were asked to not walk on the top of the
concrete wall and have debris from their shoes fall into the water and
contaminate it. Everyone was doing that except one young woman.
She was on her 4th trip of the day to fetch water and each time she
walked on the top of the concrete wall. The people told her each time
not to do that. She didn't listen. On the last trip a young man was so
angry, he knocked the full jeri can off her head. That made her mad
and they got into an argument which lead to physical violence. The
young man was on top of the young woman slapping her with an open
hand. Don went over and separated them and told the young woman
to put the can back on her head and leave. They continued to yell at
each other and again got into a fist fight. This time grandma appeared.
Don says she was a stocky woman who had muscles upon muscles from
years of fetching water and doing hard work. She grabbed the young
man and told him he was not allowed to hit a woman "it's the law".
(REALLY! There is law like that here where the men pride themselves
on how many times a week they beat their wives?). The young man
slapped the grandma and she slapped him back. He grabbed grandma
and was bringing her to him and she gave him a head butt right in the
mouth. At this point, several men joined in the ruckus, broke up the
fight and grandma and the young girl trotted off. Don was pleasantly
amazed at the strength and clear thought of grandma.

Thursday June 1, 2017

Coffee beans or as they call them in Africa "coffee cherries". We went to Kenema to

attend the monthly WASH meeting and there were several places drying coffee cherries

and cocoa beans along the side of the road. I stopped at one place and was told they

would not sell me coffee beans or cocoa beans because they only do export. They took

me next door and told the proprietor I wanted to buy just a handful. He told me he

would not sell me any but he would give them to me as "a gift". We got to talking and he

told me he had visited New York in the states. He told me he went to Dunkin Donuts and

they were serving 4 different flavors of coffee and one of them was made from this kind

of a "cherry". He was so proud of that. The picture below this one are the cocoa beans.

He said all I have to do is to let them dry in the sun for a couple more days then I can

grind them into a powder and I would have unsweetened cocoa powder. I might do that,

but I really want to put them in a jar with a ribbon around the top and put them on my

counter to look at. He thought that was pretty funny. I want to give Sister Miner and

Sister Clawson some as well. See entry for March 8th to see a coffee tree.

Wednesday May 31, 2017

Safety! Not a concern in Africa. There are no safety procedures here in

Africa. The African people are so careless with their lives. They do so

many dangerous things. Three weeks ago at one of our work sites the

workers work in flip flops or barefoot. While digging inside a spring

capture box, one of our workers put a pick axe through his foot and was

bleeding profusely. Samuel Samba took him to the hospital and he got

19 stitches, antibiotic shots and pills and had to go back to the hospital

for 5 days to get another shot each day. Don took his family a 50# bag

of rice because the man was unable to work. Monday, the man was

back at work and wanted to thank Don for the rice. Don said it was

very awkward. The man did not know what to say but Don fully

understood his gratefulness.

I heard a man yell at another man to "hurry up". The man's reply was "I

am in full haste".

While driving down a mountain we came upon a very old land rover.

We could see through the back window and the man driving the vehicle

was so small he had to look through the steering wheel. He drove

erratically so we thought it must be a child. At an appropriate place,

Don passed the vehicle and I could see it was an adult - he was just

small. For some reason we thought this was so funny and took great

joy in the experience. Are we weird or what?

We are enjoying our mission. We work with many people and many of

them are good people who are just fun to be around. The country of

Africa is absolutely beautiful. This time of year is what we would

consider "Spring". The rains have come and all the trees, bushes,

houses, air & everything has had a good washing and spring flowers and

new growth on bushes and trees are blooming. Flowers bloom here all

year long. But in Spring, there are many more flowers. During the dry

season many trees and bushes go into hibernation.

We are in Kenema today attending a WASH (water & sanitation)

meeting. We will have dinner tonight with the Corbaly's who are the

MLS Senior Missionary Couple here in Kenema.

We have heard from SLC that they are having trouble finding a

replacement couple for us. The one couple who specifically requested

to come to Sierra Leone was denied due to health issues. There are no

health care facilities here in Sierra leone that can handle anything more

than first aid needs. SLC told us they are looking at another application

from a Senior Couple and they may be a possibility. We can not extend

beyond our current time offered. We can, however, go home and

reapply and come back. We have been considering that but then

again, we have been talking a lot about going home, re-establishing our

goat herd, and how we are going to rearrange the usage of our

buildings. We have been talking about getting on our motorcycle and

visiting family and friends and stopping in to see the other Senior

Missionary Couples we went through the MTC with. There were 7

couples and we all went to Africa, Asia, or the Mid-East. It will be fun

to sit and compare notes. We have wondered together what the Lord

has in store for us next. We are healthy and willing. We are confident

the Lord will use us to continue to bless his children. What joy there is

in the service of God!


Friday May 26, 2017

Isabelle's 8th birthday. She has decided to wait to be baptized until her

Grandfather comes home from his mission in November.

Today we are checking out some of our job sites. Wlhile at the Dwarzak

Tank there were many school children on break and there was one

young man with a baby monkey on a string. Don took pictures to send

to Isabelle.

A view from the top of the mountain. This is a picture of Freetown.

Notice how the houses are just about stacked on top of each other. In

the background is the Atlantic Ocean. You can see a ship.

