Starting at the Very End
When I came to visit Alwin Abra Mortey Doh she had already past on from this world. I came with a delegation of very important Pastors in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (the EP Church) to pay our respects at her home and to make sure that the body was properly placed in her casket.
When I came to visit Alwine Abra Mortey Doh she had already passed on from this world. I came with a delegation of very important Pastors in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana (the EP Church) to pay our respects at her home and to make sure that the body was properly placed in her casket. This is one of the important roles of the Pastor in ministering to the bereaved family and their dead here in Ghana. Alwine had lived for eighty five years. Shortly after World War Two, she enrolled with several other young women from Kpoeta to become a Kindergarten teacher, trained by the EP Church. At one of schools she served she met her future husband, Mr. D. K. Doh, who later went to the EP Theological Seminary at Peki to become a Pastor. She was a member of the Pastor’s Spouses Association which had a large delegation present for her funeral, all attired in the matching dress of the Association. She took care of the household as well as farmed, ran a bakery, and watched over the family goats, sheep, turkeys and chickens. She was known for her sewing, which she did for others throughout her life. When Alwine was 43 she lost her husband and never married again. Alwine had no biological children. However, there was so much praise at the funeral of how many children she had raised and cared for that there had to be a special mention of that fact.
The building was full and several groups offered songs during the service. One of these, her Bible Study Group, was there in matching white dresses saying their farewells, singing, and passing her uniform on to someone else so they can be part of the Bible Study Group. The Pastor’s Spouses Association sang a similar type of song.
Only two days off the plane and after a steep mountainous road to her town I was in a learning mode but having trouble processing everything. I was so grateful to be traveling with Sandra Gourdet, Africa Executive for Global Ministries, and the Moderator of the General Assembly for the EP Church, the Rt. Rev. Francis Amenu. Both of them patiently explained what was happening so I could get the essence of what was being said. I went away from this day with a deep appreciation of how important and respected Pastors and their spouses are here in Ghana. It has given me insight into my part in training Pastors and a humbling view of my abilities to accomplish this important task.
Speaking of humbling, on the close of the next day, we were taken over to visit the missionary cemetery in Ho. Here the graves of the original German missionaries have been lovingly taken care of, most dating to the later half of the 1800s. I was struck by the fact that, due to malaria, many of them lasted only a very short time here, usually between four to six years. However, because of their sense of calling, they kept coming. I felt comfortable taking pictures in the cemetery, however I didn’t know if was proper to take pictures at the funeral. Please excuse the lack of pictures. It will take me awhile to learn what is acceptable and what is offensive.
So, I started my time in Ghana at the very end. The very end of life for a highly respected widow of forty years and the markers of the end of the lives of missionaries who came and died to bring the message of Jesus. Now I am living and serving with many here who are in the beginning and middle but it is always a good idea to keep in mind the end. Thank God for putting everything in perspective!
I am now reading the book Theology Brewed in an African Pot by Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, which was strongly recommended to me as I prepare to teach here in Ghana. I would like to share a prayer that is at the conclusion of the first chapter because it touched me with authenticity after my first week here.
You who poured milk into the coconut without opening its shell,
may your word find a way in, even when stubbornness shuts the door to my heart.
You who planted the banana tree without the help of a seed,
may your blessing germinate in my life, even when hardness of heart makes the soil infertile.
You who divided the kola-nut without splitting apart its lobes,
may evil thoughts and malicious intentions vanish from my heart without leaving a trace.