Saturday, June 30, 2012

New twist on the fender bender

I've been in a few car accidents in my day.  I'm embarrassed to say that two of my accidents occured at red lights.....after I'd already been stopped.  Oops!  My most infamous accident occured two days before I was supposed to drive my car from Virginia to Oregon. I was probably going a tiny bit fast on the highway when it was raining (I'm from Oregon...come on, I've got this rain thing down) and hydroplaned and my car started spinning out of control. I channeled my inner Carrie Underwood, let go of the wheel and started singing at the top of my lungs, "Jesus take the wheeeeeeel....."  Not really. Really I gripped as tight as I could and just yelled "Please, Please, Please, Please, Please....." until I came to a stop in the grassy median.  But I always wished that I'd done the first thing.  Would have been a cooler story. 

I'll put your  mind at ease right now (Mom) and tell you that I was not in an accident.  But I was in a meeting the other day with a man who was, and I wanted to tell you his story because it made me pause and have one of those "I'm not in Kansas anymore" moments. 

To preface, this guy is one of those super sweet guys that is easy to like. He's an older guy and very mild mannered, polite, funny.....just one of those guys you like right away.  Last month he was scheduled to go to Nigeria for a conference.  The day he was supposed to leave he left the house in a car to go get some cash for his trip.  He was driving along a really bad road and hit a "high center" (not sure what that is...something in the middle of the road).  The jolt made his foot mash down on the accelerator.  He saw that he was heading towards two men who were standing on the side of the road.  He swerved to miss them but unfortunately as he swerved, the men looked up and saw he was headed towards them....and jumped right in front of the car.  He hit both of them.

He immediately got out of the car and noticed that at least one of them was not moving. At that moment a man came up to him and asked him if he was the driver. When my friend said that he was, the man said "Don't say that again and come with me."  My friend said that he couldn't go because he needed to help these people he'd just hit. The man was insistant and started to physically move him to the side of the road to a motorbike.  My friend started fighting harder, asking where he was taking him. "To the police station" the man said. And off they went. 

When he arrived at the police station, he told the first officer he saw that he had been in an accident. The officer immediately asked where the vehicle was. When my friend told him it was at the scene, the officer asked where the keys were. My friend held up the keys and the officer took the keys and left the room. 

They went through the motions of filling out the report, etc.  They put my friend in a cell in the jail.  Later the police officer that had taken his keys came back. As he gave my friend his keys, he told him how lucky he was that someone there had taken him from the scene.  "By the time I arrived there to take your car, a mob had already formed and started to take your car apart. If you had stayed there, they would have killed you."  Wow. 

Apparently a couple weeks ago there was an accident in an area that I travel through frequently.  The car was driven by a Sierra Leonean guy and there were two white guys in the back.  The driver accidentally hit two kids.  As soon as he saw what he did he stopped the car, jumped out and took off. The white guys didn't know what to do so they stayed there....and a mob formed.  They took the two guys into the bush, beat the crap out of them and torched the car.  Yikes.

Back to the story about my friend.  Unfortunately one of the men died a few hours after reaching the hospital.  He is devestated. :(  We are grateful though, that the deceased man's family did not want to press any charges so my friend was released from jail.  After he finished sharing this story wth us, someone asked how he was doing.  "Well," he said, "Physically I am doing fine.  Emotionally though, it has been very rough.  I think though other traumas I've had in my life, have helped because I have some coping skills that are helping me. I think it would have been worse if I have not already been through some of the things I've been through."  Oh Sierra Leone.

For many years I have talked about the legion of angels that God has around my car, protecting me from the stupid things I tend to do.  After hearing this story, I think I need an upgrade.  What's bigger than a legion?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Give me this mountain!!!

My roommate Meredith is getting ready to leave. :) Tear!  We're trying to squeeze in some things before she leaves so when she said, "Hey Emily, there's a really big hill in a town about 3 hours away that people like to climb. Want to go climb it?"  I said yes and off we climb a big hill.

Some of you know that my car (Boris) has been having some trouble lately.  I felt confident though, that he was going to behave himself on this trip. He tried really hard! However, about 11 miles from our destination he decided he needed a break and stopped running again. Darnit! 

