Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Settling In To Our New Temporary Home In Bo

This week was dominated by getting the 2nd wave of missionaries into their apartments and solving problems with their apartments and their supplies.  Simultaneously we were moving into the old Bo couples apartment.  

The couples apartment has been used as a storage location for the past two years.  When they closed the mission, they brought all the furniture, appliances, and supplies from all the missionary apartments and put them in here.  They then closed the missionary apartments.  This apartment was kept secure so they would not lose all the stuff.  It collected dust for two years.  The same things was done in Kenema.  They had a couples apartment that was used for storage.

When they brought in the first wave of missionaries in January, they opened two apartments for missionaries in Bo. Stuff was taken from the couples apartment to fill the new apartments.  We came with the 2nd wave of new missionaries.  Three more apartments were opened in Bo, and two more in Kenema.  We helped move stuff out of the couples apartments into the missionary apartments.  Simultaneously we were living in the couples apartment and trying to clean it up.  After removing two years of dust build up this place is starting to look livable!  

Here is the living room looking into the dining room.  Too bad, we have no pictures showing before we emptied and cleaned.  Picture this room full of ranges, refrigerators, bookshelves, boxes, ironing boards, etc.  Also picture 1/4 inch of dust/sand everywhere.

Here is the kitchen looking into the dining room.  Notice how high the cupboards are.  Do you see the refrigerator?  Of course not.  It is in the dining room.

Here is the master bathroom.  The shower and the sink work great.  Don't flush the toilet!  Half of the water from the tank goes on the floor.  But the toilet works in the guest bathroom, so we use that one.  It really looks pretty good after a lot of cleaning.

This is our shower.  As you can see the water is turned on full force.  Which is why the Africans don't bother with it.  They fill up the bucket that you see under the shower and use a big dipper to pour the water over their heads.  We see children taking showers this way all the time in their front yards.

Our bedroom is really pretty nice.  It has a large king size bed.  There is a large desk for the computer and other office stuff.  

We sleep in a tent at night.  It is kind of fun.

Paul twisted his ankle last Thursday.  The mission nurse told him to get off it, and keep it elevated.  Sometimes he does.  It is still swollen and throbs after 6 days.  We have had too much to do for him to stay off of it for very long.

We are loving our mission.  It is keeping us busy.  We are trying to keep our 17 missionaries happy, healthy and working hard.  We are also now beginning to work with the 3 district presidents in our cities.  We want to be totally at their service with whatever the 20 branches need.  We should be stable for the next 2 months, then the mission will get 27 brand new green missionaries.  We will probably get at least 9 of them.

We love you all.  The gospel is true and is going to all the world.  Especially in West Africa.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

17 New Elders in the Mission. We are now in Bo.

The mission received 17 new, experienced missionaries from the Ghana and Nigerian missions.  Most of them were from the United States.  Previous to this we had received 22 experienced missionaries from the same missions, they were all African.  We are now up to 37 missionaries.  They arrived on Tuesday afternoon.  I helped pick them up from the Seabird, a boat dock where they arrive from the airport across the bay.  Sister Sherwood stayed at the mission home preparing ground nut soup and rice for dinner.  After they were fed and welcomed by President and Sister Clawson, we took 6 of them to Grafton to spend the night in the Elders apartment next door to ours.  The Miles helped with transporting them there.  It was 9:00 pm before we got them settled in.  We had to have them back to the mission home for breakfast at 8:00 am.

For the next 2 days, President and Sister Clawson, and the other mission home couples trained and orientated them on the special needs of a mission that was starting from nothing after a 2 year closure.  We helped out as needed.  Elder Sherwood had a special assignment of getting maps ready for the entire mission.  With these new Elders, the President felt he was ready to call district leaders, zone leaders, and assistants to the president.  He wanted maps ready for each zone and district and proselyting area.

Wednesday we decided that we would move to Bo even though the apartment isn't ready.  We had 9 Elders to transport to Bo(5) and Kenema(4) plus all their luggage.  We were tied up in the mission home from 8:00 am to 8:00pm every day.  In our spare time we had to pack and be ready to go Friday morning at 7:00 am.  Plus we had to have the apartment in Grafton ready to receive the Carlys who were arriving Friday evening.  They are a new humanitarian service couple going up to Makeni in a week.

On Thursday we put 7 young, newly set apart Elders and 2 Sisters from our mission to the MTC in Accra Ghana.  All of them going to various missions in West Africa.  One of them had received his call 1 week before they closed the country because of Ebola two years ago.  He has patiently waited and has been a branch missionary preparing for when he could finally go.  He was so excited.

