Thursday, February 23, 2017

2017 NYAC VIM Ghana YAM Mission: Kids Worshiping and Serving Half a World Away

Children's Sunday in Ghana by Michael Hullstrung

We started off the day a little late. We were supposed to get up and be in the cafeteria by 8:30, but by the time everyone got up and ready for breakfast, it was closer to 9. After breakfast we headed out to church. Church was very fun, everyone sung and danced. The service was very lively and it caused many laughs. This Sunday was Children’s Sunday in the Ghana United Methodist Church, so the children did all the reading and even the sermon. After service, we went outside and started talking with locals for a short time. Some of them even asked us to take pictures with them. It was like we were famous. We went back to our home base where we sleep and we began to sort, and count all of our mission supplies that were to be donated to Ghana.

Children Running the Church! by Wodley Bruny

Instructions were to be in the cafeteria strictly at 8:30 a.m. But without our phones most people woke up late causing a late start in our day. Once we ate breakfast, we were able to get in the van and head to the church. It was Children’s Sunday, which takes place every 10 th Sunday. This is when the children practically run the church service. We watched from our seats on the side as all the children in the church happily participated in the service. Afterwards we went back to the compound for lunch. After lunch we were able to change into more comfortable clothes so that we could sort through the medical supplies that we all brought to donate. After sorting and taking count, we had a short break before dinner at 6. Everyone was happy to see we had something other than rice for dinner. Once that was done, we reflected on our day and had sad/glad tiime.Which we ended our day with.

What do I do with a baby? by Tim Bosco

Today started out waking up at 5:00 am, followed by the coldest, quickest shower I have ever taken. Before breakfast, which started at 6:00, was eaten my family led the group in devotion. After breakfast, we headed on the bus and drove to the worksite. Once at the worksite, a clinic run by the Methodist Church, we loaded off bags of supplies and waited for further instruction. While we waited, the small group of women waiting slowly grew to be more and more. Women clad in bright colors, some carrying babies, others baskets, all began to trek to the clinic. While at the clinic, we worked to clear away rocks, rotting wood, and other garbage in front of the nurses’ quarters that were being updated. We also worked to dig holes to put posts into. This was the worst because the ground was full of large rocks. After lunch, we visited a village near the clinic. The people here lived in compounds, which are mud huts connected to each other by a wall where a whole family would live. The people we met were very welcoming to us, and small children followed us around wherever we went. One woman even handed me a baby. After leaving the village we returned to where we are staying.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

2017 NYAC VIM Ghana YAM Mission: Through the Air, to the Ground

The NYAC Youth Ambassadors in Mission are already putting hands to work and hearts to God at their Ghana mission site, below are some of their initial journal entries.

Do Not Be Afraid, by Ava Patino


“I’m on my way to the airport.”
“Dude, send pictures”
Picture taken out car window. Caption: The glorious eastside on our way to JFK
“…”
“I meant of Ghana...”

Stop. Wait for the light. Find yourself in a car in Queens. Knowing nothing. Stop. Feel your mom’s leg press against yours. Feel wind blowing in your face. Taste ginger, sugar coated. See the international airport terminal. Breath, process the fact that you aren’t in the wrong place. (Again.)

Get yellow tape. Tape it so that it is visible and easily identifiable. Throw out an old bag and consolidate the medical supplies. When you check your bags, chuckle at the fact that your two are blue suitcases. Find this an odd coincidence of the universe. Find this satisfying. Say Goodbye, Hug. I love you. Cling a little then go. Don’t look back. Don’t think about looking back…until you do. Feel your heart. Just feel it.

“I’m so nervous.”
“But it is not the time to be nervous anymore.”

Be endlessly amused by the moving walk ways. Wonder who and why thought that there should be such a thing. Eat cookies. Do not know the origin of these cookies. Hope that the baker reads the blog post and knows how immensely you enjoyed them.

Get on the plane. Marvel at the wonders of modern technology that allow you to have TV in your seat. Not at the selection of ‘entertainment options’. Marvel anyway. Unpack. Shoves off, blanket on. Vow to watch Ghostbusters. Eat dinner. Pay too much for wifi. Do not finish Ghostbusters. Whisper a secret, get one in return. Hold a hand during turbulence. Breath. At a half hour to landing chew gum and thank a friend, profusely.

Touchdown.

Breath.

(I am here, I am here, I am here, I am here, I am here, I am here)

Wait. Wait for the bus, for the line, for the food and cold water. Wait for someone to bring out cards. Wait to say ‘peanut butter’ with a smirk. Wait for your pictures to upload to Instagram. Then wait again. The plane is small. It has one aisle. On one side there are two chairs together and on the other one, only one.

Breath.

Film takeoff, take comfort in a small glass heart from home and dragon who breathes only fictional fire.

Breath.

Breath.

Relax. Enjoy the Quiet, enjoy the pie. Take pictures aplenty and breath.

