Sunday, May 27, 2018

I wake Cam up at 6; he’s going with Alexander, one of this year’s WABC graduates, to speak to a high school Bible study at 7.30. He heads out, and I enjoy the cold shower (yep) and take my time getting ready. Pickup’s at 9.

He’s late. We’re not surprised, but the kids are supposed to practice the special music during SS, which starts at 9, so we need to get going. At 9:30 we’re heading out the door to catch a kumba when the van shows up. Perfect timing.

We have enough time to run through the number a few times before church starts. It’s “10,000 Reasons,” and I’m a last-minute stand-in on the guitar. It’s been a few years.

The folks at Faith give us a kind send-off at the end of the service, with a small gift and a greeting line at the back door. We shake everybody’s hand, while we sing “God Be with You till We Meet Again.”

The guys in the church traditionally take girls home from one of the services on their motorbikes. We usually do it on Sunday night, but since we won’t be here tonight, it happens now. Unfortunately, this year all of the men with motorbikes here today are married, except for 3, so Kate, Karen, and Lauren each jump on a bike and roar off in a cloud of dust. The rest of us ride back in the van, and when we arrive, Audrey, Brigitta, and Flavia get a ride around the compound from the same 3 guys.

Tradition kept.

Mary has asked what we’d like for the final meal she’s preparing for us. We ask for spaghetti, with her remarkably meaty sauce, and bean stew, and fried plantains. I don’t know about the combination, but it’s our 3 favorite things, and we chow down. Some of our friends are hanging around, capturing the last few hours, and they get some too.

Pretty much done with lunch by 1, so we have 3 hours to pack and clean up. I want the house to look as good as it did when we showed up, and they’re getting there; the cleaning yesterday was a big step in that direction. Now it’s a matter of tidying up, stripping the beds, taking out the trash. I let them know I’ll be inspecting.

I’m not surprised when they’re ready early. The baggage is all in the front room, the house tidy, the rooms ready for inspection. Beds stripped, linens and towels on the beds. Mary finishes the lunch cleanup, and we thank her for her service and kindness. She wishes us a safe journey, and she and her little boy head down the path on her motorbike. A succession of friends comes by—Prince, then Gabriel, then Simon, whom we thank for his work around the house. He’s managed to fix everything we’ve busted. With each friend there is a round of handshakes and photos and embraces and promises to stay in touch.

Then right on time at 4, Timothy and Ivy drive up. We load all the luggage into the two vehicles and then climb in ourselves for the 10-minute drive to the bus terminal. In the chaos we get our tickets verified and identify the bus on which we’re riding out. It’ll be 30 minutes or so before we board, so after we’ve dropped our bags by the side of the bus and paid our baggage fee—it’s less than half what I paid in Accra, with Timothy negotiating the price here—we find the seats in the little picnic-shelter sort of waiting area. Pastor Simon comes by for another round of goodbyes, and Cam buys another item or two from a wandering hawker.

Soon it’s time, and we find our seats. Four rows of two, with Flavia and Karen in the front of the group, then Cam and me, then Brigitta and Kait, then Lauren and Audrey. Ivy has brought a cooler of sandwiches for supper; we’ll leave the cooler at the guest house in Accra, where they’ll pick it up when they come through next month.

This bus is newer and cleaner than the one we rode up on, and it feels a few inches roomier as well. In addition, the ride should be shorter, because we hit Accra early in the morning and will miss the traffic. I think we can do this.

Down the main road south out of Wa, past the police and fire stations and innumerable shops and fields and baobab trees and eventually into the bush, passing a mud-brick village every few kilometers. About 6.30 we break out the sandwiches; the sun goes down; and then Night Mode settles in over the bus. The crew spends a lot of time on their phones, mostly going through their photos and reliving recent memories.

This bus makes 2 formal bathroom stops, pretty evenly spaced through the 12-hour journey. The first is at 9, in Bole, where there’s a toilet facility where Gershon and I almost caused an international incident a few years back. This time there’s a rainshower just as we’re leaving the bus, and we sprint across the mud parking lot to the toilets. Another change—they’re making us pay this time. Worth it.

The second stop is in Kumasi at 1 am, but that’s tomorrow, so see you next time.

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Dan Olinger

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

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