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!).
Saturday, March 25, 2017
I am so tired today. I stayed home and Don went out to the work sites plus he is going
Bob came over half a dozen times this afternoon but I sent him away because I am so
tired. I told him to come back when grandpa came home. Don got home about 3:00
and Bob came with him. Bob asked me "what are WE having for dinner?". I told him I
was going to make groundnut soup and asked if he wanted noodles (which he loves) or
rice. He chose rice. At 5:00 I began dinner and at 6:30 we ate. Bob ate like he had not
eaten all day. I asked him what he had to eat today and he said "bread with jam and
honey for breakfast." He had nothing else to eat and the boy moves all the time. He
dances, runs, twists, and turns everywhere he goes. He uses a lot of energy. I felt
terrible. He was probably coming over to get something to eat those half a dozen
times he showed up at the door. I wish I had taken a few minutes to talk to him instead
of shooing him away.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
We bought 40 more donuts from a woman selling them on the side of the road and
headed out to the work sites. Back down those same two mountains and back up
again. The work is going well. Today they are still breaking rock in some areas but they
are also staking out the project. On the way down Hill top mountain, just as I stuck my
hand into the strap of Don's fanny pack, his feet slid out from under him and down he
was going (fast and hard). My feet were stable and I was able to pull him up and keep
him from falling. He said he felt like the hulk had reached out and grabbed him and
pulled him up. Several times he said, "you saved me".
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Samuel Samba, our well contractor spoke with his building supplier and the building
supplier agreed to lower his prices so the project is going to begin today. We gave
Samuel 10,000,000 Leones out of our working fund for him to get started. He had his
supplier deliver a load of materials this morning and the 2 crews of 12 men each, began
work. Don and I wanted to be there at the beginning of this project. So we worked in
the office this morning and this afternoon we found a woman selling big donut balls for
500 Leones each. We bought 40 donuts and headed out to the sites. The first site we
visited was the hand-dug well at Boundary 1. They are not working on that yet. That
will be started next Monday. Don wanted to see how much water was coming out of
the mountain during the dry season. There was quite a bit and a hand-dug well will
work well in this area. This site is about 50 yards from the Boundary 1 Level 1 site. At
this site, 8 men were working on removing huge rocks and preparing the ground. At
Boundary 1 level 2 the other 4 men were working on breaking out an old spring box
which both Don and Samuel were appalled at how poorly it had been constructed.
Level 2 is about 30 yards from level 1 if you can go straight to it. The terrain from
where we had to park at the top of the mountain down to level 2 is only about 1/2 mile
but the last quarter mile is very steep and rocky. You don't get there very fast. And
the terrain from the well site to level 1 and from level 1 to level 2 is the same - steep
and rocky with many boulders. All the men were very hot and sweating bullets. They
thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the donuts. Food is something they don't get a lot
On the way back up the mountain we stopped under a big shade tree to rest. We only
had about 100 yards left to go and there is a small ocata path for them to tote people
up and down the mountain but it is limited to how far they can go and the ride is
treacherous. I know! As we were resting, an ocata came by and Don hailed him. He
stopped and Don asked him to take me up to the truck. He gave the man 10,000
Leones and the man was more than overjoyed. He would have been lucky to have
gotten 200 leones. Don instructed him to "NOT" fall over with me. He guaranteed he
would stay upright. The grade was so steep and with my weight the ocata was
struggling to keep its front wheel on the ground. The path between the rocks and
boulders we had to go through was so narrow that the motorcycle tire barely fit. If you
didn't hit the opening just right, you were done. When we got about 60 yards up, the
path took a sweeping curve to the left. When we rounded the corner a howl and
laughter ascended into the air. There were about a dozen or so men breaking rock and
when they saw their friend with a white woman on the back of his bike they thought
that was just the best thing ever. They were speaking timni so I did not understand
them but they were all making happy remarks. As this was going on the driver was
trying desperately to not fall over and we came close a few times. He was
concentrating so hard on staying upright I could hear him saying "be careful" over and
over. After he dropped me off at the truck and I got off his bike, he laughed so hard. A
few minutes later, Don, Samuel and Brother Thomas (our site monitor) arrived at the
truck. As we were starting to pull away, a face appeared in my window and it was the
ocata driver. He was smiling from ear to ear and thanking me for a sweet experience.
