Thursday, December 31, 2015

Another Year Comes to a Close

Another year is coming to a close. It seems as if the "proper" thing to do is to reflect on 2015, it's joys and sorrows, things learned, hopes and dreams...did they come to fruition? Tonight I am not feeling inspired, I don't have any deep or lofty thoughts, I am just grateful.

I am grateful for being alive tonight. And, for the opportunity to serve my Lord in the way He sees fit. Who would have ever thought that at 62 years of age, I would be living in Ghana, driving a motorcycle, preaching on a weekly basis, and doing all those things that are part of life here in Ghana? I am grateful for the children who come to my door calling, “Maakum! Maakum!” as if their lives depended on them coming to my house to play. And, maybe they do…not in a physical sense. But, what spiritual seeds am I planting? I fall short so many times. Yet, there are times that I know deep down that I acted in the right way. I am grateful for mercy and grace and forgiveness and second chances.

I am grateful for the simple things in life, the sunrise, the sunset, early morning sounds of birds singing, a veranda on which to have my time with the Lord. I am grateful for an internet connection that is strong enough to make video calls…I can see my friends and family! I am grateful for running water and electricity. I am grateful for my health tonight.( There have been times in the past year that I have been so sick. I am grateful for medical help and friends who take me to the clinic when I need to go.)

Shall I go on? I am grateful for the copy of the Christmas cantata from my home church. I am grateful for Tula getting me hooked on coloring. I am grateful for snail mail and care packages. I am grateful for my Ghanaian family that watches over me. I am grateful for my family in the US and the relationship we have with each other. I am grateful for travel within Ghana and outside of Ghana. I am grateful for the support of friends that are like family to me. They will never replace my family, but, have become such a part of my life. I am grateful for my friends who live all across the globe.

And, I am grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ, who makes this adventure called life, worth living!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Special Moment

It is my usual practice to have my devotional time and study time on my veranda in the morning. It is especially nice this time of year because of the much cooler morning temperatures. I can wrap myself up in my prayer shawl, a cup of tea close at hand and my basket of books by my side. All is well. And, all is quiet. Unitil, "Maakum! Maakum!" It is Boniface. "Good morning, Bone (pronounced "Bonnie")Did you come to read the Bible?" I already had a Children's Bible out on the extra chair...just in case.

So, Bone come onto the veranda and settles in the chair. "I want to read the story about Joseph." "Which Joseph? Jesus' Father?" "Yes, that one." We look for the Christmas story and continue where we left off, the story of the Three Kings. Boniface reads the easy words, as he is in first grade and can read some, and I read the hard words.

Boniface loves the picture of Jesus as a small boy. He called to toddler Jesus and Mary, His mother. They didn't answer Boniface. He watched the saying "Good-bye" to the Kings. Boniface really liked this portion of the Bible. He stared and stared at that picture. And, talked to it, too!

Boniface had enough of Bible study. He was ready to play. Before he left, we held hands and I prayed for my small friend. I thanked God for his excitement over Bible stories I take for granted. I prayed for his safety as he played. And, I prayed for the man that he would one day become. I treasure these few one on one moments. I pray that they would become more available with other children in the neighborhood. And, I pray I would be Jesus to them, when they do become available. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Richard stepping in to lead worship.

What happens at your church when the musicians don't show up and the worship leader disappears? What about when you are ready to start the Christmas Pageant practice and Joseph has left the building? Or at least 50% of the sheep don't show up? All of this and more happened at Kalsagri today!

These children should be in church, instead, they are finding a snack growing high in a tree.

Church service would soon start. I was writing out the announcements for the day when I looked at my watch. Oh, we are late starting. I walk into the worship area. Evidently, I was not the only one late! There were not even twenty people at church! I looked for Nicodemus, so he could lead the worship service. Oh, he was no where to be found. I was thankful to see that Richard had returned from school for his Christmas break. He most willingly led the service until Nicodemus returned. When it was time to read the morning Bible passages, no one was prepared. Again, Richard helped out, as did Samuel who was also home from school. I was (and still am) very grateful for the two young men. 

A shepherdess and some of her sheep.

