Sierra Leone Mission Log

Pastor Isler
First overseas missions trip
10/29/09 – 11/9/09

10/29/09 – 10/30/09
The day started with some last minute shopping followed by lunch with Linda.  I already called my children and told them that I love them.  I believe and know all will be well but when you are going across the waters for a while, those words need to be said.  The shuttle showed up a bit early followed by Norma.  Brock and Lonna arrived later.  Brother Dale was there to take Linda to the airport as she was going to Niagara Falls.  We all said our goodbyes including our neighbor, who just lost her husband.  She said she loved me and told me to come back.  The shuttle ride was an adventure.  The driver missed one pick up and then backed into traffic almost getting us hit.  After much prayer, we finally arrived at the airport with time to spare.  Dr. Brock packed very light.  He is however an experienced traveler.  The other bags were 50 lbs as we were bringing over a lot of supplies.  This of course is my first venture as I said but I can honestly say I am looking forward to it.  I just found out Korina has strep again, I pray she will be fine.  I am on the place in the middle row in the middle section.  Indeed God must be in this.  Brock was the last to board of the group.

We arrived in Brussels after a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 hour flight at 7 am.  this indeed was a first for me.  I sat down the whole trip.  We crossed the English Channel and are only two hours from Paris, a place I want to visit one day.  We are all a little tired but feeling good otherwise and looking forward to the scheduled events.  Lonna brought healthy power bars for everyone to enjoy.  I sat next to Norma and Brock and Lonna sat together.  I still can’t believe I am here.  God is so good.  We have a four hour wait so I will walk for a bit and try to find some hot water for tea.  The common language being spoken is French.  I am reading Nehemiah during the down time.  It’s amazing to see how he led in difficult circumstances through praying first.  Before he put in a request he made sure he was ready for the answer.  Where we are right now there is a five hour time difference.  Back home it is 3 am here it is 8 am.  While in the airport we learned a little Creo.  You were advised not to sue cash but credit. 

Brock was stopped twice by security.  We boarded our second plan at 11:25.  We have a five hour flight to Dakar, then a two hour flight to Sierra Leone.  All are getting tired but holding up.  Both flights to this point fed us at least two meals, one being curry chicken.  We crossed over several landmarks including the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert.  We got better seats this time although the plane was a little smaller.  I actually got a window seat over the wing.  Everyone around us is speaking French.  It’s hard to believe that I am actually in this part of the world.  We are eagerly anticipating fulfilling the purpose of our trip.  The prayers of others are holding us up.  One good nap and we will be ready to go.  Anything we have purchased to this point we all used a credit card.   American cash doesn’t work well here.  Euro is the currency of choice. 

Excuse the chocolate stain.  Lonna asked for some dark chocolate covered pretzels on a whim and low and behold, Norma had it.  We stopped in Dakar and now PTL have only one hour to go.  We are hoping to arrive in daylight.  We are all extremely tired now but still ready to go.  They are spraying the cabin now before we take off.  Hopefully it won’t cause headaches.  We will soon be in the air for the third time.  I have such a different feeling being in this part of the world.  God’s grace is proving itself sufficient.

