Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Guest Journalist Elly

On Wednesday morning, the kitchen greeted us with surplus mangos, eggs, and bread. If you know anything about our team meals, you’ll figure out very quickly that breakfast was composed of scrambled eggs and French toast with mango sauce. Joy prepared the mango sauce, which ended up more like a jam, and Elly made the French toast and scrambled the remaining eggs. This menu bookended Elly’s Ghanaian kitchen experiences. Abbie and Elly made French toast during their first meal prep time in Wa, and this breakfast would be the last one ever in Wa.

After breakfast Simon took Auria on a motorbike ride since she was the only nasala who had not experienced the thrill. Gabriel also came over and took Jordan back to Nambere where the congregation had a gift for him. When they returned, Jordan was the proud owner of a new pair of African slippers or as we know them flip-flops. Gabriel also had gifts for each of us: bracelets for the girls and for the guy’s moms, as well as a wallet for Robert. As we all stood around the dining room table and talked, we all did our best to avoid the fact that in four short hours, we would be leaving Wa, probably forever. With some of us choking back tears, we migrated to the backyard to take a few group photos, sing in Waali, and pray together before Gabriel left to teach a religion and morality class at Times Baptist Academy at 12:30.

Saying goodbye is never fun. And in this case, it was extremely hard. Gabriel had such a huge spiritual impact on each of us. Throughout our four weeks in Ghana, his fervent love for God’s Word and zeal for evangelism challenged us to be more passionate about serving the Lord every day.

The rest of the afternoon consisted of cleaning, laundry, packing, power outages, and unbraiding Joy’s hair. (As far as we know, Joy had her hair plaited the longest. She beat Auria by about 24 hours with the record setting 15 days. But when the fifth braid fell out that afternoon, she decided that the team didn’t need two bald leaders.) For the unbraiding process, Heather, Elly, and Mama J sat in the Seidu’s living room, chatting as we freed Joy’s curly locks. Auria joined us as soon as her laundry was completed.

We finished Joy’s hair around 4 PM and scrambled back to our respective houses to finish any last minute packing. We were scheduled to leave the compound at 4:20. During this twenty-minute time slot, Pastor John stopped by to say a final goodbye. We fellowshipped over pineapple. Jesse and John Mark brought sandwiches over for our long bus ride. Mama J won’t stop feeding you until you’re out of her reach. She’s such a blessing.

With our luggage waiting in the living room, we sat relatively quietly with Mama J. No one wanted to break the silence with words of reality. Mama J told us that Pastor Timothy was bandaging Jason’s knee and would arrive with the bus as soon as possible. She commented on our silence and noted that we were all smiling. We all agreed that sometimes you smile so you don’t cry.

Pastor Timothy pulled up just as we started to wonder if we’d be late to the bus station. We all hugged Mama J one last time and hurriedly loaded up with the help of the ever-present Simon. Jesse and John Mark accompanied us to the station as well. We arrived just as the buses were pulling out. The chaos of goats bleating, FanIce vendors trying to convince you that you want candy or ice cream, and bus station workers attempting to squeeze a few more dollars out of the Nasala shortened the goodbyes.

(Note: After much debate with himself, Pastor Timothy had decided to let us travel unaccompanied to Accra. He arranged to have James Kieser meet us at the station at 4 AM when we would arrive.)

John Mark got a little emotional on us when we tried to say goodbye. Pastor Timothy told us that John Mark really wanted to go all the way to Accra with us. We would have loved to stow him away in a carry-on, though we’re not sure how a five-year-old would manage a 12 hour bus ride through the night. Simon and Pastor Timothy hugged us all goodbye. A select few of us received a hug from Jesse.

On the bus, we were seated all together in the second and third to last rows. Robert noted, with crossed fingers, that there was no music blaring from the speakers yet.


We all said a prayer that the conditions would not change. After about ten minutes, God answered our prayers…. with an unmistakable “no.” Oh well, the music wasn’t as loud as Joy and Robert experienced on their drive up.

The bus ride was uneventful, aside from three “bathroom” stops and three of those abominable African movies. (Actually, the third was an American action film consisting of people blowing each other up.) We each tried to find a comfortable position as we ignored the “entertainment.” We either slept, read/memorized Scripture, or listened to songs or sermons.

After twelve sleepy hours, we arrived in rainy/muddy Accra. We loaded the girls and all the luggage into James’ vehicle and hailed a taxi for the guys. Back at the guesthouse (weren’t we just here?), we all collapsed onto our own beds  and slept for another four hours.

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Dan Olinger

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

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