In February, I celebrated six years in Ghana! Six years. In some ways it seems like I just got here. Other ways it seems as if I have been here forever! When I came, I had in my mind that I would be here for at least ten years. IF I decide to leave after ten years, I have passed the halfway mark. I have only four more years! But, I don't sit around and count the days. What good is that?
Today I choose to be grateful for the time and the opportunities that God has given me. I came to Ghana thinking I would be working with children who were AIDS orphans. And I did for a while. But, God had other ideas.
I have had the privilege of: working with disabled children; being a "home away from home" for volunteers from the US and beyond; working in a clinic; being grandmother to a bunch of local children; and facilitating trainings for church leaders and Sunday school teachers.
The last four years (has it been four years already?) I have been the equivalent of a lay pastor in two village churches, Kalsagri and Kunyukuo. I am so glad God put me in Kalsagri first because if it had been the other was around, I don't know if I could have done it. In Kalsagri, the congregation is made up of a variety of ages. The children and youth WANT to learn and many of them have attended Bible studies, English classes and trainings that have been available. Even those in Junior High School are helping to lead the church. Kunyukuo is mainly made up of widows, a couple of young mothers and LOTS of young children. So far, I haven't seen the interest in growth among the people of this church. It is as if they are sleeping and need to be awaken. Both churches have a large percentage of illiterate people in their congregation. Both churches have welcomed and accepted me, for which I am grateful.
It hasn't been easy. God has stretched me beyond what I could imagine. I drive a motorcycle! I prepare a sermon most weeks. I have seen the needless and preventable deaths of both adults and children. I've attended more funerals in the last six years than I have in my entire life before I moved here. I have seen people who are oppressed and need the peace of the Lord. I have seen people who try to feed their families and don't have the means to do so. I have known young men and women who want an education and can't afford it. I have had illnesses that I never thought I would have to worry about. I have seen way too many flying insects up close! And, now that we are entering the hot season...Ugh! 105 degrees and higher is NOT fun.
But,the blessings, oh, the blessings...a Ghanaian family... Being part of someone's life, watching them grow in their faith and be baptized and confirmed. Listening to testimony after testimony of how God has worked in lives. Being a part of a church where the blind, lame and disfigured worship and praise God side by side of others - and witnessing their confession of faith and baptism.Seeing people who have been outcasts become accepted. Watching boys and girls try their best both in school and at church, leading the worship services. Hearing children of all ages call out, "Maakum!" to me. It makes me smile and know I am blessed beyond measure.
Six years down...only God knows how many are in my future.