Sunday, April 26, 2015

My Two Erics

In August 2006 during my very first trip to Ghana I met a guy who made and sold drums at the Art and Culture Centre.  This "Rasta Guy" who sold quality drums and shared my husband's name was quite a character from the first meeting.  His shop (at the time) was called "No Food for Lazy Man" (to this day my favorite Ghanaian saying)!  Over the years I brought each new family I traveled with to my friend Eric at the Art Centre to buy their drums.  We became friends, and eventually joked that he was my "Ghana husband" or "Ghana Eric."  We email sometimes and I ALWAYS make time to visit him when I'm here.

You can imagine then how fun it was to finally have "my two Erics" together at last! LOL!  Oh, Rasta Eric has talked about meeting America Eric for several years now, but I didn't know if it would ever happen.  I wrote to tell Rasta Eric we were coming, but he hadn't gotten word by the time we arrived. 

Several folks at the Art Centre now know me by name, and they know that Rasta Eric is my special friend.  So when we drove up they ran to go find him.  Within a few minutes he came up with the biggest smile and huge hugs for both of us! 

It sounds like a silly thing.  And maybe it is.  But it gave my heart real joy to see these two guys playing drums together; having a drink together; and taking a pic with me!

OH!  Did I mention that both Erics are 43 and born a month apart, on the 7th of the month?!  Strange but true!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Blessings Abound--Travel Day and Ghana Day 1

It's been a few years since I religiously journaled during my trips to Ghana.  I assume this trip might be the same, and yet I definitely want to at least start off right by writing about the many good things the Lord has done in the last few days.

For me, there is always a sense that I won't finish packing in time.  It starts about two weeks before I leave and continues until my bags are checked!  This trip was no exception, as we had ten checked bags plus 4 carry-ons to pack.  In addition, we were packing our four children for 2 weeks away.  Yikes!  So I'm a stress-ball 10 days out.  At the same time my husband is (literally) whistling a tune with no worries with less than a week to go. =-) 

In the end, we packed about 650 pounds of donations--primarily books for schools, toothbrushes and toothpaste for school children/orphans/sponsor children, and shoes/clothing for kids in need.  Praise GOD!!  That goes to show what His children can do in just a short amount of time.  We were so blessed with individuals and organizations that gave generously!

As we drove to the airport I prayed over our trip a loud.  Thanks to (again) His generous children I had no worry about the extra baggage cost.  Friends gave $800 of the $950 we expected to pay!!  I prayed that there would be no issue in getting all of these bags onto the plane; that there would be ROOM for this luggage.  I said, "Lord, we don't even ask that you make these fees go away because that is simply more than we could ever hope for.  We only pray that these bags get on the plane."

But friends!  Friends!  God is God.  And He is SO GOOD and SO POWERFUL that He not only covered most of the fees through you....and got those bags on the plane (minus one small handful of books)... but He also provided us with a gate agent that, for whatever reason, only charged us ONE $200 extra bag fee!  One!  And he apologized about having to do that (the system wouldn't allow him to waive another bag)!  THAT is how big our God is! 

The trip over could have been difficult.  We were sandwiched between two babies that could have cried the entire flight.  But no.  Not a peep from either one for 10.5 hours.  The people in front of us didn't even recline their chairs!  The Lord surely gave a bit of traveling mercy to Eric on his first long flight in a very long time (poor guy, sandwiched between two fat ladies the whole time)!  As we rode, at one point I was laying my head on him and it occurred to me that I was living my dream at that moment.  I've made the trip to Ghana well over 20 times.  And it never fails that as I sit alone on the plane I see a loving couple holding hands, or laying their heads on each other.  I always day dream of being that woman that has her husband next to her on the flight. On the way over, I was finally that woman!  Finally, he is here with me.  He can know this place in my heart that is reserved for Ghana.  And I can lay my head on him, my rock.

For the first time ever (for me) we landed in Accra during the day.  This doesn't seem significant but it is, because getting Eric, who has very low vision at nighttime, off of the plane and onto the bus then into the airport in the dark would have been very scary and stressful.  Instead, bright morning air greeted us and we were off on the first bus.  God knew--I didn't ever think to consider that, but He knew!

