My trip with Katie to the north and learning what is ‘Spiritual’

Many of you prayed during my trip to Ghana’s north with my daughter Katie. We had a very rich 11 days traveling together. In between long, long hours in the car we visited communities where the coaches and I have been forming friendships for years, and also visited some villages where we are kicking off new discipleship work and water projects. We spent a day with more than 100 Fulani people as Jonah led a discussion of God’s love for them and the health, education and social issues they are facing. The Fulani backstory.

With Jonah (r) and a Fulani friend
With Jonah (r) and a Fulani friend

Another very special highlight was sitting with my friends in Kpenchila village, site of our first water project four and a half years ago. On my first visit in 2009, I remember the awful pit in my stomach as I imagined my own children sitting amidst the Kpenchila kids, living life and trying to grow-up in that community – perpetually sick, no clean water, school access, or idea of a God who loves them.

This time was an immensely fulfilling experience. One of my own children WAS in Kpenchila, but she was sitting next to some of the same children who now have clean water to drink, and a new school (with a playground!) and a health clinic. Our YLI friends in northern Ghana, like Pastor Adam Brown, have done an incredible job not only in starting a church, but living out at great personal expense what discipleship is all about. Here is a photo from yesterday and one from my first visit to the village in 2009.

a kpenchila 2 a kpenchila

The people of Kpenchila are no longer just receivers of our efforts. They are going out to share Christ in villages like Tantwiane where the local imam asked them to build a church. They are really doing great.

We also visited Chaagbuni, the site of the third water project, which happened with Kpenchila’s ministry partnership. Chaagbuni has a new chief a former Muslim leader who became a Christian through the ‘water project church’. A Christian chief in Chaagbuni…that is a change.

Visiting the chief
Visiting the chief

Since Katie and I returned we’ve been busy-busy-busy. In April, we kicked off two new water projects, held a four day meeting with the coaches, enjoyed a visit from my in-laws, all in the midst of researching and writing my mini-thesis on discipleship within community in the African world.

Between the ‘spiritual’ activities, life has more resembled:
1. In the mornings before starting work Carrie, and I get the kids going, cook breakfast and then carry 12 buckets of water 75 feet for each load of laundry (somehow our kids still think its ok change outfits 4x per day…)
2. In many countries, Ghana included, plumbing is not robust enough to handle foreign materials like for instance…toilet paper. So we had a small army of plumbers and masons (along with a gaggle of unknown curious onlookers) dig up our septic and several parts of the sewer line.
3. Our electricity continues to be very sporadic. It may be on for a day or two, switch off for 15 minutes, then come back, on…and then switch off for 24 hours. This is difficult because we have perishable food in our fridge to worry about, lots of laundry, ceiling fans that keep us cool at night, phones to charge, and of course The Waltons and Cars 1 and 2 to watch.
4. We do not have running water in Akropong and no well at our house so we are dependent upon catching and purifying rainwater. When we run out of rainwater we have to drive around and find a water tanker that will come and fill up our tanks.

I wrote that these things are in addition to the ‘spiritual’ activities because that’s what they feel like — the time consuming and sometimes (often) frustrating work of living here. But in traditional African life people don’t see daily tasks as spiritual or non-spiritual. Kenyan, John Mbiti said that that in Africa faith is ‘written everywhere in the life of the people’. All of life is understood, and lived, as spiritual. It takes more time and effort to do mundane daily work here which sometimes (usually) makes me anxious as it draws me from the important…spiritual…work. But I’m learning from my Ghanaian friends how to relax and prayerfully acknowledge God’s presence while hauling countless buckets of water.

Thanks so much for all that you are doing for us. We are so grateful. Keep praying!

Ash, Carrie and the Kiddos

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