Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Entering Week Four

It's Monday of week four and I'm feeling it. I'm tired, a little stressed, easily frustrated, and getting homesick. But I know that now is when I have to rely on God even more. I know that He is and will continue to help me through all of this.

We started an English camp today. We have it in the courtyard of the Duecks' house because they are now on home assignment. There are supposed to be nine students, but only four showed. They are all men; one is 21 and the rest are in their 40's I think. This is the advanced camp and next week we will do a beginner's one with a new group. Dee has been working with this advanced group for about three years. It's neat because this is a cool way that we can share Christ with these men. In the beginning of class, we had them memorize Luke 15:24 "For this son of mine was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found." Then we drew water and had them describe in English what they were doing. We interviewed each other about our families. One man whose name is Mamadou (he was our tutor for Pular), asked me if I want to marry a man from Africa. People ask us that a lot here. I just told him that I would if God wills it. "Si Alla jabi" in Pular. Then Stacy told the Prodigal Son story which is where that verse is from. We had them retell the story in their own words and then act it out. Then we sang nursery rhymes. We had regraw for lunch. It's rice with the sauce already mixed in and potatoes, fish, squash, hot pepper, and hockatu (a bitter vegetable). And we had chocolate chip cookies that I made! After lunch, we played badmitton. Oh man! It was funny! They were not very good...but then again, neither were we! Mr. Jalo and I won 20 to 18. It was fun!

Then we came home to watch the World Cup. They LOVE the World Cup here. The electricity schedule pretty much revolves around game times. When a game is on, the power is on. It's not on too much besides that. But the house is hooked up to run on 12 volt power, so we don't have to live in the dark. There's a game on right now and there are about five men in the living room watching it. I think the games are fun to watch, but most of the time I read or take a nap.

Last weekend, we spent three days in a village. Now, this is a real village. We lived in mud huts, drew water from the well, farmed (I never knew it was so much work!), pounded with those big sticks (I tried, but spilt the dried sweet potatoes that we were pounding), and helped cook (all I really did was pick the gravel out of the rice). They cook all of their meals over the fire. There is no electricity. The bathroom is called a "squattie". In a small, brick building with tin roofing, there is a hole in the ground and two spots to put your feet. And you squat. The building is divided in half and on the other side is there you take a shower. The shower is really just a bucket of water and a cup. The mud huts were interesting. They gave us two huts. One had a twin size bed and the other was about the size of a queen size. Four of us slept on the queen and two on the twin. It was a tight squeeze on the queen size bed. We layed horizontally so my feet dangled off. The beds are filled with straw so they're not the most comfortable things to sleep on. But it was a great experience. The people were so nice. Like they all are here in Guinea.

I've been thinking about all of you guys a lot lately. And praying for all of you. I trust that all is well.

Please pray that I will quickly get over this cold, that God would give us opportunities to share the gospel and that we would preach with boldness, and that God would soften these mens' hearts and give them open ears, open eyes and open minds. Also pray that I will be a continuous testimony to Christ's love.

I hope that there are people reading this. I really want you guys to know what's going on here and how things are going. If you know of anyone who would want to read this, please tell them. And leave me comments because I miss all of you! Lori is putting all of these blogs up for me because all we have is email and no Internet, but she will email me the comments you guys leave. Lori, thank you for doing this. I love you!

With lots of love,
Sarah (Your favorite girl in Guinea!)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Guinea, A Beautiful Place

So I've been here for three weeks and I realized that I haven't told you guys what Guinea is really like. So I will list some things at random as they come to mind...

It is GORGEOUS! I never knew Africa could be this pretty! It's SO green. There are trees and grass everywhere on the rolling hills. There are lots of huge waterfalls which I've only seen from about three miles away. I don't know how to describe how pretty it is. I love it.

Cows, goats, chickens, ducks, and sheep roam the streets. They're everywhere. A lot of the time, cows and sheep stand right in the middle of the road and don't bother to move as you drive by.

There are no paved streets in Timbi Madina which is the village I'm staying in. The dirt roads are this reddish color with huge potholes. Driving is quite an adventure between the animals and the road conditions. Oh, and lanes don't really exist and there are some crazy drivers, so it's a little scary at times.

