Monday, April 28, 2008

An Ashanti Funeral

The more we go out visiting here, the more we see the need!
As a new missionary facing culture shock, it was very easy to want to hide out in my house instead of interacting with people I didn't understand and I didn't like. I'm sure that is shocking to hear, but every missionary will feel that way at some time or another. John and I quickly learned that when those feelings hit, the best thing to do was exactly the opposite of what we wanted to do... we had to get out of our house and be with the people.
Now that we have the awesome opportunity to start a church here, we are out visiting almost every day of the week. And, the more time we spend outside our home, the more we are reminded of the need for laborers here in Ghana! We started visitng in the area of Gyinyase/Ahinsan in January. We go room to room and shop to shop talking to people about the gospel and trying to set up salvation Bible studies with them. In the last four months we've finished one street! That is not because we are not going out often - we are visiting in that area four days a week! It is simply because laborers are needed! Of course, we want to train people here to reach people, but they cannot give witness of the gospel until they have accepted Christ themselves.
Please pray for Eunice and Kofi to grow in Christ. Please continue to pray for Linda (Kofi's wife), Julianna, and Samuel. All of them are doing salvation Bible studies with us right now, but Satan does not let go of people easily! Pray for them to be convicted by the Holy Spirit and accept Christ!
We had another reminder of the need for laborers this week: a funeral. Now here in Ghana a funeral is very different from a funeral in the States. It is usually a three day event. Usually a funeral is not conducted until a person has been dead for at least a month. Once a person dies, posters are put up everywhere, so that people know the person has died. The family will repair and repaint the house (this is about the only time people here will repaint a house!). The Friday of the funeral they will put up huge tents and bring in lots of plastic chairs, drums, crates of minerals (soda pop) and beer, and the biggest speakers you've NEVER seen. (I promise you've never seen speakers like we use here!) On Friday afternoon people will start showing up to view the body, drink, and listen to really loud music. This will go on til about 9 pm (if we're lucky), then people will either go home or go to sleep (on mats provided by the deceased person's family). The wake-keeping will start about 4 am, loud music and all. This will continue until about 10 am when everybody leaves for the burial. At about 2 pm, everybody will come back to the house, sit, dance, eat, dance, drink, dance, give money, dance, listen to loud music, dance... I think you get the idea! This will usually go on until about 9 pm again on Saturday. On Sunday morning everyone will go to the church the person attended and "give thanks" (for their life or death, I'm not sure which one!), and then everybody will come back to the house to do the same thing until it gets dark.
The sad thing is that I've had to go to a few funerals since moving here, and I've never seen anybody cry or talk about what happens to a person after death. It just seems to be a good reason to get together to drink and dance. Believe it or not, it is a really popular way for singles to meet guys and girls! Lots of people in their twenties just dress in black and go looking for funerals every weekend! (I'm sure that makes a great story to tell the grandkids!)
The funeral we saw this weekend was across the street from us so I got to snap a few pictures.

Not your normal American funeral, I can tell you that!

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