Thursday, December 5, 2013

On our way home

We left Freetown from Lungi airport early Tuesday morning, 3 December, for Heathrow airport.  We checked in to the Harmondsworth Hall bed and breakfast just 5 minutes from terminal 5 and had a very pleasant stay.  The full English breakfast in the morning was wonderful.  Afterwards we went for a brisk walk in the countryside around the town of Harmondsworth.  In the afternoon we made our way to the airport for our non-stop flight to Phoenix and home.

Breakfast at Harmondsworth Hall

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New Mattresses

We recently received a shipment of new mattresses and of course had to test them to be sure they would be firm enough.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Baptisms in Makeni

Our mission President and Sister Ostler just posted this on an email to share with us.  We want to share it with all who are following our blog.

"The 4th largest city in Sierra Leone is Makeni. It is about 2.5 hours from Freetown and is fairly well developed, for the 10th worst developed country in the world. There have been some members meeting there in a vocation school as an authorized group. We visited there with John when he came and visited us. There were 70 people there, including 50 or so members.

"They have been meeting since 2006, with the group leader - a very tenacious man, as their leader. He has been constantly pushing to create a branch. He is a returned missionary, as are a couple of other members. His name is Prince Kailie. He is a wonderful pioneer.

"We will organize this group into a branch shortly, have rented a house, which is being renovated into a chapel with 5 classrooms. We also will have full time missionaries there at the next transfer with an apartment that is being refurbished (a water tank, locks on the doors, etc).

"We sent the assistants to Makeni for a couple of days to meet with the investigators that have been attending. They identified 11 that were immediately ready for baptism and did their interviews.

"This last Saturday, they held their first baptism, with all 11 people baptized.

"They had a hard time finding a place to do the baptism, but had organized with a local village (6 mud huts with thatched roofs), to use their swamp, which had a deep place to do the baptisms. We planned for them to do it on their own, but then realized on Friday that they didn't have any baptismal clothing, so Rachelle and I drove it out on our way to Bo. (envision driving to Moab on your way to St George, via Provo both times).

"We did a short baptismal service at the as of yet unrefurbished church and then loaded up a taxi van (puda puda) with most of them, and our car, and one other and drove 30 minutes into the bush - I mean bush - to the village.

"Then we had a sweet baptism and a return to Makeni - then 4 hours later we arrived in Bo."

Here are the baptismal candidates.

The baptismal font

Into the bush after the paved road

Just 2 more miles ...

... and some more

The village
Preparing dinner --- rice (removing the husk)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bo West Zone Conference 6 July 2013

Bo West Zone 6 July 2013

front left to right:  Sis Schlehuber, Elder Schlehuber, President Ostler, Sister Ostler
center:  Sisters Apiyo and Mukiisa
back left to right:  Elders Coffie, Clawson, Fonokalafi, Magrangqa, Ntozakhe, Jones, Ahrinful, Bogh, Mthembu, Itomo, Donaldson, Hales, Tucker, Chigede, Liufau, Wolfgramm

Bo East Zone Conference 5 July 2013

Finally getting decent internet bandwidth, so here is a (very) belated post of the first zone conference with President and Sister Ostler.

Bo East Zone 2013-07-05

front left to right: Sis Schlehuber, Elder Schlehuber, President Ostler, Sis Ostler
center: Sisters Nansamba and Nyawe
back left to right:  Elders Wootton, Aniabre, Richardson, Chemhuru, Muthoni, Miller, Mupando, Stanford, Despain, Losee, Walker, Asiimwe, Evans, Mosenthal, Hovley, Arikpo, Flament, Udofot, Hill, Mukwaira, Woodhead, Etuk, Wolfgramm, Liufau

Running on Empty

Last Monday with Elder and Sister Curtis on their mission tour and after the combined zone conference for the Bo East, Bo West and Kenema Zones, the new car that President and Sister Ostler were driving needed a fill up before heading back to Freetown.  Unfortunately late in the afternoon there was only one filling station that had petrol (gasoline).  After the meeting we had first sent them to another station not knowing that there was a fuel shortage.  We caught up with them at that station and made a couple of urgent phone calls to local members and leaders who might know where to get fuel.  Brother Bagrey Vandi, 2nd counselor in the New London Branch, told us to come to the filling station where he works and he would take us from there to where there might be fuel.  When we got there, there were a couple of very long lines of cars and motorcycles.  We had also called Brother Simeon Pessima, Elders Quorum President in the Lewabu Branch.  He met us at the Total station where we ended up.  His sister also worked there!  About an hour after first realizing fuel was going to be hard to find, a place was opened up in the line, the vehicle was backed in to get close to the pump and refueling was accomplished!

