Iain Cunningham (Convener of the World Mission Council's Local Development Committee) and Carol Finlay (Twinning and Local Development Secretary) are visiting Ghana from 14 - 27 January 2011. They are meeting with our partner churches, the Presbyterian Church of Ghana and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana.

Friday, 21 January 2011

The top of the palm trees

The representatives of Sekyere Presbytery came to the Guest House perhaps to make sure we were awake and then we were taken to the Chairman's house for breakfast. The Chairman's wife is an excellent cook and the breakfast was expansive. There was 'Tom Brown' (not an extra member of the Presbytery but a form of smooth oat porridge eaten with sugar and carnation milk.) There was also omelette and bread (brown or white) and a salad of chopped leaves, herbs and fish in a very tasty dressing. To round it off there was watermelon, pawpaw and cake. So you can imagine we are both fading away to shadows.

Carol interviewed Margaret, the wife of the Chairman, about her involvement in the HIV Training programme for ministers' spouses which was funded by the Church of Scotland HIV Programme. It was encouraging to hear about how she has taken forward activities within the Presbytery training the other ministers' spouses and also working with children in the local church secondary school.

Then we went once more to the Presbytery Office for the official farewell and we exchanged gifts. This, however, was not the last time we saw the Presbytery Officials. We had to go back to the Guest House to collect our bags and when we came out again the Presbytery representatives were there again to see us off (or was it to make sure we went away?)

In fact we had had a wonderful time in their company and it was difficult for us to say goodbye and even though we had only been in Sekyere Presbytery for about 24 hours we felt so much at home and that so much had been achieved.

However, we had to move on towards Kwahu Presbytery. En route we stopped at a Kente-cloth weavers' co-operative to watch the hand weavers at work. They use very narrow hand looms. Kente cloth is very narrow and brightly coloured, usually with symbolic patterns and the strips are sewn together to make wider reams of cloth. (Carol got more practice with her haggling skills.)

Once more on the road we found the landscape changing again. We were heading for the highest inhabited town in Ghana which is Abitife which means literally 'the top of the palm trees.' After winding slowly up the steep escarpment we could see why the town was so named. The area is quite different from any of the other areas we had so far visited. There are many large and impressive houses built on the hillsides.

When we came into Abitifi it was obvious that we were in a strongly Presbyterian area with many church schools, a church lay training establishment and the Presbyterian University, not to mention many churches.

After lunch we set off again, this time to Dwerebease, passing on the way the farm owned and operated by Kwahu Presbytery. The farm produces mangoes, pineapples, cabbage and tomatoes.

After a while the road almost literally disappeared. In one village there was only a rough outcrop of rock and no road at all. The soil is very shallow in many places and sometimes there seems to be no soil at all. The road goes steeply downhill but in places much of it seems to have been washed away. This was a journey deep into the heart of an extremely rural area which is also very poor.

Dwerebease has a nursery school which was the project of Portobello Old Parish Church, and where two members of their youth group -Caitlyn and Kate- spent some months last year. Carol enjoyed meeting again Ben Antwe a retired headteacher, and the local village chief who was very surprised to see her arrive unannounced in the village. Carol had first met Ben in Edinburgh when he came as a Faithshare Visitor to Portobello.

On our way home from the village we also met and were introduced to the Queen Mother and her Chief Councillor (like a Scottish Provost.) The Queen Mother (who reigns over the whole Kwahu area) is elected and her son becomes King. She is a Presbyterian and a member of the Woman's Fellowship. This relationship is of great benefit to the church when it comes to issues such as land rights.

After our supper we met with the Chairperson and two of his directors to explore issues of twinning, particularly because of the newly signed twinning agreement between Kwahu Presbytery and Hamilton Presbytery. This was an opportunity to discuss how to move forward the Presbytery Twinning and to develop within it a number of congregational twinnings.

The headquarters has lovely guest rooms... that's where we are heading now zzzzzzz

1 comment:

  1. Hi Both!

    I've really enjoyed reading your blog and seeing all that you've been doing - great contact on the HIV side of things, so well done on that.

    Looking forward to seeing (hundreds of?) pictures when you finally get your Kodak Box Brownie films developed.

    Until then!