I got out to see if there was anything obvious that I could fix. Nada. I was afraid it was my fuel pump again.  Fortunately, a guy stopped by who was headed the other direction.  After asking if there was fuel and oil (why do people never believe me when I say YES!) he told me that he was headed up but would be back down in a few hours and if we were still stranded would tow me into the big city we were attempting to get to.  Awesome.

I wasn't as worried about this breakdown because I was only a couple hours away from my home, so knew that people would know people who could help me. I started calling some of my friends and they started working to see if they could get a mechanic out there.  I didn't have good cell service where I was so kept walking back up this hill (not THE hill we were going to climb the next day) to get service.  As I was talking to one of my friends, all of the sudden I realized that I didn't have very much credit left on my phone.  Shoot!! I really needed credit to try and call people to get things arranged. 

After an hour or so, it looked like things were going to be more complicated than we thought. My friends who knew people in the "big city" couldn't find any mechanic who was willing to come out and try to fix my car.  Well now what should we do?????  Well, I needed credit for my phone so headed off to the middle of the village to see if I could find any.

I found a place to buy some credit and while we were there a crowd gathered to find out what was wrong.  They went to get a mechanic.  I was skeptical. In fact, the guy who stopped to help us at the beginning warned us that there wasn't a mechanic in this village, even though they might say there was.  They would know how to fix motorcycles but wouldn't know about cars. 

So when a guy (Moses) came to look at my car, I was skeptical.  I had it in my mind that I probably needed a new fuel pump and knew I wasn't going to find any in this village.  As he started to look at my car I was pretty blunt and told him that I was not trying to insult him, but if he didn't know what he was doing, please don't touch anything. Sometimes it seems like everytime someone touches Boris, something else happens.   He did some puttering, tested my fuel pump and it was ok.  Yippee!!  He got under the car and looked at some other stuff, asked for some binding wire and packing tape (yup, packing tape) and a few minutes later Boris was purring like a kitten!  Thanks Moses! God used you to get me out of this wilderness!!! 
Moses fixing our breakdown

Things that make me think Jesus is awesome:
1.  We had a breakdown.  Apparently it's what was best for me at that time so...Jesus is awesome.
2.  The first guy came by and offered to tow us to town.  The whole time we knew this was an option so weren't frantic about trying to get us with all of our stuff on motorcycles to sleep there for the night.....Jesus is awesome.
3.  I had no credit.  If I had had plenty of credit, I wouldn't have gone into the middle of the village to find credit and would not have met Moses, our deliverer....Jesus is awesome.
4.  Moses was actually a mechanic in Freetown and was just in the village visiting his father.  Hence the reason he knew about cars, not just motorbikes....Jesus is awesome.

We rolled into town at about 7:30pm and the hotel we were planning on staying in was booked. So was the next hotel we checked. Third time was the charm and we set off to find some food.

The next day was our climbing day.  I pretty much decided to do it so I could try out my hiking boots that I had brought with me a year earlier.  Good reason right?  The hill is a pretty prominent hill but when we asked people how to get to it, nobody could really tell us.  So we just started driving towards it and started asking people. When we got to a village close to the base, a man said, "Here. These two boys will go and show you the way."  Ok.....

                                                                  The Great Hill!

Our guides and I showing our "tough" faces

When we got to the base I didn't see any kind of path.  I asked the boys if they had ever climbed this hill before and they didn't really answer.  I pressed them and finally they said that they had, but it had been a long time.  As we started up the hill I kept asking about the path.  They kept promising it was close.  They lied.  We never found a path and ended up hiking through tall grass (snakes!!!!!) and literally crawling up some rock faces.  I was very thankful for my hiking boots with their excellent grips.  Of course the boys just shimmied up the hill, rockfaces included, like it was nothing!

I would say it's a fair statement that most of the time we were pretty scared.  We were three girls and we've all spent some time in the hospital and therefore know the very real danger of snake bites.  Also, the hill was really steep and although we were managing to go up fine, we were worried about how we would get down.  We kept stopping to ask about the path (it wasn't until the top that he finally admitted that he knew of no path) and wondering if we should stop.  But we had come so far!! And had had such a rough time getting here that it would be a real shame to give up when we were so close!  So we pressed on.  One of the boys (the leader) kept grumbling that we needed to hurry and if we were men we would just go, we wouldn't be afraid.  Finally I asked him if we were men when we were at the bottom and had changed into women on the way up.  No?  Then you knew what you were getting into when you agreed to take it so knock it off!!  We wouldn't be in this situation if there was a path like you had promised!

