In 1991 an interview with my mother, Martin Stephens Johnson, appeared in Christian Woman magazine. I wrote a sidebar describing her work in Ghana. This is a portion of that story.
For the past year and a half I have been telling people that my mother lives in Africa. That always results in astonished faces and then questions. What is my mother doing in Africa?Thirty hours flying time from her family at the age of 63!
She is serving God in the way she believes He has led her. She is a registered nurse at the Church of Christ Mission Clinic in Kumasi, Ghana, West Africa. Her furniture and other belongings are stored in West Tennessee, and she lvies in a block house in a compound “with electricity when the power is on and water when a pipe isn’t broken somewhere.” She buys delicious bananas at $.06 apiece and passes on the $100 frozen turkeys.
When she comes to the States, she stays in the homes of her children and friends, She truly has made her home in Africa.
Why is she in Africa now? After Daddy died she looked for a more fulfilling way to serve God, and took a six month post in Haiti (see the story here). That trip convinced her that she could be of service with her nursing skills and began to pray for guidance in her next assignment.
When the door opened to Ghana, she retired permanently from public health nursing in Dresden, Tennessee. She received the blessings and monetary support from the little church where Daddy last preached in Liberty, Tennessee and moved to Ghana. (Notice, this does not say with the blessings of her children. It was hard to let her go, especially since she is the only grandparent for some our children. But she comes home frequently for long visits at each of our homes.)
To read a summary of her legacy click here.
After mama died in 1994, I collected all the letters and journals she wrote along with the stories published in the African Christian Hospitals monthly newsletter and bound them together for my brothers and her sisters. These letters are so precious to me now. She was from a letter-writing generation, faithfully writing each of her children on a regular basis. I’m afraid none of us were nearly as faithful writing as she.
Put this trip in the context of 1994: there were no cell or satellite phones. Phones were not even common in the homes of Ghanans. To call us, she had to drive into town and use a phone at a money-changer’s business. With a six hour time difference phone calls did not always connect. I’ll never forget her telling us before she left that if there were an emergency here in the states such as a death in the family, she would not likely make it back for a funeral. Such was the limited communication of the time and place as well as the travel arrangements to be made.
I plan on posting this story every week; Wednesday is my goal. Look for Chapter 1 First Impressions of Ghana next week.
This journey was full of struggles, disappointments, hardships, and sacrifice, but there was
- joy in service
- joy in new friends who became family
- joy in the adventure
- joy in a deeper spiritual life
- unexpected blessings
Her writing reveals it all. Join me on this Journey Home.
You can find each installment of this story at these links
- First Impressions of Ghana: Chapter 1A
- Working in the Clinic: Chapter 1B
- Final Days of Scouting Trip, Chapter 1C
- Major Life Changes, Chapter 2A
- Settling In, Chapter 2B
- Settling In, Chapter 2C
- Road Trip to Accra, Chapter 3A
- First Day in the Clinic: Chapter 3B
- First Newsletter from Ghana: Chapter 3C
- First Newsletter, Chapter 3D
- Shopping the Ghana Way, Chapter 3E
- Letter from Accra, Chapter 3F
- A Troublesome Boy, Chapter 4A
- Clinic Work, Chapter 4B
- Taking Care of Business, Chapter 4C
- Personnel Changes, Chapter 5A
- I was in prison and you came . . . 5B
- Mobile Clinics, 5C
- Snapshots from Ghana, 5D
- Mobile Clinic in the North, 6A
- Western Region Mobile Clinic, 6B
- Teaching Basic Healthcare in Ghana, 6C
- From Ghana to Scotland, 7A