Saturday may 20, 2017

We are in Makeni for the weekend. Tomorrow Makeni will be made

into a District. We had leadership training this morning for all the

leaders in the 3 Branches that are here. There is a lot of excitement

about becoming a District. This evening we had our 8 young

Missionaries over for dinner and then a district meeting. President and

sister Clawson arrived on Friday shortly after we did and we had a taco

dinner and spent the evening together. That was sweet. Tonight they

shared with the missionaries the things they learned in Ghana from

their Mission President's training they attended last month. They also

told us that the Kissy District (in Freetown) is going to be made a Stake

on June 18th, the Freetown Stake is going to be split into two Stakes

before the end of the year and there are two other districts getting real

close to becoming a Stake. By this time next year there will be 5 Stakes

in Sierra Leone. Right now we have one. Our full compliment of

Missionaries is 160. We are currently at 133. We will reach 160 in

September. President Clawson has requested 50 additional

Missionaries bringing our full compliment up to 210. The reason for

this is that it was discovered that there are some self-established home

groups in the outer provinces. There is one that has 4 members and

their average attendance at their Sunday meetings is 78. This particular

group is 4 hours north of our closest district that can support them.

There are also two other groups within 10 miles of each other that

didn't even know the other one existed and these groups are south of

Kenema. Kenema is 4 hours from Freetown. The growth of the Church

in West Africa is phenomenal!

Tuesday may 9, 2017

I was making our lunch to take to the office and pulled out the can of  pringles from the cupboard. When I opened it, I was surprised. It was full of compost. Apparently, I threw away the chips and put the can of compost in the cupboard. Good Grief!

Wednesday May 3, 2017

We are all tired!!! Don and Elder Greding took Okadas up to the Mende well and came

back to the office very excited. The work there is going very well. Elder Greding is

impressed with Samuel's work and told Don he has found a 2nd contractor he can work

with when we go home. This is exciting to us because we love the work Samuel and Bai

Sesay are doing and are relieved because Elder Greding is a hard man to please. He has

strict work ethics and these men meet his expectations. Sister Greding helped me work

on some contracts and closing out old projects that I am unfamiliar with. It was a good

day to take a rest and do brain-work instead of hiking. She is so easy to work with and I

just love her. She is so down to earth.

Tuesday may 2, 2017

We picked the Gredings up at 9:30 and headed out. We went to the office and Sister

Greding and I stayed at the office while Don and Elder Greding took Okada's

(motorcycles) up to the Mende Well. We are deconstructing an old poorly constructed

spring box and the work is going well. Elder Greding met our contractor, Samuel

Samba. Then the men joined Sister Greding and me and we went Down-the-Hole. It is

a very long, steep, and treacherous descent. The Gredings were very impressed with

our accomplishment and with the way the community is collecting money for the

water, their bank account, the way they are transparent with the community and with

us. Elder Greding asked who our contractor was on this project and Don told him,

Samuel Samba. After spending quite a while at this site, we hiked back up this

mountain. Sister Greding said this hike was similar to "tarantula mountain" in california

that she hikes but tarantula mountain is only 1/3 of the distance as Down-the-Hole".

She found this hike almost unbearable. Then we drove to Leicester/Glouster where we

have a huge capture box being built and were able to just drive to it. Samuel Samba

was there working with his men. Elder Greding was pleased with this project and it's

construction. From here we went to the Dwarzak Tank and that is another long uphill

hike. Not terribly steep with some nice flat parts to hike on. From here, we called it a

day and dropped the Gredings off at the hotel and went to the mission office to check

our e-mails and to pick up vivian to take him home. But, he left with Ali Kargbo and we

did not have to take him home. We stopped at a roadside stand and bought fruits and

vegetables. We are so tired. Don is actually grouchy.

Monday May 1, 2017

We met the Gredings at their hotel at 9:30 a.m. We spent all morning visiting sites in the grafton/waterloo area. We visited Kobba Farm where we have a hand-dug borehole going in, then the 5/5 school where we put in a hand-dug well a few months ago. Elder Greding was disturbed at what we found. The well is just fine but they are not collecting money for the water so they will not be able to maintain the well. They tried convincing us they are collecting money but they have a 14 year old illiterate girl
"collecting" money and she was no where around. Someone rounded her up and she said she collects 1,000 Leones per jeri can. But there were 12 people their to fetch water and many of them had multiple cans. She did not collect from any of them. Elder
Greding asked two of them if they brought money to pay for water. They said "no". He asked Brother Stephens when he collects the money from the young girl. He said,"once a week on Mondays". That is ridiculous. Thievery is so bad here you would never leave a weeks' worth of collections with a young girl who has no where to keep anything safe. Elder Greding came down hard on Brother Stephens and reiterated everything we have been telling him. If they do not start collecting for water, this Well will be spoiled. We are going to work hard with Brother Stephens and Mrs. Scott on getting them to collect money. From here we went to the PVA and watched them on the construction of the 7-stall toilet and 2 showers. Bai Sesay was not there. He had gone to get some things they needed for the project. Elder Greding checked the concrete work and it was good. He did not like seeing the mortar they were using sitting out in the hot sun drying out. Apparently, the drier the mortar gets the more it loses it strength. He told the men to mix a little water with it. When President Sesay
arrived, Don asked him about the mortar. President Sesay said exactly what Elder Greding had said and pointed to the pile of mortar and said "it is finished". Elder Greding was very pleased with President Sesay's answers to all the questions and later
told Don that He has found a contractor he can work with when Don and I go home.