Friday morning came and we had a special visitor.  Elder Vincent, the West African Area President, was here from Accra, Ghana, and wanted to speak to all the missionaries.  That delayed our moving out for several hours.  It was a very good meeting however.

Then off to Bo.  We traveled with 3 elders in our vehicle and 6 in another.  Their bags were all in a van that was coming an hour behind us we thought.  The beginning of a crazy 3-4 day odyssey.  We arrived in Bo about 4:00 pm.  Everyone was starving so we fixed them p b and j sandwiches.  We wanted to take them all to their apartments but the luggage wasn't there.  Long story short, we got the last Elders to their apartments in Kenema about midnight and got back to our apartment at 1:00 am.  2 sets of elders in Bo couldn't get into their apartments so we put them with others until morning.  For the past few days we have been working with Marcus in fixing problems with apartments in Bo and Kenema.  Just simple problems like, no water, no electricity or generators, not enough beds, missing supplies for the apartments, and on and on and on.  Meanwhile we had a very dirty couple's apartment to make habitable until the new apartment was ready.  Unfortunately it was the bottom of a very long list of things that needed done.  We think they are all settled in now, we haven't had a phone call in the last two hours.

On one of the trips to Kenema, we stopped to take a picture of the Sewa River which flows from the north down to the ocean.  People were in the river washing clothes and bodies.  Children were swimming and having a lot of fun.  Canoes were in the middle dredging the bottom for the sand.  They would dry it and sell it.  They also were searching for minerals including diamonds.  This part of the country is known for it's diamond mining.

These children were happy to explain to us all that was going on.  Unfortunately the jolly ranchers were not unpacked yet.  We couldn't reward them.

On Sunday we attended the Gbondo Town Branch which is within walking distance of where we live.  We witnessed 3 confirmations for the baptisms held on Saturday.  3 young men between 16 and 20.  They were all ordained during priesthood meeting.  They asked us to bear our testimonies in Sacrament Meeting.  As best we can tell there were baptisms in 3 of the Bo Branches on Saturday.  Right when we were moving elders and their stuff all day long so we were not able to attend any.

We are tired.  It has been a long, hard and wonderful week.  We are now in Bo for the next 22 months.  Hopefully we will be able to unpack our suitcases soon when the apartment is finished.  It does have a well now by the way.

Love, Elder and Sister Sherwood

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Back to Bo for 3 Days

This was a week of getting ready to go to Bo.  The first of the week the mission took delivery of our vehicle.  It is a brand new white Nissan Navara extended cap pickup.  Seats 2 in the front and you could get 3 in the back if you wanted to be cramped.  The transmission has 6 forward gears, as well as 2 wheel drive and 4 wheel drive with High and Low range.  It is really ideal for hauling missionary stuff, apartment stuff, and crawling around the crazy roads in town.

We have gotten our MyFi hot spot so we can have internet where ever there is cell phone reception.

We now have a mission smart phone that can text and take pictures.  It still needs a SIMM card before it will work.  This will give both of us a phone, Elder Sherwoods with SierraTel, a dumb phone.  Sister Sherwood's a smart phone with AirTel.  In Bo, you can't call from SierraTel to an AirTel phone.  This is like not being able to call from a Verizon phone to AT&T.

With a vehicle, internet and phones, we are ready to go to Bo.  We just need an apartment.  We thought it could be ready by the end of this week, but that didn't happen.

Monday it was decided we would return to Bo on Wednesday in our pickup.  We were needed to help oversee the several projects there and to get the Elders moved from one apartment to another.  Some sisters were being transferred from Freetown to Bo and needed to be in the Elders apartment.  The Elders were moving into an apartment that had work to do on the water and electric service.  It will be big enough for 4 sets of Elders.  We also brought with us, all of the stuff to supply 3 apartments in Bo and 1 in Kenema for new missionaries.  This next week we will be getting 3 new sets of missionaries in Bo and Kenema.  Every transfer period we will be getting more missionaries as they build up the mission after being closed for several years.

Here is a day in Bo,Thursday, from Sister Sherwood's journal.  "Thursday morning Bishop Wallace arrived.  We loaded a generator, freezer, stove, and 4 mattresses into his truck.  We headed for the New London apartment to get the elders there packing up and cleaning for their move to their new apartment in the Bo Branch(Bo has 13 branches of the church, Kenema has another 7).  Then we drove to their new apartment, unloaded Bishop Wallace's truck and 1 set of supplies from our truck.