Long lines to the left ...

... Long lines to the right ...

... and cars lined up down the road

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Teaching music

We have a music class twice a week with half a dozen students.  Several of them have been practicing long enough as well as teaching others that they have qualified for taking ownership of the keyboards that have been provided by a grant from the Harmon Music Foundation.  Others like Mohamed plan to go on a mission after graduating from high school and will have to wait until he gets home from his mission to work towards getting a keyboard.  But that's not stopping him.  He has been practicing so he can use the keyboard his branch has and play in branch meetings.  Here is Sister Schlehuber providing extra instruction.

Mohamed Nasiru at the keyboard

Monday, May 20, 2013

Flying dipstick

Lately our generator has been using oil at an increasing rate.  A little over a week ago after I had added oil . . . about 10 seconds after I started the generator I heard what sounded like "pffft".  I looked over by the oil dipstick and found that it was gone! After turning off the engine I found it a few feet away, cleaned it off, put it back and started the engine again.  When I restarted the engine again I was a little too close leaning over to see what would happen.  Yep, it went flying out again along with a mist of oil on my white shirt.  I've since rigged a wire clasp to hold the dipstick in place so that we can at least keep running the generator and check the oil level every several hours.  The pressure in the crankcase is caused by "blow-by", which happens when the piston rings begin to wear out letting some of the combustion gasses get into the crankcase.  Oil also gets into the combustion chamber and some is also pushed past the crankcase gasket.

I showed what was happening to the generator repairman.  Even though he had been told what I had seen he still startled and jumped when the dipstick blew past him.  I had to chuckle a bit.

I took a couple of videos showing the dipstick getting blown out.  One video that I took only shows a loud "pffft" sound and a puff of mist because the dipstick was in tight to begin with.  I lightly pushed in the dipstick so it wasn't in all the way and took the following video where you can see the dipstick more gently pop out.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Where we buy eggs in Bo

For our first several months we were able to have fresh eggs that we bought from Brother Jonathan Kamara, who was the clerk in the New Barracks Branch.  But he found a job for a couple of years along the eastern border of Sierra Leone, so we were on our own getting eggs from the markets and road-side stands in Bo.  For a few months about a quarter of the eggs we bought were bad, no matter who we bought them from.  But the first 30 eggs we bought from Agnes Conteh were all good and we've been going back to her little stand ever since.

Agnes Conteh

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A new "super market" in Bo

A couple months ago the Sabbagh food market in Bo, Sierra Leone closed for a few weeks while work was finished on their new market which has now opened up!  It's the new Best-In Market.  Wide aisles, a larger stock of items, big refrigeration units, and two check-out lanes!

We even found Danish whipping cream.  We added papaya and pineapple from our yard to the canned fruit salad, then added whipped cream to top it off.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New cell tower next door

Recently we saw a new cell tower being erected just next door to us.  No construction crane was used and are told the cell towers in the area are constructed in the same manner.  Workers pull up a length of each leg of the tower and bolt it to the underlying structure.  They tie another length to it to lift it up high enough so the piece can be bolted on.  In the picture below, a strut used as a temporary "holding piece" is still lashed on to the length on the right that has been bolted in place.  With a pulley and a workmen on the higher strut they can lift and begin to attach the second strut on the left.  Once all three struts are in place at the same level, they place the diagonal cross bars to strengthen and stabilize the structure.  (The wires across the top of the picture are our power lines along the side of our home.)

4 workmen building a new cell tower

Thursday, January 17, 2013

This is a tree we have enjoyed watching on our journey to and from Kenema for the past year.  During this time, the start of the dry season, it is covered with coral flowers.  Very pretty.  After taking this picture we realized it is very representative of the road between Bo and Kenema, nice paved road, hilly with dense vegetation, palms, rice fields, a small pineapple plot, a variety of houses made of stick and mud or block with metal roofs (tin coated with zinc), and a few wood houses.  Small huts like these are everywhere.  Along the road people spread their grain on the asphalt (in the foreground), wash their clothes and lay them out to dry on the asphalt.  The bags are casava leaves (to sell and eat), and the wood is harvested to burn for charcoal.

Farther down the road we saw a man climbing a coconut palm.  Some areas have many more palms than are in this scene.  There are schools, churches, and villages all along the way.

