Wow, there is so much to write, I’m not even sure where to start. The last week has flown by. Last Wednesday, a group of about 24 volunteers from Kansas City arrived at the BMC. They came from Abundant Life Baptist Church (I think) which is the home church that Greg and Wendy Nyhus attend when they are in the US. I have talked so little about them, but the Nyhus family are some of my favorite people! Greg and Wendy are some of the most practical, most loving, most prayful, and most efficient people that I’ve ever met – and I feel like that is such a rare combination. They are here with their three kids and have been here almost a year and a half. I will have to write more on this family later because the Lord’s hand is so evident in their life here.

Anyways, I absolutely loved having a large group at the BMC. You can imagine how busy and crazy and fun life seemed while they were here. As I talked to each of them individually, I have never felt so encouraged or cared for. I felt as if they were all my family away from home. It was the best. Because of the large group, there were many opportunities for other ministry options. On Thursday, for the first time since being here, I took a day off from the hospital completely. With two other women, we travelled to a small village for the adventure of a lifetime.

Myself, Vikki, and Janie (two volunteers from KC), decided to spend the day with Public Health. We weren’t exactly sure what that was going to entail. We heard rumors of giving vaccinations or possibly leading educational lessons. We actually didn’t have a clue about what was going on. We arrived to the Public Health building early in the morning. However, our leave time was delayed by several hours, which gave us plenty of time to visit Public Health. The Ghanian government works really hard with the Department of Public Health. They offer maternal care during pregnancy, information on family planning, infant care, vaccinations, and HIV treatment, to name a few. For exampe, when we were there, they were teaching a new mother how to properly breastfeed and educating her on what to feed her new daughter. These services are free for Ghanians. From my few hours there, I really felt like they are making strides in preventative care and health education.

After a delayed start, we travelled to a very small village about an hour away. Mrs. Baba, the Director of Public Health, travelled with us. Mrs. Baba is great. Some time ago, an American family sponsored her to get her MPH at UNC Chapel Hill. She is a brillant, fun woman who really believes in bringing quality care to the north. Mrs. Baba informed us of Ghana’s new campaign to prevent maternal deaths due to childbirth. Now, Public Health is urging all people to try to have their children born in a hospital. We were told that there would be a play to educate the people on the importance of skilled deliveries.

We really didn’t know what we were in for. Two villages had come together for this celebratory event and occasion. When we arrived, tribal dancing immediately commenced. The two village tribes each had their own unique dance. Because we were honored guests, we had the perfect view. When Mrs. Baba had told me there was going to be a play, I really thought that there would be a short skit. I kind of imagined a lot of chaos and sheepish actors, as though it were a youth group acting out a pregnancy and birth. I had no idea. Drama here is often used to educate people, and the play was phenomenal. It lasted about an hour and the actors were in costume and remained in character. The play boldly parodied the traditional witchdoctor, but did so in a way that had the whole crowd laughing. The actors all had to share a single megaphone, but did this gracefully and subtly, in a way that didn’t detract from the acting. It really was a huge success.

Afterwards, we had a public forum. Many government workers were present and able to listen to the concerns of the village. One lady came forward and voiced that there needed to be a clinic present in the village with a skilled nurse. The road to the hospital in Nalerigu is all but destroyed. After an hour by car, I was also ready to see a chiropractor or try traditional medicine, whichever was more readily available. The thought of a pregnant woman making the same journey seemed laughabe, especially since they would most likely be on a bike or motorcycle.  Public Health agreed to try and rebuild a clinic in the village. Also, Wendy Nyhus wants to work with churches in Nalerigu to have people volunteer to house pregnant women who come to deliver their babies. That way, they could make the trip before they were in labor. I also believe that this would bring together the community and offer a practical way for the Ghanian church to minister to this region.

We ended the day by visiting the chief. We were taken to his palace by a dancing procession, where further negotiations took place. Somehow, we continued to be guests of honor. While all of these Mampruli discussions occured, a goat was brought out by two teenage boys. They held it to the ground by its horns. I feared right then that they were going to kill this goat in front of us and offer it to us to eat. Fortunately, they didn’t.  Instead, they gave us the goat. Not to us, but some people we were travelling with. They did, however, give us many many eggs. And some chickens. The whole day I felt as if I watching a movie play out, and had to remind myself that this is real. To me, it was just a day trip, but these people live here, and eat here, and celebrate with these dances and these dramas and these gifts. I really felt like I got to experience the richness of Ghanian culture. I really valued being able to spectate. At the BMC, where any white person is assumed to be a doctor, I feel more separate. By offering medical care, we are almost adding something new to their culture. But at the village, with the play and the public forum, I just got to watch a true village day. It was done their way, not ours. I was just one of the thousand. It just felt true.  After that, driving with some chickens and a goat in the back of a pickup truck felt kind of perfect.