Monday, February 29, 2016

A Most Difficult Weekend

This past weekend was most difficult for me. Friday morning, I received word that my dear friend and colleague, the Very Rev. Ernest K. Baiden, ad died earlier that morning. How could this be true? I just saw him last week. Yet, I knew it was true. I couldn't accept it. I walked around the house like a zombie, not really focusing on anything. Doing something for a bit. Crying for a bit. Staring into space for a bit. Rev. Baiden was more than my pastor, more than my boss. Oh, how I will miss him.

I was scheduled to preach in Kalsagri on Sunday, yesterday. I am very grateful that for once I stayed up late on Thursday, not to color, but to finish my sermon. I knew on Friday, after hearing the news, writing a sermon would be useless. 

The theme of the day was to be, "Listen to the Lord and Live." What a perfect theme for the day! Two days earlier, I wasn't too sure as to what direction the sermon would go. Yes, it was written, but, still... And then, at church, before I preached, I announced Rev. Baiden's death. Most people knew already. Plus, I was wearing funeral cloth. Then, I began. After a few minutes, I put my notes down, and continued. It was truly the Lord who gave me yesterday's message. And, the untimely death of Rev. Baiden was a real life example that people understood.

I am not fond of having people repeat the "Sinner's Prayer." I want people to pray on their own, to mean it when they ask Jesus into their heats. Yesterday, we didn't have an altar call, per se. But, I definitely gave the invitation and had people pray on their own. I asked people to pray and ask Jesus to be Lord of their lives. Or, if they had already done that, which many have, what are the areas of your life where Jesus isn't Lord? Give those to Him. We prayed. And prayed. Surely, the Lord was in this place. This service was the perfect end to a most difficult weekend. Praise the Lord!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Five Years of Change

This month is my five year anniversary in Ghana and in Lawra. I have seen and done so much in these years. God has truly blessed me. Lawra has changed and so have I.

Now, in Lawra, there are more than two paved roads! And street signs! The internet connection is so much better. I can use a VPN. I can use FaceTime and Skype. I can download a music CD in less than six hours. The Methodist clinic where I worked when I first came has grown so much. There are eight or nine trained medical staff. The client numbers have gone from maybe ten a day to sixty a day. Agamal has arrived! They spray the inside of your house each year to kill mosquitoes and prevent them from feeling welcome. NGOs have arrived to help with development...small business grants, farming helps, and more. People have been expanding their businesses. There is an ATM machine at the bank. (Trips to Wa for money are no longer necessary.) Pre-paid electricity meters have been installed on the houses in Lawra town. The OA bus comes through Lawra, so it is possible to travel straight from Lawra to Accra. The DKM bus comes through Lawra, too, and travels to Sunyani. Green peppers are available almost all year! Non-dairy coffee creamer can be bought in town! Special needs children are accepted and seen as blessings and valuable members of their families. The nursing school has expanded. A new fuel station has been built and will soon begin to sell cooking gas! Lawra has a radio station. The Home Touch Restaurant has arrived with excellent food. Alas, not all has we only receive mail once a week instead of three. The Metro Mass busses don't come through Lawra as often. Cases of bottled Coke are no longer sold in Lawra. As you can see, the improvements far out weigh the things that aren't as convenient as they once were. I'm good with that!

Change hasn't only affected Lawra. It's affected me, too. That's a little harder for me to see. I came to work with small children who were at risk. I am now taking care of village churches. I preach most Sundays. I drive a motorcycle! I am "Maakum" or "Grandmother" to many. I know how to properly dress for a funeral. I know how to properly eat according to the customs here. I know greetings and other words and phrases in Dagaare. (I understand more than I  can say, but, I can't speak well enough to preach.) I can read Dagaare. My hair has gotten lighter because of the strong sun. My weight is harder to loose because of driving the motorcycle. But, in the big picture, that all doesn't really matter, does it?

The things that matter - change there is harder for me to see. Yes, I say I trust the Lord. But, do I really? When I am afraid, what do I do? I pray. So, that's good, right? I have had to depend on the Lord more and more since I have been living here. There are dangers here in Lawra, although they are mainly health related. But, there are also battles, spiritual battles. Because of this, I need to be prepared. I need to keep my eyes and ears open because the deceiver (I learned the Dagaare word for "deceiver" this past week!) comes in a variety of ways. My quiet time with Him becomes more precious and more important everyday. I believe my walk with the Lord has gotten more personal, stronger. But, the closer I get to Him, the more I realise how much there is yet to allow Him to change in me. It's all good. Five years of change is just a beginning. I pray He allows me to stay for many more. There is more change to help facilitate...for HIM!

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Ten days ago I was posted to the Kunyukuo Methodist Church. Today was my second Sunday to preach in this small village. I hopped onto my motorcycle around 8:30 in the morning to begin my challenging ride to the village. I have driven to Kunyukuo four times now, and I am far from an expert. There is a paved road for a couple of miles. Then, the dirt road begins. Not only is everything dry and dusty, so one has to be aware of loose dirt and gravel, but there are also several home made speed bumps, a bridge that is falling apart, rocks in the earth and V shaped ditches dug across the road (I like those the least!)

Once at the church forty minutes or so later, I am greeted by Matthias, the Society Steward. He helps with the business of the church. I walk inside, and there are PLENTY children waiting for the service to start. Total numbers are small, but, that is fine with me. As we get into a regular routine, people will come. 

Both Sundays I have asked, "Is there anyone here who can read English?" No hands went up. Hmm...I was hoping to get some people involved by reading the morning Scriptures. Then, I asked, "Is there anyone here who can read Dagaare?" No hands went up this time, either. Matthias and myself are the only ones. So, today he read the Epistle reading and I read the Gospel reading in Dagaare. I have asked "Uncle" if he would teach people to read Dagaare. He said he would. (Uncle is an older gentleman who is unable to walk, so he doesn't come to church. This would help keep him involved. So, I will continue my quest for Dagaare New Testaments.) 

Both Sundays, the service was very low key. The drum is spoiled and is being fixed. And, I know Matthias needs to brush up on his "church" Dagaare. (I may be able to help him with that. A Dagaare New Testament will help him, too.) The children have out numbered the adults. I know the word of God will be heard and people will come, not because of me, but, because of God. I am hoping people will invite others. In the meantime, we will come and worship and sing and hear the word of God. And, leave the rest up to the Lord!

After service, we stand around and talk. Mama gives me fried groundnuts to take home. I hop back on my motorcycle, a bit more slowly than earlier, and start the drive home, praying for safety. Kunyukuo is a lovely little church with precious people. I pray God will use me to do His will in that place.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Is Ignorance Bliss?

I have been traveling internationally on a regular basis for twenty years now. I have never had any problems, and I thank God for that. Sometimes, I have traveled with a group, or at least another person. Sometimes, I have traveled alone. And, When I have traveled alone, God has always placed someone in my life to watch over me, making sure I found the correct line, the correct gate, etc.

Then, 9/11 happened. Was I afraid to travel then? No. I sincerely believed that the safest place for me was in the center of God's will. And, I thought what I was doing was there - in God's will.He would protect me or give me the strength and courage to endure whatever came my way. 

Now, tonight happened. I was having conversation with Ghanaian and British friends. During the course of our discussion, I found out that one of the terrorists who was involved in the attack on Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso was arrested in Tumu, in the Upper West Region of Ghana. Oh! Now things are getting close to home. 

Am I concerned? Yes. Am I worried? No. I still believe that the safest place to be is in the center of God's will. I will continue to "live smart" and watch what I do and how I act. But, the bottom line is, I have put my life in God's hands. Have you?