We were ready to sing our first song. The drummers weren't here - yet.So, we sang acapella. We sounded tired and half asleep! I am happy to report we improved as people joined us. Seventy eight people attended worship today.

Searching the Word of God for the Christmas story.

After church, we had Christmas Pageant practice. Ready? No! Joseph has left. He had another commitment in his home village, but will be here Christmas Day. Sabina was Joseph for our practice - again! Half of the sheep were missing. More were recruited. We were ready to start. 

Jesus, on a bed of ebony fruit, what sheep would eat in this part of the world!

Godwin, our narrator, did a great job again. The first run through was a bit shaky. They would do it again. After a few pointers, I took a back seat and did not say a word. Trust me, it was hard! Jesus was born and placed in a "manger," a bowl of ebony fruit that animals in Kalsagri would eat if it were available. The kids did a great job. After the second time through, everyone started eating the ebony. "What will be left for Baby Jesus' bed?" I asked. "Oh, we will bring more," was the response. I was glad to hear that!

So, despite this old, American woman, Christmas Pageant practice was fine. And, I believe God will be glorified when it is presented on Christmas Day. Praise the Lord!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Morning Visitors

Yesterday morning I was moving slowly. I had been sick most of the night. So, I wasn't on the veranda having my quiet time as early as usual. As I was getting my Bible and other things ready, I heard a small voice, "Maakum! Maakum!" It was Boniface. He still had his pajamas on. He wanted to play. "Good morning, Boniface. You can come sit, but it is too early to play. It is Bible time. You can read the Christmas story." I brought out a Children's Bible and we began to read together. He read the easy words and I read the hard words. Within a few minutes, two more children arrived. They, too, were still in their pajamas. They always watch my house to see when I allow others on my veranda, then they come over to join us. Now, one extra person for quiet time is fine. And, helping one person to read is about what this Maakum can handle. I NEEDED my time with the Lord, plus, I still wasn't feeling well. (I had big plans of going to the clinic for medication.) So, Boniface finished reading the story. We talked about it small. Then, I sent everyone home. There would be plenty of time to play later.

Who was your divine appointment yesterday morning?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Just Do It!

The angel choir singing to the shepherds and their sheep.

Kalsagri Church is having a Christmas Pageant this year. They have never heard of one before. When I asked some of the youth if they were interested, there was a resounding, "YES!" There are challenges, though. At our first practice, plenty of children came, many filthy dirty, a few with only a t-shirt and underwear. So, we had to explain that, even though this isn't school, they still had to wear appropriate clothing.

Sabina taking care of baby Jesus.

On to the practice part...there was no Joseph, there was no narrator. Hmmm...what would we do? "Just do it!" So, we had practice and improvised. We scheduled another practice for Sunday after church. When the time came, Mary wasn't in attendance, we had to recruit a Joseph and a narrator, the head angels were not in attendance and half of the sheep were sacked because they were rolling on the ground fighting. (Am I too old for this?) The rest of the practice went amazingly well, praise God. Our next practice was scheduled for Friday afternoon at 3:00. (Today)

Practicing being a pregnant Mary.

Well, I drove my motorcycle out to the church. I arrived at 2:58. There was NO ONE there, although the boy drafted to play Joseph was quite close. I went to find Nicodemus to ask him what we should do. As we waited for people to come, Nico worked with Joseph, giving him pointers. Sabina and Ernestina came to help with the children.

The sheep adding color to their ears.

 The first thing we did when we had enough people, was to separate the sheep from the goats, oh, sorry....from the angels. The sheep were given their ears and colored them. (Ernestina helped with them.) They look so cute! Since Joseph left early, Sabina stepped in. I stepped in as Mary.

Angel choir practice.

The angel choir practiced, having way too much fun! Even though they may be small in number, they have beautiful voices.

Godwin, our narrator.

Once everyone was ready, we "ran through" the pageant. Godwin did an excellent job, reading the Scriptures from Matthew and Luke in Dagaare. Hopefully, we fine tuned some of the actions.

A couple of sheep just hanging around.

