Ghana in October Day Two: Church, Children, and Queen Mothers

When Erin and I were here in May, we roamed the area around our Kumasi hotel hunting for a church but never found one. Well, I found one in Ankaase today. The Methodist church is about a five-minute walk from the mission house where I am staying so there was no excuse to miss Sunday services. Evans, the school headmaster’s son, came to get me about 9 a.m. and we walked the red dirt road and were just in time for the start of the service. I understood very little since most of it was spoken in Twi, the regional language, but the music had a good beat and you could dance to it. Which many did, not including me. We sang a peppy rendition of “It Is Well With My Soul,” which I’ve never thought was a song that you could move to, but they did. The preacher was a woman (love those Methodists) who I think brought it home, although I couldn’t understand a bit of it. I was tempted to join in the “amen” chorus, but I thought that might look phony. Here’s an idea for a first-time visitor welcome: have them come to the front of the sanctuary, hand them a mike, and ask them to tell you why they have come. My explanation was meant with blank stares since I don’t speak Twi, but they were very kind to welcome me and all in all, it was a good two-hour Sunday morning service. Short, by African standards I’m told. I wish I had taken better photos, but I was already looking conspicuous and walking around with a camera didn’t seem the thing to do.

We finished visiting our children today, Kadri, Kamariatu, and Beatrice. By the way, we’re looking for sponsors for Kamariatu and Beatrice. Kamariatu lives with her brother (Kadri) and mother. The mother, Fatima, has been abandoned by her husband, who offers no support for the children. She is uneducated and sells soup to help bring in money. This is the little boy who was just sure I was taking him home with me when we visited in May. They are precious children and they were thrilled to get their gifts. I’m hopeful Kamariatu can figure out the Pez dispenser.

And then, as we were walking to the next house, we ran into none other than the Ankaase village’s Queen Mother. Each village has a Queen Mother, who is never the wife of the King, but actually appoints him (nice!). The Queen Mother also helps look after the women in the village. It was a privilege to meet Nana Konadu Ababio, although the next time I take a picture with a Queen Mother I’m remembering that we don’t want a taxi as the backdrop. Kind of ruins the moment.

And lastly, we went to visit Beatrice. We’re also looking for a sponsor for her. She lives with her grandmother because her father died and her mother is farming in another village. The mother sends money when she can, but not often enough. Beatrice’s grandmother, Liz, is trying very hard to take care of about six grandchildren – some of them Beatrice’s cousins. The surroundings were tough to see. We pray for these children every day (Alison prays for every child by name each evening before bed), but to see up close where they live brings into focus the great needs of these families. Grandmother Liz is tired, I could see it in her eyes, but the women take care of the families here. It’s just the way it is. Grandmothers, mothers, and aunts carry the burden, often alone, of making sure these children are fed, clothed and educated. And for many of them, it’s an uphill climb.

I so admire these women, and I think that perhaps they are all Queen Mothers.

For those of you who donated computers and funds for computers, they all made it here safely and we will be making the presentation on Tuesday. I have a great videographer who will be capturing everything on film. On our first day here I handed the video camera to Evans with little explanation about how it works (because I really don’t know), and he’s figured it out and captured some great footage of our time with the kids. Leave to a 21 year-old to know a Canon video camera by intuition.

So I’m off to bed. Tomorrow we’ll spend most of the day at the school (I think). The electricity has been on all day, so I’m preparing myself for what tomorrow might bring. Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement. It’s been a good day, and tomorrow will be another one. Until then, goodnight from Ankaase.

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