Shimming up the rock face.  I did not shimmy so well......

Thank God we reached the top and then back down without incident!! We were tempted to explore the top of the hill but there was lots of tall grass and we didn't want to press our luck.  Well, it wasn't the experience we'd been expecting, but if anyone ever sees that hill and says "hey, that would be cool to climb that hill"  I'll say....yeah, I did that.  So...that's something.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Time travel

There are lots of things about working at this hospital that make me feel like I'm stepping back in time.  The female nurses still wear dresses and the students' uniforms come complete with aprons and caps.  I think some of the machines we use have been here since the hospital was built in the 1960's.  Some of the things we do/use we do because our resources are tight and it just makes sense. 

When I worked in America the hospitals I worked at generally had shelves and shelves allotted for dressing materials.   Many of the nurses will recognize the terms "Kerlix" "Ace wrap" "2x2's, 4x4's", etc.  When I arrived here I used a rolled bandage for the first time in my life.  I'd read about them before in novels set....well, a while ago. But until I went to do my first dressing change, had never used any.  They are awesome!!!

These lovely ladies whom I have never even met spent I don't know how many hours rolling bandages for our hospital.  The final count was 642.  Thanks ladies!!!  It's such an encouragement to have the extra supplies, but also to know that people thousands of miles away

In a country where money for antibiotics is scarce and there are lots of things to cause infection.....this will be put to great use!!  Thank you so so much!!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I can't believe this is my life.....part 4,328

Yesterday I had an experience that I think will be hard to top in the “is this really my life???” category.

I was in the OB ward. It was 2:30pm and I was in the middle of passing out the 3pm meds, while anxiously awaiting the next nurse to come and relieve me. I had two meetings that evening and wanted to do a little baking for one of them. Banana bread….yum. I could taste it already. A few minutes later the ambulance man came and told me that we had a call. He looked around, saw that I was by myself and told me to go find someone else who could go with him (the ward was really full and he saw that I was busy). I asked him how far away the call was and he told me it was “far small.” Translation: bring your water bottle and Dramamine…it’s going to be a long bumpy ride. I glanced down the hall but knew that everyone else was getting ready to go home too, so I couldn’t ask someone else to go on this long trip. I called my friend, and asked him to finish handing out the meds and keep an eye on the ward until my replacement came at 3.

Fortunately I’d stocked the ambulance emergency box earlier that morning (learned my lesson by not having my BP cuff on me the time before) and off we went. As I hopped into the ambulance the thought crossed my mind that I should grab an OB pack (the packs we use that have clamps, drapes, etc…everything you need for birthing a baby). If this place was as far as everyone said, who knew what could happen. I ran in to get it and then the ambulance driver and I set off, sirens a blaring.

I asked him how far he thought it was. Two hours? He thought about it and said…maybe. We drove for about 20 minutes when he pulled over to ask for directions. Way to go Man Driver!! Asking for directions! J He asked where Mabumpu was and the people directed him where to go. Awesome! It didn’t sound too far. We drove for another 20 minutes or so and arrived at Mabumpu. When we pulled up and asked if this was the village the people said that yes it was the village, but they don’t have any pregnant woman in trouble. Hmm. We asked someone else. Nope, nobody called for the ambulance.

We called the guy who dispatched us and he told us that we were supposed to be in Mafumpu. Mafumpu. Not Mabumpu. Oh dear. After a few angry words in one of the many languages I don’t understand, the driver turned the siren on again and we headed back out. We turned off the main road and headed down a side road about the width of a car, branches crashing at us the whole way.

We arrived at the real village of Mafumpu and asked where the pregnant woman was. After a couple different people directing us in a couple different ways resulting in us literally doing a circle in the middle of the village, the driver got out and tried to find out what was going on. Turns out, the woman was in a village that was not passable for a vehicle, so they were bringing her to us. Ok. We’ll wait.

