Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jake's Ghana Trip Journal ~ Day 2

Wednesday, December28th, 2011

We have arrived in Ghana after a fairly smooth flight and no major delays. Of course no arrival at the Ghana airport is without excitement. Yes, we did arrive on time but we were soon at the mercy of the non-efficient baggage service at the Accra airport. About ninety minutes after our official arrival we eventually left the airport with 14 of our 15 bags. Brittany’s bag was nowhere to be found and I felt horrible for her as it is her first trip to Ghana - then being a woman with no luggage cannot make the trip any easier. Brittany has been great about it all and luckily Emma Vander Weide is with us and they are the same size so they will be able to share some clothes until Brittany’s bag shows up. We can only pray that it arrives sooner than later.

Following the airport adventures of Accra International Airport we headed to our charter bus that took us immediately to Asikuma. After having to deal with Accra traffic, 500 speed bumps, people running across the road, goats being stuffed into taxi cabs, and the gigantic cow in the middle of the road that we almost hit we finally arrived in Asikuma around 8:00pm.

As soon as our bus pulled into the hotel in Asikuma we were immediately greeted by Albert (one of our beloved village kids) and his crew who helped us get settled into our rooms and then decided to join us for a late dinner. Following dinner we all took a stroll up to the medical clinic under the night sky to check in on the progress of the clinic. To our surprise the clinic was looking incredible - the locals had put in significant work. We knew that God had allowed us to do a lot of work on the clinic in August, but it was with great joy that the community had taken real ownership of the place. There were a few new trees planted, flowers planted, part of the side walk finished, and all of the tile inside the clinic had also been finished by the some of the local workers. We were told by Nana, the chief of the village, that the clinic has seen 459 patients since opening in August. Who knows how many lives have been saved through the gifts and talents God has given the construction crew that has sacrificed so much to make this clinic a reality. All we could say as we concluded the night and went back to the hotel to get some rest is that GOD IS GOOD!!

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Today we woke up at 7:45am with breakfast being at 8am. By 8:30am we were all out of the hotel gate. The construction guys were ready to get started with the final touches of the clinic and I was excited to head immediately into the village and see all my friends from our past visits to Asikuma. Mostly I was excited to head into town to see ‘Y’ and ‘A’ the beautiful girls that God has put into our lives. There is never a day that goes by without me thinking about them, and during the hours upon hours of individual training that I am doing they are the ones who keep me going.

As I entered the village and walked around the corner their grandmother immediately recognized me and called out for the girls. The girls both came out of their small house and greeted me with smiles and open arms. ‘A’ who would not even let me touch her during our last visit came right into my arms and let me pick her up.

I spent the next two hours just sitting with the girls beginning to learn their personalities as I was excited for them to get comfortable around me. I wanted to see how they acted in their normal environment.

It was actually kind of crazy, but the best way to describe the girls is ‘Y’ is serious with a soft heart just like JJ and ‘A’ is sassy with a lot of personality just like Jayla. ‘Y’ never left my side the entire time as she sat on my lap, held my hand, and loved the games on my phone. ‘A’ on the other hand never sat still for more than 30 seconds. Anytime someone messed with her she would run up and spank them on the butt, run around in a circle with a shoe string swinging in the air giggling the whole time. She also liked to throw rocks in the air which got her in trouble by her grandmother.

It was an awesome couple of hours. After my time with the girls I began to run into some of the kids that we have decided to invest our lives into and disciple.

One of the kids is Fredrick. Fredrick is one of the biggest kids in the village and is kind of the body guard of the group. The more I was around him this morning the more I noticed that he was just not himself. He had very little energy and his one eye was almost swollen shut. The good news was that we had a clinic now up and operating and I thought this would be a great chance for me to see how the clinic works. I walked Fredrick down to the clinic and right into the nurse’s office. She looked at me kind of funny and I simply told her we would take care of the cost and she immediately went to work figuring out what was wrong with Fredrick. By the time the 20 minute look-over was finished he was diagnosed with a severe eye infection and a bad skin rash. They gave him some eye medicine, pills (of some sort), and a lotion to put on his skin. All in all the medicine cost us 8 cedis (roughly US $5) and I gave her 10 cedis for her service which is roughly (US $7). It was fun to see how the nurses go about their work. Let’s just say it is not done like the United States, but nonetheless Fredrick received treatment he would have otherwise not received just a few months earlier.

Next came a quick lunch of fried rice and something else that resembled a stew. Before we knew it we were back to what God had called us to do here. The construction guys were back to cranking out the finishing touches on the medical clinic ~ building shelves, pouring cement, and finishing the sidewalk.

Brittany and Emma were playing and dancing with the village kids…

and I snuck away to spend more time with ‘Y’ and ‘A’. As I arrived at their home I received a huge smile from grandma as she sat there cracking palm nuts that she will sell to make a living….

