Ghana

Day 1

So today brought my first long haul flight, my first foray into Africa, and a whole load of other brand new experiences – which brought on a whole range of emotions.

We arrived in Accra about half an hour late, and as soon as we got off the plane there was a blast of humidity! How can it be 28° at 10 o’clock in the evening?!

I couldn’t stop staring out the window as we drove through Accra – so much going on, and so many contrasting images to try and take in.

We arrived at the guest house a while later, had a bite to eat, and settled down for the night. The overriding feeling was one of nervousness as I looked ahead to the days to come – I have no idea what to expect!

Day 2

The heat, plus lack of agreement between myself and the food from last night led to not much sleep at all. On the plus side, at least it meant I was up on time!

7am for devotions, an hour later we left the guest house headed for the Conference Office o the Methodist Church Ghana. We met with the Administrative Bishop (equivalent to our General Secretary), amongst others, sharing with each other about what we are doing, as well as presenting them with two new computers for their office, plus some money donated by Methodists in the UK.

We then drove out to the Methodist Rakiki Satellite Village, where about 60 orphans live. We met the director, two Americans who have been working there for around a year setting up a
sponsorship programme (www.rafikifoundation.org), as well as the orphans living there. This is fantastic work, exactly what the church should be doing in society – if it wasn’t for the church doing this work then all of these 60 children would not have stood a chance. We presented them
with food and some cash donations from Methodist from the London District.

Another long coach journey took us to Cape Coast, the site of the first Methodist Church established in Ghana. We ate in the church hall, before sharing in worship in Wesley’s Cathedral. It was a really enriching night, seeing some many young people fired up for God is always a fantastic sight.

They were so welcoming, and so pleased to see us; it was great to share in worship with that community of young people.

We’re staying in the University Guest House this evening, hoping
for a better night’s sleep and another exciting day tomorrow!

Day 3

What an incredibly packed day. Again, we left early in time for breakfast back at the church hall, we popped into the school on the way. A class of 6-9 year olds were introduced to us, and sang for us. They all looked so happy to be there, and so pleased to see us. One of the things I’ve been
completely amazed by, is how appreciative everyone is of us being there, and how welcoming everyone is!

After breakfast, we headed to Cape Coast Castle, turned from a fort into a castle by the British a few hundred years ago. It was a place used to hold slaves for the three months before they were shipped off to Europe, the Americas & the Caribbean.

We were shown the chambers that the slaves were held in, the tunnel the slaves had to walk through to the door of no return, where they would finally be shipped off to their final destination. I was completely shocked that the was once a church built on top of one of the chambers –while people were praising God upstairs, people were living knee-deep in their mess
below. It’s shocking to think that humanity once behaved this way.

After lunch, we moved from the Cape Coast Diocese, to the Sekondi Diocese. We ate in the hotel before heading out to church. Again, we were made to feel incredibly welcome, and saw so many people worshipping so passionately, and with massive smiles on their faces.

It’s such a privilege to be here, and to be sharing in these experiences. I feel so blessed that God has brought me here.

Day 4

Well today, more than anything, has made me appreciate the unbelievable blessings God has given to me throughout my life.

We visited the Nzulezu village, about a 2 and a half hour drive from out hotel in Takoradi. The Nzulezu village is a village on stilts, one of the most remote places I have ever been to. Because of the mud, the coach could only take us so far. We crammed into the boot of the pick up, then had to walk across a long bridge, then walked through the shallow part of the lake to a
boat that took about 15 minutes to the village itself.

We arrived to a small boy running around, waving at us, excited to see us all (bear in mind, the village is made of pretty shaky wooden planks, with a fair gap in between each one – the children had no fear!). As we walked through, I was amazed at how these people live; so cut off from everywhere, but so contented. The man who owned the bar in the village, said he’d been to
London, but couldn’t wait to get back to Nzulezu. This is their home, it’s part of their identity and it’s where they love to live.

