In your context, like anywhere else, I am sure that you had struggles. What are/were the greatest battles?
Not being in control has been quite a big struggle. In England if something goes wrong there is always a reliable hospital, police who aren’t corrupt, firemen who turn up, friends and family to help out etc. but here there isn’t really any of that! We have had to try not to worry about these things, and put our trust in God. He is the only one we can totally trust.
Church life can be struggling and challenging at times. It’s not the easiest place to stay spiritually sharp. It’s just completely different to what we’re used to back in England. We try to download some good teaching off the internet to keep us on our toes.
How did it change your views on life, job, leisure, culture – each answer on your own…;)?
Life: is important, it’s short and God’s saved us for a purpose; to bring people to know Him.
Job: This topic has been on my mind quite a bit recently. Looking back I feel like I have learnt so much since leaving my job. Being here has been a learning curve in all aspects of life including jobs. I would like to do a job that I enjoy and a job that makes a difference and has an impact on society. But who knows what I’ll end up doing.
Culture: hmmm…a tricky one…this culture is different to my culture! After being here over 6 months I have begun to see ‘behind the scenes’ of the Ghanaian culture. People’s attitudes, people’s ways of doing things, people’s views on life are all different to my own. Sometimes it is really fun and liberating to be in this new culture but at other times it can be quite frustrating.
Leisure: My leisure in the uk involved friends, music, walking, reading, computers etc. There’s none of that here! My leisure times here involve Lois teaching me how to knit (which I secretly enjoy). I have come to really appreciate all those things I did in the UK and I want to make the most of those things when we return.
Life: I think I will appreciate a lot of things that I took for granted: running water, a car, carpets, a large choice of food, etc.
Job: I’ve realised that I think I found a lot of my identity in my job in England. When we came here I was no longer a preschool manager, I didn’t even know how to get to the market, let alone buy anything or begin to cook with different ingredients. I realised I had to look to God for my identity rather than in the things I could do in England.
Leisure: There are so many ways to spend free time in England! I don’t think I appreciated it! But it has been nice having to resort to other leisure activities… Boggle, cards, pen and paper games, knitting…!
Culture: I have really enjoyed living in a different culture. I realised I had quite a stereotypical view of Africans and Muslims and I realise now that there is a huge variety within these groups.
Do you wish you would have done this earlier in your life, or should you have waited for later on in life?
We think it was good timing! If we had waited we might have got too comfortable with our lives in England and been less keen to go. If we had gone sooner there would be no college here to teach in, so God’s timing is perfect!
Do you think your life will be different when you return? How? (Maybe this will change, but it would be interesting to see what you write now).
Jez: I think before we came to Ghana we were a bit sucked into life. I was sucked into life doing things that 20 something people do – jobs, family, houses, savings, DIY etc. I think I have learnt a lot being here and hopefully things will be different. I feel like God has been showing me what really matters in life.
Lois: I think we both want to make our lives ‘count’. We want to be living lives that serve God rather than just living to make money and live comfortably. I think I have had a little taster of what is involved in mission; I have a lot more respect for people who dedicate their whole lives to reaching people in another culture!
This is your first major endeavour together – how did it affect your relationship? Any lessons?
Since being here we have spent pretty much all our time together. We don’t tend to go anywhere on our own, we live in a 6.5m x 4m house, and we work at the college together. However we have really enjoyed it! It has been good, we have got on well and it’s been fun having so much time to spend together! Any lessons…? We think to keep communicating with each other. You can spend lots of time together but not really communicate. So share lots! This is how we have been finding things over the last 7 months of being in Ghana. Who knows what will happen in the next 5 months!