The spirit of Ghana truly came alive for the GMH team Sunday morning when we attended church services a tiny St. Justin’s Anglican Church in the tiny village in the outskirts of Accra . While many elements of the service were familiar to some of us, the beautiful culture of the people added unique dimensions—it was a celebration that filled all our senses. The women and girls came adorned n their colorful, traditional dresses while the men and boys wore their Sunday best—some in Ghanaian garments, others in western-style clothing. Smoky incense wafted throughout the room at several points during the service. And the sounds! Songs shook the rafters to the accompaniment of drums and keyboard. At Father Edward’s enthusiastic invitation, the congregation danced in the aisles and we were moved by the pure joy these people exude despite their many hardships.
Although the service was lengthy—over three and a half hours—time passed quickly as we drank in the cultural feast. One of the reasons services run much longer is that every reading must be translated into three languages—English, Ga , and Twi. Even in English, the rich accents made it a challenge for us to understand the sermon, prayers, and song lyrics; however, the spirit of the word was unmistakable. Father Edward called the team forward to bless us and our important mission here in Ghana. The people all made us feel welcome and genuinely appreciated. We may have arrived as curious strangers, but we left feeling part of the family at St. Justin’s.
Janet Neumann- Let’s Have a Party, Better Yet Make it Ghanaian.
I have gone to a fair share of parties, but the one that we attended was definitely one of a kind. Sunday was a special day; we celebrated Becki’s 60th birthday! Every year we try to take time out of our busy Sunday schedule and celebrate with Becki and the blessing that she brings to our life and to GMH. If there is a birthday, there should be cake, good food and good company and that is exactly what we had. At around 5:30pm, the entire team and some of Mercia’s friends, some fellow GMH board members loaded the bus and headed to Regal Chinese Restaurant. I went there last year and was excited about how delicious and authentic the food was, and for the prospect of more vegetables. We arrived there about an hour later and then for the first time I noticed the 2 tiered, square cake. I was surprised to see my name on the cake. It read “Congratulations Janet.” The cake was huge and we all hoped that it would make it to the restaurant, up the steep steps in one piece.
Everyone arrived to the first floor of the restaurant. It was nicely decorated, some oriental pieces hung from the yellow walls. The team were seated at two round tables, with a built in lazy Susan in the center of the table. Soon after we sat down, people began to trickle in. Every time the door opened, someone entered with a cheer. We met many uncles and aunties that night, all such lovely people whom were so warm and thoroughly honored to have been invited to spend time with us to celebrate such a joyous occasion. The person that received the loudest ovation was Bishop Daniel Torto of the Anglican Diocese of Accra. I loved hearing him bless the food and our time together. The food arrived and it smelled delicious! The aromas smelled familiar: spicy and aromatic. We began our dinner, family style. There were many options from which to choose and to share with our old and new friends. We even had frog legs and octopus.
After dinner, we brought out the cake. I rose from my seat to get something out of my bag, but before I could sit down. Debi began talking to everyone about me. I just recently completed my master’s course work and was supposed to walk this summer. However, I choose Ghana over graduation. I could always walk the following semester, but our trip to Ghana only happens once a year. I couldn’t help but smile; it was truly touching to know that all these familiar faces along with strangers came to celebrate my accomplishment. Since I had not received my formal diploma I was handed a wooden plaque that my husband designed along with Debi’s help. After the heartfelt speeches made by my husband and Debi; we moved on to recognize the true superstar of the night, Becki. It was Becki’s birthday and we presented her with a wooden carved plaque along with a loving speech about how wonderful she is and how blessed we are to have her in our lives. As we feasted and dined together, God really shone his love on us. It was a beautiful and perfect evening.