A group of ministers had donated some money to build a new Methodist Church in the village. It will be a great space for the village to use, it will be used for some school lessons as well as church activities. At present, there is no clinic on the island – women giving birth, people who are ill, have a long and hard journey before they are anywhere near help, so there has also
been some money given to help set up a clinic in the village.

It was by far the best day so far, I was so touched with how these people live, and it really puts into perspectives what I would class as struggles in life!

Another early start to come tomorrow, a long drive ahead to Kumasi and another new diocese to visit!

Day 5

Having filled up with my Immodium tablets, I was ready to start the day (even though they were the Boots own version :D)!

En route to Kumasi, we stopped off at the Sekondi Diocese Youth & Student Assembly, a gathering that happens every two years, and we were lucky enough to be a part of the official opening. We witnessed the Boys & Girls parades, and then inspected them all. We then were introduced to the group, and a few of us addressed everyone.

After that, it was off to Kumasi – a massive journey. We left the school around half 10, and eventually checked into the hotel about 6. There was not enough room for us in the hotel in the centre of Kumasi, so for some of us the journey was extended even further to find the other hotel.

Once we arrived there, they hadn’t prepared the rooms for us, so then it was on the coach again
to a third hotel, where we were finally able to check in! All a bit of a drama, but I guess that’s Ghana for you!

We eventually reached the Youth Service we had come to attend in a Methodist Church in Kumasi. As with the other nights, what a pleasure it is to share in worship with such committed and passionate young people.

Day 6

We managed to persuade the powers that be to give us all a lie in this morning, so breakfast wasn’t till 8! We were shipped off for breakfast at the hotel where the others were staying, then went off to the Mahayen Palace Museum for a tour.

It was a beautiful building, where the King of the Asante people lives. It was built by the British to give to the Asante people, in return for sending their King into exile. The Asantes refused this offer, and didn’t move in until they had raised enough money to buy the palace themselves.

We returned to the hotel for lunch, then around 2.15 we left to head back to Accra. 7 hours later, just after 9pm we arrived back at the hotel in Accra. Sat on the seat with the least amount of leg room, with about an hour and a half of the journey on roads with no tarmac, it was not fun! I will never ever moan about a pothole in the UK again!

Day 7

Our last full day in Ghana; we left the hotel at just before 7.30am for the morning service at Good Shepherd Methodist Chuch in Accra. After the service, we all crammed into the vestry for tea, coffee and biscuits (just like being at home!), then off we went to the Diocesan Office, to meet with the Diocese Youth Organiser, and all of the Circuit Youth Organisers. It was really
good to meet with them all, and for them to show us a bit of the work they are doing.

In the afternoon, we attempted the beach, then went to William’s in-laws for lunch, then attempted the beach. I touwl have been beautiful to sit on the sand for a few hours, unfortunately the car park was full so we headed for the slightly cooler Accra mall. It was nice to have an hour relaxing on the last day, to reflect a bit on what has been an amazing trip!

Day 8

Almost all the people from the UK left this morning, only Lia, Edward & I remain, as well as the two people from the Ghanaian Methodist Church in Hamburg. This morning, Edward (London District Youth Development Officer) met with the DYO of the Accra Diocese. It was an interesting meeting, and hopefully the partnership will continue to be built.

A brief stop of at the craft market, and I’m now sat at the airport. Check-in doesn’t open for another hour (clearly they wanted rid of Lia & I!!), so I’m sat writing this in a cafe, while Lia is snoring in the chair across the table!

It really has been an amazing trip. The places we’ve been to will remain with me forever, and even the sights we’ve seen out of the coach window will remain with me too.

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank all those who organised the trip, Revd William Davis, Theresa, Marcia and the rest, all those who were on it and made it a fantastic experience, and also the Methodist Church Ghana. It’s so exciting to see the church here growing, doing fantastic work, and who are really open to letting God do His work.

I hope and pray that the partnership with the Methodist Church Ghana continues to grow, we have so much to learn from each other. This is a trip I will remember forever!

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