A Journey Home

The drive out of Panguma is both beautiful and sad departing friends!


New since last trip, three toll gates have been constructed, as you enter Freetown from ‘the bush.’ The tolls cost 12,000 Leones (approximately $1.57).


Friday, our last day in Sierra Leone, we drove by the infamous Cotton Tree where slaves were once bought and sold many years ago. Now a historical landmark in Sierra Leone’s freedom.


We paused our journey to overlook the devastating mudslide, costing a few hundred lives during the rainy season of 2017. Much of the area remains untouched after the search for bodies had completed.


Jim Culhane started a relationship with Stephen, middle, as they are both physical therapists. Stephen and his friend work for Kissy Hospital, in Freetown. Jim brought some specific supplies Stephen requested to better serve patients.


The view from our hotel in Freetown.


We had one last meeting over lunch with the UMC CELAD team members, in Freetown, funded by the Methodist Church of Norway. CELAD stands for Community empowerment for livelihood and development. They are organizing the building of the Panguma Community Market. We are making progress and hope to have updates soon.


A quick visit to Lumley Beach on the Atlantic Ocean before we head to the airport.


Harry, Abdul and Joe enjoying life at the beach. These guys were a huge help, translating, debating, driving, serving and helping!


A quick ride on the water taxi from Freetown to the Lungi International Airport, with a real Sierra Leone Ambassador to a few countries in Europe. We traveled safely and survived a seven-hour layover in Brussels. Our team is so grateful for your prayers and support as we rejoin life in America.

We invite you to services on Sunday April 29th as we share some of the most compelling stories of God’s lifegiving work in Panguma!

Thank you for your prayers!

#camphillumc #umc #teampanguma

Day 6 in Panguma

It is our last full day in Panguma and a very busy day!

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Everywhere we go there are loving crowds like these kids from the UMC Primary School…

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…or at the Secondary School! I don’t think Pastor Tom has stopped smiling since he has arrived in Panguma on April 12th!

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Because of you and our church scholarship program, a beautiful new sign for the Lower Bambara Secondary School has been built!

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Above are a few of the Secondary School teachers discussing the day’s agenda. They went on strike for a week in January and are requesting a raise. We had a few meetings on the matter and believe there is a way forward without increasing the amount of scholarship funds Camp Hill UMC raises each June!

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Welcome to the market in Panguma!

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Before we even left for Panguma, our church council approved a plan to build a new market in phases. The people of Panguma have requested the market and are willing to provide free sand, stone, bush sticks, and labor! On this trip, we decided to build this market as a memorial of Amadu Ndoeka!

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Above is the Paramount Chief, PC Farma, and myself, Drew Robeson. Chief extends his greetings to Mr. Fred Clark as we shared in a wonderful party for Pastor Tom’s ‘send off’!

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The night ended with much appreciation and I wish you could feel the love we feel as a travel team! Our whole team was there even though a few people have been having some stomach issues. All is well and thank you again for your prayers!

TEAM ITINERARY*

Wednesday, April 18 – Final Day in Panguma

  • Devotional
  • Breakfast
  • Interview Headboy and Headgirl
  • Meet with Youth Ministry and/or Ambassadors for Christ groups
  • Lunch
  • Community Market Announcement
  • Team Meeting: Handling Requests and Making Decisions
  • Quee Grave Visit
  • Dinner
  • Devotional
  • SLEEP

*Itinerary subject to change.

Please keep us in your prayers as we begin traveling back home!

#camphillumc #umc #teampanguma

Day 5 in Panguma

Our day began a little rough as many team members were not feeling well.  Thankfully most have rebounded now and are doing better. Marsha is still not feeling well this evening, so please pray for her and continued health for the rest of the team for the remainder of our journey.

The scholarship meeting at the Secondary School went really well and was informative for both sides. We have a better understanding of their selection process and the time involved, and they have a better understanding of our desire to get the list of students sooner and for more information.  Hopefully this will aid us both as we continue and move forward with this process.  Scholarship Campaign 2018 coming soon!

The Paramount Chief (PC) returned to Panguma last night and requested to meet with us today.  Spending time with the PC is always a blessing and it was a joy to spend time with him today.  It is amazing to compare the formality of our meeting with him in 2010 and the warm, family gathering we had today.  We reviewed with him all that had happened while he was away and he echoed the sentiment of the town, relieved that we would not stop coming now that Amadu was gone.

Today’s God moment:  Hearing that Mark was not feeling well, Christopher Quee and Abduli came to the convent to pray for him.  After they entered, several more children started filing into the room.  As Jim said no and tried to get them to leave,  Christopher said, “No! It is God’s will!”  Then while Mark knelt on the floor 15 young people laid hands on him and prayed for him, led by Abduli and Christopher, displaying shades of his brother James Quee.  GOD IS GOOD!

Tomorrow is our last full day in Panguma. Pray for the team throughout the day as we begin the difficult process of saying goodbye to this town and it’s people that we love so much!

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This morning Drew, Marsha, and Denise met with KB Gbao, Pastor Macauley, and the Principal of the Lower Bombara Secondary School, members of the Scholarship Selection Committee to discuss the scholarship program for the Secondary School.

