To-Do List in Ghana

A Letter from Ruth Brown, serving in Ghana

May 2019

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Happy spring to you!

Rare downpours bring thoughts of spring during Ghana’s current dry season. With spring comes spring cleaning. I rent a private bedroom/bathroom in the home of a large Ghanaian family where much cleaning and cooking occurs each day. By 5:30 a.m. Monday–Saturday, 3 girls in my home begin housecleaning chores. The oldest, Juliet, sweeps the living room, front porch and front yard. The younger girls, Doris and Esther, sweep the kitchen, back porch and back yard. After school, the girls return home by 4:30 p.m. to begin the evening meal. I often enjoy meal preparation time with them, helping cut up ingredients for the evening soup while practicing language phrases with the children. For the evening meal, the girls grind vegetables and spices (tomatoes, garlic, onions, and ginger) by hand on a large terracotta grinder and place the mixture in a little water over the hot coals. In another pot, they mix boiled yam with hot water, stirring until the yams thicken, then they pound this into fufu. This staple of the Konkomba diet is then scooped up with a small gourd and placed into smaller pots for serving different people.

Returning to the heated mixture of vegetables and spices, Juliet stirs some packets of bullion flavoring into the sauce. Sometimes there are tree leaves to grind into the sauce. When all is ready, Doris serves her father at a table in the front yard. Sometimes, the children’s mother, Christy, eats with him, especially during this season when it’s very hot inside the house. The children eat on the back porch over two pots of food, fufu and the sauce, sitting on low stools with the pots on the floor between them. The family seems healthy and strong, but I marvel and worry at what low amounts of protein they are consuming. At an occasional meal there may be scant amounts of fish and/or seeds, but very rarely are there any field beans, nuts, meat, eggs or milk. I assist them with their meals, but I usually cook for myself, serving myself more beans than the family members desire to consume.

As we clean up the evening meal, we share stories and memories about cleaning up our homes. The girls tell me about the time a wall of their house was weakened during a heavy rain and fell onto the dining room table, breaking it in half. I, in turn, show them how to write “I love you” in shorthand, and tell how my dad used to write that phrase with his finger on an occasionally discovered dusty surface in my childhood home. He was thinking this was a loving way to indicate an area of the home that needed attention, but his plan backfired. Although she understood well my father’s intention, my mother wouldn’t clean the surface. “I think it’d be a shame to erase such a wonderful message,” she’d say with a smirk.

With spring cleaning, to-do lists and images of “progress” being harbingers of spring, this is a good time to record my official “to-do list” for this term in Ghana in partnership with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ghana:

  1. Achieve proficiency in the Likpakpaaln language by end of 2019.
  2. Establish a Community Health Evangelism/Education (CHE) program in at least one town.
  3. Establish a health promotion planning committee and/or system for community-wide communication about health promotion in Saboba.
  4. Establish a system of communication regarding health/development with churches in Upper Northern Territory.
  5. Work to establish sustainable EP Church-related programs that address root causes of poverty.
  6. Visit one of Ghana’s “witches’ camps” in Gnani regularly, offering assistance to residents with planning/implementing programs for health and development. The moderator of E.P. Church’s General Assembly, the Rt Rev. Dr. Seth Agidi, told me that he hoped I may find some way to assist the residents of camps for people accused of witchcraft. For basic information about Ghana’s “witches’ camps,” please click here. An article on GhanaWeb offers more specific detail. Note: the LEAP program mentioned in this article is a government lottery system for health care.
  7. (a) Work to increase donations for my sending and support; and b) work to increase the number of active participants in Ghana Mission Network.

 

It is objective 7(b) that I wish to emphasize now: June 27-30, 2019 is the annual Ghana Mission Network (GMN) meeting. The GMN is currently comprised of adults from both the U.S. and Ghana. The site for this year’s annual meeting is Erie, PA, and the GMN seeks to engage youth and young adults this year. Youthful church members currently registered include two Ghanaian students from Princeton Seminary, two high school and two university students of Ghanaian parents, and a few U.S. high school students. The objectives are to invite the younger generations into the GMN community and to give them opportunities to discuss their perspectives. Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) stories about serving in Ghana will be told, and the GMN planning committee is arranging a local community engagement experience for the youth. There are often cultural and language differences between older and younger generations, and through learning and listening to one another, greater understanding and collaborations can arise. The GMN planning team hopes that a youth/young adult component will inspire, enlighten and strengthen global relationships and mission endeavors for the entire GMN family. All ages will have much to enjoy together, including a boat tour of Lake Erie, time on the beach, and time at Presque Isle’s Tom Ridge Environmental Center. No matter your age, if you have an interest in Ghana and the active church and ministries, please contact Donna Cammarata to register for this meeting: pcusa.gmn@gmail.com or by phone at (814) 873-4860.

My September 2019 newsletter will have stories describing how PC(USA) churches are supporting World Mission. Please send me stories and photos of how your church is promoting/assisting World Mission. Together, we are a mission partnership. I would not be here in Ghana without your prayers and your donations for my sending and support. I thank you very much for your encouragement and gifts.

Now, I ask for an additional favor: At presbytery meetings this year, would you please organize a small display table about our partnership with Ghana and invite other churches in your presbytery to contribute to this partnership with the E. P. Church in Ghana and to my sending and support? Please also ask these churches to invite me to speak during my next interpretive assignment, which will take place October-December 2020. This would be a very great help. World Mission may offer churches I have not visited in the past scholarships to assist with transportation reimbursement.

It’s my experience that working with churches outside the U.S. is similar to progress made by church members in the U.S., measured on many days in inches and smiles. We pray to work together with our partners in and through God’s will to enlarge the Kingdom that all may have abundant life. Should we fail to meet all our objectives, there is hope that, when the dust settles behind our work, those who consider our efforts will be able to decipher the message, “Christ loves us” and “In Christ, we love one another.”

Thank you for your love and support.

-Ruth


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