Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Life

It is FINALLY rainy season. Everything that seemed to have died has come back to life! The desolate, dry farms now have the signs of yams and groundnuts growing. Maize is waist high. Farmers are busy.
The same is true of the small Methodist Church in Kalsagri. It has been "dormant" for several years. When I returned to Ghana in March 2013, the pastor of the Lawra Mission Circuit appointed me as caretaker of the Kalsagri church. What does that mean? It means that I am "almost a pastor." Worship services began on Pentecost Sunday, 19 May 2013. We had 59 people in attendance. Since then, out high was 102 with an average of over 80! People are hungry for the Word of God. They want a church in their village. They want to gather together to sing, dance and praise God. And, during testimony time, these same people who have absolutely nothing, give thanks to God for providing for them throughout the week! Even when we met for worship 2 1/2 hours early on Market Day, during farming season, 74 people attended!
The new life at the Kalasgri Methodist Church doesn't stop there...a weekly health clinic has been started. Over 70 people are given medical treatment each week. And, on Sunday, they thank God for it! Saturday afternoons, time is taken to go over the Scriptures for Sunday's service. They are read in English, explained in Dagaare and in English. The people who attend practice reading in English. Prayers are prayed. The first week, six students came for this class. Last Saturday, we had twenty students, ranging from primary class 2 to a young man who has completed Senior Secondary School and hopes to further his education.
Thanks to our brothers and sisters in America, the church building itself has received new life, too. A new roof, a new floor, four windows, a door, a water filter, fourteen benches, and six chairs are now at the church. The congregation has donated four brooms, two bars of soap, two pieces of cloth and a drinking cup so far. There has been a work day to clean up the grounds around the church; it was well attended.
People who have not heard God's word, are hearing. People who have been lost, have been found. People who have been outcasts have been welcomed. People who have been grieving have been given hope. New life comes in a multitude of ways, all given by the giver of life, the Lord God Almighty. My He continue to work through me and through others to bring about His Kingdom on earth...all for His glory!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Busy Week

One of my favorite times of the week is Sunday morning, between 7 and 7:30, when I drive my motorcycle out to Kasalgri. The air is still fresh and clean and crisp. Hardly anyone is on the road, only those walking the long way to the Catholic church for mass. My body gets a bit chilled. Ahhh...Then, I arrive at church where at least 20 children are waiting for me. Francis, an 18 year old student has already picked up our benches from the chief's house. He has our little church ready for service. He will teach one Sunday School class to those who are in their teens and older. I will teach the younger ones.
We wait until 8:15 to start class. There are 40+ children. Benches are carried out under the big trees and we sit in the shade. With the breeze blowing, it feels almost perfect! I teach the Creation story, saying a few things in Dagaare. I am so grateful when the words come to me! Next, worship service. There are close to 100 in attendance. We are trying to work out how to best arrange benches to allow for dancing. Francis interprets for me. He is learning. (We meet with some other teens on Saturdays to prepare for the service.) The preaching is up to me, with help from the Holy Spirit. After church, people bring me their sick children and their questions. Next, we visit a small girl with a tumor in her mouth. We are hoping to get her the medical attention she needs. I go home and rest before I visit people in the late afternoon.

