Saturday, May 30, 2009

Trip to Ghana-Local Funeral Celebration. . .



We were invited to attend a local funeral celebration with Elisabeth Faile, one the doctor's wives who has lived at the compound close to 25 years. . . .One of the hospital worker's mother had died in October, and the family was holding a traditional funeral celebration to honor her. . .the body is usually buried immediately, but the celebrations occur several months later when the family has saved up money to pay for the costs of the celebration. .
This man was playing a gourd with a stick attached to the end of it, with strings added to make a guitar. . .resourceful and good!


Traditional funeral celebrations are the most elaborate of all family gatherings, much bigger than weddings. . .the funeral celebration last 3 days, around the clock, with dancing, eating and drumming. . and a few small explosives thrown in as well! There were about 500 people at this celebration, and most of the families had brought food to donate to the celebration. . everything from cows to cases of cokes!

To add to the adventure, the locals men brought 3 cows, a chicken and a goat to the area right in front of where we were sitting and slaughtered them for the dinner that evening. . I was really glad we had hunters and livestock farmers in the family as Georgia and I had seen this before, but the others in our group were a little shocked. . Each family had its own drummers and entered village by family klans with singing and dancing. . it was amazing. . Elisabeth said this particular celebration was one of the largest she had ever seen. It was a huge treat to get to experience it. . . .


video


This was the beginning of the family klans coming in to the celebration area. . . Some of the men are wearing traditional dancing smocks which expand as they twirl around. . .


video



This was a professional dance group from one of the neighboring villages that had been hired by the family to perform. . .


video


This was a family klan arriving from outside the village. . .we saw about 5 of these groups enter the village from all different directions. .if you listen, you will hear explosives going off. . like really loud firecrackers. . .

The celebration was a huge dose of local culture and we enjoyed it immensely. . we gained a new appreciation for the local people just seeing them celebrate. .

Trip to Ghana-The market. . .

Wednesday was Market Day in Nalergiu. . .locals came from all the surrounding villages to sell everything imaginable. . .produce, breads, dried fish, grains, seasonings, clothes, bicycle parts, fabric, and much much more. . . Hollie can buy some supplies there, but most of her supplies come from Tamale (3 hours away) or Accra, the capitol city (13 hours away). . .




This is hand made lye soap for sale at the market. .

This lady was selling dried ginger root and dried peppers. . .


Hollie is buying some of the fresh produce here at the market. . .

I have never seen so much beautiful fabric for sale. . .the women's clothes are handmade and beautifully designed. . .I was definately envious . . .
Hollie is buying dried corn to take home and grind for conrmeal. . .

The Escarpment trip. . . .

On Saturday, Joel and Colt took us to "The Escarpment" which is a land formation similar to the Texas Cap rock. . it's a huge rocky cliff drop off which gives you a beautiful of the land . .. you can see for miles. . .It was about an hour's drive for us and we were able to see several villages and great views of the countryside as we travelled. .. Colt was the leader of the hike, as he had been to these formations several times and did a great job leading us in rock climbing to the top. We also visited with John and Denise who live nearby. . .John has been in Ghana for 48 years and Denise for 40 years. . .She was with the Peace Corp in the 70s and he had been a Dutch Catholic Priest. . they met and married, and have lived in Ghana ever since. . .Both of them have a reforestation project going with the local villages, where they teach the locals about replanting the trees that have been cut down for firewood. . .and Denise also works with about 500 local handicapped folks and she works to get them wheelchairs and transportation devices that they need. . .they have had a very interesting life. . .

John and Denise. . . .both have lived in Ghana 40+ years. . . .

Trip to Ghana - Public Health Clinic in a remote village. . .


Georgia and Brittany went with the public health nurses from the Baptist Medical Centre to a remote village about 1.5 hours away from the compound. The nurses visit these villages periodically to give immunizations to the babies, weigh them and also check on the other children in the village. Georgia helped give immunizations and Brittany played with the tons of children. . . .both really enjoyed the experience.

Trip to Ghana- Lasting Impressions. . .

Here are a few of the lasting impressions that we will always have from our visit to Northern Ghana :

The People: very gentle and friendly, the strong distinctive facial features, the perfect posture and lean stature of both men and women and beautiful colorful clothes of the women. Most of the people were so lean that many looked like professional athletes, just from the nature of working hard to provide "daily bread" for their families. . Joel said at supper one night, "I was riding my bike one day and thought I was in good shape until I saw a woman walking uphill, with a baby tied to her back and balancing a door on her head.". . . incredible.

We saw everything being carried on a person's head. . .from huge loads of wet laundry, to dozens of neatly stacked eggs!. . The Ghanaian's posture is perfect and their ab muscles are incredibly strong. . I wished I had used this technique when we lived on the farm!
The transportation: I think we saw it all. . . trucks, cars, buses, horses, motorcycles, donkey carts, bicycles, and walking. . .

The Landscape: relatively flat, open, very similar to West Texas and the beginnings of the Texas hill country. Huge Mahogany trees, some over 100 years old. Fields being cleared, plowed and planted, mostly by hand. The rainy season was just starting, so all the families were busy with farm work as this is the growing season. We saw large groups of people in the fields, usually family groups working together.

Here is a group of donkeys roaming the fields outside the Clinic Compound. . Donkey carts are a main source of transportation for carrying water and moving heavy loads.