I stood next to the ambulance and in a few minutes had 30 kids standing there staring at me. Someone came to offer me a chair, telling me the place where they were coming from was far, so we were going to wait for a while. I expressed my slight annoyance that they’d known we were coming for at least an hour…and we’d even given them more time because we’d gotten lost! Why didn’t they leave to start coming before now? (I need to just learn to keep my big mouth shut about these kinds of things….this guy had no control over it. I’m learning….small small).

Another 10 minutes later we heard that the woman had given birth. Alright! I thought. We can just head home and I’ll make my meeting! Well, then we heard that she’d given birth, but there was a problem. Ok well, let’s go see her and we can take her to the hospital if she needs it. One man told us he would take us to her.

We hopped into the ambulance and started driving. We turned down an even narrower road that clearly had not had a vehicle on it for a long time. It started to rain. We drove for a bit and came to a junction with a man waving his hand. The vehicle could go no further so we headed there on foot now. Ok, I thought. It must be at the woman’s house.

I grabbed all my supplies and we headed up a hill. By this time the rain was really coming down and it took about 2 minutes for me to be completely soaked. The guy who was guiding me walked a lot faster than me so I kept running to keep up. As we came up over the hill I saw a group of women in a circle. In the middle of a field! All of the sudden it hit me. This woman hadn’t given birth in a house. She had literally given birth in the middle of the road while walking to try and meet us. Oh. My. Gosh!

I ran up to the group of women. They were encircling the woman and were holding lapas (pieces of fabric) over the woman to try and keep off the rain. Every once in a while it would get too heavy and a big stream of water would dump down around the woman.

As I knelt down beside the woman, I quickly tried to figure out what I had here. They lifted a lapa from the woman’s belly and I saw the baby lying there. She was alive. I asked if the placenta had been delivered yet, and they said no. I followed the baby’s umbilical cord and sure enough, the placenta was still inside the woman. One of the helpers was trying to clamp the cord with her two fingers.

Thank. You. Jesus. I had grabbed that OB pack. The first thing I did was clamp the cord and cut it. As I did this, the placenta kind of just shot out of the woman. Everyone cheered. I gave one of the women some dry drapes to use to wrap the baby and keep her warm. She wasn’t crying, which concerned me. I took the bulb suction and sucked as much out as I could, but she still wouldn’t cry. I told them to hold her close and keep her warm.

I turned my attention to the mother who was laying there, naked as a jay bird, shivering in the rain. I checked her blood pressure, which was fine. Her uterus was nice and contracted. Good. I told them that I still wanted to take them to the hospital because I was concerned about the baby. There was some chit chat in another language and then one of the women explained that the girl’s (she couldn’t have been more than 15 years old) parents weren’t around so she couldn’t go. I said, “So this girl just gave birth but you’re telling me she can’t decide for herself if she can go to the hospital or not?” I got some blank stares. Oh Emily. That’s just not how things are done here. There was some more chit chat in another language and then they said she did not want to go. “OK,” I said. “That’s fine. I can’t force you to go. I want to be very clear though, that I’m afraid if we do not take this baby to the hospital, she will die. Just so you know.” More chit chat and then they started gathering everything up.

They still weren’t coming. To be honest, I have no idea what will happen to that baby. Maybe she’ll be fine. Maybe she won’t, but wouldn’t have even if she came to the hospital. It’s a fine line to walk. I don’t want to bully or belittle because I want them to call us again the next time there’s trouble. I’m just going to assume that the baby will be fine. :)

As I was packing up my things to leave I chatted a little with the girl and told her this was the first time I’d EVER seen this happen and she really did good today!! Giving birth in the middle of the road in the pouring rain?? Yup, she’s tough. And is this really my life?!?!? :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Life is hard, but God is good

Two nights ago I was in the OB ward. There were only two of us in town so I was working a double. It had been a relatively quiet day (a blessed relief after the busyness of three C-sections in a row the day before). It was 3:15, the end of the day shift and the evening people were starting to come. Just as I sat down to do a little reading, the ambulance driver came to get me to go get a patient. I asked one of the other nurses watch over the OB patients for me while I was gone, and off we went.