The people here are so friendly! And they're very funny. You can walk up to anyone and start a conversation. I don't get much past the greetings, but it's fun. Their clothing is very colorful. All of the women wear longs skirts and married women wear a head covering. The women and all of the children carry things on their heads. Their balance and strength is pretty amazing.

It is hugely Muslim. There is one Fulbhe believer in Timbi Madina. The rest of the church consists of about seven men from the forest region in southern Guinea who are here as teachers.

The staple food here is rice and sauce. That's really what it is. You get a big bowl of rice and on top there is different sauces. Suppo and hacko are the two main sauces. Suppo is like a stew and hacko is a leaf sauce with fish oil and stuff. I don't especially enjoy rice and sauce, but it's not too bad. But I definitely couldn't eat it everyday for all three meals. I would puke.

Gas is $5 a gallon.

I really like wearing skirts. That may suprise a lot of you, but they are much more comfortable than wearing pants. So if I come home and wear lots of skirts don't be surprised.

There are lots of bugs...spiders, termites (did I tell you I ate some?), ants, cockroaches, mosquitoes, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers...ok, I can't name them all. There are also snakes, but I haven't seen any yet. I've gotten bit by bugs quite a lot. As I write, I am surrounded by these gross flying bug things, but you learn to ignore it.

I was sick last Sunday. It was bad. I will save you the gross details, but I had a temp of 103 at one point and felt all around horrible. We thought I might have malaria, but it turned out to be a 24 hour bug. The next day, I was pretty much back to normal.

This past week, we were counselors at a missionary kid camp. There were about 50 junior highers and high schoolers. It was a lot of fun. Those kids amaze me. They are more spiritually mature than most college students from the states in my opinion. Being at the mk camp was almost like being back in America for a week. I'm glad to be back in the village! Is that weird? I caught a cold on Wednesday which I'm still trying to get over.

It rains quite a bit. Not as much as I expected. But when it rains, it pours. It usually rains for about 20 minutes or so.

I really like it here. But I don't know that being a missionary is my place. I think I want to focus on kids more. I've told a lot of people about Invisible Children here and I would still love to work with them.

I love all of you guys! Please continue to pray for me...

Pray for health, safe travels, the English camp that starts Monday (that we would be able to teach well and get a chance to tell them about Jesus), and pray for God to continue showing me who I am in Him and what His plan is for me.

On jaraama, nani!

Friday, June 16, 2006


This is trip is definitely full of firsts.

I ate termites for the first time. And probably the last. They weren’t too bad, but I wouldn’t say that I liked them. We dipped them in some Nutella and that made them taste much better.

I plucked a chicken for the first time. The chicken was a gift from a family that we went to visit. JD killed it by cutting the jugular and bleeding it to death. Then we put it in boiling water which makes the feathers very easy to take off. I kinda freaked out a bit before I started to pluck it, but once I got into it, it wasn’t too bad.

Me, Sarah, and Stacey were the “honored guests” at the inauguration of a cafĂ© at one of our neighbors’ house. He made us the honored guests because we gave him money so he could give out free food on his first open night. We gave him $30 which bought enough food for about 100 people.

It’s weird to be stared at so much. There are only about 12 white people in Timbi Madina and all but one are CMA missionaries. So we are quite a sight. We have each gotten a few marriage proposals too. It’s very funny. We just tell them that they have to go to America and ask our father for permission.

Tomorrow, we are going to a neighboring village for the weekend. We will do an English camp and really just live like the people do. I’m very excited.

Please continue to pray for me.

I love you all!!

Update On Week One


So many things have happened since I last wrote to you all. I can’t believe it’s only been a week. I don’t think I’ll remember everything I want to tell you, but I’ll try.

My flight to Conakry, Guinea went great. I got all of my luggage at the airport. On the way home, I was in my first high speed chase!

