After a long day helping in the various missions, we come home to the PK House and try relax. We often spend some time talking with Fr Themi, who recalls many of his experiences that have been burnt into his memory…
Two years ago, Fr. Themi asked King David, one of the persons who works for the Orthodox Mission in Sierra Leone, to go to the airport and pick up a package for him. In order to verify that he was doing this on behalf of Fr. Themi, King David had to have Father’s passport with him. When he got to the airport, he realized that somewhere along the way he lost the passport.
If you ever go to Sierra Leone, you will see for yourself that going to the airport is not as simple as it sounds. King David realized that he must have lost the passport before crossing over on the ferry, so he worked his way back to that part of town. Losing your passport is a serious matter anywhere but especially in Sierra Leone. The only issuing authority is in a neighbouring country, but how do you get there without a passport? So it was absolutely necessary that he finds the passport. There was also a question as to whether it was actually lost or stolen. After many interviews and two or three days worth of detective work, King David was in the presence of the person who at the time he thought had stolen the passport. Of course the person denied it and before you know it, a heated conversation was on the way.
Now, in Sierra Leone, when a conversation takes place in a public place, people gather and wait to see what the outcome will be. In fact it is not unusual for the bystanders to take sides and they sure do not hold back from expressing their opinion. So you would hear people shouting; “Come on man give the passport back”, or “Yiah, he stole it so he can sell it and make money” or “No-no-no, he looks like a good man, why would he ever steal the passport man? You lost it, you lost it”….In the meantime someone had called Fr. Themi and he arrives at the scene. The whole thing is now causing a traffic jam. If you know anything about underdeveloped nations traffic conditions, you know things are bad enough without any extra interruptions or road blocks. There were some school kids there as well, and one little girl in the middle of the commotion got struck down by a bus that was working its way through traffic and the crowd. Father Themi did not hear about the accident until later. Once he knew what happened he became very concerned about the welfare of the little girl and felt somewhat responsible because if there was no crowd discussing his passport it would be more than likely that this little girl would not have been struck by the bus.
Now, someone said that either the bus or another car took the little girl to the hospital. At this point, the focus of this story switches from finding the passport to finding this little girl. Fr.Themi wanted to make sure that she find proper medical attention and wanted to pay for her hospitalization, or if she died, to pay for her funeral expenses. Two or three days of searching for this little girl went by. King David and Fr. Themi looked at all the local hospitals but could not find her. Then they started to search in all the schools in the area asking the teachers for a little girl that had been absent the last several days. It turns out that they found her and she was back at school and thankfully had not been injured badly.
King David and Fr. Themi, still feeling responsible for the accident, tried to somehow to take care of the little girl. They spoke to her and asked her what happened, and she told them that she was hit by a Baboon. (She grew up in the forest area and knew that Baboons could put you down). They asked her to introduce them to her family. The little girl had no mother, and her father had abandoned her. She was living with her grandmother in extreme poverty. She lived in the outskirts of town in a place that resembled a cave. Her grandmother was of very advanced age and could hardly take care of her. King David with the grandmother’s permission would take the little girl to his sister’s house and offer her a warm meal from time to time. These trips to his sister Anthia’s house became more and more frequent. Eventually, the little girl would stay overnight at Anthia’s house which she far preferred from living in the cave with her grandmother. Now, from time to time the grandmother would visit her at Anthia’s house, and Christina would hide herself under the table so that the grandmother wouldn’t take her back. Living with Anthia, Christina became familiar with the Orthodox church and grew to love the Lord. She was baptized an Orthodox Christian, and very much loves to sing in the choir during the Sunday services. Fr. Themi even had her sing solo because she has a beautiful voice. She is a lovely and respectful little girl and whenever she sees a priest, she runs to kiss his hand. Anthia however, is only 21 years old and it is very difficult for her to continue raising Christina.
One day we had a meeting with the Honourable Deputy Minister of Family Services to discuss the possibilities and the process of having Paradis4kids facilitate placement and adoption of children from Sierra Leone into American families.
On the way to and from the meeting, Fr. Themi told us Christina’s story and he feels that she is a deserving candidate for adoption and that she is a very sweet, lively, and a respectful little girl. We decided to write this story and bring forth Father’s request to find a good family for Christina. The government of Sierra Leone currently has a ban on adoption into a foreign country, but the President has agreed to lift the ban, and currently they are working on rules, and procedures to facilitate this process. The Honourable Deputy Minister told us that she will pursue the completion of this process, and expects that it will be in place over the next few months.
We trust in God’s divine plan for this little girl, it has already been miraculous up to this point. Even though she was hit by a bus, and lived in poverty, I can’t help but think of the scripture in Romans 8:28 “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose”.