Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mende Church

Our second Sunday, we traveled by motorbikes to a Christians in Action Mende speaking church. I had the privilege of preaching that morning. As I preached in English, Pastor Alfred Barnes translated for me into Mende. (Pastor Barnes oversees several churches and is also part of the Mende Primer Construction team).

We had a time of singing, prayers, and communion. Ana Marie read the Scripture and I preached on Mission Possible (Luke 4:14-21). After service, Pastor Barnes invited us to his home for lunch.
We are excited about the potential for partnering with Christians in Action churches to develop literacy classes and help reach our Sierra Leone Challenge of raising the literacy rate from 39% to 50% by 2015.

Experiencing the Culture

This year, after over 20 years of traveling to Africa, I felt led to try something totally different. For 5 hours one Saturday, I sat under the flying fingers of Putsy while she put hundreds of braids into my hair. The time began with Putsy preparing extensions to braid in with my hair. Then, the endurance contest began.

I don’t have a mirror in my room, so I don’t see myself too often. However, when I catch a glimpse in a window, or someone’s mirror, I still take a second look. It feels very strange to have all these braids in my hair. However, it is simple to take care of. The ultimate in wash and go. The braids (if care is taken) can last upto a month. I can honestly say this is probably a once in a lifetime experience. (I took the braids out before arriving home).

Cooking Adventure
We give great credit to our cooks, Sue, Esther, and Putsy who kept us going through the challenging and tiring schedule. These three women spent 3 weeks away from their regular schedules as their "mission". What amazed me was that they cooked three very good meals each day in the conditions you see below. (I promise I'll never say a bad word about my kitchen again!)
I don't think the Canadian Health Inspectors would approve. But... we ate good. Breakfast consisted of white bread with an egg in various forms with tea or coffee. Starch was the name of the game, we had rice, noodles, couscous, broken rice or white sweet potatoes for lunch and dinner each day with a sauce of some variety: sometimes tomato based, sometimes greens (cassava leaves or potato leaves). We feasted with a piece of chicken (leg or thigh) or fish (about 3 inches) each meal. Many of the participants enjoyed the pepper sauce made fresh each day (I stayed away myself).

Sunday, November 7, 2010

One Week in Sierra Leone

One Week in Sierra Leone!

One week ago Lori, Patty, Kenyan, Ana Marie and I arrived in Lungi, Sierra Leone. We met up in Brussels, then flew on Brussells Airlines to Lungi, a peninsula near Freetown where the airport is. We met up with Maxwell, Daniel, Titus and Joseph all traveling from other parts of Africa. After dinner at Gregory’s house and a night at the guest house, we set off for Bo the next day.

Travel to Bo involved 2 jeeps and 1 taxi to carry all of us and our things. We took the Ferry from Lungi to Freetown. Enroute to Bo, the one jeep had two breakdowns. Each time, we were at a village. At each village Gregory spoke to the elder and found out of a need. At the first village, Gregory talked to them about building a nursery school if they donated the land. We handed out candy and cookies to the children. At the second village they need a cover for the well. Time will see how God will use these Breakdowns to bring his word to the villages.

In Bo, we are staying at the Sahara Hotel. Gregory has us there because the water and electric are more consistent. When the government electric is off, then the hotel has a generator start. So far we’ve had some rain each day and as the rain comes the electric goes off. So at some point each day we’ve been without. Note: always carry your flashlight with you!

We have completed the first week of training for the International Primer Construction Institute. We have a large, airy room at the Catholic Centre. The LCD projector doesn’t like the power, so we’ve gone back to the basics: chalk and chalkboard.

We have 13 participants (9 from Sierra Leone, and 4 from other countries). During the first week, myself, Lori, Ana Marie, and Daniel have been teaching the basics of primer construction and desktop publishing. Kenyan has been documenting the class with his with video and camera. This is the first time for Patty, Lori and Ana Marie to be in Africa.

We travel to and from the Catholic Centre by motorbike. For 1000 Leones (about 25 cents) we can go just about anywhere in town!

Monday we begin the practical section of the training. We begin development of the 82 lesson literacy materials for the Mende and Themne languages. The writing teams have been part of the training this week.

Internet is spotty and slow, even at the Internet CafĂ© where they have Wi-Fi. So, hopefully we can update again next week. Please keep praying for us, our health (we tend to wilt a bit in the heat, temps about 93 in the shade with humidex of about 300). Pray for the trainees as they learn, and prepare the primers. Pray for good contacts with local churches and national organizations who can help implement the Sierra Leone Literacy Vision – from 39% to 70% literacy by 2015.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

On the Road to Sierra Leone

Lori and I arrived at the airport. The Lord is already going before us. Our tickets didn't get booked through the Brussells Airline to Jet Airways... however, two seats were available, we have a window and aisle seat. Ken (Lori's husband) was very sad not to be going with us. He wants to go to Africa too (next time Ken).

We meet up with Ana Marie, Patty, and Kenyon in Brussells in just a few hours. 8 hours to Brussells, a 3 hour layover, then 8 hours to Freetown Sierra Leone.

Temps in Sierra Leone 81 F high. I'm looking forward to it. Pray for all our equipment to work properly (my computer cord is acting up AGAIN!).

Hopefully we can blog from there, but if not, we'll catch you up on the flip side!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Countdown Sierra Leone

Oct 28th Ana Marie Ort, myself, Lori Martin, Patty Hickman, and Kenyon Gerbrandt journey to Sierra Leone. We are part of the training team for the Primer Construction Institute which will be held in Bo Nov 1-20.

During this 3-week training, about 15 trainees will learn how to develop LEI style Bible content literacy materials. As part of the training, we will develop materials in 2 languages - Mende and Themne. With the development of these languages, 60% of the 6,000,000 population will have access to literacy and the gospel.

Check out our e-news letter about the upcoming trip and the Sierra Leone Challenge.

Please be praying for Gregory Bangura as he completes arrangements in Sierra Leone and for all who will be traveling to the training.

Another ILTI in the Books

Whew, the trainees did it! Five weeks of intensive training in developing local language literacy ministry and English language ministry is complete.

I travelled to Tulsa in July with husband Paul and son Drew. While I taught at the training, Paul and Drew travelled Route 66 between Tulsa and New Mexico and visited with Grandma.

I travel each year to Tulsa to teach "Introduction to Primer Construction". Coming in the last week of an intensive 5-week course has its challenges. Students are tired, ready to go home.

Carol, one of the trainees, told me at the end of the week, she didn't think she would get much out of the class. However, by the end of the week, she was excited and enthusiastic about how we develop our materials.

Thanks for the encouragement Carol!

It is such a privilege to meet these men and women from all over the world who God has brought to the training. The difficulties many of them face in their countries to survive, let alone do any kind of ministry, is certainly a testimony to God's mercy and provision.

Especially exciting for me this year, Lori Martin travelled to Tulsa from Canada to complete the training. As one of our volunteers and Canadian Board members, she has gradually deepened her involvement with us. She will be focusing on the English Language Ministry portion here in Canada.

To read in more detail about the training and some of the participants, check out our e-news letter .

If you might be interested in taking the 5-week training, check out the information for ILTI 2011 on the LEI website

Monday, June 14, 2010

Posting from email

Testing the email blog update.

Rev. Carey Jo Johnston
Director, LEI-Canada
P.O. Box 468
Bobcaygeon, ON K0M 1A0


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