From here we went to Hill Top where the second crew of 12 men are working. The
grade on this mountain is steeper than the one at boundary 1 and it has a lot of loose
gravel. Keeping from falling was a chore. Don always walks in front of me and I hold on
to the strap of his fanny pack to keep stable. At one point on the way down, my feet
slid out from under me and somehow I slid around Don and landed in front of him
facing him still upright and still holding on to his belt. It was so odd. We looked at each
other and began laughing. How did that happen!? We were almost to the site and
Don's feet slid out from under him and I tried to keep him from falling but the angle
was to odd and he did fall to the ground. This crew of men were working hard at
breaking rock out of the site. They too, enjoyed and appreciated the donuts.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Don went next door to see the Elders this morning at 9:00 and one was still in bed.
Don rousted him out of bed and the Elder told Don he broke his glasses. Don brought
his glasses home. They were broken in half at the nose piece. Don got out some super
glue and some black thread and repaired the Elder's glasses. He did a really nice job.
He went to put the glasses down on the table and "lo & Behold". He had super glued
his long finger to the bridge of the Elder's glasses. We have nothing to help release the
glue so he had to pull his finger off leaving some skin. I told him to tell the Elder that if
his glasses begin to stink, he should tell him it is rotting flesh.
Friday, March 17, 2017
Happy St., Patricks day!
This has been a very tense week. We learned that we were suppose to have contracts
with all of our contractors, site monitors and anyone who has worked with us this
whole last year. We have been here for more than a year and we are just now finding
out about this. The reason for the contracts? - are you ready for this: Sierra Leone
charges all contractors not only the normal Value Added Tax (15%) but then they
charge an added 5% on all materials and they call it a withholding tax. The 5%
withholding tax. . . censored. Between . . Censored. . . tribes and bribes these people
will never get ahead. Our contractors did not know this and we were approved a
500,000,000 Leone project based on his quote. He knew about the GST tax (15%) but
not about the 5%. His tax on the 5% is 14,000,000 Leones. That comes right off of his
profit which leaves him nothing. He has not signed the contract and Don told him to
think about it over the weekend and come talk to us on Monday. He said he was going
to his supplier and see if he would come down in price. This whole thing stinks. Don
was so upset he and the Finance Department in Accra went head to head. Tempers
were in full force. When we were in Accra for financial training in January this tax was
never brought up. Probably because Sierra Leone is the only country that is doing this.
But in January we were also told by the legal department they were working on
contracts for Ghana and Nigeria but have not done anything for Sierra Leone yet. When
they do they will send us a template. Which has not happened. So now here we are
with this huge project that has to be done in the dry season and we are running out of
time and Accra wants us to have contracts for the contractor and the site monitors but
they have no contract to help us with. Don has been writing contracts all week and
attachments, etc, etc, etc. Guidance from Accra has been like pulling teeth. He has
mentioned more than once never again will we do a huge project and involve SLC or
Accra. We will stick to the smaller ones that we can handle alone. He is willing to let
this project go just because of all the red tape and lack of cooperation. Our contractor
will decide if we go ahead with it. We had a meeting this morning with the community
leaders, chairmans, and chiefs from the 7 communities involved in this project. There is
a lot of excitement. An estimated 107,000+ people will have clean drinking water 12
months out of the year if this project comes to fruition. The water we will be capturing
is from springs that come out of the mountain and is not being captured by anyone. It
just runs out and is called "waste water" because it is being wasted. The local people
do not understand how to capture the water and . . . The rest of my thoughts are
censored. . . This is a very sad country.
The streams are dried up and there is only a trickle of water in the rivers with the
exception of some pools of water in the river. People are suffering for water. March is
the driest hottest month of the year. Rain does not come until late June or early July
with the exception of a spotty rain shower in April and May.
Wednesday, march 22, 2017
Tonight we had dinner with Elder and Sister Finley and Elder and Sister Christenson.