We drove for about 20-30 minutes and pulled up to a house. I walked into the house and saw a woman lying on the floor. I asked what the problem was and they told me that she had been “fitting” (means seizing). Her tongue was huge because when she seized she’d been biting her tongue. Her family told me that she had just started seizing this afternoon….but that tongue made me skeptical. It looked like it had been going on for longer than that! Dangit. I didn’t have my blood pressure cuff with me. I was almost positive that I was dealing with ecclampsia (which is when pregnant ladies get really high blood pressure and start doing things like seizing) but was reluctant to give her the medications from the protocol because I wasn’t 100% sure. Instead I decided to get her in the ambulance quick and pray she didn’t start seizing again on the way. It was a long 30 minutes.

We got her to the hospital without seizing (thanks Jesus!) and I got a set of vital signs. BP 230/120. HIGH! I ran to get the stuff to start an IV and give her the medicines when her family started yelling. She was seizing again. I grabbed her arm that was flailing out and as I started the IV, blood started going everywhere. I thought I was in an artery when I realized that the tourniquet was still on. I took it off but she still continued to bleed a lot because her pressure was so high. As I fought to get the IV secured and give the medicine, she jerked her head and started gasping for air. Her giant tongue was occluding her airway and she was having a lot of difficulty breathing. I didn’t have any other staff in there so I screamed at the top of my lungs for one of the nurses. Fortunately (because Jesus really loves me!) the doctor happened to be down at the hospital and was walking to his car when he heard me yell for the nurse. He came in to help me. He literally pried her mouth open and was holding his tongue with his hands to keep her airway secure.

We got the mom stabilized (got her to stop seizing) and gave the medicines we needed to bring her pressure down and prevent her from seizing again. I turned my attention to the baby. I measured to see how many weeks she was and it looked like around 34 weeks. Not quite term. I checked for a fetal heart rate it was 60. A good fetal heart rate is around 130-160, so this was way too low. The doctor and I looked at each other. We had a decision to make. Do we cut her to try and save this baby? He told me that we probably had about 15-20 minutes to try and get this kid.

In the States this would be a no brainer but here, it takes a lot longer to get things rolling. You have to call the guy to come from home and turn on the generator, call the lab man from home to come get her labs, call the surgeon from home, call the assistant from home, call anesthesia from home….it just takes time. So do we put this woman at risk by doing surgery (as I mentioned, her tongue was huge and her pressure was really high so it would be hard to maintain her airway and doing surgery was risky).

When the doctor said, “Well I’m here, I can scrub in.” I said “Let’s try!” I flew out of the OB ward with my phone and called the generator guy and told him I needed the generator on in 5 minutes. One of the lab men (not the one on call) happened to be on the ward so when he saw me flying down the hall with the stretcher I told him what we were doing and that we had just minutes. He helped me get her on the stretcher and into the OR and went to do her labs. Now we needed an assistant. I looked to see who was on call and knew that if we waited for him to come from home it would be too late. I’ve scrubbed in on a few c-sections when there was no one else, but we knew the baby would be in distress so I would need to be available to try and resuscitate him. So I called my friend. It was his day off. He’s a very hard worker and everyone knows that if they call him he will come. I usually make it my job on his day off to make sure that he doesn’t come in. I felt bad, but I called him. He was already in the hospital and agreed to come.

So we ran. The patient arrived at 4:05pm and the baby was out at 5:01pm. I in the US that’s nothing to write home about, but here….that’s darn near miraculous. As SOON as the baby was out the patients BP dropped significantly. Now it was my job to try and revive this baby. When they handed him to me he was blue and he had zero tone. He was a limp noodle. I bagged and suctioned, gave him oxygen, bag, suction, oxygen, repeat. We worked on him for about 45 minutes and very gradually he started to improve a little. His heart rate came up, his color got better and he started breathing on his own. But his breathing wasn’t right. He would breath a little and then take a big “guppy breath” like you do when you’re gasping for air. Praise the Lord we have some oxygen concentrators now so we can give oxygen even when the generator is off. We took he and mom back to the ward and I left him on oxygen. The doctor gave him about 50% chance. That was encouraging to me because I would have given him less.

I have him some antibiotics, left him on the oxygen and continued to monitor him the rest of the evening. He stayed about the same. The next morning when I walked into the ward I dreaded what I would see. But there he was. The night nurse said he seemed to be doing a little better. Mom was doing lots better. Her tongue was still huge so I was concerned about letting her drink anything, but by the afternoon she was drinking little bits of water.

