Saturday, May 21, 2016

At 6:30 am I hear Sarah, Rachael, and Bethany get into Ivy’s car and head off for the baby-naming ceremony. I hope they have a good time, and I hope they aren’t upset with me for not seeing them off. But I’m going to wait for a more decent time to rise.

A bit after 7 I roll out to do the usual morning stuff—devotions, shower, up to the chapel to post yesterday’s blog. I put on a Sunday suit for the service—seems appropriate—and walk up toward the Seidus’ house to meet them at 9:15.

We’re going out to Loggu, which is the home village of Samuel Seidu, Timothy’s father. Samuel was the first Waala convert to Christianity from Islam. He died several years ago, but all of his sons are in the ministry in one way or another. Loggu Regular Baptist Church was planted by Baptist Mid-Mission missionaries back in the 60s, and its current pastor, James Maanawmini, has been in the ministry for 50 years. He is medically trained and has worked for the Ghana National Health Service for most of his life as well. The church is holding a special service today to honor him.

The service is to start at 10. We arrive at 10.30, and they’re just getting underway. Timothy, Ivy, and I sit on the platform with a number of pastors. There’s a printed program with the order of service, with all the steps numbered. There are 26. 🙂

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The congregation is singing in Waali, but I recognize the tune, and I add my tremulous voice in English:

To the regions beyond I must go, I must go,

Till the world, all the world, his salvation shall know.

Sure enough. It’s true.

There are more songs, and speeches, and introductions. Formal ceremonies like this often have an honorary chairman, who gives a speech toward the beginning and at the end. The chairman today is Daniel Seidu, Timothy’s older brother, who’s in my class. Pastor James’s family is introduced, along with other VIPs. Then Scripture, a choir number, and now it’s time for the sermon. We’re 2 hours in. Timothy preaches for an hour. He’s highly energetic, and the room is very warm, even with the occasional cross breeze through the open windows. There are no fans—I think I may donate some—and we’re in suits. It’s hoooooooooot. Young people circulate around the platform with water sachets.

After the sermon there’s the presentation of gifts from various groups in the church and others who have been touched by Pastor James’s ministry. He receives a framed photo, two smocks, a goat, and two chickens. The animals are all alive and seem a little nonplussed by their roles in the ceremony.

Pastor James shares a few memories, with large laminated photos to show the crowd of 200 or 250—there is an equal number outside the packed building. Then more congregational singing, closing remarks by the chairman, and closing prayer. We’re right at 4 hours.

They serve a meal. Everyone gets a plastic grocery bag with a takeout container of rice and a bottle of water. Timothy says we’re going to take ours and run, so we jump in the car and head home. To my surprise, he pulls into Mummy’s Kitchen, a restaurant where last year’s team ate a couple of times. I suspect he thinks the meal prepared out in the village might not be completely safe for my delicate Western digestive system. I order a meal I liked last time, fried guinea fowl with fried rice. Way too much to eat.

Back to the house, where I find out what The Kids have been up to. Laundry, phone calls home, naps, general business. They have a volleyball game with the college students just about to start. That lasts the rest of the afternoon.

Rachael wants to take a shower after the game. She steps into the girls’ bathroom and screams. Apparently the ants are back. I check it out, and the sink is covered with ants—big, black, really fast ones. I get a rag and start the genocide, using the mashing method.  They go nuts, running faster and faster, climbing up my arms. Yeccchhh. Finally the sink resembles Little Big Horn, and I move across the battlefield, dispatching any ants showing signs of life. Then it’s down the drain with the dead.

Shortly later Timothy comes by with some cases of sachets, and I tell him about the fight. He says we can put some camphor behind the sink to keep further armies from invading.

Yesterday at the market Jojo bought some fabric and had it tailored into a shirt. He pulls it out tonight to show us. It’s black with a red and yellow design and lettering, but not in English. Jojo asks Timothy what the shirt says. He examines it, begins to smile, and then laughs more heartily than I’ve ever see him laugh. It’s Twi, he says. It’s a funeral shirt. It says, “There’s a problem in the house.” And we all join in the laugh. “I’ll wear it when I preach tomorrow,” Jojo says. Yeah, that’ll go over well.

We have tuna fried rice for supper. We’re going to need to have another meal of leftovers soon; they’re piling up. Your kids are not starving.

After supper Prince and Carlos come by. Jojo shows Prince, whose first language is Twi, his shirt—and he bursts into laughter. Yep. It’s a funeral shirt.

We decide it’s high time to hold the first session of the Official Africa Team Game: Signs. Soon the room is filled with more laughter, and the bond becomes a little tighter.

Prince and Carlos join us for team devotions. As we sing, my eyes sweep the circle of young people. An Ethiopian, an Ashanti, a Guatemalan (at birth), and a bunch of Americans, in the Upper West Region of Ghana, West Africa, all united in praise. Some experiences are unforgettable.

Tomorrow both Jojo and I are preaching, in different churches. Can’t stay up too late.

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Dan Olinger

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

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