Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Baptisms in Bo/Kenema

Cattle Drive

We left our apartment Thursday morning and to our surprise there was about 30 cattle a block away from our place.  We found out later that few cattle are raised in this area of Sierra Leone.  They are raised in the north eastern part of the country.  They are then brought here to be sold and slaughtered for the market places.   These must have been dropped off by the trucks.  This  group had been sold to one of the local butchers and were being taken there.  Notice the guy with a switch.  There were about 6 of them driving the cattle.  Can you see that they are trailing a rope that each of them was tied with?  By the end of the day there was just one lone steer left.

We are assuming that is a "brand" on his side.  Tic-Tac-Toe anyone?  At the market they would slaughter 1 cow at a time.  When the meat was gone they would take the next one.  That way the meat doesn't spoil since there is little to no refrigeration.  

Baptisms On Saturday

In the two Bo districts we had four branches doing baptisms on Saturday.  They were scheduled to be done at 3 different branch chapels so we had to time share to get to all of them.  One of the fonts didn't fill because of lack of water, so we had to help transport people from Torkpoi Town Branch to the New England Branch in the same district. We ended up needing to only go to two instead of three branches. The Bo East district had 8 people baptized.  We were able to take pictures because it was outside.  

The Bo West district had 7 people from two different branches.  They held it at the district center which has an inside font.  The water level was about 1-1/2 foot deep.  It was a challenge for a large man being baptized whose feet kept coming up.  We ended up having him sit down and lay him back to get him fully under the water.  

The Kenema district also had baptisms but we were not able to get there.  We were able to witness one of the confirmations on Sunday in the Burma branch.  This young man was very diligent in trying to learn every thing he could in the Gospel Essentials class. I was very impressed.

We echo the Tibbitts in their last post.  They are in the Ghana MTC and had an area authority speak in their MTC.  Elder Stanfield said "This is Africa's time.'  He repeated that many times.  He said Church Headquarters is so interested in what is happening here as the church is growing so fast.  In the past, it may have been South America's time or Europe's time, but now it's Africa's time.  The church is very young here - only 30 or so years.  Members are going to fill this land."

The people here are so ready to receive the Gospel.  They accept it with their whole hearts.  The members here are so dedicated and are willing to make any sacrifice for the Gospel.  A great sacrifice is required of them if they want to go to the temple and/or go on a mission.  They step up and do it in spite of the sacrifices.

We are so blessed to be here.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Our Missionary Is On His Way

For the past two weeks we have been working with a very special young man from Kenema.  We met him first at the missionaries apartment where he was a security guard and a branch missionary.  We visited with him for about an hour while we waited for the missionaries to get home.

He had put in his papers to go on a mission over two years ago.  When ebola closed the country, and the mission president left Sierra Leone, his papers stayed in the mission home and were never processed.  If they had been processed he couldn't have gone because the country was closed.
President and Sister Clawson found the paper work when they reopened the mission home.  He has since received his call to go to Nigeria, Lagos mission. The one in the white shirt is Felix Kennah

Felix was born in Liberia.  When he was 4 years old his mother and father were killed by rebels when their village was overrun.  The lady in blue, behind him was his next door neighbor.  When she saw his parents dead, she scooped him up as she ran to escape.  He was put on an ambulance and taken to Sierra Leone.  Another lady in Sierra Leone raised him.  This lady ended up in a refugee camp south of Bo for refugees waiting to be resettled in Europe or the US.  They have lived there for over 20 years.  Felix credits her with saving his life.

We picked Felix up a week ago, last Sunday morning after church and brought him to Bo.  We were taking him to the mission home on Monday so he could fly to the Ghana MTC on Thursday.  He asked us if we would take him to this family that saved his life.  We were happy to be able to meet them.  His "brother" in this picture is making thatch sheets from bamboo leaves that are placed on the roofs like shingles to water proof the house.

We spent about an hour with this good family in the refugee camp
and took pictures so that Felix could have pictures of his "Family" while he was on his mission.  We laminated two copies of the pictures and took a copy back to the family after Felix was gone.  Two years ago, with the assistance of a missionary couople, he was able to interview her and get information about his parents, names, birth and death dates, that would enable him to do the work for them in the temple and be sealed to them.  Felix has since left Freetown and is in his training at the MTC in Accra Ghana.  He is taking out his endowments this week in the Ghana Temple.

Here is Felix with our good friend Loel Tibbitts.  He and his wife Paula are serving in the MTC in Accra.  They are from our ward in Provo.

They are making sure that all the documentation is in order for Felix to be sealed next week to his parents.  We were grateful to be able to send Felix to the Tibbitts and know they would take care of him.

On a little more somber note.  Sister Sherwood and I went exploring north of Bo this afternoon.  We discovered a very large cemetery that has been around over a hundred years.  We decided to drive through it when we found a very new section that had a sign indicating "Safe and Respectful Burials".  As we looked at all the markers that were in this section there were two versions.  One for Christians and one for Muslims.  They were all the same except the blanks were filled in.  We then noticed that all the dates were 2014 and 2015.  It struck us that all of these were deaths due to ebola.  There were hundreds and hundreds of them.  

Here is one for a Muslim.  Notice the age on this one.  We saw another one that was 1 month old.  And everything in between.

Here is one for a Christian.
Notice how they go on forever.  What a burden and trial this county has gone through.  They say there is not a single person in Bo who did not lose a family member or friend to this disease.  It was devastating.

But what a blessing that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is flourishing.  Members here are strong in their testimonies of Jesus Christ.  The atonement of Jesus Christ is the answer to all of life's pains and sorrows and unfairness.  God loves all His children.  Because Christ was resurrected, all will be resurrected and have the opportunity to come back to Him.  Of this we testify.