Hello devoted readers,
My dad and I are back at my apartment in Cambridge after an odyssey of more than 32 hours, involving nine vehicles (an SUV, a boat, two buses, three planes, an “AirTrain,” and a taxi), five airports, three security checkpoints and three continents. We finally parted ways with our team in Brussels, some of us headed to Newark, others to D.C. and Chicago for even longer journeys than ours. Many hugs and tears were exchanged.
Our last day was an easy one. We started with a visit to the Sierra Leone National Museum, which has a gallery with masks, costumes, and art from around the country, and where we got a solid lesson in the country’s history from our guide. Then took a drive across town to Aberdeen to have a relaxed meal at a beachside restaurant called Family Kingdom. It was good to have some time to unwind and hang out before the long journey home.
I’ve been relishing some of the small comforts of the United States, like an Italian sub in the Newark airport, a glass of tap water, a genuinely hot shower in my apartment. And it was fascinating to drive through Boston after so much time in Freetown. I’m amazed by things I’ve never noticed: the number of electric lights, the height of the buildings, how orderly and quiet the traffic is. Needless to say, I’m exhausted. But I thought I’d post one more quick update before I go to bed, since I didn’t manage to in Brussels. It’s a lot easier typing on my laptop than tapping away on my iPhone, which I’ve been doing since we left.
I’ve been focusing on the Bradfords in this blog, but the other members of our team deserve some time in the spotlight. We owe a tremendous thanks to Don and Marilyn Griffith for organizing this trip and making it such a great experience. Everyone was amazed by their energy, positivity, and ability to make things happen. We appreciated Don’s wry sense of humor, sermons, and teaching moments with lessons he drew from scripture, and Marilyn’s easygoing nature, sensitivity, and constant attention to the people around her, team members and locals included. We could not have done it without them, and they did a fantastic job of putting up with us and helping us make the trip as fun and productive as it could possibly be. They’ve been organizing mission trips to Sierra Leone for ten years, so they know their way around intuitively and at times seemingly effortlessly. And John MacDonald, the other non-Bradford working with us, was an excellent teammate who impressed us with his inexhaustible work ethic and optimistic attitude, and graciously tolerated our constant requests for him to play cards with us.
I have nearly five thousand photos to sift through on my camera. Once I separate the wheat from the chaff, I’ll post the good ones somewhere public and include a link here so anyone can take a look. For now, good night!