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

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Day of Celebration in Koduakrom, Ghana

Mary Kay writes:

I first visited Koduakrom in 2010. This little rural farming village is about 30 minutes outside of Sunyani, the capital of the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana, which is the breadbasket of Ghana. Farmers here grow bananas, plaintain, coco yams, palm nuts (for palm oil) and other staples of the Ghanaian diet. But it was a somewhat depressing little collection of crumbling mud huts with thatched roofs, one borehole that dries up every year during the dry season, and two cement block buildings – churches – on either end of the village. The Methodist chapel was roofed, but not finished – no plaster, windows or doors.

Back again two years later, my fifth or sixth visit, we celebrated a new day in Koduakrom. The village has a new deeper borehole that will not dry out, thanks to the generosity of my friends at St. John’s UMC in Edwardsville, IL. Everyone in the village is excited about this improvement, especially the children who will not miss school due to waterborne disease as often as in the past.

The Methodist Chapel has been completed as well, thanks to friends at Asbury UMC in Madison, AL. A team from there came this past November to Koduakrom and participated in a revival in the village. At the same time, they were moved to contribute funds toward the completion of the chapel. My dear friend and colleague, Bishop Kofi Asare-Bediako, also remembered his pledge to build a chapel at Koduakrom from the early 90s, when he was a minister in their circuit. So now they have a beautiful Easter egg colored church to remind them of their new life in Jesus – yellow for the light of Christ in our lives, blue for His living water, pink for joy. Villagers report that the church is growing and has a renewed hope for their future.

There is a beautiful grove of mango trees started around the chapel now, too, a gift from the Bishop as well. So in a few years, the church and its members will have the income from the mangoes they grow to augment their coffers – money that will be used to support the widows and orphans of the village.

Lastly, a school is under construction – right across the road from the Methodist Chapel. This is being funded by the local District Assembly, as it should be, but there has never been a school in Koduakrom before now. Schoolchildren have had to walk a couple of kilometers to attend the nearest school in the next village. What a blessing that they will soon be able to attend school in their own village.

Things are definitely looking up in Koduakrom. You could see it in the smiles on peoples' faces and the hugs and warm greetings I received when I got out of the car. The people of Koduakrom also gave us a traditional "thanksgiving" gift from their harvest - plaintain, coco yams, a goat (live!), and palm nuts - all the ingredients for fufu and palm nut soup. I can’t wait to come back in two or three more years to see the changes here, all because its citizens now have pride in their community and hope in the future. And I can’t wait to taste one of their delicious mangoes !

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life..." (Psalm 23:5-6a, NIV)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ant Music

Mary Kay writes:

No, not the early 80s Adam Ant kind, though I did go back and watch his videos on you tube for a blast from the past this afternoon… And not the cool ants running around in the baggage claim area at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport either.

This morning, I poured cereal for Ken, but he didn’t eat it. Then, instead of eating it myself right away, I got distracted. So when I did go to eat, it was swarming with ants.

A WAWA (West Africa Wins Again) moment, but I was not about to let the ants win! A quick stay in the freezer, and they were dead. Then if you shake the bowl, the dead ants fall to the bottom, and you can transfer the cereal to a new bowl. Or you can put the cereal in a colander, give a shake and the ants will fall out, leaving the cereal behind. Any that remain in the cereal will float when you add milk and you can pick them out. Besides, ants are protein, right?

This may sound funny to my North American friends. Why pick the ants out of the cereal, or weevils out of rice (rinse – the weevils drown and float) or flour (freeze then sift)? Why not just throw it out and start over? That is certainly what I would have done before. But here in Ghana, food is expensive, especially imported items like cereal. This was a precious bowl of Honey Loops (a European version of Honey Nut Cheerios) that I had spent almost $10 for.

And more importantly, here in Ghana, many will not have enough to eat today. The UN World Food Programme reports that 18% of children are undernourished, a number which seems low based on my experiences in the rural villages, where 50 to 100% of children may be malnourished. How can I waste food, even if I can afford to, knowing that there are others nearby, maybe even next door, who got no breakfast this morning?

Christ’s heart is for the hurting in the world. And we as Christians are called to love others as we love ourselves. The least we can do is not waste the bountiful resources we have.

“The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:14, NIV)

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Laundry Day

Mary Kay writes…

I am working at home today – an unusual occurrence in and of itself. And since I am home, I am getting some housework done as well – even rarer! Hell might actually be freezing over at this very moment. I have scrubbed the bathrooms and hung out a couple of loads of laundry to dry.

As I hung out the laundry, I was overwhelmed by memories. I remember as a very small child “helping” my mom hang out the laundry in our back yard. I would hand her clothespins out of her apron pocket. I think she only wore the apron to hang out the laundry – and to hold the clothespins. I loved to run through the damp clothes, feeling the cool damp cotton against my arms, especially on a hot, sunny Houston summer day. While I am sure my mom was thrilled, it was a bittersweet day when we got a dryer.

Sheets flapping in the breeze remind me of my Grandmother Queenie’s house. Myrtle, her housekeeper, would hang them out to dry, then iron them flat even after they got a dryer. The cotton sheets always seemed so crisp and fresh. Who needed “spring breeze” scented laundry soap then – we had the real thing.

Today I also washed and hung out my hotpads – all hand-crocheted by my mother. She rarely has idle hands, preferring to always be working on the latest project. She learned to crochet and to make the hotpads from my Great-Grandmother, so it is a family tradition of sorts. Some of my hotpads (the maroon and navy ones) are almost antique now – made as shower gifts when Charlie and I got married 25 years ago. The primary colored ones were made before we left for Ghana – to match the dishes I was bringing here.

While I am far from home, today I feel like I have been hugged – by my Mom, my Grandmother and the great-grandmother I never knew. Who knew that housework could be so rewarding?

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies…She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed. (Proverbs 31:10, 13, 27-28, NIV)