Monday, November 29, 2010

Water, grateful for water...

Water.  This is the time of year where water is precious.  Water is a basic need for baptisms, too. We have had 139 converts enter the waters of baptism in November... 

 We, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, believe in following the example of our Lord, Jesus Christ, by being baptized by immersion for the remission of sins by one having the authority of God. It is the gateway on the path home to our Heavenly Father. These wonderful people in Sierra Leone and Liberia are embracing the gospel and genuinely are born a new.

 Above are just a couple pictures of baptisms that have taken place. First picture is Elders Hickey and Gunderson with recent converts.  Second picture is Elders Ditsi, Dogbaste and Kitson-Dodoo (kneeling) with four faithful women desiring baptism.  
We were grateful for the ferry that took us across the River Moa....lots of water there!  It was a beautiful river and it made us think of the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia.  The trees were just as majestic hanging close to the water.  We are just climbing aboard the little ferry in this picture with the other passengers  looking on.
More water--on the road to the ferry and after---the road most of the way looked like this--only some of the holes were much wider and deeper...President was driving and wasn't able to enjoy the scenery like me and the camera...:-)

A well was dug near the Mission Office in August.  Since the water at the Mission Home is very low, we can transport water from this well.  Usually we get a large water tanker to fill up our water tanks at the Mission Home.  When that doesn't happen, we can fall back on this well.  April will bring more rain.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Three T's: Transfers, Traveling and Thanksgiving

Elder Laneri and Elder Adjei--Freetown Zone Leaders.  Elder Adjei transfered from Bo Zone. Notice Elder Laneri's fan...common sight for our elders to keep the heat off.

Today, we had three elders and a sister on their way to the Ghana MTC for three weeks, then to Nigeria to serve.  President Roggia set them apart, we gave them a sack lunch and the assistants drove them to the water taxi.  None of them had been on the water taxi or an airplane or out of Sierra Leone.  Elders Bangura, Kallon, Sivalie and Sister Kamara were excited to go.

The families of the new missionaries came to see them off.  One little sister didn't want to get in the group "snap".
She was so cute we had to take one of her looking at him leaving.
Elder Williams and Elder Johnson returning from Nigerian missions after faithfully serving for two years.  The assistants picked them up; and changed to the van to drive the new missionaries to the wharf.  Busy day for them.
No, not going home. Elder Hickey and Elder Grabau are carrying the returned Sierra Leone missionaries' (who returned from Nigeria) luggage--before taking out all the luggage for the new missionaries at the wharf....they had lots of exercise today!
Our Thanksgiving Dinner at the Mission Home.  L to R: Sister and Elder Neves, Elder Grabau, Elder Hickey, Sister and Elder Patterson.  Our turkey came from Liberia and was actually imported from France through a German company...  Sis. Patterson did the turkey, stuffing and gravy; Sister Neves did the mashed potatoes, olives and rolls; I made the pumpkin pie, french green beans and almonds, cranberry sauce and pickles.( I thought of you, Mom, as I made the crust. All the years of watching you make your yummy pies helps.)  We had a blessed and wonderful dinner together.  We did the dishes and then phone calls started coming.  Ah-h, it was a nice moment to be grateful for all we have---now back to the Lord's work. President and I headed off to the wharf to pick up the Public Affairs senior couple from Accra, Ghana.  We had one of the new sister missionaries going to Nigeria for the night...busy...and loving it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Before and During Transfer day

Some of the Freetown Zone together...they had gotten together to watch General Conference.
Elders Vaughan, Eyinda and Eshun on their way to the Bo Zone yesterday.  Elder and Sister Neves drove them the 3 1/2 hours to their new areas.
Elder Visser and Elder Njaga:  part of the November transfers.  We'll have more pictures this week of new companionships in Freetown.  We'll  also take more pictures of Monrovia when we go Dec 19th.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Goodbye Elder Gunderson!  Thanks for all your help over the last five months since we have been here.  We'll miss you; but we know that you have a great future ahead of you filled with happiness.
Elder Gunderson on his way down to the last Echo Water Taxi ride.
Welcome to Elder Grabau (on right), our new assistant serving along with Elder Hickey.  We really depend on them alot::  drawing a strip map, or finding the hotel or helping us teach and train the other missionaries.  They get up early, early with us when we are driving to Bo and Liberia.  They will take turns driving also--especially when President is pondering about transfers and typing on the computer.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Old and New...