You are here.

It hits you in this moment.

I am here.

Start the decent and do not be afraid.

You are here.

Do not be afraid.

Are We Really Getting on...THAT Plane?? By Imani Hall

We all met at the airport to leave for Ghana at 1:30 the latest. We had some complications but we made it pass security. We had a long walk from security to our gate. After our long walk we sat and waited to board. The flight was so long but I slept for most of it. After we got off the plane we all slowly bonded by talking about the things we did on the plane, like watch movies, sleep, eat, not sleep. Then we got our suitcases and went to eat. We were so surprised on how good and familiar the food was. Then we talked until it was time to leave for our next flight to Tamale. While we waited to board there was wifi, so we got to talk to family and friends until it was time to leave.

We were all scared to get on the very small plane. When we landed we got on a bus and couldn’t help but look beautiful Tamale. We were shocked at the poverty of the villages.By the time we got to the compound we were so tired. When the girls got to our room we decided that we all didn’t want to be alone tonight, so we all slept in one room. We spent the whole night talking about what we liked and disliked and just about life until we all went to sleep.

Friday, February 17, 2017

2017 NYAC VIM Ghana YAM Mission: “Why have you Forgotten Us?”

Rev. Joseph Ewoodzie
A reflection on my visit to Methodist Dorcas Clinic.
“Why have you Forgotten Us?”


I met Bishop Nathan Samwini of the Northern Ghana Diocese, Methodist Church, Ghana on Thursday November 10, 2016 at his office in Tamale.  The two items we discussed were a) the hosting of YAM 2017 in February 2017; and b) the state of the Methodist Dorcas Clinic.
   
Bishop Samwini is a “northerner,” the first elected bishop, native to the Northern region and serving the Northern Diocese.  His enthusiasm, passion, and determination to serve and transform the lives of his people is remarkable.

After he welcomed me with a bottle of cold water, his next question to me was; “Why have you forgotten us?”  This was a very difficult question.

Bishop Samwini was referring to the uncompleted medical facility that provides hope and healing to seven remote villages in his Diocese.  The Methodist Dorcas Clinic ministry that stands in need of critical renovation and improvement.  Our last visit to this project was in 2013.  Bishop was glad to hear that the YAM 2017 will be in ministry at the Methodist Dorcas Clinic.

The clinic provides a very important medical need to over 2,000 inhabitants of 7 communities scattered in the hinterlands.  Most of them walk an average of 2.5 miles to and from the Methodist Dorcas clinic for their basic health needs including pre-natal and pregnancy care.

During my visit to the clinic this morning (Friday, Nov 11, 2016), I observed the nurse attending to the medical needs of women and children.  A grandmother brought Wumpini, a 4 year old girl to the clinic for care.  The nurse told me that Wumpini has a high temperature and so she will receive paracetamol to reduce her temp.  I couldn’t interact verbally with Wumpini due to a language barrier, but we had a moment of silence together.  Her gaze was very intense. I wondered if she wanted to ask me the same question Bishop Samwini asked, “Why have you forgotten us.”

The Methodist Dorcas clinic is not just a medical facility, it is a HEALING place; a refuge for weary, a shelter for fatigued, and a place where the most vulnerable and the marginalized receive solace and comfort.

This place provides a unique opportunity for Global Health ministry.  Here is a place where “our promise to our children” could be fulfilled. Let’s Imagine Abundant Health with Wumpini the 4 year old girl, and not forget them.

The Bishop, the leaders of the Diocese and the Chief and elders of the community are preparing to host the YAM 2017 team.  The YAMs will have the opportunity to help with the renovations and also interact with the local school children. Logistics such has housing, meals and transportation have already been secured.

This “Place is a gift, and as a gift it reflects back to us the beauty without ourselves and in our own life and work.” (The Soul of Place, Michael Jones.)


Thursday, February 16, 2017

2017 NYAC VIM YAM Ghana Mission: Getting Ready to Bring Hope!


This Friday, February 17th, seventeen youth and four adults leave for the annual Youth Ambassadors Mission (YAM) mission trip. Destination: Ghana! Each Fall, local congregations from the New York Annual Conference are invited to recommend a youth to participate in the next YAM journey.  Since 2005, over 200 youth have worked in Antigua, Bolivia, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Ghana.

This year the youth will participate in the construction of a nurses' quarters near the Dorcas clinic, which was built earlier by NYAC volunteer mission teams.  They will assist in after school activities, coordinate a vacation Bible school, and distribute Days for Girls kits, which provide reusable feminine hygiene supplies that can last a girl for years, and help to keep her in school.  Many of the kits have been assembled by church volunteers and members from NYAC congregations, and other United Methodist congregations.

The group will blog about their trip here, at nyacvim.blogspot.com. Please share the joy and wonder of this mission trip with others, and pray for their success!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

2016 NYAC VIM Ghana Dance Mission: Proclaiming God with Words. Dance, and Hospitality



O, give praise to God; praise God in His Sanctuary!