I tried to get the baby to suck, but he would have none of it. He would suck my finger really hard but when we gave him the breast he just wouldn’t latch. We tried giving him formula from a spoon for a while but by the afternoon I was getting nervous he would it would go into his lungs and he didn’t’ need any more complications. I scrounged around and found one lone bottle and tried that. It was painstakingly slow, but gradually he got some milk down. But as the evening progressed (I was working a double again) I noticed some things. He was very irritable. I’d thought he was crying because he was hungry but he kept crying even after he had enough milk. His newborn reflexes weren’t great. They were hit or miss, sometimes he’d have them, sometimes he wouldn’t. He never slept. I read recently that newborns sleep something like 20 hours a day and so far I’d never seen this baby sleep. I’d also noticed in the last few hours that he was grunting in his breathing. As I left that evening I didn’t have a good feeling about my little friend.

This morning I walked into the ward. The baby was dead. He’d died early that morning. I cried

I wish it would have turned out differently. I’d wanted all of the hard work that so many had put into trying to save that baby to make a difference. This woman had had two other children who both died after they were walking. This was her third dead child.

But this isn’t the movies or one of my one of my cheesy Christian novels where everything works out how I want in the end. It’s real life and real life is hard. So what else can I do but turn once again to my beloved God and say thank You. Thank You for helping us save the mother. Thank You for the few hours this child had on earth, and through our tears, we say thank You for taking him. You can see what we can’t.  So thank You.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

I Now Present You Man and Wife...Part 3

The wedding on Saturday was the church wedding. This wedding costs a lot of money, so most people here won’t have it. Or sometimes they’ll have the traditional ceremony and then save up for a few years to have the big wedding. In this case, the wedding had been put off several times because they had to save some more money.

We were told the wedding was supposed to start at one. You can understand our skepticism based on last night’s timeline, but when the pastor told me that it was really supposed to start at 12 but they told me 1pm because it was going to be on “black man’s time” we got there right at one.

They had already started and the church was packed with people singing and dancing. The bride and groom were dressed in their wedding attire and stood at the front of the church. They each had two attendants and the women both had big, white, lacy fans that they used to continually fan the bride. It was hot!

We were standing in the back just watching when the pastor came and got us to come to the front. Of course. I can never just sneak in anywhere in this country! I was actually glad for it this time because we got to be up front where the action was.

The ceremony was actually pretty similar to the ones that I’ve seen at home (of course all with an African flair). There was a worship time, exchanging of the vows and rings, special music, the first kiss, and a few words from the pastor about marriage. Here are a few ways it was different than the weddings I’ve been to in the States.

1. It was hot. So many people, so much dancing and so little air. I can safely say that I have never sweated that much at a wedding at home.

2. The first kiss. There was SO much buildup! The pastor spent about a minute just talking about it, making it a big deal. He kept talking about how this had better be a really good kiss and the groom better not mess it up, etc. Then as the groom started to lift the veil he would say “stop” “Ok go” “stop” over and over again. Finally the veil was off and the groom pretty much attacked her! (Can’t say I blame him since there was so much pressure!) Anyway, it was hilarious.

3. I wish you could have been with me because I really can’t describe it well enough….you just have to experience it. During the vows, the pastor said “Ok, this is a very serious time.” He then went on to say the “Do you take this woman” bit. At the end when the groom said “I do” EVERYONE started shouting and cheering. My favorite part was the synthesizer that started blasting music. It reminded me of being at a baseball game. Du du du du du du…..CHARGE!! After about a minute, the pastor again said, “Ok, everyone quiet, this is a serious time.” And the same thing happened again with the bride saying “I do” and everyone shouting and clapping, synthesizer blaring. Repeat again for both sets of vows and it was “serious time” “party time” “serious time” “party time.” Loved it.

After the ceremony it was time for the reception. But first we drove around town with the wedding party, honking our horns and yelling “the wedding is here!!!!!” We did a few loops around town and then stopped in the center for some picture taking. It is pretty much impossible to get a picture with just the bride and/or groom because someone always wants to jump in the picture. I was not successful.
No idea who the guy on the right is.  He just jumped in at the last second. Also,I realized I wore white to a wedding.  Not cool Emily, not cool.

