[This post is the second entry of my journal and photos from our two-week trip to Africa. The first can be viewed here.]
March 28, 6:30 AM
Rick, who is technically Chance’s boss, you know, suggested leaving around 6:30 or 7:00 to go to the city for groceries and other supplies. So, the grown-up boys got up early!
They headed to town and us ladies and young boys stayed behind. I tried my hardest to keep Nasko entertained and convince Louis that naps are not of Satan, but we were all very, very glad to see Chance and Rick when they arrived home two hours earlier than predicted. A new road had opened, and their drive time to the city had been shortened by one hour each way!
After naps we decided to go visit the orphanage. Nasko and Louis both love looking out the window of the van, so they are excellent travelers here in Africa, thankfully!
The kids at Children’sRedemption Orphanage Home (CROH) were so glad to see us. Chance had met most of the children, but it’s been two-and-a-half years since I’ve been here – the orphanage has more than doubled in size. Actually, something awesome is that it will be quadrupling in size before we go back home, but more on that when it happens.
Despite not being formally introduced, the children all knew the boys and me. They were thrilled to meet Louis and Nasko. They completely overwhelmed Louis with their kisses, and they jumped right in with helping corral Nasko!
Nasko spotted the neighbor’s chickens right away, so we all spent the next hour keeping Nasko in sight so we did not have to fear for the chickens’ safety. Nasko did not understand his borders until his wise Mama drew and line in the dirt and threatened his life if he crossed it again. He then attempted to persuade everyone else to cross the line and capture a chicken for him.
I loved spending a little time with all the beautiful children. Their English is impeccable and they are all so smart! My heart has been captured specifically by two of the youngest children though – David and Deborah.
Davey is three years old and has only been in the orphanage since last fall. He. is. ornery. Actually, he and Nasko were a great match. They neither one understand the concept of “mean,” so they just harassed each other relentlessly. Little ornery boys are honestly my favorite types of kiddos – I like a challenge! David let me hold him and snuggle him some. He does have some sweetness down deep.
Deborah is 11 months old. She’s pretty tall for that age (who knows if it is completely accurate), but she has hardly any use of her limbs. If I were a developmental pediatrician and had to make a diagnosis today, I’d label her with Cerebral Palsy and Significant Cognitive Delays. She did react to me and all the crazy sounds I was making at her (can you believe I didn’t have my bag of therapy toys?!), but her reactions were minor and slow. She definitely let me know that she was enjoying my attention and that she did not enjoy being laid flat on her back while I was checking some of her reflexes.
Please pray for Deborah as there are limited options for children here in her condition. Most children like her would already have been taken to the woods and been left for dead, as many people believe that kids with special needs carry a curse. Praise God she is being loved-on and cared for by the children and workers at CROH. Also pray for Esther, one of the older girls at the orphanage; she takes care of Deborah as if she’s Deborah’s mama. God is doing awesome things in Esther because of this relationship. We are thankful for her sacrificial love.
(Sorie, who is sponsored by Chance’s mom and claims to be Chance’s brother, really wanted us to take his picture with Louis!)
(Chance and Louis with Frank, CROH’s director)
Louis could take no more (holy moly was he jealous when Mama held the other children. Whoa.) so we returned to Rick and Paula’s for a yummy spaghetti dinner and an early bedtime. I think the time change might finally be catching up with us.
March 29, 7:30 AM
Louis is hot. I mean, I’m hot too, but Louis is running-a-fever hot.
Yup. Rick took Louis’ temperature and it was 101. Uh oh.
(Nasko is very much African. The kids run around barefoot and naked or barely clothed!)
Rick, Chance and Nasko left to meet up with ministry partner, Pastor Berry. The Miller girls are at a sleepover with friends, so that leaves Paula and I at the house with a hot, crabby baby.
We are pretty sure Louis is suffering from dehydration. Nurse, nurse, nurse. Water, water, water.
