Today was another memorable day here in Sierra Leone. We started the day by attending a traditional 3-hour Sunday worship service at Zion Church with our partner here in Sierra Leone. This was a new experience for several on our team, but in order to understand the African tradition you have to seek to understand their deep sense of spiritual beliefs as part of their everyday lives. Pastor Kanu had us seated in front and we were all warmly greeted by all in attendance. After lunch back at our guesthouse, Noel and I had to run out to our medical facility and meet with several people from an international aid agency seeking a possible affiliation with our medical clinic. My hope is to both expand our medical outreach and perhaps have the Bandawa health facility act as a pilot for other rural medical facilities throughout the country. The highlight of our day began at 3:00 where we all gathered, along with 350 villagers, who in many cases walked for miles, to come to a “Thanksgiving Ceremony” for the work done by Seven Hills Global Outreach in Sierra Leone which began in 2010. What a joyful noise heard across our campus and deep into the bush surrounding us. Tonight - as we do every evening - we ate dinner together, discussed our 2 books we are reading each day, and ended with perhaps the most moving part of our day when I ask each traveler to share their individual “pearl”. Tonight this led to a long discussion about religion and faith within African society and how their religious beliefs serve as a foundation for many who face daily struggle. Our team on this SHGO trip is comprised of individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives and that only adds to the richness of our unfolding experiences together. In addition to religion from an African perspective we discussed racial strife in America, politics, Buddhism, international perspectives between China and America, and other issues which only serve to bring us all closer together. This trip has been a revelation for many through witnessing first hand the effects that poverty can have on a people. From the need for clean potable water, to improved sanitation facilities, to seeing first hand the joys and hardships in the faces of everyone we meet. Over my years working in Africa - and Sierra Leone in particular - I’ve come to understand that struggles can also make a people stronger, and even more at peace with simple joys. Family is paramount; working collectively to address common needs such as building a footbridge over a stream; and the ever present communal care and protections given to children within a village. I think we, in the developed West, could learn much from these simpler values. Everyone on our SHGO team is well and continually seeking answers to questions as issues arise. I’ll report more tomorrow when we welcome the children in both our Bandawa rural primary school and Bo primary / secondary school back to classes after an extended year end vacation.
Dr. D. Jordan - (“Dr. J”)