Monday, June 5, 2017

The Gospel of Jesus Christ in Sierra Leone (Part 2)

Today we will focus on 3 new district centers being built in Bo and Kenema.  Earlier we mentioned that a second stake was being created in Sierra Leone.  That happens on June 18.  The Kissy Stake will be created.  The Freetown area will now have 2 stakes.

They are talking about 4 more stakes in our country.  Three in Bo. and 1 in Kenema.  These are not approved but three are ready to be proposed.  We are not part of that proposal, review and approval process.  They eventually will need to be approved by the Quorum of the 12 Apostles and the 1st Presidency.  But we are witnesses of the longer term preparations being done here.

In Bo they are building 2 new district centers.  In Kenema they are also building one district center.  Since Bo West district already has a nice large district center, that makes a nice size district center for all the districts in the eastern part of Sierra Leone.  Those of you that can predict the future, perhaps that says they are getting ready for 4 stakes in eastern Sierra Leone since all of these district centers are designed to be stake centers.  That is exciting to us.  We will now bore you with pictures of these 3 new District Centers.  All are scheduled for completion in the September 2017 time frame.

BO East District Center

Located on the east end of Bo, about 1/4 mile east of the current Gbondo Town chapel.  Just south of the Bo-Kenema highway.

These 3 district centers are all basically the same design.  The center building is the chapel and cultural hall.  The two side buildings contain Relief Society, Primary, classrooms, branch and district offices, baptismal font, and restrooms.

The steeple tower you can see here.  The steeple is lying on the ground in a crate.  All 3 district centers will raise the steeples this week.











This is the Relief Society building.


BO North District Center

Located on the site of the former Bo Chapel.  They leveled the old chapel and have been meeting in a temporary chapel while they are building this district center.




You can see they are getting ready to raise the steeple on Bo North.  These are all the same buildings, just a little tighter together.




 We got two pictures of the baptismal fonts on this building.  Indoors!!  Dressing rooms built in!  Not quite what they are used to here in Bo except for the Njagboima building which is already a district center.  It look like the baptismal font room is open air on the sides.









A closer look at the font.




Kenema District Center

Located at the far north of Kenema, north of the airfield and of the IDA branch and chapel.  Just west of the highway going north from Kenema.






 They are ready for the steeple here too.





We believe that is the font down near the end.  Notice the open air design.




This building is on the far north of Kenema.  The branches need to expand north so it is not so isolated.




It is very nice on the top of a small hill.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Farming in Sierra Leone

Palm Wine


We watched a guy in a palm tree outside of our compound preparing to make palm wine.  He is cutting off the fronds preparing to make a hole in the tree.  As best we understand, it is like tapping a sugar maple to get the maple syrup.  He is  tapping it to get the palm juices to make  “palm wine”.  The juice comes out white or milky.  They make a hole into the core of the tree.  They put a tap in it, collect the juice, and let it sit for about 3 days to collect and ferment.  Then they fill bottles with it and sell it.  We have been told it is good and makes them tipsy, but we have not tried it and do not intend to.  It has been fun to watch.


As you can see from the pictures they have tapped the tree and are collecting the “palm wine”.  They will collect about 2 gallons of wine from this tree.  This is a fairly short tree.  

The bottle is about 10 ft off the ground.  Some we see on the highway are very tall.  It takes about a day for it to ferment.  If they wait much longer than a day it turns to vinegar.  Every day they collect the bottles and sell them in the marketplace. 






An African Yam


Sister Sherwood was given a yam on Tuesday.  In the picture you see her holding an African Potato next to the yam.  Both of them are medium sized.  The yam is the big one.  They eat them in soups or just cooked in chunks with the soup poured over the top of them.  They also harvest the tops of the African potatoes,for potato leaf soup.  If they use the tops for potato leaf soup, they do not get any potatoes.  So they plant two gardens, one for the tops and one for the potatoes. 
All the rainy season gardens are planted and growing well now.  The swamp gardens are done and they are preparing them now to become rice paddies for the rainy season. The locally grown rice is pink instead of white.  The ground is very fertile

We planted a cornfield outside the compound this week.  It was sprouting in 3 days.  They are about 1-1/2 inches tall now.  We are looking forward to corn on the cob.  We hope we can harvest a few ears while it is still tender and milky.  Here in Sierra Leone, they harvest the corn when it is big and starchy.  Then they roast it.  We do not find it very good.  We shall see if our way works here.  It still may not be very good but at least we are going to try.  Our guards, missionaries and neighbors can harvest the rest of it after we get our early pick.


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.