Monday, March 14, 2011

In the Beginning...

I realized have yet to tell the story of our arrival in Freetown.

Now, we woke up and had to be pretty much ready to go around 6:45 in the morning on our day of departure(February 8th). Thankfully our wonderful cook, Shirley, made us some yummy breakfast stuff(scones, breakfast sandwiches, croissants,etc) to take along or eat on the spot. We got to Dallas Fort-Worth Airport without much of a hitch... well... there was a giant smoke cloud that we later discovered to be a factory fire, and one of our leaders went backwards on the highway while another did an extreme U-turn.. but.. you know... we got there:)

Our flights pretty much went without a hitch in the plan- no delays, not much turbulence, and the first 2 flights, I had empty seats next to me. We went from DFW to Dulles(which was kinda hard for me to be so close to home, but not able to see anyone), where we were for 3 hours, then we flew to Heathrow, where we were for 6 hours and met up with the other half of our group, who flew from DFW to Chicago, then London. I attempted to sleep, but it certainly did not happen.

Now, the flight we took from London to Freetown was a bit painful. It's the closest seats I've ever encountered, and there was me, a very tall guy from our team, and a pretty tall girl from our team with me in the middle... so. Uncomfortable. But, alas, it was the cheapest option to get all of us there.. so.. not much choice on that. I don't see myself flying with that airline ever again though. They had good service, but the rest was just pretty hard to deal with for 8.5 hours with a stop in Spain for gas..

My friend Noel on the plane

Once we got to Freetown, we were met by a local pastor, who helped us get our cars situated and helped us get to our water taxi. Yes.. I said it right.. water Taxi... A group of men loaded up our lugguage and we didn't see it again untl we got to the hostel- honestly, we just had to let go and trust that we'd get it back. All of our bags made it to Freetown, so we were just hoping all of them would make it to the Hostel at this point. As we got to the hotel where we took the water taxi from, we were warned that the waters were very choppy and we need to be careful as we get to the dock and as we load on- especially for our bags as we might lose them.

Our cozy row on the last flight... sleep deprived...

So, with lots of anticipation, they picked the first group of people to go on the taxi. Honestly, I just wanted to get it over with- I had so little sleep that I almost passed out earlier in the day, and I just was miserable- I wanted to get there. There was one more spot availible an I JUMPED on that opportunity, which I would soon regret. I made my way in the pitch black toward this little tiny boat that had a cover on top to keep us from getting wet(which probably would've felt good at this point) and walked onto the moving dock, which moved with the ocean.... which... was anything but calm at this moment. I was afraid and the men who were helping us load could totally see it. They grabbed my hand and said 'jump when I say'... which wasnt helping my nerves. I realized that if I went any sooner I'd probably trip and fall into the ocean. So, I went the moment they told me to and just went for it- I made it. Barely.

The Water Taxi

I got on this little tiny thing that was hardly lit at all, and made my way to the front, since I know I get motion sick, and didn't want to risk it in this moment. There were life jackets on every row of this eerie boat. I put it on quickly, held on to my bag for dear life(there were marks on my hands after) and hoped for the best. My friend saw that I was in a semi-panic state, and said 'do you need someone to sit with you'. At this moment I knew I had to be honest and let out a desparate 'yes'. She sat with me and held my hand and tried to keep me talking through it- which was hard at first, but came eventually. Once she got me talking about my friends and UMBC, I was pretty much okay:) It was fun to think about the craziest moments in the theatre department again and re-tell those wild stories:)

There were moments where I was almost thrown into a full-on panic attack(which I think I've only had 2 of in my whole life), but thankfully, I had this friend to keep me solid. Man, that boat hit those waves, and I honestly thought it was going to sink, or that I'd be sick... I started looking around for the nearest bag at points, but thankfully, we didn't have to find out how that one would end:)

In the Poda-Poda

Once we got off the boat we waited for probably an hour before we could get in the poda-poda's(the taxi busses) and go- which was good and bad for me- my sickness settled a little, but I was exhausted. Thank goodness someone had a snack I could have because if I didn't eat, I would've probably been motion sick in the next leg of the trip. We got going eventually and got within walking distance of the Hostel when we heard a huuugee bang. The driver said something and hopped out, then quickly got on his phone and was speaking fast and angrily on the phone. One of our team members got out and said, “Oh man.. we seriously just dropped the drive shaft... like.. it snapped in half...” I had to see what he was talking about, so I got out and looked.. it was bad news... but we were so close that we hopped in another taxi(they insisted) and we finally reached our destination.

A Poda-Poda

All was well- there was pizza for us to eat and we were assigned our roommates. Soon after, the power completely went out.... now I'm entering territory I've already written about... :)

But for those who are interested as to what a 'normal day' looked like for us during field service it normally included:

Up around 6:45

Breakfast at 7ish(remember.. we're on africa time.. that normally meant 7:20), which normally meant some kind of egg and bread. We also made our PBJ lunch every day during this time

Leave around 8

Arrive to the Hospitality center sometime between 8:30 and 10 depending on traffic

Devotionals all together sometime between 8:30 and 10

Arrive to Cheshire(or begin on-site work) between 9:15 and 10:30

Lunch at the hospitality center 12-1(almost always included a coconut- yumm)

More work 1-3ish

Arrive back at hospitatlty and wait for the other group to be ready 3:15-4ish

Drive back home 4-?

Arrive back home anywhere between 5 and 7

Dinner 7ish

Relax/ worship and prayer time most nights(optional) 8- whenever

Weekends normally meant some form of a beach trip or relaxation and church from 10-1 or 2ish

Breakfast at the Hostel

There is so much more to tell, but this is getting a bit long:)

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