On Sunday May 24 I journeyed with ELCSL Bishop Tom Barnett, a delegation from the ELCA Global Mission office, and other international partners to a meeting with Lutheran World Federation staff in Kenema. I will write more about this trip and the meetings in coming posts. In the meantime, here are some glimpses from the week.
On the Night Jesus was Betrayed
The LWF meetings were held at a Catholic Pastoral Center in Kenema, a five hour drive southeast of Freetown. This picture of the last supper was in the dining hall of the pastoral center. It is one of the few contextualized depictions of a biblical story I have seen in my short time in Sierra Leone, and a beautiful piece of artwork. Note especially the food on the table — the pineapple as well as the bowls of rice with groundnut stew. Two of the disciples in this scene are particularly distinct: the youthful John next to Jesus and Judas.
LWF staff member Saiku Leigh was in the minority as a supporter of the Barcelona team
An important topic of conversation this past week is reflected in the picture to the right. If you don’t have any idea what this might be about, you were not among the millions throughout the world watching a a football game on TV from Rome last Wednesday night.
I have been learning all about football (soccer) in the past few months, in terms of popular international teams and the rivalries that captivate public attention all over Europe and Africa. On Wednesday night, it was Manchester United versus Barcelona in the European League Champion’s Cup final. The ELCSL guard/gardener in Freetown (George) is a Manchester United fan, and has convinced me that I should follow Man United too. Most of the time George will listen to the games on the radio, but once in a while he will go down the road to a local bar with a TV, and pay the equivalent of 33 cents to see the action.
On Wednesday night I joined the multitudes in watching Barcelona beat Manchester United 2 – 0. In Kenema, a crowd gathered on the outdoor patio of the pastoral center and watched the game on a small screen TV in the relative coolness of the evening hours. As someone commented, it was sometimes hard to track the ball amidst the bugs crawling across the TV screen, but that somehow added to the flavor of the night.
One final glimpse of the week. The journey back to Freetown meant taking the long way home for me, as I traveled in the company of 6 visitors who had come to the meetings from the U.S., Senegal, Switzerland and Finland. They needed to catch a plane out of Sierra Leone on Friday night, so we drove directly through the interior provinces of the country to the airport in Lungi. The airport is across the bay from Freetown, and the last leg of my journey yesterday was by ferry. The ferry crossing took about 30 minutes after a two hour wait. Getting through Freetown traffic to my house took another hour, and once again I was very grateful to have a good driver navigating the narrow, crowded streets here.
The geography of this region can be confusing. It was faster to get to Sierra Leone’s international airport from Kenema without going through Freetown. Freetown is on a peninsula, and to get to the airport by road from the capital city takes 3 – 5 hours by car, looping inland and around…. When I first arrived in Sierra Leone I took a helicopter from the airport to Freetown which is the fastest (7 minutes) and most expensive way to go; water taxis and a hovercraft also run — sometimes.
As I was waiting for the ferry, watching the activity at the shore was a good way to pass the time.