From here we went to the War Wounded School to show Elder Greding the ramps and sanitation facility we constructed there. Again, President Sesay did the work and Elder Greding pronounced it "good". On our way to our next site, we stopped at our favorite chicken place and had lunch. Then we hiked to the Hill Top site, which is not on the hill top. We have to hike down a very steep and treacherous path that Don has fallen down many times. We all made it down safely. Sister Greding and I decided after about half an hour to head back up before our husbands because we are much slower than they are. For some reason, I kept trying to fall over to the right and she kept trying to fall backward. We held hands and slowly picked our way back up the hill. She would
keep me from falling sideways and I kept her from falling backwards. Two old white women! What a hoot! It took us forever to get to the truck and were there only a few minutes before our husbands popped up. Then we hiked down to Boundary 1, level 1
and level 2 and the hand-dug well. We had to hike over boulders and down slippery rocky paths and across what is called a bridge but is anything but a bridge and it is a long way down. We spent about an hour at these 3 places and then hiked back up the mountain. We were all huffing and puffing. What a day. We went back to the hotel with the Gredings and ate dinner with them. We are all tired!


Wednesday April 26, 2017

While hiking down the mountain to check out an open spring source at "George's Dam"

the path was beautiful and it was very nice. However, there were places on the path

that had small pebbles and hiking downhill was tricky. My left foot rolled out from

under me and I fell twisting & hurting my knee. We were passing a house and a woman

brought out a chair and placed it under the shade tree and I sat and waited while Don

and the two natives continued down to the spring, which was within sight of where I

was sitting. When they came back about 45 minutes later, my knee felt pretty good

and we started back up the mountain. I could tell the back of my knee is what was hurt.

We went slow and I did just fine.

Thursday April 27, 2017

Independence Day for Sierra Leone. They became independent from the British colony

on April 27, 1961.

I had a quiet day doing the things I enjoy doing by myself. Don had a "murphy's law

day" and is quite agitated. Living in this compound is so draining. Everyone relies on

Don to solve all the problems. He has been very frustrated with Africell, our one and

only security guard that is left because he is always drunk and is not mechanically

inclined and he is in charge of the generator. He messes the thing up all the time and

Don is constantly fixing it. Tonight Africell came after dark to start the generator and he

was drunk and couldn't get it started. He asked Don to get his truck and jump start the

battery on the generator which happens multiple times every week. Africell has been

given money on several occasions by Sahr Doe to buy a new battery and we keep

having this problem. Don says the batteries Africell is buying are old used ones and/or

batteries that are cheap and don't work well. Tonight Don was out-of-sorts from all

the other things he had to fix today that this just pushed him over the limit and he

yelled at Africell. Africell was so hurt and Don, as Leo would say: "popped his cork".

Brother Doe fired Africell.

The back of my knee is tender. The front of the knee just below the knee cap is tender

when I walk down hill.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Harvesting rocks