Our next practice is Sunday after church. I have no idea who will show up. We have had three practices and three different Marys! And, will Joseph be there? Who knows, maybe Sabina will step in again, No matter what happens, we will have fun. And, these dear people, most who are illiterate will see the Christmas Scriptures acted out. It will be culturally appropriate,in their own language. nd, hopefully we will all learn something in the process,..

O come, O come, Emmanuel!

Monday, December 7, 2015

A DKM Adventure

Waiting for a different bus to come to take us to Sunyani.

This morning, I planned to travel to Sunyani, about 7 to 8 hours from Lawra, to hide away for a few days. The purpose of"hiding away" was to be focused on writing my Ministry and Growth Plan for the upcoming year, reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the future. Razak came to my house early, very early, and we left at 1:30 in the morning to walk to the DKM bus station in Lawra. We arrived at 1:45 and waited for the bus, which came at 2:15. I was able to buy a ticket and found my seat...the last row, center. We were on our way! When we arrived in Wa, I remarked to the guy next to me that it seemed our driver was driving very slow. It took forever to get to Wa and almost an eternity to go as far as Bole.He agreed that it was taking longer than expected.

Moving luggage from one bus to the next. Yes, the cracked windshield was on the "better" bus.

There was no use trying to sleep. Since we were in the last row, every time we went over a speed bump or a speed table, we all flew into the air! I held my backpack part of the time, but was able to put it at my feet part of the time. The two seats next to me were occupied by two adults and three children, none were infants. One of the children sat by my feet for a good part of the trip. We arrived at Bamboi around 8:00 am. The two men on the other side of me alighted and two other people replaced them. Shortly after we left Bamboi, the driver pulled to the side of the road. The was a problem.

Our new bus driver bought all of us water and continued our trip...

The smell was not fresh air, it was that awful smell telling that something was definitely not right with the bus. We were told a different bus was "on the way coming." More than two and a half hours later, it arrived! I was grateful that it wasn't hot season. The weather was quite pleasant...and, there was plenty of thick, tall grasses around if you had to relieve yourself. 

Oooops! The mirror broke off and was hanging by a cable. A "fix" was in progress.

The luggage was moved from one bus to the other and we were finally on our way! This time, I sat in front. Nice! Everything was going along quite well, until...the driver noticed that the bracket of his side mirror had rusted through and was now hanging by a cable. So, we stopped to fix it.

The mirror was tied up so that it wouldn't swing by the cable and possibly hit the window.

The guys took some rags and pieces of cloth to tie the mirror in place. It wasn't usable, but, at least now it wasn't swinging from the cable. And, it wasn't in danger of hitting the windshield. We were on our way again! All was well for about twenty minutes. Then...

Oh, no, the mirror fell and started swinging again!

The mirror got loose! It started swinging again. We were on a narrow part of a curvy road, so we couldn't pull off right away. But, the driver did slow down. After a short bit, he did stop and tie the mirror in place again. On the road again...We were almost to Sunyani! We finally arrived at 2;15. It was a twelve hour trip that should have taken seven to eight hours. But, that's life in Ghana!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Today's Prayer

4 December 2015

Good morning, Lord! You are the Giver of Life! You know my comings and goings. You love me just as I am and tenderly teach me to follow Your ways. I need You, Lord. Come, help me. There are things on my mind that don't seem to want to go away. I have been here almost five years. What have I accomplished? What have I accomplished for You? I have shown love to the least and the lost - and to the last - I think about the kids with special needs. I have helped them to become accepted, helped the parents to know that they aren't alone and their children are gifts from You. Your Word is filled with stories about the unwanted, unloved and lowly being lifted up by You. Thank You for these lessons.

But, Lord, where is my ministry going? When I use all the correct "church type" words, I get confused. All I have done was to be love and accept people and show them You. A lot of this has been done in Kalsagri. Has it been enough? Do people really know You? Or do they still cling to their own ways, customs and traditions when it comes to things of faith? And, now, Lord, in a couple of short months, I will be moving on to the church in Kunyukuo. Is my work in Kalsagri done? It doesn't feel like it. It feels like there is more to be done. It's hard to let go, Lord. I want Kalsagri to expand, to grow - not only in numbers and in giving, but in faith, in following You. Watch over them, Lord. Continue to work in their hearts. Continue to develop the leadership of the church in Kalsagri. I pray that when it is time to leave Kalsagri and move on, that the "farewell" and the "good byes" are done well and all of us can look to the future with great expectation. I want to finish well, Lord, for both You and for me. 

