Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!!

On Sunday, Marie had her Christmas play at church.  It. Was. Awesome.  After living here for so long, there are few things that make me stop and say, “Wow! That’s different.”  I’ve gotten used to a lot of things.  However. This is my first Christmas in Sierra Leone! This was my first Christmas play in Sierra Leone.

The director of the play was so sweet and wanted to make sure that Marie had a part so that she could mingle with the other kids and make some friends.  Thus, she became “Innkeeper #1.”  We were a little nervous about it because her lines were in Krio and she while she is improving, her Krio sounds…..well, like my Krio.  We practiced her lines at home though (all 3 of them) and during the first practice, when she NAILED her lines, everyone erupted into cheering and started dancing around.  So sweet. J

Practices were a bit of a challenge because “4 O’clock” doesn’t really mean “4 O’clock” as much as it means “sometime in the evening.”  Half of the practices we ended up leaving because none of the other kids showed up.  The assistant director explained that you have to go house to house to collect them, otherwise they will just be “playing too much.”

My biggest shock came during the dress rehearsal.  They went through the entire play but instead of ending in the traditional way, they decided to go out with a bang with the ending scene being when King Herod  ordered all children under 2 to be murdered.  They had 4 older girls with young children in their laps.  The soldiers burst onto the scene and ripped the young children from their laps, laid them on the ground and slit their throats.  The mothers started wailing.  End Play.  Gives you that feel good Christmas feeling doesn't it?

I couldn’t believe what I was watching and Marie, who was sitting on my lap, turned around and asked why my mouth was open like that.  Fortunately a discussion ensued and they decided that maybe they should cut it short because it was horrifying (my contribution) it was too long and the kids would get dirty if they laid on the ground while their throats were being cut (the assistant director’s contribution). 

My favorite part was the awesome 3 person donkey they made. It was hilarious!  “Mary” was an average sized girl but was tall and the rear 1/3 of the donkey (where she was sitting) yelled during every practice that “she’s big! She’s big!”  Just what every teenage girl wants to hear.                           

While there were some differences, I was chuckling to myself on performance day when I saw all the phones come out to record the performance and all the proud parents getting up from their seats to get the perfect shot.  Some things are the same in every culture.   Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ebola Casualties.....

I’ve written before about seeing the remnants of Ebola all around us.   The signs, the empty treatment units, etc.  Yesterday I felt the effect in yet another way.  During the peak of the crisis, several people from the States decided to help sponsor some kids who were orphaned by Ebola.  In an effort to keep them out of an orphanage, they were helping support the “foster families” that they were living with.  Yesterday Nicole (a girl from my home church who’s here for a year) and I went to go see how these kiddos were doing.

The first girl we met was 12 years old and was staying with a woman who used to be her neighbor.  We talked to the woman who explained that this little girl used to play with her children.  When the girls’ parents died, the girl was just walking around, didn’t have anywhere to go.  “I didn’t want to her straining, so I invited her to stay with us," she said.  The woman lives in house made from mud bricks.  There is no man in the home to help support she and the kiddos so she sells what she can to try and eek by.  

James is another boy that we met who lost both of his parents to Ebola.  He is an only child and actually had Ebola himself, but survived.  He is currently staying with his aunt and uncle, although the auntie is very sick. She miscarried and after the miscarriage she became very sick.  They eventually took her to a different province because “it wasn’t a hospital sick.”  (This means that they believe the sickness is from some kind of curse or witchcraft).  

Another boy that we went to visit wasn’t in the house because he was out selling cassava that his auntie had grown.  He needed Le5,000 (about $1) to get his report card from school and they didn’t have it.  He is one of seven children that his parents left behind when they both died of Ebola.  His older brothers have stopped going to school in an effort to work to help support the younger siblings.  The kids are all living with different relatives.

I knew the stories. I’ve read all the articles about the orphan crisis and I’ve even seen these kids’ particular photos and heard about their struggles.  But there was something in me that just broke when I came face to face with the devastation that Ebola caused.  Forever.  These kids’ lives are changed. Forever.  Even as I write this, I know that my words will fall short and there’s no way that I can communicate the pain that I saw yesterday.  

I know that pain during this holiday season is not relegated to Sierra Leone.  It's everywhere.  Every year it feels like I see more and more of how broken our world is.  In the same vein, I think this year, more than maybe any other in my life, I am thankful for the hope that we have in Christ.  This life isn't the end.  Thank you God, for Christmas!!

P.S.  If any of you are interested in helping one of these kiddos, we have four more in homes that are struggling to feed all the mouths.  If you'd be interested in making a one year commitment of $25 a month, we'd love to hear from you!  This money will help with school fees, food, and some other necessities.  You can FB message me or e-mail at   Thanks!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

First Thanksgiving

Yesterday a pastor from my home church returned home to the States with his family.  They were here for about a week and a half and the pastor taught at the Bible Institute that recently launched.  We have a group of 15 Sierra Leonean pastors, primarily from the provinces (far away from the capital city)   who come here for a week at a time to have their lectures.  This month the teacher was the pastor who married Peter and I.  He’s been coming to Sierra Leone for years and has such a passion for this place, particularly the pastors.  The stories that he would come back and tell were just so encouraging!  

This year  he brought his wife and two daughters which was awesome for our family!  There’s something refreshing about being in a foreign place but talking about familiar places with familiar people.  Their girls loved on my kids so well and Marie was OBSESSED with them!  The first thing she did when she woke up was to ask if she could go “see if they were awake.”  If left to her own devices, I would not have seen her the entire week.  So blessed when others pour into my kiddos!

Pastors at the seminar
This is my first "holiday season" I've spent in Sierra Leone so I was a little nervous about how I would do.  But we got to spend Thanksgiving with this family and about 30 other Americans at the beach.  So....I can't really complain. :)  (Although Marie still doesn't' think it can be close to Christmas because 'it's not even cold, Mom!)  

Mostly I was excited that I got to show off my mad cooking skills.  My personal favorite was on their last night when I decided to whip up a delicious peanut butter bar treat.  I was carrying it to the house for dinner when I realized that I forgot half of the recipe.  I had cooked brown sugar, white sugar, an egg and peanut butter in a 9x12 pan for 40 minutes (20 minutes longer than the recipe said because it just "kept looking mushy").  Oops. Forgot the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Yes. I did. But no big deal. I only had 20ish people waiting for it.  So......after I did my walk of shame and admitted what happened I put in all the missing ingredients, cooked it for ANOTHER 15 minutes was edible. Not great. But edible.  
The older "kids" playing a rousing card game after disastrous dessert!

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!!! :)