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!