As we were leaving Conakry, a police officer walked into the middle of the road to stop us. Now, the police here are not like the police in America. Many of them make up reasons to fine people so they get money from them. Some do this because they are unpaid by the volunteers and this is their only way to make money and some just do it to get more money. So we didn’t stop. We drove right by. The policeman jumped on a motorbike and chased us for about 10 minutes. JD drove very fast. But the speed we could go was limited because none of the roads were paved so there are very big potholes. Also, we had a huge solar refrigerator strapped in upright on the roof. I was freaking out! But he got tired of trying to catch us so he stopped.

We’ve spent time catching grasshoppers in the field behind the Duecks’ house (a missionary family). Their kids Jacoby, Ethan, and Josey are soooo much fun!! I got to tour the village hospital. It’s not like any hospital in the U.S. Nothing is like the U.S. I ate my first fried termite yesterday. They weren’t very good. The food I’ve eaten here hasn’t been too different. But that’s because the missionaries cook a lot of American food. We visited and prayed in a mosque in one of our neighboring villages. We’ve shopped in the market. We’ve tried to talk to many, many people. I don’t know much of the language, though.

The language that is spoken here is Pular. It is culturally very important to greet people here. If you don’t greet them correctly, even if you’re just walking down the street and they’re people you don’t know, they get very offended. Here is a standard greeting:

A: On jaarama! (Hello, literally I greet you)
B: On jaarama!
A: Tanna ala ton? (Is there no evil there?)
B: Jam tun. Tana ala ga? (Peace only. Is there no evil here?)
A: Jam tun. (Peace only)
B: On jaarama, nani! (Goodbye, you hear?)
A: On jaarama, nani!

When we walk down the streets, the kids yell “Porto!” which means white. None of the roads here are paved. Cows, chickens, and goats wander the streets. There is trash all over the streets. Trash cans don’t exist in Timbi Madina. The Duecks collect all of their trash and burn it every week or so. I got my hair braided today. You guys would bust up if you saw me. I don’t have any pics yet, but I will. The weather is VERY nice. Right now, it’s 5:20pm and about 75 or 80 degrees outside. It gets pretty chilly at night! It’s rained about every day. The power goes on and off. It’s been on all day today because of the World Cup. If they turned the power off during a game he people would probably revolt! But the house we’re living in is set up to run on semi truck batteries.

It’s my birthday! I’m no longer a teenager! My first birthday in Africa. Yay! We got the afternoon off from language study, they decorated the dining room with birthday decorations for dinner, they sang “Happy Birthday” in English and French, we had cupcakes for dessert, the girls on my team gave me a pina (a wrap skirt) and Josey gave me a bag she painted and a plastic gold metal that says Winner. The first time I told someone that I was 20, it was in Pular. I thought that was exciting. It was a great birthday!

I miss all of you so much! Please pray for me to have continued good health, persevere through 5 more days of language study, and that we would be able to share Christ with the people we meet every day through our words and actions. They’re a tough people.

Thank you for all of your prayers. I miss you all very much!

I love you all!


Monday, June 05, 2006

My New Motto

I decided that my motto on this trip is

"It's part of the Adventure!"

I'm still in Dakar. I should have left on a plane yesterday to go to Conakry, Guinea, but the flight was full so I got put on today's flight. I slept very well last night.

I arrived in Dakar yesterday at 5:15am. That's 9:00pm Nevada Time. You can compare that to where ever you are. It's 8 hours later here than in Las Vegas. The Walkers (a great couple who work as missionaries in the regional office here in Senegal) picked us up (Sarah D. and I) and took us to their house. We had coffee cake for breakfast (nothing African about it) and talked. We napped from 9am to 11am and then went to eat at this great restraunt right on the beach. It was GORGEOUS! I had some garlic shrimp and fries and Sprite. mmm. Then we drove up to a lighthouse where we could see the westermost point of Africa. If you look at a map, it's the little horn that stick out to the left. Then we we took Sarah D. to the airpost since she had a seat on the flight yesterday. Then we came back, the power went out, and I went to sleep. Oh we also had sloppy joes and cucumber salad for dinner. All of the food has been pretty normal!

