Saturday, November 26, 2011

Celebration and Goodbyes - A Week of Everything

Wow.  What a full, emotional week.

As we come to a close here in Sierra Leone, we have so many mixed feelings.  It's hard to think about saying goodbye to this beautiful country- full of fun loving people, ready to Tell Papa God Tenki at any moment, singing acapella no matter what your voice might sound like, and willing to give when their pockets are empty.  We've met countless patients, caregivers, day workers and neighbors that we have come to love.

But, the clock is ticking and our days here in Freetown are limited.  So, we must say thanks.  Last week we hosted a Thank You Event for all officials and "big-wigs" that have partnered with us to make this field service so successful.  This includes the Ministry of Health, directors of other organizations, doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, bank leaders, and the many others that have helped.  They have provided free berth space for us at the port, trash removal, fresh water, and mostly partnership.
As you can see, the Stewards Departments (Hospitality, Galley & Dining Room) put on an elaborate, beautiful spread of food and make it a very special event.

Many of these workers have been in the hospital during the duration of this field service, but now will reassign to departments such as hospitality (preparing the rooms for guests and crew), dining room (serving the food), galley (cooking the food), or crew services (cleaning the ship) since all the patients have been discharged from the hospital.

Wednesday night was CONFIRMATION & BAPTISM night.  Five girls at the Cheshire Home made the decision this year to go through the confirmation class at Bishop Crowther Anglican Church, their home church (within walking/rolling distance from the home).  We were privileged to not only be invited to be a part of this special evening, but four of us were asked to be Godparents for them.  We also helped them with the purchase of their fabric for white dresses, veils (requirement from the church) and stockings. 

There were 18 students in the class all together so we were thrilled to see Cheshire representing almost a third of the class. 

11.2011 Cheshire Baptism (18)
our goddaughter, Kadiatu ("Kadie") Christiana ,
11.2011 Cheshire Baptism (13)
Kadiatu doing the Gospel reading
11.2011 Cheshire Baptism (26)
Marie after receiving her candle representing Christ's light in her life,
11.2011 Cheshire Baptism (37)
Kadija, receiving her confirmation Bible,
11.2011 Cheshire Baptism (6)
Samantha following baptism.
11.2011 Cheshire Baptism (41)
Here's the entire class with the Bishop
11.2011 Cheshire Baptism (44)
Here are the five girls from Cheshire and their "opoto" (white) godmommies
11.2011 Cheshire Baptism (7)
And here's the whole gang that got dressed up and came from Cheshire to support these girls.  It was a night full of emotion.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving (as you know), and our Food Services departments worked hard to make it special for us.  As you can see, it looks pretty close to an American Thanksgiving plate.  No sweet potatoes with marshmellows or pumpkin pie, but we had just about everything else. 

11.2011 Thanksgiving (6)
11.2011 Thanksgiving (4)

And today, we had our Day Worker Thank You Event - what an afternoon of celebrating what God has done and how many lives have been changed during this year.  It was truly a special afternoon filled with authentic worship as we thanked God for providing these 200 amazing workers.  For many, they don't know what the future holds.  As this time comes to close, so does their reliable paycheck.  In a country with an 85% unemployment rate, this has been a huge blessing for them this year.  So, we join in prayer trusting that the Lord will meet their needs and open doors for them.  We also bid farewell with tears as we recognize that many we will not see again.  Working side by side, suffering, rejoicing, and sweating together, you come to love people in a deep way.  We will miss these beautiful faces.  But, we recognize this is part of what we signed up for:  lots of hellos, lots of goodbyes, constant change, constant choices of having to open your heart up again and again. 
11.2011 Day Worker Thank You (8) Fuse
Joseph and I - Joseph worked with the physiotherapy team.  Joseph is hoping to attend a DTS in South Africa next year.
11.2011 Day Worker Thank You (4)
Jane, the screening coordinator, with her two day workers, Henry & Thomas who have assisted in the screening process all year- making trips upcountry every two weeks to pick up patients scheduled for surgeries - LONG hours, lots of work, hearts of gold. 
11.2011 Day Worker Thank You (1)
Here are the day workers from Outpatients where Dan worked part of the year.  Helping in this department isn't always fun- dressing changes, crying, yelling, and pain.  11.2011 Day Worker Thank You (3)
Dan with Idrissa, one of our friends who worked at the Hope Center.  Idrissa shared with us stories of what his life looked like during the civil war and how he escaped by getting on a boat and heading to Guinea.  Idrissa has a heart of gold and is planning on serving with us again next year. 11.2011 Day Worker Thank You (5)
Dan with Mark & Titus, two hospital day workers.
11.2011 Day Worker Thank You (12)
With 220 day workers invited to lunch, the lines were long, but there was plenty of rice, fried plaintains, beef with peanut sauce, spicy topping, onion stew, and black-eyed peas. 
After speeches, worship, thank yous and prayers, we celebrated with ice cream before we bid farewell to these precious friends.

In the midst of all these goodbyes and closures this week, we also got word that our beloved Jake, our pound puppy that we got at the age of twelve weeks back in 1999, said goodbye to this world this week as well. 

A stillshot from our video camera (prior to our digital camera) in 2001 of Baby Kylie & two-year old Jake

While we knew it was coming sooner or later, the reality that our farewells to him in December were the last ones on this side of eternity hit home.  We are blessed to have had such a sweet doggy, and so thankful he had such a wonderful family caring for him these past 11 months as his body was giving out. 

photo by AshleyRo Photography, taken Nov. 2011

So, it is from a place of emotional and physical exhaustion that I look forward to this weekend!

No comments:

Post a Comment