Well, it’s been one week since returning from our travels to Ghana. Pretty sure my body is now in the Pacific Time Zone and not still hovering over the Atlantic Ocean somewhere. The reality is that as I age, global travel does take its toll and I need to take some extra time to recover physically and mentally. Returning to our consumer-driven, and “abundance of stuff” culture is always a shock I find very difficult to come home too. And I’m grateful for the jarring. Gives me a much needed sharpening of vision.
I’d like to share two events of this mission trip to Kasei, Ghana that amaze and delight my heart and soul. The first one happened at the Delta boarding gate at JFK, where we were asked to show our passports and visas.
STOP! The Delta clerk looked at us with perplexing eyes and told us our visas were no good and that she could not allow us to board! Back up a couple of months…we had multiple use, multiple year visas affixed to our old passports. However, we had to acquire new passports this past January. I called the State Department and was told to just take both passports with us…no problemo. The troubled clerk insisted that she could not let us board the plane. Visas in an expired passport are also expired, she told us. Please tell that to our U.S State Department. Not much comfort, but Delta did say that they would put us up in a hotel and we’d have to contact the Ghanaian embassy in the morning. This was at 9 o’clock at night. AND Delta would have to pull our luggage off the plane. Now, that was going to be a huge problem…for them. Our group of three had checked six huge bags in San Diego and they gave us six tags under one name. No way of knowing whose luggage what whose. More perplexed and trouble eyes from this young lady. Several Ghanaians behind us also chimed in that we could purchase visas in Ghana. Meanwhile, our travel companion, Lois, was madly trying to call people we knew in Ghana. It’s 4 in the morning there. Finally, dear friend Monica picked up. She is our rock and guide at the Accra airport, who whisks us through customs and immigration on every trip. As an employee of the Health Department at the airport, she knows everyone there. After many tense moments of conversation with the Delta clerk, her supervisor, and Monica, who assured them over and over that we could purchase visas at the Accra airport and please let us board. At one point, I thought I heard the clerk identify Monica as the supervisor of Ghana immigration! Whatever! It seemed to work. Delta finally relented…I think just because the thought of unloading all those suitcase to get just the right ones was just too, too much complication. People behind us in line actually cheered…but it may have been because they were getting anxious about being able to board the plane on time. And, yes indeed, we were able to purchase one time visas right as we stepped off the plane. Thank you, Lord, for working this out!
Fast forward two weeks later to the end of our trip…We were getting ready to leave the village of Kasei to travel by car to Cape Coast for a little sight seeing before heading to the airport in Accra. One night at a nice hotel on the beach and a blessed hot shower. We were to travel in the hospital van, air conditioned I might add, and leave at 8 a.m. with our good friend and trusted driver, Christian. He called at 7:30, frantic that he could not find the only set of car keys. We all joined in the hunt, retracing his steps all throughout the village the previous day, Easter Sunday. Home, path to church, path to his pastor’s house, path to the hospital, etc…
No luck…we felt so very bad for him. Meanwhile, our host is trying to make Plan B, then Plan C, then, Plan D…you get the picture…When in Ghana, things usually work out, but on Africa time. About noon, Christian returned to our place with the keys! And this great story…he had visited with his pastor on Easter afternoon and had left his Bible outside, which had gotten soaked in a ferocious rain storm. One of his sons was sent to retrieve the Bible and set it out to dry in the sun. Returning to the Good Book later to turn more pages to dry, he discovered the car keys inside. What a joyous relief and the subject of many laughs! My husband, always looking for a good one liner, said that when you’re looking for the keys to the road ahead, always go to the Bible first!
Sandwiched between these two stories, many other events took place that touched our hearts as we worked with the teachers, children, hospital staff, and church members. But these two events will always remind me who is leading us, guiding our steps, and showing us His plan for for His people, at home and in Kasei, Ghana.
A few photos that I hope will give you a sense of why we love to go…
Glenn loaded some of the 36 benches we had built for the 4 preschool classes.
Now the little ones won’t be sitting on the floor.
At the dedication of the church’s mission house on Easter Sunday morning.
We are wearing Kente cloth stoles, woven by craftsmen,
given to us as thank you gifts.
Dorothy, the pastor’s wife, leading an alfresco Sunday School.
Glenn working with the upper grade teachers in math games.
I worked with the primary and preschool teachers in pre-reading skills and phonics activities.
A parent-teacher-student meeting at the Junior High School,
regarding the application process for our high school scholarship program.
Morning assembly program at the Primary School.
So excited to have this fine young man, Anthony, be the first college scholarship recipient.
He’s off to a three year teacher college in the fall.
This is why I keep returning to Kasei.