They are the wheelchair specialist for West Africa. They live at home in America and
come here twice a year to do wheelchair projects. President and Sister Clawson had
dinner with us. We ate at the New Brookfield Inn where the Finley's and Christenson's
were staying. The hotel is very nice and pretty much westerned. Of course, the food is
african and was very good.
Friday, March 24, 2017
My mother always said of Don "he is a hockey stick in an underwear drawer". He has
been a hockey stick with finance in Accra for the last week and a half. He has everyone
mad or confused. Unfortunately, it is holding up payment to Samuel. If it doesn't come
through soon, we will have to put a hold on the Boundary 1 and Hill Top projects.
Monday, March 20, 2017
This is how tolerant of evil the world has become. Today Africa declared March 3rd as
sex workers national holiday. They say people who sell sex is as much in business as a
person selling produce on the side of the road. They are working and they need to be
honored for that. They are reporting that we all need to be more accepting and
tolerant of the sex workers and embrace them for the "good" work they are doing.
They interviewed a couple of women who brought themselves up out of poverty by
selling sex and are living "a full rich life".
Friday, March 10, 2017
We have worked in the office all week. We have had major
frustrations due to one particular man in SLC who has slowed down our
progress and then took off for a week's vacation without telling us. It
made the Gredings, the water specialists in California, so angry they
made a call to the man's boss and the boss approved the project after
he studied it and is ready to make the presentation to the big wigs in
Salt Lake today. He says we will know something early next week. We
are at the height of the dry season and now is the time to be damming
spring boxes while the water flow is small. Every day we lose draws us
a day closer to the rainy season when work is difficult and more costly.
Elder Carley came home from an early morning run with a smile on his
face. How could he be smiling after running up and down these hills.
He told me he met the coach of the Sierra Leone track team and was
invited to come to their training camp to discuss the benefits of long-
term regular exercise. Earlier he had met the fastest woman in Sierra
Leone (who runs the 100 meters) as she passed him going up hill as if
he was in a lounge chair.
Sunday, March 5, 2017
We went to church at Jui this morning and it was so very good. Powerful testimonies
spoken in English using a p.a. System. I was able to understand all but one person. The
investigator class was good they talked on how the priesthood got restored and the
proper way to fast and what it means. In R.S. We talked about honesty. They use the
Latter-Day Saint Women's manual. They had great participation.
Saturday, March 4, 2017
I am so tired I just want to be by myself.
Don met President Sesay over at the PVA at 9:00 to discuss more alternatives. Then he
was going to go to the community "Down the Hole". We got a report yesterday that
the spring box and two 10,000 liter Milla tanks are working exactly like we thought they
would and not only are the people of Down the Hole getting all the clean drinking water
they need but the community of Dwarzak is coming from the other side of the
mountain to get water. What a huge success this project has been. There are more
than 100,000 people getting clean drinking water. March is the driest month of the
year. Rivers and streams are just trickles. Hand-dug wells are dry. People suffer for
water. If they can afford it, they buy water. But many cannot afford it. The Down the
Hole project is known throughout Freetown. People know the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints did the project and more doors than ever have been opened to the
young missionaries.
Friday, March 3, 2017
Cholena's 39th birthday. No! Can that be right? She is still 20 years old in my mind.
Don was up at 3:00 a.m. The sanitation project we have been working on for 4 months
is being scrutinized by a man in Salt Lake, who has to approve the project, but has not
read any of the paperwork we are required to fill out on a project and keeps asking
questions and interjecting his concern about the cost. All his questions are answered in
the paperwork. Everything has been explained as to why we are doing what we are
doing. He has even gone as far as asking other West Africa countries to submit to him
the costs of their projects that are similar to the one we are going to do. This infuriated
Don. Sierra Leone has its own unique problems and we have to deal and work with
those. What we have to do here, is not the same that can be done in Liberia, Senegal,
Ivory Coast, Nigeria or Ghana. Don is so put-out he made out a request (while sitting in
bed) to cancel the project. He had his finger on the "submit" button and then felt he
should not send it. He saved it though. He called President Sesay, who is the
contractor on the project, and had him come over to talk to him before we left for
work. President Sesay's advise to Don was not to do anything until his anger was under
control. President Sesay said he would not be the contractor on the project if the
church made us do inferior work that would not be sustainable. Don agreed and said
he would find another contractor. We came to the office and Don wrote up a scathing
e-mail. He had me read and corrected it and then I advised him to send it to President
Sesay before he actually sent it out to half a dozen people. Instead he called our boss in
Accra, Brother Buah. Brother Buah has a very heavy accent and is quite difficult to
understand on the phone so Don tries to do e-mail with him instead of talking to him on
the phone. But, he really needed to talk to Brother Buah. Don told him everything
including the cost of the project being overly questioned and his desire to cancel the
project. Brother Buah reminded Don that Elder Stevenson, Apostle, told the Director of
Temporal Affairs in Accra to do something for this community. Brother Francis, the
Director of Temporal Affairs, is the one who told Don to "do something for this
community" back in September when he and Elder Stevenson joined us at the PVA.
