Wednesday, May 3, 2017

SWIT BO (SWEET BO)

Shop Construction In Sierra Leone

Here is a shop being built in Bo.  This particular building is a stick and mud construction.  Notice the "sticks" used to create the frame.  These are nailed together.  They then stuff mud into the small gaps between the sticks on the sides.  The roof will be covered with "zinc".  This is a corrugated steel sheeting that is electroplated with zinc to reduce rusting.  The sticks are very "hard" wood and in spite of the first look it is surprisingly strong.  After the mud dries on the walls.  They will put a "cement" stucco coating on the outside that helps it last longer.  The other types of construction are concrete block and mud block.  This is the fastest and cheapest.  Could be finished within a week. Might last 10 years or so.  May have electrical power in it.  Will not have any water service or septic/sewer in it.

Big Kitchen

This is the kitchen at the Bo School for Boys which we toured a few weeks ago.  You can see the size of the pots on the left.  There were about 8 of these.  There was enough rice and stew cooking in these pots to feed 500 boys.  It must be hot in here when they are all going.  This will be where the are holding the youth conference in August for all of Sierra Leone.

Some Children


We had taken some diesel to the 5th street apartment, and were met by some of the friends we have made around every apartment the missionaries live in.  They were climbing all over the truck while we were in the apartment.  When we came out and wanted to go they wouldn't get out of the back of the truck, Sister Sherwood offered to take a "snap" of them.  They all got out of the truck to have their picture taken.  Elder Sherwood was able to back the truck out with no kids on it, around it, or under it.  They love to have their pictures taken.

Baptism at Batiama Branch

Went to the baptism in Batiama branch where 7 new members were baptized.  Pretty much all of the baptisms are done on Saturday.  We have 17 branches here in Bo.  Typically 3 or 4 baptismal services will be held with 4 to 6 of the branches.  Two branches will combine sometimes to save water.  We think these beautiful people are even more beautiful dressed in white.

Neighborhood View


This is looking out from the Pyne street apartments out over one of many swamps in Bo. Most of the neighborhoods are separated by these swamps.  They are cultivated and most of their vegetables, rice, and groundnuts(peanuts) are grown.  I was struck by how picturesque this was.  The natives call Bo "Swit Bo" (Sweet Bo).  We think so too.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

WATER

This time of year, water is very important in West Africa.  Missionaries can't "brook" without it.  On Monday we got pictures of missionaries in two different apartments "brooking".

















Here at 5th street apartment, brooking is easy.  There is plenty of water in the well.

Here at Kandeh Town apartment the well has gone dry and the pump is not working.  Somewhere between the water tank and the house we are losing all the water.  But they still need to wash their clothes and cook and drink and clean their apartment.  So what do we do?

We bring in water on a daily basis if needed.  Here is Elder Sherwood unloading cans of water and pouring them into barrels.  We fill the cans from our well and take them to where ever they are needed.



So this week we had an added challenge.  The pump in our well stopped working.  We are in the middle of the hot, dry season and the water level has lowered.  We had a water truck come and fill our tank with 3000 liters of water.  The truck was too big to come in the compound, so they ran the hose over the fence.



This picture gives you an idea of how tall the water tower is.
We then had to have them dig in our well.  They took out a lot of accumulated mud and made it so we could pump water again.  


They dug the well deeper by hand.  One man 60 feet down in the well filling up buckets and the others on top dumping the buckets. All in 90 degree weather.  We tried to keep them supplied with cold drinking water for the all day project.

We are hopeful next week to be able to pump water from our well again.

We are so grateful for the blessings of life, especially water.We also are so grateful for the source of "Living" water.  Our Savior Jesus Christ.  We are grateful to be in Sierra Leone, helping the missionaries to provide this "Living" water to a country that is ready for the Gospel.  We know He lives and wants to bless us.  We pray that all of you will drink daily from His "Well of Living Water".

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Gospel of Jesus Christ in Sierra Leone

It is March already.  We were chastised by our daughter for not blogging enough.  Guilty as charged.  

It is Hot, Humid, and Dusty.

We are into the Harmattan season here. The Harmattan is a season in the West African subcontinent, which occurs between the end of November and the middle of March. It is characterized by dry and dusty northeasterly trade wind, of the same name, which blows from the Sahara Desert over West Africa into the Gulf of Guinea. It means the sky is "hazy" all the time. Dust collects everywhere. March is the hottest month of the year.  We are feeling the heat.  This is also the time of the year when everyone is clearing the land of the dead savanna grasses and all the dead weeds that have grown during the wet season.  There are small fires everywhere, even in the towns.  So the haze includes smoke and dust.  It is hay fever time.  We feel like we have had one single cold since the middle of December.  But that is the only health problem we have so that is a real blessing.