In Senegal, it's very dirty. There is trash EVERYWHERE! Dogs, cats and goats wander the streets. And there are lots of horses. They are very skinny. People own them to pull their carriages. There are lots of cars and lots of traffic! At 10 this morning, it was 90 degrees already. Africa has rainy season and dry season. Dry season is cool and rainy season is hot. June begins rainy season. Yay!

The power is out right now too but they have a gernerator to power the computers. I'm using their wireless Internet right now from my laptop.
So my plane should leave at 4:15pm today. Hopefully all of that will go according to plan.

Thank you guys for all of your encouragement! Someone sent me this piece of Scripture and it's helped me a lot:

3Not only so, but we[a] also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.--Romans 5:3-5 (Thanks Kat!)

So I'm trying to rejoice in these stressful times. God is good. All the time! And I know that he will protect me and guide me through all of the things that don't go according to plan.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Airport Chaos

June 2nd
11:05 am
I'm sitting in a hotel bed in New York City. I should be in Dakar.

Here's what happened...

I got off the plane at JFK and I knew I missed my flight to Dakar, Senegal. I had no idea how many flights go to Dakar so I was thinking I might not be able to catch another flight for a couple of days. Prepare for the worst, right?

There were about 15 or 20 of us who missed connecting flights because of the detour to Albany. They were going all over the world too. So we went with this lady to the Delta Domestic Check-In. I waited in line for 30 minutes or so and when I got to the counter I met Andrea. She will come back in the story later. She told me that I had to walk over to South African Airways to rebook my flight. Don't be deceived, this isn't some short little jog. The JFK Airport is HUGE! So I took the Airtrain (which I became very familiar with) to the right terminal and found South African Airways. I waited in line. Got to the front of the line and the people at the counter told me that they were from Virgin Airlines. The South African representatives had already left for the day.

Keep in mind, while I'm trying to find my way to the right place, I'm trying to call my parents, the travel agency, and the people in Dakar so they know that I won't be coming on time.

So I leave South African Airways and go back to the Delta Domestic Check-In. I get lost in the process. I got lost many times during the night. Luckily, I met some very nice people along the way who helped me a lot. All of the people in the airport were extremely nice! Surprising.

So I went back to talk to Andrea who felt VERY bad for me. This is probably about 45 minutes to an hour later. So she finished with her customer and started to help me. She was able to get me the same flight to Dakar the next day (that's today). Then she walked me to the hotel reservation area. Then $151 later, she pointed me in the right direction to go find my baggage. I gave her a big hug and said a huge thank you.

Oh, the baggage...more adventures.

By this time it's about 9 or 9:30 pm. So I went to go find my luggage. I looked in a pile of bags by the carousels. It wasn't there. I asked the Delta Baggage Services and they said they probably gave it to South African Airways. She told me to go see them. I asked if I was going back to the same place I went to before and she said it was different. So I go to South African Airways and what do you know, it's the same place and the South African reps are still gone.

Now, my plan was to just find the hotel shuttle and go home. On my way to find the hotel shuttle (by this time I have gotten lost and taken the Airtrain many times) I see a sign that says Baggage Services. I got excited and thought maybe they could help me. Maybe I got lost on my way to the hotel shuttle so I could pick up my bags.

So I go back there and there are just bags piled every where. It was kinda like baggage purgatory. I talked to a couple different people in there and they sent me to the Domestic Baggage Claim. The guy drew me a map because I told him I had gotten lost a lot already. I found Domestic Baggage Claim without a hitch but my bag was no where to be found. So I went back to Baggage Services and they sent someone out on "the ramp" to try to find my bags.

By now, it's about 10:30 or 10:45 and I have not eaten since the granola bar I had on the plane from Albany. So I went and got some grapes, water, and a crossaint. It felt good to eat. I realized that it had been 3 and a half hours since I had actually sat down for more than the 2 minutes on the train.

I went back to Baggage Services and waited. and waited. and waited. and waited. But the guys who worked there were my age and very nice so I had some people to talk to. And I laughed for the first time in a long time.

I am very proud of myself because through all of this, I have remained patient, calm, and I still have a sense of humor. If God made me go through all of that as a test to my patience, I passed with flying colors.

So finally a guy comes back, and he says that he couldn't find my bag. So all of that waiting was for nothing.

