After a 3-hour delay sitting on the tarmac at Dulles waiting for thunderstorms to clear, we finally took off and were grateful that we had originally had a long layover in Brussels, meaning we didn’t miss the flight that would take us to the children since it’s not like flights to Freetown are all that frequent. We may have been on the wrong side of the chocolate in the Brussels airport, but we were grateful our flight was on time, and we had an easy time getting through Lungi airport to our bus.
After a long ride to Bo in a lot of scary darkness, we finally made it to the CRC and unpacked. The next morning is what made the trip worthwhile: we got to meet the children. For those of us who have been here in the past, it was a reunion with some children we remembered from years ago. And in many cases, those children are now grown and are working at the CRC. There are also many new children who greeted us with the biggest smiles and warmest hearts. This is by far the best part of the trip, getting to know the children and reuniting with those we remember from years ago.
Since we’ve been here two full days now, we’ve been working closely with our assigned classes, enjoying Fudia’s wonderful West African food (including fish with the heads still attached), getting to know the Aunties who care so deeply about the children, and participating in as many of the children’s activities as we can. Every day, we look for God and discuss where we saw Him working. At the Child Rescue Centre, this is not a hard thing to do.
It is never easy to leave someone you love and all of us have fallen deeply in love with these special children. We are now a part of the CRC family and they will forever be a part of us. We can’t help but want to return to watch them grow, see them smile, feel their hugs and hear them praise the Lord.
We had a celebration to end our stay, complete with singing, dancing, a chimes concert, a piano recital, boomwhackers whacking, and of course food. As the children went to dinner, our hearts went with them. Our tears flowed once we were behind the gate of the MTC. But through our tears, we smile as we know that these children are loved, protected, and cared for and another team is on the way.
Is it your turn to discover these special children and use your gifts to help them? You won’t know until you are there how God will use you, but I promise that if you make the trip, He will use you. I can also promise that these children will bless you far more than you bless them and you will never be the same.
All five Butterfly treadle sewing machines are now running thanks to James, the tailor, who spent time here this week putting on new tension adjustments and doing other repairs. Today was the first training day for our sewing experts. Two of the older boys and 3 of the older girls showed up to be trained by James in the art of treadling. He also taught them to wind a bobbin using the treadle. I taught them to thread the machine and the bobbin, change the needle and change the stitch length. All of them could perform all of the tasks but I wasn’t sure how comfortable they felt, when all of a sudden they started making tiny clothes. They were so creative. As we relaxed into a tailor’s workshop, we chatted and laughed and problem solved. One of the newly trained noticed a needle that had been inserted slightly twisted and was able to correct it. Another changed out a broken needle successfully. The icing on the cake was when they wanted to come back and sew when they could have been doing other special interest activities. I have found kindred spirits at the CRC. Praise God that we were able to get the repairs accomplished in time to teach the children to use them. They want to sew again tomorrow!
We have had some unique experiences over the last few days. Wednesday we were honored to have a visit from Sierra Leone’s own Bishop John Yamasu. Three of our team, Sharon Gardner, Maddie Treiber and Lara Brittain were on the CRC CARES radio program with host, Amadu Sandy, a CRC alumni. Today half of our team went on a medical outreach trip to help with pre-natal checkups and distributing food to malnourished children. The other members went on Friday.
I have wanted to be a missionary since I was 9 years old. And yet at 60-something this is my first mission trip. Why did I come? The short answer is to share the love of Jesus with children who live here. Little did I know how much they could teach me about Jesus and what intimate and personal relationships they have with Him.
My responsibility on the team was to plan Bible Story lessons for the younger group. I was blown away by their knowledge of the Bible. Not only do they know the stories, they can tell them almost word for word from the Bible and they can tell you were in the Bible it’s found. These are kids aged 4-9 and I’m astonished.
Since I’m on the CreaTe Team, sharing Drama, Music and Art; I knew we’d be singing, acting and making pretty things. What I didn’t anticipate was the cultural dancing and the energy put into it as well as l as the joy in watching and participating in it.
I also never dreamed that I’d come to Africa to evaluate and help repair treadle sewing machines. But you bloom where God plants you and I now know lots more about treadle sewing machines than I ever did before. Hopefully all five will be up and running and ready for the next team to have sewing classes on them.
The team is fabulous and we are all discovering new things about these children and the gifts God has given us to help them. We all know why we came, but we are still in the process of discovering why God sent us.