March 30, 9:00 AM
It's Sunday, so it's church day! I've been to church here a couple times now, and I still can't tell you what time it is supposed to start. We left the house at 9:00 though. Sierra Leone is so primitive, hardly anything has an actual strict start-time. Things start when people show up! Our family is very schedule-oriented (thank you, Nasko's orphanage and two parents who are a bit OCD) so this is a difficult concept to grasp for us.
When we arrived at church, it had already begun.
Since I was here the last time, Rick and Paula's girls (Grace and Faith) have started a children's program during the adult services. It's great! The kids meet on benches behind the church building and are being taught stories from the Bible, based on the same Bible-telling methods being used in the Bible-Telling School.
Today, the children were learning about Noah's ark. They began their time by playing some games (Musical Bench - as opposed to musical chairs, Simon says, Telephone, and an African version of London Bridges called Lappa Lappa). Next, they reviewed last week's story (just like the kids in the US, they had completely forgotten anything they might have learned just seven short days ago). Then Grace taught them the story for this week. Following the lesson, the children acted out the Bible story. The coolest part about this? Grace and Faith are 11 and 9 years old and have learned the Krio language well enough that the whole lesson is done in the children's native tongue.
Meanwhile, the adults were inside the church having something like a Sunday School time. I have not mastered Krio (it has many similar words to English, but a different grammar structure and accent which makes it somewhat possible to understand if you are listening very, very closely) but the discussion seemed to be about what the Bible says about marriage - specifically having just one wife. Now, I've never heard anyone spend a significant amount of time on that topic in the US, but here, where the predominant religion is Muslim, this was a scripture that needed to be discussed.
Following the discussion, "Reverend Chance" was asked to come and preach. Chance delivered a sermon (with the help of one of Lifegate's pastors, Pastor Jonathan, translating) about not believing that salvation is given because of who we are descendants of. It doesn't matter how religious your parents are, or the fact that your uncle pastors a church. What matters is that we have a personal relationship with Christ.
After the sermon, there was much pomp and circumstance for our benefit (mostly recognition of the different people in the church who volunteer). Rick said that is a typical practice when visitors come to the church. There was also a time of singing and dancing and praising and worshiping! The church's minister, Pastor Justus, recently married a woman named Felicia, who was leading worship at a different church previously. She makes pastors' wives around the world look bad... She can sing and dance and get everyone excited about worshipping! (Sorry... Inside joke with pastors' wives. It's often hoped that we can play the piano and sing.)
Nasko was having a rough morning (we WILL conquer jet lag, we WILL conquer jet lag) but he did enjoy the music here. He even showed off some of his moves by hopping on stage and dancing with Pastor Justus.
At the end of the service, Justus asked Nasko to lead a song, so he and I went up and sang "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands." This song was apparently a crowd favorite, because after one verse, they erupted and joined in! It was beautiful.
What a true message that song presents; God does have the WHOLE WIDE world in His hands. We can be part of God's plan for helping His people who live on the other side of the planet. We cannot forget about them or pretend they don't exist, just because they don't live in the USA. As the quote goes, "WHERE you live should not determine IF you live." We must remember that God has the whole world in His hands.
After good, long naps for everyone (Sunday rest is biblical, after all) Chance, Nasko, Louis, Rick and I ventured to the Waterloo market. It is an insanely busy few streets that are just packed with "stores" selling a variety of goods.
We went specifically for Nasko, as his flashlight had completely stopped working during the previous night. With a lack of electricity here, it is absolutely pitch black at night (think no street lights or neighbors' lights).
Nasko was able to score a nice little battery-powered lantern, so he was happy about that.
We also took some time to shop for the fabric to make a babywearing sling for the girl in the orphanage who probably has cerebral palsy (Deborah).
