Interns’ Summer in Banta Mokelleh

10/01/07

Our last few weeks in Banta Mokelleh in Sierra Leone have been bittersweet. Sweet because every day we feel more and more a part of this community and the color distinctions seem to fade away as we share laughs and inside jokes with our friends. Bitter because even as I write this, it’s still hard to believe that it’s our last day here. This is the day we have all been dreading. Some of us are running around doing some last-minute cleaning and packing. Some of us are dictating letters from the locals to our families back home to give their greetings and love, while some of the interns are slipping away to the village to make the most of the time left to sit and fellowship with the villagers. Some of the kids have been moping around…we feel the same way. But as we look over the last couple of weeks we are also encouraged at what God has been doing and what He has used us to be a part of. Each of the interns has finally completed their personal ministry projects—all of which have had their trials and frustrations, but in the end have been a blessing and a success. These personal ministry projects include the following:

  • Men’s Seminar – A two-night seminar encouraging the men of Ngolala to lead their families with love and integrity. Many Muslims attended and one man, Munda Moses, shared his desire to go to church.
  • Women’s Seminar – An intense time of discussion and teaching which covered many sensitive issues such as when to go to the health clinic (encouraging early prevention and consultation), proper care and feeding for newborns, breast milk vs. powdered milk or local starch and oil porridges, the Proverbs 31 woman, and womanhood and love.
  • Teen Retreat – The older boys and girls, who help with many duties around the COTN compound, were invited to a three-day retreat to discuss relevant issues including puberty, sex and HIV/AIDS, pregnancy and abortion, and drugs. The teens were treated to a soap-making demonstration and each one was given a few supplies to make their own soap to sell.
  • Renovation of the COTN Malnutrition Clinic – This team took the crumbling and leaking bafa (mud and stick house) that housed the mothers and babies who are enrolled in the malnutrition feeding program and designed a new zinc roofed, larger bafa to continue the work that is run by the COTN nurses who live at the compound. Here, mothers are taught how to use locally grown foods full of protein to provide a balanced diet for their babies.
  • Soccer Clinic and Benches for the Soccer Field – With the help from a few National Interns, John and Abu, we held a two-day Soccer Clinic to teach the younger children new skills. These younger kids rarely get to play on the field with the “big kids” and were excited to do drills and learn the rules. The clinic ended with a big scrimmage and lots of muddy, smiling children.

Finally, work continues on the children’s village. There are currently three homes that are fully decorated with paint, curtains, and hanging pictures, all designed by two of the Florida interns. Each of the homes has been named according to the Fruit of the Spirit. Although we won’t be here to see their faces when the orphans arrive, we can only imagine them walking to the top of the hill for the first time, reaching the crest, and looking down the hill on these beautiful new homes that are nestled amongst the rice paddies, pineapple fields, and palm trees. We won’t see the orphans meeting the Ngolala villagers for the first time, but we do know that their arrival is looked on with excitement and anticipation.

As we pack to leave, we are reminded that we are only a small part of the big vision that God has for these people—bigger than we could even imagine. The body each has its part. And now its time to go home and figure out how that part looks from here on out—now that we have been changed from the inside out, now that we have struggled through the lessons of true community, now how will we live our lives?

We are grateful to COTN for the opportunity to be a part of this vision for the summer. Be blessed.