Tuesday, 25 November 2008

A beautiful African Wedding

Some good friends of mine Fayia and Tiwah got married last weekend...

It was the best wedding I've been to here....

The Happy Couple
Have a peek at the rest of the wedding....

The groom and best men....don't look too nervous do they?

The bride arrives...she however is looking a bit worried - but I've known Faiya for years, and she has done very well - he's a great guy!

There is always a little Bride and Groom

A group of ladies entertained us with a tradional song and dance... Sounding very cool!!

And all the Mercy Ships staff wear the same asherbi - like a uniform...the same material but all in different styles.... and we danced the day away!!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

I wanted you to hear about some good stories....

Yesterday, I drove through the mountains for about an hour and out the other side of the jungle, to a place called Sima Town, it's past Yams Farm, and before Devils Hole! But Sima Town is nice itself. We drive as far up the side of the hill as we can then walk the rest to 2 families at the top. On the way we pass one household who lost a baby a few months ago. Was a bit sad as we had saved her life when she was first born. I;ve never seen a baby so malnourisjed and dehydrated, it was certianly harrowing. Anyway, it was one of Berties (the landrovers) first life savers, as we drove her to a good NGO hospital and got her striaght onto a drip. Anyway dont really know what happened, or why she died nearly a year later. But her family are always happy to see me and we meet and greet on your way up.

Minkalu is waiting for us peering over the wall - a quad (affecting all 4 limbs and body) Cerebral Palsy, except he is 'bluffing' as they say here, shy becasue he didnt have any shorts or pants on!! Soon put that right, a 4 year old has far too much dignity hey?? Minkalu has literally learnt to walk with us over the past year, sometimes using his motor car (frame), and now a few steps on his own. He sits well in a special chair we have made for him which h should hopefully be taking to start school with in Jan. Had a great session with him - playing, obvously all in a therapeuatic way!! Good chat with Mum although, she was a little upset as her 14 yr old died a few weeks ago too. This litle communityhas had 4 child deaths that I know of in the past year. thats a lot and sometimes I wonder 'is this place cursed or what?' questions, rightly or wrongly, but v african in thought - I think we in the west often underspiritualise things, and yes africans can over, but still the devil does have power and strongholds, and is at work whereever we allow. Prayer is key when going into these places hey?

Anyway, this is geting long - I'll cut short.....We saw several other patients, 2 of which were not really doing v well in school so had been pulled out. lets say the education system does not allow for learning difficulties or physical disability - understated. So these 2 young teenagers were not getting past Class 1, (normal age 6-7), so abu (assist) and I were trying to do more practical skills with them at home. Anyway, we found a vocational training center nearish that we visited, and they said that they would be able to go there!!! It was so nice to be welcomed for them, AND it's funded by another NGO so the family only have to fill the application, and spend 10,000Le (£2) for the id card!! Ok, so the place is still being built, but by Jan they should be in there - the girl Mamusu for tailoring and gara tie dying, and the boy Basiru for carpentry. Praise God!!
Very long hot dirty, long driving day - but well worth it.

Then today, saw a new patient, then a few old ones, then went to visit the father of a child of mine who died when I was home just a few weeks ago. I think I told you about him - Alie - cute kid with Downs Syndrome. Anyway Karusu - the father of the family had come from a muslim background, and when they all started to come to church as a family it was great, and it was he who showed most interest. Unfortnately, since Alie died, the sister is now with Grani and the mother Adama has chosen to leave Karusu. BUT Karusu himself has cont to bring himself along to church, and when we visited today we tried to encourage him in the bible. I wasnt sure how much if anything he could read. He does have a bible that we gave him, and in church he sits by me and we look the scriptures up together. But today, we sat and read John 1 together. Found out that he really can;t read much at all, but was a great listener was i translated in my best Crio!! From that we had an in depth discussion about the Word, about the true Light, the One and Only. The differene between Father Son and Holy Spirit. Why Jesus had to rise from the dead. If everyone could get forgivness - even Foday Sankoh - the main rebel leader of the 10 yr civil war here. did Moses sin? Why did he not reach the promised land? if it was ok to drink poio (palm wine). How to forgive someone who has hurt you. do children go to heaven? OT covenant and the new covenant........WOW we talked a lot. Abu was great with him, and he was asking some of the questions too. It was just so encouraging to see this man come from showing some interest, to being angry and broken when he lost his son, to him now being so hungry for more depth, even though he can't read God's word, he wants to hear as much as he can. God is so good to turn this situation into his gain for eternity.