So I go to find the hotel shuttle and meet some people who are going to the same place as me. They missed their flight to Ireland. There were two high school girls and their parents. They were all very nice. I don't remember their names. They were going to Ireland for one of the girls graduation present.

I said good bye to them at the hotel shuttle station and waited for my shuttle. It came pretty quickly and I got to the hotel quickly. I checked in, went to my room, talked to my mom, and took a shower. I have not been that happy to take a shower in a long time. I had sweat a lot from running around the airport and it was REALLY humid since it was a rainy summer day in New York City. So the shower was very nice.

I went to sleep very frustrated and confused. I don't know why this has happened. Did I not pray enough? Did I not pray the right words? Did I do something wrong to deserve this? I cried a lot and told God that I didn't understand what was going on. But I still have faith. I know that Jesus is with me and that I'm safe and that He will take care of me in whatever situation I am in.

I think all of this has introduced me to being an adult. I definitely don't feel like a kid anymore. I'll be 20 in five days and this was kinda like my initiation into my 20's. It's been a stressful time, but I'm proud of the way I've handled it. But it's only with God's strength that I was able to get through all of it. I would have given up a long time ago if it wasn't for Him.

It's now 11:45 am and I have check out at 1pm.

Don't expect updates like this all the time. This is a rare event. Hopefully.

Please pray for me. I need it now more than ever.

Pray that...
-the rest of my flights would be safe and on time
-my baggage gets to Conakry
-God would give me strength through today and over the next 6 weeks
-I would be able to meet up with Sarah (she missed her flight last night too!)
-God would protect me spiritually and physically in everything I do

Thank you for reading all of this and supporting me through all of it. It means a lot to me that all of you are praying for me and thinking about me. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I love you! I miss you!

June 1st - On the way!

*This is taken straight from my journal (Thanks Regan!)*

7:20 am
So I'm sitting at the gate in Las Vegas on my way to New York City. I with I could have some time to see some of NYC. That would be fun.

Lori and my mom dropped me off at the airport. We had extra time so we stopped to get some breakfast at a Mexican restraunt in the airport. But I couldn't eat because my stomach was in knots! It's better now.

Lori and Mom did very well at not crying which is good because if they would have cried I would have and I get embarrassed to cry in front of strangers. I got a little teary when I walked away. And I called my dad...

Sorry, I had to stop writing because I was starting to cry. I'm on the plane now so one can see my cry. But I called my dad when I was at the gate and he said that he was almost crying which made me want to cry. I am so lucky to be so loved by so many people. God has definitely blessed me!!

I'm happy I got a window seat on the plane.

10:15 am
This trip has already taught me something...My mom put together a care package in a manilla envelope for me. She said I coulsn't open it until I got on the plane. I thought it would be the norm like candy, food, stationery, etc. But there were pictures of my pets and family, a book about The Purpose Driven Life, and nine cards. Each card says something like "Open when you need Encouragement", "Open when you need a Smile", "Open after a trying day", "Open when you need a Hug", "Open on June 8th" (my birthday!). I can't believe she took that much time to put all of that together.

God has shown me how much I am LOVED!

1:00 pm
I couldn't figure out how to turn the light on in the bathroom just now on the plane so I went in the dark because I was to embarrassed to ask anyone. It was actually like a little adventure!

5:30 pm (NY time)
Well, the trip started out well. We got over Pennsylvania (right below NY) and had to fly in circles because of a storm near the JFK Airport. Then we had to fly to Albany (30 mins. from JFK) to refeul. I'm supposed to get on the plane to Dakar at 5:55 pm. Not gonna happen.

I went into the bathroon to call my mom because I knew I was going to cry. (I've done a lot of that already!) I'm glad I did because I cried more than I thought I would! I also called the travel agency but the didn't answer. So I'm not sure what's going to happen at JFK. We'll find out soon enough.

I don't know why this is happening. I know that God's plan is more complex than I understand, but this doesn't make sense. All I want to do is...well, all I want to do is do His will. So if this is part of His plan, then ok.

It's all part of the adventure, right?

12:24 pm
I will explain tomorow!