Our hotel is new to us, in a new to us location.  That's always a bit scary and off-putting at first.  The location is a bit off the beaten path, a far cry from the busy convenience of my normal hotel.  The facilities look a bit run down at first.  And yet, the people are very kind.  It's very quiet here (no blaring horns all night, and no loud music).  We are exceedingly close to Maranatha Power Ministries Church (Bishop Patrick Odai), that our church partners with for missions.  In fact, the manager of this hotel is related to Bishop Odai!  What the room lacks in fanciness, it more than gains back in intangibles that I was absolutely giddy about earlier this afternoon!  Here is a list:

  • There is a strong overhead light!  Good lighting in Ghana hotel rooms is hard to come by.  Any coincidence that when I have Eric with me, who NEEDS good lighting, we have a hotel that actually has light bulbs in lights?!  Overhead bright light; a lamp (that works!), TWO lights in the bathroom.  Lights!
  • A coat rack.  So super excited that I can hang wet things or a jacket or whatever on this little rack.  There are also towel hooks, and other hooks throughout the room and bathroom.  So rare here!
  • Our wardrobe isn't just a wooden box.  It has drawers!  I can actually put away clothes if I want to!
  • HANGERS.  Can I say it again?  HANGERS!  Oh yes friends.  When I do my laundry, I can hang it on hangers to dry....on my coat rack!  Are you jealous yet?  Ha!  Oh wow, I am giddy about the hangers!
  • The toilet flushes!  Like, it really flushes. 
  • Water Pressure!  So I am used to taking either bucket bathes in Ghana, or having a shower that is seriously not more than a trickle.  We actually had to only have the water on partially in this shower because the pressure is THAT strong!
  • H.O.T.  W.A.T.E.R.  Oh yes my friends.  We are living high on the hog here at Marinette Hotel in Nungua!  I don't see any hot water tank.  There is nothing to turn on 20 minutes before we get in the shower.  And yet, as I started my cold shower I felt this tinge of warm.  Just for giggles I turned the adjustor to see what would happen.  What happen was I almost scalded myself!  This is HOT water.  Do you KNOW how this transforms life here?  I could actually take a morning shower if I wanted to (rather than only night, when I'm hot and sweaty and can handle a cold shower better).  We can leave the bathroom door open and allow it to be air conditioned with the rest of the room (rather than keeping it hot and muggy to make cold showers more endurable).  Wow. 
I don't know of another hotel with these intangibles for only 85 cedis a night (around $25).  The Lord gives, and gives, and gives.

We did eventually leave the safe and cool confines of our hotel to visit my brother, Daddy Paul and his wife Lawrencia.  It's always so wonderful to sit with them and talk.  For me, this is coming to my second home.  I can't imagine what it might be for Eric at this point.  He's got a bit of time to figure it out! 

So now it's 5:18 in the morning and I should be sleeping.  We covet your prayers for the rest of this trip.  Specifically:
  • Eric's health!  It's a challenge being Type I Diabetic with low vision in the U.S..  It is a big hurdle here!  Finding his supplies when he needs them....knowing when to take food or when to take insulin when your body feels hot and tired all the time...navigating uneven roads, dark hallways, SUPER dark night times and restaurants...and that was just his first day!  [Did I mention he is my hero?]
  • Time Management.  There is more to do and more people to see than our time allows.  Difficult decisions will have to be made that will leave someone feeling less important or less loved.  Please pray for forgiveness and understanding between all parties when that happens.
  • Transportation:  Traveling to Bolga (12-14 hours) with friends is a long drive on roads that can be difficult.  But even the seemingly small stuff like finding a taxi can feel big when it's in front of you!
  • Communication:  This always seems to be the thorn in my side in Ghana.  We are blessed with WIFI at this hotel, so I can actually communicate when we are at our room.  But so far, despite my best laid plans, no way to call home.  Please pray that we get the kinks worked out so that our family can call us and we can call friends and family when we need.
God is good ALL the time!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Apologies to Commentors!

I think an apology is in order for some of you who have commented over the past few years and may not have seen your comment be posted on my blog.  I apologize for that!  I just went to approve a comment today and saw that there were a few dozen comments going back a few years, that were never approved by me.  Mama D's Dozen, you get a personal apology!