By Karen Gould

Recently a team of five from the Indiana Conference traveled to Operation Classroom in Sierra Leone. During our visit, we had the opportunity to march during the Sierra Leone UMC Annual Conference Opening Ceremony. The precession, led by Bishop John K. Yambasu, traveled through Koidu and included members of the bishop’s cabinet, pastors, and regional delegates.

One of the highlights for the team was leading an Ash Wednesday service at Largo UMC where they have no ordained pastor, only a person who leads worship. One of the two pastors on the team, Jennifer Evans from Calvary UMC in Brownsburg, brought blessed oil from Jerusalem and ashes. Around 100 children and adults came to the service. The team also helped in leading Sunday worship. Our team pastors went to Bo, the second-largest city in Sierra Leone, to find grape juice, but had to buy a bottle of wine from a Catholic priest. They also bought loaves of bread, and on Sunday they held communion for over 200 people. They were also asked to baptize adults and children, so that afternoon, 67 people and their families gathered on the banks of the Tai River for baptism. The rest of the team assisted. Each person was presented with a baptismal certificate to notarize the occasion. It was truly a wonderful day of celebration and living out the mission of making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!

We also marched in the Sierra Leone UMC Annual Conference Opening Ceremony parade through Koidu led by Bishop Yambasu, followed by all the Cabinet and pastors and regional delegates.