What do Chimpanzees and a Tea Party have in Common?
Well, you just might get to experience both on your next trip to Sierra Leone! In November, our final team of the year traveled to our center. It was a whirlwind week full of some of the regular travel staples, but like every team, there were also a few special activities for this team. Let’s take a closer look at our November team!
The November team was led by Sheri Barnett. Sheri is a familiar face around The Raining Season. She has been a part of the organization for many years, making her first trip in 2010. Not only is Sheri a yearly team leader, but she also serves The Raining Season as a board member. This marked trip number six that Sheri has led. Sheri leads the November team each year, joking that they save the best team for last. Sheri added, “The kids and center call me “Crazy White Lady.” They have called me this since my very first trip. Maybe that is due to our annual dance parties. We are truly one fambul, connected by God, and every team that travels makes up our TRS family.”
The November team was made up of five returning and two new travelers. They spent the week loving our kids and staff, as well as serving the Freetown community. Special activities included a tea party, Bible skit performances, and a few of our children were even able to accompany the team to the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
First up on the agenda was a trip to the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Ten kids from the center accompanied the team to the sanctuary. The sanctuary is located on the outskirts of Freetown, in the Western Area Peninsula National Park. It spans across one hundred acres and is looking to expand as they continue to work toward preserving Sierra Leone’s remaining wildlife and forestry. The kids were a mixture of excited, interested, and even a bit nervous about the experience. While at the sanctuary, they were guided on a private tour through the jungle.
They were able to see the various stages of a chimpanzee’s journey after it is rescued and brought to the sanctuary. Their tour guide educated them on the chimpanzee, the facility’s rescuing process, and even told them to take cover from throwing stones! The sanctuary currently has ninety-four chimpanzees rescued in stages. A few of those ninety-four chimpanzees were even in time out (maybe for the stone-throwing mentioned above?!).
On day six, the kids prepared to present their Bible skits. As you may know, the kids live in apartments divided by age. Each apartment prepared and performed a Bible skit. They spent most of Saturday practicing and preparing their Bible skits. The kids acted out stories, had accents, memorized scripts, and even included song and dance. A total of five skits were performed, including Adam and Eve, Solomon in the Temple, The Parable of the Talents, John and Peter Heal a Lame Man, and Solomon anointing David to be King of Israel. When the kids were not performing their skits, they were members of the audience. Many of the children enjoyed being audience members as much as acting out their skits. They cheered and laughed throughout the performances!! Sheri shared, “The kids got into their characters and truly taught me more in their skits than I could ever learn at church. They were filled with feeling, passion, and accuracy. These kids are amazing!”
In conjunction with the Bible skits, the kids also enjoyed a tea party. Sheri shared, “As a team leader, I like to ask my team for activities that they would like to do while in-country. I truly believe God orchestrates my teams with all different strengths, passions, and skills. I have a couple that I dearly love that travel with me yearly named the Millers (Mr. and Mrs. Boom Shaka Laka according to the kids). The Millers asked their sponsored children what they would like to do while we were there. The boys were so so excited to tell them tea time, so we combined Bible skits and tea.” As a part of the tea party, each child had their own cup. They stood in line to receive their tea from a bucket. There were a few buckets that had caffeinated tea. It is no surprise, and much appreciated by the aunties, that Pastor Daniel asked that only the older kids had the caffeinated tea. Of course, Pastor Daniel and the aunties wanted the children to sleep that night!
Now that our 2019 travel season has officially wrapped up, we are preparing for our 2020 travel season. Are you dreaming of joining Sheri on her November 2020 team? Sheri is an amazing team leader. Whether you travel on Sheri’s team or another team in 2020, Sheri shared this advice, “Travelers need to be ready to be changed for the better. Once they go, they become part of our one fambul (family). Pray for God to guide you, use you, do His will, and let you appreciate the Salone culture. Your daily plans may stray once you arrive, so patience and flexibility in Sierra Leone is a must. I can guarantee that this will be your first trip of many. Your Sierra Leone and TRS family will be for life, and it’s hard to stay away.”
Our 2020 travel schedule has been posted on the website and we are currently taking applications. A big THANK YOU to everyone that traveled in 2019. We are grateful for the many people who travel, love and serve again and again.
The Raining Season