Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My entryway is featured here…

Today, my entryway before & after pictures are featured here. I discovered this blog last fall & submitted my pics, and now, here they are!  There are some fantastic ideas on this blog.

We are currently on the last of the re-do’s, our master bathroom.  We hope to finish it up in the next few weeks.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sierra Leone (five)

The highlight of my trip was taking a day trip over to Mile 91 (91 miles from Freetown). There, I was able to meet & spend time with Hawa Mansaray, the 13 year old girl that our family sponsors every month.  I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to sit & talk with her & see where she lives, goes to school & church. I also met the family that she lives with (her dad was killed in the war & her mom drowned 6 years ago).


I loved the picture below (thank you, Sarah!) of me, showing Hawa a picture of Katie & Mary Margaret. 



I was able to walk inside & see exactly where she lives.  She & 4 other people live in one room.  There is a bed, a table, a bike & other things stacked by the walls.  When we were standing next to the bed, pulling a puzzle out of the bag, I asked Hawa where she sleeps.  She tapped her foot on the floor.  I looked down, and said, “Right here?” and she nodded.  We were standing in a space about 2 feet by 4 feet on a concrete floor – basically the walk way next to the bed.  Katie had made a pillow for her, and right then I pulled it out of the bag & handed it to her, and she hugged it to her, and that beautiful smile as she said, “Thank you! Thank you! Oh, thank you!”

To say it was an amazing experience would be an understatement. How many people get to do that? Meet the child they sponsor?  What a blessing! Truly unforgettable.

Sierra Leone (four)



Group of girls at church Sunday morning.  Before we went, Becky warned us that when it was time for the offering, if the amount collected was not what was hoped for, they would do it again, and possibly even one more time.  And, each person carries their offering to the altar.  So after we got there, and it came time for the offering, instructions were given: if you were from Tribe A (I can’t remember the names), give to the bucket on the right.  If you were from Tribe B, give to the bucket on the left.  And if you fell into the “Other” category, lay your offering on the Bible in the center.  So we all went forward & gave an offering.  The music, loud & upbeat, was playing as we went.  The thought did run through my mind, “This feels like a conga line.”  Thankfully, the offering was substantial, and one go-round was enough that day.


A common sight.


We would pass by this sign every time we would go to & leave the mission house.  The bullet holes were a visual reminder of what these people have survived (civil war, portrayed in the movie “Blood Diamond”).


This was a booth at the market…not quite sure what type of meat that might be.


It seemed out of place to see a Lincoln town car.




Water.  In a bag.


Fresh pineapple, everyday.


This is how we got to wherever we were going: the poda poda.


The iron.


Fishermen & women.


The well in the yard at Tom & Becky’s house.


I have never given so much thought to fresh water.  For people who live in this part of the world, so much time is spent going to & from a well to get water.  I think about that every time I brush my teeth now. 

This morning, I found myself so frustrated. I was standing in front of the mirror, about to flat iron my hair for the first time in three weeks.  I was so missing the freedom I felt while in West Africa, freedom to not be concerned so much with my appearance.  I got so spoiled, wearing my baseball cap, or just pulling my hair back, and not caring how it looked.  aaaggghhh. This is just one tiny little part of how I am struggling right now.

Sierra Leone (three)

Another group of people that we spent time with while in Sierra Leone, are the orphans that live at Ms. Margaret’s.  Her home is right on the edge of the war widows’ camp, and pretty close to Tom & Becky’s house; one day, they walked over to see us, and another day we walked over to see them. 

A few of these kids that I connected with – Mariama will just steal your heart.  Sweet sweet sweet, & so loving. And dance? This girl has got some moves! It was so fun watching her & Heidi match each other, move for move.  That’s Margaret next to Mariama.




Yaema also lives at Ms. Margaret’s.  She is 14 and she loves to sing. It took some coaxing to get her to dance, but when “Thriller” came on, I taught her part of the Thriller dance & she liked that! 


Posted below are pictures of where these kids live.  The stack of foam in the corner is pulled out at night & spread out, and that is where some of the kids sleep.  The buckets are what the kids use when they walk to the well to get water.


Some do have bunk beds.


Their bathroom.


Their kitchen.


Their clothesline.


This was next to one of the kids’ bunks.


They walked us part of the way home, and then waved good bye.