There were about 8 workers there working on the apartment,  A plumber was replacing  a toilet.  An electrician was checking all the outlets and lights, and replacing bad ones.  Another worker was welding the metal work on the front door and later painted all the metal work.

3 more workers were repairing the plastic pipes from the water tower to the house in the back yard.  It was fascinating to watch them.  They needed to connect two lengths of pipe together.  We would have used a coupler.  They didn't have one.  They built a small fire, and heated up one end of a pipe and forced it over the end of the other pipe, forcing it to "bell out".  They quickly pulled it apart, let it cool, then cemented the two together.  No need for a coupler.

At noon Sister Sherwood met with Brother Robbin-Taylor whom Sister Clawson had hired to make curtains for the several new Bo apartments.  She showed him samples, made suggestions for fabrics, lengths and curtain rods.

We then went to another future apartment and unloaded another set of supplies from our truck.  They will be stored there until the next batch of missionaries arrive from the Ghana MTC.  We then returned to the Bo Branch apartment, eating our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the way.

While we were there the water truck arrived to fill the water tank at the back.  The water tank sits atop a 10' tower.  The drive way, some years ago, was a very steep cement drive about 10 ' long.  Now the cement is long gone and it look like 3 big broken steps of dirt and rocks.  The truck was not able to get up the drive and into the complex.  It was stuck at the gate.

No problem.  They unloaded the hose from the truck, which looked like the hose from a fire truck.  When it was stretched out it reached about 2/3 of the way to the tank.  It was about 15' short.  No problem.  They pulled out another hose.  It had no connections on it.  They attached it to the 1st hose using a foot long piece of plastic pipe about the same diameter.  Using a piece of inner tube they wrapped around the hose and pipe to seal them together.  One man climbed up a ladder made of branches to the top of the water tower and got to the top of the tank.  Another man climbed up after him to the top of the tower, and handed the end of the hose to him.  It was just barely long enough to go into the top of the tank.

They then turned on the pump at the trunk and water began flowing.  Where the hose connected to the truck, water was spraying out in all directions.  Where the two hoses connected to the plastic pipe the water began spraying out and it took 4 men holding the joints to keep the hoses together while they were being drenched with water spraying.  Last of all, there was a hole in the 1st length of hose which was spraying the side of the house, almost to the roof, right into the open bathroom window.

  No problem.   The tank was filled, those hoses were rolled up and put away and with careful maneuvering the water truck was able to back out of the gate, down to the road, and was on its way.  Job Done.
At about 4:00pm, Bishop Wallace sent us back to the apartment we were staying at to get a water filtration system.  That was a challenge.  We had followed him twice to the apartment we were working at but each time he had come a different way.  Could we find our way out, and then find our way back?  No problem. It turned out to be easier than we thought it would be.  I believe we are starting to know our way around Bo.  We were glad to go because we were both needing a bathroom break and there was not one available at the Bo branch apt.

We got back with the water filter system and installed it on the kitchen sink.  By this time most of the repair work was done, so we began to sweep and dust and clean so the elders could move in.  Meanwhile Bishop Wallace was trying to get the generator working.  The motor was running but no power was reaching the house.  They were using a long romex like cable with a plug on one end and bare wires on the other.  They were putting the plug into an outlet on the house.  They were then poking the bare wires into the output connector on the generator.  No power was at the house so they figured the plug must be bad.  They cut off the plug and used bare wires on both ends poked into the connectors.  Still no power.  The electrician had no meter.  He just tried poking wires to see what worked.  Eventually they found they were using the wrong 2 of the 3 connectors at the generator.  When they put the wires in the right holes they had power and the lights went on.  Of course he didn't want any help from Elder Sherwood.  Besides the power is only 220 Volts in all the country.

About 7:00 pm the apartment was finally ready.  By 7 pm it is beginning to get dark and it is not safe to be driving.  But we needed to get the Elders moved.  We went to pick up the Elders and their food and belongings.  We moved them to the new apartment.  It was after 8;30 when we finally got to our apartment and heated up a can of pork and beans for our dinner.  It was a very long day."

We are constantly amazed at the resourcefulness and ingenuity of these people  They have so little to work with, by our standards, but they make do and get the job done.   They are a very hard working people and are good people.  They are friendly and loving and will share anything they have.  They are a very happy people  The members of the church have strong testimonies and are fully committed to the church.

On our way back to Freetown we passed these vehicles.  Thought you might enjoy.

We love you.  Have a good week.