*smile* It's one of those things that I think about doing, and then wonder what kind of reaction my mom & dad would have if they could see it happen.
Our van was full, but not over-crowded, as we drove out of the village and into the night. Our next stop was Alavanyo -- but I had no idea how far away it was. Christ Harvests the Nations plants churches all over Ghana. A few months ago, they began a new church in Alavanyo, in the Volta region. Starting with just 5 worshippers, the church grew to 35 in just a few weeks time. We'd been invited to join in their service this evening.
We drove for a long time, through small towns and even smaller villages. The road was mostly paved, but full of potholes. After about two hours, Ben turned onto a very rough and rocky dirt road. Our progress had to be slow as he navigated the big van down the narrow path that led to the village. After about a half-hour, the road ended. We were to walk the rest of the way.
Night falls quickly in Ghana, and this night was very dark. Stars twinkled vividly overhead -- more stars than I can see at home because there are no street lights competing in the darkness. Not all of us had flashlights, so our hosts used their cell phones to help light the way as we followed single-file down a winding path that led out of the edge of the village. Our progress was slow; we were tired, yet excited about this new church. At last, we reached a thatch-covered shed in a clearing in the jungle.
No one was there. It was probably 9:30 or 10:00. Had we ventured deep into the forest too late?
We stood there a moment, the darkness broken only by a couple of cell phones. Then, we heard a gentle rustling as shadows began to move in the surrounding vegetation. From out of those shadows emerged people, some bringing benches or plastic chairs. The place began to fill with people, ready to praise God. One guy spooled out a wire, attached it to a long skinny neon tube that was attached to one of the supports of the roof and voila! We had light!
A lady began to sing, then more voices joined in. A drummer began to pound out an accompaniment for their singing; other rhythm instruments added texture to the music. We clapped and sang along, then the ladies began to dance. We joined with them, bouncing in the rhythm, clapping our hands, sweating in the jungle night air.
The praise and worship in that little palm-leaf shelter was fabulous! No keyboards or electric guitars -- just drums and shakers. No microphones, just real voices. As tired as I was, I would not have missed this for the world! We counted 98 people worshipping God with us that evening. We each spoke a few words, and the pastors shared a short message of encouragement with the folks who had gathered there. I did not want the evening to end; as I sit here remembering the night I have to smile because of the wonder and beauty of the evening, shared with total strangers, all worshipping the same God.
We sang, clapped, danced, and worshipped deep into the night.
Eventually, as with all good things, we had to end the service. Just as quickly as they appeared, the people began to drift back into the trees, heading for their homes. We passed single-file back down the path to the van.
Ben drove us to a guest house at the edge of the town. Two rooms shared a bathroom on each side of the house; there was a central room that served as living room and kitchen/dining area. David & I shared a room while Becky & Davi shared the adjoining room. Most of our church friends shared the rooms on the other side, though a couple of the men slept in the living room.
Smiling, we finally closed our eyes in sleep.
This day, starting with the water purification in Adigbo Tornuu and ending with the most awesome praise and worship in Alavanyo, had been one of the most glorious days in my life.