Paula asked me to pray with their housekeeper, Jane. Jane is unable to have children at this point, and she wants to be a mama so badly. In this culture, being barren is very shameful. Jane knows and believes that her Heavenly Father loves her regardless of her ability to have children, but her heart still yearns for babies. Please pray for Jane and her husband Paul. They are such faithful servants to the ministry of Lifegate. Ask the Great Physician to heal this woman and allow her to bear a child.
The big boys returned and Louis seems a little better after a short nap and lots of water. Paula made a delicious lunch of coconut-curry chicken over rice. Mangos are in season, so Jane got some ripe ones at the market and sliced those up for us as well.
Nasko woke from a long nap (that’s what he gets for waking up before 6:00!) and we headed to Briggitte Village. If you remember from when we have come to Africa previously, Briggitte is the hub of much of Lifegate’s ministry currently.
First, a church was built there. Pastor Justice is the minister. Rick and Paula’s daughters, Grace and Faith, serve as the teachers for the children. This building is pretty well complete and is used regularly for services and meetings.
Next to the church is a new, small structure from which ice is made and sold. Solar panels and freezers were purchased for the ministry, and ice is made and sold daily. Much of the money earned locally comes from fishing, so the fishermen can buy the ice to help keep their goods cold. Fish, at market, can be sold for a higher price when it is cooled, so this business is well-received here. The ice business is an attempt for Lifegate to become more self-sustainable. The profits from the business are used to help pay for the things needed for running the orphanage.
(The silver building on the right houses the freezers.)
(Ice is made in bags.)
(Solar panels used to power the freezers.)
(Chance and Rick discussing the best arrangement for the ice bags to get frozen results the fastest.)
Further up the mountain from the ice shed, past the winding side walk, is the Bible Telling School. This building has the beginnings of two classrooms – one of which will be used to train pastors and others in the art of Bible Telling. This is the practice that Lifegate is using to help the people here in Sierra Leone learn the bible. 60% of the citizens here are illiterate, so it is not feasible to just hand out bibles and ask the people to read God’s redemptive story. Thus, the pastors are being trained to share the Bible’s message in story-form. These people love a good story, and much of their history has been preserved through oral tradition, so this concept is not foreign to them.
(The building in the top-left of the photo is the Bible Telling School.)
(Rick, in front of one of the classroom entrances.)
(The classrooms still have some construction to be done. The ministry is seeking $1,500.00 to finish the building.)
(The views from the school.)
The other classroom in the building will be used to teach a trade such as tie-dying, sewing, or wood-working. Because of the Bible Telling School, pastors will be able to share Christ in remote villages while still having the skills to earn a living and provide monetary support to their families.
Finally, our trip to Briggitte also included a tour of the two orphan homes being built. The first building is nearing completion; we might be able to see the boys move into their new home during our time here! The buildings look great, but have been a huge source of stress to Rick over the past several months. We are praying for a quick completion so the children can be moved and the construction process can be over.
(The first home, which is almost complete. Hopefully the boys will be moved into it this Friday!)
(A bedroom which will be filled with bunk beds.)
(A caregiver’s bedroom.)
(The second home – for the girls!)
Beep, beep! While driving us back to his house, Rick saw the van that was recently given to the orphanage. It is used to transport the children regularly, but it is also another example of sustainability; when it is not used with the children, the van is operated as a taxi. The profits are used in caring for the children.
(Pretend a well-taken photo of a van is here. Some things just didn’t get done!)
Louis is feverish and dehydrated again. This is going to be less-than-fun, I can tell. I’ve not been drinking enough water either. Blah.
Before coming, Nasko and I purchased nail polish to use for painting the orphanage girls’ finger nails. Nasko picked out some very LOUD, neon colors, but they should be fun! Tonight I used the polish to paint Grace and Faith’s nails. Nasko wanted his done as well, so with permission from his father, I painted them! That should look good for church tomorrow…
(You can see the nail polish color in this very blurry photo!)