[To view photos from this trip click here.]
This trip begins as we leave our house (Alicia driving us to the airport) in New York State at 3:00 AM, February 14. It is less than one week since we returned from the Philippines and during most of the past week I have been tormented by an affliction in my gastrointestinal system. I had been to the doctor on Thursday and he gave me some medicine, telling me that I have ileitis (inflammation of the small intestine probably brought on by a virus). However nothing was helping; it was not getting better and the day of our departure was rushing toward us. I was having tormenting thoughts of how I was going to manage to cancel this complicated series of what amounted to four separate round trip tickets. Yet I cried to God that I was an overcomer and had no intention of quitting. Countless people had been praying for us. I also cried, “Lord where are your answers?” On Saturday afternoon it was all I could bear; the pain and nausea drove me right to the floor on my face, where I finally said, “I have to know now if I am allowed to go or must I stay home in this excruciating pain?” So I had Rita drive me to the Emergency Room. There they made many tests including a barium milkshake followed by a CT scan. When the results were finished five hours later they announced that they could find nothing wrong in the scan and sent me home at midnight with medicine to soothe the gas and acid. The funny thing is that from that moment on I seemed to be 100% healed; I never took a single bit of the medicine. I quickly gained back all of my strength, knowing that we had a mandate from the heavenly Father to make this trip.
The journey took us from Albany (5 AM flight) through Detroit to New York City (JFK Airport) and on to a direct flight to Accra, Ghana. This flight is only made on alternate days so catching this flight was absolutely crucial to us in having the rest of the schedule fit together perfectly. The flight delayed to depart from the airport for one hour due to high winds but once underway we made up the time of this 10+ hours flight.
When we landed at Accra we all deplaned and went into the airport. I could tell that this was not going to be like the highly automated systems that we have in the US when I saw all of our luggage (that had been checked through to Freetown) sitting on the floor next to the baggage carousel; but the attendant assured me that he would see that they were properly loaded on to the Kenya Air flight to Freetown. It seems that the Lord sent a little Ghannan man to serve as an angel (messenger) to guide us through the airport to our next flight. He took us (with a few other Americans) past all of the desks and checkpoints through the labyrinth and into another separated building where we would wait the 5 hours for the next flight. Then at the proper time he came back and shepherded us through the check in process and right up to the comfortable waiting lounge where we managed to actually catch about 2 hours sleep.
The flight to Freetown was only about 2 hours and it was a very full plane. When we landed we were again swarmed with willing helpers (not all angels). We allowed one man to help us collect our luggage, take us to purchase passage on the water taxi, escort us to the bus to the water taxi and carry our luggage to the dock (which now turned out to be a troop of helpers all wanting a generous tip, and I am running out of dollar bills). The exchange rate here is 4,100 Leones to one dollar. We loaded ourselves along with 22 other passengers aboard the Pelican Water Taxi and in 25 minutes with this tri-engine boat we crossed the bay. At $40 each passenger one way the owner collected nearly $1000; it should be a good business.
However, when I looked at our papers I discovered that Brother Quinton Small had expected us to take the Eco Water Taxi to Aberdeen. Well, we landed at Aberdeen all right, but that seems to be the name of the whole district, not just a particular docking port. So we hired a taxi to take us over to the other port and THANK GOD there we found Brother Small waiting for us and wondering what had happened to us. So from there we had the same taxi deliver us to the Raza Hotel. After a very spicy African rice meal we finally slept. But the rest was not perfect. It seems that Satan generated loud noise (they probably thought it was music) from a nearby night club which lasted until daybreak.
At about noon Brother Small had arranged to meet with me. Soon after we started our meeting he got a call from another man who wanted to join us, by the name of Babatunde Titilayo, whom we had never met. This man also shared how the Holy Spirit was leading him out of the corrupt church systems and into revelation knowledge concerning kingdom truths. Along with the good seed of the kingdom, we discovered that the unclean leaven of corrupting doctrines such as ultimate reconciliation had also come in. We had a 2 hour meeting with good spiritual intercourse. The man agreed that he would be coming with Brother Small to some of our meetings. We gave him the Pattern and much other good media to chew on and he was delighted.
At about 5 o’clock Brother French showed up with three others from the Lakka fellowship: his daughter Tina, Brother Bunting Johnson and Brother Komba (his wife Effie did not come). We decided to all have supper together at the hotel. Again we had good fellowship in the Spirit. The Lakka fellowship was started in August 2007 by the influence of Sister Biri and with the help of the Port Harcourt fellowship from Nigeria. Within three months they were meeting in homes. Now they have 11 functioning elders (number includes wives) and from what I hear today, a very good grasp on kingdom truths.
Thursday, February 17, 2011 will be our last day in the hotel. I’m not sure we would stay here again with that noisy night club next door, at least not in this room. There was a short in the ballast of the electrical fixture in the hall just 5 feet from our room and the ceiling is quite blackened. It happened about 6 AM and all of the electricity went out for the next 2 hours. Is all of this just coincidental? So we must be checked out here at noon. Brother Small or Brother French will come to pick us up and take us to an afternoon “prayer group” somewhere here in the Freetown area. Then in the evening we will travel with the Asbills to Lakka where we will dwell the remainder of our time here. I do not believe there will be any more internet service until after we leave Sierra Leone.
