Report from Ghana (1 July, 2014)

I am posting this report in order to get everyone caught up on what we’ve been doing since we left Uganda last Friday. Since coming to Ghana I have had some issues with the electricity and the internet not working that have kept me from posting as often as I would like.

This post covers the period from when we departed Iganga, Uganda on Friday morning to yesterday (June 30th). Thanks for being patient with me.

Thanks again for your continued prayers. If I am able I will post some pictures for you to see what we’ve been doing here.

Blessings!

Fred

Friday, June 27

We checked out and paid our hotel bill and departed at 9:15 am. Our first stop was at the King of Kings Academy. Pastor David is the headmaster there. We learned some very amazing things. First, his school is totally self supporting. Second, the school is sent kids that the public schools will no longer allow to attend school because they won’t learn or are severe discipline problems. Finally, we learned that about 70% of their students (of 1500) are Muslims! They send their kids there because of the quality of education and the high percent of their students who get accepted to college. What an incredible tool for witnessing!

We then headed for Jinja and to eat lunch and visit the Source of the Nile park. We first ate lunch at the Source of the Nile cafe. I had a hamburger and a ice cream bar! We then went to the park and took a boat ride on the Nile river. The boat was very old but in fair shape and had a well maintained outboard motor. The Nile is very swift here and you don’t want to fall in.

After that, we headed for Kampala. On the way, we visited with pastor Stephen (Daniel’s mentor) at the True Vine Christian school, which is a boarding school that Daniel’s son attends. We had a very good conversation with him about how he started his ministry and school. He told us that the school has a farm that provides almost all of the food for the children. They have 900 students with 430 living there full time. 100 of them are orphans and the school receives no outside support for them. Their entire ministry, including a free health clinic, is totally self-supporting! Truly amazing.

After visiting there for a while we left and drove into Kampala to next visit Daniel’s son and daughter that attend the Good Samaritan Christian School in the suburb of Nansana. This school has 2,000 children and is also totally self-supporting. Finally, we drove all the way across the city to have dinner with Stone Kyambadde.

Stone is associated with the Stephen Covey training organization and is one of the company’s keynote speakers for their training seminars and conferences. Stone is also the former head coach of the Ugandan national soccer team and still serves with them in a somewhat lesser role. While we were waiting for our food, he told us how he first was discovered by Stephen Covey. Stone is the executive director for non-profit school for boys who may have runaway from home or become orphans. He gives them a good education, a home, food, clothes, shelter, teaches them to become Godly men, and of course, teaches them to play soccer. It was really good to see him again and to see that he and his family are doing well. We left the restaurant at around 10 pm and arrived at the airport at a little past 11 pm.

The traffic in Kampala is horrific and almost too messed up to describe! The traffic in and around this city is some of the worst that I’ve ever seen. It is nearly always bumper-to-bumper all during the day and most of the evening. There are motorcycles, thousands of them, constantly weaving in and out of the traffic and most people seemingly have a total disregard for all traffic rules and regulations. It is absolutely a mad house! Not only is the traffic terrible, the exhaust fumes from the diesel trucks and poorly maintained autos burnt our eyes and lungs. I can hardly see how people can live in this?

At the airport, we said goodbye to Daniel and then checked into our flight. We had almost 3 hours before our flight departed, so we tried to rest but the terminal building was very, very hot and we could get much rest. I guess the A/C must have been broken?

Our plane for the first leg of the trip to Ghana flew into Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It departed right on schedule. We were surprised, however, to see a twin-engine prop plane! But, it was fairly comfortable and the flight was only 2 hours long, so we didn’t mind too much.

Saturday, June 28

The flights from Entebbe to Addis Ababa were very good. I was very tired and slept most of the two flights. We finally arrived in Accra, Ghana at 11 am local time (4 hours ahead of US eastern time).

Conrad Schwartzentruber (our host for the week) picked us up at the airport. We are going to Elmina (pronounced El me na) which is about a 2 hour drive west of Accra. On the way, Conrad stopped to show us the farm that their ministry owns and operates and we stopped at one of the many roadside markets to buy some fruit.

We arrived at 3 pm in Elmina at Conrad’s home. We met his wife Katie and their four children (2 sons and 2 daughters). They showed us to the room where we would be staying and we then unpacked a little, took showers, and caught a few hours of sleep before dinner.

Conrad is the executive director of a ministry called SALT to Ghana. His ministry specializes in helping local people start businesses and in making micro-finance loans and things that give a “hand up” and not just a “hand out” to the poor. Currently, the ministry has 1160 women in their program that gives them training, a small loan to get started, and then on-going coaching and training as needed to help them succeed in managing their small business. What a great ministry!!

Katie and the girls fixed us a very good dinner and it was good to fellowship with them and to have a home cooked meal for a change. We were still very tired, so after dinner, we said goodnight and went to bed.

