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.