Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Bittersweet Time

It's that time. The time that is so bittersweet for me. It is time for Home Assignment.My home Assignment will be July 21 until November 10of this year. It is time to connect with the people and churches who have partnered with me in the past, to say, "Thank-you" and to update them on what has been happening in the Lawra area. It is also a time to invite others to partner with me in this ministry. It is also a time for personal and professional development. And, time to connect with family and friends face to face. Time to stop in the office. Time to "debrief." And, a time to worship in English! As you can see, there is lots to do!

This doesn't happen overnight! There is a lot of preparation for Home Assignment. And, that is complicated by being thousands of miles away with interruptions in electrical, phone and internet services. Add to that the time difference...and a variety of schedules! I have been contacting people since February, trying to set datesand to schedule talks, a "meet and greet," a dinner, transportation, etc. It hasn't been easy. There is a church or two that I haven't been able to track down yet! Aside from the "job" type stuff, there is also finding a place to stay, a car to use, a phone to use, and internet other than Mc Donald's.

Now, with my departure from Lawra only a day away, I have been working on the really hard part...tying up loose ends and saying "Good-bye" even if it is only for four months.Sunday, July 10 was my lst Sunday to preach in Kunyukuo until November. Bible study is over for now - it is farming season and everyone is busy.Even though I have only been in Kunyukuo a short time, I can't believe I am leaving already. It's hard to say, "Good-bye." On my morning walks, I greet the sanitation workers who are out so early. And, my eyes start to tear up. What's that all about? I hear, "Maakum" shouted by a child who is across the park. I return his greeting with a smile inmy heart.I am going to miss my morning people. I walk down the road some more and greet the elderly woman whose name is Faati. And, I see Junior at his house, anxiously waiting for me to arrive. I spend some time with him, playing an impromptu game. As I leave him, I am grateful for the worship music on my iPod, it gives me a distraction and focuses me on the Lord and not on a heavy heart as I say my "Good-byes." I will miss these friends of mine. I continue on to Ali's Tea Shop to greet Ali and have a mini Dagaare lesson. I stop to eat, too, since my food supply at the house has dwindled. Right now, there are children playing on my veranda. It will be so quiet when they leave.

Yet, I can't wait to see my sister again, to see my brothers. I look forward to seeing my friends. And, yes, I look forward to eating food that is non-existant in my world. I look forward to being with churches who have welcomed me and have joined with me in ministry in Ghana. There are many things I amexcited about doing while I am in the US. Even so, part of me will be in Lawra, part of me will be in Kalsagri, part of me will be in Kunyukuo. 

It's hard leaving the people I have grown to love over these five plus years. I pray God's protection on all of us while we are apart. And, in November, what a sweet "homecoming" there will be!

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Rainy Day

The rain started during the night. It was wonderful! The wwind and the sound of the drops hitting the zinc roof made sleeping very nice. I was surprised that the electricity was still working. Usually during a good rain, it goes off. When I got up at 5:00, it was still raining. It felt as if I should curl up with a good book. But, first, I made coffee.

When dawn appeared and it was light enough to read outside, I took my coffee and Bible out to the veranda. It was a bit chilly. I had to put on a long sleeved flannel shirt and slippers. I was definately making a fashion statement! I had been walking into town for breakfast this week, but, I had some odds and ends of jelly and cheese to use up. So, when the rain let up to a drizzle, I walked to town to buy bread for toast and grilled cheese. It's a good thing I went when I did. I got only slightly damp. About five minutes after I returned home, the heavens opened up and it poured for hours. We haven't had a rain like this since last year.

Here, in Lawra, most people walk wherever they go. Some use a bicycle for transportation. And, some use a motorcycle. So, what happens when there is a day of pouring rain? Children go to school late. Some schools don't have windows, so the children have to move their desks close together in the middle of the room when there is wind with the rain. Daily market is closed. People lose their income for the day. No one will venture out in the rain. Small businesses are closed because the workers can't make it into work. Sick people don't go to the clinics. How could they go? They would get drenched. Those who cook on wood face the challenges of finding dry wood. If it rained like this on a Sunday morning, worship services would be postponed until the rain stopped and held later in the day.

