Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Traveling to the Volta Region

Monday, July 13

We ate breakfast at 7, and were packed up and ready to go by 8 -- we’re heading to the Volta Region for several days! As of 10:30, we were still sitting at the house, waiting to get the trip underway. I was not surprised -- this makes my 6th trip to the Volta Region and we have never once left on schedule!

First, all of our luggage was loaded. We had to pack clothing for the week as well as bed linens, pillows, and towels. And then we waited.

The ladies in the kitchen were hustling more than usual -- I realized that they were packing all of the dishes, silverware, pots and pans into large tubs and laundry baskets -- I think they literally packed up everything but the kitchen sink! These supplies, plus 2 tanks of propane, 2 small gas stovetops, and a microwave oven, were loaded on to the bus. To accomplish that task meant unloading some of the luggage, shifting things around, and re-arranging. Still we waited.

A taxi arrived, loaded with several cases of water. Had to find room for that -- so once again, the luggage holds beneath the bus were unpacked, re-arranged, and re-packed. And still we waited.

Mary (Bishop James’ wife) and her mother Elizabeth left to purchase some vegetables at the market -- reasoning that those would be a safer choice for us than produce purchased off the street. Once they returned, those items -- and a picnic lunch of sandwiches and drinks -- were squeezed into the bus.

At last, at 11:00, we finally boarded the bus: our team from the US, Richard & Ben as Christ Harvest representatives, and Auntie Aggie and Maggie, our cooks. Oh yes -- also Kofi the bus driver, and his first mate Yaw!

We barely made it out of Tema when we were flagged to a stop by a police officer. Kofi opened his window; the officer said something and an argument ensued. Earlier we’d passed through a toll gate, and Kofi paid the 1.5 cedis (roughly 85 cents) but did not take the receipt (common practice). Since he could not produce the receipt to prove he’d paid, he had to turn the bus around and drive back to the toll gate. No amount of arguing convinced the officer otherwise, yet we SAW Kofi pay the the toll. In fact, you cannot get through the gate without stopping and handing them money. But anyway…we backtracked to the toll gate and pulled off the road. Kofi stayed with the bus while Yaw, Richard, & Ben went to pay the 1.5 cedis. They seemed to take an awfully long time, and I had a feeling they were having to bargain us back on the road. Sure enough, when they came back to the bus, Richard told us that besides the 1.5 cedi toll, they also wanted to assess a fine of 200 cedis. A busload of American obrunis with out a receipt apparently looked like a golden opportunity. After much arguing, a phone call to the district commander, (and I am sure an exchange of “dash” -- a small bribe), we were finally allowed to be on our way once again.

We stopped for a picnic lunch near the Akosambo Dam -- the views from there are spectacular.

At last we arrived in the city of Ho. Our first stop was to pay a visit to Rev. Thywill Oliver, a good friend of Bishop James. He recently lost his wife, quite unexpectedly, and we paid a condolence call to him. A member of Rev. Thywill’s congregation graciously provided a house for our team, so upon leaving Rev. Thywill’s home, we headed for the house. It is a comfortable place, with a large central room and three bedrooms available for us. Three bedrooms housed the nine members of the Grace Church team -- but David & I opted to find a room in town rather than crowd the group. The “silver lining” to that is that here I do have limited internet connections, so we can get some of our blogs posted.

We took some time to refresh and have dinner, then we traveled to worship at Pastor Johnson’s church in Kpeve. What an awesome time of sharing and fellowship! This church was rocking with worship, singing, dancing, drumming! I felt like my face just automatically moved into a smile of joy that I could not contain! I LOVED being there, feeling the beat of the drums down into the very center of my being, sweating, singing, clapping, breathing in the night air, and praising our God and Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ! The Grace Church team members each shared with the congregation -- some shared verses, others a testimony. Pastor John Cromer brought the message, translated into the Ewe (pronounced EH-veh) language by Pastor Johnson. At the end of the service, the worship rocked the house again -- and this time Pastor Cromer played the drums to the glory of God. I smiled as he began playing, because after just a few seconds, several men in the church grabbed their cameras and took photos of John as he played. It made me wonder if they’d seen an “obruni” that could carry a beat like that before!

As we drove back to Ho for the night, I looked out of the window. The stars twinkled in the black velvet sky -- so many that I remarked to Pastor Johnson that I believed Africa had at least twice as many stars shining above it as the US does. Now I am fully aware that since we have so many “permanent lights” outside many stars are simply not as visible to us in the USA. But a part of me wants to think that while the world looks to man-made things to satisfy their hunger for beauty and wealth….Africa has all of these glorious natural God-made wonders, all free for the taking! The stars in the nighttime sky, the explosion of wild colors and fragrances in the tropical flowers, the tastes of fresh fruits and vegetables…. And in Ghana, the abundance of human hospitality, warm smiles, and friendship.

Anita <><

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