We made solid plans last night as an American team. If Pastor Paul can get to our guest house early in the morning to pick us up along with our bags and get us to Greg and Dan’s hotel before 9:30am we will have time to go to the prison before heading to the airport.
Paul and I were all packed and ready for breakfast at 7:00am. Annette had breakfast ready on time and, just after we finished eating, two of the young volunteers were there to help us. While we waited for Pastor Paul we had a devotional time with the two nationals, reading from the Puritan Prayer book “Valley of Vision”. It was a great passage that we studied together and very encouraging for all of us.
Pastor Paul called at 8:00am to tell us he was on the way but he was stopping to pick up some toothbrushes for the inmates. We told him to not stop but to come directly to the guest house. He stopped anyway and arrived at 8:30am. We quickly piled everything into the van and started heading to the prison. Fortunately I thought to ask him if we were going to the hotel because he had thought we were going directly to the prison. So we turned around and went to the hotel to get Greg.
Dan was doing much better today but he elected to stay behind at the hotel while the three of us went to the prison. When we arrived at Monrovia Central Prison we had to wait a while before we entered and then, once we entered the gate, we had to wait a while longer before we were permitted to enter the prison. This was Tuesday which is not a normal visitation day. Therefore we were only able to minister to the women, of whom there were twelve. Shortly after we started six more young men came in. They were all dressed in orange so I assume they were convicted inmates – I suspect they were youth so they were held separately from the other male inmates.
We thought we were going to have another service after this one so we cut it shorter than usual. We were somewhat disappointed after we finished to discover that we weren’t going to be able to minister to the rest of the prison, but it worked out well because we didn’t have a lot of time left before we had to head to the airport.
After the service we returned to our hotel, said goodbye to the national team and prepared to leave for the airport. Greg and I had our audit with Pastor Paul and then we showered and headed out.
The trip home was really long. Our flight was at 5:50pm and we left the hotel at 1:15. We waited four hours at Monrovia airport, then a one hour flight to Freetown, Sierra Leone. We then had a one hour layover and then we were told we couldn’t land in Brussels before 4:00am so we had to wait on the tarmac for about an hour. Our flight to Brussels was six hours, then a five hour layover in Brussels before our 7 hour flight to New York followed by a five hour layover and then our final 6 hour flight to Seattle. Dan had recovered and was well enough to fly home comfortably. He departed from us in Brussels and caught a different flight to New York where he met his wife and they flew home together. I was able to sleep for at least four hours on each flight and we arrived home at midnight so, when I went to bed at 2:00am I was well-rested when I awoke at 5:30am.
I was really tired in the afternoon but managed to keep myself up until 9:00pm and experienced no jet lag upon my return home.
Summary: This was a very unique trip. We left with four team members but two of us did all of the ministry for two days and an evening. Paul and I worked very well together and accomplished all that the Lord had prepared us for. It was a blessing to serve alongside him. Although Dan was ill the entire trip God was gracious and kept him safe while we were there an Greg was able to care for him as needed. We held six services in five prisons, taught two prison ministry training conferences and led one Leadership seminar in five full days on the ground. God gave us strength, endurance and wisdom to accomplish all that we had set out to do and we left encouraged and eager to return to the mission field again soon. To God be the glory! Amen.