Early this morning, 12 of our team members boarded a small plane in Tamale and headed back to Accra to begin their journey home. It was very difficult to say good-bye to them and there were lots of tears and hugs. They went straight from airport in Accra to a village on the outskirts of town called Agbogbloshie. This is a village of more than 25,000 Dagomba who have settled into what the locals called "Sodom and Gomorrah". It is a dump, with raw sewer in the streets and houses made of sheet metal and cardboard. This is the village where Pastor Mohammed pastored a church for many years before relocating to the Northern Region. This is also the village where Cheryl Read and Richard Newman first served in Ghana. The village is adjacent to a local market, where the Dagomba come to sell their vegetables (mostly yam and shea butter).
In the middle of this madness is a small band of believers who meet in a concrete structure called All Souls Baptist Church. Some of them even sleep in the church, on long wooden benches. Together they struggle to survive in an almost impossible situation. The teams go there to encourage and strengthen them, but in the end, it is usually the Americans who are encouraged when they see such joy in the midst of such poverty and suffering. After visiting Agbogbloshie, the team spent a couple of hours at the market, where they were sure to spend the last of their pocket money on beads and machetes.
The remaining 8 team members decided to depart this day for a village near Kumasi, called Ankaase, where they were going to work with school children in a local library. We decided it would be too sad and lonely to be without our other team members at the guesthouse in Tamale.
A few hours into the trip, we were stopped at a road block by Ghanaian State Police, who showed our driver a radar gun (really? a radar gun?) and told him he was speeding. They insisted that he turn over his license, but our driver told them that he had left Tamale without it. They made him get out of the car and follow them to the back of the vehicle. In all honestly, I was a little frightenend. Here was one American woman with 7 college students and a bag full of money, sitting on the side of the road, with our driver on the verge of being arrested. Everything turned out fine though, when our driver paid the man 5 GHc as a bribe, and we went on our way.
Our way was supposed to take 4 hours, but 9 hours later, we were still trying to find our way to Ankaase in the dark. Not fun and a little stressful. If you've been to Africa, you know that when it gets dark, it is very dark as there are no street lights and many villages do not have electricity. Also, we were traveling on dirt roads.
We finally located the Gongwer house and unloaded our luggage. What a pleasant surprise to find a huge, three bedroom home with all the conveniences of home waiting for us! This place was like a bed and breakfast! For the first time in 20 days, we had hot water. Hot water!!!
After a good night's rest, we woke to find ourselves in a tropical paradise. We were in the home of American missionaries who have now moved to Accra. The weather here is so mild that we have to use blankets at nights for warmth! Who knew? And we have hot water!! We also have a wonderful house mom named Maggie who loves Jesus and loves to cook for "Obrunis" (white people). And to top it off, there's a porch swing.
And did I mention that we also have HOT WATER??!!??