Services are to begin at 10:30, and he suggested he’d come get me at 10:20. That’s cutting it close, but I also we won’t start on time. Also, the government currently allows churches to meet for a maximum of 2 hours before they must all leave. That is part of their COVID regulations.
I was preparing to walk down to the lobby to be ready when he called at 10:00 to say he was here! So, a little bit early it is! I don’t mind, it gives me more time to talk and visit with those who are there.
One may I wanted to see is Isaac Tandoh.
To my surprise, services started right on time at 10:30! They skipped the sermonette, and after some brief announcements we went straight to the sermon. Mr. Dima wanted to leave some time at the end because they have a brand new baby to ask a blessing on, and some arrangements to make for transportation for a funeral in Takoradi tomorrow, and an upcoming wedding. They need to cover all these things and still have people leaving within the two hour window.
Francis Brown, another leader in the congregation, was my translator. I’ve learned over the years that he has a very good grasp of English, and is a competent translator. What I didn’t realize is that he will often translate into Fanti rather than the more common Twi language.
I’ve known for some time that the two languages are closely related. As I understand it they are as close or maybe closer than Spanish and Portuguese. Mostly the same, a few words are different, slightly different accents on some things and slightly different common phraseology. Since Francis is fluent in both, and most here understand Fanti a little better, that is what he would use. To my ear I can’t understand the difference, but I was told he did an exceptional job.
The sermon I brought was on the gift of encouragement. Times like the present, where many have lost jobs, many things are in a state of flux, and the government is becoming increasingly unpopular, are very discouraging. Many aspects of daily life for our brethren have become more difficult, so a focus on the need for encouragement, and the need to be encouragers I felt would be rather timely.
There is a biblically-defined spiritual gift of encouragement that we can ask for. After identifying that, I looked at encouragement from three perspectives: a fictional story about a Japanese warrior who encouraged his men by some deceit (man’s idea, and not right). God’s encouragement of Joshua, showing how much we often need it, and how God is the master encourager, and then encouraging from the perspective of Joses in the New Testament. With one exception he is called by his nickname – Barnabas – which reveals something powerful about his character.
By the time I was done with the sermon, sweat was running in a continuous trickle down my back! It isn’t overly hot like it can get, but the humidity is very high, and low air movement makes if feel worse. They have ceiling fans throughout the room, and they were nice. But it became a bit of a challenge to keep our papers from blowing off the lecture. And Francis had trouble keeping the pages of his Bible from blowing all over. But in the end, a little more struggle with pages was well worth the trade off!
Immediately after services a young couple, Solomon and Victoria Eyison, were called forward with their two-week old baby boy. It is common to give a child an “English name” as well as a local name, which is what the child will commonly go by. Perhaps the child can tell whether or how much a parent is upset with him by which name he hears! As a boy if my mom called “Tom” or “Tommy”, everything was fine. If she called “Thomas”, something wasn’t right. If she called “Thomas Lewis” something was really not right. But if she ever called out “Thomas Lewis Clark!!” I figured I needed to go into some kind of federal protection program because I was in big trouble!!
This little baby is named Reuel Waitlord Eyison, but his local and common name is Papa Eyiku. It was very sweet to see the new family as well as extended family members up in front as Mr. Dima prayed over the baby and asked for God’s special blessing and protection.
The business of arranging transportation and taking care of planning for the wedding were over quickly as I was able to talk with a number of people in the back and outside. As often happens, several wanted to get a picture with me, I don’t know why. Maybe its because I’m the visitor, or maybe its because standing next to me makes them look even better than they already do. I’ve often said I have the perfect face for radio…
Mr. Dima told me he was able to bring me back to the hotel, which was better than getting a taxi. He dropped me off, and he’ll be back with two other pastors at 9 am tomorrow for our meetings.
One pastor, Eshun Plange, called me this morning to let me know he would not be able to come. He didn’t sound good on the phone, and let me know that both he and his wife are down with a severe bout of malaria. He is on medication, and is improving, but the doctor told him to take it easy the next few days, so he will stay home and rest. Most Ghanaians I ask don’t even remember how many times they’ve had malaria, and generally they regain their strength quickly. But he told me this time is more severe for some reason, the worst he remembers having. I’ll be sorry to not have him at the meetings, but completely understand.
I wasn’t terribly hungry, so went down to the restaurant to just get something light to tide me over. I have a little patio off my room, and it overlooks the pool area and the ocean. It was pleasant to sit out there and eat a snack, looking out over the sea. The pool was empty and quiet at first, but shortly a couple of families came and the kids were obviously having a blast in the pool. So as it got noisier, I came back inside. It seemed rather lazy to lay down and take a nap, but I decided to do so anyway!
I’ve been able to work on some of my presentations for the pastors, and then went down to get some dinner. They had grilled red snapper on the menu, and they have it. I asked just in case it was going to be cooked Cajun style, and found out it is grilled in butter and garlic. Perfect! That and some fried rice sounds like just the ticket to have. And it was!
I was able to cal my wife this evening, something I’ve done every day since I left. But it was harder to do today because of the time change and when services are at home compared with here. But it’s always good to talk with her.The three pastors will be at the hotel by 9 am and we’ll start going through a number of things Sunday and half of Monday, when they will each need to start the trip back home