Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Some pics

I've put some pictures from Ghana up on my Picassa site. Not everything is up yet, but I'm working on it.

Is that God Calling?

After reading my last post, my brother asked me if I would go back to Ghana as a pastor in the future. Oh, the question of the day! While we were still in Damongo, I was trying to figure out the answer to this question, or more correctly, trying to figure out how I could finagle my answer to this question.

I loved Ghana. I loved Damongo. Yes, loved. On our way out of Damongo, I said to Jim, the leader of our trip and the project. OK, I've figured out a way for me to get back to Damongo after I graduate from seminary, I could __________. (No, I won't fill in the blank. What I dreamed up doesn't even exist yet, among other reasons.)

But in reality, I was only in Ghana for 2 1/2 weeks. I stayed in pretty nice guests houses with running water and air conditioning. I was hosted by amazing friends, who took care of me. I didn't even have to cook for myself! I was spoiled. I wasn't living true Ghanaian life (whatever that stereotype might be). So, I worry when I wonder if I might be called back to Ghana. I haven't really experienced real life in Ghana for an extended period of time!
Church leaders in front of the church in Bowena.

But, you never know where and how God might call you. I never wanted to be a pastor, but look at me now. I really really didn't want to be a pastor because I didn't want to preach, or at least figured I wouldn't be anywhere decent at it, but surprise surprise, I can preach (did I tell you that I preached in Damongo!).
So, who am I to say where God can or cannot call me to serve. I believe that God calls us where we are meant to be, where we should be. God doesn't call us to endeavors that would be horrible, that we would hate. Sometimes its like God is the ultimate talent scout. So, might I have the gifts for ministry in Ghana. I'm not sure. I hope maybe, but maybe part of that hoping is just nostalgia from my great visit to Damongo and Ghana as a whole. I've also wondered about Canada. Hmm...

By the way, to receive a call back to Ghana would be quite the ecumenical hopping. I'm guessing its residual from colonial days when the mainline denominations divided up Africa for missions, but the Presbyterian Church is most active in Ghana. The ELCA, or a lutheran church associated with Lutheran World Federation, is not so active in Ghana. Guess we'll see what God might be up to!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Safe Return

I have returned to Oslo safe and healthy, at least for now. The trip to Ghana was fabulous and more. Words don't quite work in this situation. I met so many amazing and warm people, lived in hot hot hot weather, was dusty and dirty from the moment I stepped out of the shower, and even learned some Gonja.

I think I left part of my heart in Ghana, as I was ready to hop on the plane and return to Ghana as soon as I returned to Oslo. Ghana is quite developed and peaceful in comparison to many of its neighboring African countries, but the differences between Ghana and Norway are still quite glaring.

Its strange for me to walk down the street and see everything paved, and without the probability of running into a break in the concrete. Its strange to get in a car and have a smooth ride. Its strange that we don't all say hello to each other when we meet. Its strange to see so many new and overly expensive cars. This culture shock is harder than when I moved to Norway from the US.

I'll put up more later. Right now am too tired and too much that needs to get done here at church. We were mostly in Damongo, Northern Ghana. About 45 km west of Tamale, not far from Larabanga. We spent most of our time at Redemption Children's Home and New Life Prepatory School, among other things. Will share more later.

Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April Showers Bring More Travels

April showers bring May flowers. We should have lots of flowers here in Norway, come spring!

Experienced only my second funeral as a pastoral person yesterday. A beloved woman of the congregation passed away after a 2 year battle with cancer. It is good that she is no longer in so much pain and suffering, but hard on her family.

This was my first service to go to the cemetery. Interestingly enough, most people in Norway are now cremated - mostly because there is not enough land or space for people to be buried.

When I die, I think I would prefer to be buried as the Vikings, or maybe the Scots, practiced - to be put on a log raft, sent out to sea, and then burned. I don't like how burying someone costs so much money. Its just my physical remains, no one is going to look at them again, I don't think.

In other news, I leave for Ghana (Africa) on Sunday morning. My congregation sponsors / leads a project in Northern Ghana that includes building an orphanage, supporting a school, supporting Bible translation to the Gonja language, and sending children to Bible camp in the summer. The mother/wife of the family who I stayed with here in Oslo when I first arrived is from Ghana. Their family is kind of the leaders of this project.

It will be interesting to see first hand and experience this project. I have met the man who started and runs the orphanage when he visited Oslo in the fall. It sounds like the leaders of the project are working to integrate the projects into the community and make them sustainable - not just people from the North giving money or aid. But instead working to develop relationships and support the local people as they see fit. Will be interesting, for sure!

So, I have my malaria pills ready to go. Have been immunized against Yellow Fever. Been told not to even touch standing water and to drink only bottled water. Bought roll on mosquito repellent and high levels of sunscreen. Borrowed a mosquito net. And finally found a light weight long sleeve shirt (gotta keep those bugs away!) and a hat (keep the sun away!). It took forever to find these last two items. The whole sporting industry of Norway is still in skiing season, not travel clothes. Fleece fleece everywhere!

I think I am about ready to go. Keep me in your prayers! We fly into Accra and then will be driving north to Domongo (near Tamale, if you are looking on a map.)