Our new high-speed internet office.  We have had very slow internet while in Bo... many times as slow as 5 to 10 kbps, but sometimes around 100 or a very few times up to 200.  Elder Schlehuber's computer needed to download some anti-virus updates and it was taking a loooonnng time.  We ran out of time because we had to go down the road to a new rented chapel to do some training.  So we left the computer on and took it with us.  When we got to the building, suddenly the internet was faster than we had ever seen it here... 700 to 800 kbp!

We have not been able to Skype much because of the very slow connection but in our new high-speed internet office, we can!  We were parked in front of the chapel compound, about 20 feet off the Bo-Kenema highway and about 15 feet up.  A lot of people walk along the road.  I'm sure they wondered what we were doing, standing there talking to a computer on the hood of the truck.  The smaller girl came by with a huge tub of something on her head.  After watching for a while, she went on, then suddenly she reappeared with her older sister so that she could see what was happening! 

When we first drove up, I walked around the side of the compound to check things out.  A little boy about 4 waved and called out "Pumwe, Pumwe" (white person).  Then he ran into a hut and brought out about 6 or 8 more little kids all waving and calling "Pumwe, Pumwe".  I think we provided local entertainment!  (These pictures were taken in the early evening.  It looks like night because of the flash.)

New high-speed internet office in Bo!

Bo has 1 garbage truck but it doesn't go as far east as our apartment is.  Not sure how it works anyway.  I think it gets trash from the market area and that's pretty much it.  Everyone just burns everything.  But in the rainy season it's too wet too burn.  We pay someone to come and brush the grass (whack it down with a machete).  Then, in a couple of weeks everything has grown back... and the June grass grows to 6 to 8 feet tall.

Now that we are into the dry season we can clean up and burn!  The farmers burn the fields to prepare for the rainy season.  There are unattended fires all along the roads.  I used to worry about fire in Arizona and Utah, but here... no wahala (no problem!)  There is always so much water in the air fire won't get out of control.  So we burned our back yard.  It wouldn't keep burning across so Elder Schlehuber had to carry fire using papaya fronds.  Sometimes we see people carrying fire in a metal dustpan from one house to another.

The rainy season has blue skies, but the dry season is mostly white skies due to the dust and the smoke.  The dust is from the east, the Sahara sands.

Contributing to the smoky skies.

Elder Schlehuber carrying fire to keep the burn going.

Generator building in the back, broken step ladder to the right.

The fire burning around the plantain and the mango.  It burns quickly and doesn't harm the plantain, mango and papaya trees.  Strong (overripe) papaya in the foreground.

The senior accountant at the bank in Bo where the missionaries do business invited the missionaries to a Christmas lunch prepared by her (a member) and 5 assistants.  It was a huge spread!  Wonderful food and Christmas music.  The missionaries were well fed that day!

Awaiting lunch... Elders Walker, McDonald, Jest, Flament, and the right half of Elder Weller

 Waiting with anticipation...  Elders Symons, Stewart, Burton, Nichol and Jones (right foreground)

More waiting... Elders Lokpo, Nwosu, Assumang, Coffie, and Rochester

Part of the spread... fish, kabobs, breads, soups, stews, vegetables, cakes, beans, rice, African dishes, cold soft drinks, juices, water

  The Christmas Cake

 Elder Opuene showing his first plate

Elders Turner, Opuene, and Ngerem

Elders Stewart and Burton, the Bo East Zone Leaders who live in the small apartment in the rear of our compound... after lunch!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Water Sachet Volleyball

The Bo East Zone missionaries held a water sachet volleyball event last Thursday at the district center.  They counted off by number, paired up holding a towel and took up positions on the volleyball court.  Water sachets are plastic bags filled with drinking water and only a little sturdier than water balloons.

Our vehicles were parked off to the side but we weren't worried about them getting wet since they could use washing anyway.

OK, time out to wipe off and dry the side rear-view mirror!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Missionaries on the bus from Bo to FreetownAll All

The mission bus needed engine repairs before it could take eight missionaries from Bo to Freetown, so they all had to catch the public bus.  The only problem then was that they were out of tickets for the 1 o'clock bus.  Happily there was another bus at 2:30 pm that "might" have space for them and their luggage.  We were so happy when we heard that they would have enough seats for them to buy tickets ... but it wasn't certain that they would be able to have their luggage as well.  Their was extra cost to haul their luggage and it wasn't too much so it was all piled on top of the bus and tied down.  Here they are.

Left to right: : Elders Barth, Otaniyuwa, Dyngee, Liufau, Hill, Tawiah and Svongwa (almost out of the picture).  It looks like Elder Hill has already begun to teach someone on the bus.

All the missionaries' luggage went on top.

