Sierra Leone part 5

Wednesday, November 3, 2010 – 9:38 pm

I am late getting settled for the night today. After class ended at 5:35, Gregory took us to the internet cafe. I paid a total of 8,000 Leones for 1 hour of internet. The exchange rate for us was 4,200 per US Dollar. $2 for an hour of internet usage? Yeah! The hotel owner came with a car to pick us up when we were done. At that point it was raining heavily. We stuffed into his SUV, and two of us were sitting on people’s laps. It was a memorable adventure.

We arrived late to dinner, and stayed chatting later than usual. Then, we (minus Patty) met in Carey Jo’s room for the “good stuff” — Kit-Kats that Kenyon had purchased at the supermarket. They were large bars. He had gotten a caramel kind and a crunchy kind. The four of us talked for bit before retiring. I filled up my bucket with water in Carey Jo’s bathroom since my shower has not been fixed. I am going to leave my key with Isaac (the manager of maintenance and such) tomorrow so that he can fix it at his convenience during the day. I feel really bad for neglecting to let him know yesterday when I was finished with lunch so that the plumber could fix it. He told me later that the plumber waited five hours for me. Meanwhile, I was enjoying sending updates from the internet cafe. The Lord is teaching me about being kind rather than uneasy. I wish I had learned such lessons earlier. The people here are so gracious and kind. Again, I have a lot to learn from them.

On Tuesday morning, I taught the letter count finalization, Advance Preparations, and electronic letter count sessions. Unfortunately, the electronic letter count did not work properly, so we are contacting our tech guy (aka my brother) to see if he can fix it.

A girl named Mummy (said “Moomee”) introduced herself to me. She works here from 7am to 10pm. I spoke with her a little but want to get to know her better and plan to invite her to the Gathering of Esthers meeting (if Gregory thinks it’s a good idea). Speaking of which…I think I am getting somewhere with my talk preparations. I tried to access a webpage of the commentary on Esther by Spurgeon at the internet cafe but was unable to do so. My decision now is to just see where the Lord takes me in Scripture to expound on the book of Esther. It seems that He wants to teach me what He wants to teach me and not just what He taught Spurgeon before I speak to the girls.

Yesterday after breakfast we brought our laundry down to Susan who arranged for a lady from one of the churches to wash it for us. This evening, Susan notified us that our laundry will be ironed tomorrow. I’m still trying to dry my clothes that I washed by hand yesterday before dinner. Kenyon said that the temperature is 90(ish) but the humidity is at least 75%. Right now I have the fan blowing on the clothes to try to dry them as much as possible. I would prefer to not have them get musty and have to wash them again before wearing them.

Most of my paper items are damp because of the humidity. Now I am wishing I didn’t bring my journal because I’m typing it anyway. It’s faster this way. The two booklets I brought as witnessing tools/tracts to hand out are also damp. Ah! Maybe I should give them to Mummy. I’ll have to think about that.

A frequent question in the last couple of days has been “Do you have water?” (running water in the bathroom) That question is never asked at home. How spoiled we are in the States.

Today the students delved into desktop publishing with Patty. Since the projector wasn’t working, there were four groups gathered around four participants’ laptops. It is exciting to anticipate that more entering of the primers into the computer will be happening on site as we do the primer construction rather than the whole thing having to wait for Patty in Tulsa to type it up. She is doing a great job with her teaching.

I have now seen a grand total of 5 white-skinned people outside of our group here in Bo. A missionary from South Africa at church, a lady who looked like she could be a nurse on a motorbike, and three ladies from Finland at the internet cafe who are here to record stories about health issues and literacy. I feel quite conspicuous wherever we go. And as Carey Jo said, that’s because I am. Kenyon had to adjust the exposure on his camera just because of me when I was sitting between Gregory and Daniel in front of a village dwelling. I look *very* white. I am happy about tanning a bit while everyone at home is probably wearing sweaters all the time now.

It’s time to shut down for the night and try to get sufficient rest for a change. These are long days, and it’s hard to go the whole day without a nap. Today I wanted to take a nap after lunch, but had to go directly back to the classroom since I wouldn’t have had anyone to walk back with otherwise.

Despite all the living challenges, I am loving this time.

Sierra Leone part 4

Monday, November 1, 2010 – 8:50 pm – In my hotel room in Bo

The water is off. Thankfully Carey Jo filled a bucket slightly more than half full for me because she has water in her bathroom. I need to wash my hair in the morning, but am not sure if I can without additional water. I plan to tell Gregory when I see him about it. Perhaps he can mention it to the hotel staff.

Well, I didn’t finish telling about church yet. What really struck me about the service was the great enthusiasm of the congregation. One of the leaders spoke about how God was gracious to bring them all safely through another month. It was convicting to see all those people dancing for joy and praising the Lord for a long time. They have so little materially compared to me, but they are rich. They are rich in thanksgiving to the Lord. They are rich in joy. They know God as the One Who provides. Really and truly. I have much to learn from these people.

Another thing that really struck me during the service happened at the beginning when they started the singing. The singing leader exhorted the people to praise God because of Who He is and not what He has done for them. Wow. Although I hear that at home, too, it was very striking when stated in that context.

In the afternoon, I rested instead of going with some of the men to the Cybercafe. The report I heard made me partly wish I had gone. Apparently, the wi-fi is free, and it is a very westernized establishment. I had wanted to go today, but there wasn’t an ideal opportunity. Walking over there in the dark even accompanied doesn’t appeal to me.

I just mentioned the water issue to Agnes. I can let the Susan (the cook) know in the morning if I don’t have water then. Well, let the creativity in taking an entire shower with only a half bucket of water begin! This is good for me. (no sarcasm intended)

Before dinner, we instructors met at the compound where classes will be taking place and reviewed the schedule for the week. A few more participants arrived during our meeting, including those who worked on the Advance Preparations for the Themne and Mende primer construction. In the evening, I worked on more teaching preparation and journaling.

This morning, the Primer Construction Institute began. To the center, I rode behind one of the participants on his motorbike. He drove slowly, which was really nice for me. Later, after lunch, Agnes hired bike drivers to take some of us ladies down the road to the center. This time, the driver drove a bit too fast. Maybe he was excited about carrying a white person.

At the beginning of classtime, Gregory explained how vital it is to be able to read because, like the king in Esther’s time, God has written a decree for all the provinces of His kingdom. It is necessary to read it. That is why all of us are here.

I finished creating my powerpoint presentation during Carey Jo, Patty, and Daniel’s teaching sessions. However, later when I was teaching, the projector wasn’t working. Patty helped me out greatly by writing page numbers and headings on the chalkboard as I spoke. It was also helpful for the students to have a visual in addition to my speaking. The topics I covered were Primer Characteristics, Walk Through the Primer, and Letter Count. We had to move the Advance Preparation session to the next morning. At the beginning of my teaching, I passed out highlighters and sticky notes. Using them in my book has been very helpful in mapping it out for easy use. I thought the students might enjoy using them for marking up their books as well. I think at least a couple of them liked it. I think my session on Walk Through the Primer in which I had them flip to many different parts of the book kept them engaged and awake.