"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
Monday, June 14, 2004 It's Monday night in Mallam.
Yesterday, I preached and celebrated at Christ the King Church (and also led a Bible study group when I sat down to it and asked "who's leading this?" and was told "you are!"). The church is basically a shelter with a dirt floor and a roof held up by posts with bricks around it up to your knees but the rest open air. That was actually the best thing because it's kind of up on a hill and the breeze was GREAT.
We got there a little after 8 and things didn't start until 8:40 because we have to get all the benches, altar, and everything else either from the villa or from another house about a block and a half away. Then we have Bible study (three groups -- one for english speakers, which I led, one in Ga and one in Twi). Then a lay pastor leads Matins (the whole service is VERY British Anglican ... 1928 prayer book is the most similar thing for Americans) and after that we had the Eucharist -- Anglo Catholic with incense (thank goodness for my experience at Christ Church, New Haven. Somewhere Jerry Miner is smiling).
Preaching was a pretty surreal experience. You preach a sentence or half-sentence and then have to wait while it gets translated into two different languages ... and then sometimes the translators would slip into the wrong language and they'd laugh and correct each other. You really just had to kind of go with it because it was impossible to get into any kind of rythym. I think in normal time, my sermon would have been about 10 minutes, but it ended up being more than a half an hour!
The music was really cool. Some native stuff, but a lot of it was hymns out of our hymnal (the C of E hymnal, actually), that would start out all staid on this casio keyboard they have and then about the third verse, the drums and clapping would start and they would really start to jam with it. Really cool.
We were welcomed so warmly. No surprise there. Oh ... Frieda dressed Mackinnon up in authentic Ghanian garb -- got a great picture, which I hope I'll be able to post. Anyway, everyone was so welcoming. after the service, we had to pose for pictures with every different consituency group in the church.
The liturgy was pretty much Rite I, but just different enough to consistently trip me up. They were very gracious and said it was fine!
Last night, I went with james to the board meeting of a local independent school. Being here with James is absolutely amazing. I get to do things like this that no tourist would ever get to do and see real slices of life.
The meeting wasn't dynamic by any means. In fact, it was ample evidence that board meetings are pretty tedious in any culture. But what was interesting is that we have many of the same problems in our schools that they have in theirs -- lack of parental and community involvement, trying to stay up-to-date technologically but struggling with costs, hoping their students do well on standardized tests, etc.
Tomorrow, I'm heading back into the Gameshi neighborhood (where we saw Theatre for a Change) to see some vocational training programs and some of the peer-to-peer education things that CENCOSAD is doing. Wednesday, I'll be heading up to Ho in the Volta region (about two hours away ... I finally get to leave Accra. HOORAY!) for a meeting with stakeholders in the reproductive health ministry there. Thursday it's back to Gameshi to do more filming. Friday it's going to Budruburam, the Liberian refugee camp that has basically become a permanent Liberian city in Ghana. Saturday and Sunday, it's back to Ho to spend time at a facility for people with HIV/AIDS and (I think) preach at a local church and meet the bishop of that diocese.
Not a lot of rest time, but then again, even though six weeks seems like a long time sometimes, in reality it's not and there is so much to see and so much to learn. When Robin gets here, we'll take a MUCH more leisurely pace. I've already got some things planned and Lisa, Rachel and Anne have been great helping me plan stuff.
Then there's always days like today where everything was Ghana Maybe Time and we sat around and didn't accomplish much (though I did get in a good conversation with one of the practicum students about American foreign policy. The attitude here pretty much seems to be that the American government is arrogant and does whatever it wants but the American people are wonderful and they love them.) I'm saving some interesting editorials from the Ghana newspapers to bring home!
Going to sign off now. Night has fallen and the A/C is out at the internet cafe, so bugs are starting to pour in through the open door. Good thing I got my DEET!
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"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."