In the summer of 2004, I spent two weeks in Ghana, West Africa serving communities in the West coast seaside area of Busua Beach with a team largely from the United Methodist Church of Newton, Massachusetts with residing pastor and former Boston University Professor of Evangelism, Reverend Dr. Seth O. Asare.
I kept a journal during that time, recording every sentient detail – what I saw, heard, smelled, ate, felt – everything I could remember. I still have two water bottles filled with talcum-fine beach sand from Busua Beach I returned to the States with as a souvenir. One day, I will reread those memories and smooth my hands over the sand, as I did on that last night on the beach, opening my eyes as wide as I could to view stars in positions I’d never seen before, and would never see again, trying to burn it into my memory.
What I learned there, that I just stumbled across in a follow-up email to my financial backers at the time, inspires me to this day. Hoping it will do the same for you, here is that letter, unedited, with the same photograph I attached in the original.
I’m not cut out for overseas mission work; bless those who are. This was an experience that impacted me more than I think it impacted those we “helped.” For that reason, I would rather send money than spend money on traveling. Besides, everyone who loves God and wishes to share that love can be a missionary in their own backyard. Life a life of love. Don’t worry about ditches, just get back on your surfboard. #mixingmetaphors 🙂
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“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Dear Friends and Family,
I am so grateful to you all for your financial and prayer support toward our mission trip in Ghana this summer. The country was beautiful and the people wonderful. I am thrilled to report, mission accomplished!
By God’s grace, the site was prepared, palm oil processing equipment was installed, an initial delivery of palm fruit was supplied, and the Azani Women’s Palm Oil Processing Cooperative was formed, during Ghana Mission 2004. As a result of the efforts of the mission team and donations received through Friends of Ghana, Inc., at least 15 women now have the opportunity to increase their family’s income and thereby improve their lives and the lives of their families and community.
Nearly 1000 women, children, and men received much needed medical consultations provided by Ghanaian doctors and nurses at the villages of Dixcove, Azani, and Busua over the 4 days we conducted free clinics. Various medicines were distributed free of charge.
Rev. Seth Asare, Rev. Charlie Bark, and Rev. Tom Getchell-Lacey shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who attended services at Bethel Methodist Church in Takoradi, at John Wesley Methodist Church in Sekondi, at open-air revival services at Dunwell, Effiakuma, and at the Azani chapel, built during Ghana Mission 2002. Ghanaians and Americans prayed, praised, and worshipped together, and some of the laypersons on the mission team shared their personal testimonies about their relationship with the Lord, how He has been working in their lives, and the difference that knowing Him has made in their lives.
I spent much of my time with the children of the local villages, talking, laughing, playing volleyball, singing songs, making rubber glove balloons, and holding hands. I have already received letters from one sweet young boy named Solomon.
I will never forget Busua Beach, the tropical paradise where our hotel was located. The ocean was very powerful there, the undertow and current immediately sucking you out to sea! I always say that when it comes to God’s will, I must just get on my surfboard and ride the wave. What that means to me is that I cannot control where God takes me in this life, but I can learn to ride the waves of my life, the ups and downs, and learn to enjoy them for what they are. My experiences in Ghana taught me that sometimes, while I’m learning to ride the waves, I am going to fall off the board, be tossed about by the waves, get sand everywhere I don’t want it, and be swept out further and further to places I am unsure of. If I do not put my feet down and stand, I will inevitably drown. If I do not keep getting back on my board, I will never learn how to love my life as He has planned it. Each new experience with God is practice surfing, is learning more about Him, His ways, and His purposes for me.
This summer I also learned of God’s awesome power to rescue people out of ditches. Sometimes that ditch is physical, emotional, financial, or relational, and sometimes it’s just a plain old ditch. On a very rainy Saturday, August 14th, while traveling back to the capital city of Accra for our flight home, our tour bus hit a patch of clay-mud, swerved off the highway, and rolled off a 15-foot cliff. God was in the boat with us that day – we were all alive. Immediately, I began to pray for God’s presence to surround us. Next, we began to help those who were injured, while people came in droves from the highway, kicking out windows and the windshield with their bare feet to rescue us. These brave souls led us out of the bus and hoisted us up the cliff onto the highway. Many good people stopped to help that day, taking our things to the local police station and transporting the injured to the Central Regional Hospital emergency room where we spent the rest of the afternoon. Only because of God’s good grace, injuries were limited. Sometime, during the aftermath of the crash, some despairing person, seeing what they felt was a golden opportunity, ran off with my passport, yellow card, wallet, and money. But again, because of God’s awesome provision, with the help of other mission team members and the police, my things were miraculously returned to me by the end of the day.
We may have been knocked off our wave that day, but God was with us the whole way. Always trusting God, I was never frightened. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to go to Ghana this summer. Thank you again so much for helping me get there and come home safely. To me, falling off a wave is not a deterrent to getting back on my board. I am ready for my next lesson. I understand that God wanted to teach me more about Himself and draw me closer to Him through my experiences. Can’t wait for the next one!
May God bless you and keep you!
With my love,