Upon seeing me ‘Y’ ran right up to me and I scooped her up. For the next three hours I sat on the ledge of the stoop of their small mud shack and played with the girls and learned more about their environment than I had learned in all my trips to Ghana. I learned all about the palm nuts. Grandmother cracks the nuts and then melts them over fire creating palm oil which is then sold. It was a very fascinating process to see completed.

During my time with the girls I got to watch an ‘aunt’ prepare dinner with incredible diligence in a little cooking hut that would not be approved by any city inspector. She was sitting in a little mud hut with a 5 foot ceiling made out of straw. In the middle of the hut was an open flame shooting 2 or 3 feet into the air. The little room was filled with smoke and wonderful scents of Ghanaian food. I sat there the whole time fearing for the worst as I was sure the roof would catch fire at any moment.

During the midst of me watching this shooting flame inside the hut a minor fist fight broke out between two men in the village which drew quite a crowd and ruckus. I have never seen so many Ghanaians yelling at each other all at one time, and the best part is a couple of women actually broke up the altercation. About 30 minutes after the altercation we all hear a huge pop that sounded like a gun or fire cracker - we really could not decide. Nana (chief of the village) had just arrived where I was sitting and we all looked at each trying to decide what that noise was. Nana finally looked at everyone and said - "I am so tired of the people setting off those Christmas fire crackers!" However, this pop was no firework. It was actually the sound of a gun. A man and wife were fighting over money and the man grabbed what most accurately would be described as a bb gun to end the fight, and somehow it went off in the middle of the crowded village. All of a sudden the police are chasing a man through the village, people are yelling and screaming, and a 10 year old girl got shot in the leg. A few minutes later a man was being arrested and a girl was being sent to the hospital in Juapong which is about 30 miles away.

Ever since our journey in Africa began three years ago we have always said to expect the unexpected when in Ghana and nothing is ever as it seems. This was never more true than today during my few hours hanging out in the village. In the midst of chaos I had a great time bonding with ‘Y’ and ‘A’ and seeing them become more comfortable with me was an awesome feeling. Today I got to see all kinds of exciting action just sitting like a local and watching what many normal days probably consist of. There is no way I would exchange these few hours for anything in the world.

Before I knew it the time was five o’clock and I was heading back to the hotel with our small group of children that God has called us to disciple for a bible study and then dinner. We brought each one of the kids their very own bible and we all huddled around the table and opened up to Luke 6:46-49.

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’, and do not do what I say? (Message bible actually says, why do you say yes sir, no sir, thank you sir, and yet your actions look nothing like your words). I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house, but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice, is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

I actually came across this while doing my personal bible readings prior to leaving for Ghana. I have heard this part of scripture a million times and have sung it an equal number of times. All the other times I have read or heard this verse I was sure the foundation described was talking about the acceptance of Jesus into ones’ life. However, the more I studied this part of scripture the more I realized that is not what Jesus was talking about. He was talking about believers who have already accepted Jesus into their lives. Once we have accepted Jesus we need to begin to take his words and direction that is written in the Bible and put it into our lives, so that we can learn to fully rely on God.

When I read this a few days before leaving for Ghana the verses came alive and I believe God was leading me to this scripture as a place to start with our group of young people in Asikuma. In Africa there are a ton of people that believe in Jesus. Many studies actually say that the most professed believers in Jesus Christ are in Africa and yet the greatest poverty and killings in the world also occur in Africa. The majority of Africans that are not professed Muslims understand who Jesus Christ is and accept the fact that Jesus died for them. However, very little in their life actually changes upon accepting Jesus. The ideas we really focused on with the kids and will focus on throughout the week is the idea of serving and not being served, as well as the responsibility we all have with the gifts and talents God has given us. Tonight we talked about once we have accepted Jesus in our lives that our lives should begin to look different from our peers and neighbors. When we read the Bible and God instructs us through His word on how to live we are supposed to respond in obedience with our lives according to His instruction.

It was so much fun having the kids’ complete attention as they were all so excited to be learning about the Bible. Even a few of the workers at the hotel came over in delight asking me if we were teaching the Bible and if we were whether or not they could sit and learn as well. It was with great joy and excitement to be able to teach the Bible to so many ears who had a desire to learn.

Following the Bible study we enjoyed a night of fried rice and tilapia and I thoroughly enjoyed every part of my favorite dish. The kids soon scattered home and it was just this trip’s team (Chris, Emma, Doug, Brittany, Typh, Nick, Tim, Dan, and I) left together in the eating area of the hotel. Before long Brittany broke out a deck of cards and taught everyone a new game called phase 10. She failed to inform us that it is the longest card game known to man and the game did not finish until 1:30am. It was a blast spending time with the team and laughing together until late into the night, but we will certainly pay the price in the morning.

1 comment:

Nate and Jenna said...

This one gave me goosebumps. Can't wait to meet those sweet little girls!