Monday, August 3, 2009

Shopping Day, "Road to Emmaus"

Our last Saturday in Ghana, we loaded into the van and headed toward Accra. We'd "play" today -- most of our work was finished.

The Kwame Nkrumah National Shrine was closed for repairs. We had hoped to visit there; I've been a time or two, but I like to share it with team members because it gives a good view of Ghana's recent history. The symbolism of the place intrigues me, also -- the building itself looks like the handle of a sword; indeed it is supposed to look like a sword buried in the sand up to its hilt to symbolize peace.

We went to the Arts and Crafts market. What a busy place! Tiny stalls, jam-packed with jewelry, carvings, paintings, clothing, baskets, leather goods, drums, just about everything you can imagine! A riot of color and sound, with people calling out to you, beckoning you to come take a short look at what they have to offer. It can get a little bit suffocating, to be honest. Bargaining is commonly the way to shop, too. "Come, Madame, I give you the best price. Just thirty cedis..." And you look at it, then offer them about half that amount. You bicker back and forth until you settle on some mutual amount. Or not -- in that case, you just walk away; sometimes they will chase you down and agree with your last offer. It can be a lot of fun!

We spent a couple of hours there, then decided we'd go to the Tema market. While we'd found a few good deals in Accra, we thought we'd be "less harassed" in Tema -- plus the prices on many things were more reasonable in Tema. As we left the Arts & Crafts market, we shared the "goodies" we'd purchased with each other. Becky got a terrific deal on a gorgeous leather rug -- I think that was the best bargain any of us got. She paid 60 cedis for it -- roughly $40 USD. I got a basket for a friend, and David & I both got some paintings.

Once I began paying attention to our travel, I noticed that we were not going back to Tema by our usual route down the main thoroughfare. With dismay...I realized we were heading down Spintex Road. More like Spintex Parking Lot. Or Spintex Collection of Gigantic Potholes. It seems we had to pick up a couple of packages for someone. I have yet to figure out why our entire group had to do this -- why couldnt one person gone in a cab, or better yet, why couldnt the lady have brought the packages to us? At any rate -- normally it takes about 35 minutes to get back to Tema. Going down Spintex Road took about 3 hours.

By the time we arrived in Tema, it was well past lunch time (nearly 4:30) and we were tired, hungry, and quite honestly cranky. The Spintex detour eliminated our time at the Tema market.
But after we ate the lunch that had been waiting for over 3 hours, we went for a short trip, anyway. The market closes at 6:30, so we had to "make tracks" -- we made a bee-line to a couple of places we needed to go. Evelyn's store, to pick up a few grocery items, mainly. We also ordered several bracelets from a lady who did beadwork. We arranged to pick them up on Monday (smiling to ourselves because this would assure us of a trip back to the Market one more time!)

Tomorrow would be Sunday -- and each of us would be expected to speak at church the following morning. I was trying to determine exactly what God was willing me to say, but the words to a song kept rattling around in my head. I realized that *this* was the message God was giving me: that sometimes we found ourselves like the "two fools on the road to Emmaus" -- walking and talking with Jesus but not even realizing who He is.

There's a line Jason Upton sings here about being "so lonely that a stranger's your best friend." I always relate that line to when I first surrendered my life to Christ. I was, indeed, so lonely that my "best friend" became a young man named Richard in Ghana. I am so grateful for that friendship -- we've become "family" to each other. But the friendship we both share with Jesus is even more special, and I treasure that gift above all else.

I hated to think about the trip drawing to a close. Even as I write this, two weeks eyes well with tears and I get an ache in the back of my throat. Leaving never seems to get any easier.

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