Well we finally arrive at the airport.  It was a 21 hour ordeal.  As we get off the plane we looked for our contact but didn’t see him.  We proceeded to the checkpoint to show our passports to customs.  Everyone got through okay except for me.  For some reason they took awhile getting me through.  Norma came back to see what the hold up was.  Finally after getting through, we went to pick up our luggage.  We had to constantly move people away from us who wanted to offer their services for cash, as instructed by Mike T.  After we got our bags they were again checked by security.  This was a fairly small airport.  Finally Mike met us at the door with a helper and got us to his car.  With some terse words he moved people way from us and I had to do the same.  We were surrounded by hordes of people as we drove away with people hanging on the car.  The sight was unlike any other I had seen.  This would soon however seem minor.  As we made a left out of the lot and drove to a ferry to get to the other side, we rode by hoards of people as young as 3 and old as ….  just walking in the street. This lasted about four miles with Mike honking the horn every few seconds. It was amazing that no one was hurt but this appeared to be a normal way of life.  As we finally got to the ferry we were again greeted by masses of people selling their wares and offering to make a deal.  Ladies from all over were walking and carrying stuff on their heads. Mike finally bargained his way on the boat and the adventure took another direction.  One of Mike’s friends showed up as an additional escort.  As we got on the ferry people were everywhere.  A gentleman who also came from DC began to talk to us and ask us why we were there.  For various reasons I didn’t tell him anything.  After waiting for a hour because people kept forcing themselves on the ferry, we finally took off.  As we landed and got back in the car with Mike we drove through town and what a sight it was.  Please again of all ages were all over the place and traffic signs were to be ignored.  As we drove through, Mike pulled over at one spot and told us to wait in the car but that we would be okay.  He went to the store and came back in 5 and we were okay.  He promised a day of rest for all except I would begin teaching the men in the morning.  This was fine with me because that is why I came.  As we finally drove up the road to his house which was behind the US embassy, we passed two armed military check points.  One let us go through with no problem and the other wanted to check the vehicle after which he said okay after conversation between them and Mike.  It was also God saying to me everything is really in my control now so as Eric encouraged me before I left to just do what I do because everything else was out of my control.  The worldwide services that was paid for me to use the phone still hasn’t worked, I am using Mike’s  We finally got to the house and enjoyed a nice fish dinner where we were told about snakes outside and sometimes lizards in the ceiling but not coming inside.  After some good fellowship, I began to prep for Saturday and laid down to rest.  God is in control. 

I am told that showers will be cold but is really hot and humid so that will be okay.  We have a net over our beds for bugs.

10/31/09
Woke up early this morning well rested to the sounds of barking dogs and other outside sounds.  I did rest well however under my mosquito net.  We’ll be heading out shortly with Mike to teach the men.  The air is very humid and hot.  Thank God for my wife packing extra face clothes for sweat rags.  Had a very nice cold shower and shave.  In this heat no need for hot water.  May God bless the team and I today whatever day it is.
*The generator goes off at night the need for all the lights we brought down.

11/01/09
We or I woke up to the sounds of chickens and dogs. I took a nice cold shower and got ready to leave with Mike to teach a men’s and ladies class on leadership. I have a message ready and trust it will be received well. We arrive at a downtown building.  The streets are already packed with people selling their goods.  The class soon fills up to about 25 people.  The lesson is well received and the people have many questions.  I was truly blessed.  On the way home, I continued to sweat profusely.  My rag got so wet you could ring it out.  Mike’s two students come home with us.  We had quite an adventure.  Apparently people with wheel chairs like to push themselves out in traffic and claim you hit them.  They tried this with Mike who had to get out the car and talk to them.  It got intense so his friends got out to support him.  It was quite a seen albeit common in this part of the world.  After awhile order was restored and we were on our way.  It was a good morning.  Finally got back to the house and relaxed continuing to trust God.  Mike laid out the plans for next week. There would be radio speaking, street speaking, preaching and much more.

11/2/09
Well we reached another morning.  It was quite an intense storm last night and this morning.  It’s amazing to see how this family works through the situations they encounter.  They were up early washing and hanging clothes outside.  I am preparing myself to speak this morning and as always trust all will be fine.  Mike told us to leave everything at home except the word and we will be fine.  As he says this is his turn.  Oh yes the shower was still cold.  Seeing the young son carry buckets of water every day is amazing.  Every member of the family does their part.

I was dropped off to speak at a church with 300 people.  The pastor was the interpreter.  It started slow because he missed a few words but soon everything came together. I had to change sermons in mid stream but it all came together PTL!  We picked up everyone one else and continued to see amazing sights of homes, kids and traffic.  Today we ate earlier than normal.  Normally we eat a bar in the AM and dinner around 6, no lunch.  In their culture there is no time or resources for it.  Some will be taking a walk up the mountain after dinner.  It rained all night and part of the day.  The rain and wind are extremely bad like a mini tornado.  Thank God this house is built upon a rock.  It is raining bad again two of our helpers and the pastor are caught in the rain.  I’ve never heard rain this hard for this long.

 

11/3/09
This morning we will go do some street witnessing.  Getting up and not being able to turn on a light is still something to get used to.  The neighbor’s chatter always get you up.  Not being able to check things like weather takes some getting used to for me.   You know it will be hot and humid but you don’t know about the rain.  So far one of the members of the team has been bitten by a mosquito that drew blood.  Thankfully no one else.