I pray for the Kunyukuo church. Prepare their hearts and minds to welcome and celebrate our Saviour and His birth. Prepare me, give me knowledge, strength, compassion, love and vision for this new chapter of ministry. 

One of my concerns today, Lord, is monetary. Giving to my ministry here has gone down. Donations haven't met my monthly expenses in almost a year. I know some of it is due to changes in life circumstances for some people. And, Lord, many have given to this ministry for five years and more! I am so grateful for that. You have always provided through your people. Help me to trust You to continue doing so. Show me, too, what I should be doing to help in this situation. Lord, I am praying for five more years.I know You can make a way. Show me the people with whom I need to connect.

That's another thing, Lord. A partner in ministry sure would be nice...another person to share the joys and sorrows, to see the possibilities and to spur each other on. Hmmmm...

Well, Lord, You know what's in my heart. I give it all to You today. Take it and use it for Your glory. It is in Your holy name I pray. Amen.

Monday, November 30, 2015

62 - The Day in Pictures!


The beginning of a new day, a new year!

Billy greeting me.

Ali, making me bread and egg for breakfast.

Bone and Pius, diligently working.

My idea of playing while the boys played.

Birthday treats with Bone, Pius and Stanley.

These baby chicks were born on my birthday!

A great vision of Kalsagri!

One of my birthday gifts, from Sarah! (Oh, Sarah, Sunday is one of my busiest days! LOL!)


Sunday, November 29, 2015


Today was Harvest at Kalsagri Methodist Church. As an American, I think of harvest as bringing in the crops. Maybe selling some to make money. I think of something to do with the autumn season. Oh, not here. Harvest is a fund-raiser. People are given notices and envelopes in which to put their donations. Then, members of the church bring items to the church to auction off. Since the growing season has ended recently, there was plenty of ground nuts, maize, hot peppers tomatoes and yams to sell. There were other things as well, especially since I don't farm. So, I didn't bring something I grew to sell! The auction started with a bottle of water, since water is life, it is everything in this hot and dry land. Then, the fun began with people bidding against each other. Oh, it was exciting to watch! At the end of the day, the church raised 508.95 Ghana Cedis, about $132 from people who can barely feed their families. What a miracle! Thank You, Jesus! The church was given a matching gift, so that now there will be money to meet their financial obligations and maybe have money left for their Easter Picnic! I am so proud of them.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving...a special day, or a way of life? I think it is both. As a follower of Jesus, I pray that thanksgiving to the Lord and giver of life, is a way of life for me. Ipray that it comes natural to me, even in tough times. For, I can always be thankful for God's mercy and grace and love. I am thankful for the life He has given me and the place where He has put me to serve Him a ways I could never imagine. I am thankful for the people amongst whom I live. I am thankful for so many things that I would miss whilst living in the US. I doubt if I would be thankful for hot and cold running water. Or electricity at the flip of a switch. Or climate control..air conditioning and heat. Or lovely rest rooms on the Interstates, just to name a few. 

But, it is good to have a day of thanksgiving, too. To be with family and friends. To remember our faith and our history. and, to share with one another our thankfulness to God for our many blessings.

In Ghana, yesterday was just another workday. There are no other Americans here with whom I could celebrate, the closest one had to work. So, it is very good that I consider thanksgiving a way of life. My Thanksgiving Day did not include blood family, or friends from across the sea or turkey and dressing and green bean casserole or the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. My day included: 

Getting up at 4:30 in the morning, making tea, having Bible study and quiet time, hand washing "unmentionables", meeting with the pastor, meeting with the pastor and Razak, making no-bake cookies, driving to Kalsagri to pick up a financial book, updating/reviewing Kalsagri's finances, eating left over pizza for lunch, getting information on the new way Methodist Church Ghana is going to collect revenue from the churches, visiting with a few people in town, working in the pantry...beginning to organize it better, decorating small for Christmas, checking emails, going to Ghana Post, visiting a Peace Corps worker in Kalsagri who was teaching school (since it was not a holiday here), making some Christmas cards and eating wings and cauliflower and watching "White Christmas."

