"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Saturday, June 26, 2004 Here are this week's photos. I took a lot more video than pictures this week, so there were things that I thought I got pictures of that I didn't get still shots of. None of these pictures do the scenery any justice. Western Ghana is absolutely beautiful but in a way that is bigger than any picture can tell.
Here's the trip in a nutshell, so the photos can make some sense. We left Accra on Monday afternoon, got caught in a heavy downpour but still made it to Kumasi (the second largest city in Ghana) by 9 or so. On the way, the car kept stalling out whenever we were in low gear, but it started up again every time -- very nice. The next morning, before we left Kumasi, Victor took the car to get it checked out. Turns out it needed a new fuel filter -- routine maintenance isn't something that's done to most cars around here. With that in place, we took off mid-morning.
Tuesday's destination was Bibiani, in the Western Region. After a brief stop to see some local health officials, we went to a school in a nearby township to see a reproductive health presentation, walked a bit to visit a person living with AIDS and check up on him then drove to another township for a drama presentation by the peer educators.
The next morning, we left for Sefwi Wiawso -- another district capital -- where we went to a training session for peer educators followed by a visit with a group of women living with HIV/AIDS. At the insistence of the district superintendent, Mackinnon and I stayed at "the White House" -- which is where visiting dignitaries stay when they are in town. By regional standards it's palacial. By American standards, it's about a Motel 6 ... but to us it was a palace. HOT SHOWERS!!!!! We felt bad that the rest of our party didn't stay there ... even worse when Godslove told us the next morning he was woken up at 2 am by the hotel manager needing to use his cell phone because theives were trying to break into the hotel.
Thursday, it was off the paved road, onto the dirt road and off to Sewfi Juabeso. When Josephine told the district superintendent in Bibiani that we were going there, he laughed and said "so ... you're taking them into the danger zone, eh?" Then they all laughed and we sat there like the people who didn't get the joke. I'm not sure if it's called the danger zone because 1) the road getting there used to be treacherous ... though it's a pretty level dirt road now; 2) it's pretty close to the Ivory Coast border; 3) The local tribal chiefs aren't really thrilled with us doing reproductive health education there or 4) that some of the people in the area still practice ritual murder ... a lovely little fact Josephine slipped into conversation on Wednesday afternoon -- before smiling and saying "but you should be just fine!" Josephine loves having fun with us Americans.
Anyway, Juabeso was definitely the most primitive of the places, but it was still wonderful. They put on a big festival for our arrival, drama from the peer educators and even a doubleheader soccer match. We also did the requisite peer educators meeting and meeting with people living with HIV/AIDS. The highlight for me was getting to dance with a lot of the area children while they were blaring loud music over the concert-sized speakers while they were tearing down from the festival.
Friday was the long drive (11.5 hours) back to Accra ... but with good weather and beautiful scenery it was not a hard day.
During the week I also read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver ... about a family of Baptist missionaries in the Congo in the 1960s. Fantastic book -- especially if you happen to be traveling through Africa while you're reading it ... but even if you're not.
Now we're back in Accra. Tomorrow I preach at St. Luke's and then ... if all goes well ... we'll go to the beach in the afternoon. Next week I'm in Accra (save for a visit to Budruburam on Wednesday, I think) doing editing of the video I've taken, some longer interviews with James, Josephine and Godslove for voice overs, and generally having a pretty easy week after three weeks of packed schedules just about every day.
EGR resources and connects the church to embrace what one person, one congregation, one diocese and one church can do to make this mission of global reconciliation happen.
Want to find out more ... check our our website at www.e4gr.org.
"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."