Thursday, April 20, 2017
Jo's 29th Birthday for the 39th time. Jo, that sounds really old. Are you sure I just can't
say you are 68 years old. 68 doesn't sound that bad. Jo's 68th birthday.
We had the most awesome meeting today with the SLRA that is the Sierra Leone Road
Authority. We met with the newly appointed Director General and she brought in 9 of
her top department heads including HR. Don made a presentation with the request
that we be allowed to make "rest stops" along the highways between major cities to
help with the sanitation problem. There is no sanitation in Sierra Leone. We have
designed a 14-stall toilet with handicap accessible capabilities and want to place it at
the one and only bus stop in Sierra leone which happens to be in Wellington (nearby).
All 10 of the SLRA leaders were excited about this whole idea. Several asked if they
could have sanitation put into their home. They were ecstatic to learn they can. Biofil
will put digesters anywhere and we have worked out a business plan with Biofil. A
sweet deal for the Church and for Biofil. The meeting itself was so fun. The new
Director General is a woman who is highly respected by her 9 male department heads
and she is comfortable in her role. At the end of the meeting, she stood and pointed
out to everyone that Don's tie matched my skirt. She thought that's was the cat's
meow. She told them they should consider doing the same thing. There were muslims
there and muslims can have as many wives as they want and can care for. One of the
men said, "but what if I have two wives?" I think you would have to be there to get the
joke of the statement. But it hit everyone funny and there was a lot of laughter. Then
she remarked on how kind and respectful Don is to me and they should all take notice.
There was more chatter and handshakes all around and as I was leaving the Director
General hugged me.
Don helped Saidu Conteh buy a motorcycle this evening. They are both giddy.
Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017
Happy Easter! We attended the rogboneh branch today and it was quite nice. The talks
were on talents, family responsibilities, temple recommends and one more and I can't
remember it.
We had the missionaries over again for supper and I made French Toast, lots of fruit,
tang (I just happen to run into a can in one of the Makeni stores - I snatched it up) and
the pudding I made last night was such a hit one of the Sisters asked for the recipe and
came over today and made 4 more batches. Then I taught the 4 sisters how to dye
easter eggs. They were tickled. When the eggs were dry, I hid the eggs all over the
apartment and they searched for them. As Don says, "these Sisters are so innocent
they are excited to find an egg". He was so right. Those sisters squealed and jumped
around every time they found an egg. Then they wanted me to hide them again. I did.
They were unsure about eating them though. One Sister peeled a small piece off the
white of the egg and gingerly put it on her tongue. She then declared it tasted normal.
After that, the 9 missionaries scarfed down 27 colored eggs. Boiled eggs are a staple
here. They are cheap and are a good source of protein. For some of the Africans, it is
the only protein they get. I don't understand why they don't eat more beans. But
hardly ever do. It was a great Easter evening.
Saturday, April 15, 2017
Don has spent the day scouring Makeni for plumbing parts. He has found most
everything but it was a piece in this store and a piece in that store. He asked every
store owner to refer him to someone who might have some parts. After MANY stores
he was able to get most everything - except washers. I spent the day cooking for our 9
Makeni Missionaries. The non-Africans are so tired of rice and African sauces. I
decided to make sloppy joes and potato salad, chicken-cheese soup, and raw
vegetables and chocolate pudding. Everyone, including the Africans loved it. However,
the Africans stuffed their bread with potato salad and ate the sloppy joe with a spoon.
They love getting together and have such a wonderful time. Don let them socialize for a
good hour after supper and then turned the discussion to Faith. They really got into it
and scriptures, stories and opinions were just flying. There was so much laughter. At
one point, someone brought up the 3 Nephites and John the Beloved still being on the
earth. This very quiet, studious young missionary said, "I have a confession". The room
went quiet. He then said, "I am one of the 3 Nephites". Oh! The laughter that went up
and all the funny comments. I sat there and watched the whole thing thinking "This is
probably the reaction the 4 men would get if they actually bore witness of themselves.
Who says this is not one of the 3 Nephites or John the beloved. How short-sighted we
can be. Why can't one of them be a young missionary in Sierra Leone." The young
missionary laughed and took the ribbing well. Then the discussion turned to Cain. Two
of the nine missionaries think Cain still walks the earth. They tried finding scriptures to
prove their point but couldn't. Don pointed out to them that when the earth was
flooded there were only 8 people on the ark and Cain was not on the passenger list.
They responded with, "God can make anything happen". It was an awesome evening.
Friday, April 14, 2017
We came to Makeni for the weekend. We love it here. But Don gets so frustrated. He
works almost the entire time we are here doing handyman work on a duplex less than 9
months old. The Africans do not know how to do plumbing or electrical work. When
they built this duplex they put in a hand-dug well. They went so far down until they hit
rock and called it good. Needless to say, it is not very deep and the well is dry and has
been since the end of December. We installed two Milla tanks one for each side of the
duplex (one is 5,000 liters and the other is a 3,000 liter tank). We have been having
water brought in. It was decided that this compound needs one more additional tank.
So they put in another 5,000 liter tank. This one sits on the ground and the water is
pumped up to the two in the air. For some unknown reason, when they put the
basement (a concrete platform) in for the tank to sit on they put it smack in the middle
of the driveway. They did a very bad job. They built the outside of the platform out of
concrete and filled the center with rocks and then put a 1" slab of concrete on the top
with no supporting steel in it. Then they put the tank on the platform and filled it with