It may not seem like a lot to you. Trust me, in 97 degree heat, it was. My ministry is very relational, so it is important to check in with people. As I did, I shared with them the holiday. It was nice. So, Thanksgiving was celebrated without turkey, without stuffing, without pumpkin pie (which I don't like anyway.) Thanksgiving was celebrated with a thankful heart to the One who has given me His all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Glimpse into Life in Lawra - Garbage

Garbage...rubbish...trash, its all the same: stuff that has lost it's usefulness and you want to throw it away. What do you do? There is  garbage collection, recycling, composting, maybe even giving clothes to a second hand store. But, what do you do when you live in a country where these things aren't available or are available only sometimes? Read on:

When I first moved here, dealing with garbage was a challenge. Then, little by little, I learned what to do! Since I live by myself, my garbage is limited. Any vegetable/fruit waste that I have, I throw outside for the roaming goats and sheep to eat. Any bones and meat scraps, I save for friends who have dogs. Used toilet paper, as well as other paper garbage gets burned. Plastic bottles are given to friends to use to put porridge or water or another drink for their child to take to school. Clothes that are still useable, I give away. Those that aren't, I burn, especially undergarments. Electronics that don't work anymore, I soak in water before putting them in a bag to take to a rubbish collection receptacle.  Cans and bottles go there, too. Local people will go through trash and pick stuff out to use, not knowing the condition of the item or if it is still useable. I try to pass on what is useable. But, not everything is useable when I finally throw it away. 

So, there you have it - another glimpse into my life in Lawra. Never take for granted your garbage and recycling collection!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

I Love to Tell the Story

I love stories, don't you? Tell me a story and I'll listen. I'll read a book or watch a movie - they are all stories. But, the bestest story of all is His story! And, I love to tell it!

You see, I am the caretaker of a small village church. That means I "preach" quite often. But, I am NOT a preacher. I am a teacher, and I have taken the Spiritual Gifts tests to prove it! (I also  went to University for teaching.) Put me in front of any size congregation, I don't want to "preach," it stresses me. I will share my story. Mostly, I share His story, the story of Jesus and His love. 

My congregation is 97% illiterate. They fall asleep during church. The talk. They walk out. One woman, Ernestina, will go around and tap people with a stick to wake the up, sometimes, it is more than a tap! She will tell people to be quiet and listen if they are talking. Preaching in Kalsagri has to be simple and interactive. If it is not, people will not know what the sermon was about even three minutes later. So, I have started using Biblical storying.

This is how it works: In my church, the gospel is read in Dagaare. Then, the Creed is said in Dagaare. After that, with Bible in hand, using the same words as written (unless the word is too big and I have to clarify the meaning), I tell the Bible story in English. It is interpreted into Dagaare. Then, I tell people to really listen because their turn is coming. Then, I tell the story again. Next, we break up into groups of four. Each person in the group tells the story in their heart language. When everyone is finished, I ask questions, such as: "What does this story tell us about Jesus? (or Pilate or David, or whomever is in the story.) I ask it about each person in the story. Sometimes, the questions will be about something else. The last two questions are: "What did you learn from the story that you can apply to your life today? What do you hope that you will always remember from this story and never forget?" Each person in the group has a chance to answer. Then, we come back together as a whole and ask for volunteers to answer the questions. At the end, I will share with the congregation what I learned. Then, there is homework - tell the story to someone else during the week.

