Who Knew?

I cannot begin to tell you how much fun I am having. Yes, I know I am supposed to be working, but can I say the work I get to do is incredible. It has been a little over a month since I flew to Yaounde, Cameroon. There I met Anne and Willie two of the regional representatives for the area, and Micah their son. I also met Joe and Deborah and their daughter Krista. They are all missionaries and part of the West Africa team. I am learning that the term “West Africa” is limiting because two countries in my area are Cameroon and Central African Republic which are actually in central Africa — no matter.

NGaoundere and Gomano 005

So about that fun, getting to know the missionaries is a treat in itself. I have  spent time with Jackie Griffin, Elizabeth Johnson, Phil and June Nelson and Susan Smith. Some I met traveling to N’Gaoundere after a ride in a “petit avion.” I hope you read that story. They are an amazing bunch of individuals and as a group well, they help make the work the ELCA does in this part of the world possible. Yet, the most exciting thing for me is meeting the members of the churches here and visiting the ministries that are so vital to this region.  

Yesterday, I visited St. Mark one of the churches of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sierra Leone. The church is located on the east side of Freetown. On the church grounds there is a well that is open to the community. It is one of two wells in the neighborhood that insure that there is clean water. One of the priorities of the ELCA World Hunger fund is clean water. The ELCA also has as priorities the empowerment of women and health.  At St. Mark there is a Women’s Center that trains youth to sew and to do hair so that they might earn a living and be self-sufficient and a small health clinic.

Well on the property of St. Mark a congregation of ELCSL.

Well on the property of St. Mark a congregation of ELCSL.

This week, I also visited the headquarters of ELCSL where I along with Themba, another of the regional representatives for the area, met with Bishop Thomas Barnett and talked with Phyliss the financial director. We also were escorted to St. Mark by Princess who is the head of the churches Women’s Organization. We are here to attend a partners meeting and to participate in a celebration of culture and worship during the opening of the ELCSL Jubilee Center. We will be joined by a group from the Northern Texas and Louisiana Synod of the ELCA.

Princess, Me and Phyliss. They are leaders in ELCSL.

Princess, Me and Phyliss. They are leaders in ELCSL.

Yes, I am having fun experiencing the food, culture and learning about Sierra Leone. Yet the realities of life in Sierra Leone are not fun. Sierra Leone is a country that is still recovering from the effects of civil war. They are now experiencing a period of stability and in many ways the faith communities have helped with this. Despite that stability Sierra Leone has around 60% unemployment and even those with university educations can take three or four years to find a job. Everyday there are thousands of youth on the streets and beaches of Freetown peddling goods.

In some ways Freetown reminds me of New York City. Traffic is terrible, people are everywhere and there are vendors not just on every corner, but all over the place. Another amazing thing is that Sierra Leone while not an island is a country that sits on the ocean and has many beaches. Who knew it would be so beautiful?

Sierra Leone 003

Yes, I am having fun. Despite having my luggage lost and going without my own clothes for the second time in a month, despite having to get on a very small airplane and a boat that had the potential to make me sick, despite hours on airplanes and constant e-mails, I am having fun and an excellent adventure. Who knew that this work would give me as much joy as congregational ministry? Thank you Lord!

I am westafricabound.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anne
    Feb 20, 2013 @ 17:46:10

    I am really enjoying really about your adventure.

    Reply

    • Anne
      Feb 20, 2013 @ 17:48:15

      Would help I read my comment before I hit post. That should have read – I am really enjoying reading about your adventures!

      Reply

  2. Jane Bowman
    Feb 20, 2013 @ 18:57:14

    So glad that God called you to this and that you answered. Can’t wait to see you after you return and to talk to you. I know this will change you and am anxious to talk to you about this and share the joy! All our love to you. Jane

    Reply

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