Sister Awuoche and Elder Barth as the bus departs.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dinner with the senior missionaries

Saturday evening, 1 December 2012, we gathered at Mamba Point Restaurant and President and Sister Roggia were able to spend about 45 minutes with us before they had to leave (for final preparations for the creation of the new Freetown Sierra Leone Stake).  Left to right: President Roggia, Elder Lauritzen, Sister Lauritzen, Sister Schlehuber, Elder Schlehuber, Elder Burns, Sister Burns, Sister Kirkham, Elder Kirkham, Elder Randall, Sister Randall, Sister Roggia.

Correcting the BKPS wiring

After several visits to the BKPS (Bo Kenema Power Service) office, several phone calls every day to multiple persons and a visit yesterday from Mr. Ambrose Koroma to see if anything could be done to get public power back into our home, Mr. Koroma came back this morning with a crew to properly attach the aluminum to copper junctions.  They brought clamps to hold short pieces of aluminum and copper wire firmly together, then wrapped the copper wire pieces to the copper wires already in place and wrapped the aluminum wire pieces to the aluminum wires that had recently been strung on the main distribution line.

Adding better connections to main lines

Adding better connections to line to our house
Mr. Koroma (wearing the suit) with his crew.

Refreshments after "brushing the grass"

The vegetation in the yard behind our home was getting up to our shoulders in some places so it was time to have someone cut it back.  Since lawn mowers are scarce and would have a hard time anyway with grass as high as it gets, a machete is used to "brush the grass."  Felix Kanneh is the Young Men President in the Messima Branch and brought 3 young men with him to help cut our grass.  Felix is squatting in front, another member is standing to the left in the picture and the young man on to the right in the picture is an investigator.

We had several papaya getting ripe that were more than we could eat since we had already picked some earlier.  The young men were happy to have five papaya to divide between them.

Monday, December 3, 2012

We've been going through a lot of water

We didn't know it but we've been supplying the neighbors with water

For the past 11 months we've been supplying water to the neighbors next door and we didn't discover it until today.  We thought we had a bad leak somewhere for the past couple of weeks because every day our water tank (2000 liters) would be nearly empty within 24 hours.  Last Thursday I found a pipe that went out the back past the elder's kitchen, perhaps used to water a garden in the back at one time, and thought that there might have been a break in that line.  So we had a plumber put in a stop-cock Friday.

Today I took a couple of papaya to the neighbors since we had plenty, and they pointed to our water tank and tried to tell me that they needed water.  They brought me back to the back of where they live and pointed to a sink and said they were now getting no water.  Since both we and the elders use less than a sixth of a tank in a couple of days of normal use, I'm guessing that the neighbors have also been watering their crops with our water.

The APs washed some dishes

Elders Barth and Appleby at our kitchen sink

The first stake in Sierra Leone

A historic milestone was reached Sunday, December 2, 2012 when Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles organized the Freetown Sierra Leone Stake.   It is the 3,000th stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Left to right:  Abibu S. Charles, 1st Counselor, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland., Pres. Patrick Swarray, Jr. and Pres. Theophilus Minna, 2nd Counselor

Friday, November 30, 2012

More bad wiring

For the last couple of weeks we have had  power on two of the three power lines and the third only has a few volts registering on it.  The meter that was installed several months ago requires that all three phases have a minimum voltage or it cuts off all power to the house.  That means we've had to be on the generator all this time.  For a number of days I had been calling one of the phone numbers to report power problems and had promises of "someone will come out and check."  When there had been similar problems about a month ago there had been an occasional response and power on one or the other problem line was restored.  But after no response now for a couple of weeks, I went in to the office where you buy "pre-paid units" to feed the meter and asked if the power company (Bo-Kenema Power Service or BKPS) was simply cutting back on which lines had power.  The person there told me power should be on all three phases but the problem was because we were mixing copper and aluminum wiring and that I would have to have the landlord take care of it.  (Fat chance of that happening!  The landlord had two year's rent paid up front when the house had been arranged for us and has had absolutely no incentive to ever fix anything.)  When I got home I looked to see where there might be a copper to aluminum connection.  It turns out the wiring is continuous from the overhead power lines to the meter.

But I did look a bit closer at the "connections" at the overhead power lines.  Here is what I found.

3 lines, 3 power phases.  The top wire isn't connected very well.

Close up of the top wire.

The insulation is color coded, blue, yellow and orange and I could see that the orange wire that had a low voltage at the meter was the wire that was "connected" to the top power line.  I recalled that when the new pre-paid meter was installed the utility workers had disconnected the wiring from the power lines (even though there was a breaker at the house!)  They just never properly reconnected one of the wires.  They just wrapped it around the main power line a few times!

