There are no direct flights from Atlanta to Ghana, but there is most definitely a direct tug at the heart. Twelve hours on a plane to the unknown, I was filled with both excitement and anticipation of what was in store for me in the Motherland. The trip was a well-orchestrated blend of culture, fun and service. I was as prepared as any international traveler would be, yet no one could have prepared me for the depth of need that exists in many of the rural villages, which seemed to be akin to a richness in history and resiliency.
I found it hard to strike a balance between what I could see as daily living and the rising inflation, with the history I was experiencing through the guides who took me down a visual path into the past. Ghana is currently in a full-blown recession, and the Cedi is currently the worst-performing currency globally. On the flip side, manufacturing is one of the main drivers of growth, along with cocoa production. Ghana is the world's second-largest producer of the chocolate-making ingredient, after Ivory Coast - a country on the southern coast of West Africa.
Despite what is unfolding around them, the Ghanaians are gentle, welcoming and kind. They emphasize communal values such as family, respect for the elderly, honoring traditional rulers, and the importance of dignity and proper social conduct. My two-week journey experience was overwhelming, transformational, and absolutely amazing all at the same time.
I am the founder of a brand ministry called F.L.O.W, an acronym that stands for Feel Love Over Worry. In partnership with Infinity Global Connections, I had the honor of addressing more than 100 women at an event titled "Insights & Inspiration" to teach lessons on stewardship and life. There was much to do in preparation for our day of service at the Presbyterian Church of Ghana - Prince of Peace Congregation in Avenor, Accra. I was fortunate to have the pastor's sister pick me up and drive me to purchase the items of food for the local villagers.
The plan was to purchase food items for 100 families - a five-pound bag of rice, a can of mackerel, and a bottle of oil. The plan expanded as our U.S. dollar stretched further in Ghana than expected. We increased the bag of rice to ten pounds, added 5 more families for a total of 105, and added tomato paste to each bag. We were also able to make a donation to the church. This blessing - food we were told would feed a family of five for about two weeks - would not have been possible without the support of friends and family here in the United States.
There's more . . . we had enough to purchase a lawnmower for one of the primary schools. There is no bathroom at school in many of the local villages, so the children do their business outside. The boys don't have a problem with the tall grass since they stand, but the tall grass proves to be a problem for girls to squat, as snakes hide in the grass. While we could see what an incredible blessing the food and the lawnmower were, we could also feel love over worrying about food, for at least a couple of weeks, and the dangers of what may lurk in the tall grass. There was no shortage of gratitude as together we prayed a blessing over every family that contributed to this effort.
I was humbled by the honor and opportunity to worship with the women at church. Through dance and praise, they express their love for God, and I could tell they feel His presence deep in their spirit. The media showed up on the day of service. I was told they seek out positive news and stories in an attempt to overshadow the negative and heart-wrenching stories of poverty and destitute families. The video clip of that day makes me chuckle. Aside from being referred to as Reverend Pam Reid, I look like I might melt from the heat while everyone around me looks cool and dry.
FLOW is a reminder that there isn't anything so small in our lives that God would not want to be a part of. We can also be reminded that anything we choose to do to help "the least of these", no matter how small we may think, represents the goodness and love of God. I was encouraged to see that in Ghana, they teach the love of God to the students in school, and the importance of our obedience to Him.