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Principal Leonard Komeh and Pastor Macauley deliver eggs from the poultry project for lunch!

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The team enjoying some quiet time at lunch.

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The team enjoying the games, proudly displaying the colors of their teams.

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One of the competitors happily completing his race.

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One of the most entertaining competitions was the eating contest where three day old bread, a can of soda, and a bag of water all had to be consumed.

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Pastor Tom greeting the Paramount Chief.

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Marsha listens to the Paramount Chief while cradling Pastor Macauley’s son Emmanuel.

TEAM ITINERARY*

Tuesday, April 17

  • Devotional
  • Breakfast
  • Lower Bambara Secondary School Visit with Students and Teachers
    • Student Encouragement Remarks
    • Teacher Encouragement and Donation
  • Scholarship Committee Meeting
  • Lunch
  • Village Walk or Hike
  • Devotional
  • SLEEP

*Itinerary subject to change.

Please keep us in your prayers!

#camphillumc #umc #teampanguma

Days 3 and 4 in Panguma

Day 3

2018-04-15-PHOTO-00000037The team, plus Usman, dressed well and ready to go to church!

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The service was packed full of activity, even including a memorial for Amadu Ndoeka. Here is a picture of Pastor Tom and Pastor Macauley confirming the 12 people who were baptized yesterday!

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There is a new scout program in Panguma, they welcomed us as we arrived on Thursday. Here they are reciting the scout oath together and looking for support.

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Jim was called upon to encourage and pray for the children during worship and it was a heartfelt moment!
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Father Andrew joined us after his Catholic service had completed to pray a travelers blessing over our team and extend his condolences to Mrs Ndoeka.

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Pastor Tom preached an excellent message to God’s Glory today. Here he is sitting with Father Andrew from the Catholic church in Panguma.

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This was offering number 3 or 4 where the ‘king’ and ‘queen’ appealed for support as a competition between the men and the women. The women took the win but Marsha and Jim did an excellent job keeping the focus on Jesus Christ!

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These tribal outfits were a meaningful gift from the Lower Bombara Secondary School (LBSS). Principal Komeh is on the right.

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These shirts and dresses are a wonderful gift from the Lower Bombara United Methodist Church! What a splendid day worshipping our Lord and encouraging the church leadership! God is incredibly good! We are humbled and grateful to receive such gifts in a community where too many continue to struggle for the basic necessities of life.

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Elizabeth Ndoeka, as she observes a 40 day period of grieving. Please extend a prayer for her comfort and peace in God.

Day 4

Our day began with an early morning devotional at the Panguma Hospital with Father Andrew and staff. We presented the hospital with gifts and some of the team gave a word of encouragement. Marsha also led the group with a worship song.  It was a blessed start to our morning.

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2018-04-16-PHOTO-00000058We toured the hospital with Dr. Wai and Christopher Lahai.  This is a picture of the pediatric clinic serving children under age of 5. If you look to the front left of this picture, there is a “scale” they use to weigh the children.
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We finished our morning with the hospital staff and administration. The goal was to listen to their concerns and discuss the recent developments with the Asher’s and WAEMM.  The meeting went very well.

God is moving mightily in this community. A young Muslim boy named Mohamed came to me. He said that four years ago I had given him a bible and at that time he couldn’t read. I told him at that time that when I returned I wanted him to read it to me. He remembered that day and was here to tell me he was able to now read and wanted to read the bible for me.

Praise God for all he has done and continues to do here in Panguma.  For God is truly good all the time!

TEAM ITINERARY*

Sunday, April 15 

  • Devotional
  • Breakfast
  • CHURCH!
  • Lunch
  • Participating in Camp Hill UMC Sunday Worship Services
  • Church Leadership Appreciation Meal and Prayer Time
  • Devotional
  • SLEEP

Monday, April 16 

  • 7:30am Breakfast and Daily Meeting
  • 8am Devotions with Hospital
    • Encouragement for Dr. Wai and Staff
    • Hospital Tour with Dr. Wai
    • Hospital Leadership Meeting
  • Lunch
  • Hike or Village Walk
  • Dinner with Dr. Wai
  • Devotional
  • SLEEP

*Itinerary subject to change.

Please keep us in your prayers!

#camphillumc #umc #teampanguma

Day 2 in Panguma

From Mark and Niki

Today was another glorious day in Panguma. To start,  we paid a portion of the wages to our drivers. They were so grateful for the money, almost like Christmas morning.

Today our group split up. Marsha, Denise, and Niki attended the Panguma women’s meeting to provide the women of Panguma under garments that the women of Camp Hill UMC collected. They were grateful. They showered us with song and dance. The ladies of Panguma have two groups Naomi and Abigail.  Each group has three goals in which they will achieve this year to assist in sustainability of the community.

Drew, Pastor Tom, Mark, and Jim met with the Panguma men’s group simultaneously.  The men of Panguma face similar struggles as we do. We challenged them to grow their discipleship organically.

After lunch we all went to see James’ (a previous scholarship student) grave.  Which was much needed for closure to many, especially Pastor Tom.

