Meetings and night driving

Trip Start Feb 13, 2011
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Trip End Mar 14, 2011


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Where I stayed
Elmina Beach Resort

Flag of Ghana  ,
Tuesday, February 15, 2011

An important meeting

After an 08:00 breakfast, Tom Clark finished arrangements for our morning meeting with the pastors who had asked us to come, and I worked in my room. We had scheduled the meetings to start at 09:00 and figured they would start between 10:00 and 11:00. In the event everyone arrived by 10:00, and we could start at that time. We opened with prayer and then Tom asked how we could help and what questions we could answer. They had many questions about many recent events pertaining to the association that Tom and I had served for the last 15 years, up until recently. We explained as carefully as we could the situation as we knew it to be, what we had experienced personally, and what had led us to be part of the new church association that started last month.

We found that due to easy access to the Internet and the factual information to be found there, these elders were remarkably well informed about the international situation concerning our church movement. They also had concerns about the way certain things had been done in Ghana, and explained some questionable situations and decisions that caused them ethical concerns locally.

After several hours of discussion, they asked if they could be excused to discuss the situation among themselves. They stepped outside and while Tom and I waited in the conference room and worked on our laptops, we could hear an occasionally animated discussion outside carried out in Twi, the Akan language spoken by a number of tribes in Ghana, and the local lingua franca of African dialects.

They came back in. "We had" stated their spokesman “already made our decision before you came, but we wanted to wait until you arrived and talked with us to confirm our decision.” He explained that they wanted to be part of the new association and would immediately send their resignation letter that had already been prepared.

While they reviewed the letter one last time, Tom went to the business center and printed the paperwork they would need to request recognition of their credentials and acceptance in the new association. So Reuel Appiah Dima, Benjamin Agyapong, Joseph Baah, Eshun Plange, Ofori Amanfo, and Adonijah Blay Miezah began the process of becoming part of our new association. As they filled in the forms and came to a space where they had to indicate who had ordained them and who could verify their service in the ministry, they asked if they could use my name for the ordination. I was happy to agree, and the thought took me back ten years.

Reminiscing


I remembered working with these friends more than 10 years ago as they worked to become part of our church movement. I had spent a great deal of time in Ghana between 1999 and 2002; sometimes staying for weeks at a time. With my wife and young daughters I spent 6 weeks here in 2000, living in a local home and teaching almost continuously. That summer was quite a family adventure! We frequently had no running water, sometimes for up to a week, daily power outages, and we traveled every week into remote parts of the country where white people, especially white children were very unusual curiosities. It had been challenging, but also a wonderful education and the experience was very rewarding.

Over those years, with a number of fellow ministers from the US, we visited congregations, held seminars on all sorts of topics, and I was very pleased to be present and participate in their ordinations in early 2002. Following that event, the Ghanaian region was transferred to the responsibility of another minister.

Takoradi

By the time we finished this work, it was nearly 17:00; we had worked straight through the day with not time for lunch. Having finished and Tom having made his travel plans for the next few days, we ended the meetings and walked a quarter of a mile to a restaurant that had been told to expect us about then. The staff had a plate of chicken and either fried rice of Jollof rice (a deliciously spicy local rice dish) ready for us. We talked and joked over the meal until it was time for some of us to leave to go to Takoradi for an evening Bible Study.

Ben, a local member who drives a taxi, was to provide our transportation. We left at 17:30 for the 90 minute drive to Takoradi, where the study was to start at 19:00. After an hour on the paved coastal highway road, we arrived in the outskirts of Takoradi and then turned off on to a pothole-filled dirt road and drove another half an hour. We arrived right on time, but since things run on “African time” as they call it here, the local church members didn't arrive until an hour after that. About 30 people were present in the end, including some standing outside with babies or small children.

After a prayer to open the meeting, Tom explained why were present, and that we would answer their questions if they had any. After each statement the paper Jospeh Baah translated into Twi for those who had trouble with English. There were questions about what had happened, why the situation had been allowed to get so bad, and what we would do to see that it didn’t happen again. They were good questions and very understandable. After 90 minutes we appeared to have answered all the questions, so we could start the trip back to Elmina. We shook hands all around and wished God’s blessing on each and every one, receiving in return assurances that their prayers would accompany us.

Through the African night

A typically African experience happened when we attempted to get back in Ben’s taxi. The key suddenly wouldn’t work in the door lock. Neither door lock. So all sorts of things were tried, in a region where resourcefulness is a necessary skill for everyday survival. The doors were pushed and pulled, the trunk lock was tried, windows were strained, men worked on every side of the car to find a way in. Finally someone removed the door molding from a back window and was able to slip the molding itself in a space created by its removal and open the door.

