Solar Oven Partners

Lorna Jost, second from right, and a group of women in Freetown stopped their food preparation long enough to take a photograph. They enjoyed showing the mission team their local foods and recipes.

SOP Volunteer and retired Director Rick Jost (right) explains the concept of solar cooking to Sierra Leone's Bishop John Yambasu (center) and other representatives from Sierra Leone's UMC. 

The SOP mission team traveling to Sierra Leone in March consisted of, from left to right: Rober Reiners, Pastor Phil Lint, Rick and Lorna Jost, Barbara Krumm, and Connie and Bill Smith.

SOP and Sierra Leone:
​New Partnership Underway

An SOP pilot project in Sierra Leone this past March is leading to a promising partnership. Seven members of a SOP mission team traveled to the West African nation at the invitation of Sierra Leone's United Methodist Bishop John K. Yambasu. The team, with assistance from the Sierra Leone UMC Annual Conference, demonstrated the wonder of solar cooking to more than 90 people in three regions of the country.

The mission team, comprised of people from North and South Dakota, demonstrated oven assembly and cooking to a select group of people. The goal of the pilot project, explained Smart Senesie, director of Missions and Development for the UMC of Sierra Leone, was to learn more about solar cooking, to gauge the interest of the people, and to train community and church leaders so that they could train others.

These pastors, lay leaders and teachers can spread the benefits of solar cooking to people in a country blessed with ample sunshine but besieged with high poverty rates, limited access to safe drinking water and a rapid deforestation rate.

The excitement was palpable as youth, women and men quickly became solar oven assemblers with the help of mission team members. "The people who came were happy," said the Rev. Winston Ashcroft, director of Connectional Ministries for the UMC of Sierra Leone. "They were actually participating in every step of the program."

Following the demonstrations in Freetown, Makeni and Bo, the mission team was invited to meet with Bishop Yambasu to assess the results of the pilot project. The Bishop, who personally visited the demonstration in Bo, said he had received many positive reports. "I think this is a God-sent ministry," he said. The meeting with Bishop Yambasu was followed by an official invitation from him to enter into a mission partnership with the Sierra Leone Annual Conference. The SOP Board of Directors and the Sierra Leone UMC will be defining details of that partnership.

For more information on how SOP made the Sierra Leone connection, plus additional details of the 15-day mission trip, link to SOPUMC's May 2017 newsletter. 

Members of the mission team were: Rick and Lorna Jost, Volga, SD; Phil Lint and Bill and Connie Smith, all from Montrose, SD; and Barbara Krumm, Zeeland, ND. Roger Reiners traveled with the group and assisted in introductions and orientation.