So about 1 o’clock we were picked up and taken to the Brookfield area of Freetown to minister to a group known as Intercessors for Sierra Leone. This is a group of about 30 adults, led by a pastor who did not happen to be here when we started, Brother French introduced us and we started by Rita and I introducing them to the song “Oh Brethren”. Then I brought a word about being watchful for the coming of the day of the Lord. When I finished they wanted Rita to teach them the song again. Then they had questions that required lengthy answers. Before we quit we had had a 3 hour meeting.
When the meeting ended we were prepared to meet with the Asbills and then travel to Lakka. However the Asbills were not to be found at the expected landing dock. They had properly taken the Eco Water Taxi but were delivered to the “Government Warf” not the Aberdeen Warf as expected. After a few phone calls and delays we were all on our way to Lakka. We stayed at the same house as last fall, the McEwen’s. Still no running hot water (hot water delivered in a pail in the morning), no A/C, but a comfortable bed, screens on the windows and fans that ran most of the night until the generator ran out of fuel.
The next day we had two meetings in Lakka at Brother French’s house (the tarp covered wood frame structure in his yard). Burt and I both brought a word concerning time and the purposes of God that are being fulfilled at this time. The daytime temperatures remain in the low 90’s F. The nights cool somewhat but not much. This is the dry season which will last through April. There are only two seasons; next will be the rainy/wet season.
On Saturday, February 19 we had the morning meeting at Lakka. Burt finished the word on “time”. For the afternoon meeting we drove down to Freetown (what should have been a 45 minute drive took us 2 ½ hours because of Freetown, Lomley area traffic gridlock). We met with Brother Small’s fellowship in the Congo Cross region of the city. I spoke on the name of the Lord to a group of about 25. The ride back to Lakka went much faster.
Sunday, February 20, there is only one meeting but it will be a long one. I brought another word on the end of time. When I finished Burt got up and gave more exhortation on how the people must avoid deception and being grounded in the Word of Truth (Jesus Christ). After our more than two hours of word, the brethren had other business in their fellowship to attend to. There were probably 50-60 souls in attendance, eleven who were new adults that had never before visited the meeting. Brother and sister Small were here from Freetown so there must not have been a meeting of that fellowship today. Brother Small interpreted for both of us and did so with much life. After the meeting we were taken back to the house for some afternoon rest. In the evening we all shared a common meal and fellowship together with about a dozen Lakka brethren.
Monday is the last day and again there will be only one meeting. Burt spoke on going on to perfection. The afternoon was a quiet time where I had the opportunity to make the recordings into a CD to leave with the brethren. In the evening there was another common meal with the elders and wives. Many questions were raised concerning kingdom and fellowship issues. This meeting lasted until 10:00 PM. On Tuesday we will leave the house at 7:30 AM, have breakfast at Brother French’s house and then make the early drive to Freetown, In the early afternoon we must again cross the bay by water taxi and claim our seat on the Kenya Air flight, leaving Rita and I off in Accra, Ghana and taking the Asbills on the all night flight to Nairobi, Kenya. Before I leave Sierra Leone let me share two testimonies.
Brother Quinton: He is a key elder in the Freetown fellowship, about 30 years old, married and the father of a two year old. About ten years ago a terrible civil war that had destroyed much property and many lives finally came to an end. He told of terrible atrocities that were committed by these undisciplined rebels. They would go down a street and burn every wooden house, torturing and killing the residents as they fled the fires. As a 19 year old he was in one of these houses. So by faith he drew a “blood line” around the house and proclaimed that the enemy could not come in or do any harm. The rebels came up the street, burning every house. When they came to his house they passed it by, burning the next one but sleeping in the street directly in front of his house. He had been protected, but out of fear he finally fled the house, later to be caught, forced to the ground with the soldier holding a gun to his head and threatening to shoot him. At that moment another soldier appeared who was decorated like a high ranking officer and ordered the other soldier to stand down and go to another location. After the rebel left he fled but, but when he looked back the “officer” (angel) had vanished.
Sister Effie: ( Fatmatta Tachequee: She is a married woman, about 47, the mother of five children ages 10-23 (the youngest, a daughter has Down ’s syndrome)). She walks with a set of crutches, the result of being shot in the foot during the civil war. As a result of infection and gangrene, the foot had to be amputated. Somewhere along the course of treatment she was attended by a Russian doctor. But the amputation of the foot did not heal properly and she then had to have another amputation about 6” below the knee. This is now properly healed. I can’t help but think that she would now be an excellent candidate for the fitting of a prosthetic lower leg, but no such service is available in Sierra Leone. Her husband Komba is one of the Lakka fellowship elders. He is a carpenter and has been unemployed for years. Is there not a foundation or organization that specializes in helping such people?