The last night we were there, our team had a meeting, to decide how to disperse the funds that we had left over.  We left $650 to build a bed for the big boys at Margaret's, a bed with a rail for Martin (Martin is a quadriplegic man that Margaret cares for), and a mattress for the big boys. 

I have a day dream, where men from our church go to Sierra Leone & build beds for the kids at Ms. Margaret’s who don’t have beds, among other building projects. I would love to go & be the cook for a trip like this!  Who knows?  Dreams do come true!

Sierra Leone (two)

Hosetta School…

While there, we spent 7 days working at the Hosetta School. About half of the kids there were deaf, and the other half mentally challenged. The culture there does not promote the idea that children are a treasure, and if they are a challenge, they are surely treated as the lowest of the low. We were able to not only take school supplies, but also spend time in the classrooms there, introducing their teachers to some new concepts & ways of teaching. The administrator & teachers were overwhelmed with all we came & shared. It was so wonderful to meet that need. And, all the while, enjoying loving on those kids.

Watching them put together puzzles, and play with play dough for the first time was such a moving experience.



I love this one – Aminata (2nd girl from Left is so thrilled to be doing whatever it is we were doing, and the boy in the middle there is looking like, “What? More of this?!”


This is Abdul Ramon. I could have eaten him up with a spoon. Precious.  One morning, he tried to wipe/scrape/scratch the moles off of my arms. He could not figure out why they would not come off.


Below is a picture of Edna. She did not have much to say.  But her smile would make my day.


And by the time we left, when I said, “How do you spell Edna?” She would say, “E-D-N-A.”


And then there was Cynthia.  She didn’t have much to say, either, but I so fell in love with this girl! When we gave the students play dough, & a folder with shapes, we showed them how to form the play dough into the shapes that were on the folders.  I worked with her & worked with her, and after about 20 minutes, she did form the play dough into a circle.


The second day we were there, she gave me a coin. I tried & tried to give it back to her, but she shook her head no & would not take it back. I asked Becky about it that night, and she guessed that the coin was Cynthia’s money for bread that day.  She said for me to take it, that the coin was the only thing Cynthia had to give.  She gave me another coin the next day.  I went in the bathroom & cried.

The picture below is of me dancing with Cynthia on our last day.  You can see Edna on the right & Aminata on the left.


Susan, the administrator at Hosetta, loved the chocolate & lipstick I brought to her, so she had a dress made for me as a gift.  She was so funny putting that head dress on me – she did not quite know what to do with ALL of my hair!


It’s amazing how quickly I could fall in love with a place & those children. The smiles, the hugs, and small victories they gained will forever be in my memory.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sierra Leone (one)

There is so much to tell about it, I will take this one topic at a time.  I encourage you to read Becky's blog. She & Tom are the missionaries that we worked with while in Sierra Leone.

One highlight of my trip was getting to know Mohammed.  Tom & Becky first met him in January.  He had been living on the streets for approximately 3 years when they met him.

He had some sort of infection all over his body, and without medical intervention, would more than likely die.  Tom & Becky decided to have him taken to a clinic near their house to have him treated.  Here he is 7 months later:


He smiles & smiles.  He loves life. He lives life.  He loves to dance! 

I tried to insert a video of him dancing here but I can’t get it to work.

Our whole team fell in love with him.  In SL, boys are called “bobos” so we fondly call this boy The Bobo. 

So thankful to have gotten to know this precious boy.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Joplin…no words

There are really no words to describe what I witnessed yesterday. It’s one of those things, you almost have to see it to really believe it.

Katie & I started our day at Wildwood Baptist Church, which was set up as a triage medical unit & supply storage. ( Jay went on down to the heart of the area where the tornado hit). She & I helped unload & sort supplies. Families & individuals started to come in, needing different things.

The first mom that came in, with her 2 daughters (ages 7 & 5), was in sort of a daze. She had left the baby with a neighbor. I asked, “Do you need diapers?” and she said, after a pause, and hesitantly, “If you have enough…” I asked about toothpaste & brushes, and she said, again, hesitantly, “If you have enough…” After a few times, it hit me, she said they lost everything which means they need everything. I began then, to just pack a box with everything I could think of that they would need. Katie was helping the girls pick out some clothes. I offered the girls a drink & snack, and they loved drinking those Capri Sun drinks. The older girl went to pick out her snack, and the younger girl kind of hung back & I asked her what she wanted, and she looked up at me with these big blue eyes & said, “I just want my birthday cake.” I asked her where it was & she said, “It’s at WalMart, but they can’t find it.” Her birthday was Monday. Her mom had explained it the best way the little girl could understand. My heart broke. Her little world has been flipped upside down.