We headed back to the hall for the reception and once again Meredith and I tried to hang out in the back but weren’t allowed. We were taken up on stage with the wedding party and pastors. Oh dear. While we ate, we listened to various people give toasts. My favorite part of the toasts was when someone started talking too long one of the pastors would give them a “red or yellow card” which meant it was time for them to sit down and shut up. One guy had to be given a couple before he stopped. J

We were done with our party by about 6:30pm and were ready to head out. I said goodbye and headed back to the city (with a few extra passengers bumming rides). Incidentally I met the first Sierra Leonean “Emily” here! We were about halfway to the hotel when I noticed that my car seemed to be pulling to the right. Hard! Then it would stop. Then it would do that again. It also started making a weird noise that sounded like it was coming from the front wheel. Boris, you’re killing me!!! I drove “small small” all the way back and thankfully made it. Now my question was, do I try to travel tomorrow????

It takes about 8 hours to get home and all but about 20 minutes of it is on really rough road. After some consultation from my friend/advisor in all things mechanical, we decided that it sounded like a breakdown waiting to happen. I decided to give Johnny a call. Since the last time he’d fixed my car it worked and when I used the mechanic in the city, it broke again, I decided to go with Johnny. I agreed to pay his transport if he could come and look at my car early the next morning.

He came at about 8am the next morning and started looking at things. He was pretty horrified at the condition of my car. Whatever. This is Sierra Leone! He did show me what my problem was, as well as a brake problem that I was having. We discussed what he would do and I asked what time he’d be finished. Meredith and I had decided that if he could finish by 12 we would still try to travel that day. He said he could be done by 1pm. Shoot, that’s pretty close. I told him what I was thinking and he said, “no….stay the day. Maybe I will not be done until 2 or 3pm.” Thanks Johnny. I’m tying to make decisions based on the information you’re giving me!! J We decided to stay the extra day. I gave Johnny half the money we’d agreed upon and the keys to my car. The text that I sent to my friend read: “I just gave my car keys and a lot of money to a guy I met on the side of the road. Bad decision?” Oh Salone.

Now what to do with our extra day off? We spent the morning doing some reading and chatting. While we were chatting some diamond miners came into the dining area and we told them our troubles. They gave us a hard time about our car and said that we’d still be sitting there on Wednesday and when I got my car back it would have all “new” parts…but none of the ones I’d wanted. Now I had to go out on the line for Johnny and defend, defend, defend. Come on Johnny, don’t let me down.

As the afternoon progressed, Johnny would call and give me updates. It didn’t sound like he was on his way to Liberia with my money and car. But they continued to harass us. They were a very nice and hilarious group of guys and one lady. They were a little rough around the edges. They said the F word every 5-10 seconds but would then apologize every 30th time or so. We were never sure why THAT particular F word was worthy of the apology. J

Anyway Johnny kept calling with his updates but by 6pm I started getting nervous. His “15 minutes” turned into an hour, but by 7pm he and my Boris were back!! We took it for a test drive and he seemed ready for the road! Johnny got a little sketchy when he kept telling me I needed to pay him some extra “insurance” money because he hadn’t wrecked my car or stolen it. Really? Pay you for not stealing my stuff? Sorry Johnny, no go. I know you’re already ripping me off…..

The next morning we hit the road by 8am. At one point we stopped halfway through to pick up some groceries and my car wouldn’t start when I tried it. I tried it again. Nothing. We decided to wait a few minutes, tried it again and it started. Not sure what was wrong, but praise God we made it home!! What an adventure! J

I was ready to close when I came upon this today in a book I’m reading. Adroniram Judson was the first missionary from America and was sent to Burma. The day he committed himself to go he met Ann Hasseltine, whom he immediately fell in love with. Continuing our theme of marriage, here is the letter he wrote to her father asking for her hand as a partner in marriage and missions:

“I have not to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean, to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of him who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteousness, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Savior from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?”

Her father let her decide. She said yes.

Thanking God so much for telephones, Gmail, Facebook and blogging. They really sacrificed a lot back then!

The cutting of the cake.  Fun fact, the wedding party cuts the cake, as well as the bride and groom

My favorite pic.  So precious!
The Wedding Party