It has been nearly two and a half years since a team has visited our center. We cannot wait for July, when our first team of the year is on the ground in Sierra Leone. We know there will be big hugs and a lot of catching up to do. This week, in our newest “Throwback Thursday” series, we are sharing some of our favorite travel memories in recent years in preparation for 2022 travel.
While our Education Team, led by Susan Blankenship, was on the ground in May of 2019, they put on a sports day for all of our kids. Everyone traveled to a sports field near the center where there was room to run, tug, and pop. This Sports Day was special because EVERYONE could participate. The team specifically designed the events so everyone, including our littlest ones and Hope Room kiddos, could join in on the fun.
Will Nichols first visited Sierra Leone when he was fourteen years old. On that trip, Will met Omar at Auntie Margaret’s orphanage. Will shared, “Once we got to Auntie Margaret’s, I met everyone and talked to all of the children there, some were my age, and some were younger, and then I met Omar. At the time, Omar was about 20 years old and was helping Auntie Margaret with everything and caring for all of the children. He attended bible school at the time, where he would walk four miles in total there and back every day. Seeing a man that young work so hard and care for so many people was an inspiration, and I wanted to stay connected with him after I left.” In 2019, Will prepared to return to Sierra Leone and knew one thing for sure, “I have to find Omar.” Omar got word that “a friend” was coming to see him. Omar was confused but reached to the bottom of his bag to find the picture of Will and Omar from 2012 and had a feeling it was Will. In August of 2019, Will and Omar reconnected in the place where they first met six years ago.
Finally, our first and last team of 2020 visited in January before COVID changed the world. On his sixth trip, Kobe Diers led a team with three other college-aged guys. The team of young men led to the perfect opportunity for them to spend time with some of our older boys. They were able to take a group of fifteen teenage boys to a nearby beach in Freetown to play soccer. Kobe noticed that the older boys do not always get as much attention from travelers as some of the younger children. Being older, they are more independent. Many attend school outside of the center, and they often prefer playing soccer over sitting around and talking. On that trip, these boys received some much-needed and deserved attention from our team of guys that could pour into them.
It is so encouraging to see how travel impacts not only our kids, but also our staff, the city of Freetown, and our teams. Lives have been changed forever and God’s kingdom has grown.
From July 16th through July 25th, our first team of six will travel to our center, led by Charles Currie. Please join us in praying over their trip. We pray for the impact they will have on our children and staff. Pray for their hearts to be open as they see the Lord at work in Sierra Leone. We pray for their health and safety as they navigate travel post covid. We are looking forward to an exciting travel season and sharing the experiences with you!
The Raining Season