A little later a lady came in & she looked like she had been beat up, so so bruised. She had been at WalMart when the storm hit, had covered her step-daughter with her own body, and they both survived. They were pulled out hours later. See picture of WalMart below.


Harmony Heights Baptist Church – they were having service there when the storm hit. Several people died there. Jay was there yesterday, and a couple pulled up in their car. He was visiting with them & they told him that they were there Sunday night, and someone had pulled them out of the rubble (Ican’t think of a better word). The man went on to tell Jay that he really wanted to find his Bible. Here’s a picture of what the church looks like now:


Jay was thinking, “There is no way we are going to find this guy’s Bible in all this.” The man showed Jay where he had been pulled from the rubble, and Jay started looking. The man described what the case looked like. Jay found it. He took it over to the man. The case was wet & covered with mess. The man unzipped the cover & inside, his Bible was in perfect condition. Here are a few more pictures of the church.


The trees were stripped of their bark. All that area behind the church was previously houses.





A few more pictures – Academy Sports store



This picture below was amazing to me – you can see the stairs inside someone’s house, and their microwave.


Another family Jay visited with, were in their neighborhood, sifting through the debris of what had been their home, and they were talking with Jay & he told them that he would like to pray for them but honestly didn’t even know where to start & asked what would they want him to pray for. The lady said, to pray that it would stop raining, to find someone they couldn’t find, and then she said, “Just that something good would happen today. I need something good to happen.” A few minutes later, she saw the mailman & was completely surprised that the mail was running. She rushed over to the mailman & took her mail, and she had a big smile on her face. Something good had happened. Her prescriptions had come in the mail.

Christie, the girl we were working with at the church was so perfect for the “job” she was doing. When people came in, she just stood there & listened as long as they wanted to talk. She just listened. I was rushing around, trying to fill their boxes, and when I mentioned this to her, how I noticed that she just let them take their time, she said, “Well, they don’t have anywhere to go. And people have listened to my story, so now it’s my turn to listen to theirs.” She went on to tell me about something that happened Monday morning. An elderly lady was pulled from the rubble of her house & brought to the triage unit there at the church. She was bloody & bruised & the nurse was checking her out. She asked the lady if she was on any medication. The lady thought about it & then said, “Well, just Coumadin.” The nurse thought, “Just Coumadin” (blood thinner). The lady went on & said, “I had just fixed a glass of water & put my medicine on the counter when the storm hit.” Two men who heard all this decided to go over to the lady’s house & try to find her medicine. They got there, looked at each other & one just wept, after seeing what was left of her house, amazed that she was alive. They dug through & found what they thought was the kitchen area. Huge mess, as you can imagine. Cabinets crushed, stove gone, etc. It was just scattered debris – splintered & crushed wood & concrete – except for one thing…right in the middle of all that mess was one part of the counter still standing, and on that part of the counter top was the glass of water and bottle of medicine, still standing there, side by side.

Jay summed it up when he said the day was sobering and encouraging at the same time. It was heartbreaking – words cannot even describe the destruction that we witnessed. At the same time, hearing these stories, of how God is working, and seeing so many people come together for the same purpose, to serve others, was encouraging. We ended up at the command center for the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief effort, and as I spooned corn onto people’s plates, I read their shirts. They came from all over Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Georgia. The chainsaw & childcare teams are functioning now, and next week, the feeding, laundry, and shower units will be up & going. Volunteers will be needed after all these get going. Supply centers have been established in Springfield & Kansas City. Once the supplies that have already been delivered to Joplin begin to be disbursed, more can be funneled in through these other cities.

Last picture of the day – we were heading home, tired, still processing the day, talking a little, but mostly quiet in the truck, and we were driving into what looked like a storm up ahead – dark clouds, etc. I looked out my window, and this is what I saw. What a glorious sight & reminder of His presence, His peace & His promises.