Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Church Meeting

Last Saturday, we held a church meeting in Kalsagri. (The above picture is the parking lot!) It was scheduled for 2:00 pm. I did not choose the time. The congregation chose the day and time. I drove out to Kalsagri so I would be at least 30 minutes early. I drove up and down a couple of kilometers of hard road (paved) honked my horn so people would know it was time to come to the meeting. And, at 2:00 there people there besides me!
But, I waited. By 2:10, there were about 15, by 2:30, there were thirty. I thought that was really good for people who have to take care of families and farm in the morning and don't wear watches or own cell phones. (I need to keep that in mind.)
After greeting and a prayer, we started the business of the day. I read our latest financial report. It was not very exciting. Only a few people fell asleep during it. Then, on to more important things...what to do with the people farming on our land? Do we allow them to continue? (Yes, until we need the land to build.) What do we give the Bishop as a farewell gift? (A traditional smock.) Who will volunteer to teach the children? (Janet - student, Hagar, Francis, Clarissa, Nicodemus.) Who will serve as Communion Stewards? (Janet - adult - and Yebedaa) Who is taking weekly attendance? (Janet - student, Nicodemus) Will we have a Harvest as a fundraiser this year? (Yes. November 23, 2014) Alex and Winifred have been serving as Financial officers. They agreed to continue. How many have chickens and other fowl? Are you interested in having them inoculated. (Plenty own them and YES, please set up an inoculation time.) What do you want the church to provide during the Harmatan season? (Soap making classes, Bible studies) What would you like our future building project to be? (A larger church)
So much was accomplished. There was plenty of discussion and debate. A lot of decisions were made. I pray that God will bless the willingness of these people to lead their church!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Visit from John

Last Friday morning, I was outside my house early (6:00), taking pictures of the gorgeous sunrise. I was thinking about hopping on my motorcycle (in my Christmas jammies...they were long sleeved and long trousers) to take some pictures along the LawSec road when I saw a young man walking towards me. He was carrying a torch (flashlight) and a small, black book, which looked like it could be a Methodist hymnal, but was really a King James Bible. I greeted him. He told me he was being spiritually attacked, could I help him?

Hmmm...old white woman, young black man, 6:08 in the morning. What to do? I asked his name. "John." "Are you the John I spoke with in Kalsagri?" "Yes." I invited him onto my veranda and we began to talk. I realized I was over my head in this. John had a tormented soul. I didn't know all of the cultural spiritual beliefs and battles, so I called Razak. He would know what to do. He said he was on his way coming. Meanwhile, Fortune, the woman who helps me twice a week arrived. (Good sigh.) I served water and began to prepare tea. Razak arrived and sat with John and talked.
John said that when he tried to sleep, three bears would come to chase after him. He was sure if he was anointed with oil and American water, that this would stop. Razak spoke truth to him. He asked John about his beliefs and what was he doing to prevent these spiritual attacks. So, they talked some more. Razak told him that American water wouldn't help. And, even being anointed wouldn't help if John didn't take some action in this situation. God wasn't like some magical wizard, say and do the "proper" things and all would be well.
After the guys had their tea and talked for about an hour, we prayed. Razak anointed John with oil, asking the LORD to protect John and watch over him and draw John close to Himself. Would you continue to pray for John, too?

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Kalsagri Funeral

Early yesterday morning, I was informed of the death of one of the church members in Kalsagri, Afie Yongpugre Songneh. Afie was one of the older women of the church, one I called, "Maakum." (Grandmother)  Here, in the north, the body is "staged," items from the person's life surrounds them. Mourners come and grieve and throw coins on te ground. The coins will be used to pay the grave diggers.

The casket is ordered and made the same day. There are no casket shops! The calabashes and pots are broken underneath the staging area. Afie used these items in this world, and will need them in the next. This is how the transition is done. Next, goats were sacrificed. It is believed Afie will need these in the next life, also. 

