When Mama returned to West Tennessee from her trip to Ghana in June of 1989, she retired from her position as a registered nurse at the Weakley County Health Department at the age of 61. Her plans were to return to Ghana in September, just a few months to dispense her household goods, pack up essential items for living in a climate near the equator, and raise funds for travel and living expenses!
Before Mama took that survey trip to Ghana in June, the family gathered at her home in Dresden and learned more about this exciting opportunity. That’s when each of us digested the news of how this would affect us. There were seven grand-children; for some of them she was the only living grandparent. We knew Mama had been praying for an opportunity to open up ever since she came back from Haiti — we just never dreamed it would be in Africa!
excerpt from the African Christian Hospitals quarterly newsletter
Most of our nurses seek the approval of their parents before going to Africa. Martin sought the approval of her children and grandchildren. She has a fine Christian family who, although selfishly would like to have had her near, encouraged her to go. I know that her “cup runneth over” with blessings. She will be loved and appreciated in Ghana, souls will be in heaven because of her,and her children will love her even more because of her great love for her fellowman. God will reward her.
Mama wrote letters to Churches of Christ in West Tennessee, Kentucky, and to anyone else she thought might be interested in this new work. Liberty Church of Christ,the church where Daddy last preached, oversaw her finances and provided travel funds. She determined she needed $1000 a month for living expenses; each church who could promised to send $100 or $200 each month to the Liberty church. She had about ten different sources of support.
Perhaps the most sobering moment to the family came when Mama talked to us about communicating with her while she was in Ghana. In 1989 there were few telephones in the city of Kumasi; most households did not have phones, electricity, or running water. Even though she lived in a comfortable apartment with electricity that worked most of the time and a fairly reliable water system, there were no phones – none in the Christian school or Bible college, none in the Health Clinic. The nearest available phone was at a money exchange business in the city.
She wanted us to understand that if there was a sudden death in the family here in the States she would likely not be able to return home in time for a funeral. Sobering to all of us.
She was so excited to go! After losing my dad, her best friend, five years earlier, she was confident this was the Lord’s plan for her life.
In the middle of September we shed our tears and said good-by when she boarded a plane in Nashville. She traveled to Amsterdam with Bob and Beth Williams who were returning to Kumasi. Bob served as administrator of the clinic, and Beth was a nurse. Every trip made to Ghana required a layover in Amsterdam, sometimes overnight.
Next week: Settling In
I am thankful for Mama’s vision and her trust in God as she moved from a comfortable life to a challenging one.
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