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

Friday, September 21, 2012

A new front drive shaft assembly

In the last couple of weeks our truck had begun making some rather loud noises during turns in the district building parking lot.  I first thought I had driven over something, but the lot was smooth.  We knew we needed new tires and the alignment is way off (which really wears the front tires) and had a bunch of other things that we knew needed repair so Markus came to check it out last week.  The verdict:  The worst of the issues was that the front bearings were wearing out (along with several other preventive maintenance issues).  Wednesday I took the truck in to have the Motorcare mechanics take the time to take the wheels off and have a closer look and get an estimate.  Thursday afternoon the new part came and we scheduled the repair for today, Friday.  After 5 hours the truck feels a whole lot safer!  The right outer boot (that keeps the grease in and the grit out) also needed replacing so we had it replaced too (unlike 3 months ago when the left outer boot was identified as needing replacing but wasn't).

The old front drive shaft assembly

Aziz holding the new front drive shaft assembly

Aziz is the mechanic who carried out the 37,000 km maintenance 3 months ago.  He is very thorough and reminds me of a valued mechanic we've known for decades in Sandy, Utah;  Gene Foulger of Certified Auto.  Gene would always gently point out the long term value of preventive maintenance and carefully explain everything.  And when Gene or his shop mechanics would repair something, it was genuinely repaired.  I think Aziz is like that too.

Aziz putting the drive assembly in place

We'll be trying to stay on paved roads for a while until the other truck issues get taken care of.  We're looking forward to visiting the Kenema Branch this Sunday for their branch conference.  The road there really nice and smooth!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Our truck got "clamped"

Friday, 7 Sep 2012 we got “clamped” when we parked where we usually park when we go to the Freetown Market. There were no signs indicating the particular area was restricted or any different from where the cars were parked ahead of where we parked. When we came out of the store and found our wheel locked we saw the two “officers” lingering on the other side of the road who had just moments before put the “clamp” on our truck. Neither of the phone numbers on the notice that was left on the windshield raised anyone. However, the store manager knew who to call and promised to take care of it. We came to understand that the store owner paid to have the section of the street directly in from of his store exempted from the patrol that puts “clamps” on vehicles. We were relieved to not have to pay the Le 100,000 “penalty” and certainly were not going to pay the “officers” to just unlock their “clamp” and let us be on our way. It only cost us about a 50 minute wait.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Desinning Centre ?

Here's an interesting place of business. Just substitute the letter "n" for the first letter "g" at your local Designing Centre and you've got a place where you can get help with the repentance process! This hair design business is on one of the main east-west roads in Bo and caught our attention. We think that a "Desinning Centre" sign hung outside a branch president's or bishop's door would be fitting.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Events of the past month

We are nearing the middle of the rainy season and have been getting a LOT of rain.  This rainbow, though somewhat faint, was simply beautiful.

We visited the IDA Branch in Kenema last Sunday (15 July 2012).  Here is the front of the building.  It's a really nice rental building with the finishing touches completed just a few weeks ago and with enough rooms for most of the classes to be divided into different age groups.
IDA Branch in Kenema

We were able to have the Bo District Young Women President and Primary President come with us to help instruct the local leaders of the 3 branches in Kenema.  While the branch Relief Society, Young Women and Primary leaders were receiving instruction after the meeting block from Sister Schlehuber and the district leaders, Elder Schlehuber met with the branch presidents for IDA, Kenema and Simbeck Branches and the 2nd counselor in the district presidency.
Left to right: district Young Women President Sister Mansary, Primary President Sister French & Sister Schlehuber

We have a "watch pup".  I think she may be a little bit tired after a night on the roof watching for intruders!  Her mother has adopted our location and even though we don't encourage them to be here she probably feels safer compared to other places.  We'll have to close up some small gaps in the wall after the pup grows a bit more and they leave.
Our "watch pup"

The trees in front got "trimmed" by some local boys who had been asked (by someone else) to trim them.  They got trimmed before we had a chance to give our input on what kind of trimming should be done.  The one on the far right will likely look like the others by tomorrow.  Oh well, in another month or so with the sun and rain they'll be bigger than ever!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cutting our grass and P-Day activities

21 May  The grass around our home is growing fast because of the rain we've been getting.  So it was time to get someone who had a mower to get it cut.  The first counselor in the Bo District presidency is Peter Kpaka and he just happens to have an electric mower!

President Kpaka mowing our grass

The grass in the back however is above our waist in some places and that takes the "P-Day" efforts of the Bo East Zone Elders with their machetes to "brush" the grass.  This is Elder Iheanacho who helped cut the grass.  I think he'd rather be golfing though.

Elder Iheanacho practices his golf swing while "brushing" the grass

Most of the grass had been cut down to manageable lengths, but Elder Stott is getting in a few more good swipes (and blisters, too!)

Elder Stott and Elder Iheanacho

On 11 June the "Super P-Day" activity was to play tennis at the country club just across the road from our home.  Here is Elder Iheanacho with his forward slam.

Elder Iheanacho's forward slam!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cookies for coconuts

Our kitchen windows are along the walkway the Elders use to go into their apartment.  Here's how we exchange things... Elder Stott on the left and Elder Iheanacho on the right.  This evening when the Elders came home Elder Stott said he could smell the cookies I was making as they came in the front gate.  When they got around to the back (where these windows are), he called out "I smell happiness!"  We gave them cookies thru the window and a few minutes later they came back, slid it open and gave us a coconut with a cute little face.  Great exchange!

