Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Lisa's Reflections on the Trip

We thought it might be helpful for everyone to hear Lisa's perspective on the trip, since many have been asking how it went for her. So here's a note from Lisa ...
I'm so excited to share with you my reflections on our recent trip to Sierra Leone! First off, the people of Sierra Leone whom I met were so warm and welcoming. When I would encounter a new person, I was often greeted with, "You are welcome! You are very welcome!" I had never been greeted in such a way and I genuinely felt welcome! This was evident to me again when we met a friend and pastor of Chris' in London, Victor Zizer, who greeted me, "Welcome! Let me welcome you to London!" We all laughed at the thought of a Sierra Leonean welcoming two Americans to Britain!
If you know me well enough, you know that my mind is a functional calendar. Dates, especially birthdays and anniversaries, are important to me because of the people represented by these special days. So I'm a bit conscientious when it comes to time and schedules. On the trip I had to grow in this area and learn flexibility when it came to being on time for things. (Although our driver, Abu, was always early!) So if we were delayed 30 minutes or 3 hours, I had to learn to wait--not easy for this time-conscious momma. That's why I said I'm growing and learning ... That being said, Chris and I stuck to our itinerary and accomplished all that we set out to do.

(We had to wait 2-3 days for the clothes to dry ... )

Schools--we were looking for options of schools for our children in Freetown and didn't come away with any viable options. Home-schooling is still being considered, of course, but please keep this covered in your prayers. Eventually, starting a school for orphans and educating our children (and the children of other missionary families who might partner with us) alongside them will happen, we just don't know how soon.
Chris has already mentioned our visit to the school at Mile 91 being a highlight and a perfect ending to our trip. As a mother, I saw such hope in these 53 students' lives. I even had the opportunity to stand before these students in their classroom and speak to them (yes, me!) and encourage them to persevere and never give up, not matter how hard it gets. I felt so proud to see these students fulfilling the dream of geting an education--something their parents never had the opportunity to do. I was overcome by emotion and teared up as I saw their hope-filled eyes and smiling faces.
(Lisa speaking to the school children at Mile 91.)

Both at Mile 91 and at the orphanage where we stayed I realized that dreams, a desire for a good education, and hope for one's future are universal. I heard stories from a few of the girls at the orphanage of how they wanted to help others after college (if they get the chance to go), such as being an advocate for women and children, or becoming a lawyer. The dreams of one 17 year old girl named Mabinty were striking to me. She aspires to be a gospel singer and wants to bring praise and glory to God through her voice! Christ's love exudes from her and the day we said goodbye to these girls, Mabinty asked if she could pray for us and our journey home.

(Lisa, Mabinty, Mamoud, and Dave.)

A lasting impression for me from this trip is that although so many in Sierra Leone live simply, without many material possessions, many are still full of joy and peace.

(Lisa with the girls at the orphanage.)

I will wrap up by saying this: I survived!!! Not the trip--that was the "easy part." Being away from the children for so long for the first time was the difficult part. Being away from the children was another growing and learning process for me. But I feel encouraged and in awe of the many friends and family coming together to support our family prayerfully, financially, and especially looking after our children while we were away. Thanks to all of you for your on-going support!

With love, Lisa