Edward Sake was early at the hotel this morning to pick me up. But I’d expected that, so was ready, and just had to settle the bill and head out the door. It was good to see him again. We were able to catch up on families and such. We’ve discovered that I’m almost exactly one month older than he is, and we both married our blushing brides within a month or so of each other. We both have three children, and all our children are within a year or two of the same ages!
I’ve learned from Mr. Sake and from the two hotels that the COVID panic has done terrible harm to the country. The Airport West where I stayed last night has contracts with oil companies, who are sending workers over for 90 day shifts all the time, so they have survived.
And the effects of almost no travel and tourists has hit other businesses as well. One place I’ve greatly enjoyed taking visitors is the Tetta Quarchie Art market, not far from the airport in Accra. I was shocked to drive by on my way to the hotel and discover that the entire area is not only closed down, but all the shops have been bulldozed and it is just empty land. I’d been there so many times with different groups that some of the shop owners recognized me. Many fine souvenirs have been purchased there, but it too has fallen victim to this past 18 months.
One project the government started probably 3 years ago is building and reinforcing a heavy stone sea wall along this part of the coast. I know it was started several miles down the coast, but it has not reached here too. The sound of heavy machinery drew me out to the beach where I watched a couple of backhoe’s taking huge stones from trucks and placing them to form the sea wall. Some of the stones are massively heavy, and I watched the tracks of one of the backhoe’s begin to life off the ground as he lifted and moved one of the huge chunks. I don’t know what kind of a storm it would take to move or break down that wall, but if one that big ever hits here, there probably won’t be many people left to worry about a breached sea wall…
Reuel Dima, our pastor in Elmina came to the hotel to pick me up a little before 7 pm. The building where we meet for services is not far from here, and I’ve walked it many times. But one does tend to get quite hot and sweaty, and unfortunately it is not as safe as it once was to walk out in the dark (sun always sets about 6 pm year-round). So I was happy to ride with him.
Quite surprising, we had an estimated 150 people come for the Bible study tonight! This is the largest crowd I’ve spoken to for a long time. It was good to see them again, although with everyone wearing masks it was more difficult to make out who was who! Not surprisingly, no one had any difficulty determining which one I am – even with a mask the only balding white guy here still stands out.
The study I gave was “Why does God allow suffering?” Mr. Dima had already told me that quite a few members lost their jobs through the COVID restrictions, and times have been tough for many. It seems most have now found work once again, but worries and struggling are a constant part of life, and the reactions to the COVID flu have only made it worse.
I started by asking at what level should God eliminate suffering? Wars? Famine and disease? Sicknesses? Job losses and financial problems? Unkind words and gossip? Where? Then I pointed out that we as parents deliberately inflict suffering on our children – in the form of discipline. They may suffer some pain on the backside from a swat, or the distress of being denied a privilege all because of their behavior. We do this to teach them, because we want them to become better people. And God as our Father does the same with His children. On a week night people clear out pretty quickly so they can get back home, finish their evening duties and get to bed. But several made a point to come up and comment on the message and thank me for it, so I assume it was at least a little helpful.
Back at the hotel I had to ask maintenance to stop by. The two lights by the bed – the only lights in that part of the room – wouldn’t work. It didn’t look like a bulb, but I couldn’t figure it out. When he showed up, he flipped a switch over by the door and they both came on! I felt so stupid, because I didn’t think to turn a switch way over there. Oh well, he gets another “dumb American” story to tell his buddies down in maintenance! But my little room safe, which I always use to protect some items, would not work either. He looked at it and discovered the batteries had been taken out. So he can fix that one easily, but at least it was a real problem not just my stupidity… Can I call that at least 50%?
Tomorrow I’ll be able to spend a little time with Mr. Dima before I find my way down to Takoradi. Mr. Dima’s car is not running well enough to make a longer trip, and no one else around here has a vehicle that can take me down. I’d always rather give the money to a Church member if I can, but in this case it isn’t possible. So I’ll arrange my own transport down and back, and will take the same study to the brethren down there.Now its time to get a little something to eat, and hopefully a good night’s sleep