Monday I hope to see the BKPS Technical Director to see if someone can come out and more firmly attach the wire.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Kenema is now a District!

Last Saturday and Sunday, the 24th and 25th of November the Bo Sierra Leone District held its district conference. Saturday was leadership training in the morning and a combined session in the afternoon.  Then Sunday prior to viewing the Regional Conference broadcast the members in Bo sustained a new second counselor in the district presidency.  Then in the afternoon we hurried to Kenema where the members there sustained their new district president, his counselors and a number of the new auxiliary leaders.

First Kenema District Conference in the Kenema YMCA bldg

After the members in the new Kenema District viewed the Regional Conference broadcast, the new district presidency set apart the auxiliary leaders who had earlier been sustained.  New Church handbooks had just been delivered a couple of days prior so we had them to hand out and took a few minutes to review a few key chapters relevant to their new callings ... and especially the chapter "Callings in the Church" since several present would still be recommending their counselors and likewise teaching the branch auxiliaries from the handbook.

When the district's first district council meeting ended, we took this picture of the following individuals.

Front row left to right:
Mbalu Bangura, Relief Society President
Philip Braima, District President First Counselor
James Foday, District Councilor
Jeneba Kamara, Primary President
Wuyata Kaisamba, Young Women First Counselor

Back row left to right:
Devine Kanneh, Sunday School President
Jonathan Cobinah, District President
Amarachi Cobinah, Young Women President
Emric Nevery, District Executive Secretary
Ambrose Minah, District President Second Counselor
Tiangay Kamara, Young Women Second Counselor
Abdul Sesay, Young Men President

Kenema Sierra Leone District Council

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bo District members are safely back from their temple trip

Our 55 members from the Bo District who left for the Accra Ghana Temple October 9th, spent 3 days in the temple and then headed back to Bo, arrived home in Bo just before 8 AM on Wednesday, October 24th.

Their journey home was not without incident. Sometime in the early hours of Saturday morning October 20th on the way home their bus went off the road in Kumasi, Ghana as the driver was trying to dodge a huge pothole and damaged the tire and wheel well. The owner of the bus transportation company was on the bus and by daylight began to make arrangements for another bus. A police officer who came on the scene was an Elders Quorum President of a ward in a local stake. They were taken care of by the local stake and were on their way with another bus by 2 pm Saturday.

The second counselor in the Bo Sierra Leone District presidency Peter Kpaka and his wife are both returned missionaries and took this opportunity to be sealed to each other and to their two year old son.  They both had recommends for receiving their patriarchal blessing when they were on their way to their respective missions, but at the time there was no patriarch available.  This time while President Kpaka was conducting some district business in the Church offices on the temple grounds he asked if there was a patriarch from whom they could each receive their patriarchal blessing.  The person he was asking was a senior employee in the office and also a stake president.  He replied that they most certainly had a patriarch and proceeded to make several phone calls and arrangements to accomplish what would have ordinarily taken several days.  President Kpaka testified that some of the very things in his blessing came to pass on the bus journey home!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bo Sierra Leone District Temple Trip 2012

The bus for the temple trip is scheduled to depart at 10 am.  We arrived about 8:45 am and already half the members going were waiting in the district building parking lot.  It will be a long trip of 6 to 7 days of travel, scheduled to arrive at the Accra Ghana Temple next Monday, 15 October 2012.

During today Mission President Roggia will also be conducting missionary interviews that are scheduled to start at 9 am. Here are some of the missionaries who have just arrived from Kenema, about an hour drive to the East.  The missionaries told us that they had dropped off another passenger from Kenema riding with them just a few houses back.

Here is the youngest traveler to the temple to be sealed to her father and mother.

Augusta Christiana with her father Francis Massaquoi

Rolandson is 8 years old today.  That means that for him to be sealed to his parents he needs to be baptized and needs to have a limited-use recommend.  He will be baptized in the font at the Accra Ghana Temple and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the temple.  Then he will join his parents and be sealed to them for time and eternity.  Rolandson is going to have one very unique experience!

Rolandson on the right with his older brother, younger sister and mother
Loading the luggage
The 54 ready to board!
Eight families, two couples and several single sisters and elders. One of the couples married just a few days ago in Freetown and able to find a place on the bus from Bo to get to the temple and be sealed as soon as they could!

Settling in to the last few seats
And they're off!

Bo District President Taylor is just behind the bus to the right waving