We were blessed to attend a baptism through immersion of 12 new church members.  Pastor Tom blessed them all and praise God it rained.

We closed the day with a 2.5 hour vigil for Amadu.  He was an icon to Panguma and assisted in all the community development Camp Hill UMC has done here.

TEAM ITINERARY*

Saturday, April 14 

  • Devotional
  • Breakfast
  • UMW Undergarment Event
  • Panguma Men’s Group
  • Lunch
  • Immersion Experience
  • Vigil for Amadu
  • Devotional
  • SLEEP

*Itinerary subject to change.

Please keep us in your prayers!

#camphillumc #umc #teampanguma

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First Day in Panguma

From Marsha Banks,

Good evening Camp Hill UMC. We started our day with an awesome breakfast with Ms. Elizabeth and her family. Pastor Macauley joined us for discussion about our daily plans. Afterwards, he escorted us to the local panguma prison. What an experience for me. It was my first time there in Panguma. We met the chief of police and his officers. Fortunately, there were no prisoners present during our visit. We were informed that the most recent of criminals came in during the election. Most charges stemmed from disorderly conduct and destruction of property. Wow! That visit was too close to home for me. I took the liberty to share that I had previously been incarcerated. Their jaws dropped. I must look innocent. They assured us we are safe in the village.

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Next we to met the leaders of Panguma. Paramount chief was not available. We were informed that he was meeting with the new President elect. Kay Be Bou stood in his place. This discussion was just a greeting and thanks to our service and commitment to Panguma.  This was a good peaceful meeting. Muslims and Christians together.  The Imam expressed his concerns about our continued relationship since the passing of Amadu. The meeting went well. Andrew spoke and assured them that we are looking to continue doing the work of the lord. A moment of silence was shared by everyone in memory of the late Amadu Ndokea

Next we visited the church and the parsonage.  It was a short meeting. Drew offered some words of encouragement to Pastor Macauley and informed him of our goals for our continued partnership. Pastor McCauley shared with us his list of prayer request for the church. Drew responded that we prioritize his request. This is a beautiful relationship. We shared a little about our journey in this partnership and how much are appreciated his commitment to the community of Panguma. We closed the meeting with prayer and traveled to the primary school for the feeding.

School feeding was a blessing and challenging. We fed over 350 students. We always have a heavy heart for those outside of the classroom that are not fed. Ms. Elizabeth’s and family (brother, sisters, and daughters) from the United States arrived and help serve. What a blessing! They all assisted in the preparations of food. I personally enjoyed sharing this time with them. They all have a passionate heart for Christ.

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It was a lot in one day. Our last meeting was the CLAD Meeting. Drew presented the plans for the market place.  The community is elated.  He shared the request to break the project into phases. They agreed and will get back to us. Also they requested to make adjustments with the list of 7 members who are overseeing the project. Unfortunately one of the members passed away. They plan to submit an updated list tomorrow.  It was another good meeting and the collaboration of Muslim and Christian communities is such a joy to see.

Team Itinerary*

Friday, April 13 – Introduction to Panguma 

  • Devotional
  • Breakfast
  • Pastor Macauley Tour – Church and Parsonage and anything else he would like us to see
  • School Feeding – For UMC Primary and Pre-School
  • Lunch
  • Village Drive/Walk
  • Meeting with Paramount Chief and Mayor of Panguma
    • Community Market Update and possible event to schedule
  • Dinner w/LBSS Principal Lenard Komeh
    • Schedule LBSS visit and scholarship meeting
    • Talk about WASSE Study Library
  • Devotional
  • SLEEP

*Itinerary subject to change.

Please keep us in your prayers!

#camphillumc #umc #teampanguma

Traveling to Panguma

The Panguma Travel Team planned to drive to Panguma today. They got a late start to the day and had trouble exchanging money before they left. They weren’t able to leave Lungi until 10:15am. About halfway through the trip they had a belt break on one of the vehicles. While waiting for repairs in Bo City, the team packed into one truck and ventured to Edison’s (previous driver and friend) Aunt’s home. They spent an hour with Edison and his family. Edison shares his greetings with Camp Hill UMC. He is currently working on his honors degree at Jala University and enjoying his math classes.

Once the team makes it to Panguma and receives their greeting they plan to have dinner with Pastor Macauley and his family.

 

 

Actual drive takes around 8 hours.

Team Itinerary*

Thursday, April 12 – Let’s get to Panguma Already!

  • 7:00am Breakfast and Devotional
  • Depart for Panguma (About 8-hour drive)
    • The grouped planned to stop at Port Loco
    • Halfway through the trip the team stopped at Edison’s Aunt’s house
  • Arrive in Panguma!
    • Socialize, meet and greet, introductions
    • Settle into Convent at Hospital
    • Meet District Superintendent, Andrew Forbie, to hand over Bibles
  • Dinner with Pastor Macauley and Family
    • Church updates, his vision, request help and guidance, Church leadership chart
    • Discuss joys and struggles, baptisms, marriages, and funerals
  • Devotional
  • Sleeping at the Panguma Hospital Convent

*The itinerary is subject to change.

 

Please keep the team in your prayers and check back often for updates.

#camphillumc #umc #teampanguma