5,000 liters of water. The weight of the water crushed the 1" slab. Not only that, but
whoever did the plumbing did a crappy job. It leaked so bad, all 5,000 liters drained
out. Keep in mind, we are in the dry season and it has not rained since the beginnning
of December. The rivers are trickles and the streams are dry. People are suffering for
water and we had this huge waste. Don will spend the week end fixing this mess. He is
not happy.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Don visited all the work sites today and I worked in the office. I had a lot of backed up
paperwork to do. He came back saying the men at the hand-dug well were angry and
so were Samuel and Brother Thomas. Brother Thomas told Don he would call him
tonight and explain.
Later: Brother Thomas called and told us that Samuel had purchased a 50# bag of rice
and hired a woman to make a big meal for the 6 men working the well everyday. He
gave her enough money to buy all the ingredients to make a sauce as well. After 4
days, the woman told the men "finished". That bag of rice should have lasted passed
the length of time to construct the well. The woman "chopped" the money. (Meaning
she ate it or stoled it). The men were ready to beat her and Brother Thomas stepped in
and got rid of the woman and the men told her if they ever see her they will beat her.
April 14th - Don went down to the hand-dug well site and Samuel was there with the
men and Brother Thomas. Don gave Brother Thomas 300,000 Leones for another bag
of rice and ingredients to make a stew. On inspiration, when we submitted our budget
for this project, Don added 1,000,000 Leones for miscellaneous. This is a $93 thousand
USD project and adding an additional $135.00 as emergency money seemed right. We
are very happy for the inspiration. Brother Thomas is controlling the rice and the
money for the ingredients to make a sauce.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
When we got home tonight, we drove into the compound and there was a dog lying on
its side and it could not get up. I told Don there was something wrong with that dog.
Don Pulled in and parked and we sat for several minutes watching that dog. I went into
the house and Don walked down to where the dog was. After a few minutes, I walked
out on the veranda and watched what was happening. Don was standing about 10 feet
from the Dog and the dog was trying really hard to get up but its back legs could not
work. He finally flopped himself up and forced himself onto its feet and tried walking
and staggered all over the place running into things. I went into the kitchen just in time
to see Don pick up a pipe just outside the kitchen door. I knew what he was about to
do. That dog was acting Rabid and Don put him down. There are 5 dogs in our
compound and they all belong to the Doe's. Don told Sister doe he put down one of her
dogs. He told her she needed to get rid of the dogs or kennel them for 2 months to see
if they are also rabid. She chose to kennel them. The Doe's are financially strapped and
have let go of all their staff except their driver and one security guard that is drunk most
of the time and pretty much useless. The dogs are our only other protection. Thievery
is so bad here that you have to have guards 24/7 and dogs. People are very clever on
how to break into a house even though there are bars on the doors and windows. Don
felt really bad about having to beat the dog to death. He wished he had his gun with
Sunday, April 9, 2017
Oh what a sweet experience! I was going to open my closet door and saw the picture
of Christ relaxing on a pile of rocks and looking up at the stars. As I was looking at this
picture, Don had Elvis Presley singing gospel music playing on his phone and Elvis began
singing How Great Thou Art. The words of that song as I was looking at this picture
gave me the most awesome spiritual experience. I can't even begin to describe the
depth of it.
We went to the Kossoh Town Branch today for Sacrament Meeting and they met in
their new building. It was really nice.
Friday, April 7, 2017
We are hiking again today and I am not doing all the hikes. Don wanted to check out
Southridge. That was the place we were going to do a huge water project and the day
before we were to start, the chief of the village betrayed his community and took a
bribe and had someone else do the project. Don's report was sad. All they did was
cover the spring source and did a lousy job. It is leaking badly and they made crude
fetching points that does not solve any of the original problems.
We went to Boundary 1 to the hand-dug well project and they are doing very well. It
should be done in about a week.
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Jesus Christ's birthday.
Hiked down Boundary 1 to levels 1 &. 2 and visited the hand-dug well. Don is
fascinated with its construction. Every thing is going very well at all 3 sites. Then we
went to Hill Top. I was pooped and did not go down. They are bending steel to go into
the concrete and that just doesn't seem like something I need to kill myself over. I will
go down when there is some real progress being made and there is something to see.
While Don was there, there was a woman sitting at the site in queue with her jeri can
to get water and she had a bucket of large homemade butterscotch balls on her head.
Don asked her about them and they were 2 for 500 leones. ($.03 each) Don bought the
whole bucket and told her to pass them out to all the men and to be sure to give at
least 2 to every man carrying 80# bags of cement on their heads down the mountain to
the work site. It was a bucket-brigade style process. One man carried a bag 25 yards
and handed it off to the next guy and went back up to get another bag. And all the way
down the mountain they did this. Really HARD work. Below are some pictures of
people harvesting rocks. They take very large rocks and cook charcoal on top of them
to crack them and then using a hammer, they break the large rocks into small rocks.
They make varying sizes of rocks depending on the size ordered. As you can see many
of them are women and they bring their babies with them. They work all day in the sun
and they seem to be happy. Lots of smiles, laughing and talking. This is a way of life
and they don't know any different so they find joy in their day.
We took the men donuts and peanuts. They were so happy.
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
That sweet feeling of peace I felt on Sunday is still with me.