The market is so crazy that I would feel very uncomfortable trying to carry Louis while walking safely. The roads, although paved, are uneven and treacherous. The shops butt up to the edge of the street curb and cars and motorbikes go wizzing down the road, assuming that everyone will move out of the way. For this reason, I tied Louis onto my back in one of my wraps before we even stepped foot outside the van. Louis - who has been enjoying looking out the window as we drove through the market previous days, really enjoyed his safe place to watch all the commotion.
Somewhat surprisingly, wearing Louis on my back attracted a lot of attention. Women regularly "po-po" their small babies here by doing a torso carry and wearing them low on their backs. Apparently though, it's shocking to see a white woman po-po a white baby! So many people commented and wanted to touch Louis as we walked from store to store! Considering I was first inspired to research babywearing because of the hard-working African mamas I observed almost three years ago, I couldn't believe that wearing Louis on my back would be so out of place to the people here!
(No I don't know the person touching my baby. And yes, those are giant freezers on that dolly behind me.)
March 31, 9:54 AM
[From my Facebook Page:]
(Jane is talking about her fear that the fowl might try to fly. Nasko is saying "piece of Kit Kat?!" because Chance promised him a Kit Kat if he caught the chicken. I'm the one telling the birds they aren't welcome inside... Right after this video, both chickens broke into the house and one of them tried to nest under my bed!)
Chance has been conducting a leadership conference all morning,
and I finally feel like my children have adjusted to the time change. Naps were appropriate lengths and taken without a fight. Food was eaten at mealtimes and attitudes are getting better! The little things are so important when traveling overseas with your kids!
Everyone is finally awake from their naps so it's a great time to head to CROH.
(Chance always asks if the kids have questions about America. It's cool to hear what they've been wondering.)
(Here he is drawing a world map and explaining where E is from.)
(Rick may or may not have been trying to tickle Frank...)
(Junior, who is typically too cool for his own good, showed a momentary soft-spot and let Nasko ride his bike.)
(Nasko wearing Frank's glasses!)
(Rick's daughter, Gracie, has a huge heart for the kids in the orphanage.)
(See? Too cool for his own good.)
(Relay races with Chance.)
(Chance, smoking the kids in a foot race. That's my husband - outrunning a bunch of kids and then being sore for days...)
(Nasko and sweet Zinub racing.)
Visiting the kids at CROH is like a major sensory overload. We can't go and stay for extended periods of time because I'm pretty sure our heads would explode. The kids are wonderful, but they are all seeking attention and conversation. They have lots of energy (think more like Nasko than Grace or Faith!). They have questions and thoughts and things they want to show off. It's so fun, but I leave feeling physically and emotionally drained.
This morning, Rick and Paula had their tailor come to the house to work with me on making a ring sling for Esther to use while she is caring for Deborah. Johnny was so quick with the manual pedal sewing machine , he also cranked out two intricate shirts for Louis and Nasko - all in under two hours. We're contemplating having him come back to make some items that could be sold in the US for ministry profit.
Since the sling was finished, I wanted to bring it to try it out with Esther. She loved it. She was so happy to have received it! The tail on it is too long, so we'll need to hem it a bit shorter, but she was so excited to have something so nice. What she doesn't know is that this sling will help Deborah focus on building the muscles in her neck for now. Win-win!
Tonight was a late supper, but a good supper. I had told Paula of a mango chicken salad recipe I'd seen recently, but hadn't made yet. Mangos are in season here, so she thought we should try it. Sadly, on the wonky internet here, I wasn't able to access my Pinterest board to get the recipe! Never fear, Paula rarely lets food go to waste, so she came up with her own version of a mango chicken salad. It had chicken, mangos, chickpeas and cold rice in it. Then she made an olive oil and vinegar dressing using some mango juice as well. This cold salad was perfect following our exhausting evening. Rick suggested crunchy Ramen noodles on top next time, and we even agreed that the Ramen seasoning packet might enhance the flavor of the dressing. Be looking for Paula's African-survival cookbook! Coming soon to stores near you...
(Stay tuned for more!)