Training from Salt Lake

The 1st week in March we went to Freetown for a special conference for Young Women and Primary leaders.  We were there for 3 days.  Members of the two general presidencies of these two organization were here from Salt Lake.  Sister Carol F. McConkie from the Young Womens, and Sister Joy D. Jones from the Primary.  We also had Elder Nash from the Africa West Area Presidency who spoke with them.  They were here to train the leaders from though out the mission.  It was a major effort to bring about 70 leaders from Bo, Kenema, and McKinney into Freetown.  They stayed one night in a hotel and needed to be fed several meals.
They did a fine job of training.  Our hearts go out to them.  They work hard at developing programs for the whole world.  Teaching in the Saviors Way, and Teachers Councils were two of their priorities. Then they come into West Africa.  They find the biggest challenge in West Africa is to have teachers called.  Most branches have a primary president and maybe a counselor.  They take turns teaching a primary that has 10 to 30 children.  Rarely are separate teachers called.  Many have never been to a Branch Council, so what is a Branch Teachers Council.  They went back to Salt Lake with a much better picture of what life is like in West Africa, and our members felt the love of those in church leadership who cared enough to come all the way to Africa to teach them.

Growing in West Africa

Here in Bo, we created two new branches 2 weeks ago in the Bo North District.  They now have 7.  Today, the Bo West District also created a new branch giving them 6.  There are 2 district/stake center buildings being built which should be completed before we leave.  There is a district/stake center building being built in Kenema and they are also splitting branches. 

In Freetown, they are getting ready to create their 2nd stake.  It has now been approved.  We are hoping for 1 or 2 stakes in Bo before we leave. The church is growing in Sierra Leone, West Africa. 

We testify that our Father in Heaven is preparing the world for the return of His Son Jesus Christ.  We in West Africa are just a small part of this great kingdom that is rolling forth through out the world.  "No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing...The truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, until it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear.  Til the purposes of God have been accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say 'The Work is Done'".  (Wentworth Letter).

We are witnesses daily  of His great love and miracles.  We love working in His Kingdom.  We await anxiously for his return.  God bless you all.










Thursday, February 2, 2017

Where Did January Go

Bo, Sierra Leone Relief Society Conference

 Mid January we had a Relief Society Conference for all three districts in Bo.  That's 15 branches.  So Question:  How many  eggs to you have to boil and peel to make egg salad sandwiches for 350 women?  Answer:  600 eggs.  It was an all day project.  We are not in the picture, but Elder and Sister Sherwood were in the middle of peeling eggs.  We also spent two full days baking 450 banana bread muffins.  One pan at a time since that is all the oven can hold.

Here we are at the conference getting ready to unload the coolers full of egg  salad, rolls, and banana bread muffins.  Notice Sister Sherwood's new favorite dress she had made for the conference.  It is beautiful, befitting a beautiful lady.

Today We Were Tank Movers

Here we are moving water tanks from one chapel to another chapel.  It must be the beginning of the "Dry" season since water is now one of the biggest issues.  The bigger the tank you  have the more water that can be pumped from the well, or brought in by truck.  This will hold enough water for two weeks use of the chapel.  Their main usage is for toilets.  Notice how big a tank our little truck can handle.

I helped with this smaller tank, mostly by cheering them on.  We were swapping tanks from two chapels.  The chapel that had the bigger tank could not fit it on their tower, so we moved it to a chapel that could use it.  We then put the smaller tank on the first chapels water tower.


A little rope to keep it from bouncing off as we travel over the rough roads.

The African Pumpkin


Here is an african pumpkin.  The 2nd picture tells you it's size with Sister Sherwoods hand in the picture.  This one is a little smaller than average.  It makes a great ponky soup to go over rice or mashed potatoes.  One of our favorite dishes.  They do not know pumpkin pie here but they do know ponky soup.  The pumpkin is essentially the same as we know at home, Just a different color on the outside.  Same on the inside.


Sister Sherwood Can Not Resist the Children

We went over to Elder Kays apartment to get a picture from him.  While there these two neighbor boys wanted to be our friends and wanted their picture taken too.  How can you resist cute little faces like this.