When Cholena was here, she gave Don a picture of Christ relaxing on a pile of rocks and

staring up at the stars. I posted that on our closet door at eye level so we would see it

often. As I went to open the door this morning I stood and stared at that picture and

that sweet feeling of peace I have had since Sunday intensified. It only lasted a few

seconds and then I was back to feeling the sweet peace I felt in the Makama Branch.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
28 Years ago today, Don and I were married.

That sweet feeling of peace I felt on Sunday at the Makama Branch is still with me.

We visited our 4 sites where we have projects going. Which means we hiked up and

down the mountains again. We took the men donuts. They were so happy. Everything

is going very well.

We stopped at the New Brookfield Hotel for supper tonight to celebrate. It was so

Sunday, April 2, 2017
General Conference today. But we don't get it until 4:00 this afternoon. Don is still ill
so I walked over to the Makama Branch and attended services there. When I walked
into the chapel, I had such a sweet feeling of peace roll over me. It stayed with me all
day. At 3:30 the Missionaries showed up and we watched the Spoken Word and then
conference. The Missionaries were so engrossed in the conference. They were glued
to the computer and they were all taking notes. I made a large salad, toasted some
bread and made spaghetti. I cooked a two pound package of spaghetti and two of the
sister missionaries were appalled that I would cook so much. I reminded them we were
feeding 6 men. That did not make any difference to them. It was too much. We ate
between sessions. The 4 sisters left before dinner was ready and came back later. In
the mean-time, the rest of ate. Those 6 men and me ate all the spaghetti. When the
Sisters came back they were flabbergasted there was no spaghetti left. I offered to
cook some noodles for them and 3 of them said "no". One was hungry and said "yes". I
cooked her some noodles and she filled her plate leaving a cup of noodles left in the pot
and those 3 sisters fought over them. As they were squabbling over the noodles the
Sister who said "yes" filled her plate with salad and the left over bread. The whole
thing was so comical. I did feed those 3 sisters.
Saturday, April 1, 2017
There is an out break of mumps in Kenema.
Unicef has inoculated every child in Sierra Leone under the age of 5 for polio for free in
the last 2 months.
The 43 year old Bishop of the Bellair Ward in Freetown went to register to vote, was
standing in line and fainted. He was taken to the hospital and died. They don't do
autopsies here so they don't know why he died. His funeral will be on Thursday, April 6.
Sister Vandy , in BO, was taking her 6 month old baby out to the province to see her
family and they were on an ocata. As they were going down the highway, an on-coming
pota-pota was weaving all over the place so the ocata driver pulled off the road and
stopped. The pota-pota got almost to them and began rolling and rolled right over the
top of them and killed the ocata driver and the baby. Sister Vandy has a broken leg
between her knee and ankle and is in the hospital.
Today is General Conference. For the first time in Sierra Leone, all sessions were aired
live. We had the 9 Makeni Missionaries (4 Sisters, 5 Elders) over to watch on the
computer. The Saturday morning session aired at 4:00 p.m. Here. I made a big bowl of
potato salad, baked beans and served hot dogs. The American Elders, thought they
died and went to heaven. They were so happy to have American food and foods they
miss. Two of the African Sisters took their hot dog bun and filled it full of potato salad
and ate the hot dog on the side. All the Missionaries ate very well. I made enough to
feed an army and they did it justice. The afternoon session aired at 8:00 p.m. And the
Priesthood session aired at Midnight (which we did not watch).
FEBRUARY 12, 2017, Sunday
A person should not come home from a 3 hour worship service being depressed. In
Sunday School the teacher was teaching on how we recognize the spirit and spent the
majority of the time talking about how good the devil is. He made some bizarre
statements about the Holy Ghost that were just not true. He used real life examples for
Africans like talking about not having food to eat and cheating your brother in business
and thinking that that is normal and right. Which was good. But, He obviously has no
real concept of the Holy Ghost. The bad thing or good thing, was I did not say a word.
Where would I have started. This man was full of himself, pompous, arrogant and a
know-it-all with the attitude of ' I am the teacher and you will listen to me.' As he said,
"when I was district president. . ." REALLY! How can a district president have such a
bizarre understanding of the Holy Ghost and think the devil does good? The Spirit said
to me "he is teaching from his past". Correcting this self-important man would have
brought contention. And contention is of the devil. Should I have taken over the class
with truth or kept my mouth shut? The Spirit did not encourage me. This is something
the Priesthood needs to deal with. I am a white woman and he is a black man. In this
society women are nothing. As we were leaving the Sunday School room a man told
the teacher it was a very good lesson.
Then, If that wasn't bad enough: In Relief Society they were very unprepared - which
is normal. They never plan a lesson. The R.S. President will hand someone a manual
and say "teach". That means we read paragraph after paragraph and try to have some
kind of discussion. Today the Sister chose the lesson on Charity and the first question
out of her mouth was "Sister" meaning me "what is charity?" Easy enough. Then we
began to read. After every paragraph she asked the sister who read to explain what she
read and then she would ask me to make a contribution. That got old really fast. A few
times I said "she explained it perfectly". Then we came to the story of the Good
Samaritan. The story was read and explained and then I was asked to make a
contribution. I tried to make it realistic to real life and mentioned that in Sierra Leone
there are many opportunities to help others because the needs here are so great. The
R.S. President jumped all over me about they have to be careful who they help because
if you touch someone who is a criminal and you leave your fingerprint on them and
they get captured by the police and they find your fingerprint on them then you have to
go to court. . .blah, blah, blah" She was not soft nor gentle in her chastisement of me. I
responded to her with, "this is exactly why you should not be asking me to make a
contribution after every sister speaks. I obviously don't know everything about your
culture, ask someone else to make a contribution." I had had enough!!! With that
the teacher finished the lesson and we all left.
FEBRUARY 9, 2017, Thursday
Dear Sharral, Ellie, Izzy, Jerry, Gavin, Gabby & elena