11/4/09
Well today we are getting up early to go into the village with some of Mike’s team to share the gospel.  It is a predominantly Muslim village.  I don’t know what to expect but we are ready to go.  For years of course I have been a Chaplain and a Pastor.  I have been involved in many life changing decisions and have seen or experienced situations that were difficult at best. I have been in state prisons such as the Attica Prison and jails as far as Tennessee. In all my great and difficult experiences nothing was like what I saw and experienced today.

We started out by driving the car down a long rough road with many ravines and ruts in it.  It got so bad that the shock absorber came off.  I told Mike to pull over as far as he could and we would have to walk the rest of the way.  His team was already in the village waiting for us. We walked at least two miles to get to the village. Along the way we passed people and kids who belonged to the tribe.  Some were washing clothes in the creek.  You must remember that Africans for the most part are very polite especially when they see strangers.  Finally we reached the village and what a sight it is.  National Geographic couldn’t do it justice.  We had to first meet the chief of the village to get his permission to witness to his people.  He was very gracious and shook all of our hands and offered us a seat.  After talking for several minutes, he said okay.  My team got paired off with Mike’s team.  I had three of his people with me one who spoke the native tongue. Upon entering every section of the village, we then got permission from the leader to talk to the people, men, women and children.  We also had Bibles to give out.  I was to do most of the talking and they were there for support and to interpret.  As we went from hut house to hut house young men and ladies, kids, children and parents, older people came out I presented the gospel pan to them and prayed for them. Then one of my helpers asked them if they had anything they wanted me to pray for.  So I prayed for them again.  It was something that I never thought I would experience especially in a Muslim village.  I feel like I lost five pounds today but gained in so many other ways.  By the way whenever they introduced me, they call me Pastor Suee from America.  This is the African name that they gave me that means servant.  All members of the team are tired but blessed beyond measure.  We will be going back for the next two days.  This evening I will be speaking on the radio to the whole country of Sierra Leone.  This too will be quite an experience as well. We got to the station 45 minutes early which gives me enough time to get nervous or prep and pray.  I preferred the latter.  As my team comes to get on the air I remember Philippians 4:13.  All goes extremely well and all who were able to respond to me said they were blessed.  Another example of God’s goodness.  On the way home we stop to fill 12, 20 gallon containers.  The big bucket hadn’t been filled yet.  These buckets, when full are extremely heavy.  We get this done.  As we get home, Mike tells me that we will put two buckets in each bathroom until the big tank can be filled.  This means in the morning you will pour the water into the bucket that is empty in the bathroom and then scoop water into a smaller bucket.  Sounds complicated but it really isn’t that hard.  Well it’s been a long but exciting and fruitful day.  It’s time to sleep.

11/5/09
The next day we get up and prepare to go back to the village.  I wash up according to plans and it really isn’t that big of a deal.  As I get dressed, the jeans I had on the day before are still wet from sweat on the inside.  The mountains look great this early in the morning as we get set to carry on God’s work.  It is now the second day without enough water in the tank to shower, so we wash up using two buckets.  It’s different but you do what you  must.  We head back to the village to meet with more of the people.  The village has a school on it for about 100 kids.  Somehow we get permission to speak to the children.  I and another member of the team must come up with a story quickly to reenact for the kids.  We choose the story of the five loaves and two fish. When it came time to multiply them, my partner handed me more Bibles for me to pass out.  I was mobbed by all the kids as they all wanted a Bible.  The sight was truly remarkable.  After we left we went back to the village to meet with more people.  The heat and humidity are starting to take their toll but we are hanging in there.  After a few hours we return to the house for some fresh fish.  We have had a different kind of fish every day which is only fitting since we have a perfect view of the ocean.  The home is on a hillside.  I finally got a chance to call my daughter and she tells me that my long time friend and ministry partner of many years has died!  This really saddens me.  I hope to be able to see his family soon.  I am now off to teach another Bible class at the ministry center.  Traffic continues to be something that I have never seen before but we finally get there.  The class goes well.  We return home and pick up  more water on the way.  Now we have to get it into the tank to have running water in the house.  I haven’t showered in quite awhile.  Very busy day, too tired to write.  Will tell you about it.  It was a good day.  Brock not feeling well and his cousin died.  I have developed a slight heat rash.  The heat and humidity are starting to take a toll but we are pushing on. 