Brother Buah told Don to leave the project alone and let it go through as is. OK!
BUUUUUT, Don is still concerned about this one man coming back and denying the
project. Don and President Sesay have devised a plan-B and have made several
alterations to the blueprint to lessen the cost but will not meet the needs of the
handicapped. We will wait and see what SLC has to say.
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Don and I went to Lungi today. The x-ray machine we got for the Bai Bureh hospital in
Lungi arrived yesterday. Dr. Sesay went to the airport and picked it up without any
problems. We arrived at the hospital at 11:00 and Dr. Sesay and his brother Dr. Sesay
and all their staff were waiting for us. They are so excited to get an x-ray machine. It
took more than 2 hours to get it out of the crate and set up. We watched a training film
and looked through the written material and Dr. Sesay finally decided that he was going
to open the opportunity up to all his x-ray techs (who work in other departments of the
hospital because they did not have an x-ray machine) to study all the materials, be
trained by a professional technician, take a written and hands-on exam, and whoever
comes out with the highest score will be the "senior" technician. Oh, are they excited.
They actually had a young woman come in with a shoulder injury while we were setting
up the x-ray machine and they would have loved to have been able to take an x-ray of
her shoulder. But, they will not use the machine until training is done. It is normal
when you meet with a professional here in sierra Leone for them to walk you out of the
building. Dr. Sesay walked us out and continued with us to the parking lot and then
continued on asking us to walk with him. He took us to his house which is in the
hospital compound. It is very large and there were 12 couches and over-stuffed chairs
outlining the living room and 4 couches forming a square in the middle of the living
room. He asked us to take a seat and then went and got us each a bottle of very cold
water. He went and got his wife and 4 month old baby boy. We visited for a few
minutes and then she announced the "food" is ready. Food! We were not expecting to
be fed. As we were going to the table I asked her if she would eat with us. She said
"no, I have something to do". The reason I asked that, is that one other time we were
invited to lunch and we were fed a very nice meal but the wife did not join us. She
stayed in the kitchen. Mrs. Sesay went out on the veranda and she did have some old
classmates that came to see her. So she really did have an excuse. The meal consisted
of cucumbers, watermelon, pineapple and papaya. Dr. Sesay said he thought we might
be vegetarians. We drove back to our apartment without incident.
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Mike's 60th birthday.
The General YW President and the General Primary President and their husbands
arrived today to do training. The amount of work behind the scene is astronomical.
They will do training tomorrow and then leave on Friday morning. There are 368
Auxiliary leaders, branch presidents/Bishops, district leaders/Stake leaders, mission
leaders signed up. Sister Clawson is providing lunch and supper. She has also arranged
for transportation for all the outlying leaders and housing for them for overnight. She is
"molly mormon" times 2.
We are working with the Sierra Leone Road Association on a huge 16-stall toilet at the
local bus stop. There are no public toilets in Sierra Leone except a small 6-stall toilet at
the bus stop that cannot service all the people. The project has been approved on
condition we get a signed paper from the Director of the Sierra Leone road Association
stating that the right-of-way behind the bus stop can be used for the toilet. The man
who has to sign the paper has been dodging us for weeks and would not give us an
appointment. The Chief Engineer of the SLRA wants very much for this project to go
through. Sierra leone's sanitation problem is beyond huge. He told us that if we would
come when the director was in, he would see us. So, when the director came in, the
chief engineer called and told us to come right away before the director left. We went
and met with the chief engineer who is very easy to like. He told the director we were
there and the director made us wait for over an hour before he would see us. But that
gave us a wonderful opportunity to visit with the chief engineer and the engineers that
work under him. When we went in to meet the director, the chief engineer made the
introductions. Remember accents are heavy and people are hard to understand.