I am very happy it is Valentine's day! I am very happy you have valentine's for your


I am sending you some pictures of a school. As you can see their schools need a lot of

work. The children are loving and very eager to please. Because they are black and I

am white, they all want to touch me. They are amazed that I feel just like them. They

are fascinated with my straight light brown hair and my blue eyes. I let them touch my

hands and arms and run their fingers through my hair. That makes them so happy.

Don walking to the school. The roof is tarps. There is another picture below of a typical class room.

FEBRUARY 8, 2017, Wednesday
Jo & Mel's 52nd wedding anniversary! Amazing, I still remember Jo as a hard-headed, I
am going to do it my way teenager but one that was soft and gentle to me. How I love
I am not feeling all that well this morning. My head feels weird. I slept all night which is
unusual and did not wake up until 8:00 this morning. Maybe I just slept too hard for
too long. We have not had a day off in 3 weeks and I may just need to have some time
alone. I feel grouchy. However, the Spirit is very close this morning reminding me of
many sweet spiritual experiences I have had. I am quite emotional with these
wonderful spiritual feelings and grouchy with a weird head at the same time.
Don left a while ago to take a missionary out to Makeni and to deliver 6 cases of
manuals to the 3 branches. He made an appointment with Mr. Mansaray as well. Mr.
Mansaray has been commissioned by the President of Sierra Leone to set up a teaching
college in Makeni for doctors and nurses. This would be getting a foot in the door for
the church on placing medical equipment throughout Sierra Leone. We have been told
that the Scotts who will be replacing us as the humanitarian couple that he is a medical
doctor and has requested to come to Sierra Leone and work as a humanitarian. This
would be a huge blessing to the health of this country. We are working hard on
providing clean drinking water and they may make a switch and work on providing
better health care.
FEBRUARY 7, 2017, Tuesday
Yesterday was Feb. 6 and I received a text message from Jennifer Mullally dated Jan. 7.
Better late than never.
We heard the Columbus Branch received a new Branch President. Personally, I am
sorry to see President Shaw leave and just as sorry to see Sister Shaw leave. I have
thoroughly enjoyed them.
Brother Thomas came to us yesterday, late afternoon, and told us that there is a
problem at the South Ridge project site. This is a site where we are going to build a
catchment box and pipe the water down to a spring box where there is going to be two
10,000 Liter Milla tanks to pump water into. This would provide approximately 40,000
people with clean drinking water daily even in the dry season. We have been working
on this project since November getting all the paperwork completed and submitted to
SLC for approval. We received approval yesterday morning. Brother Thomas told us
that someone was drilling a hand-dug borehole on the site we are planning on doing
this water project. Don came unglued and called the community secretary and told him
he wanted to have a meeting this morning at the site to see what is really happening.
He told Paul, the secretary, if it is true than he has lost his trust and will not do any
project at all for south ridge. Paul did not know what Don was talking about and said he
would talk to the Chairman and get back to him in a few minutes. Which he did.
Neither he nor the Chairman knew what Don was talking about. Don called Michael
Ropeiki, the man who we have worked with before who has a team that drills hand-dug
boreholes. Michael said he had a crew over in that area but they were at the top of the
mountain. He agreed to meet us this morning at the top of the mountain. He called 10
minutes before we were to meet and asked us to push the meeting off for an hour. We
did not. Everyone was there except Michael and we went down the mountain. Sure
enough, there was a crew there and they had torn up the spring's opening and were
drilling. The Chairman and the Secretary were livid. They demanded to know who
authorized them to do this. We learned that the tribal chief (who has attended at least
6 meetings with us and has agreed to and has signed papers with us to do this huge
water project) accepted a bribe from a man who works for the American Embassy and
makes his money by arranging successful projects. This man hired Michael's crew to do
a hand-dug borehole. Michael's company will drill 2 holes and if they can't get water,
then you have to pay them for their work anyway. They drilled 2 holes and hit rock and
could not get to water so were going to pull out. The man from the Embassy went to
the tribal chief and bribed him to let Michael's crew put in a borehole where they were
guaranteed to find water. Don called Michael and he had no idea that his crew had
moved down the mountain. The Chairman and the Secretary were extremely angry and
I don't think I will ever forget the words and the look on the face of the Secretary "we
have been betrayed!" The people of the community that knows the depth of our
project was also very angry. Don told them we are done with South Ridge and we will
take our money and help people in other communities. We have 31 requests for help
so it will not be difficult to find a replacement project. It is just disheartening to lose an
opportunity to bring so many people clean drinking water and to lose 4 months of
work. Brother thomas and Samuel, our contractor, came back to the office with us and
we went through the 31 potential projects and we chose 5. These are smaller projects.
Don has my cold. He is miserable.
FEBRUARY 5, 2017, Sunday
President Clawson has asked that the 3 branches in Makeni be made into a district. He
was hoping approval would come before today because he held a 3 branch conference
today and was hoping to make it into a District. But approval has not come yet so it
was just a 3-branch conference. But it was very good. The Spirit was strong and all the
speakers did very well. One spoke on the Word of Wisdom, another talked about
Chastity from a very basic level, Sister Clawson talked about being offended is a choice
and President Clawson talked about being a Temple-ready people with everyone
worthy holding a Temple Recommend from the age of 12 on up. He shared Elder
Davies's, councilor in the presiding Bishopric, story he shared with us in September
when he was here for the Kissy Conference about how Temple sites are selected. After
the meeting was over, several ,and I do mean several, people approached Don and me
separately asking for food or money. I only had one child ask me for food and I gave
her a bag of ground nuts (peanuts) that I keep in the glove compartment for beggars
who are in need of food. Everyone else asked for money. Neither of us gave anyone
money. We referred them to their families or their Branch Presidents.
FEBRUARY 4, 2017, Saturday
We are in Makeni. I inadvertently left my iPad here last time we were here so did not
have a chance to write. Our well here in Makeni is dry and the Sister Missionaries next
door have been without water for a full day. President and sister Clawson are spending
the weekend with us so they can do some leadership training and hold a 3-branch
conference. Don and President Clawson decided to order a bowser (water truck) to
deliver 5,000 liters of water for both apartments. The well needs to be made deeper if
we are going to have water during the dry season (which ends in June)
The last month has been very busy but a lot of fun. Two of my sisters, Jo & Jan, were
here for 9 days and it was awesome to share Africa with them. We drove out into the
provinces to show them how the natives live without electricity or water in their
homes, we went to Banana Island and they got to experience crossing the ocean in an
old wooden fishing canoe, of course we shopped the markets on the street and went
downtown Freetown to the Big Market. We introduced them to African food and
lawless driving. It was a full 9 days. From here they went to Paris for a couple of days
before heading back to America. When they arrived here, they both brought a suitcase
full of items we cannot get here. They replenished our stock plus brought a sewing
machine for Sister Clawson and a suitcase of shoes for a missionary from his mother.
The following week, Don and I went to Kenema to attend the WASH (water &
sanitation) meeting on Wednesday. While there we learned WaterAid was putting on a
seminar and we attended their 2-day seminar on Thursday & Friday. It was very good
and we learned a lot. Then we did welfare training in 3 Districts and Kenema and a 4th
in Bo. They went very well. Don did an awesome job. We used the 2011 October
Conference Talk by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf titled "Providing in the Lord's Way" as the
basis of our training. This was the first time I participated in real teaching since I have
been here. It felt so good.
