My time in Ghana has been somewhat of a whirlwind. I am experiencing so many new and different things. My senses sometimes seem on overload. I am typically a quiet person who gets energy from silence, alone-time, communing with God in prayer. Some of my typical routines have been difficult to establish here. God called me to SAGISS for a reason. I think He is trying to draw me out of myself and in to relationship with others.
For quite a few years, I was a “Daily Mass” goer. It was a rare day that I wasn’t in the pew. I loved daily Mass – it brought peace to my day. I was also committed to two hours of Eucharistic Adoration per week. My time was typically very early morning hours, and I was there with the Lord all by myself. I could talk to Him about all that was troubling me. I could set my problems before Him, and by the time I walked out, he had lifted my burdens and had answered me, had guided me in the direction of His will. Those hours in Adoration lead me to this mission.
I miss my time in Adoration. I miss saying the Rosary in the Virgin Mary Chapel or praying in the Sacred Heart Chapel or just sitting in the pews at the Cathedral of St. Paul. I miss my Cathedral family.
Here on mission, I have the ability to attend Mass on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday mornings. I am grateful for these opportunities. Listening to the girls sing, with their joyful and angelic voices, lifts me up.
Unfortunately, I have not had an opportunity for Eucharistic Adoration here in Damongo. I think God felt the connection between Him and I was strong, but that my connection to the people around me needed some work. Thus, He sent me on mission, to get me out of my comfort zone, to push me to the next level. I am to find God in the people I encounter. I am finding Him in the girls at SAGISS, in my fellow teachers, in the headmistress (my boss), in the priests and sisters, and in the people of the town of Damongo. When I go to market to buy my bread, my oranges and apples, my tomatoes and onions, I see Him in the tired, weathered faces of the women who labor so hard to make money to feed their families. I see Him in the curious, smiling faces of the children as they say “hello” to the white woman passing by. I see Him in the Muslim men kneeling in prayer. I see Him in the SAGISS girls always willing to lend me a helping hand.
I have now met my Bishop, Bishop Peter Paul of the Diocese of Damongo, as he invited Karen and I to his home for dinner one evening. He is a very delightful man; very kind. (It was there, I had my first taste of guinea fowl. It tasted very similar to chicken.) I have met many priests, some at Mass, others by fact I am on mission through the Diocese of Damongo. The priests give very good, relevant homilies, relating them to the person in the pews’ daily life and struggles. (However, last Sundays Mass lasted 3 hours!) I enjoy working for the Diocese and the Catholic Church. God is woven through every part of the day at SAGISS – the benefit of volunteering for a Catholic High School. God is not just at Mass. There are signs of God everywhere – He is not kept out of the public forum as we do in the United States. People believing in God is the norm here. I am not bringing God to these people – He is already here. I am learning how to become closer to God through my interactions with these people.
March 6 was the 62nd Anniversary of Ghana's Independence. The girls of SAGISS marched in the parade, as did all the other schools in the area, down to the tiny tots. They not only march with their legs, but their arms are definitely a part of the march also.
Young children marching - precious!
SAGISS Girls marching.
Caption: Bishop Peter Paul presenting 2nd prize to girls of SAGISS and Headmistress, Madame Pauline
It is now the season of Lent. I struggle with what I am “going to give up”, as I have already given up so much just to be here. Missing out on time with my immediate family for three years is the most difficult. I know God has a plan for me and for them; that my mission here is meant to be and that from it, will come wonderful things for my family. We don’t always understand why or see where God is leading us, but if we put our trust in Him, all will be well. I truly believe that.
God brought me here to Ghana to draw me closer to Him, through relationship with my fellow man. We are all children of God - no matter where on this earth we live.
In this season of Lent, I will work on my prayer life - carving out some alone time for just God and me; I will give alms through service via my mission; I will continue eating a mostly simple, almost vegetarian diet. Life is different here. I feel like the three pillars of Lent are woven in to my daily experience: prayer, fasting and alms giving. This mission is drawing me closer to God through my everyday living.
The adventure continues…