"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
Tuesday, July 13, 2004 Back in Accra today after a couple days down the coast.
Yesterday, we left in the morning and, with Emmanuel at the wheel and doing a fabulous job as tour guide, stopped at Buduburam so Robin could see All Souls. They were incredibly glad to see us ... the children mobbed us both (they were on recess when we got there). I had to hide inside the church to film them through a window so they wouldn't mob the camera!
We toured the classrooms and Robin got to talk to some of the students and see what they were learning. We were both very impressed by the quality of education. These are kids from 1-7 years old and they are learning a lot ... math, spelling, Liberian history, Bible, reading ... all sorts of things. They are in school from 8-4, and then many stay after for a study hour until five.
Robin had a great conversation with Emelia, who is the principal of the school. Again, we were very impressed. They have so little there, but they do so much with it.
Before we left, they gathered us in the sacristy and presented us with a clock they had made for us with an Episcopal shield and the name of All Souls' parish and our names on it as a token for us to remember them by. It was very moving.
From there, we went to Cape Coast castle, where we got a fantastic guided tour of the former British trading fort that was most famously used in the slave trade. It's very hard to put into words what it was like being there... not just hearing the descriptions of what went on there but actually standing in the places where it happened.
There is one place called "the door of no return" ... which, like you might expect, is the place where the surviving captives were loaded onto the slave ships, never to return. Today, when you go out it, you see a bustling fishing village ... which is a nice change, to say the least.
One thing that was interesting is how much the people who give you tours there are cognizant of the Africans' own complicity in the slave trade. I expected a lot more about the evil Europeans (which would have been completely warranted), but there was really a lot more about the people who sold their own people to them. I think that's very important for them to remember that history and they are very intent on not repeating it ... even with the tribal differences that still exist today.
From there, we went to meet with the Bishop of the Diocese of Cape Coast ... a really remarkable man who was Emmanuel's dean in seminary (the two of them are still quite close). We had a wonderful conversation ... much the same tenor as the conversations I had with Bishop Akrofi. We talked about lots of things, including the situation in the Communion since Gene Robinson's consecration. Like Bishop Akrofi, he is honest about the negative effects that the consecration has had, but is committed to staying together and shakes his head somewhat in disbelief at those who want to split apart. There is a great deal we have to learn from each other. I hope we can be better listeners.
We spent the night at the Hans Cottage Bo-tel, which is a hotel on a man-made lagoon full of Nile crocodiles. All the crocs were asleep for most of our stay ... but we got to see a few this morning.
This morning, we went to Kakum National Park ... a large rainforest preserve. The highlight of the park is a canopy walk -- basically a chain of rope bridges suspended 30-40 meters above the forest floor. You literally walk from treetop to treetop. A guide took us there ... parts of the walk were under renovation, so instead of doing the loop, we walked halfway and then back. But the views were incredible ... even caught a glimpse of a Colombus monkey in a distant tree.
On the way back, we stopped briefly at Elmina Castle (built by the Portuguese, also used in the slave trade) and then back to Accra. We spend the night here and then are off with Emmanuel again to the Eastern and Volta Regions to see Okosombo Dam and Lake Volta, the waterfalls at Wli and a monkey sanctuary!
Only three more days in Ghana. Time is growing very short.
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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."