Tuesday, November 29, 2011


In September I met a young man at the clinic. His name was Gurggisberg and he lived in the village of Kunyukuo. He was 12 years old at the time. The left side of his face was swollen beyond anything I could ever imagine. His family did not have the money to travel 10 hours away to pursue further treatment. Through the blessings from an American couple, Gurggisberg and his father received the funds needed to travel to Kumasi and begin treatment. When he returned to the clinic in October, Gurggisberg looked stronger and the swelling on his face had started to decrease. His father was told to return to the hospital if Gurggisberg was not getting any better. A few weeks later, the father they returned to the Lawra CHPS clinic. Gurggisberg had lost weight, his face looked worse and he was very week. They were told to go to the Lawra Regional Hospital so that Gurrisberg could get strong. They chose not to go.

At this point, I am so confused in my mind. How could parents allow their child to become so ill? Why did they wait so long for treatment? But, I also know, to some degree, the way people in this area live and think. Even with funding, travel to Kumasi is a burden on the family, especially if it is during any type of harvest. People don't realize how serious an injury, or an illness could be. They just do their best to keep their loved one comfortable.

When I saw Gurggisberg on November 20, he could not stand or sit. He could not eat. We told his family that he had to go to the regional hospital in Lawra so he could get strong so he could go back to Kumasi to the hospital. So, on the 21, they sandwiched Gurggisberg in between two people on a motorcycle and tied him on so he could make the trip to the hospital. We called a few times during the week. Gurggisberg was eating porridge – a good sign! Razak saw him on Friday and he had asked Zak for some meat. Zak bought him some & he ate two bites. Razak then had to go to Wa for the weekend to attend classes. Sunday evening, Razak received word that Gurggisberg had died at the hospital that day. He was 13 years old.

So, on November 28, Razak and I went to Kunyukuo for the funeral. Here in the north, burial is usually within 24 hours. I am guessing Gurggisberg died later sometime Sunday. As we approached the family home, we could hear the weeping and wailing of the women along with the mournful "song" of the gyil (wooden xylophone.) They had him “staged” – not really laid out, but sitting in a chair - and others were digging a grave in the distance. (On closer look,to me, the grave looked like a small circular hole. I was amazed at how a grave is dug up here.) Anyway, Gurggisberg was buried Monday night. It was thought that Gurggisberg had some type of cancer.

Meanwhile, at times I still struggle. And, I get angry with myself because I can see and understand so many facets of what happened. I can understand why Gurggisberg's parents did not take him for treatment. I also can't understand why they didn't take him. Why didn't they come for the funds to travel to Kumasi to the better hospital? Why did they allow him to get so weak? I know he was a burden to the family. I also know he was loved. Living in the Upper West Region is harsh, for the farmers, for the "professionals", for the families and, for the sick.

Gurggisberg’s father was especially grateful for the care, concern, prayer and provision given to his son by people he had never met. I pray that this experience will draw him closer to the Creator of Life and not away from Him.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Night Fires

Last night, I was watching a movie and I heard a noise. It sounded as if great, big, fat drops of rain were hitting the ground. I thought, "Praise God, it's raining." We haven't had rain for six weeks. I went out on the veranda and looked closely - I almost held out my hand to feel the drops. Then, I saw it. The fires. To the left of my house & behind it, the fires were eating up the dry grasses. They were making a popping and crackling sound. The sky was lit with orange. And, when the wind started blowing, it urged the fires on towards the front of the house. After 15 or 20 minutes, it was over. The flames had died down and the fire department hosed the ashes with water. Now, there are large black areas where just 2 months ago, grasses, flowers and other plants grew. It is just a way of life here. The rainy/growing season, then after harvest the drier seasons and time to allow the gifts of the harvest to see us through the rest of the year. I wonder if it is like going up to the mountain top and then returning to the valley to put into use what God has taught me. A time to remember what God has done in the past and will continue to do. For He is faithful and I am thankful!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Power of "AND"

Have you ever thought of what you cannot do alone? You can't play Marco Polo in the swimming pool when alone. You can't get engaged alone. You can't have a surprise birthday party with just yourself. And, water skiing...how do you do that alone? Imagine being in a sack race alone...hmmm, I don't think it is possible. A person cannot truly live alone; there are clothes and groceries to buy, mail to send and receive, bills to pay...even "on line friends" and social networks!

There is power in the word "AND." Who would Beany be without Cecil? Or Rogers without Hammerstein? Fred Flintstone without Wilma? Chip without Dale? Mickey without Minnie? Would we realize there are mountains if there were no valleys? What about experiencing the refreshment of a rainfall without experiencing the heat? Or, how comforting would a warm fire be if it were not cold outside?

Even these things mentioned need their counterparts to be fully appreciated. With humans, the power of "AND" is even more important. If we live in community, working together, sharing ideas, helping each other, what an impact we would make. No longer would there be youth or adult, but now, youth AND adult, old AND new, tall AND short, experienced AND apprentice, teacher AND learner, beginning AND end, Alpha AND Omega, Father AND Son, elder AND youngster, God AND man, mercy AND grace, strength AND weakness, foolish AND wise...black AND white, faith AND works, instruction AND example...the list goes on.

What I am trying to say is that we are much, much more together than we are apart. If we use that to the glory of God, what a difference it could make for His Kingdom!