Friday, May 25, 2018

Up at 4.30 am. Seriously. That’s 12.30 am for you in EDT.

We’re goin’ on a hike, and we want to see the sunrise.

Prince has agreed to take us out to some rocks just on the north side of the compound, and from there over to some larger rocks that none of us have been to.

I hit the girls’ house at 4.45, and everybody’s up. That’s impressive, especially considering that one of the electrical circuits is out of time, and it’s the one that has all but one of the fans, the lights in one of the bedrooms, and THE REFRIGERATOR.

By a little after 5 everybody’s ready to go, without a cup of coffee in the whole bunch. I’m really impressed. And shocked.

Out the front gate, turning right this time to go north on Tuma Road, away from town. We walk 100 yards or so to the north end of the compound wall—no traffic to be concerned about this early, which is a good thing, because it’s still dark—and take a dirt path northeast through the fields until we arrive at 2 or 3 large granite outcroppings, maybe 30 feet high and round on top. There’s a noticeable pattern of quartz intrusions all through the granite—must have been hoppin’ at one time.

We crest the first one easily and settle in on the top, facing east. There’s a tree blocking the view right where the sun’s going to come up, but there are low clouds on the horizon anyway, so all we’ll see will be the general brightening of the eastern sky.

As the dayspring proceeds, I listen to the crew sing.

The sun comes up; it’s a new day dawning;

It’s time to sing your song again!

Whatever may come, and whatever lies before me,

Let me be singing when the evening comes.


Bless the Lord, O my soul! O my soul!

Worship his holy name!

Sing like never before, O my soul!

I’ll worship his holy name!


We sit in silence for some time, some reading their Bibles, some praying, some just watching and relishing the sight of earth coming to life in the cycle promised by a faithful God.

About 7 we hike down the other side, stop to do a little fairly easy rock climbing, then out to the road and across it to several significantly larger outcroppings. In 15 or 20 minutes we’ve crested that ridge too, where we stand looking south across the city, savoring the fresh breeze at the higher altitude. The most noticeable thing is the quantity of cell towers; I ask about that, and Prince tells me that each network builds its own towers. The next thing we notice is the number of mosques, easily recognizable by their minarets. Timothy has told me that the Waala Muslims are liberalizing significantly, and the leaders are pulling imams in to try to counter that. Wealthy people are told that if they build a mosque, they’ll go straight to heaven when they die, so there are mosques within a few score yards of one another—with the consequence that many of them are effectively empty at prayer time. We can see half a dozen or so just in the neighborhood before us.

Eventually Cam, Audrey, and Brigitta venture off to the next ridge and beyond, while the rest of us, true to our name, rest. I actually doze off for a while, sitting cross-legged, my head in my hands. A 4.30 start will do that to you.

A little after 9 the wanderers return, and so do we, to the girls’ house. Aquila helps me get the electricity situation resolved—the regional headquarters for the power company is literally right on the south side of the compound—and when we return, Mary’s cooking, the fans are spinning, the refrigerator’s frigerating again, and how could life possibly be better? Well, if most of the crew were sound asleep around the house, it could be. And it is.

Blessed quietness.

Well, most of the crew. Cam, Brigitta, and Audrey grab a kambu and head for town. Cam leaves his phone in the kambu. You’re gonna love this. Cam texts his parents from both of the girls’ phones, and his parents run the “Find My Phone” app and text the girls screenshots of where the phone is. They chase it all over town, finally catching up to the kambu, and Cam confronts the driver. “Do you have my phone?” “I don’t speak English.” Cam points to the girls’ phones. “Phone.” The driver pulls it from his pocket and hands it over. Cam figures he could have lied, but didn’t, so he gives him 5 cedis.

And then they go get Fan Ice to celebrate.

This group. I’m telling you. We need to get out of this country before something else happens. All that’s on the agenda tomorrow is cleaning the house and baking a mango pie. What could possibly go wrong? Audrey notes, “We’ll have to use the oven.”


After lunch the crew is working through adjustments to the final VBS tonight, based on earlier experiences. Cam will have the Bible story—Christ as the 2nd Adam—and the others will work with games, as usual. They have a good sense of what games will work with what age groups.

Off to my final class at 5.30. We have just 2 hours, covering the stages of dispensationalism and 20th-century theology, which gives plenty of opportunity for application, especially when we get to the various liberation theologies.

We’re done after just 2 hours, when Timothy shows up with sandwiches and sodas and ice cream for all. The team comes by to join the party. After we’ve all eaten, the class kindly presents me with a smock unlike I’ve ever seen here in West Africa. And a little Ghanaian flag pin to go on it. This is my fifth class to teach here at the college, and these men and women have a special place in my heart. I close the class with a word of encouragement, noting that however long they live and minister, God will supply all they need to serve him in the place to which he calls them. That’s something that aberrant theologies can’t promise them, but the Scripture certainly can.

After class the girls practice for Sunday’s special music while Cam watches and I write. Back at the house, they’re pretty sung out, so we opt not to sing for team devos. Several share things they’ve learned on the trip, and then three of us pray in thanksgiving for the good things the Lord has brought our way on this trip. Several mention the Christian maturity of the Waala nationals, something I had hoped that they would note.

After devos, Kait retires to the kitchen to prepare the ritual bowl of popcorn while the team gathers around the dinner table for a highly competitive game of spoons.

VBSes finished, college class done. Contract completed. Much learned along the way, and memories made that will last a lifetime. This group has done a good job, under occasionally difficult circumstances, and they deserve to be commended.

From here out it’s pretty simple. Saturday’s cleanup, and maybe bake and eat that long-planned mango pie. I haven’t told the team this yet, but Timothy’s taking us all to Mummy’s Kitchen for supper tomorrow. That’ll be an enjoyable experience. Sunday we’ll sing and preach in church, eat Mary’s last lunch for us, and then head for the bus station for the long overnight ride. Monday’s a tourism day in Accra, and Tuesday we fly, Brigitta home to Hong Kong via Addis Ababa and the rest of us to Atlanta via Amsterdam to meet the BJU van and return to campus.

And a shower.

See you soon.

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Dan Olinger

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

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