This morning I had to take something to the Manse. So, I put it on the back of my bicycle and rode to the Methodist campus. As I rode past the clinic, I heard the pitter patter of little feet trying to catch up to me and a little voice calling, "Maakum." (Grandmother) Music to my ears. It was Bernard, the two year old son of one of the workers at the clinic. And, yes, I am like a Maakum to him because I teach him things that his mother may not approve of - like how to climb the clinic walls - and I let him hang from tree limbs - while I am very close by - and I always have time to play with him. Oh, and of course, I love him! "Maakum"...such a sweet sound!
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Life in Ghana is definitely a LOT slower than it is in America, a LOT slower! People take their time. In Lawra, very few people wear a watch. Time is "told" by the position of the sun. So, if it is a cloudy day, people will be late for church, appointments, whatever they have scheduled. I like the slower paced life style, I don't like the waiting!
This past week or so, I had experienced quite a bit of this new way of life. The plumber said he would be at my house at noon. He never showed up. The Internet connection was slow, at best. Email was impossible to access even though I kept trying. Another person told me they were, "On the way coming." They arrived an hour and a half later. A friend told me that they would pick up some items from my house...they never showed. I wait for a vehicle to fill before I travel to Wa - sometimes two hours! Even church rarely starts when it is scheduled.
So, the lesson to be learned is basically "get used to it. Accept it. Always carry a book" because an entire culture isn't going to change just for me. It's that or get upset about it on a daily basis. I chose to accept the things I cannot change!
Monday, January 16, 2012
Yesterday was a "normal" Sunday in the local church I attend. The service was scheduled to start at 9:30. It began at 10:00. The prayers, the responses, everything was done in English. I was sitting on my bench feeling a bit guilty because nothing was said or prayed or read in the local language. Then, it was time for the Scriptures to be read. After the first reading, in English, a voice from the back of the church asked the Scripture to be "read" in Dagaare. The second, third and gospel scriptures were read - in English. My heart was breaking... This time, Patrick, the owner of the voice, stood up and asked the pastor why the Scriptures were not "read" in Dagaare. By this time tears were in my eyes. The pastor then asked someone translate the message as he preached, but the Word of God from the Bible was never translated yesterday. As soon as I could, I went to Patrick (who is blind and has leprosy), I apologized to him. I told him, "My heart was broken because Dagaare was not spoken."
"May God open our hearts and our minds and our eyes and ears to the needs of His people. God, forgive us!"
Saturday, January 14, 2012
There are several dangerous here in the Upper West Region of Ghana that I have never experienced at home in the US. For example…I never gave malaria a thought. I would NEVER ride a motorcycle without a helmet (if I ever rode a motorcycle). I wouldn’t eat “mystery” food or questionable looking food. All these are dangers that you can easily see with your eyes.
Here, in the northern part of Ghana, there are two hidden dangers (There are plenty others) that I would like to point out. One would be my dead “friend” pictured above. I found him in my living room this morning. Yes, a scorpion. While living in western Pennsylvania I never worried about scorpions! Here, they do live and thrive and are very dangerous to your health!
The other danger that is around this time of year is cerebral meningitis. It’s something you can’t see, but again, it is very dangerous to your health. I have been told that if you have cerebral meningitis and you are sick for three days, you will survive. Most people die within 24 hours!
I am reminded of a passage of Scripture that I read this morning:
1 But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. 4 Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you, And people for your life. 5 Fear not, for I am with you;
Isaiah 43:1-5 (NKJV)
I tend to take the simple things of life for granted. Many of my friends have provided me with some of these “simple things” since I have been here in Ghana. I am VERY appreciative of all they send. But, I don’t appreciate it as much as those mentioned below:
Razak’s mother had been in the District Hospital for almost two weeks. She had been complaining that her lips were sore. So, I gave Razak a package of Chap Stick for his mother. Later, after she had been home for a while, I spoke with her on the phone. I understood her Dagaare (by the grace of God) until she began to thank me for something. I had no idea what I had done that would cause her to thank me so much. So, I gave the phone to Razak. She was thanking me for the Chap Stick. Her lips were healed and she was doing well.
Dery had a sore on his hand. It wasn’t healing. And, his children were getting sick. The only thing he could think of was the water they were drinking wasn’t clean. So, I made arrangements for his family to have a water filter. He called me a week later to thank me. His hand was healing and his family was enjoying better health…all because of clean water.
Patrick goes to the Bethel Methodist Society in Lawra. He has leprosy. His feet are about half the size of the feet of someone without leprosy. His shoes were worn out. So, he mentioned it to someone at church who gave him funds for a new pair. He also said that he is cold at night because he had no blanket. Later that day, we took him a blanket to use during these colder nights of Harmatan season. Patrick was so touched that he wanted to pray for us before we left.
Chap Stick, water, shoes, a blanket…when have I done without? When have you done without? Yet, do I ever think to thank God for these “simple things” in life? Father, forgive me and thank You!
Friday, January 6, 2012
I took several walks along the beach this past week. I couldn't help but pick up some shells and sand dollars. It seems as if I try to find "the perfect shell" if there is such a thing. There were so many of different sizes and shapes - very pretty! But, were they perfect? Maybe perfection is in the eye of the beholder. The waves and the sand definately weathered the shells. Some were no longer symetrical. Some were chipped or broken. Some had holes in them. Some were discolored. But, it was in their "imperfections" that they were beautiful.
I wonder...isn't that like us? We get battered and beaten by life, it's not "perfect." Yet, in the eyes of God, we are beautiful! I know I would not have chosen many of the paths, the storms, the "weathering" of life. But, if I had not gone through them, I would not be the person I am today. It is in those difficulties that my character has been made and Christ has been made more visible in my life. So, in all reality, I may not be perfect, but in Him, my life is beautiful! I am so grateful to my Lord Jesus Christ!
Sunday, January 1, 2012
As one year ends and another begins I can't help but think about what I've done in the past year and stop and wonder what will be part of my life in this new year. At this time last year I was living in an almost empty apartment looking forward to moving to Lawra, Ghana. And as I meet with others with The Mission Society and hear their stories of ministry I wonder, "Why am I here? What have I done for the Kingdom of God in the last 10 months?" My ministry seems so insignificant compared to theirs. I haven't saved lives or built hospitals, I haven't built a library or provided safe drinking water. I haven't been used to plant new churches or build a new school. Then, I remember that I am still at the beginning of my what I hope to be 10 years in Ghana. They have been here 5 1/2 to 14 years. But still, does anything I do matter?
As tears fill my eyes I think of 18 year old Akos who calls me her mother. I think of a Ghanaian co-worker who has told me of the fear of HIV/AIDS in their family. I think of the children who call out "Mama Sue-ry" when I am at the children's centre. I think of Aa-Denuu who told me he had never heard the creation story before. I think of 2 year old Paul and his family on the day he died and how they came for comfort. I think of Gurggisberg, how grateful his family was that strangers tried to help Gurggisberg when relatives would not. I think of the women who come to visit so they can "talk." I think of surprised faces on Christmas morning and teary faces as some children moved back to the village.
Yes, with the grace of God I have made a difference. I am sharing God's love with the people in the Lawra area. To the human eye, it may not seem like much. I'm not doing big, grandiose things. It's the small things that count. The trust and the relationships I am making with all these people and more - that's what my ministry is all about. And, every time time I hear someone call out to me, "Dagaarapog," (Dagaara woman) I know that I am doing what God what's me to do and the questions in my mind cease.