The Buchele Adventure

This is record of the Buchele Adventure, as reported from West Africa.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Happy Easter from Ghana

[Here we are on "Palm" Sunday, standing next to the palms]

This has been a most different Holy Week for us, I mean with the exception of Tuesday, Anna and I went to the beach at least once every day. Ghanaians are funny about Tuesdays, and won’t go swimming or even fishing as it would make their water god angry. When they do go in the ocean, its just the first 20 feet or so, and usually just the teenagers (being the fearless ones). They will go in mixed groups of 10 or more, and where there are couples, you’ll see the boy hold the girl up above as they the waves crash into her, sometimes turning her around so he takes the brunt of the waves. They fear the ocean and so swimming in it is considered reckless. There is the legend of the mammy waters, these creatures of the ocean that pull young children out into the deep to claim them. You can understand why, this ocean has fierce undertow, so strong it can feel like someone is grabbing at your ankles to sucking you out into the deep.

Ghana could have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but they don’t. Few Ghanaians see the ocean as a resource for tourism. It is almost like the ocean happens to be there, but they don’t know what to do with them (at least by Western standards). Sure they go fishing, dump their trash in it, and Ghana even has an oil platform off shore, but the country doesn’t connect itself to the ocean.
[fishing boat]

In the seaport towns near where Suzanne grew up, most of the buildings face the ocean, almost like they were built to worship it. Towns have a coastal feel, and everything in them points you toward to ocean. But here you will see complete towns built with their backs to this beautiful ocean, almost like they were trying to ignore it. In Accra and perhaps Cape Coast (the former capital), the few buildings that do face the ocean were built to serve the obrunies, and they still don’t have it quite right.

[coastal view]
Being so far removed from the liturgical calendar, Easter just sneaked up on us this year. Over and over I heard people say they couldn’t believe it was Easter. There wasn’t the long procession of Lent, the somber hymns, or the reflective silence to prepare us. I wonder if maybe it isn’t like this for most people, but I noticed it this year because I’m not part of the drama, I’m just with the rest of the people watching it. So this Easter reaches us with a grand ambivalence. I’m not excited by it, nor exhausted by the grueling holy week schedule with the extra services, and then six hours of liturgy on Easter morning. I used to joke that that service ought to begin with a starter’s pistol because it was for us, the Super Bowl, the biggest Sunday of the year.

But here there is none of that, it is a regular Sunday, which is to say that it is special in its own way. Our church won’t count the number of people, and there will be only one service of worship, and it will be packed, like it is every Sunday. Officially worship starts at 10:15 with a 15 minute prayer service with the room mostly empty. By the time we hear Amen, every seat is taken, and so are the five or six rows of plastic chairs outside in back, which are in full sun. The joke is what do you call a TroTro when every seat is taken? Half full. Same could be said for worship.

After Easter we go to our missionary friends the Kellys for Easter Lunch, conversation and an Easter Egg Hunt. Though our kids are getting too old for this, they still enjoy it, and it is fun to hide the eggs and see their excitement at finding them. At 6:15 their light goes out and their neighborhood, like our, fills with the sound of generators. Happy Easter from Ghana!


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