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."