We waved goodbye and started out through the dusty, gritty air, heavy with smoke and humidity, and slalomed slowly over the dirt road toward the highway, bottoming out now and again. The humid night air caused a fog to form on the windshield, and the ancient windshield wipers did little more than move the film around glass. Visibility was therefore poor and there were a few white-knuckle moments as we left the Takoradi area. Oncoming traffic, especially the headlights of big trucks was literally blinding. When he couldn’t see the outside white line, Ben’s strategy to stay on the road was to move toward the oncoming traffic. By moving to the center line he risked clipping a truck, but at least he knew he wouldn’t run off the road….

We arrived, safe and sound, if a bit dusty, back at the hotel at a little before midnight. Tom and I had hoped for a cold beer, but the bar was closed, the refrigerators padlocked for the night, and the receptionist informed us that no one had a key. Disappointing.

We took our laptops to the lobby where would get on the Wi-Fi network and, via Skype, reported to members of the administrative team back in the States. Then Tom called Mary, and I called Marjolaine on Skype to give and receive news before turning in. It was a tiring day, but productive and we were able to help the people we had come to serve.
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Comments

joyce on

:) Thank you.

Carol on

Wonderful report!!!

Norma Osorio on

I love reading your blog. Thank you.

maryhendren
maryhendren on

Hi Joel and Tom,
What a wonderful report, and thanks for the pictures of our brethren. Your reception and the Q&A in Takoradi are encouraging. The locked taxi cab experience and the drive back to Elmina were a vicarious "white knuckle" moment for the reader, too. What a blessing for the brethren who have assurance and support from the efforts you both have made.

Regards,
Mary

Hervé Irion on

Hello Mr. Meeker and Mr. Clark. God has blessed your trip. What good news! It is very good to see that our brothers and sisters in Ghana are asking questions, searching for the truth and joining us. You are an excellent writer; gift which you probably got from your mother ; - ). We are praying for both of you and the brethren there. Take care and I am looking forward to reading from you soon.

Rosie Seltzer on

Thank you for your travel blog. I'm praying for both of you and your families. Give the brethren there our love from the US! I'm enjoying the pictures.

Manuel Quijano on

Mr. Meeker, thank you very much for taking the time to write and keep us informed about our brethren in that part of the world. Please pason to them our warmest regards on behalf of the brethren in Peru.

Alicia Wollan on

Thank you for traveling to Africa and taking care of our brothers and sisters. Thank you for taking time to carefully explain and answer their questions. We are praying for your safety while there and your safe return.

Jim Chapman on

Wonderful news and may God's blessings continue with you both on this trip.

We will be remembering you.

J & B

Jack Hendren on

Thanks so much for the news and being willing to travel and serve the members there. They sure ask good questions.

Your travels remain in our prayers.

larrysalyer
larrysalyer on

Hi Joel and Tom,

Thanks again for all you both do in Africa. Great news about the ministry in Ghana. We will pray for your safety and success throughout the rest of your trip(s).
Larry and Judy

Bea Childs on

Thank you for all of your wonderful work with our brethren in AFRICA! Your "travelogue" is very interesting to me; I'm an "armchair" traveller myself and will keep up with you right here every day that you are away. Prayers for you and the brethren! God be with you. Oh, and what did you tell the African brethren when they asked what was being done to insure that we don't have to go through our recent "misery" again? That's the very question I would ask.

Buzz and Brenda Messerly on

Hello Mr. Meeker and Mr. Clark,
We wanted to jump and dance. It is such good news about our ministers and brethren in Ghana. We will continue to pray for you both for the safety and success of your trip and the efforts you put forth to do God's will.

Aimee Lemen on

What an incredible blessing! Thank you for this VERY encouraging update!

Jon & Debbie Pinelli on

Great news Joel!!! Many thanks to you and Tom for your work abroad. Take care.

Linda on

Thank you for your service to God in these troubled times. All of you are in my prayers everyday. God bless you.

Jill Clouthier on

Dear Mr. Meeker and Mr. Clark,

Thank you for all you do for the brethren on your travels.

It is great to be able to follow your "adventure" for God.

I pray daily for you two and your families while you are away and for Mr. Baker and his familywhile he is away.

May God bless your efforts.
Jill

on

It is thrilling to read of your trip to, and through Africa. I think I must have sighed reading the part where you skyped your wives! Dorrie

Judy Rand on

Thanks for all you do for our scattered brethren. May God continue to bless and protect you in your travels.

gkmeeker
gkmeeker on

Dad and I are so glad that your trip has started on such a positive note. Also relieved that you are not going to Ivory Coast, as their economic situation is disastrous, and the ramifications explosive. Sorry for the brethren there, though. Love and prayers.

txtwin2
txtwin2 on

Thank you so very much for this blog! You continue in our prayers....

Karen Collins on

Thank you both so much for keeping all of us posted. My prayers are with you both.

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