Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Internet in the middle of Africa

(Above top: On the way back to Freetown from Banta to get the interns, we stopped at this junction for breakfast. Above bottom: Scott in the foreground and Laura in the background smashed into the puda-puda vehicle.)
Who would have thought that getting on the internet to update a blog would be difficult in the middle of the bush in Africa?
Scott and I had high expectations for our internet usage, internet availability and the time we’d have to actually write and photograph for the blog. Little did we know that our job here would need all of our time and that the internet in the middle of the African bush would not always be up and running or all that cheap! All that to somehow explain why our blog has been updated so infrequently and why we are so behind in telling you what we’ve been experiencing and what God has been doing here in Banta. Please forgive us! We’ll continue to update this site until there is nothing else to show and nothing else to write about. Even if we’re updating from good ‘ol Orlando, we’ll keep it coming. Thank you for your patience.
To catch you up a bit, the interns arrived on June 23. Scott and I spent the week before that in Banta with the teacher team – getting familiar with our surrounding and preparing for the interns’ arrival with schedules and figuring out our exact roles here. We made the very tightly-packed, public puda-puda trek back to Freetown with Quami (and about 15 other Sierra Leoneans) and greeted the interns with a cheesy welcome sign when they arrived at the guest house around midnight. They were exhausted and already way out of their comfort zones.
Girls: Stacie Sabo, Stephanie Stout and Samantha McCabe, all from the greater Seattle area. Boys: Andy Chinn (greater Seattle), Myles Hamby (L.A., Calif.) and Mark Drennan (Belfast, Ireland). Mark is special because he’s actually here in Sierra Leone as an associate with COTN – which means he’s staying on for one year. We’ll leave on August 16 and he’ll continue ministry here until next summer.
It was exciting for Scott and I to have the interns finally arrive after we had been here in Sierra Leone for about two weeks – we were beginning! We let them get rest, took a trip to the nearby beach for a few hours and began orientation. One and half days later, however, around 5 a.m., we were off again in the puda-puda headed to Banta. About 100 precious children and more COTN staff were there waiting for us. Though the journey was snug and quite uncomfortable – especially with a bunch of people who just met – the interns found joy in the eight hours of travel as they gazed out the window at the lives and people and villages that went by. And they were, at the same time, reminded of the reality of extreme poverty in this country. They also began to learn a new language called Mende – the language of Banta. In fact, we made up a “rap” in Mende. Translated, it goes something like this, “Hello, how are you? Thanks be to God. Thanks.” You can imagine the puda-puda driver when he heard us singing such things – he chuckled to himself. It was a moment of being the “loud white people.”
And, after the eight hours on dirt roads, through rain and puddles, over a few bridges, past women with water on their heads and children waving, we arrived at COTN in Banta. Greeted by Auntie Chris, Dave, Nancy and loads of shy children, we were home – our home for the next month and a half.

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