Our journey to Ghana is almost at an end. We have been blessed by the gracious hospitality of the Methodist Church--most recently in Kumasi Diocese, Freeman Society, as well as by the Ghanaian family of Rev. Dr. Leslie Duroseau. We were given an inside view to the community and culture from a local perspective.

As we prepare to minister Liturgical Dance along with the local youth groups, we are mindful of our Omnipresent God, adored here and everywhere the same, His presence felt so strongly in the litany of worship.

This Sunday morning began with a wonderful worship experience at the historic Wesley College at about 6.30am. it was attended by more than 1,000 students. Rev. Ewoodzie was invited to preach. The title of his sermon was "We are the witnesses of the Goodness of God."

Before the establishment of seminaries in Ghana, Wesley College was where all Methodist ministers, including Joseph's father received their training and experience.

At the Freeman  Chapel, Pastor Ekow Essel MacForson prrached a Word that God will always take what you have to bring you what you need. The law of the harvest is to reap more than you sow. Anytime God demands a seed from you,  it means He has a harvest in mind.

One of the pieces that we ministered today,  "More of you, Jesus," was choreographed and taught to us by Eva, a liturgical dance leader from GMHSU in Accra. We pray that our ministry of sacred, liturgical dance will reap a harvest that cannot be numbered in every region of Ghana and in the world. God will transform our small efforts into something that will astound the masses.

Be faithful! The blessing is always in the breaking. Amen.




Friday, November 11, 2016

2016 NYAC VIM Ghana Dance Mission: Becoming a Different Person in God

This is the day that the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it!

We are hopeful and feel more revived after our reflection of the events of the past week.

We are focused on the movement of the Holy Spirit, what that Spirit calls us to do and we are encouraged by the collaboration with the Kumasi Diocesan Methodist Church in Ghana.

We discussed the various techniques used in dancing  - whether they are derived from the culture or from some formal training.

Bishop Andam's vision for the dance is to make it an integral part of the liturgy so that it becomes a seamless part of worship will involve education and creating room in worship service. Just as music and the spoken Word inform the worship, so should liturgical dance. It is communion with God by and of itself. It involves a posture of humility and sacrifice before the throne of God.

One of the youth leaders, Samson Kwaku Boafo, said that whenever he puts on a liturgical dance costume, he becomes a different person and God becomes more real to him. Then the Spirit of God takes over and he receives more than he gives.

Another, Akua Frema, expresses that for her it is a joy and a privelege to stand before the Lord in praise. It is her prayer before each time she dances that God empties her out and fill her with his Spirit and power.

Lord, we feel your presence, your Glory, your Power all over us--in our hands, in our feet, in our hearts--moving down in our souls!
 
Thank you Blessed Savior! Amen.






Wednesday, November 9, 2016

2016 NYAC VIM Ghana Dance Mission: Dancing Deep in the Kingdom of Gold [VIDEO]


Praise be to God, we have arrived in Kumasi, home of the Ashanti Kingdom, where the Asante people originated!

Most of what is present-day Ghana was known as the Kingdom of gold. Development in Ghana started from the coastal areas inward from the Portuguese to the Dutch to the British.

The Ashanti fought valiantly to maintain their rich culture.

Bishop Christopher Andam met with us at the Freeman Methodist Center to welcome us, provide an orientation to Kumasi and to share our vision for liturgical dance ministry.

Although we were unable to begin our dance sessions the first night, that actually was a blessing as it provided us an opportunity to refresh our bodies and minds. Most of us woke up in the wee hours to follow the progress of the 2016 Presidential Election. With this on our hearts, our morning reflection and prayers were focused on our country and world. Click here, here, here, and here for dance videos on Facebook.

We visited the Manhyia Palace Museum and the Kumasi Cultural Center. This was very informative. One of our members, Leslie Duroseau, met family members for the first time whileft in Kumasi .  Her young cousin, Mohammed Abdul Samad is an entrepreneur and world traveler. He shared so many interesting experiences about working in New York, Los Angeles, Morocco and other places. He was so highly motivated and determined to make smart decisions about his life and how he conducts his personal affairs.

After an eventful travel experience from Accra to Kumasi, Rev. Joseph Ewoodzie, with the team, joined the Bishop and Rev. Alex Yawith Boateng at the Kumasi Diocesan office.

As we entered, we heard  the Kumasi Singing Band in practice .  It was as if the gates of Heaven were open and the angels were singing high praise to God! I wanted to dance in the Spirit for the rest of the evening.

We were introduced to the Kumasi dance teams--Vessels of Honor, Temple of Praise, Zoe Theatre, Pearls of Honor and Swich and their leaders.

They danced praise to God and thanks to God for his saving grace.

Tomorrow, God willing,  we will collaborate to blend our cultural styles into one for our one God. Amen.