Neither Don nor I caught the full name of the director and Don was questioning what to
call him. The director said just call me "as is". Don said rather dumbfounded "I am not
calling you "as is". The director said, it is easier than calling me Mr. Kamara. The
engineer reached over and lightly touched Don and said his name is Asis and
pronounced "as is". There was a round of laughter and the ice was broke. Humor is
Sunday, February 26, 2017
Attended Church in Rogbonag Branch. It was very good. The 3rd hour was a combined
meeting with all quorums and auxiliaries. The West Africa Area Presidency has set
some goals for West Africa and they put out a video explaining it. Below is the front
and back of a bookmark that explains the goals
I received spiritual insight on the meaning of "the rising generation" here in Africa. It
does not mean the children of the upcoming generation. Here in Africa there are so
many people flocking to the church that there is not enough leadership to train them
all. These new converts are the rising generation. They are new, learning, grasping the
gospel with all of their hearts, serving Christ whom they love dearly and devoting
themselves to doing good. Regardless of age, these people are the rising generation.
They are preparing for the next wave of converts.

Saturday - February 25, 2017 -
The Sister Missionaries in Makeni invited us to dinner
tonight and as we visited I asked them what the white cream is that I see on many
small children. Their response was "it is medicine to relieve the itch of chicken pox".
Don and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. My response was "it's a good
thing I got a shingles shot before I left home". (See Feb. 23rd entry)
The Sisters (Sister Aphaid and Sister Favourita) had 12 appointments today and only 8
of them kept their appointment. They were kind of bummed out about the 4 missed
appointments but I think 8 discussions in one day is an awesome achievement. We had
such a fun time with them. They have this goofy gas stove that you light the top and
the bottom. They have not mastered it yet and things turn out really odd. They made a
"sponge cake" as a birthday cake for Sister Favourita's father who lives in Nigeria.
When Sister Favourita brought it to the table it was still runny in the middle. I told her
it was not done and showed her how it sloshed in the middle. She laughed and put in
back into the oven and turned the heat up. It turned out OK. Then her companion was
telling me about the day Sister Favourita made homemade bread and it came out
Friday, February 24, 2017
We went to Makeni for the weekend.
Thursday, February 23, 2017
We went out to check on 5 wells that we recently deepened and/or repaired in the
bush country. At the first stop, which is in the village of Medina, we were met by
several men. One of them was the well caretaker. The well looked beautiful and clean.
They are doing a great job of maintaining it. Of course this being the height of the dry
season they say they are in need of another well. They say they only get 20 jeri cans of
water in the morning and 75 liters of water in the evening from this well. They break
the community of 800+ people into two sections and one day one group gets water and
the next day the other group gets water. I asked about a stream or a water source
nearby. They told us there was one and they still get water from it. We asked to see it
and on the way two men got into an argument about where to take us. We took a
short walk and came to the stream. It wasn't pleasant looking but There was quite a bit
of water. The man who wanted to show us a different spot told us the water was
"sour" in this location. Some of the villagers disagreed and said the water was "sweet."
Don asked to see the other location. We were taken to a deep hole full of water, limbs,
leaves and debris. This was the water source (water coming out of the ground) and
flowing downstream. It looked nasty. One of the villagers told us they clean it out and
use it when the water at their dipping point downstream gets low. We walked back to
the village and stopped to look at a tree that was in full bloom with the sweetest
smelling flowers. It is a coffee tree and there were coffee beans growing in clusters on
it. Don picked a flower cluster and popped it into his mouth. The villagers were aghast.
