Well, I slept like a baby over the ocean and woke up in Paris!! Unfortunately the only part of Paris I got to enjoy was the Airport! I did get to have coffee & a croissant for breakfast! (how french of me) And was slightly excited to find out that the man sitting to my left on the next plane to Guinea was French! (He was nice enough to give me his "goodie" bag, (wait for it...) who said french people were rude?)
Our plane had to make 3 attempts to land in Guinea, due to a storm. Now, I've been on quite a few planes and have never lost my "lunch" but that all ended on the second landing attempt. A sudden long drop and harsh shakes from side to side and all I can say is, how embarrassing!!
(It was not as near as bad as that "Snorkeling Incident" I had in Mexico and you can ask me about that in person if you don't know the story, LOL) but picture me sitting next to poor Emily, who I had just met and would be rooming with for the next 2 weeks--a very 'willing to share', Frenchmen and David our team leader, who graciously leaned over and patted my back once. Needless to say I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide! Once our plane landed I got up and trashed my "goodie" bags as fast as my shaky legs would carry me to the lavatory!
Then off to Sierra Leone! I was so excited! We landed with much less drama than the previous flight and walked off the plane to see quite a sight! This picture of the Airport somehow doesn't make it look as meager as it does it person! We traveled inside and picked up almost all our bags from baggage claim while fighting of a herd of men wanting to "help us" with our luggage. We lost one bag in transit and while David was making a lost bag claim, we noticed a very sick little boy in a wheelchair, crying in horrible pain. He had been on our flight but was sitting behind me in a further back section. The other teams members had noticed him on the flight and we immediately felt compassion for this poor child. His mother and others with him were trying to get help from someone in the office, but he was crying uncontrollably in pain and discomfort. A man with him held his hand, raised the other in the air and with a loud voice started to pray for this precious child in Jesus name. The rest of us walked over, laid hands on him and joined in prayer. By the time we had finished he opened his eyes and his family and large group of strangers were surrounding him in love. Wish I could say he was immediately out of pain, he wasn't-but its a good reminder to me that God is in control, there is much pain and heartbreaking things do happen in this world. I was about to embark on one of the most heartbreaking and life changing two weeks of my life. What I was awakened to and saw with my own eyes has changed me and some of those broken hearts and faces I can't get out of my mind.
John 16:33 I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world. When I read this scripture I am reminded of my favorite movie, (which I had actually just watched on the flight) when a father tells his son that all men fall, all men betray, all men loss heart, and his son yells back in pain, "I don't want to lose heart! I want to believe, as he does". I was about to walk through a heartbreaking experience as I stepped into extreme poverty in Africa. Lord, I pray to remain soft hearted and broken for God's precious people of this world!
Our group headed off to the water taxi! The airport is located kind of a journey away from Freetown, I'm pretty sure its the only flat spot around, so you have to get onto land by water, now I've heard horrible stories about the ferry & even helicopter rides but my experience was quite peaceful!
We watched the sunset on the dock while waiting for the boat to pick us up (actually the only time I used my bug spray, shh... don't tell my mom.) The beauty of this evening will stick with me, there is an overwhelming amount of sad things to see but amazing beauty at the same time. Our incredible creator designed a beautiful place called Sierra Leone and in it, some of the most beautiful faces I have ever seen!