All in a few days work hey!
So life here can be challenging, exhausting, and frustrating but on the whole it's SO much fun and SO rewarding.

For now I can continue.

Pray for our families. Pray for us.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

2 flat tyres later...

So my wonderful new tyres have not quite been so wonderful...

For a week they were great, managed a trip through the mountains, several trips up and down the awfully steep and bumpy road I live on, trips to several patients, and of course to our local beach.

BUT, a second trip through the mountains taking a load of SOS kids to Mercy Ships New Steps for new prosthetics and callipers, proved too much for Bertie.

Thankfully we had arrived back to the SOS compound, when the kids decided that as a thank you they would wash my now very dusty and dirty car (no, the self cleaning tyres do not meet their description!). A very sweet thought and was much fun in the process...until...I saw a flat tyre that is. So one going down and I'm talking about how to change that, with the kids help of course as they would not allow me otherwise!! Then little Jeneba is scrubbing the back tyre and air starts flowing out of that one too!! Oh no!!

I immediately got everyone off the car, as 3 kids were on the roof, 2 on the bonnet, and several more round the edges by this point. Now you have to picture that, bearing in mind they are all disabled in one way or another - amputees, polio (so not walking on their own), Cerebral Palsy of varying degrees. It was a great sight!! They finished the job from the ground, but have to say I could barely see out of the windows once finished! It was the thought that counts hey!!

So two flats - one spare, now what to do?

Call my mechanic friend, Abu, from Mercy Ships, thats what!!

He comes along, we change one tyre, the really flat one, then drive (abu does that is!) very carefully to the Tyre Repair place - a shack on the side of the road with a couple of grubby men who look as if they have been working hard all day.

It was the new inner tubes that were at fault apparently, not the tyres. So we replaced inners with 'tublets', which are cheaper and better so why I didnt have them in the first place I don't know. Still....
The Tyre Repair place has a special machine they use, but it was broken. Abu, being able to fix most machines, then spend 20 mins fixing it, so we can use it. BUT, after we use it on our tyre, somehow they did not have the bit needed to seal the air in the tublet!! So, our only choice is to go to another Tyre Repair place. Thankfully we had not yet removed the second flatish tyre.

So off we drive another 15mins on one nearly flat tyre, with no spare, to the next place.
They were busy with 4 other cars all using their services - it seems flat tyres are a common occurance here!! Thankfully, after waiting a while, they are able to help us fully with all needed! .... Nearly, had to go back the next day to complete one bit.

By this point it is well into the evening, I'm very hungry as hadn't eaten all day, and Abu has a long way to go home. So I get him to drive me home, then we collect another friend of ours who was also working late, and the 2 boys take my car home for the night.

Praise the Lord for good friends who get me out of trouble in difficult times. I would have hated to deal with all that on my own.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

A day at the Guma Dam.....

This weekend, we got time out at the peaceful Guma Valley Dam.
It's beautiful.....
God's creation is always something worth sharing.

Friday, 7 November 2008

November's News

Dear faithful supporters,

“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love, neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, not even the powers of hell, neither height nor depth or anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8 : 38

It's a good job that we can have so much hope in the fact that God's love never fails us. The last month has been one of ups and downs as usual, but what remains constant is our faith in Christ Jesus.

Just as I was settling into the normal routine of home visits to our long standing friends, and meeting new families as they get referred to us or found, I had a quick visit back to the UK for a wedding of a good friend. So let me tell you about home quickly first.
The wedding was great fun with lots of my sending church family (Bognor Vineyard) all rolling their sleeves up and pitching in. We had a great day and Debie-Jo and Matt were glowing throughout. Besides that, I had some wonderful times with close friends and particularly loved being outside in the crisp autumn days. I was able to spend a bit more time with my new nephew Jack, and my family and I enjoyed an early Christmas celebration together!! It was funny again being around so many white people, but as usual the time whizzed by far too quickly and before I knew it I was heading back to SL.

