Circumstances and available power have conspired against a timely blog posting this Thanksgiving week, but with the return of electricity tonight I thought I’d share my own words of thanks for prayers and support, encouragement and accompaniment over the past number of months. I am truly grateful!
This past month has been a time of comings and goings at many levels. Many expatriate and missionary friends are departing for holidays back in the US or Europe, and others are finishing their contracts here and moving on. American colleagues from Lutheran Bible Translators were in Freetown recently and we had interesting conversations with their local partner about possibilities for developing a Lutheran liturgy in Krio. Thanks to one of the LBT missionaries, I am enjoying some red and green m & m’s from the U.S. tonight. (Thanks Jim, for the taste of home as the holidays approach!)
Last weekend I traveled to Kenema for a regional Lutheran Women’s Association gathering. The women came together for a workshop about water and sanitation, but managed to include a lot of singing and dancing as well. I also had a chance to attend Incarnation Lutheran Church in Kenema and to preach at a Women’s Thanksgiving service there. (Thanksgiving services are a Sierra Leonean tradition involving spirited and lengthy worship around a chosen theme, and the chance to make monetary contributions with thanks to the community and God.
On Monday I traveled on to the village of Bumpe and met with community members there in preparations for digging a water well. Tomorrow I will leave early in the morning for another 3 day trip up country to visit six well sites and to preach at Advent Lutheran Church in Bo. I borrowed a friend’s GPS unit and have been learning how to use it in order to mark the locations of the wells. Check back next week for more about this project.
The funeral service for the Rev. Juliet Rodgers-Pearce took place today almost one month after her death and was a somber and faithfilled opportunity to give thanks to God for her life and witness as a mother, grandmother, teacher, evangelist and ELCSL pastor. Today was also a national holiday in Sierra Leone, the Islamic festival Eid al’Adha. Many businesses and offices were closed, and as I returned home from the funeral late this afternoon, Lumley beach was crowded with folks enjoying the “eid.”
In recognition of the American Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, many of my Lutheran colleagues here made it a point to wish me a happy and blessed Thanksgiving. I enjoyed explaining this American tradition to those unfamiliar with the occasion. The idea of a national holiday dedicated to giving thanks was new to many, and as a result of our conversations, I had a renewed sense of appreciation for the Thanksgiving tradition.. In the evening yesterday, I celebrated the holiday at a dinner with American and British friends. Our amazingly wonderful Sierra Leonean Thanksgiving potluck featured turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, pumpkin (in various form including pie), cole slaw, apple crisp, ice cream, and more. To be able to celebrate with good food and fellowship was grace indeed.
Finally this week, my housemate of the past 2 months said good bye to Freetown and returned home to Switzerland. Marlene is a teacher who spent this time with the ELCSL teaching at Calvary Lutheran primary school and visiting at the Women’s Center in Calaba Town. With Marlene’s departure, my guest room is available for visitors once again. Welcome! The only thing I know for sure is that Sierra Leone continues to surprise and bless those who come and see.