Tag Archives: dancing

The beginning of the end

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.

Dancing the good news: gospel processional, King of Glory, Njala

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.

School students in Ngolahun are helping to build their own school building. These mud blocks are heavy!

Michael, teaching in his brand new classroom. He is one of the "volunteer" teachers at St. Peters, working year after year without salary as the school seeks government approval.

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.

Bundu society dancer.

Pastor James Hotagua, Faith Lutheran in Senehun

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.

One of the choir members played this homemade percussion instrument. The stick has notches cut into one side, and the player ran a piece of metal up and down the stick.

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.

Let the Lutherans Sing (and dance!)

"Y" for Youth.

Youth of the ELCSL are currently dreaming and working towards the goal of producing an album of original music for sale in Sierra Leone and beyond.  Late last year they recorded two tracks for the album and are continuing to raise funds for this project.

This past weekend, some of the members of the Lutheran Youth Organization came together to create a music video featuring the theme song and title track for their project.  They sang and danced and had an altogether fun time, at least for the time they spent outside my house in the ELCSL compound.   The photos here are but a glimpse of the grace and energy of the Lutheran youth!   While I was snapping still shots,  Alfred Gorvie was directing and shooting video;  he hopes to share the music and the finished video at the NTNL church assembly in April.

Dancing to the music: we are saved by grace through faith in Christ!

The theme song has great words, a great tune, and invites all hearers to start moving and dancing:   “Let the Lutherans sing we are one in Christ, we are one, oo–ooh we are one!

We are one in Christ.

Welcome Signs

The traditional dancing we witnessed last week included fantastically masked and costumed creatures as well as a series of dances by young girls and women.  The accompaniment to all the dancing was with drums, gourd shakers, and voices.  The dancing drew a large crowd and the performers played to the audience at every turn.  My pictures can’t do justice to the scenes.  We didn’t necessarily track the meaning or the story of some of the dances, but it was quite okay to take it all in and enjoy without  translation or explanation.

Traditional dancers from Njala
Traditional dancers and musicians from Njala