Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jake's Ghana Trip Journal ~ Day 3

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Friday morning arrived way too soon and it did not help that the rooster at the hotel is a little confused and started crowing at 3am while it was still pitch black. The alarm went off at 8am and it felt like a semi-truck had just hit me. The good news was that everyone looked the same as we slowly shuffled in for breakfast. I think I ate three bofu balls which is best described as a big round deep fried donut. It probably is not on the recommended dietary guide but it tasted great none the less.

Before I knew it Nana and Michael were honking their horns at Doug, Brittany, Emma, and I as we were scheduled to head to Accra for the day to attend a variety of meetings and Esi’s party. The construction crew along with Nick and Typhanie were headed to the medical clinic to finish it all up today. Nick and Typhanie were in charge of all painting while Chris, Dan, and Tim were doing their thing.

We started in on the dreaded three hour drive from Asikuma to Accra. Of course we managed to squeeze six people into one vehicle with no air conditioning that is only designed to seat four people. The other vehicle could only fit two because of some weird permit on the car. Plus Doug Vander Weide believes he is an African driver now and was driving the car with the two person limit. I am not sure what would have been a better way to get to Accra as neither option was great. Ride with an American driving in a country that does not obey many of the basic traffic laws or be stuffed like sardines in a car with no air conditioning. I must say later in the day I did ride with Doug and he made an all-African U-turn in the middle of oncoming rush hour traffic which was quite impressive. I nearly threw up and saw my life flash before my eyes which would certainly qualify him as a certified African driver.

Our three hour journey turned into about a four journey of sweat and car sickness as our driver struggled with stopping in rush hour traffic without nearly jerking everyone through the front window. We did finally arrive at our first destination all a little nauseated to meet with the Kingdom Hoops Ghana basketball team. We have had lots of issues surrounding the Kingdom Hoops Ghana team over the past three months mostly regarding lying and mistrust. One of our host students that arrived about 8 months ago had to be sent back to Ghana due to age discrepancies. Once he found out he had to return back to Ghana he ratted out a handful of the players on the Kingdom Hoops Ghana team that were also lying about their age in order to receive opportunities through Kingdom Hoops Ghana.

I knew as the head of the team that I had two ways I could respond. I could respond with negative emotions or I could use it as a teaching moment centered on the scriptures. As hard as it was I tried to focus my energy on God’s word and His call for His followers to disciple others according to His word. I figure that I do the same things to God on a daily basis yet He loves me unconditionally and that is what I needed to do with the Kingdom Hoops Ghana team.

My conversation with them centered on the book of Haggai. Haggai was a prophet that came to the Israelites after they returned to the promised land. Haggai challenged the people of Israel that they were more concerned with building their own homes for themselves while God’s temple laid in ruins. Haggai showed them that no matter how hard they worked God would not bless their endeavors until their focus returned to what really matters in this world.

In my opinion the book of Haggai summarizes not only what was happening on the Kingdom Hoops Ghana team, but also what is happening throughout Africa. In Africa when individuals have an opportunity given to them they attempt to keep it all to themselves focusing on the building of their own personal interests ahead of even what God is trying to do. The Kingdom Hoops Ghana team was certainly no different. No matter what it took for them to receive an opportunity to build their own house they were willing to do it. It did not matter if their actions involved deceit and lying as long as they would be able to build their house. The craziest part about it was that over the past six months we have tried to help a variety of the Kingdom Hoops Ghana athletes receive opportunities to further their education on student visas. In the latter part of 2011, every student in our program that has went to the United States Embassy to receive their student visa has been denied. No matter what steps they took or how much diligence was put into the process God closed the door on them. It was as if God was saying to the boys ~ Until you start living to glorify Me (building God’s house) I am not going to bless your own house. God is certainly faithful and I praise Him daily for protecting our organization in the midst of such deceit, but even more so I praise Him for this opportunity to disciple these boys through this time in their life. Hoping that just maybe the next generation will learn the importance of honesty and the importance of building God’s house above their own.

Time will only tell how much the message will enter into the lives of these athletes. A few of them seemed repentant and understood the life Christ is calling them too. The majority seemed like it rolled off their back with the attitude that ‘this is Africa - get used to it’. The thing they don’t know about me is that God brought me here to rock the boat and not to conform. I know my God will lead me to individuals that want to create change in a continent for the sake of the gospel. I understand that this will be a journey that God will use to grow me as well, and it will certainly contain many peaks and valleys. It is exciting to be walking with Christ on this journey of discipleship and I can only pray He keeps me on this path.

After our meeting it was on to visit a private school in Accra. The headmaster of the school actually works for us part-time in Ghana helping coordinate our mission trips as well as the various projects that God has allowed us to start in Ghana. Recently the school lost its primary funding source as the non-profit entity that was helping the school out has actually been working as a fraud. The head master (Michael Sarpong), as well as the school pastor and the landlord wanted to meet with us to see if there was any potential for a possible partnership. It was a very successful meeting with the school and we are excited about a potential partnership down the road. We will have to see where God leads as there are still a lot of details to gather, but we know God will lead where His glory will most be seen.

Following our school meeting it was on to Esi’s 50th birthday party. Esi is the mother of our current Ghana host students Yaw and Peprah, and she has been an incredible resource during our time the past three years in Ghana. Like any Esi party it was decorated beautifully, the food was incredible, and I had the opportunity to connect with lots of new people from the Accra area. We could not thank Esi enough for the incredible party, and before we knew it we had to head back to Asikuma. We were all dreading the three hour car ride back to the village, but we were all excited to have the upcoming two days completely focused on the people of Asikuma.

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