Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Highlights of an Easter Celebration and Visitors from Afar

My blogging skills don’t hold a candle to those of my mothers.  She so beautifully penned and photographed her time here with us, that I will not try and re-do what she’s perfected.  Instead, I invite you to visit her at www.justfollowingjesus.com.  Search Ghana to read the several entries covering the convention and her visit with us.

With that said, here are a few of my own thoughts and reflections about the past two weeks…

Every year Bishop Frank gathers all of his churches from around Ghana for an Easter Convention.  Both of our previous visits have missed the convention by just a few weeks.  This year, we were finally able to attend. 

Bishop has long since wanted my Dad to come and be a guest speaker. It hasn’t worked out, but this year it did!  Both my parents were able to come as guest speakers for the convention.  

In the weeks following up to the convention, their fame preceded them.  Their pictures were plastered all over the city, and all over Bishop’s car.  After their arrival, a man standing next to a poster looked up, and to his surprise looked right at my mom!  

The convention was held Thursday evening through Sunday morning.  Oh, how I love to worship with the Body here.  Having all of the churches together was an added treat!  Like anywhere else, the church has its traditions and routine-like flow to the service.  But oh, the joy!  The fun!  The sense of celebration and freedom!  They enjoy being in the house of the Lord.  They enjoy His presence. Saturday evening the celebration and dancing was so intense that a haze was seen across the sanctuary; a cloud of dust rising from the floor.

During the day on Friday and Saturday, Elizabeth (mom) taught a workshop for women, and Pastor taught one for the pastors. Elizabeth spoke about knowing God’s Word.  It’s His love letter to us.  It’s life. It’s nourishment.  It cleanses us, renews, and transforms us.  I could tell the group had been listening intently, and at the end they had questions.  Most of the questions were about how to get the Word in your heart if you don’t have a Bible or if you can’t read.  The realization of their questions was sinking in.

I knew illiteracy and lack of Bibles was an issue in Ghana, but it’s one of those things that is easy to ignore until its right in front of you.  I can’t even imagine not being able to read my Bible and meditate on its Words by myself.  I have well over 20 Bibles, four in my possession now.  Plus I have a few on my phone, ipod, and ipad.  So easily and abundantly accessible, yet so often taken for granted.

The women’s hunger for the Truth was evident.  Among the suggestions for the illiterate was to have a friend write down the verse (from a church service) and then have your child read it to you, over and over until it’s in your heart.  Others suggested creating songs for memorization.  For those who could read, but didn’t have a Bible (either at all or in their language), sharing with a friend or copying passages from church was the offered solution.

Easter Sunday began at 9am with Sunday School.  Church ended at 2:30. That’s right.  Five and a half hours.  Can you imagine if church went that long in America?!?  We would be fit to be tied!!!  But not here.  Every moment was savored.  There was no rush.  Christ’s resurrection was celebrated with worship and dance, special offerings of singing and praise.  Declarations of His resurrection power through the preaching of the Word.   It was a very memorable Easter.

The remainder of my parents time here was split between looking at future humanitarian projects with our friend Gary---a member of their church who joined us after the convention---and fun tourist activities.  We went up north to the monkey village and waterfall, then down south to modern Accra.

Our time in Accra was heavenly. (THANK YOU, Truelife Church!) A nice treat to celebrate being in Ghana for one month; a time to rejuvenate in preparation for the five months ahead.  We stayed at the Ramada.  Ramada in America is rather dumpy, but the resort here was very nice and upscale.    

Located right on the beach, they had a spa, pool, and best of all HOT running water.  The feeling of clean from showering with hot water can’t be beat.  It was the highlight of the weekend for me.  To get a hot shower in Kumasi, you have to time it just right, taking full advantage of the afternoon sun heating the tank. Of course we never do this, because who wants to take a shower in the middle of the day when you’re not done sweating and getting dirty.

We enjoyed the mall, too, and discovered Game, a partner store of Walmart!!  It was nice to see many familiar brands.  What wasn’t so nice were the prices.  Most definitely not the “everyday low prices” found at home.

Shoprite was our favorite store.  A supermarket with real cheese, ground meat, peanut butter, Doritos, and Skittles!!  I do believe our friend and driver thought us crazy as we drooled over all our familiar US foods.

Putting aside all the fun things we did with my parents and all the spoiling they did of us, the best thing for me was sharing with them our world; the Ghana we love so much.  You can describe West Africa (which is nothing like the East and South Africa you see on TV) all you want; show pictures, share stories.  But until you’ve been here, you don’t really get it.  

Experiencing the extreme poverty, lack, and hardships endured by the people, and then watching as they offer up thanks for all their blessings and worship with joy over flowing, it does something to you.  It changes you.  Going into a village of children dressed in rags, discovering that they have no understanding of a Savior who wants to know them personally, it does something to you.  It changes you.   You are never the same.

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