The rain is desperately needed by the farmers who  depend on growing their own food to feed their families. So, for them, the rain was most welcome. They hope that their crops will be enough to feed their families for the upcoming year. For me, it was a much appreciated day of rest. Cool temperatures, a book, a cup of tea...Thank You Lord, for refreshing the land and refreshing me!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

What I Wish I Could Tell You

Today is a holiday in Ghana. It is Eid Ul Fitr, the end of Ramadan. Businesses are closed. Schools are closed. I am working. Just like I did on July 1, Republic Day in Ghana and July 4, America's Independence Day. Why? Why didn't I take a day off? Because I am leaving on Home Assignment soon and there is a lot to do. On this side of the ocean, I need to make sure my commitments are fulfilled, that my water bill is paid for the next several months, that my electric bill will be paid for the next several months, that my freezer and refrigerator is emptied and any food that is left is given away. I need to make sure that school fees are paid for September's semester for a special needs student. And, I need to set my schedule for the time I will be stateside. Oh, and packing. Did I mention the challenge of packing?

Then, there is arriving in the US. Who will pick me up from the airport? (My brother and sister-in-law and my sister.) Then, or rather now, I need to be concerned about where I will lay my head. I have no home in the US. A phone...I don't have one in the US. So, that is something else I have had to cosider while I am preparing for my "home assignment." I have at least 20 speaking engagements scheduled and possibly more to come, plus two continuing education conferences to attend. Add to that dentist and doctor appointments.How will I get there? I have no car. Flying to and attending conferences is costly. Living in the US, even with a borrowed bed and a borrowed car is much more costly than living in Lawra and driving a motorcycle. 

Part of this time is vacation for me. I get to spend time with family and friends. It may be home to you, but, for me, I want to picnic and do fun things like ride (Is that the proper word to use?) on a Segway, see fireworks, go on a boat, see a show, go to a movie...I want to eat foods that I haven't had in ages...Mmmm. I'm dreaming! 

And, I want to worship in English! I want to have Communion. I want to be able to sing praises in my heart language. Chances are, there will be all new worship songs and I won't know any of them. 

How can you help? (You can help, you know.) Computer help. A car to drive. A day spent together having fun. Shopping! Gift cards for fuel. Gift cards for restaurants.  Gift cards for All that stuff can help. And, can cut expenses. And, will give memories that when I am in Lawra feeling alone, I can remember the time we had together in the US.

Home Assignment is not for the faint of heart. It is almost four months of a gruelling schedule, visiting churches, talking about ministry and trusting God will provide. Pray for my health. Pray for my sanity. Pray that my needs will be met while in the US . Pray that funds will be raised so I can stay here for five more years. Pray that in all my busyness, I will not forget the One whom I serve.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Brother Lawrence

Several years ago, even before I moved to Ghana, a friend had asked me what concerns did I have about moving to Lawra alone. "Hmmm...I guess it would be that my family would not be close by." I explained the reasons for which my brothers and sister would probably never visit me in Ghana. So, this person told me that he was friends with a Ghanaian. His name was Lawrence. At the time, Lawrence was living in Accra. I was instructed to email Lawrence and tell him that he was to include me in his family. So, I did. Lawrence responded. Of course, I was welcome into his family. And, his home village was in the Lawra area. Who knew? Not the person who gave me Lawrence's name!

Fast forward about two years. I finally move to Ghana. My memories of Lawrence were on the "back burner." I had no idea who he was, where he lived or how to get in contact with him. It is Easter week. I leave for a training with Rev. Dery, which would be held in Kumasi. We show up at Dery's Uncle's house (Rev. Job) at 2:00 in the morning. And we are welcomed like long lost family! I fall into bed. In the morning, I join the group for family devotions...guess who walks into the room. Lawrence! I was introduced to him, finally! It ended up that the people I knew or have met are all part of Lawrence's extended family! His family house is about a five minute motorcycle ride from my house!

Since then, Lawrence and I have seen each other several times a year. He comes for coffee/tea when he is in the area. I attended his father's funeral. When I am in Tamale, I visit him. He makes long, boring meetings not so boring. We've had theological conversations. I ask about his family. He asks about mine. I encourage him and pray for him. He does the same for me. At Rev. Baiden's funeral, he stood next to me as I read the Tribute from the Lawra Mission Circuit. He watches over me like my older brother, Dan, would, if he were here.

And, because Lawrence is a Superintendent Minister in the Methodist Church Ghana and I work alongside Methodist Church Ghana, Lawrence is there to share my joys and challenges in ministry. And, when life gets crazy, he tells me to "breathe" and reminds me of the One Thing that is most important. He sends me to Scripture and prays for me. And, I am thankful that years ago, God put into motion everything needed to give me family when I am so far from my own. Praise God!