I have received the latest update from the West Africa Ghana Mission form the Moncurs. Below is another faith filled email with photos that will give us all pause from the cluttered chaos of everyday life. You can see all other West Ghana Mission posts here. Just follow the link and then scroll down to see all prior emails and photos.
Dear Family and Friends,
Hope all is well at home. All is well here. We continue to have wonderful experiences in Ghana. As missionaries we were promised that problems at home would be resolved in our absence. This by itself could be motivation to go on a mission and provides much comfort inasmuch as we are completely unavailable to solve problems at home should they arise. What we have experienced thus far however, and are grateful for, is the promise in reverse, that is, many of our concerns here are solved by the prayers and actions of those at home.
We have worked in Nkawkaw for 10 months now. Where we meet for church is quite minimal. We meet in back of a hotel, under a canopy that is falling apart. There is no water or restrooms. We have no pews, classrooms, music, and little or no privacy. We share the area with
various groups that the hotel manager rents our space to contrary to our agreement with him. Our right of occupancy only includes Sundays, and that right is frequently infringed on, as it was today when another group crowded in on us for a graduation celebration.
The good news is this is all going to change soon! We have found a house nearby, in good condition, and in a good location, that will be
converted into a meeting house. It will have classrooms, pews, supplies, a president’s office, a baptismal font, a chapel, a bathroom,
and everything else we need including a roof! And it will be for our exclusive use. All has been approved, plans drawn, and work has
started. This will be a huge improvement over present location, and we are very excited about it. It should be ready in about four months.
The next good news is we have found a house in Nkawkaw to move to. If all goes well, and the house is made ready, we hope to move in around the first part of April. This move will eliminate our daily commute over the most dangerous road I’ve ever been on, and will give us a refuge in the town we work in. It will also give us two additional hours a day, the time we spend driving to and from our service area.
Our life just keeps getting better.
We have so many choice experiences on our mission that I can only mention a few. We see God’s hand in so many details of our work.
Things that have little chance of working out just somehow do. Caplen is an example. Edward Caplen, who I’ve written about before, is a man living in poverty while raising two small boys completely by himself. He needs surgery for a serious medical condition that is painful and life threatening. It greatly limits his ability to function and take care of his family.
Although he could never afford the operation he needs, we were able to cover the costs with donated funds. Here’s a brief description of what happened.
We made arrangements to meet Caplen at a large hospital in Accra. We were to meet him at the admissions desk that we soon learned did not exist. At this point finding Caplen would be roughly the equivalent of finding someone in a large mall you’ve never been to before, who didn’t have a cell phone, and who could be anywhere, inside or out. The odds of doing so would be against you. To make a long story short we found Caplen almost without effort. It was just meant to be.
The next step was to pay for everything in advance, a requirement in Ghana. Without advance payment, services are not provided. But who do you pay, what do you pay for, and how much is it? We didn’t have a clue; neither did Caplen. Only his doctor could provide that
information but we had no idea where he was. We had no appointment, he was not expecting us, and he could be anywhere, including not at the hospital.
After a short prayer we found the doctor. He dropped everything he was doing and escorted us everywhere we needed to go. He made arrangements for us to pay the various fees to the right people for the right things. He introduced us to the key recovery people, showed us where Caplen would be staying, and couldn’t have been more helpful. What could have been a complete exercise in frustration, was instead a series of short and simple tasks. Every single detail was completed in about two hours. Everything just fell into place.
I call this “God’s shorthand.” It happens all the time. Obstacles just somehow move out of the way. It testifies that this is God’s work, not
ours. He is at the helm, we are only at one of the oars, but oh what an amazing voyage we are on!
A grateful Caplen at the right of his adult son at the hospital in Accra prior to his surgery. Although one of the most modern hospitals
in the country (it provides meals, most don’t), many things we take for granted in the U.S. just don’t exist here. Surgery will be performed
on 3-5-07. I’ll report on the outcome when known. UPDATE: The surgery was successful and Caplen is doing well.
