Elmina Conference Day Two

Trip Start Apr 02, 2014
Trip End May 07, 2014

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Where I stayed
Elmina Bay Resort
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Ghana  ,
Monday, May 5, 2014

Yesterday we met for breakfast at 08:00, enjoying both the food and the sea breeze blowing in from the Bight of Benin.

As we convened for the mornings seminars and discussions Tom Clark joked about how long it would be before we had our first "light out" as they sometimes call power failures in Ghana. We would end up having three or four long ones, and several other micro-failures, just long enough to stop the AV projector and require a restart.

Eshun was not present. He has a painful rash on his chest and was seeking medical attention.

It turned out to be shingles, which is indeed very painful. I went through that condition myself a few years ago. My doctor told me that stress can contribute to an onset. I thought that very strange at the time, none of us have really had much stress in the past few years….

We began the day with the introductory comments from Tom, followed by a PowerPoint presentation from Leon Walker about pastoral counseling. It was a very good presentation, though Mr. Walker was slightly concerned about being understood. Ghanaian accented English can be hard for western English-speakers to comprehend. And we can be just as hard for them to understand. It helps of we speak slowly with a clear break between each word, and simplify our vocabulary. Mr. Walker as an academic of many years, teaching university level courses, had a natural teaching cadence, the way many pastors have a regular mode and rhythm when they speak. Mrs. Walker would get Mr. Walker's attention every so often and point to a note one which she had written “slow down” to remind him about the needs of the audience.

He did slow down and simplify his vocabulary, and I’m sure the material was very helpful. This experience underlines one of the challenges faced when speaking or teaching in this area, where almost everyone understands English (Ghanaian English).

Winston Churchill is quoted as saying (so is George Bernard Shaw) that the British and Americans are “two nations separated by a common language.” I think could be said about Ghana and the rest of the English-speaking world…. Mr. Walker’s presentation generated additional discussion and questions, which are very useful elements of such conferences.

My turn came, and I gave a PowerPoint presentation on speaking principles from 2 Timothy 4:2-5. There is a wealth of advice and admonition for pastors and speakers in those three verses. I also discussed making a speaking plan for the year and gave a sample of possible topics to be considered at different times in the year. This generated some questions and discussion.

We broke for lunch, which was served buffet style with a mix of western and local dishes. It was all very tasty. It’s good to be able to taste local dishes in a restaurant where one doesn’t have to worry about becoming ill due to poor hygiene, which is often at least a bit of a risk in locally run restaurants. The owner of this establishment, a man named Ben, is a Ghanaian who grew up and spent most of his life in the UK, so standards are quite high.

We reconvened after lunch about 2:15 p.m. for the afternoon session. I gave a second presentation on keys for strengthening our marriages. This is helpful for these pastors and wives for the sake of their own marriages, but also as background for their teaching in their congregations. This presentation based on one my wife and I have given together several times, used material from various references on marriage, and also advice which I collected from some of our long-time ministers and wives; men and women whose marriages have been very good examples for many years. This also generated questions and discussion.

We had a coffee break and reconvened for the day’s last session of questions and answers. The challenge of concentrating to understand our English is taxing and tiring, so we made the decision to save the last planned presentation for a future conference. The mind can absorb no more than the seat can endure….

Dinner was served after 6:00 pm: raw vegetable salad, chicken, fried rice, palava (or palaver) sauce – a spicy stew of greens, and chocolate cake and ice-cream for dessert. The breeze had died as the sun set, so it felt warmer, but still it was a pleasant evening.

Tom will have some more individual meetings with couples this evening and I’ll work on my articles. Tomorrow morning we will finish up the conference and our pastors and wives will head home. Tom and I hope to show the Walkers some of the historic sites around the area, probably Elmina castle tomorrow. It was the first permanent European structure built in sub-Saharan Africa, in 1482. The story is the Christopher Columbus was among the Portuguese sailors who made the trip down with materials to build the castle, which originally served as a point of trade for gold and ivory and some hundreds of years later for slaves.
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mary on

Thanks for the interesting conference notes and pictures. It's encouraging to know that everyone had time to understand "our" English and to discuss topics that will be helpful in their ongoing work.

Tess Washington on

Thank you for giving us the photos and narratives about the 2nd day of the Ghana conference! Language is a barrier but it sounds like everyone managed it with patience and care for each other;s needs! Kudos to Mrs. Walker for being there and to all the ministers' wives!

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