Thank you Lord for your travel mercies, allowing us to arrive safely at our destination today. Please watch after our loved ones back home and bless our week as we seek to teach others the principles of leading like Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, June 29

It is very warm here! Conrad does not have A/C in his home but they do have ceiling fans in all of the rooms. It did cool down nicely during the night and I was able to sleep with just a sheet over me.

I woke up at about 6 am when the sun came shining through the window next to my bed. This morning the electricity seems to be very weak. Our fan was working but the lights wouldn’t come on? Finally, even our fan quit working. Without lights, I was forced to shave in a dark bathroom. It is a wonder that I didn’t cut my throat? After I shaved and brushed my teeth I took a cold, cold shower.This morning we are going to attend a small baptist church where Luke will give the message.

After church, we all went over to Lonnie Weaver’s home for lunch. Lonnie and his wife are long time friends of their family. At 3 pm, we drove over to the Catholic girl’s school where we will be doing our Encounter on Monday to set up.

After we got things ready for Monday, Conrad took us over to the local radio station to do a 20 minute interview where we could promote tomorrow’s event and tell people about Lead Like Jesus. While we were waiting to get started with the interview, the power went off at the station and the backup generator failed because it was out of fuel. So, they had to get a couple of people to go fill up some 5 gallon gas cans and then come back and refill the generator. That process took about an hour.

We learned earlier that Ghana is experiencing a gasoline shortage all across the country. All of Ghana’s gasoline must be imported into the country from outside refineries and because of government mismanagement (and possibly corruption), Ghana has been unable to pay the refineries for their gasoline and now they are refusing to send in anymore until they get paid. This looks like another example of a quasi-socialist government who is trying to do something that should be left to the free market to do. Why is the government of Ghana in the wholesale gasoline distribution business? Certainly, there are businesses that could do this better! Unbelievable!

Finally, after about an hour, we got to do our interview on the radio! We then went back to Conrad’s home to eat dinner and then pack our things to go to a nearby hotel where we would stay the rest of the week. We stayed the first night with them, but felt is was probably better to stay at the hotel. They have four young children, plus are being visited by a young girl from Accra, so they had seven (7) people in their house already. Plus, Luke doesn’t sleep well in very hot conditions and as you might imagine, I’m not acclimated to the heat either. We will still be eating our dinner meals with them each evening.

We are now staying at the Davies Villa Hotel. It is fairly nice, clean, and well maintained, and we have A/C and internet! After we got checked into our room (at about 8:30 pm), we learned that the internet was down and they had to get a technician to come out tomorrow to fix it. Go figure?

Tomorrow (Monday), is our Encounter from 9 am to 4 pm, and after that we plan on going to visit the beach and have dinner at a local restaurant.

Monday, June 30

After a good night’s rest and a good breakfast at our hotel restaurant, Conrad picked us up at 8 am and drove us over to the Catholic girl’s school where we will hold our Encounter today.

We got started at 9:30 am, a few minutes late, but this is not bad considering most places in Africa that I’ve been. Of course, we had to do some singing first. So, Eric, a young pastor, led us in four or five traditional hymns. They sang beautifully, and as they did I was moved to tears by the words of these great hymns and the thought of the wonderful privilege it is to be able to worship with God’s people here in Ghana and bring them the message of Lead Like Jesus.

We finally got started with our Encounter at 10 am. This would give us only 5 hours to complete what normally is an 8-9 hour long event! We knew going in that we had only six hours and adjusted our agenda accordingly. Now, we would have to make a few more adjustments.

Luke and I use a version of the LLJ Encounter that we put together specifically for Africa and other developing countries. Our version doesn’t use slides, a projector, nor does it have a costly 60+ page book. Rather, we use a simple 2 page (1 page front/back) handout and ask people to take notes. In our Encounter, we continue to do a lot of small group discussion and we have them go through and discuss a set of application questions at the end of each major topic/section. We include the large group exercises and activities, such as, the Change exercise, Unconditional Love and the Greatest Management tool activities.

We were told that we needed to finish by 4 pm and with an hour for lunch this really pushed us to stay on track. The two large group activities at the end took us longer to organize and conduct than we had anticipated, but we were able to finish by around 4:15 pm or there about.

The feedback that we received was very, very positive and we signed up 5 or 6 people to begin Phase 1 or the leader development process.

After the Encounter was over we helped Conrad and his staff clean up and rearrange the conference room back to the way it was when we found it, then we went back to the hotel to change for a trip to the beach which was only a few miles away and to eat dinner at a local restaurant there. Luke and Courtney had a great time running up and down the beach. Myself, I just sat in a chair with my feet in the sand and just enjoyed the beautiful scenery that God has made that we can enjoy. What a privilege!!

“How great is the love that the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

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