Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Never Too Old to Travel Over Potholes

For the past ten days, our family has been blessed to have my mom and dad minister with us here in Ghana.  It's been our first time together in over 9 months!  My parents have been troopers enduring challenges and obstacles with fortitude and endurance.  Friends, my dad is 69 years old; my mother is 67.  They have willingly jumped the hurdles to come visit us on the other side of the world.  My mother overcame huge fears about coming because of health issues.  They witnessed God incredibly provide for this trip.  Their small church, Pleasant Hill United Methodist, collected supplies and financial donations to enable great ministry while they were in country.  My parents ministered in tremendous ways here because of their age - not in spite of their age.  Everyone called them Grandma and Grandpa!  If anyone out there believes they are "too old" to come, please do not dismiss the possibility.

As a gift for you - and for me - my father, Robbie Franklin, has written about some of his experiences here to be shared on our blog.  I was deeply touched witnessing his commitment to writing this for you.  He hand wrote over 10 pages on notebook paper.  Interestingly, I noticed he wrote from end to end of the paper without leaving any margin on either side.  When I asked him why, he said it was because he was in Ghana and realized the need to conserve every resource.  Obtaining more paper here is a bit more challenging than in the States.  We can find it, but it is not like running to the local Walmart.  (I didn't tell him that I was thankful he thought about this, but he was using our only pack of notebook paper.)  He worked on writing for you from about 2:00 pm until after 9:00 pm, so I hope his experiences will touch your heart like they have mine.

Guest Blogger:  Robbie Franklin, author
Robin Franklin Beebe (daughter), secretarial typist (ha!)

March 19, 2013

We departed from Tema, Ghana on Tuesday, March 19th for a four day mission trip to the Ashanti Region of Ghana.  Our goal was to visit the villages of Abrewa Ano and Mbana to provide some immediate needs and also show the film The Passion of the Christ.  The films would be shown outside after dark.

We departed Tema at 9:00 am with our team - Robin, Reid, Mason, Franklin, Weston, Braden, Godwin, Janet, Robbie, and two MLI staff members, Wahab, and Mike.  Wahab is from the area we were traveling to, and Mike was the driver of our 15 passenger van.  We left the Beebes house about 90 minutes late with the van pulling the Beebe's enclosed trailer loaded with clothes, toys, Bibles, food, flip flops, and deworming medication for 1100 children and adults.  The generosity of many people in America provided the all of the gifts for the people.  Feeding the Orphans provided the funds for a large portion of the dewormer while the remainder came from an elderly woman in our church who received money at Christmas for mission work in Ghana instead of any Christmas presents.

We traveled to the village of Suhum and filled up the van with gasoline.  Within a few minutes of driving from the station, the van stopped running.  It shut off while we were moving on the road.  We all unloaded and walked a short distance to a "drinking spot" (bar) and sat on their front porch while Mike, Wahab and Reid worked to get the van restarted.  The village of Suhum was only about 35-40 miles from Tema, but it had taken over two hours to travel the short distance because of the roads and severe traffic.

The traffic.

Filling up with gas just moments before the break down.

A patch of paved road in Ghana.
Women walking along the road - the woman nearest the sign was carrying 10 crates of eggs on her head!  The gasoline is sold per liter so the price on the sign equates to $4.10 per gallon of gas.   This price is standard across the country.
At the drinking spot, we made a toast to being broken down...we will arrive all in God's timing.

 Playing card with Weston at the drinking "spot."

After finding a local mechanic, and two hours of trying to solve the problem, we had a decision to make.  Should we turn back and go home or could we continue onward?  By unanimous vote, we committed to going forward.  "Onward!" was the battle cry of the team.  No turning back.  The decision was made to hire a driver to bring the Beebe's Toyota Sequioa to us in Suhum so we could continue traveling to Ejura.  We looked for a local restaurant to have lunch and waited for our new ride to arrive. 

