08 May 2009
Guinea - Part 1
For those who don't know, in January we traveled to Guinea, West Africa, for 7 weeks. We went desiring to obey a calling we felt from God. The plans that we had were to encourage and assist Brother, and the Americans, the family that Brother tutors. Brother and the Americans live a 9 hour drive from the capitol of Guinea, a country nestled between war-torn countries such as Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, and Liberia. They are there living amongst a Muslim people group that is vastly unreached with the Gospel. Brother tutors the Americans' children and assists the Americans, as they are there to spread the word of God amongst this people, largely through trekking.
Trekking includes everything from greeting local government officials, to hiking with backpacks into remote areas where there are no roads and few non-Guineans have ever traveled. A bit shocking, isn't it? We can purchase a ticket to fly around the world with a few clicks of a mouse, we can buy grapes from Brazil for a couple bucks at the store, we can even sit at home and watch live webcams from 7 different continents...yet there are still places on this earth that must be walked into...places where the love of Christ is not known...Places where NO seeds have been planted...People who have not heard.
Here is a glimpse of life in Guinea...
We arrive in Conakry, the capitol of Guinea, in the late evening. As we walk off the plane onto the tarmac, our 14 month old Abraham's first word is "hot." His curls stick to his neck from the heavy, humid air. A mixture of French, Pular and other native languages surround us as we pass through Customs. We are grateful to be traveling with the Americans with their fluent tongues. Our little alarm clock shows it has been 37 hours since we left home, our bodies are confused and tired as we wait and learn one of our bags didn't make it from Belgium. The bag full of Abraham's cloth diapers. Thankfully the Americans still have theirs, even though their youngest is 7 now. When something is brought over to Guinea...it does not easily get sent back. Things are held onto, well used, and lovingly shared. We sigh in relief. We arrive at a missionary guest house to stay the night. The kids mention how we've parked in the spot where they saw "that poisonous snake" the last time they were here, as we get out of the Landrover. Protect us Lord, be our security...I look under beds, plug every hole in the room and let Abraham run around in his diaper. Jonathan unloads the mountain of luggage and the Americans realize - they haven't packed any Mefaquine, an anti-malaria medication. Saturday is the weekly day to take it and their dedication to that helps us realize the seriousness of the disease. It's decided, Mom American should take the one pill I have packed. Recovering from extensive surgery 10 days post-op, her body needs the protection the most. The rest of us can wait until we arrive "home" in 24 hours to the larger pantry supply of Mefaquine.
Sleep, we long for, Abraham isn't interested in. We explore the room and bathroom, and Abraham gets his first bucket bath by flashlight. The capital city - and power is only available certain nights of the week. Tonight it won't be on until midnight. Midnight comes, our little one is finally sleepy, we gratefully turn on the fan and sleep.
Sunday morning, we begin the 9 hour to where we will meet Brother and be "home." Our little traveler does so well even taking an unheard of 3 naps during the trip. Thank you, Lord! We stop part way and load up on pineapples, watermelon, coconuts, apple bananas - special treats grown only in certain parts of the country. These are our food for the day, along with French bread bought alongside the road...Guinean fast food... and some leftover Gorp.
We gratefully arrive in "home" around 8pm, over 60 hours since we left our Michigan home, and are greeted joyfully by Brother and friends, two Baptist missionary families, the other long-termers in town. After a simple, nourishing meal of beans and rice we are taken to the house where we will stay until March. Next door to the Americans, we are blessed to get to stay in the home of a missionary out of country for a few months. Not knowing fully what to expect, I am delighted to find a working solar refrigerator, screened windows, and covered porch, yet overwhelmed...tears come as I survey the indoor toilet and buckets of water to flush with, the small bowl to do dishes in, the large cockroaches on the kitchen wall, and hardest of all, the large gap under the screen door. A 2inch gap...so small, yet it so boldly exposes the fear, the doubt, the treasuring of comfortable living - in places where scorpions and cobras are avoided, in my heart...