I was up country last week with a building team from my hometown area. The team came last year but it was more of a tour/church kick off trip. Fifteen people came this year and we split up into two groups, one to facilitate a pastors seminar and the other to put the roof on a church that was started last year. My job was going to be hanging out with the building team. I’ve helped with lots of different kinds of teams, but this was going to be my first building team.
When I heard where the team was going to be building and that I was going to be staying with them, my first thought was...oooohhhhh. I know this place. We stayed at a guest house there last year. It it was perhaps one of, if not THE sketchiest place I've stayed in Salone. And last year we were there for one night. This was going to be a full week. But ok!! My dad always told me you can do anything if you know there's an end in site so bring on the bed bugs and nests of living things in the bathroom. We'll chalk it up to being an adventure. Fortunately, I found out one of the pastors vetoed that guesthouse (shout out, thanks Pastor Scott!) so we stayed at a different, much cleaner one. Granted, that didn't mean that we had running water or 24 hour electricity but we did pay extra for them to run the generator all night so we had fans. Blessed, wonderful fans. We also had the benefit of staying at one of the football watching centers for the town which meant that since they blared the tv at 200 decibles (what is a decible? Is 200 a lot? Hyperbole loses its effect a bit if I don't know what I'm talking about....) right under our rooms. So we had the added bonus of staying up to date on all football scores while we were away from the internet. Which I know is extremely important for most American sports fans.
I mentioned before that this was the first building team that I helped with. Let me tell you one of the benefits of being with a team full of guys: I wasn’t responsible for NEARLY as much heavy lifting!! There was always some strapping lad to help with the 200 pound bags! Let me tell you one of the downsides of helping with a building team in the dry season in Africa: your work starts early!! In an effort to not die from heat stroke in the afternoon hours, we started early and by 6am we were at the worksite, raring to go. And by raring to go, I mean that I dropped them off and then watched them work until breakfast at 8. I'm just that industrious.
After the first day, I couldn’t believe how I was glowing with pride to hail from the great state of Oregon. These guys were so incredibly hard working!! The majority of them were….well, not young guys. And it’s hot here! Like….miserably, don’t ever dry off from your shower kind of hot and humid. And these guys were working in the sweltering sun for hours every day. I was so proud I could hardly stand it!
The nurse inside of me wanted to have a heart attack a few times during the week. Like when I walked up to the site and saw THIS piece of action going on.
|I'm sure he wasn't trying to kill me by doing this but......|
At one point I told some of the guys to please be careful, but my pastor pointed out that you're not supposed to tell guys that. So I tried to keep my mouth shut. Which isn't really easy for me in general. I was so glad when the final nail was put in and everyone got down from their ladders, finished dangling from the trusses….and had both feet planted on solid ground. My worst fear was that someone was going to cut off a limb or fall and crush their skull. I tried to come up with a plan should that happen....but what kind of viable plan can there really be when there was apparently no legitimate medical facility anywhere in the vicinity. Not a very good one. I'm afraid the only answer I was going to have was....."ummm....put some pressure on it? Yeah! Just keep pressure on it!!" That's right. Super nurse. But thank you Jesus that nothing happened!!
Every night we'd have a little revival service in the evening. Towards the end of the week they realized that we pooped out pretty quickly (we still hadn't eaten dinner yet and did I mention that we started work at 6 and that these guys worked really hard and that it was really, really, really hot?) so they started telling us to go and then they kept.....revivaling?....for a while later. At the end of the week we had a baptism service for some people that had chosen to follow Christ. I always love baptism services because of the significance, but this one was especially memorable because of how freaked out one of our pastors was to go into the water. Granted, the water was disgusting. And he had unfortunately received a pretty big cut on his leg that day but I couldn't help but chuckle when they tried to get him to take his tennis shoes off. Nope. Definitely not happening. I also loved how the Sierra Leonean pastor would whisper after every baptism, "Shout Hallelujah!!" And they would shout it. Precious :)
|Pastor Scott's church has been instrumental in supporting this church and helped them get the initial part built|
On Sunday the rest of the team joined us for our church service in the newly roofed building. It was fun to catch up with them and hear how their time with all the pastors was. They were excited about a lot of the conversations they'd gotten to have and after talking with some of the pastors and their wives, I know the feeling was mutual.
|The finished product|
On Monday we did the typical "leaving day" things such as a trip to the market to buy overpriced souvenirs and enjoyed watching the ferry try to park at the dock with a strong wind. I think we must of attempted at least 3 or 4 times. But we made it! And the team made it home safe and sound.
I know I was rushed at the airport, trying to catch the ferry back but thank you all so so so much for all of your hard work and for loving the people of Sierra Leone so well! It's always such an encouragement when people get excited about the need over here and want to do something about it! So thank you thank you thank you!!