More Adventures

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Stained glass window in the old headquarters of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana.

Today was another full day of adventures! We started with an early morning lecture on the past, present, and future of evangelism in Ghana. From there Kissi took us to look at the central market in Accra. While it was only a quick run through, it was plenty of time to see what it was like. There were vendors set up with little room to pass between each. Kissi said it was not a crowded day at the market but, to me, it felt like Black Friday shopping. The energy, intensity, and pace was incredibly fast. This market had more of what Americans consider to be household items. We stopped by the old headquarters of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. We were able to take a peek in the chapel. It had beautiful stained glass windows.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

From there we headed to the Art Center. It is set up in a similar fashion to the central market we visited earlier, but it was full of clothes, jewelry, and hand painted or carved objects. I’m grateful to Kissi for being here with us. The vendors would offer you earnings for 45 Cedis. Kissi would automatically counter with another offer until a price could be agreed upon. This was my first time shopping where the price was not fixed. We had an amazing opportunity to visit with the Chief of the Abokobi village. He gave us a warm welcome to his village and told us the history of how Abokobi became a Presbyterian village.

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Next on our  schedule was more drumming and dancing. In our two days of lessons we learned the Bancha and Gota dance—both traditional African dances. The second half of our time was spent learning how to drum. We all had so much fun learning traditional dances and practicing on the drums. By the end of dancing and drumming we were all tired. It had been a busy day. As we were driving back for dinner I saw another beautiful African sunset. It was the perfect end to a day full of adventures.

Maegen Norman is a middle level dual degree (M.Div./M.A.C.E.) student at Union Presbyterian Seminary.

 

Ghana Travel Seminar: Farewell!

Before departing for their two-week seminar, participants assembled on the steps of Watts Hall for a blessing and prayer from chaplain Michelle Freeman-Owens. She read to them Psalm 121: A song of ascents, a tradition in her family when any of them leave for a significant amount of time. The seminar will fly 10.5 hours non-stop from Dulles, Virginia, to Accra, Ghana.

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mah krow (“goodbye”)

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By Dr. Karen-Marie Yust

Finally, it is time to head for the airport and board our flight to Ghana. Our numbers are small this year: two faculty members, three students. Yet we have big expectations for this trip. We’ve been preparing for months: getting yellow fever vaccinations, applying for visas, beginning malaria medication regiments, gathering UPSem swag and faculty books to share with our hosts, renting a satellite phone, and meeting periodically to explore articles and websites on the history and religious life of this country we will call home for fourteen days. Two of our group have never travelled outside North America! One of us has been to Ghana before and looks forward to seeing friends made on that 2008 trip. We are all eager to discover the many treats and challenges Ghana has to offer visitors.

As part of our advance study, we read a popular novel, Children of the Street, by Ghanaian author Kwei Quartey. Quartey is a mystery writer and I (Karen-Marie) am a fan of international murder mysteries. This particular story focuses on the street children of Accra and the complicated relationships among Ghana’s many ethnic groups and economic classes. It highlights some of the social issues that plague a post-colonial nation: continued economic pressures from European-run corporations, imported (and inadequate) educational systems, environmental pollution, limited social services, and Westernized customs and practices that create conflicts with traditional Ghanaian values. It also portrays the beauty and quality of Ghanaian life and the depth of human responsibility and care possible in a society that resists the excesses of individualism so familiar to us in the U.S. It even exhibits some of the tensions between African traditional religions, missional Christianity, and secularism, which is a topic we will be exploring more deeply during our visit.

We begin this trip with lots of questions: how do Ghanaian Christians think about and practice evangelism? How are they responding to the challenges of globalization? What social issues are they most concerned to address? Do they experience “worship wars”? What might they teach us about practicing our faith? As we listen, discuss, and learn with our Ghanaian brothers and sisters, we will share what we are hearing and the new questions those discoveries generate. We hope you will continue to eavesdrop on our conversations via this blog, but for now, mah krow (that’s Twi for “goodbye”).

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Karen-Marie Yust is the Josiah P. and Anne Wilson Rowe Professor of Christian Education.