This is Elder Gunderson one last time at Government Wharf and he is on his way back to St. George, Utah after serving the Lord for two years with honor and integrity.
Elder Vaughan arrived from the Ghana Missionary Training Center today.  He flew into the Lungi/Freetown Airport, made his way through the crowds and finally got on the water taxi. President Roggia and the assistants met Elder Vaughan at the wharf and they took him right up to the mission home. His first supper was with the assistants, the President and me.  He expressed his gratitude to be here and will be a great missionary because he already loves being in the mission.  His first companion and trainer will be Elder Priddis in Bo.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Getting prepared for the "dry" season

We had a crack or two in our older water tanks.  This week we replaced two of them.  The one here is a new one.  The dry season goes from around November until April with dry wind and very little rain.  All of our water at the mission home is from rain water or, during the dry season, water trucked in.  You can be sure that we are all very conservative with it and appreciate every drop.

The two tanks to the left are the old ones that were replaced.  We have five large water tanks.
Our kitchen window looks up at the water tank that we use. The Senior Couple (apartment below us) flip a switch which pumps the water for us. (which is electric---and our electricity is the diesel generator.)

Doing dishes after Freetown Zone Conference a few weeks ago.  The tank to the upper left is our water heater for the kitchen.  The little green clip is used to hold a pin in the faucet to let the filtered water come in.  The striped cloth and orange gloves are covering the 3 water filters that clean the rain water; so, we can drink it. (My good husband keeps asking me why the cloth over the filters and I tell him because it looks prettier....) Anyway, we use the unfiltered water to do dishes.  We use dish soap to wash, then use bleach in the rinse water to finish. 
President helping to load the old tanks onto a pick-up truck.  The first tank was smaller and it went up easy.  The first attempt at loading this bigger tank was unsuccessful.

After using a little leverage (ladder to left) and six men, it was hoisted up onto the pick-up. 

Since the pick-up was so top heavy, we really wondered if it would make it up the incline without tipping over.  It made it! Down the road it went!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just a few more pictures,

Prior to the Monrovia Zone Conference, everyone loves to visit.
Elder Lowe in the Monrovia Zone practicing his balancing skills.
Elder Smoot in the Bo Zone also practicing his balancing skills.  All the missionaries have to try it.  One was practicing with his scriptures on his head while heading uphill into his apartment.  He did pretty well.
Packages are starting to come in for Christmas. Yay!  Remember to keep the quality of the contents of low cost.  It delays delivery because it has to clear customs and costs the mission a lot of money to get it out.  They are so excited to get them.  This is Elder Stott in Monrovia Zone grateful for his box.
Elders Boateng, Ndlouvo, Milton, Kotey and Essell getting ready to head back to their areas.
Our newest elder, Elder Okeke from Nigeria (came in October) and Elder Essel from Ghana...on his mission a little longer than Elder Okeke.  Next week, we will be receiving Elder Vaughan.  He has been in the Ghana Missionary Training Center since early November.  Elder Gunderson will be going home after two years of faithful service as Elder Vaughan comes in.  They may pass by each other in the Freetown Airport.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Crossing the Moa River by one-car ferry...

We thought that it would be fun to show you how we drove to Monrovia and back. We took a short cut to the Moa River which is closer to the Liberian border.  The little ferry just opened up again for the dry season but the Moa River was still pretty swollen.  The road was worse (we thought) than the Kenema Road which we usually take.  We left Monrovia at 8:00 a.m. and arrived in Bo at 4:00 p.m.(Our assistants are pulling the cable with the other riders)
Elders Gunderson and Hickey helping us drive off the ferry... The two boards that we rolled onto looked like maybe 3 x seemed pretty small looking down at them.  We took this video as we came back from Monrovia.
As we waited our turn to take the ferry, we watched this car and passengers cross and dock.  It is a better view of what it looks like.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Return from Bo and Monrovia,

Seeking inspiration...
Elders Gunderson, Ellsworth, Vogl, Chaparadza, Smoot and Hickey at Bo Chapel.

Bo Zone Conference pic...Nov 9th.
Monrovia Elders before Zone Conference began.  Somehow we didn't get a group hopefully we'll get everyone in several snaps.
Sister and Elder Kimball with the missionaries.

Elders Moss, Stott, Jenkins and Taylor....tired tonight, do more tomorrow.

Monday, November 8, 2010

On the road from Kenema to Liberian border...

We thought folks might like to see what the road is like to the Liberian border.  It takes about four hours on this bumpy road.  In the rainy season, it is nearly impassable---or impassable.  During transfers, we take the missionaries on this road and pass them to Elder and Sister Kimball  at the border who then take them to Monrovia.  If transfers are during the same time as Zone Conference or interviews, we will drive with the missionaries all the way to Monrovia.

A llittle more of the road....we sure do enjoy crossing the border and getting on paved roads again!  Not too long ago the road from Freetown to Bo was just like this.  Now, it is all paved and is a nice three-hour drive compared to the 8 1/2 hours it used to take..  In time, this road will paved too, we hope.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

November Freetown Zone Conference and new missionaries serving

Lunch during Freetown Zone Conference on last Wednesday. 
Another angle...
 And from another angle... We did haircuts afterward, also.  Most just want a #2 clip all over.  Short for hot weather and sweating.
During Zone Conference question and answer time...

One of my favorite pictures of Elder and Sister Neves.  They do so much every day--all day--teaching and helping everyone.  Where do they get their energy?

Elder and Sister Patterson and President watching the assistants drive away in the van with several missionaries. 
Friday, President set apart two missionaries, Elder Momodu and Elder Stevens. They are heading to the Nigeria Lagos Mission--after a three week stay at the Missionary Training Center in Accra, Ghana.  Neither had been on an airplane before.  We were glad that they had each other for support for a three-hour flight. 

 Since we came in July to this December 31st, we will have sent out 25 full-time missionaries from Sierra Leone and Liberia.  Most go to Ghana, Nigeria or South Africa.  During that time, we have received into our mission 14 full-time missionaries from America and West Africa.
For those of you who keep asking what a menu might look like... We tried this restaurant one day.  It doesn't look like a place to eat from the outside but is quite cozy inside.  We enjoyed the "Italian music" that was playing in the background.  It is called the "Caribbean Fusion Restaurant". (one of Elder Gunderson's favorite places to eat.) Notice the Escoveitched Fish on the menu.  Escoveitch---comes from escabeche, Spanish for pickled.  All the food on the menu was very spicy.  I was very glad for the assistants, who finished off my hot rice...wasn't hot for them but was for me.  Leones are 4000 to $1.00.  For instance, the Whole Jerk Fish cost $5 or Le 20,000.

We go to Bo Zone and Monrovia, Liberia Zone next week...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Helpful Hints for Mailing Packages

Sometimes, the packages come into Freetown pretty beat up. Since Christmas is coming up, we thought some helpful hints for mailing would be a good idea.  Also, this address works well for cards or thicker letters than Pouch will take.  The address that works best is: Your missionary's name, Sierra Leone Freetown Mission, Box 263, Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa
Inside the box:  seal each item --like chocolate or peanut butter---in a plastic bag (that way if it breaks open or melts, it is inside the plastic bag and doesn't ruin everything else); use a filler (like newspapers, packing peanuts) to pack items tight (after traveling so many miles, things settle and shake, then are crushed); take new items out of the original packaging because now it is "used".  This isn't an endorsement for USPS; but the priority, flat rate boxes seem to arrive in better condition and haven't been opened.  If you are sending a small amount of currency, put it in some socks or hide it someplace.  Don't send what you can't afford to lose.  $10 = 40,000 Leones, which goes a long way here.
Outside the box:  tape well all seams, sides, ends, corners; don't insure the package.  When it is insured, we have to pay an additional duty tax which sometimes is more than the worth of the items sent.  One was insured for $1000  (which was a typo). The duty tax would have been $127.  The contents were about $50 worth or less.  With some effort, the tax was reduced to around $20. When the official saw that it was things of little value, he was reasonable and changed the duty tax.  Keep the value low.

Write "missionary supplies" on the customs slip and/or on the package.  Or write "candy" or "cookies"...  It seems unusual but religious stickers are a good deterent to theft.   Beware of heavy objects. They usually crush the more fragile things as the box makes it's way here.  Because of the humidity, the cardboard of the box gets soft and is more easily ripped...another reason for the taping of ends, seams, corners.

 How long will it take to get here?  Well, sometimes it takes only two weeks and other times it could be up to two months.  For Christmas, send it now.  We hope this helps... Oh, we will be having a Christmas get together on Dec 15th for Bo and Freetown Zones combined.   For the Monrovia, Liberia Zone, we will be there Dec 20-22 for their Christmas get together.  So, packages sent soon should reach all three zones in time for Christmas.