The Worship-- We went to church on Sunday at Second Baptist in Nalerigu. . .it was a treat to see service done in native tribal language and singing. . .


video

The fragile balance of life. . . I was most concerned about the fragile balance of life that I observed. . yes, life is simple there. . many people live providing meals one day at a time on camp fires in simple huts, but having grown up on a farm, I know how venerable they are to the weather. . a drought would be totally devastating. . .But I have to trust that God is aware of this also. . and as it says in the book of Isaiah, his ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts. . .
It was a wonderful trip for the girls and I. . . .and it was so good to see the Dickens family. . please pray for them daily!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Trip to Ghana- We arrived!

We are here!. . After 2 full days of travel, we arrived here at the Baptist Medical Centre at Nalerigu right around noon. . .to coin an phrase from The Wizard of Oz, "Toto, we're not in Kansas any more!". . . .We have a smooth but adventure filled trip. .starting with our 1st flight out of San Angelo being cancelled, jumping in a car and driving to Dallas to make another flight with 15 minutes to spare, somewhat sleeping on a 10 hour red-eye flight to London, sitting on the runway 2 hours before departing for Accra, and getting 3 hours of sleep the next night, and a 3 hour drive to the clinic on Saturday. . .

But we are here and we are to thankful for that. . .

Pictures will come later. . .

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Crazy Senior Year. . .

August with his small group leader and good buddy Paul Burke. These two have been on several mission trips together and have made lots of memories!


We celebrated August's 19th birthday and high school graduation this past weekend with a party for his friends and their families. If I look back to this time a year ago, I would have never predicted in a million years how August's senior year would have turned out. . .It all started last August, at a discussion during dinner one night about Austin's upcoming deployment and Brittany's plans for the coming year. . Brittany (our daughter-in-law) was considering living with some of Austin's missionary friends in Guatemala for a portion of the time while he was gone. August spoke up and said, " Man, I wish I could do that." and Austin said "Go ask the principal if you can graduate early and go with her." So, 2 weeks before school started, August asked Mr. Brandon, the high school principal, if this was possible, and Mr. Brandon rearranged August's entire academic schedule to get it done. . We couldn't believe it. So right as school started, August made the decision to graduate in December. God was moving. . .


Football season began and August had a big cheering section as many of the college students from our Sunday Night College Bible study would come to his games at Miles. Many of them were from small schools and were old football players themselves, but a few hadn't been to a small town West Texas football game before, so it was always fun and festive, even on the nights when the Bulldogs came up short on the final score. August played linebacker and running back, so he was on the field every play all night long and played his heart out every down. My 2 favorite memories were the Christoval game, where everything went right for the Bulldogs, and August was all over the field --a touchdown, an interception, tons of tackles and Miles beat Christoval for the first time in years.


The other favorite was the last play of the game against Bronte. . Austin and Brittany had come from Ft. Hood to watch. . . Miles was not going to win the game, and on the last play the coaches had called something just to run the clock out. . so August told the guy in the backfield who was supposed to get the ball to trade places with him (so that August would be the ball carrier--not what the coaches had planned). August broke loose and ran for a 60-yard touchdown as the clock ran out, with his brother running down the sidelines with him, cheering him on in his army uniform. . it was priceless. . August was named to the Class 1A All-West Texas Team as a 1st team utility player. It was a great way to finish off his football career.


Another big highlight in the Fall was the Robotics Contest which August participated in with guys from his physics class. . .the guys built a robot and programmed it to do several tasks and spent hours and hours perfecting the programming. August's team swept the competition against several schools, most of which were larger than Miles ISD. His team gave a presentation to the entire school about what they had done and it was a fine day for the math geeks!


In January, August left for 5 weeks in Guatemala to help Charlie and Pat Reynolds, missionaries who have a Christian school for 150 students about 2 hours from Guatemala City. Brittany went with him and stayed for 2 weeks, and they helped at the school in the mornings and did construction in the afternoons. August perfected his welding skills and got to spend lots of quality time with Pat and Charlie, as well as Bob and Georgette Kornegay. One of the highlights for him was to go to Rio Bravo, a ministry up in the mountains where August and the other missionaries took food to some very destitute children. How far our American dollars went to feed those children made a huge impression on him. . .


He returned home in March to begin another adventure. . this time with TeenPact (http://www.teenpact.com/) Teenpact is a Christian group that helps educate high schoolers about the governmental process--the structure of state and national governments and how legislation is made and passed- - -all with a Christian perspective. He had participated in Teenpact for the first time during his junior year, . . and because he had graduated early, he had the opportunity help staff these conferences this spring and to travel to VA, CA, MT, ME, LA, TN and spend two weeks at our state capitol in Austin. . . it was a door that only God could open for him. We didn't plan any of this and we didn't see it coming. . .

And so we come to the end of August's Senior Year. This summer he will be gone again, traveling with Worldview Academy (http://www.worldview.org/) to 7 college campuses across the western US, helping staff conferences for high schoolers on Christian Apologetics. Again, another opportunity that only God could ordain.


What have we as parents learned from this year? We have learned to be flexible, to let go of traditions, to be sensitive to how the Holy Spirit is shaping and molding each child, and to be open to giving them a wide variety of experiences-spiritual, academic, athletic, etc. - so that God can direct their paths in way we could never dream of. . One thing we have prayed against is to have "cookie-cutter" children. . .children who WE molded and shaped and made decisions for. . We have always asked God direct them and for us to be acutely aware of that. . .


Each of our children have had such different life experiences to this point that the only way to explain it is recognizing God's hand on their lives. . Proverbs 19:21 says " Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."






Part of August's cheering section at the home football games. It was a ton of fun to have them all there for the games. . .



The Robotics team: Coach and Mrs. Graves, Will Chaney, Eric Schwertner, August, Doni Sewell and Clayton Alley.

August leading a PE class in Guatemala .



August at a Teenpact Conference in Austin, TX