Greetings from the E.P. Seminary in Peki, Volta Region, Ghana, West Africa! We are in the harmattan season once again. It is the weather pattern during the dry season here where dust blows down from the Sahara Desert and gives everything a fine coat of that nice brown powder. People carry handkerchiefs to dust off surfaces before they sit down. I have given up on keeping my windows clean. They are the louver type and they are always open because of the heat, so they make a nice flat surface for the dust to accumulate. I will attempt to clean them again at the end of February. I have discovered that the dust also makes ones cobwebs much more visible. The other day I rode through a dust puddle. It is like a mud puddle hidden on a dirt road, perfectly camouflaged and deceptively deep, resulting in a splash on my sandals and kaki colored pants just like mud, only without the water. The temperatures have been hitting the 105 degree index lately. This is also the time that the local farmers burn their fields in preparation for the rains and the planting season so that sky rains ash at times. The up side is: it all makes for fantastic sunsets!
Next week my second year catechists (licensed ministers) return for our last semester together. It is hard to believe that I will be attending their graduation soon. I have spent more time with them than any other class and it will be hard to say goodbye. I will also be watching my first class of Pastoral students move on this summer. I will see my first year catechists for a semester in the spring; they will then become my second year students this fall. I truly love my students and they make my time here in Ghana joyful. It is so rewarding to see things start to make sense about the Bible’s structure and watch them develop skills in reading and interpreting the text.
There were some new things added to my plate this year. I was asked to write a curriculum for a “refresher course” in the Old Testament and New Testament for men and women who are currently serving as catechists. These students come in groups of about fifty for two day seminars in course work here on campus. We have had one group already. It is a reflection on our partner’s commitment to faithfully train their leaders in Bible knowledge. In the same vein, I was asked to prepare perspective Pastoral candidates for the entrance test at Trinity Seminary in Accra. Trinity Seminary is used by the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, the Methodist Church of Ghana and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church to train Pastors in a three year program of full traditional semesters. There are a certain number of spots held for each of the three denominations, pending a passing score on their entrance exam. I strived to prepare them for this exam which this year had an emphasis on Zephaniah in the Old Testament and Colossians in the New Testament as well as a general section on the Gospels. I haven’t heard their scores but I understand they performed well.
Along with teaching, I have also had the chance to do some awesome things with the “wonder truck” when it is running. I was able (along with a visiting Seminary student from Scotland who became a good friend) to deliver a whole truck load of donated pineapples to the School for the Blind in Accrapong, about a three hour drive from here. I was able to pick up and deliver two big water tanks for the school. I also used it to procure my own water tank for my house on the hill. Last week there was a group visiting campus from the USA and I loaded some of them into the Toyota to show them sites around Peki. It was fun to see the reaction of people to see a load of white people in “the bucket” (that is; the bed). It was a sight they had never seen before. I only wish I had some pictures.
Please know how much your prayers, packages, notes and emails mean to me! I am well, with some bouts of tropical stuff every now and again. I feel loved and supported by all of you. Thank you.
Gary Luallin serves with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana. He serves as a university professor.