Robin and Janet made the most of the wait.  They went into a local salon ("saloon" as it is spelled here) and had their nails painted.  The cost for both of them was 3 cedis or $1.50.  The salon was a tiny kiosk on the side of the road.  The photo above shows the entire room.

The local restaurant that served us lunch.  We were the only customers.  Our meal was chicken and rice which was our meal most of the time while we were in Ghana.  Our chicken was undercooked and bled onto the plate, so we had to send it back to be fried a little longer.  We were thankful for a nice place to relax and rest until our new car came to pick us up for the remainder of the journey.

Once the Sequoia arrived, the 10 of us loaded up into the 8 seat vehicle and began to make our way further north.  Mike stayed behind to fix the van.  He had to travel back to Accra in order to find a part and then needed to find a mechanic to travel back to Suhum with him to install it.  The main control panel went bad, and those are not easy to find in Ghana for American made cars.

Let me tell you when you complain about the holes in the interstate in the US, you need to stop your car and get out on the shoulder to bow on your knees and thank God for the blessing of a paved road.  On this trip, I traveled major Ghanaian highways that were not as good as strip mining roads I traveled in Harlan County, Kentucky.  These roads were dirt (not gravel) and filled with pits, gulleys, and deep holes to navigate through.  Reid did a great job driving but stretches were very s...l...o...w.  The part of the road that is paved have giant speed bumps in every town.  Every few miles, the traffic slows because of the speed bump deterrents.  The traffic is slowed because the businesses are right beside the road with many hawkers (women selling items from their heads) walking from one car to the other.

Finally, we arrived in Kumasi to stop for the night.  We intended to drive the entire way to Ejura but because of the delay from the breakdown, we needed to stop.  Wahab felt it would be wiser/safer to travel the final distance in the daylight instead of after dark.  It was 9:30 pm.  The first leg of our journey took 12 hours to complete.  Needless to say, we all headed to bed very quickly very thankful for a place to sleep.  

The next morning, we had a quick breakfast then loaded back into the car for another 4 hour journey to Ejura.

In front of the restaurant where we ate breakfast in Kumasi.

These two pictures were taken at our bathroom stop.  I've learned there is no such thing as a rest stop here.  If you need to go to the bathroom, you stop and go.  Whenever.  Wherever.  When we stopped here, there was a lady carrying firewood on her head.  When she saw us, she dropped the load she was carrying and sprinted up the path looking scared to death.  We felt very bad that we frightened her.  There are people here who believe they have seen a ghost if they see people with white skin.  We aren't sure what she was thinking, but it made us sad to see her run away.

On our way to Ejura, we made a short stop in a small local town, Mampong.  We experienced more of Ghana in this short stop.

The local grocery store.  Small provisions are sold because most people only buy enough for one meal at a time.
Robin searched for some money to buy us a snack.  She shared one of the boys' favorite treats in Ghana - bow flute (similar to a deep fried doughnut)

Janet takes the first daring bite!

One of the sights that saddened us was all of the sewage running on the side of the streets.

After our brief stop, we loaded back into the car with one of the boys taking his turn in the hatchback of the Sequioa.  With 10 people, we switched seats often, but one of the boys was in the trunk the entire ride.

Tema.  Suhum.  Kumasi.  Mampong.  Ejura.

A few more potholed windy roads finally led us to Ejura.  The anticipated 8 hour trip ended up taking us over 27 hours to complete including our overnight stay.  We left Tema at 9:30 am on March 19th and arrived in Ejura around noon on the 20th.  The roads made the trip uncomfortable and concerning at times, but the next few days would prove to be worth it.  Coming home, I will never again complain about any road in our country.

Then I heard the Lord say, “Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?Who will forget their age and travel to the other side of the world?  Who will not be afraid of foreign diseases like malaria or yellow fever?  Who will ride on bumpy roads for hours at a time?  Who will endure joint pain from being cramped in an overloaded car?  Whom shall I send?  Who will GO to tell them about Me?”

I answered, “I will go! Send me!”

Isaiah 6:8 (Paraphrase by Robin)

No comments: