Monday, October 24, 2011

Reed Update - October 2011 edition

Weather - I left Grand Rapids on Tuesday with the temperature in the mid40s and arrived in Accra on Wednesday to a balmy 95F - it felt like going from the fridge to the oven.  As I write in Accra, it is 87F, with a humidity of 83% and dew-point at 72%.  And I see in Grand Rapids it is 34F.  I think I prefer warm to cold, after being so cold in Grand Rapids that my body hurt.  Noah prefers cold to warm because it is easier to layer up and warm up, but cooling down is difficult without AC.  And you? 

Some of you were surprised to see me in Michigan this past week.  I was there for just a quick visit for the Partners Worldwide conference. I had actually tried to get out of coming back for it, since I had just been in the US for the summer and had only been back in Ghana for about a month, but it was important to connect with the rest of the Partners Worldwide team and meet new members.  Even more importantly, I had to do some fundraising as I continue to be behind in my support, so the trip was necessary.  Noah went back to the home of his friend Armand, while I made the journey.  It was a very busy week, but there were good connections made, and good conversations had.

The big advantage was being able to see Hannah again, after saying goodbye to her at Calvin College a month earlier.  She picked me up at the airport and it was good to have a little time to hang out together and talk.  Overall she seems to be doing well - she just has to figure out the homework versus sleep versus social life issue that seems to plague many freshmen (and upperclassmen as well).  It's time for mid-term exams already, which is hard to believe.

Noah also finished the first quarter of his senior year and his teachers (and report card) indicate that he continues to do well.  He has taken some leadership roles this year and is currently serving as president of the Student Council, is on the debate team, working as a Teacher Assistant for two teachers, and has taken a leadership role with the planning and organizing for the senior trip.  In his spare time he is working out at a local gym, playing the electric guitar, doing homework, and continues to enjoy video games.  He recently took the SATs again and is happy to be finally done with that, as he now needs to begin applying for colleges next year.  He is pretty set on going to Calvin College as well, although some other colleges are beginning to catch his eye and attention.

The election in Liberia was peaceful, with high turnout, so we are thankful for that.  Unfortunately, no candidate carried 51% of the vote, so a run-off election has been scheduled for November 8 between the top two candidates, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Winston Tubman.   There were the usual declarations of election fraud by the losers, but other than a few minor incidents, the country seems to be preparing for the run-off.  I am planning to travel to Liberia on November 11 with two guests, so we pray that the run-off will not interfere with that trip.

The happy family.
This morning at 5 am in Adenta, Ghana, I attended a naming ceremony for the baby of Juliet and Nana Yaw Atuah-Mendoh.  Juliet is the Office Manager at Hopeline Institute and is a woman I have grown to love in over the past two years.  Her pregnancy was not an easy one and we are so thankful for this beautiful baby boy.  The naming ceremony (or outing) for the baby is traditional in this culture, following the Biblical example of Zechariah and Elizabeth with John, with the name being announced by the father.  The baby's tongue given butter and honey (and in some cases alcohol) so that he will know the difference between right and wrong (Isaiah 7:15).  This baby's name is:  Nhyiraba (meaning "Blessed child") Kojo (male born on Monday) Aboagye (Satisfaction of the Lord) Atuah (flying...on the wings of the Holy Spirit).  Most people have as one of their names the day of the week on which they were born.  For example, Hannah was born on Sunday, so her Ghanaian name would be Esi; Noah was born on Monday, so he too would be Kojo; I was born on Tuesday, so I would be Abena.  It was a beautiful ceremony, with everyone wearing white.  Afterwards, gifts were given to the baby, with people declaring what the gift should be for - his education, his first offering, his first Bible, etc.  You might be wondering why the ceremony was at 5 am?  It is typically in the early morning, but not usually this early.  Their pastor had a workshop all day so the time was moved up to accommodate his schedule.  So everyone arose around 4 am to get ready to come for this event.  I'm often amazed at the hours that people keep in West Africa - rising so early and working so late.

At the Partners Worldwide staff meetings this past week, the following YouTube clip was shown from National Geographic, which I thought was enjoyable and something you might enjoy as well.  It has to do with "how typical are you?" and gives some food for thought in this changing world.

Blessings to all of you this week!