That was one hot day!
It was a real treat to meet up with Magnus Bendu at Hailsham, Foofoo Water this morning. Foofoo Water is a special place to me as it was the school I raised funds for during university by doing a sponsored cycle ride around the Connexion in the UK. Little did I realise at the time that I would get to visit it five times. Of course that building was destroyed by the rebels in a mindless act of vandalism, but now thanks to the generosity of the the folks at Hailsham Church in the UK and others, there now stand two classroom blocks, one for the primary school and one for the secondary school. Under the direction of Magnus Bendu, the church members are also working under their own steam to construct a dedicated church building of their own – I hadn’t realised that Magnus had been trained as a constructor, a skill which is now no doubt proving its worth. Our meeting took place with the primary school, although we visited the secondary school classes afterwards. They sang a number of choruses and songs for us, and boy were they loud! The roll has increased over the year, and the school is clearly doing well. After our various meetings, we retired to a small classroom with Magnus for some refreshments, including much to my surprise, locally made doughnuts. Whilst the dough was maybe not as refined as in the UK, they were certainly very tasty! We also had a long chat about the development of the SL Connexion, and it was good to be able to talk with Sallu and Sylvanus on various areas around this topic and hear their perspectives. It was also useful that Joseph, our driver, was with us, as he has experience of this area through his denomination and has some clear wisdom and examples to share.
Next up was Brama. Brama also has memories attached to it. It was here where our car broke down in 2004, and Gordon and I ended up taking a poda poda back to Freetown (an Africa-style minibus that operates a little like a taxi, only more battered and with a seemingly unlimited number of people crammed in with luggage piled high on top). Fortunately we had no such problems this year. Brama shows signs of development. Not only has a well been built since that visit, but also the formally empty electricity pylons now carry electricity cables. Brama is a poor Muslim dominated area. Both the circuit superintendent, Amadu Sesay and his Lay Pastor Paul Bangura pleaded with us for help with renewing the current school buildings as well as erecting a dedicated church – the fact that they meet in the school puts people off, we were told, and it isn’t secure with church materials being stolen. They have started attempts to purchase a plot of land on which they hope to build such a building. Before we left we were presented with two woven baskets, a speciality of Paul’s. As you drive down the main peninsula road past his house you will see many other examples on display awaiting buyers.
Finally we headed to St. Mark’s, Waterloo. Of course we had been there for Conference, but it was good to return and meet the congregation in their own right, along with their minister Alex Dixon. Like others they appealed for help with training costs, including some who are at TECT studying development. They have also started work on a church hall which they hope can be used for various functions, and one day even possibly have a manse on top.
Back to the Hope Centre at a reasonable time today, giving us the chance to write this up and still have a while to rest and prepare for our final few days.