Here they are with Elder Kay and Elder Wokoma



Thursday, January 5, 2017

Happy New Year!

Whoa.  December has flown by and we did not do a blog.  We did have a wonderful, hard working, busy time.

Christmas in Sierra Leone

The west Africans do not do a lot with the holiday as far as Santa Claus and the gift giving.  We were missing some of the decorations and such and decided we wanted a nativity set.  We could not find any in Bo.  We heard you could get some in Freetown but we are rarely there.  We asked around to see if any one knew of a "carver".  We eventually found one in a Bo suburb called .  We found him just one week before Christmas eve.  We described to him that what we would like is a nativity that showed how a person from Sierra Leone views the birth of the Savior.  He was a Christian and appeared to understand what we were asking for.  He teaches arts and crafts in a local college.  We discussed ideas from individual carvings of nativity items to a 3-d plaque.  He concluded that he could do a plaque in 1 week.  Christmas eve we picked it up and we were thrilled with the result.  We have thoroughly enjoyed having it hanging in our living room.  It will stay there until we come home in a year.
Our Sierra Leone Nativity

We worked with the missionaries for the two days before Christmas to help them skype with their families.  We didn't want to do it on Christmas day because we felt the networks might be too buys.  It was enjoyable to watch them  interact with their families.  We were blessed that all but one was able to have pretty good skype sessions.  The internet has been pretty sporadic but held when we needed it.

We also added a Christmas tree to make it feel more like home.
Our Sierra Leone Christmas tree


We enjoyed a mission Christmas party with all the missionaries and couples in Bo and Kenema.

The Kenema missionaries portrayed the Christmas story.  The largest elder in the group played the angel Gabriel "flying" around the stage and booming out the glorious news to Mary and the shepherds in his deep voice.  Another, smaller elder, played the baby Jesus, still the biggest baby we had ever seen.  Multiple missionary groups sang carols and hymns.  They also watched the film Ephraim's Rescue, and multiple other church videos depicting the birth of Christ.

The couples provided lots of goodies for them.  Sister Sherwood made sugar cookies, and fudge, and almond roca.  Sister Corbally made brownies, peanut butter bars.  Sister Clawson did rice krispie treats and popcorn.  We did have healthy food in addition to the treats.  There was three different meals they could pick and choose from.  Most of them had some of all three. Chicken, potatoes and gravy.  macaroni salad, and/or local rice.  Jestina and her friends catered the meal.  In the cooking lesson the week prior, Sister Sherwood taught Jestina how to make mashed potatoes and gravy.
Sister Sherwood frosting 5-dozen sugar cookies

Our caterers in their festive party outfits















Christmas day we went to the Messima branch and really enjoyed the sacrament meeting and the talks.  What a wonderful opportunity to remember the birth, life, death and resurrection of our Savior.  We are so grateful for HIM.  The greatest gift that was ever given.

New Years in Sierra Leone

We spent New Years Eve at home watching Mister Kruegers Christmas and Ephraim's Rescue.  Nice quite evening.  Just before midnight we were awakened by a dull roar.  Firecrackers, noise makers and lots of people celebrating.  Extremely loud music.  They were in "Night Clubs" down the highway and roaming up and down the streets.  This went on until morning.  Definitely a bigger deal in the community than Christmas eve or day.

We hope all of you have a wonderful 2017 year.  May the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ fill your lives with love and charity for all around you.  Especially may you experience love in your families and peace in your hearts.  We love you all and bear witness of the Lord.  He really was born.  He really did die for all of us.  He really did rise from the tomb on the third day and bring the resurrection unto all of us.  It is all true and they are still glad tidings to all men.  May you all find it so in your lives is our prayer.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

November in Bo, Sierra Leone

BANANA FACTS FOR THE DAY

These are the bananas on a tree at one of the elders apartments.  Notice the large purple pod at the bottom of the stem of bananas.
The pod feeds the undeveloped bananas until they are fully filled out.  Then it drys up and shrivels away.  This stem of bananas is not fully developed yet.  It is still feeding off the pod.
This stem of bananas has fully developed and the pod is gone at the bottom.  It is ready to be harvested.












