Monday, August 29, 2011

"You come with one hand extended, but we receive you with both arms.”

Calvin Students First Visit to Adenkrebi

It’s been a wonderful week, with first the celebration of two student birthdays — Stephanie Walker and Justine Kelly. Our Calvin College cook, Charles Quansah, baked a HUGE cake and we all enjoyed it thoroughly! These two women are such a joy to have in the program and were thrilled to celebrate their birthdays together.

In general, we are bonding together as a group extremely well. Every student has such unique gifts and sensibilities, and I honestly think as we get to know one another, the spirit of community will only grow in faith and love. We are incredibly blessed to have this group of students together.

On Saturday, we headed up to our sister village of Adenkrebi, to introduce the Calvin students to the village where they will be living for a few weeks during the semester. To begin, it was a misty rain day with a mild breeze which made it excellent for travel, but not so great for hanging around outdoors in this ancient village.

We arrived around 10 am, and first went on a tour of the first Presbyterian Church built in the village in 1836, still standing. And in fact, they were painting it when we visited. It’s just a simple one-room church, but it’s simplicity reveals its beauty. After the church, we visited the villages’ two school buildings – a primary school and a junior high school. The village has a real struggle with quality education, with attracting and retaining teachers who will live in such a rural place and dedicate themselves to the cause of the education of these people. Our students will have the opportunity, while living in the village, to read to the children and help in the schools. One of my favorite things at the school is a children's merry-go-round that generates electricity as the children play on it! Very cool:

When we returned to the center of the village, we were greeted with an official meeting of the village elders who offered us a libation of palm wine, which we all drank from a gourd. It was fabulous stuff! And while this wasn’t fermented, I can imagine that it would be quite potent if aged properly! As it was, this stuff is delicious. We made some official remarks about our communities and I offered our sincere thanks that the village offers themselves to us as a home in Ghana. In fact they said to us, “You come with one hand extended, but we receive you with both arms.” It’s a beautiful Ghanaian saying that we were very happy to hear.

We spent the afternoon playing traditional Ghanaian games (see pictures below) and some of our medically trained students did blood pressure checks. This was a small service that we could offer and were pleased to give.

They gave to us an afternoon of pure joy and a real sense of home in this country! AND we finally were able to meet the chief of the village right before we left that day and he also extended his welcome and officially invited us to stay in the village this semester so that we might learn about Ghanaian life and build the kingdom of God together!

Ellen REALLY wanted a baby tied to her back!

A highlight of the day was this beautiful fruit straight from the village trees that they shared with us and Ivy found HUGE spiders crawling through the maze of bananas and these lovely spider eggs! Despite that, they were the best bananas we have EVER tasted. Heavenly.

And then, at the end of the day, we were blessed with the gift of coconuts! You know, the coconut is one of the wholest foods on the planet, providing essential nutrients, fats and amino acids that we need for survival? Here's the group, enjoying the bounty!

What Blessings!

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