11/6/09
The next morning we get up and go to a school to talk to the kids.  Here you can bring God into schools.  Brock will stay home to recoup.  At the school we will reenact the scene of the Blind Bartimaes and then I will give a presentation on seeing Christ with not just your eyes but heart as well.  This was done with Mike’s team as well.  This was very well received.  It was another awesome sight to hear and see the kids singing praise songs to the Lord.  In case I didn’t mention it before whenever we go out we have a member of Mike’s team with us who also act as our security detail.  This has been very helpful. Mike tells us to take the afternoon off to rest as all are very tired.  We will resume early evening with me teaching another class on a team member talking on the radio.  I have become a very popular person here will explain why in person. 

In case I didn’t mention it, the home is run by generator.  There is no power until around 7 pm daily.  During the day it’s natural light.  Water is rarely cold here but always wet  It’s an adjustment you make here to have it.

11/7/09
Today at VBS we had 144 kids.  They just kept coming and coming it was great.  It was another spiritual moving experience to see them so longing for the word and anything that we can give them.  Dr. Brock did his radio show today.  Tim is winding down to this awesome experience.

The nights are as hot and humid as I have ever experienced.  Sleep is only about four hours.  The next day we will have another VBS and I will be talking to the men.  The young men are really impressive as they have a deep desire to grow.  VBS today has over 150 kids. They keep coming and coming.  After I spoke to the men as promised I gave one of them one of my two preaching Bibles.  I will probably give the other away after I preach tomorrow.  This was my plan.  The directive to the team was to pack heavy and leave light.  Looking forward to a great service tomorrow.  The service went well.  The young men were appreciative of all that they received. One young man told me that every time I spoke to the group he learned something.  This was very encouraging.  I had printed out about 50 of my sermons to refer to.  He ended up taking all 50 of them for his personal studies.  We came home for dinner/lunch and then went to the beach.  It was very relaxing.  The trip is winding down now.  We will go to town on Monday to pick up some souvenirs then home Tuesday.  From door to door it will be a 31 hour ordeal.  I also ended up giving away my tie and cuff links.  Everything given away is certainly replaceable.  The kids that we dealt with were happy to get anything even just a gold star on their foreheads or papers they colored.  I am also preparing to leave a lot of medicine with the family. 

11/8/09
Today we went shopping for this and that.  Picked up some nice stuff.  I had a chance to say goodbye to the team we worked with.  It was very emotional as we connected in ways I never thought possible.  I am sure that relationships will be maintained.  We are now 24 hours from our flights home.  I have truly been blessed beyond measure.  However I am ready to get home now.  I talked to Dale about picking us up on Wednesday.  We have a shuttle but he will be faster. 

11/9/09
Well the last morning has finally arrived.  It has been quite an experience but it’s time to go home now.  We leave for the ferry to take us to the airport at about 9:30 am.  We arrive at the airport about 11:30 for an eight hour wait for our plane.  The airport here runs less efficiently than US airports so the earlier the better.  We finally clear security about 4 pm.  We have four hours until the flight takes off.  Picking up some last minute souvenirs and just watching the clock.  It rained a little bit and that just made it more humid.  The countdown continues.  We way our goodbyes to our host until next time.  Finally on plane about 7 pm local time.  I have a better seat PTL. Pray all will be well.  Talked to Linda for about five minutes prior to take off.  First leg of flight done, two more to go.  Time of flight 1:20.  Prepare to take off after one hour layover time 10:35 pm.  Completed a leg of trip, seven hours, one more leg.  Finally on last plane for nine hour flight to Dulles.  We’re blessed with an upgrade on seats.  This is the last leg PTL.  Getting closer, two hours to go, but who’s counting.  Norma is felling a little sick rest are ok just tired.  190 miles to go getting closer.  115 and counting.  Last call 40 miles, 10 minutes.  Touch down, Praise the Lord.  1:57 pm. 

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