They pulled on a cluster of flowers on the tree and showed Don there were many small
bees inside the clusters. Don had eaten the cluster and exclaimed how good it was. He
just happened to get a cluster with no bees in it. The villagers were amazed and
laughed heartedly when Don stuck out his tongue and showed them he had not been
stung. We talked for a while with the people and then left. As we were driving out of
the village, Joseph (our native guide) spied a pump handle down behind a hill. Don
stopped, backed up, and drove down around the hill and found 3 more wells. One well
had a broken pump so it was non-functional, one well worked very well but was
reserved strictly for the school and the third well was working perfectly fine. There was
a different caretaker of these wells from the one LDSC (Latter-Day Saint Charities) built.
I asked him how much water they get each day from this well. He said "40 jeri cans in
the morning and 30 at night". The caretaker from the LDSC well showed up and was
not at all pleased that we found these wells. This community does not need another
well. They need to take care of the ones they have. There are very many villages that
have no clean drinking water at all. Those are the ones we need to work with.
At the Victoria Village we were met by many people and one woman had a baby on
both hips. She had twins and they were 3 months old. She handed me one of the
babies and he just stared at me and then gave me a big smile. It was so sweet. After
several minutes he had enough of me and puckered up to cry. I handed him back to
his mother. She automatically handed me the other child. I took her. She was covered
with a white cream all over her head, face and arms. The child was happy and this was
such a sweet little family. I have seen children with their heads shaved with this cream
on before and was told that sometimes they get sores and this was medicine.
However! . . .
Saturday - February 25, 2017 - The Sister Missionaries in Makeni invited us to dinner
tonight and as we visited I asked them what the white cream is that I see on all these
small children. Their response was "it is medicine to relieve the itch of chicken pox".
Don and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. My response was "it's a good
thing I got a shingles shot before I left home". Good Grief.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Attended a WASH (water and sanitation) meeting this morning and it got a little
heated. Don told the ministry of water that they failed to carry through with their
promise and ooh-wee! It got nasty. But in the end, the ministry acknowledged their
failure and corrected the problem.
We met with Sister Cobinah and Brother Kamara about doing a 270 table and chair
(desks) project for 6 schools. Each table and bench holds 3 children. They are going to
get 3 quotes from 3 different carpenters and let me know. Sister Cobinah and I are
both soft hearted and want to do something for the Kenema School for the blind. Their
roof blew off of their assembly building and it needs repaired. But that is the least of its
problems. This is a boarding school and they either sleep on very old ragged mattresses
or on the bare floor with no bedding. They have no food, so the students go to the
market everyday to beg for food instead of going to school. It is a really sad situation. I
am going to propose a project for mattresses and bedding and possibly some roof
repair. The roof repair would be approved but typically we do nothing with things that
cannot be sustained. So the mattresses and bedding would be pushing it. But, I am
going to try. The worst they can do is tell me "no".
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Headed to Kenema for 3 days and then to Makeni for 2. We had dinner with the
Corbaly's (MLS Senior Missionary couple) who take care of the 16 missionaries in
Kenema. Sister Corbaly hugged me and said, "I am so hungry for adult conversation".
Monday, February 20, 2017
We had a very busy day in the office. Lots of paper work and visitors. Elder Miner, the
finance secretary, and I worked on creating a new expense report form to align
ourselves with the new rules. It was rather fun. He kept insisting we do it one way
(which was awkward and did not work) and I wanted to do it another way (which was
simple and straight forward.). After much crunching of numbers, we decided the
simple way was the right way.
Sister Miner cut my hair this morning. When Don and I were walking to our favorite
lunch spot in a lovely garden in the Mission compound, the sun was shining on my hair
and Don gasped and said "what happened to your hair? It's all gray, I know I went to
bed last night with Jeannie with the light brown hair". My reply was, "you woke up with
the old gray mare".
Sunday, February 19, 2017
We went to church in Ibo Town today and it was very nice. It has a nice spirit and the

people are really trying to fulfill their callings. The place was hot. I had sweat running

down my back like a river. A woman had her baby, probably 3 months old, wrapped in

a fleece blanket with a stocking cap on. I saw it, but Don is the one who really had a

reaction. No wonder people wear coats in 90+ degree weather when they become

adults. Below are two pictures of men wearing coats in sweltering heat: