Sunday, December 23, 2012

We are dreaming of a white Christmas

By Debi:

We were "Dreaming of a White Christmas"on the beach in Sierra Leone
Merry Christmas to all!  This is my first Christmas here in Africa.  There definitely isn’t any snow (sounds like Utah) and we don’t even have a Christmas tree in our apartment.  But we do have the spirit of Christmas and it is everywhere here in Africa.

Yesterday we spent a wonderful afternoon and evening with the Taylors.  We both go to wards in the Tesano Stake. So we went together to a very nice Christmas concert put on by the Stake.  Choirs from each ward prepared a couple of songs and then High Councilmen read a thought or scripture inbetween the choirs.  It was a very nice program.  The thing I loved the most was how each choir came into the cultural hall of the Stake center.  They would start out in the hall and they would begin singing one of their Christmas songs.  As they came in they didn’t just walk in single file or march in, they would dance in.  It was fantastic.  They would do a little jive and click their fingers or wave a white handkerchief as they came into the room. It was so fun and it made the concert so interesting.  There were several youth groups.  One was from our Ofankor ward.  A Young Woman sang a solo and she had a great voice.  Then the other girls would join in with her in the chorus. I am so grateful that we took the time to go. 

After the program the Taylor’s took us to a restaurant called Captain Hook’s.  It was so very nice and they had a huge Christmas tree in the middle of the room.  Our waiter was such a nice young man and he told us that he is going to the University.  He was a lot of fun and he did a very excellent job.  We had very delicious food.  Greg had the Red Snapper, head and all. 
Then after we were finished our waiter, Phillip, told Greg that the next time we come he would really like a Book of Mormon.  Well, being the kind of missionaries that we are we had several in our car.  Greg went and got a Book of Mormon for him and also the pamphlet about Joseph Smith and the one about the Plan of Salvation.  Phillip knew about Joseph Smith. He said that he had read a lot about him and how he saw an angel and God and Jesus. We gave Phillip our card with our phone numbers on it and he said he would call us.  Wow, who would know that you can do missionary work while eating very delicious food!
They had these really cool boat and rower carvings in the waiting area, I just had to take a picture.

On the way home from the restaurant we discovered that there was a lizard in our car.  It was crawling across the windshield and then it came right onto the dashboard while Greg was driving.  Luckily Greg didn’t panic (I would probably have wrecked the car) and Elder Taylor even got a picture of him.

This last week we were in Sierra Leone.  We left on Tuesday and returned on Thursday.  We went over there for training for one of the Area Auditors.  It was quite an experience.  Greg is going to tell you about our trip and the country of Sierra Leone.

These are two Sierra Leone Sister Missionaries.  We thought they were so cute.  We noted that all of these missionaries wear hats.  We all should wear hats, but these were great.
We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a wonderful holiday week with your families.  We are going to be very busy.  We are going to try and Skype with each of our 8 children and 29 grandchildren.  What could be better than being with family on Christmas.

This is a nativity scene we bought when we first arrived.  We have had it set up the entire time.  After all, every day is CHRIST-day for us!


By Greg:

Just when you think you have seen everything, you see something else.  We are learning that all of the countries of West Africa have some things in common, but many things different.
This is a picture out our hotel in Sierra Leone at night.  Down from us was houses and roads and buildings then the beach and the Atlantic Ocean.  We could almost see the Statue of Liberty-very small!
As we said, we went to Freetown, Sierra Leone this week.  Both Freetown and Monrovia, Liberia have ties to freed slaves.  Freetown was originally settled by a combination of freed loyalist American slaves who were loyal to Britain in the American Revolution, as well as some from England and English islands in the Caribbean.  Liberia, on the other hand was settled by a group of Americans who sought a homeland for freed American Slaves prior to the Civil War.

Freetown has been compared to San Francisco.  The airport would be in Oakland.  So once you land you have to get across the bay.  The bay here is bigger, however.  The city of Freetown is very hilly; much like S.F. but the comparison might be more to S.F. right after the big earthquake.

We took a hoover craft across the water.  It was pretty cool, but did not feel like it was very well maintained.  I don’t know if they have Coast Guard inspectors here.
I am not sure the origin of this craft, but I am pretty sure they did not buy it new.  It rose up like a giant beast on a bed of air and then tore across the water propelled by those big fans at the back.

We thought there Zebra decor was fitting.
We were met by our brother and taken to the County Lodge Hotel, which is one of the finest in the country.  All of the roads were terrible and crowded.  Up and down we went as I put my arm around Sister Haws and held onto her to keep her from wrenching her head and neck and back as we bounced.

We had a very good meeting with our new friend Brother Bunduka.

We also became friends with the Mission President and his wife, President and Sister Roggia from Montana and the office couple, Elder and Sister Randall from Fairview, Utah, pictured here.
 We also met Elder and Sister Burns and Elder and Sister Lauretzin (who is a cousin to our cousin Dixie Dawson Lauretzin's husband Keith). 
Sierra Leone just received its first Stake a few weeks ago.  It was the 3,000th Stake in the Church.  It is only about 10 years out of its last civil war, and is still pretty rough. We went by a UN prison that had armed guards every 20 feet or so with machine guns with bayonet’s attached.

As we were waiting to take the hover craft back, and we were with President and Sister Roggia, the Randalls and the Assistants, we saw a group of people walking along the beach.  Of a sudden it seemed like all of them began to attack a women who also had a baby on her back.  She was carrying a pan on her head with cloth, which the group took and it appeared that they divided it among themselves.  This was in broad daylight.  The woman began to scream “bloody-murder” as the group started to unwrap her baby.  I looked at the President for a clue as to what we should do.
 To be continued...
This fishing boat came floating by...maybe floating is a bit of a stretch.  It was slowly sinking.
They were right in the path of the hover craft.  It was a bit of a circus watching these men try and save their sinking boat.  Fortuantely it was made of wood and it would not really sink, but it was not really floating either.
Now I have to tell you that I have been given strict instructions not to become engaged in local conflicts. My instructions have come from both officaial sources (the brethren) and unoffical (Sister Haws) sources.  So far I have been in the middle of several confrontations, such as the election riot we wrote about, and another one in the restroom of the mall where several men were fighting because one of them crowded.  One man ripped open the toilet stall door and grabbed the sitting man’s belt and pants and dragged him out and threw him on the floor.  Several others joined in the fight, but I stood back and did not get involved.

Anyway, I think if they had taken off with the woman's baby I would have broken the rules.  She was still screaming as they dragged her out into the ocean and threw her into the water. This occured at the same place the above boat was trying to sink.  Then they walked off.  What the heck was that all about?  She came out of the water, retrieved her child, tried to regain her composure, and also walked off.  We were shocked. I think she lost her stuff, however.
Welcome to Africa is all anyone can say to things like this.

Today we had a nice Christmas program by the Primary. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas.  It is not feeling at all like Christmas here, but we are trying.

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