Barry Meyer and a Christian Reformed mission team worked hard in Sierra Leone in the 1980s to install a water system for the Kuranko people in Foria.
But a decade later, Sierra Leone's civil war left the country in chaos. Agriculture and health programs no longer functioned. Villages were burned and water systems were damaged or destroyed.
This past Christmas, Meyer, a member of Third CRC in Denver, Colo., went back to Foria, but he didn't go alone. He took with him eight students, a teacher, and a parent from Denver Christian High School.
Supported by the entire Denver Christian School system and area churches, the team raised money for materials to rebuild a water system, paving the way for a construction team to follow. They filled a 40-foot shipping container with more than 2 miles (3.2 km) of plastic pipe, as well as cement, tools, toys, school supplies, and clothing.
Arriving in Foria before Christmas, the team lived out their mission's theme, "Restoring Hope," and went door-to-door distributing gifts to every household. They also worshiped at Sierra Leone's first Christian Reformed church, established in Kabala in 2007.
For Meyer, going back was bittersweet—it was good to see the village again and greet old friends, but painful to hear the stories of war and survival.
Nonetheless, Meyer said the trip couldn't have gone better. He was reminded of the words in Luke 6:38: "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over. . . ."