Monday, is a day of preparation. Fortune, the woman who comes and does some work for me comes in the morning. Anokye will come this afternoon with the water filters for distribution tomorrow. But, mid morning, I receive a phone call from him. He is already in Wa! So, I hurry to Priscilla's house to work with her. I want to have that finished before Anokye arrives. I call the pastor to inform him that Anokye is only 1 1/2 hours away, at most. When Anokye arrives, it seems like my day is finished because I am busy making plans for tomorrow or doing other things, preparing for later in the week.
Tuesday, Razak comes on the pastor's motorcycle, I take mine and we drive out to Kasalgri. The pastor is with Anokye and Mary, Anokye's daughter. We visit two communities, greeting people, preaching, telling them of friends in America, showing people how to take care and use the filters and finally, we distribute the water filters. Lunch is served at the pastor's house. Yum! Fufu! Then, I arrive home, mid to late afternoon, exhausted. It looks like rain...
Wednesday is a health clinic in Kalsagri, the first one. There are challenges...no tables, no chairs, no anything! Everything has to be brought from the chief's house where some of those things are stored. We work without other things. Seventy-seven people are seen today. Most have insurance, some don't. Boy, I thought I was tired yesterday. That was nothing compared to what I feel now!
Thursday was SUPPOSED to be my day off...but, I have an afternoon meeting. So, I sit at my desk with several Bibles open and prepare for Sunday's service. I attend my meeting and mention that I was planning to go to Wa on Monday to renew my visa. I found out Monday was a holiday. After the meeting, I rush home, prepare a letter for my pastor that needs to go with the visa documents. He approves it. I get it signed and arrive home about 3 minutes before the rain comes! It only rains a short time. but it did rain!
Friday, I got up and got ready to go to Wa. I left my house before 6:30 in order to get back from Wa by mid afternoon. I arrive at Immigration by 9:30, documents, passport, and fee in hand. "Please, God, let everything be acceptable." At 10:30, I leave the office, passport in hand, stamped with my new resident visa. "Thank You, Jesus!" Now, market and home! I do walk in my door before 3 pm.
Saturday, I finish preparing for Sunday. I also prepare for our "English" class...going over Sunday's Scripture and Bible study with the Junior high school students. I don't get home until 5:30 or so. It has been a VERY busy week. Lots of things have been accomplished. Mostly, I am tired and am looking forward to a Sunday afternoon nap!

Water Filter Distribution...A Story Not Quite Finished!

Once upon a time, in September 2012, a missionary spoke at a church in western Pennsylvania. The missionary was nervous, as this was her home church and people have heard her speak before. Will the message she had this day be heard?
The message was spoken. Prayers were prayed. Then, a time for questions. A man, I'll call him Russ, seemed to be really touched and concerned for the lack of clean drinking water in the village in which the missionary would be working. So, Russ took it upon himself to raise funds for 25 water filters. He spoke to his Sunday School class. They were in Unity. Yes, they would support the project! Next, Russ went to the entire church. Would people be willing to provide water filters for people half way across the world? They were in one accord - Concord! (Please pardon my puns!) Not only did Russ raise the money for 25 water filters, he raised enough money for 150 water filters! All in a matter of three weeks!
Fast forward to February/March 2013. The water filters were purchased. A date in June 2013 was set to deliver the filters to communities in Kasalgri, in the Upper West Region of Ghana. Next, the missionary began to meet with the chief of the village. The local Methodist church was revived. And, now it was time to figure out which communities would receive the filters and how many would be given to each community. How will they be distributed? The missionary, the pastor, and a Ghanaian friend visited with the chief. He called the sub chiefs together. A task was given to them...how many family units were in their community? It was decided to go by the head of the household for now...by the husband. But, how will the sub chiefs count? They didn't know how. So, it was decided that a list of all the heads of the households would be made, with the number of wives listed next to the husbands name. Someone in each sub village, who could write, was found. The lists were made. They were "fixed" so the number of people to receive filters did not exceed 150. The distribution day was quickly approaching...excitement was brewing.

Finally, the day arrived - the filters were at my house. But, wait, there were only 100! Due to circumstances beyond the missionary's control, the filters needed to be delivered in two parts. That worked out fine. The lists were re-worked. Only two communities, instead of three, would receive filters the next day. The others would be delivered at a later date.
The missionary and friend drove their motos to the villages while the pastor went with the driver of the truck that carried the filters. The chief's community was first. How fun! What a blessing! The Word of God was preached, lessons on filter use and cleaning were given and filters were distributed.
Next, a new community. Since we did this once, putting all the needed pieces together was much easier and a LOT faster! At this community, along with the preaching, a prayer focused on asking God for rain was prayed. There were plenty of Traditional believers there. The filter "lessons" were given and the filters distributed. All went home happy and feeling quite blessed.
That night, it rained. Oh! An old, blind man was heard to say, "I now believe in the God of the pastor. For, the pastor prayed for rain, and his God answered!" Many people of his community felt he same way.
The missionary continues to pray that God will continue to water and grow the spiritual seeds planted during this water filter distribution. For, it is because of Him that we live and breath and have our being.