As I reached back to SL, I immediately noticed the massive increase in temperature. After having frozen on the aeroplane, I stepped down the stairs and with every step the heat clung more to my skin and I've been hot ever since!! So the rains are finally 'don don' as they say here, and Abu and I are sweltering in the Landrover as we travel around seeing our families.
That said, one VERY exciting happening over the past few weeks is that my new tyres for the Landrover finally arrived from UK. I've been waiting for these tyres for a VERY long time, and we're now very happy to have them on the car. You'll love this... They were described as 'attractively aggressive, self cleaning tyres' – the first part you can have your own opinion on, but as for the self cleaning, I just don't see how that can work in Africa!! I'll be putting them to the test this week as we trek out across the mountains.
I had said in a previous newsletter that we had found a few patients who had 'disappeared' out to the villages. Well, treatment has continued with them successfully. This is Zainab (on the right) and her sister MK. Zainab has Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, however is trying very hard to get on her feet to walk. We had made a walking frame for her in January, which she never got as she was taken to the village. So now we have tried to teach her to use it and it's too small. Frustrating, but we're working on getting another. Her sister however also loves our visits as she discovered that if she gets in the way enough, then she gets given a load of toys to play with on the other side of the room just to keep her quiet while we are working with Zainab. This however, always gets messy when it's time to go and we have to take them all away again!!
And this is Medo. An inquisitive boy with a more severe Cerebral Palsy. He had taken this chair that we had made with him to the village, and it even came back in one piece!! It needed a few adjustments as he had grown, but praise God he's doing well and more so that the family remain committed and loving.
I do however have some sad news to tell you as well. You may remember me talking of Alie Sesay. He was a baby with Downs Syndrome who we had made a corner seat for last year, then I lost touch with the family. Having looked high and low, then turning to prayer, they suddenly turned up again. For the past 6 months I have been very involved with them both in terms of Alie's treatment, micro enterprise to support the family and also ministering to them at home, then in to church. Well, sadly Alie died last week. We don't really know what from, but it was very sudden. Both Karusu and Adama were very upset and it has brought much strain on their relationship, that was not going that well before this happened anyway. I'm not sure Kadija, his 4 year old sister really understands, but for her too she has been staying with various relatives and can't really know where home is any more. Please pray for this family. They were an encouragement to me as they lovingly devoted themselves to Alie's care. It has been sad to see Alie taken away from them, but we all find comfort in knowing that Alie is now in Papa God's gentle hands.

Quick updates on a few other bits:

Amara has started treatment for his TB Spine. It actually worked out that he can do it at home, with the Grani going to the hospital once a week to get the meds, and a social worker over seeing. I'm amazed that it has worked out like this, but please pray that we see some improvement in his medical condition as he is still very poorly, not to mention low in mood.

Allusan, my carpenter, who was getting more and more frustrating, has actually not been very well. He had some kind of a breakdown and lost the ability to care for himself or his 2 sons. The community came around him to help out, and after a few visits his old self started coming back. What was amazing was that despite being a Muslim, he allowed me to pray with him, where previously he had refused me. We don't really know what led to this breakdown, life here can be so stressful at the best of times, but please pray for the light of Jesus to find a way to him so he can be freed of whatever is holding him down. I'm not sure yet whether he will be able to continue work with us. But I do hope so.

Having been advertising since the summer for someone qualified to come and join me with this work, at last the right person has come forward. She is called Sarah and she's a lovely Occupational Therapist, which will broaden the experience we can currently offer. We are in the process of working things out, but we hope she'll join me later in 2009. Watch this space.

The declining worldwide financial situation is affecting us here too. My UK pound used to be worth 5800Le just a few months ago, now it is down to 4700Le. That means for every UK pound I change I loose about 20p from what I used to get. That is how it affects me, but I'll let you come to your own conclusions about how that is affecting local people here.

Abu says a big hello to everyone out there too!!

So I won't give you any specific prayer points this month, but use all the above info to focus your thoughts. I'm well myself and intend on staying that way!! But please pray that I will continually depend on Father God for all things and that I will make time to stay close to Him daily.

Thank you for all your support, in all things

With Love, Vez