SQUIRREL

While Sister Sherwood was learning about bananas, Elder Sherwood was putting chemicals in their well.  We treat them once a year with chlorine and alum to keep the algae and other growths gone.  In this well there was a squirrel.  Sorry no pictures.  Half way down the well on top of the inner concrete liner.  Sister Sherwood was very worried.  What if it died in the well?  How could we get it out safely.  We couldn't.  So the Elders left some food in a bucket and lowered it down to the level of the squirrel.  The next morning the squirrel was in the bucket eating food.  The elders were able to carefully bring the bucket up and remove the squirrel from the well.  As a side note, the squirrel did not die in the well but did not survive the incident.  The elders had squirrel for breakfast that morning.

Baptisms


Here we are at Torkpoi Town District center on a Saturday morning for a district baptism.  There were 3 branches baptizing 20 new members of the church.  Across town at the Njagboima chapel they were baptizing 13 new members in their district.   The church continues to grow in Sierra Leone.  We had a conference last week broadcast from Salt Lake to all of the West Africa area.  Elder Stevenson presided and spoke.  He pointed out that in West Africa in 2016 there will be a total of 16 new stakes created.  That is amazing.  It is clear that this is the time for Africa as the gospel goes to all the world.

Here one of our elders takes a new member into the font.  In Bo, a 3rd member district will be created this weekend.  From some of the branches is the two other districts.  The hope is that during 2017 they will be ready for at least 1 Stake in Bo.  That will be a glorious day.


GOSPEL LITERACY IN YEMO TOWN


We just started up the Gospel Literacy program in the 4th branch in Bo East District.  This was the Yemo Town branch.  We have 15 women in the beginner class and they are excited to be learning to read and write from the scriptures.  In these pictures you are seeing them in the Sunday School hour in their Gospel Literacy class.



MAKING TOR

Jestina is teaching me how to pound and sift dried casava root to make casava powder called tor.  She did most the pounding because I did not pound it hard enough.  I did most the sifting.  We ended up with over a gallon of casava powder.  It was a lot of hard work.  I am learning to appreciate how hard the women here work to provide food for their families.  


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

We are almost through the rainy season here in Sierra Leone.  We occasionally have a heavy rain but mostly during the night.  During August, September, and October they were during the day and night.

Rainy day in Bo.  Video did not work


Last week as we were coming back to our apartment, a heavy rain started.  By the time we got to our compound, the rain was so heavy that the guards could not hear us at the gate because of the noise the rain makes on the guard house tin roof.  We also did not want to get out of the truck and didn't want the guard to have to open the gate in the rain..  We waited for about 15 minutes for the rain to slow down.  Since we had nothing better to do, we took this video of the rain on the truck window.  You can see the water coming down in a solid sheet on the windshield.

Sister Sherwood and JJ
This is the nephew of Sister Sherwood's cooking teacher, Jestina.  Notice how he is carefully examining her hand.  Little ones are so intrigued by a white man's hand.  They sometimes try and wipe your hand to take off the chalk and reveal the black underneath.  They are so precious.  The smaller ones are sometimes afraid of us and won't leave their mother's side.  JJ made himself right at home in our house during the cooking lesson.  He was happy to color with markers while we cooked.  However later I found that he had colored the back of my skirt as well.




The other night we were surprised by the sound of hymns outside our compound.  It was an apartment full of Elders(6 in all) coming to get some supplies for their apartment.  What a delight to hear their spirit and their harmony.  When President and Sister Clawson came a few days later, we called the same elders and had them come and sing again.  They live about 1/4 mile down the street from us.  They came over and started singing for President Clawson and we decided to record it.





Elder and Sister Heckle return to Bo.

Elder and Sister Heckle, the area literacy specialists from Ghana, were with us for another week.  We are in the process of starting 2 more branches doing the Gospel Literacy training here in Bo.  We now have 4 branches going.

We have been thrilled with the progress of the Gospel Literacy program.  The definition of Gospel Literacy is not the same as normal adult literacy.  It is "the ability to use the Gift of the Holy Ghost to READ, WRITE, UNDERSTAND, TESTIFY and LIVE the Words of God."

Many members have felt on the outskirts of the gospel ever since they were baptized because they could not read the scriptures.  In church they get little out of the lessons.  Many come to Sacrament Meeting and then go home.  They feel the gospel is only for those who have been to school.  In just a few weeks of the Gospel Literacy Sunday School class they are beginning to read scripture and feel the spirit testify to them of the truth of what they are reading.  They are coming each week and staying.   They are now getting more out of the other lessons in church as well.  We are so grateful to the Heckles who have been giving decades of their lives to developing these inspired program training materials.  This program is putting the words of the Savior in the hands of the common people.  It is wonderful.