Dear Family and Friends,
Greetings of peace, joy, and hope to you. I hope this note finds you vibrant and abiding in God’s love.
Here in Freetown we are thankful. In the midst of the discouraging daily struggles with electricity, water, deception, and the corrupt system around us, there are shining moments of beauty and Truth, hope and grace. Like stars in a midnight sky, these fill us with wonder, and the hope and courage to continue.
For winning a contest for an original song about pilgrimage (Psalm 84), the Lighthouse ladies went on an excursion to the beach in early March. The teenagers demonstrated selfless teamwork preparing for the outing, and generously sacrificed their own funds to include the US Servant Team.
Jesus blessed us with many sweet moments during Passion Week.
On Maundy Thursday, Lighthouse had a communion service. George, one of my Sierra Leonean colleagues, asked me to administer communion. It was my first time: a humbling, awesome moment in my life. We had taken time the previous week to go through the warnings in Corinthians, and asked the kids to prepare their hearts. We also had an open, non-threatening Q and A time. It was a good balance of “let’s take this serious” and “you are welcome at the table”. Most of the community celebrated communion that night, for many of the youth it was their first time.
On Good Friday we watched Mel Gibson’s THE PASSION at the Baptist church I attend. I asked my staff and US Servant Team to sit near Lighthouse youth and quietly read the lines, as most or our youth as still barely literate. Speaking the dialogue from the film, sparse as it was, made the powerful film exponentially more impacting. “Behold I make all things new,” resonates in my soul.
On Sunday we had an Easter sunrise service on the beach. All the youth made it except for one. We had bread and fish, kind of like how Jesus made breakfast for his fishermen friends after he rose from the grave. After we meditatively walked down the beach, two by two, visiting stations with pictures of the Passion Week, some worship and prayer, I thought we would head back to town to church. The kids however, spontaneously decided to CELEBRATE! They stripped off their clothes and danced/ran into the waves. So we stayed and played. A US servant team member brought out his guitar and sang with some. The little tykes begged to be buried in the sand. “Up from the grave He arose!” we shouted when they freed themselves, again and again, from the weighty packed sand. This also was good.
On Easter Monday we took our community (Lighthouse, Sierra Leone Servant Team, US Servant Team and Kroo Bay kiddoes = 27 in all) on a hike up Sugar Loaf Mountain, the highest peak on the peninsula. (Us mountain snobs from Colorado wouldn’t call it a mountain…hill maybe Nonetheless, it was a steep 4-hour round trip challenge in the tropical heat. Everyone made it, which was quite an accomplishment and confidence booster. At the top we had an Easter egg candy hunt, the first ever for the Sierra Leoneans. VERY FUN! I realized it is more fun to hide the candy and watch the glee of the searchers. As we were resting on the rocks at an overlook, Remie’s head resting on my thigh, we watched an eagle way below us. (Remie is a young boy who lives with Noah.) The predator was slowly circling, slowly ascending. Soon he was high above us. We were marveling at all the different greens in the forest below, with some of his friends. I think it was the first time some of them had ever been out of the trash-filled slum. It was good, in an essential way that words fail to reach.
April 7 WMF Freetown leadership (including the recent Lighthouse tailoring graduates) enjoyed a one-day retreat in the hills above Freetown. We spent the morning meditating on Bible passages about resting in God. In the afternoon we played some team-building games and created some icons in as we reflected on the character of God. Our hope to foster intimacy with God and one another was realized in sweet ways.
Roy Bishop, a trained counselor from England facilitated a week-long Children in Crisis training for Lighthouse parents, WMF Freetown leadership team, and NGO workers. The seminar was a great opportunity to get to know one another better and share insights on how to bring healing and restoration to the children of Sierra Leone.
The Harrells, new community members who arrived in February, are adjusting to cultural differences and learning KRIO quickly. They both are eager to serve and have been a huge blessing to the community. Erin has been visiting housebound physical therapy patients in Kroo Bay. Chris has helped us get an internet router working at home and has brought many fun games for us to play in the evenings.
I am feeling stronger, healthier and more hopeful than I have in several years. Please pray that this upward trend would continue.