Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sierra Leone 5: Sunday Worship and Time to Go Home!

Sunday morning those of us who had gone to bed at a reasonable hour got up and headed to worship. Bishop Momah was kind enough to pick us up and take us to Faith Community Lutheran in Levuma Beach about 5 miles south of our hotel. The community there has a long history but recently completed their first worship space. It lies in a low spot in the midst of a poor community that is challenged by encroaching development along the beach front.
 Despite these challenges the community thrives and continues to worship and sustain its life. On this Sunday we arrived just as the Catechism class was finishing for adults, with education for children going on in the back of the one room worship space. Once it was time for worship we followed a traditional Ordo (Gathering, Word, Meal, Sending) with the exception of having communion. Wine made from grapes is actually quite scarce in Sierre Leone. So Communion is not celebrated each week. This community is led by two pastors, a woman who is ordained, and a male who is an "evangelist" which means he is in training.

The people at Faith Community were of course more than gracious to us. They even allowed Dad and I to preach which was a fun and honoring experience. But ultimately it was time to leave. So we journeyed back to the Aberdeen bridge to catch the water taxi over to Lungi where the airport is located. The taxi left a bit later than expected, but we were in good form to get on our trip.

Having arrived in the dark it was fun to be able to see the journey on our way now. The skyline of downtown Freetown (where the market we visited was) against the mountains that gave the nation its name.
Arriving at Lungi we could see the beautiful beaches that, if properly developed, could provide Sierra Leone with such great tourist trade and economic advance.
Of course, to capitalize on that opportunity the facilities and capacity for welcoming visitors must be advanced. For the second time in our trips to Sierra Leone I found myself on the second floor of the Freetown airport arguing with ticket agents about our reservations.

Apparently Kenya Air, a codeshare partner of KLM and Delta, had changed their flight number. As such, the reservations for "the boys" (Dad, Joel, and me) were thrown into disarray and what should have been a simple function of checking in and booking through to DFW became far more complicated than it should have been. Eventually after a couple hours of negotiation we were able to get the Kenya Air folks to book us through to Accra where we would find more sophisticated assistance and help.
Goodbye Sierra Leone, may we see you again soon and may you thrive in the meantime! The Kenya Air flight was a wonderful experience. Good food, wine, and in flight entertainment. Perhaps the most comfortable of our flight experiences. That said, there was uncertainty when we arrived at Accra and had less than 2 hours to make our connection. Would we be able to re-check and re-book our flights? Thankfully, a lovely woman named Rosemary greeted us in Accra and guided us through the airport. So ultimately we were able to get aboard our KLM flight to Amsterdam. Once aboard, everyone was all smiles!!!
The KLM flight was full of good hospitality and entertainment. Each of us had our own TV with which we could watch various movies and TV. The boys enjoyed their meal and then settled in. Dad watched more TV (at least 8 consecutive episodes of The Big Bang Theory) than I think I have ever seen him watch.
A couple hours later, after food and wine, I checked the in flight monitor of progress. Amazing to think of where we were flying over at 45,000 feet. As we crossed out of Africa and over the Mediterranean I looked out and could see the fires from the refineries and the cities fade into the black of the sea. Goodbye Africa, Thank you for a wonderful weekend. I look forward to being with you again.
Amsterdam to Minneapolis to the FWD was thankfully uneventful. We arrive home Monday afternoon. It was a long and thankfully very successful and safe trip. We are grateful to have been with Jiwoh, Manja, Yeani, and Hali. We look forward to returning soon.

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