For the past two months I have been traveling in Freetown and the provinces, making final visits to places I’ve come to know, and saying goodbye to the people who have become my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Two weeks ago I traveled to Romankneh, Bo, Ngolahun visiting schools with the chair of the Education Commission. I also visited Njala and served as the “Grand Chief Unveiler” at a thanksgiving service there.
Construction work on a new school building in Ngolahun resumed earlier this year, as the path into the village is dry enough to accommodate vehicles. Most recently, bags of cement and zinc panels for roofing were delivered to the village by motorcycle.
In Romankneh, furniture has at last been delivered to the new St. Peter’s Lutheran Primary School, and the students have moved into their classrooms. It is good to see these changes and to witness slow but steady progress in the village settings.
My time in Sierra Leone is growing shorter and shorter but still there is time for new things. I traveled with friends to a village called Kpatema last Saturday. Driving into the village we were met by a crowd singing and dancing, two Texan Lutherans among them: Alfred Gorvie and Pastor Cheryl Walenta. We joined the Gorvie family for a traditional village celebration, complete with addresses by the village chief and local politicians, followed by hours of traditional dancing.
On Sunday I was able to worship for the first time with the people of Faith Lutheran in Senehun. (Although I have visited every ELCSL congregation, Senehun was one of two I had never joined for worship). The congregation has struggled to obtain land and maintain attendance, but is doing well now. They are hoping to build a church structure on land they now own, and for now they are meeting in a rehabilitated chicken house (no one would ever know that now!). And the congregation definitely needs to build more benches for worshippers. All morning, people kept arriving to join the celebration and by the end of worship it was a standing room crowd. The choir at Faith is all of 2 weeks old and they did an amazing job of helping lead the Mende-language worship.
This coming week the ELCSL is hosting representatives from the ELCA and NTNL for annual partner meetings. We will be at River #2, in Bo, and then back to Freetown. After that, I will be packing up my house and saying my final good byes. I will be leaving Sierra Leone on Feb. 27 and returning to the US. But I hope to share a few final thoughts as I go.