We had a potentially nasty situation happen between one of our contractors and a
subcontractor. They did not communicate well and we did not sit down with them
together at the beginning to make sure everyone was on the same page. The
contractor called the subcontractor several times to make sure the pricing was right.
They each thought the other was talking about something different and there was a
mixup in pricing. The contractor paid the subcontractor 15 million Leones and the
subcontractor was expecting to be paid 44 million leones. Yikes! That is a 29 million
leone difference. Don had the two men come in to our office to discuss the issue.
Before we started the meeting, we prayed together and asked that the meeting would
be conducted in the same manner that Christ would and a calming spirit entered the
room. It turned out to be a very good meeting. Don put all the blame on us for not
sitting down with them before the project was started. We listened to both sides of the
story and came to the following conclusion. The contractor did everything he needed
to do to get the correct pricing and paid accordingly. The subcontractor misunderstood
the contractor. However, he is still out 29 million leones. When we put in our project
for approval, we asked for extra money for miscellaneous expenses that might come up
plus we are allowed to go 10% over on the project. We were able to offer the
subcontractor 19,500,000. Leones. He was happy with that because that covered his
product cost. The two men left our office relieved and happy and are now working on
another project together. It was truly an awesome Christ-like meeting. What an
Today we attended the Makeni Priesthood leadership meeting at the request of
President Clawson. We did not know why he wanted us there until 5 minutes before
the program was to start. We were sitting on the back row and President Clawson
came to us and said, "this is the absolute worse prepared leadership meeting I have
ever attended." None of the Branch presidents followed-up on their assignments so
there were no speaker, no planned program and he felt he was "in-a-pinch". He asked
Don if we could take about half an hour and talk about self-reliance. We did and we
took a little more than an hour and that really cramped Pres. Clawson to do the part he
planned which was doing a mock branch council. None-the-less, it was a good meeting
and I think many things were learned.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Attended the WASH (water & sanitation) meeting today and it was useless. None of the
leadership were there and the man who conducted the meeting is being transferred on
Friday and could care less about what was happening. The NGO's attending were cruel
to the organization Engineers without Borders. Engineers without Borders has the
same philosophy as the Church does which is - let's make people take ownership of the
project so they will take care of it. We do that by requiring them to participate in a
small way to the project. For example: When we build a spring box and set a Milla
Tank or two next to it, we require the community supply the piping connecting the
Milla Tanks to the Spring box and/or require them to buy the submersible pump. When
they have some "skin in the game" they take care it. This has been a great asset to the
sustainability and success of the project. The rest of the NGO's only want to give the
people what they have to offer without requiring anything from them. Which has been
the system here forever so the people do not take care of what they are given. They
spoil it and that is OK with them because another NGO will come in eventually and fix
or replace it. This system has enabled the people of West Africa and they are now an
"entitlement" society.
We had a short meeting with the young man representing Engineers without Borders
and requested we meet with the owners who are from Denmark and are here until
tomorrow morning. He will call us later.
We went out to the Jimmy Street Bridge to see the final work. The bridge is wonderful
and it was built very strong. While we were there two men approached Don and
timidly told him they had not been paid yet and wanted to know when they would be
paid. We paid the contractor who was suppose to pay the men. We went to the
contractor's house and Don asked him about paying the men. He got very upset. He
said he gave the money to his lead man who was suppose to pay the 15 men. We got in
the truck and drove over to where the lead man lives only to be told that he "has left"
and they don't know where he is. The lead man's buddy was there and he told the
contractor that he and the lead man kept the money to do a project and that the lead
man still has the money. Needless to say the African's have there own justice system.
The lead man will be found and payment will be extracted, the money will be returned
and the men will be paid. A lesson learned.
We met with a Sierra Leonian who represents Engineers without borders here in Sierra
Leone (or as the natives call it Salone). Don would like to partner with Engineers
without borders. His idea is to let them do the entire project and then we will do a two-
year maintenance and training program. They are very interested. As Don told them,
"this is a new idea and I have to run it by my boss to see if the Church will even think
about doing this".
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
We came to Kenema today. Stopped in BO to check out a bridge project and to visit the
Sherwoods. We met the Corbaly's for dinner at the Paloma Hotel. It is always fun to
have dinner with them. We eat with them once a month when we go to Kenema for
the WASH meeting - which is tomorrow.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
We went to the Forut Branch (PVA) for church today and took Bob and Geneba with us.
Towards the end of Sacrament meeting Bob told me he was hungry. I asked him what
he had for breakfast and he said "nothing". He was going to primary in a few minutes
and they always give the children water and a small snack. I reminded him. He said
"OK". At the end of Sunday School, Bob found me in the investigator class and leaned
on me and said, "grandma, I am hungry". I sent him back to primary because they will
have a snack. After Church was over, I asked Bob if he got something to eat. He said
"yes, water and some cheese balls". We came home and Bob went to his house and
Don and I came to our house. At 4:00, Bob came over and Don and I were both reading,
so bob played by himself for a few minutes then came to me and asked if he could have
something to eat. "Sure, what would you like". "You are busy, so how about a bowl of
cereal". "Sure". So I got him a big bowl of cereal. I asked him what he ate when he got
home from church. He said, "nothing". I asked him what he had to eat today. He said,
"some cheese balls". Two hours later we ate dinner and he ate a lot. This child lives in
a compound with only adults and is lost. My heart breaks for him. He is at our dinner
table every night. I had no idea no one is taking care of him. I will be more diligent in
making sure he eats often. Unfortunately, we will be in Bo, Kenema, and Makeni
Tuesday - Sunday this week. I will give Geneba some money and ask her to make sure
Bob gets fed.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
What a day! We went out into the jungle looking for villages that are too far out that
no NGO has ever gone there. We were within 5 miles of the Liberian border.
Thankfully, someone with a bulldozer just the day before broke a rugged path out to
the far reaches of the jungle. The path was so rough we we bouncing all over the place
inside the truck. One of our guides said,"we are dancing with the road". We crossed 3
make-believe bridges made of trees and that was so scary. I walked across and Don
drove the truck across. We found several villages that were either abandoned or had
one man living in it. When Ebola hit Liberia and spread into Sierra Leone, the people up
and left their villages and moved inland and have not returned. We did find one village
close to the Liberian Border that only has a small stream they use for everything and
they have no clean drinking water and no sanitation. They defecate on the ground and
don't even bother to bury it or dig a hole or anything. Their living conditions are
terrible. The people were timid. White people. Not something they have ever seen in
their village. Some of the younger people have never seen a white man. There was a
naked child about 2 years old that was covered in white cream. He looked like they
were trying to camouflage him. He has chicken pox. We had with us two natives that
were able to speak the language and translate for us. Don really wants to do well for
these people. This will be a real challenge. We will see where it goes.
(I have seen too many Tarzan movies. I actually worried that we might run into
cannibals or be bound and taken before the paramount chief and who knows what else
may happen. Oh, silly me!).