Saturday, June 21, 2008

Our home in Freetown

The COTN guesthouse where we are staying in Freetown is like an oasis on a hill. That’s how it felt when we drove up to it on the night we arrived and that’s the way it feels each time I return to it after being out. Located in a section of the cty called Marjary Town, it is two stories – the upper part is rented for the COTN Country Director for Sierra Leone and the bottom part is for teams that come to serve. Three rooms stocked with bunk beds, mosquito nets and clothes lines make up most of the house along with a large living room area, a kitchen and two balconies that provide a spanning view of houses, people and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance. The house is surrounded by a cinderblock wall, which is coated in barbed wire – a warning that you can never be too cautious in this country.

Though the house is piped for running water, it no longer works properly due to construction in the area and other reasons we’re not really sure of (this is Africa, remember). For this reason, we’ve already started our bucket bathing, which we will be doing once we leave the city as well. And, I’ll tell you, its not nearly as bad as I expected -- honestly. It just makes bathing a much bigger ordeal and process than it is at home – that explanation will come in a bit. This house sits just outside the COTN compound, which consists of housing, a church and a primary school. Up until about a year ago, COTN housed about 80 orphans on the compound who went to the school and church. After acquiring land and building a school and living facilities outside the capital in the chiefdom of Banta Mokelleh, COTN decided to move all the orphans there. This allows them much more space to live and a better environment in which to grow up. The school and church in Freetown are still part of COTN’s ministry. The children that attend the school, however, live with their families nearby. Eventually, COTN will not rent this “oasis” house for teams anymore and simply use the old children’s facilities for teams that come to serve here in the city. I’m happy we got to experience this open and airy home, however. It has added all the more the experience of Sierra Leone.

Right now I sit outside on one of the balconies. The noises around me I’ve gotten used to easily, but they still make me laugh at the extreme difference from our home in America. Children are playing loudly in a yard nearby where an occasional scream or cry breaks out while the Krio language echoes here and there. A rooster crows, though its not sunrise, rice simmers in a pot and someone is hammering wood. Birds and mosquitoes chirp and buzz in my ear. Though the day was hot and humid, the breeze now cools me off and I hope for it to last into the night so sleeping is not so sticky. It has been relaxing, being here early. Watching how this culture works and lives -- trying to take it all in and understand, talking about the differences and becoming familiar with the joy that so many of these people have in their smiles and hearts.

Written on June 12

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