No one falls asleep. Everyone is actively involved and, even those who cannot read, leave with a Bible story and Biblical truths connected to it. I did this today in another church where more people are educated and they loved it. Each time I "tell the story" people have really good discussions. It has been a blessing to this "teacher." And, that's why I love to tell the story!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Just Another Afternoon in Lawra

Earlier this week, I had to travel to Accra. So, I bought my OA bus ticket the day before and went home to pack. So, the following day, I reported to the OA "station" at 2:00 in the afternoon. The bus comes between 2:30 and 3:00 in the afternoon, in the ideal world. I was sitting there, watching some guys play Drafts, when, all of a sudden, we heard a screech and a crash. There was a motorcycle accident on the road twenty feet away from us. One moto drove to close to the second one, causing the second one to crash. It fell over, sending the passenger onto the road, and the driver, still in place on his bike, but, horizontal instead of vertical. The fender broke off and the passenger was obviously injured. The driver of the other motorcycle wasn't hurt, maybe because he didn't fall over. Anyway, the passenger was helped back onto the motorcycle and taken to Lawra hospital. The other driver drove off. No exchange of insurance. No police. Ten minutes after it happened, there were no tell tale signs! Just another afternoon in Lawra!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

All Saints' Day

This morning, I woke up thinking, "Today is All Saints' Day." It's a thought deeply ingrained in me from when I was Catholic. And, it is a good thought, because it causes me to ponder the question, "Who is a saint?" I have answered myself with, "A saint is a sinner saved by grace. So, if a person has been saved by the blood of Christ, he/she fits into that category." I continued the conversation with myself, "Who are the saints that have been or still a part of my life, that have impacted my life?" 

The first person who comes to mind is my mom, Dorothy Rogowski. She died too young. But, she taught me a lot, especially in the last few years of her life. She taught me to look past circumstances and failures of others and to live, laugh and love anyway. I think of Dee Armour, who took me under her wing when I was far from home. Dee loved me through good times and bad. She spoke the truth in love, and when she knew it would hurt, told me that "You;ll get over it." She was right, I did. There were Ava and Albert Steiner, true pillars of the faith. The things I learned from both of them...about faith, forgiveness, love, trust...the list goes on. Even my neighbor, Nancy, a sweet, caring woman, known as "The Church Mouse" who sent encouraging notes to others. So many of the saints in my life have passed on to glory. But, there are others...

My sister, Debbie, who challenges me to pray about everything, to look at situations from a different perspective, to hold on to my Lord, even in the midst of post surgery pain! Pastors that have encouraged me to follow the vision that I believed the Lord had given me. There were times they gave up their time to help me with the hurdles of preparing for a life of overseas ministry. Oh, there are so many, friends and colleagues who have shown me what it is to follow Christ. So many times I have fallen short, but, these modern day saints show me the way. I am very blessed to have these people in my life. And, some day, we will be kneeling at the throne of Christ, singing together, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lamb."

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Just Like Home, Only Better

I left my home in Lawra on September 30, what seems like a lifetime ago. The original plan was to travel to Albania to attend a conference, enjoy a few days of touring, return to Ghana and enjoy a few days at the beach and return to Lawra by October 22 or 23, at the latest. Now, it is October 31. And guess where I am! In Accra, Pokawase, to be exact. I am staying at a friend's house, which I lovingly call "The Jackson Inn." A few medical issues have kept me here in the south where doctors and dentists are readily available. There is a hotel advertized at the airport in Johannesburg, South Africa called The Jackson Inn. It's selling point, "Just Like Home, Only Better."

That's how my Jackson Inn is, just like home, only better. I have my own room...just like home. I have good food from which to choose my meals....better than home. I have a driver to take me shopping and to the dentist...better than home. There are friends to take me to the doctor (a really nice clinic)...better than home. There is a pharmacy close by with medicines that are not available in Lawra...better than home. Hot showers...better than home. Solar panels for when the lights go off...better than home. A clothes washing machine...better than home. And, there are friends around (who I don't see very often) to fuss over me and encourage me and with whom I can spend time...better than home.

But, home is where the heart is. It is where my bed is. It is where my study Bible is. It is where Slake, my stuffed giraffe is. And, even though I love being at the Jackson Inn, I miss Lawra. Oh, don't get me wrong...I am very grateful I am here at the Inn. I have had a broken crown which resulted in a root canal, and illnesses which put me in a clinic for several hours with an IV drip and very low blood pressure. October has not been a healthy month for me. But, if I needed to be sick, being at the Jackson Inn is the best place to be! God has truly shown me, I am not alone here! 

