VALPARAISO, Ind. – Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner is going to Sierra Leone to be the keynote speaker at the Sierra Leone United Methodist Church’s Annual Conference session, being held Feb. 26 to March 2, in Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa. And if you’ve ever thought about going to Africa, this might be a great time to do it.

Bob and Sandy Coolman, leaders of Operation Classroom in Indiana, invite you to join them on a trip to the Sierra Leone Annual Conference session and Operation Classroom sites there. The Coolman’s say, “While on this trip, we’ll spend a couple of days attending the Sierra Leone Annual Conference session at King Memorial UMC in downtown Freetown. You’ll also tour United Methodist schools and hospitals, travel up-country to visit Njalla University (Sierra Leone’s version of Purdue), visit the Child Rescue Center in Bo (the country’s second largest city), worship at United Methodist churches, walk through native African villages, and trek the proposed Palokko Career Academy site.”

They also said, “we’ll take an afternoon to travel down the coast to River #2 Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches you’ve ever seen!”

The United Methodist Church, through its predecessor, The Evangelical United Brethren Church, has been in Sierra Leone for nearly 150 years. Today, there are nearly 250,000 United Methodists in Sierra Leone, worshiping at some 230 organized churches and preaching points. The church operates 300 primary schools, 35 secondary schools, four general hospitals, one eye hospital, and seven maternity-health centers, plus three agriculture and community development projects.

And the United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone fully expects to double in size in the next 20 years!!!

Participants on the trip will travel by plane, ferry and van and stay in a variety of accommodations.

Temperatures in Sierra Leone this time of year are hot, but not miserable and is similar to August in Indiana.

The Coolmans say, “Those who join the trip will encounter warm, hospitable people who will be delighted that you’ve come to visit their country; you’ll engage with kids who have enormous potential, and you’ll work with United Methodist clergy and laity…”

The tentative dates are: departing from Indianapolis on Saturday, Feb. 22, returning on Saturday, March 8, subject to modification. Cost will be around $3,000 per person – not including spending money for personal items, such as souvenirs, etc.

For details, contact Bob and Sandy Coolman at or call 219-464-2702.