Cookies out...

Coconut in.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Broken windows

Last Saturday the wind blew really hard.  Some of our windows came unlatched and swung open hard which broke some of the window panes.  With rain blowing in we tried to cover them from the outside but just succeeded in Elder Schlehuber getting drenched.  Yesterday we were able to arrange for some workmen to come and repair the windows.  The glass is cut too large for the opening so the workman grinds the glass against the concrete to shape it.

Moses shaping the glass to fit

Once the glass fits, it is held in place with putty.

Vanemah setting the glass in place

Monday, April 30, 2012

Where we grocery shop...

Yes, we have an Albertson Supermarket!  The sign says so!  Right now they are remodeling.  And that is our truck parked in front.

We've been in twice but haven't found anything to buy at Albertson's.

A lot of our shopping is done here at Bo Mini Market
and some of our shopping here at Sabbagh's.

Average size of cucumbers.

Bell pepper

Produce is rarely at one of the above stores.  It is sold in the market.  The cucumbers may be small but we really enjoy our yogurt-cucumber-garlic with chicory root for sweetener.  We make yogurt once a week using powdered milk from Holland.  It works great!  I even made some ice-milk (no vanilla or cream for ice cream) and with a little juice or jam it tastes good too!  We are making more of our bread now.  Flat bread is plentiful in Freetown but quite unpredictable in Bo.  It's easier to make it than try to find it!  The loaf bread is small so we are making that also, along with corn, peanut, and oatmeal muffins.

Produce is not very plentiful in Bo, pretty much limited to onions, garlic, potatoes, cucumber, cabbage, peppers.  Tomatoes look very poor and haven't tried them.  There are leaf veggies but except for cabbage we don't eat those either... too questionable on getting them clean.  We have been grateful for the papaya and plantain in our yard but that season seems to be over.  We did harvest 1 small pineapple and a couple of coconuts but there won't be any more for another year.  Mangos are in season now and they are delicious!  We have 1 mango tree in the yard but only a few fruit so far.

We see people planting seeds now.  The farmers pretty much burned the growing areas in April in preparation for planting.  There has been a little rain so we know the rainy season is coming!  It will be interesting to see if the produce availability changes during the rainy season.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Second trip to the Liberia border

Our second journey to the Liberia border to transfer missionaries started out at 7 AM, Thursday, April 12, with us going ahead to take the ferry crossing route while Markus picked up more elders. The trip by way of the ferry was supposed to take less time.

We missed the turn at the police checkpoint and turned around after about 10 minutes when we realized we were on the wrong road.  At the police check we asked about Markus and they hadn't seen him (he had gone by but we later found out they hadn't noticed him).  We were then told that the ferry had sunk and wasn't operating, so we headed back to Bo in a hurry thinking we had to catch up with Markus because we thought we might have misunderstood which way we were to go.

When we got back to our apartment we were able to call President Roggia and eventually heard from Markus (when he finally got into cell phone service range) that he had gone all the way to the ferry only to find out the ferry had sunk. That cost him an extra two hours of travel plus he had to get more fuel just as we had to when we got back to Bo.  We finally left for the border by way of Kenema at 11:15 AM.  We were able to leave the last border station heading home at 5:40 PM and reached our home at 11 PM after dropping off the sisters at the sisters' apartment.

A bit of the red dirt from the pot holes we went through stuck to the truck.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dealing with the generator

Here are a few pictures to show how we keep the generator going during the dry season when there is no public power (not enough water at the hydroelectric dams near Kenema).

Pouring diesel from 5 gallon container to a 1 gallon container
Because the access to pouring fuel into the generator tank is right under the generator control panel, the fuel cannot be poured directly from the 5 gallon. We fill the smaller can and then pour from it.

Pouring from 1 gallon can into the generator tank

"Fuel gauge" Each mark is about 1 gallon.

2 cylinder, 8.2 KW diesel generator

Last Friday morning we woke to having no ceiling lights.  I called for help before we sat down to breakfast and help arrived just as we finished breakfast.  One phase of the 3-phase circuit was out so we went to check the generator and found that it had shifted off of its wood blocks (it had never been bolted down and we later found the shift this time to be due to heavy vibration).  After getting help from our elders in the apartment behind us, we put it back in place (and put nails in the boards to brace the engine to help keep it from vibrating off the boards.)  The circuit breaker on the generator would not stay "on" and we had to pry open the generator control panel (because the latch was frozen shut). We discovered two things inside the control panel.  1. One phase was by-passing the circuit breaker, i.e, hard-wired from the generator to the house.  2. One of the other lines was not tripping properly.

We replaced the faulty circuit breaker with a new one. Then traced a second problem to a hidden and buried line from the house to the dead lights on the security wall. That line was found to have an intermittent short and was cut free from the house circuits.

The two working air conditioners were on the line that skipped the circuit breaker.  While the air conditioner was turned off during the testing, there was still power to the air conditioner circuit due to the hard wired "fix" inside the generator control panel that was found later.  The frequent powering up and down of the generator to find the circuit load problem prior to prying open the control panel and discovering the badly wired circuit breaker, has caused a problem with the new air conditioner in the master bed room.  We don't know if the problem is simply a fuse in the air conditioner or something more serious. We'll find out when the air conditioner technician comes to look at it.

But we did have power back to all our lights! And Friday evening we were treated to this beautiful cloud in the East.

Sunday we attended the New Barracks Branch and heard the Primary Class children singing.  Here they are: