Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lawra Be Fit Aerobics Club

It's Saturday morning! The weekend! YAY! I open my eyes just a bit to check the time. It's 5:08. I have to get up. I don't want to. I have to. Why? Because today is Saturday. Today is the meeting of the Lawra Be Fit Aerobics Club. I drag myself out of bed, get dressed, brush my teeth and walk to the basketball court in town. Today the court was filled with bottle caps, a broken beer bottle and droppings from a variety of four legged creatures. Henry has already started the music. Only one other person is there, so far. By the time we get into the more serious stuff, there are 8-15 of us. Obviously, I am the oldest, most are one third my age. Henry has us walk back and forth doing a variety of things with our arms. Then it comes...the Lawra version of the Step Exercises. We use the step around the cement gutter for our step. Oh! I do what I can, I can't always keep up. These young ones act as if they drank eight cups of high test coffee before they came. After a long fifteen or more minutes, we are finished with the step part of the programme. We go through an assortment of cardio exercises and stretches. We do high knee lifts, fancy footwork and they do hopping and jumping type stuff. I keep moving, but, I can't jump (knee replacements.) Then, we actually do floor exercises! Usually, we do sit ups...they do push ups. We do a selection of leg exercises. They plank. Henry tries to add some fun stuff. By the end of the class, I am ready for a nap and it is only 7:00 AM! But, it is good. I have been accepted into this younger group of people who call me "Maakum." (Grandmother)  We have an "Whats App" Group to pass along health information and notices about class. And, Henry has messaged me to find out how I am doing even when I tell him I am traveling and won't make it to class. I am not the best person when it comes to self care. But, this class, this group of young people have really enriched my life in more ways than one. Keep challenging me, Henry!

The Hardest Job of All

Living in a remote area of a developing country can be a blessing and a curse. There are plenty of joys and plenty of sorrows and plenty of challenges. Everything I try to do here takes so much longer than it does in the US. Everything! And it is so much harder, too! For example, I had a list of "office" type stuff to do yesterday. Alas! No electricity and the network for my wifi was less than horrible. I went to plan "B." I put two frozen water bottles next to my carton of milk to keep it cold in the refrigerator. And, one next to the jar of mayonnaise! Shopping can be a challenge most days. And, preaching to a congregation of 10 adults and 40 children, most under the age of 10 definitely makes me rethink how I will preach on Sundays. Driving a motorcycle on bad roads, with bugs hitting my face is common. But, those are not anywhere near the hardest job of all.

"What is your hardest job of all?" you might ask. Well, the hardest job of all, is taking care of myself. I'm getting better at it, but it is a huge challenge. Let's start with Spiritual health. I do have my time with the Lord and His word. We talk. I try to listen. But, I am usually thinking, "I should be doing_____." Fill in the blank. I feel guilty when I spend an extended time in prayer/worship/study. I feel guilty even though I know it is so important here. There are so many things fighting for a person's attention. and, spiritual warfare is very real here. I try not to feel guilty. It is a work in progress. Worship is always in Dagaare. I usually preach, so I am in Scripture a lot. But, I don't hear a message from someone else. I had communion maybe twice in the last year. Christian books are not readily available in my area. Internet reading and Kindle reading are possible, but, sometimes I need the book in hand to underline, highlight and make notes in the margins. Fasting has been added to my spiritual disciplines in order to draw me closer to the Lord.

Physical health...I'll start with food. I haven't seen any fresh fruit here in a few weeks. If I liked tomatoes and okra, I would be fine here. I don't. Meat is very questionable. Cheese? Those little triangles of spreadable cheese, they are available most times. If I didn't eat carbs, there wouldn't be much to eat. I have to travel two hours in a crowded less than safe van to buy cucumbers and sometimes lettuce, although lettuce season is basically over. It is too hot! Exercise...I started walking at least three mornings a week. I try to leave my house between 5:30 and 6:00 since any later, it gets hot! On my walks, I enjoy greeting the people in the community and having an impromptu Dagaare lesson at Ali's Tea Station. It's nice. I also joined the Be Fit Aerobics Club that meets every Saturday morning from 5:30-7:00 outside, on a basketball court. Medical help is available, for basic things. I wanted to get the rabies vaccine in case I ever get bit, it would give me more time to get to a doctor. I had to get it from Kumasi, at least 10 hours away on a good day! Someone here in Lawra gave me the three injections. I have been really sick a few times in the past five years. Ignorance is not bliss! But, now I know if certain things happen, I need to call Vincent, the Physician's Assistant right away.

I'm getting better at taking care of myself. I haven't "arrived" in that area, but, I am taking steps and making progress. This, too, is a journey. I am grateful for all of those who have kept a watchful eye on me when needed. And, I will keep trying...

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

God is Faithful

During the past week, I was hit square in the face with some of the realities of living in this area. Oh, they were nothing new. But, maybe I saw them in a different light this time. Maybe it was the intensity of the reality. We all live in areas where there are spiritual battles going on. The battles you see and experience may be very different than the battles that I see and experience. Northern Ghana is definitely a spiritual battlefield, even amongst believers. Some days, when I return from a visit to a home in the village, I need the Lord to help me regroup, readjust. 

I think the experiences I had last week opened my eyes to see fresh once again. After being here for five years, I am sorry to say, it can be easy to think, "This is life in Lawra and the surrounding areas." and keep it at that. Between some conversations I had last week and attending a Traditional funeral, once again, my eyes were opened...not only my physical eyes, but my spiritual eyes as well. And, it unsettled me. Part of my problem was that at first, these things didn't bother me. And, that fact bothered me. I don't want to accept things as they are and not see them as the Lord sees them. So, I had to pray for forgiveness and ask the Lord to give me His eyes, His ears, His heart when facing these types of circumstances. In my mind, they should drive me to my knees. 

One thing that I did remember was that God is faithful! What an understatement! He listens to the cries of my heart. He knows what is going on within me even before I do. And He starts to work. I pray that I won't accept these situations as the "status quo," but would begin to seek the Father's will on what my part is when coming to these situations. There is an appointed time and an appointed place for conversation. Until then, may my actions reflect the Father's love to those I meet, especially to those who do not know the unconditional love of the Lord.