One of the saddest things I’ve seen is this small girl sleeping on the hard surface of the center medium of a busy street. She looked to be
about seven or eight. The traffic was extremely heavy as were the exhaust fumes she was subjected to. The photo portrays one of the
tragedies we see everyday in Ghana. Children who have no visible support or advantages in life, and no hope of improvement. As we were
stuck in traffic, we were able to call to her and provide some small help. Scenes and circumstances like this are like arrows in your
Of all the things I’ve done in life, this mission is perhaps the most unique. We have encountered extreme conditions and observed
deprivations that constitute everyday life for most Ghanians. Although a little girl sleeping in the middle of the street would be shocking in
the United States, her presence here goes virtually unnoticed. Perhaps the reason is, is that the problems here are so numerous and enormous, and an individual’s ability to resolve them so limited, that people simply ignore that which they have no power to resolve. There are some exceptions to this that I’ll report on at a later date.
The rain is overdue and without it the Harmatan lingers. There is a continual haze of very fine sand in the air that obscures vision and
makes the sun and mountains appear indistinct. The jungle is covered with dust, the rivers are low or dry, and the wells, including ours,
are practically empty. Michael, our branch mission leader, who works with us almost everyday, must now get up very early in the morning in order to avoid a long line of people waiting for water at the bore hole where it is purchased for 10 cents a pail. If he gets there too late,
he must walk to a river much further away to supply his family with water for the day. We heard this morning that one of the branch
members entire crop was lost due to lack of rain.
Every morning we are greeted by drums from the schools around us. There is one across the street and one behind our house. The children march around for hours to drum beats. At one school they were singing “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” while marching–in March! They are gearing up for the Ghana 50th anniversary celebration on March 6.
The entire country will be commemorating their independence from Britain in 1957. In Accra there has been a great effort to spruce up.
Everywhere you look there are cloth banners hanging from poles and fences proclaiming “Ghana 50,” or words to that effect. Walls and
curbs have been painted. Trash, which is normally everywhere, has been removed.
One of our new members had a baby girl and she named her “Bibiana”, after Sister Moncur. Pictured here are the two Bibianas in Africa.
Our next door neighbor’s children sitting in front of our house. All school aged girls have short short hair. Children taking care of children is very common here. Note the traditional way of carrying the baby. We see this everywhere. It’s low tech, inexpensive and effective.
Most anything is carried on the head, including this refrigerator. Imagine carrying this heavy thing in the extreme heat. People work so hard here. It looks like the man in the white shirt is helping, but he’s is not.
Another unusual head parcel. This kid has really good balance. As you can see in the background, the jungle is dry; the leaves are coated with dirt. We need some rain. The downside of the rain is more power failures and plenty of mud. As I write this we have been without power for 30 hours.
PARTING SHOT: You might want to wait for the next bus. It could be tough to get your luggage off this one. The driver and several others are sleeping on the ground near the front. It’s just too hot to sleep inside.
We love working with the people here and feel appreciated. They absolutely refuse to let us carry anything. They grab our scriptures, bags, and whatever else we are carrying into the branch and carry it for us. No matter how much we protest, they continue to do so and we risk hurting their feelings by refusing to let them.
The Ghanians are a good people. Having no riches to set their hearts upon they are not distracted by material things. Most seem to reflect
the attitude of the apostle Paul, who wrote, “…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11)
I believe that much of God’s work is accomplished by proximity. In other words, He blesses our lives through people nearby. But proximity isn’t enough. There must also be availability. However, due to life’s demands, and competing interests for time, sometimes availability is in short supply and people are not available to help each other. The beauty of a mission is it is uncluttered with the details of everyday life, so it brings availability and proximity together at the same time. Since missionaries have no business other than mission business, they are available to help those in proximity. This is what makes a mission so great. This is why we enjoy our mission so much.
The Ghana Accra mission as a whole is thriving. In 2006, 3010 were baptized 400,00 contacted, and 400 endowed. I think the retention rate is fairly high. There is definitely commitment and hard work going on here. We’re proud to be part of it.
I miss and love you all. Thanks for your prayers, we feel them and are grateful.