I turned to see to armed military police assigned to the airport calling their best interpretation of my name. There are a few things you never want to hear when you are traveling, one of them is your name being called out by military police walking through a crowded boarding area when you are getting ready to get on a plane.
I quickly looked around trying to imagine what they could possibly want. “Mister Esott Come with us please” said the two officers, after seeing my Name tag. They were enjoying their job way to much, leading me one lap around the room just to show me and everyone else who was in charge. I followed them out of the airport on to the runway and to an older part of the airport. This side of the building still showed some of the scars of war. Bul holes, and cracked damaged cement from a mortar round in years gone by. We walked along the back of the building and then through a heavy steel door into a room with no windows, and one light bulb. “Mister Esott we need to tak to you” said the more senior officer of the two. Wait here.
Muffled yelling could be heard from a closed door down a narrow corridor leading out from the darkest corner of the room. The large steel door had latched and a guard stood just in side. After what seemed like an eternity the two appeared with my suitcase.
They set it on a crudely made table, and then stood back against the wall and said nothing. Waiting for what seemed to be an extraordinarily long silence one said to me ” is dis your bag” Yes I said this is my suitcase. after another very long silence, “wha is in da bag” said the officer with a very menacing gaze. I am a missionary with Visiontrust International. I work with orphans, abandoned, and neglected children, all around the world. I am on my way to Sierra Leone, to go to the El Shaddia orphanage. I have my personal clothes and some things for the orphanage, and a friend. Can I open it up and show you? I asked.
“Dat would be very goodt“ said the senior inspector. I fumbled with the lock trying hard to see in the dim light the combination, when I finally got it I unzipped the bag. Clothes, some freeze dried food packets, a few gifts for kids, a ink toner cartridge, and some parts for a friend. “wha is dis” said the senior officer holding up a book size metal and black leather case. A friend of mine gave me this, inside are oils and medicine I use to treat bug bites, stomach aches, fever, and other things. He opened the case and the aroma of cloves, and lemon, and cinnamon wafted through the air catching him by surprise. “Dat smell goot” said the inspector with a grin. I took out a small bottle with a roller on it and held it to his nose. “Wha dat for?” he asked. It is for headaches and migraines I said.
The man studied me carefully. “U hep dem war beebes?” “Dem dat got noone” Yes we help them with clothes, food, clean water, and medicine, but most importantly we tell them about Jesus. He is the one that makes the real difference. A long silence followed.
“Leh him go” said the senior inspector. I watched as the assistant took from the inspector a small pocket watched sized tightly wrapped bag that the senior inspector had transferred from his pocket to be hidden in his palm.
Shaking his head in disgust I herd him mutter as he walked away “No patty toodaay” No party today.
I do not know what was in his hand, but I do know that it did not come from my suitcase. I also know he was in the perfect position to drop something in my suitcase and then “discover it” I found out later that God had woken up a couple of friends of mine early that morning to pray for me. I know that they were praying at almost exactly the time that I was with the inspectors.
I arrived in Sierra Leone, without any more trauma, and the entry into the country went smoothly. For the last two days I have met with the El Shaddai Orphanage (VisionTrust’s partner here in Sierra Leone). Many of the kids remember our last visit and were so excited to see us again. Over the next two days we will be encouraging and counseling Garnet and Dorthea, the founders of the orphanage, and working with them on putting together a five year plan.
Garnet and Dorthea are doing a wonderful ministry with 50 children living in their orphan care home. Another 50 orphans from their community are being fed, clothed, given medical assistance, taken to church and are being schooled, by them. Beyond that they have started a missions school about 40 minutes from the orphanage, where they are reaching out to a mixed muslim/non-muslim population, teaching them the good news that Jesus loves them and wants to save them from the condemnation and separation that sin brings.
Muslim clerics send their children to this school because it’s the best one around. Every day the kids learn and sing about Jesus and memorize Bible verses. As a result, many children have come to know the Lord!
We are excited as we begin the process of bringing teams here and finding additional church partners. Thursday I fly back to Liberia where I will continue the project of the Prime Systems Missions School.
And please remember if God wakes you up early in the morning or late at night to pray for someone “Dat smell goot”