Sunday, June 2, 2013

Five years ago today, the youngest Seidu boy, John Mark, was born. We were alerted to this very important piece of history the previous day and made the necessary preparations. We wrapped up a puzzle and card game in green and orange construction paper and plotted to sing “Happy Birthday” every time that we saw him. This last suggestion came from Robert who tragically would be on the back of a motorbike for what we anticipated would be our first choral outburst.

Since we didn’t know who Robert was going with or what time he should be ready by, we decided on an early breakfast to be on the safe side. While we were eating, Pastor Enoch, the husband of the lady who plaited the girl’s hair, knocked on the door. We invited him in to join us for a breakfast of toast and eggs. He agreed and asked for the addition of tea. So over toast and jam, we heard the story of how he met his wife. We followed that up with a compare and contrast between US and Ghanaian dating/engagements. Apparently it’s common for a female to respond to a proposal with “I’ll pray about it” and not return an answer for a week. I’m glad I’m not a single, Ghanaian male (with a motorbike).

With breakfast finished Robert and Enoch headed out to the village where we had our first VBS. The church structure was almost complete with just the roof needing to be finished. At the end of Robert’s message three people stayed to talk with Enoch about salvation.

Back at Faith, Sunday school was in full swing. Elly led the songs for the children (including the Waali ones), and Heather taught the group the story of Jonah. By the time the service started, Robert was back with the group, which was a blessing for our special music. Jordan preached an excellent sermon that personally blessed me greatly. At the end of the service, Pastor Timothy gave a short invitation, and many hands went up. But the one hand that caught my attention was at the end of my row.

Now you’ll need some background explanation of my row to understand why this is so special. In ancient times, my family lived in Hamelin, Germany and bear the name of the river that passes through that city. Because of this I have a special connection with the Pied Piper. Wherever I go I’m followed by swarm of clapping and laughing children. My row is always stuffed with 5-9 children squirming to touch the Nasala’s hand, investigate her purse, or sing her the song their little hearts. Translation–it’s everything I can do to keep my row (in the very front) from distracting the entire church. I’ve tried depriving them of distractions, but I can’t cut off their hands. I’ve tried filling their hands with pens and paper, but they fight over the short supplies. I’ve tried dividing the singing 4 years old, but they kept talking over my lap. Today I was going to overcome them: three bodies between the 4 years old, but both still within arms reach, a handful of Waali words that imply chill out and sit still, and finally the well known shushing sound. By the second point of the sermon, they knew I meant business, and one end of the pew was enjoying peace. On that end of the pew, a little hand was raised to talk about salvation with someone.

After the service our group gathered in front to say goodbye to our brothers and sisters. As familiar faces smiled and shook our hands, it was hard to think that some of these faces, we would never see on earth again.

Today was communion followed by a meeting for the members. We dismissed ourselves from the meeting to snap photos and play with the children waiting for their parents. Of course we also hunted down John Mark and sang “Happy Birthday” at 10 minute intervals. John Mark got his gift on the bus ride home. He took forever to slowly untape a corner, glance inside, and then hide the contents from the prying eyes of his older brother.With a good bit of prodding, he unveiled his puzzle and card game to everyone. We sang “Happy Birthday” again. The Seidu’s invited us to their house for ice cream and biscuits, so we sang “Happy Birthday” again.

After the party we asked Pastor Timothy if we could help with Kid’s Club at Faith that afternoon. Pastor Timothy made some phone calls, and we were told to be ready in 45 minutes. Jordan and Robert were less than thrilled at the prospect of another inhaled meal, but 45 minutes later lunch was made and eaten, clothes changed, and the van loaded.

Kid’s Club is more in depth Sunday school with the addition of question and game time. Jordan, Elly and Gabriel taught the older teens. Jordan basically gave his second sermon from Ps 23 on a picture of godliness. Auria went through her ordination service with the questions that 10-13 years old asked. She taught on the different responses to the gospel in Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens. The questions that she was asked ranged from “Was Rahab justified in lying to hide the Israeli spies?” to “When did Paul become a Christian on the Damascus road or when his blindness was healed?” Robert says that she answered the questions Biblically but could work on improving her proof texts. Joy taught the youngest children the story of Ruth and how she was willing to leave her family and friends in order to follow God. The room was chaotic: little children hitting each other, babies crying to be put on their sister’s backs, and at least one baby crying because he fell of his sister’s back and hit his head on the concrete floor. At this point it was time for wiggle break. Once the hands were folded in laps, the lesson was continued and a verse learned. The Kid’s Club ended with games and reciting their pledge to serve God.

We were met at the house with a mac-n-cheese casserole from Mama J. This meal we were allowed to taste our food before swallowing. During clean up, match 2 of the cleaning competition was graded. The girls forgot to dust a the top of a door and and outlet in a corner: 2 points. They guys forgot to dust an entire window, the wooden lip at the base of the couches and chairs, and there were cobwebs in the kitchen cabinets: 3 points. So the score now stand 5 to 7–girls winning.

At Faith tonight there was a singspiration. Pastor Timothy had heard us singing Waali on the van the previous day and asked us to surprise his congregation with a group special. However, Gabriel missed the memo and had us assemble as a VBS worker group and sing the only two Waali songs that we knew with confidence. When we finished, the entire church was beaming and clapping for our songs. Pastor Timothy looked down at me to inform me that we would still have to get up there and sing by ourselves even if it was the same two songs. So after a few testimonies, specials, and a congregational song, we went to the front of the church again. We sang about how Jesus goes with us everywhere and about how Jesus stays with us throughout the day.Even though we had sung both songs before, the church was even more excited this time because it was just Nasala singing in Waali. They started cheering after our first song which gave us a chance to regroup for the second one. After one time through “Ahi ‘piele Yesu”, the audience cheered so loudly that we couldn’t repeat it.

Dr. O., we’re not ready to leave. Can we stay in Ghana for another 4 weeks?

We stayed a while after the service to take photos, sing VBS songs, and hug our friends. I was hunted down by Augustine to gather up all of the Nasala. As we dropped different families from the church off, Pastor Timothy asked if we needed any dessert. Now the accurate response would be that we don’t NEED any dessert, but do we want some: “OH YES!” Pastor picked up a giant watermelon and a pineapple. “Thank you, Pastor Seidu!” Can it be lunch now?

After team devotions, we started to take Auria’s hair out of her braids. Two hours later, the braids were gone, and it was time to sleep.

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Dan Olinger

Chair, Division of Bible in the BJU School of Religion.

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