Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ghana 2014

A Missions Update from Neal & Aggie Stretch

Imagine the very thought of 'seeing' 3,500 children in under two weeks; traveling to 8 different villages to set up a clinic; making some sense of the culture and history of a place. 

A mission trip is many things: absorbing unfamiliar sounds, smells, noises, scenes, dialect.  More closely, embracing people's sorrows, joy, stories long past, current dilemmas. On a mission trip one must cooperate with a team of seemingly like-minded individuals.  Prayer, planning and much good will made this mission trip a success.

The team, made up of 7 Canadians and many more Ghanian doctors and nurses delivered care to 3,500 students and staff.  After 10 years of visiting these same villages, many of the students were healthy, requiring only deworming medicine, vitamins and a kind word.

Narious and Joseph, both of whom have recently graduated from Accra Medical School, were part of the team.  They, along with 3 other medical students, had been supported by doctors from the Hanover Area so they could complete their studies. Monies were supplied for their tuition and boarding.  They in turn, offer their expertise to under-serviced areas in Ghana.

Our connection to IN Ghana staff continues to deepen.  Some nurses have been on the field with us 5 times.  Cromwell headed up the team.  We have known him for the 10 years we have been part of their wonderful organization.

We appreciated the glory of finding a pair of eyeglasses in a box of hundreds.   Students breaking into beaming smiles, turning their heads in wonder, then reading the list on the board, 'Lord, peace, desk, school, love'.  We were moved by the young teen who made her way to the clinic with a terrible wound on her foot; the 2 year old with a broken arm that had not been set properly.  There was much chuckling in the dispensary, figuring out language and the best way to entertain those waiting. 

A visit to Cape Coast and the Slave Castle plus a walk in the tree canopy, 100s of meters above the ground, left some of us a little shaken, maybe more thoughtful.


Our last stop was at a fishing village.  It had all the earmarks of paradise.  Aqua surf foaming onto a pristine beach.  Ancient palm trees arched by wind and weather.  Colourful fishing boats in the shade.  Observing and chatting with the villagers I realized the environment did not match their plight.  The encounter pushed me back to our first visit in 2003, where I had my first view into the injustice of poverty and the poverty of injustice. 

We were struck by the fine, sensitive work IN Ghana has participated in for many years, bringing young boys off the fishing boats and into school. 

We were careful to debrief with the team in the field.  We have met since.  Several of us have needed more intense assistance to be properly debriefed.  There is such an accumulation of memories after sundry trips.  (We have offered debriefing services to the local mission team headed for Haiti, plus information to Barrie Mutrie who often goes to Zimbabwe).

There are many to thank for the richness of this experience.  Above all we acknowledge God's persistent  provision and unfailing love for all of us, His precious children.

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