The Gathering

The Albania Gathering is history. "What's that?" you say. Well, simply put, a Gathering is a conference for personal and professional development. A time to connect with colleagues who work in the same hemisphere as I do, to fellowship, be encouraged and worship. The Gathering in Albania was for those Cross Cultural Witnesses who work with The Mission Society in Europe, Asia and Africa. It is held every two years.

I arrived in Shengjin, Albania on October 3. It was a lovely morning, a bit cloudy and a little rain. But, a nice break from the heat of Lawra! I had the day to rest and relax and investigate as well as greet others as they arrived. The Gathering didn't officially start for several days, but many of us arrived early for a pre-gathering training. I chose to take the Team Leadership training led by Todd Pevey from Exodus 1818 Ministries. The training was three days of all aspects of Team Leadership: how to build a team, creating a team vision and team goals, and putting it into practice! We took the APEST test, based on Ephesians 4, to determine our spiritual gifts. (I scored highest on Teacher, no surprise there! Then, one point lower, Evangelist and two points lower than Evangelist, Prophet!) The gifting of team members and size of team were other issues discussed. All in all, it was a great three days.

The next day was a day of meeting for various levels of leadership in The Mission Society. Which meant, I had a day off! Walking into town with friends and walking along the Adriatic Sea were some of our activities. But, I felt cold. I missed the African heat. Was it going to snow? Then, October 8, the Gather started! We met Hans, Franz and M, who, throughout the Gathering, taught us about formation, our spiritual formation and our ministry formation. I didn't learn too much that first session because I was fighting to stay awake. What was wrong with me? At break, I talked with my Field Leader and a doctor. I had malaria! So, off to bed I went. I missed three days...two of them I slept through! I missed sessions on Bible study. Spiritual Formation, Worship, Community, Mentoring, Regional Meetings, Prayer, Contingency Planning. And, I missed a trip to a castle!

Monday, I was well enough to join the group for awhile. I was able to be a part of the session that talked about Shame and Honor Cultures, something that answered some questions for me! And, I attended a session on working within a Muslim area. On Monday, I was also awarded my 10 year service recognition for working with The Mission Society 10+ years. (10 years was Nov. 2014.) Tuesday was Bible Study, Infinity Groups and a State of The Mission Society Report by our president, Max Wilkens.

It was a great Gathering.Well worth the time and money, even with Malaria. The teaching was excellent. But, more importantly, to see that we are all connected. I am not alone in Lawra. I am part of something much, much bigger. I am part of a community who loves the Lord and acts on it daily, many of them who risk their lives to do so. I am looking forward to the next Gathering in two years! 

Monday, October 19, 2015


"Why?" It's such a great question, always looking to learning more. "Why?" It can drive a mother crazy when her young one asks the question 1,000 times. "Why?" is a question I have asked God not too long ago. I  had traveled to Albania to attend the Regional Gathering that The Mission Society sponsored for its workers in Europe, Asia and Africa. (It is a time for personal and professional development. And, a time of fellowship and worship.) 

I left my home in Lawra on September 30 to begin the trek to Albania. I was excited about the pre-gathering training that I would attend, a class on Team Leadership. And, excited to see all those friends and colleagues that I haven't seen for ages. And, excited to attend the sessions ranging from Inductive Bible Study to sessions on the Shame and Honor Cultures. Life was good! The flights were close, but, hassle free. I signed in. I took the Team Leadership class. For three days life was really good. 

Then, a day to rest. Hmmm...I wasn't very hungry and there was real, recognizable food! I was cold, I felt as if it might snow. Maybe I was tired. So, I napped. The next day, the official opening of the Gathering, I fought with myself to stay awake. At the first break, I spoke with my Field Leader. I had a fever. I went to bed. I was freezing. Then, I was sweating. Ugh! Malaria! I started the malaria meds and went to bed. For two days I couldn't eat. I drank as much as I could, but, it wasn't much. One of the doctors would check on me. People brought me tea and other good stuff to drink. I crawled further under the blankets. After missing two full days, I cried, "Why? Why, Lord? Why did I travel all this way just to stay in my room? I want to go home (to Lawra)." I felt awful.

