Friday, August 21, 2009

Monday at Jerusalem Gates

Back to Ghana.....

We woke on our final Monday with full hearts and a full agenda for the day. I always like to lie in bed at dawn, listening to the birds wake the rest of the world. I allowed myself this little luxury then rose to start the day.

First was a quick visit back to the market!
We'd purchased some bracelets on Saturday, and the lady was stringing them on elastic bands for us. So we went to pick them up; I was also getting some colorful waist beads for a friend of mine. I loved looking at the colors of the beads -- no two waist bead strings were alike!

I walked through the market one last time, absorbing all of the sights, sounds, and smells into my soul, trying to burn them into my memory. The place is bustling, alive, organic -- and as I recall the tiny stalls filled with beautiful fabrics, colorful beads, household goods, dried fish, beans, groceries, and on and on...I'm feeling nostalgic. I can hear the "sss--sss--sss" of the young men as they push wheelbarrows through the narrow alleys....women bantering back and forth as they bargain for the best prices...a voice singing.

As we left the market, Dave bought a Fanta pineapple drink for me -- one of my favorite Ghana treats! Our next stop was the Rasta's place -- I am not sure of the correct name of this arts and crafts store in Tema, but the gentleman running it is Rasta. He has very good quality wood carvings, drums, and some paintings. He remembered us from last year as he welcomed us into his business. We purchased our last minute gifts, then headed back to Community 25.

Today, Jerusalem Gates Academy was hosting a 7th anniversary party, and we were invited as honored guests. We walked to the school from Rev. James' house. As we entered the school yard, we noticed the entire yard had been brushed neatly with a broom. There were several rows of chairs set up, and a few parents and other local folks were already seated. The children were clustered to the side. We were ushered to our seats in the front, and the program began.

The Headmaster, Julius, made some welcoming remarks and introduced us. Then we sat back to enjoy the performances by the children. They sang, danced, played drums, recited, and acted out skits.

One of the skits featured some girls dancing. Then some boys, wearing slouchy hats and over-size clothing, began dancing up behind them. The boys would make advances, and the girls would bump them off with a wave of an arm or by turning around. The boys would re-group, and try other means to attract the attention of the girls -- who just kept on dancing as if the guys were not even on their radar screens! It was obviously a skit about courtship, and it was hysterically funny! Eventually, each young man won over their girl, and they'd dance off arm-in-arm.

Another skit featured a stuttering preacher. Several of the "congregants" asked for special prayers or healing and the preacher stuttered and stammered his way through them. Everyone in the audience was howling with laughter at the antics of the stuttering preacher and his little flock!

Next we were treated to lots of singing, dancing, and drums! We clapped along with them, wrapping ourselves in the music, getting lost in the rhythm resounding from the young men with their drums, sticks, and shakers.

At the end of the program, we were each given a gift of appreciation for our part in helping the kids at Jerusalem Gates. I thought of all the people back home who had made it possible for these kids to be educated for the coming year and wished that each one of them could have been there, watching the kids perform, seeing their smiles, and understanding the huge difference they'd made in the lives of these young boys & girls. We each spoke briefly, thanking the headmaster, guests, and children for the gifts and the program. And we reminded them that we were just the vessel -- that many donors in the US (and a couple in Australia!) had been led by God to give money for their education.

All too soon, we had to leave. The children clustered around us, hugging us, bidding us farewell as we walked back down the road toward home.

At home -- the Goat Feast awaited!

We'd been given a couple of goats, and Emmanuel had butchered them earlier in the day. Mary, Christina, Lizzy, and Victoria had worked all day preparing a feast for our whole household to enjoy! The dining room table had been moved outside to the front porch, and our whole "family" gathered together for one last huge meal together. There was so much food, I think the table was groaning from all the dishes piled upon it! Rice, fresh pineapple, goat stew, fufu, thick slabs of sweet bread, soft drinks, and more! We ate like kings and it was absolutely delicious! Isaac from Potwabin was there, as well as Pastor Johnson and Chief Takyi. Victoria with her three kids, Rev. James & Mary & their girls, Stephen, Ben, Christina, Lizzy, Emmanuel... I'm sure there are some I am not recalling at the moment. We ate, told stories, shared remembrances, laughed -- it was a fabulous afternoon, and the fun lasted until well after dark.

Going in for the evening signaled "the end." It was time to pack. We'd need to be up and out early the next morning.

By the time I finished my packing, the room was bare. I had a box of clothing and other odds and ends I was leaving there, and my bags were most definitely lighter going home than they had been arriving.

I lay down, my husband wrapped his arms around me, and we both cried ourselves to sleep our final night in Ghana. We'd miss our friends, the love, the freedom we both felt here.

Anita <><

All too

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