For a lot of things actually.
It’s time for our first (but not final) dep blog, time for us to say goodbye to Sierra Leone and our kids at the Banta Home, and also time for us to book it out of the Lungi Freetown Airport where we have at press time, been for the past 25 hours.
It’s crazy to us to try and explain our experience of the past two months here, so most of our stories and little details you will have to hear upon our arrival! But just so you have an idea of what us crazy college kids have been up to, here’s an overview:
• Living in the Banta Mohkelleh Bush in Upper Banta with 100 orphaned and destitute children who have been the loves of our lives as well as our neighbors the past eight weeks.
• Working with nine other teammates (6 Americans, 2 Sierra Leoneans, and 1 Irish man) through the Children of the Nations (COTN) program there.
• Working with COTN’s Village Partnership Program (VPP) in five nearby villages learning new skills such as grinding up cassava leaves, farming, carrying water on our heads, learning Mende (the local language) and Krio (the national language besides English), leading weekly bible studies, attending church, and loving our village kiddos. Victor was in Ngolala (Guah-la), Jessica was in Wondie (woon-day), and Emma was in Mogborie (Mog-bore-eeeee). We all had a partner and a national who came with us four times a week walking through the jungle to our village community. It was one of the best parts of the whole program.
• Spent two weeks running Bible/Community/Summer/Feeding Opportunity/Everything camps! Children’s camp was a huge success although very tiring! All 12 of us interns were split into four houses (red, green, blue, yellow) and were responsible for a total of 269 pekins! (for those of you who aren’t fluent in krio that means children..) Lots and lots of beautiful and hyper kids means lots of fun, not much sleep, planning on the fly, and a great week. The next week was youth camp for kids who were 12 years and older and was run by a team from Florida. We were all so thankful-we were exhausted and they did a great job!
• In the beginning of our trip, the first four weeks we spent afternoons tutoring the kids who needed the most help with English. Very frustrating, but also a great chance to learn the lessons of patience, and to learn about the kids. The school system here is crazy, nothing at all like we’ve grown up with and so we learned to value our education we’ve received and Victor and Emma are inspired to work harder this coming year! We spent a week teaching summer school before the teacher team from Colorado arrived, and that was quite the experience. Stories to come, and make sure to ask Jess her favorite memory verse from that week...(1st Sam. 18:1. But you need to hear her say it)
• We attempted to do personal ministries on a regular basis, but that was not always achievable (see below). When we did get to work in our assigned tasks, Victor was being a computer whiz as usual, and was teaching kids how to type, and how to handle computer class without a reliable electricity source. Jess and Emma were paired up in the clinic where they mostly observed the patients that came in, watched malaria medicine be overprescribed, watched placebo shots be given to every patient, and learned Mende songs! Yes, clinic time was pretty much like a medical day care. It was great!
• We experienced “Africa Time”! Aka, the time you give is not the time things start. For example, we were fortunate enough to experience the nursery and primary school graduations our second week in Banta. The ceremony technically began at 10:45 am and was printed on the “fliers” but when we eventually meandered up the hill to the school as we did each day (which is a half mile walk one way thank you very much) at 12 pm that the ceremony hadn’t started yet and began approximately at 12:45 pm, 2 hours later... So if we are late to coffee dates with you all when we are back, we’re sorry, we’re adjusting from Africa time to Seattle time.
• Finally, one of the best experience we had was a home take over. Each house (and there are 10 of them including the intern house) has an Aunty who looks over the 12-13 kids in each house. The Aunties needed a wee break as Mark would say, and so one Thursday through Sunday, we interns were partnered up and looked after houses. Our duties included getting the kids (but mostly ourselves up) for morning devotions at 6 am, handling morning chores of washing and eating, having meals prepared for the kids, getting them to school/church dressed (oh my goodness, crazier than you would think), cleaning the whole house top to bottom, having resting time, and playing with them. Way harder than we thought. Jess was with House 1 girls (sweetest things you’ll ever say good night to), Emma was with House 5 boys (Ahhh loves of her life), and Victor with House 6 boys (Uncle! Grease!). A fun couple of days but we were so tired by the end we felt like we needed a retreat!
So that is a quick summary of our scheduled adventures... stay tuned for the unscheduled ones! God willing, we will be in Heathrow airport soon and be able to post again! Much love to you all!!! And keep the prayers coming, this travel thing has been a nightmare...
Uncle Teekeh (Victor)
Aunty Nyadavo (Jessica)
Aunty Seinya (Emma)