Join us on our faith journey as we follow Jesus to Ghana, West Africa!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For, Part 2

Mary Kay writes...

Another lesson in "be careful what you wish for" came yesterday afternoon. I had spent a little time moping this week about how shallow our relationships with Ghanaians sometimes seem. It may be cultural misunderstanding, or just that we do things differently? Anyway, as I delivered Christmas gifts to various pastors and others, I was feeling a little sorry for myself, thinking that the gift giving seemed pretty one-sided.

But, yesterday we returned from a couple of days at the beach to quite a surprise. As we carried our wet towels and sandy bags into the house, our security man told me that someone had dropped by a Christmas present for us - a truly Ghanaian Christmas present of rice, palm oil,and a guinea fowl. I walked in the house and saw the rice and oil sitting on the floor. But where was the guinea fowl? I looked in the refrigerator and the freezer, but I didn't see anything that looked like guinea fowl meat.

Then I started cleaning up from the trip, and went to throw out some trash from our snacks in the car. As I started to drop the paper into the kitchen trash can, a small movement caught the corner of my eye. I had found my guinea fowl - it was alive!

I had to smile - a live bird for Christmas. When Charlie worked at UPS, they used to give us a frozen turkey every year. Prior to the Depression, they had actually delivered a live turkey to each employee's family. We used to laugh at the image of the UPS man having to wrestle a live turkey up to our front door during the Christmas rush. Now we were living that story!

I called the rest of the family in to see our Christmas present. The boys immediately sent up howls of protest that the "poor bird" was being held captive in our trash bin. Then they asked what I would do with it. Needless to say, my response of "wring its neck and eat it" was not well received. Chip and Ken were absolutely not going to eat anything that they had seen alive, even if the fowl did not become a pet. And never mind that the chicken and beef they eat every night for dinner was once alive.

So the guinea fowl went home with Jasper, our driver. He was very appreciative, and I am sure his family feasted well today. But I was a little disappointed. I was looking forward to finding out if I really had enough pioneer stock in me to wring a bird's neck, pluck it, and cook it for our dinner. It's probably easier to just go buy a frozen chicken at Max Mart, though. What wimps we are!

Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. ... They asked, and he brought them quail and satisfied them with the bread of heaven. Psalm 105:1, 40

Friday, December 19, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For, Part 1

Mary Kay writes...

Be careful what you wish for! Yesterday in our newsletter, and also posted on our blog, I wrote that one of the things I missed about home at Christmas time was the sound of the Salvation Army Santas ringing their bells outside stores. Not to worry!

Today, I was in one of the larger, western grocery stores in town, Max Mart in East Legon. I was picking up a few things so that the boys and I could indulge in some Christmas baking. As I strolled the aisles with my cart, picking up dates, flour, sugar, etc., all of a sudden I started to hear a familiar sound.

There was a Ghanaian man, dressed up in a Santa suit,complete with fake beard! He was roaming up and down the aisles of the store, ringing his little brass bell. No "Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas" or large kettle for donations, but still a little reminder of home. I was practically rolling on the floor with laughter, as I thought of how hard God was trying to make me feel at home for Christmas!

I took you from the ends of the earth,from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:9-10

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'll Be Home For Christmas...

Mary Kay writes... I wrote the following for our newsletter, but thought I would publish it here as well.

I have the Christmas music playing on my laptop as I write; I’m trying to convince myself that Christmas is just around the corner. It is difficult, when it is in the 90s outside. And while Christmas is a celebration here in Ghana, and becoming more commercialized, it has not taken on the production levels of the US.

As I listen to Christmas favorites, I realize how many of them came from the World War II era, when soldiers were separated from loved ones and dreaming of home and a White Christmas. I dream of Christmas concerts at the church, Salvation Army Santas ringing their bells, and the scent of pine in the house. Charlie longs for cold weather, and the boys are just glad school is out!

That first Christmas was really no different for Mary and Joseph. They, too, were far from home at a time that they longed to be celebrating with family. And they did not have the luxury of e-mail and digital photos to get the news to their loved ones back home! But they did still have their faith in God , that all was happening according to His plan.

That is what we are learning: That home is not the place where you are born, or where you feel most comfortable culturally. Home is where God places you for this time in your life. And while we may be far from loved ones, we are never far from The One Who Loves Us! So we are home for Christmas, here in Ghana, but we will also be home with you, if only in our hearts and prayers.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:4-8

Friday, December 05, 2008

Death of a Material Girl

Mary Kay writes…

Well, she’s finally dead! No, not Madonna (at least not that I’ve heard). But I definitely would have fit her description of a Material Girl in years past. Not anymore!

It is getting toward that time of year again – Christmas! Many friends and family members have e-mailed us asking what we would like to receive for Christmas. We have scoured the internet, the boys’ teen magazines and more, trying to come up with answers. But we struggle to make a list. The things we would like the most seem so insignificant – a box of Cheerios or Life cereal, some broccoli or asparagus. It doesn’t take much to make us happy these days. Of course, the things we really want, like Peace on Earth or safe water for everyone, are a lot more difficult to come by.

A couple of days ago, I walked into our local Orca store – a kind of overgrown Pier One crossed with an undersized WalMart. There was one item I needed to get, which I quickly found. But then I thought I would just look around a minute to see if there was anything I needed to get for Christmas. I was quickly overwhelmed by all the “stuff”. I definitely felt like I was in Madame Blueberry’s StuffMart (a great VeggieTales video, if you haven’t seen it!). After only a couple of minutes, and without seeing most of what was on display, I couldn’t stand it any longer and had to leave, with my one simple purchase.

Charlie hit the nail on the head last night. As we were trying to answer one more Christmas wish list e-mail, he said, “You know, it is hard to know what you “want” for Christmas here, without all the advertisers to tell you what the latest gizmos are!”

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12