My very good friends Jez & Lois have spent the last 7 months in Ghana. They very kindly offered to answer 10 questions that will give you an insight into their lives and experiences abroad. Here are the first five questions:
If you could sum up your experience abroad in the last few months in 5 words, what would you say?
Jez: Hard, rewarding, life-changing, eye-opening, enjoyable
Lois: Hot, challenging, lovely, learning, fun
I am sure that you had preconceived ideas before you went – what were the things that surprised you most?
Before we left the UK we had a couple of seminars on things like ‘expectations’, ‘culture shock’ etc. We listened carefully during the seminars but then concluded that we didn’t have any expectations. We thought were going with open minds and that we were quite flexible and things wouldn’t be a problem. “We’ll do anything, we’re just going to serve…” then we arrived in Ghana and realised we did have pre-conceived ideas; it was quite different to what we were expecting.
Before we came almost everyone who had been to Africa told us that people will love us being here, they’ll crowd around us, children will rush to us, we’ll be asked to speak at every event we go to etc. etc… but in reality people weren’t really that interested in us! It’s a bit different where we are now as it’s a smaller town, but the first few months were quite a humbling surprise.
Something else that surprised us was that we weren’t particularly busy every day doing ‘mission’. It took a couple of months before we realised that God is more interested in our relationship with Him that what we do for Him.
What have you missed most from home/UK?
Jez: Friends, family, church, oh and I’m very much looking forward to a Big Mac!
Lois: After friends and family, it would have to be chocolate and cheese. Oh and a flushing toilet!
If you could take something back with you to the UK – what would it be?
Jez: Time with God, time to be available for Him, more prayer stamina (people here have no problem praying for a long time).
Lois: I would like to take back the slower pace of life, sun, and the joyful, enthusiastic worship in the churches.
We are discovering new things about God’s character all the time. What have you discovered since going to Ghana?
Jez: I think God has been teaching me that He will never leave us or forsake us, no matter where we are in the world or what we’re doing. From giving peace in the face of fear to equipping us for various challenging activities, I’ve learnt that it’s nothing that I can do but it’s all about Jesus working through me. I just need to remain available for Him to use.
Lois: I’ve really been able to see how God can change lives. The first class of students we are teaching are all Christians but over half of them came from other religious backgrounds where I would have thought they wouldn’t change or accept the Good News about Jesus coming to save them. I’ve realised that God can draw people to Himself from all sorts of backgrounds.