The Very Rev. Ernest Baiden came to Kalsagri to lead the funeral service. After prayers, scripture and a sermon, which included an invitation to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, a collection was taken up for the family to help alleviate funeral costs.

Next, the graveside service. the family and friends of Afie formed two lines and the pastor, myself and the casket passed through, then, the rest followed.

The grave was hand dug, which is no easy task on the savannah. The earth is hard and I am sure a pickax was used part of the time. The step on the side of the grave was for the grave diggers to stand on while they straightened the casket inside the grave. 

 As the words, "From earth to earth" are said, a shovel full of dirt is thrown on the casket. The same for the words, "From ashes to ashes." And, for, "From dust to dust." The sound of the dirt and stones hitting the top of the casket are a reminder of our mortality...and Who gives us life!

Final prayers are said, a benediction and a song. Then, greeting the family, once again, offering our condolences and inviting them to the service that will celebrate Afie's life. Afterwards, we join the family under the mango tree and visit with family and friends before leaving. One topic of of Afie's relatives wants me to be his second wife!!

I pray that the Christian example that was seen these past few days will speak louder than any words preached. Seeds were sown. Praise God!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

School Discipline

Here, in Ghana, I often see adults with a stick in hand, ready to discipline a wayward child. Caning is an acceptable form of discipline, even in schools. But, some schools are trying to get away from that type of punishment. If a child gets in trouble, they may have to pick rocks up from an area on the school grounds that is in the process of being cleared. Weeding is another punishment that is given. Try weeding in the sun when the temperature is in the 90s. No fun at all! Digging a hole for whatever is needed is also a punishment that is used. Also, sending a child to fetch water can be a disciplinary action. There are so many "manual labor" kinds of punishment that I have heard of and seen.
Recently, while traveling, I saw all these school children kneeling on the dry, hard ground, in the scorching sun. They knelt there for several minutes. I had never seen that before, so I asked about it. It was corporate punishment - punishment for the entire school! People would walk up and down the lines of the students, making sure they were in the correct position. The students had to remain there until the signal was given to get up. Caning was no longer allowed at this school, so this form of punishment was being used.
Hmmm...makes one wonder about the consequences of one's actions!
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Monday, July 14, 2014

Wedding Bells? I Think Not!

Last week I received another marriage proposal. By the same man who asks me EVERY month. You see, he works at the Lawra Water and Sanitation Authority. And, when he is there when I pay my bill, he proposes marriage to me. In the past, I have told him, "I am too old. There are younger women here." He responded, "I see them come and go. It is YOU I want." I said, "but I am 60 years old. I am too old." He responded, "I am seventy years old. You are not too old."
During our latest discussion of marriage, I smiled when I turned him down. He said that because I was smiling, I meant that I really do want to marry him. He told me, "In Lawra, you can find love the market, in Lawra towne, at the river..." "...and, evidently at the Lawra Water and Sanitation Authority," I responded. He laughed. He told me we will have an April wedding.
So, there you have it. This 70 year old man wants to marry me in April. I don't know his name. If I asked, it would probably seal the deal. I don't know if I will be the only wife or the second or third wife, maybe even the fourth wife. I didn't even tell him who to talk to about a bride price!
Hmmm...I think I will send someone else to pay my water bill next month!

Desert Song

This is my prayer in the desert, and all that is within me feels dry.
This is my prayer in the hunger in me, my God is a God who provides.
And this is my prayer in the fire, in weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved of more worth than gold
So, refine me, Lord, through the flames.
And I will bring praise. I will bring praise,
 No weapon forged against me shall remain.
I will rejoice. I will declare:
God is my victory and He is here.
And this is my prayer in the battle and triumph is still on it's way.
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ, so firm on his promise I'll stand.
All of my life, in every season, You are still God.
I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship.
This is my prayer in the harvest, when favor and providence flow,
I know I'm filled to be emptied again.
The seed I've received I will sow.
~ by Hillsong