Then, a still, small Voice reminded me that even though I live alone in Lawra, I am not alone. I have the God of the Universe looking after me. I have a family that is made up of all kinds of people who watch over me and take care of me. Yes, malaria was not what I had planned for this trip. But, God showed me I am far from being alone!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Time for Transition

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every activity under heaven."  
Ecclesiastes 3:1

It is a time of transition for me here in Lawra. I am not going anywhere. I am not changing the focus of my ministry. But, people who have become close to me, people whom I have grown to love are leaving Lawra or maybe even Ghana, and going else where. The picture above is the Very Rev. Ernest K. Baiden at his Farewell Service. He has been my pastor, my boss, my colleague, but, most importantly, my friend. He and his wife, Bertha, are moving to Tamale where he has been posted. I will see him a few times a year, but, it won't be the same. I am looking forward to getting to know the new pastor better and to welcome him and his family to the Lawra area.

Then, there is Leela, from the UK. She left Lawra on Sunday, and will return to London later this week. We have become good friends during her time in Lawra. I hope to visit her and Sarah (who goes and comes from England) sometime next year. Also, very close colleagues of mine, who live in Bolga, left Sunday. I will see them at a conference, but, they will not return to Ghana until the beginning of March. A Peace Corps friend is leaving Lawra in three weeks, going to America, then, returning to Ghana to work in Accra. Other colleagues of mine are leaving in December and will return six months later. Oh, and I am sure there are more...

Saying "good bye" isn't always easy. I have lived in Lawra before all of these people were here. I have lived in Ghana before I became close to these people. So, what do I do now? I believe that the Lord will use this time to draw me closer to Him, to strengthen our relationship.I don't know what God has in mind. But, what I do know, is that he won't leave me to be alone. He will bring others along side of me, both Ghanaians and expats. I will be keeping my eyes and ears open to where He leads!

Monday, September 21, 2015

...They Are Life

"The words I have spoken to you," Jesus says,"are spirit and
they are life." (John 6:63)

They are, when I feel as if the joy of life is ebbing away, I need Your words, Lord. If I am tempted to give into depression, or a "woe is me" attitude, Your words will give life. When the words or actions of others threaten to suck life out of me, Your words give life. Lord, I need You and Your words. Life has its challenges.. Some days those challenges are small. Other days, those challenges are big. And, once in a while, those challenges are HUGE! But, if I immerse myself in Your word, meditate on it, learn from it, know it, lean on it, draw strength from it, no challenge is too big for us together. Life is You. I am determined not to give in to the pull of the world. Instead, I choose life! - Your life!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I Love a Lonely Day

TV's off at 1 a.m.
One more day alone again.
The work gets longer every day.
Why'd I have to get away?
But I have found a comfort here.
Solitude can be so dear.
Loneliness is not so blue,
When it puts my mind on You.
I love a lonely day,
It makes me think of You
All alone, I can easily find Your love.
I love a lonely day,
It chases me to You.
It clears my heart,
Lets my very best part shine through, it's You!
~ Amy Grant

Friday, September 4, 2015

Lessons Learned from a Coloring Book - Part 3

I haven't colored for a week. So, I decided to pull out the pencils and sharpener and the coloring book. I just got started coloring when the lights went out! What to do? grab a couple of flashlights and keep coloring, of course! (Lights were off for twelve hours.)

The next day, when I looked closely at what I colored the night before, I was a bit disappointed. You see, what I colored by flashlight wasn't nice and "crisp", not close to the edges and even missing some places. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but, well, was it really worth it?

I started thinking, "It's all about the light." When the light is good, the coloring is good. Better choices are made. All goes well. But, by flashlight, things aren't so good. Hmmm...sounds familiar. 

The light of Christ helps me make good choices. His word lights up the way I should go. Temptation is easier to ignore in the daytime, in the light. Thoughts stay focused. But, in the night, in the dark, when I am tired, it is harder not to give in to temptation. My mind wanders. And when making decisions on my own instead of by Christ's leading, sometimes they are less than beneficial.

Light versus coloring and in life, choose Light!