Okay, I am sure most of you will agree with me that this is getting ridiculous. It has been who knows how long since I have posted last and now have been in Sierra Leone for over three months and have shared nothing! So I am starting this post with an apology, something I have been warned by my fellow bloggers never to do, but I feel now it is unavoidable. So I am sorry. I have now started this blog post a total of three times now (honest truth). Sometimes I lay away at night thinking about what I should say (it is about 4am now and I am awake partly because I am coming off night shifts and partly because I can’t stop thinking about this silly blog post). New topics come to me almost weekly, but this desire to start at the beginning forces me to keep a note of those topics and keep rewriting the first post. It has gone from over thinking it to utter insanity! I don’t know what is wrong with me. Actually, that is not true I know exactly what is wrong with me; I am a procrastinator and at times a perfectionist. Well maybe it is those things or it could be that I am trying to squeeze too much in to one post. I thought I could cover my first two weeks in one post and I think it is just too much. Well whatever the reason I am picking myself up, brushing off the dirt and starting over, (don’t feel too badly for my craziness, I do intend on using what I wrote in later posts; ironically none of it was really on my first weeks in Africa). I have now resolved to just write and not think about it. I have discarded being chronological and moved on to topics. Topic one is my favorite, my girls! Well okay I think that is still too broad, maybe just day one with one of my girls…
|Putting up walls at the seafarer's building|
My group of Gatewayers and I came to Freetown two and a half weeks before the ship. Our mission was to, “put in to practice what we learned in the lecture portion of our class.” Since there was so many of us (approximately thirty) they had to split us up in to two projects. Our main project was remodeling a seafarers building next to the port that would be our dental clinic and recovery area for non-critical patients. The second project, the one I was involved in, was working with a sort of orphanage for children disabled by polio (these children are considered war victims because during their civil war the country stopped vaccinating children for polio). I say sort of orphanage because all of the children affected by polio lived there, and some still had families, but many of their families couldn’t afford or didn’t want to take care of them. While we were in Texas we knew we would be working with the Cheshire home and I volunteered to work with the teenagers ages 14-17. I believe that this was totally God breathed. My instinct is to work with younger children; I have the most experience there and often feel the most comfortable. However, I felt that there were going to be a lot of people wanting to work with the younger kids. I realized that working with teenagers could be a suitable alternative (haha, silly me). We had no idea what to expect; from how many kids there were to how much time we would have with them. It was just me and another person working with the teens, so I was excited to be able to be a lead on this.
|Coloring with Omar|
The first day we all went to see the Cheshire home kind of overview day of the projects we would be doing. I am not really sure how it happen, we came in to the home (yes all thirty of us) and I was so overwhelmed; and I am sure they were too. There were a lot of them, but there were even more of us. We were to hang out with them, and talking (for those who know me, mingling is not my strong suit). People were coloring with them and talking. Soon a familiar panic began to arise when I have to interact with a large group of people. I often just shut down at that point and close myself off to any potential relationships. However, by the grace of God I saw Kadija sitting by herself coloring, she is beautiful and doesn’t seem to have any kind of disability (still to this day I have no idea why she is at this home, I am sure there is a story and I am determined to find out, I will let you know when I do). We sit there coloring, and I think just how boring this must be for a teenager, to be coloring so I tell her the coloring book is also a story, we read the story (it is an extremely abridged version of Treasure Island). Soon we are talking about other books and books we both like to read. Eventually, Kadija ran to show me the books she has been reading and I am sad to find out it is a book about the TV show OC; regardless, we chat about it anyways. It wasn’t perfect, there were a lot of awkward moments, but still nice and later on she introduced me to the other girls. If you are praying with me this year, I would love if you would take some time to pray for her. I still don’t know much about her, except she loves to talk and joke about boys! I think she has stretched me in that, because I am terrible at talking about boys. She is considered the troublemaker of the group and teases the other girls about potential boyfriends. We also tease each other about the boyfriends we don’t have or even make up boyfriends. To me this is totally weird (maybe it is not for teenage girls), but I am learning to accept that there is a cultural gap between us right now and even though I don’t quite understand, hopefully soon I will.