Time, power outages and News holidays

It is Wednesday night, and for three days the power has been out in this section of Accra, so the night is alive with the sound of generators. Our building has a large generator outside the entrance to the courtyard, so the interruption was only noticeable by the tripped circuit breakers when the power surged. Tonight, as I was writing this, it was dark outside, and quiet for the first time in a few days. I guess the power had come on, when suddenly I hear this loud pop, and look up to see a flash of light, and then total darkness for a second followed by the sound of generators starting up. The power is out. We are fortunate to live in a building with a generator.
This morning, I realized that the alley outside our apartment is an auto shop. Looking out our window I knew there was a car graveyard in the lot next to our building. But this morning, as I watched a young boy struggle carrying a transmission through the alley, I realized it the alley an auto shop. There are about 15 cars that have not moved since we got here including a large white bus that has the words Internal Revenue Service printed on the side. Now that I’ve noticed, I see men and young boys working on cars all day long as we pass by. Were they here before and I just didn’t notice I wonder?

Since we left Texas we have been on a news holiday, meaning we’ve not heard, read or watched anything about what is going on in the world. For a family that read two newspapers, listened to two radio news shows and took several news magazines, the break has been interesting. Years ago, when I did one of my first sermon series on Stress, taking a News Holiday was one of the suggestions. I thought I would miss knowing what is happening in the news more than I do, sort of like coffee, I guess. I thought I would really miss coffee, but the few times I’ve had it here, it seemed out of place, not wrong, but Tea is the drink here, as so we adapt. So it is with the newspapers. We saw a USA today at the market, and as Fox looked at he said, “That’s a USA Yesterday” and it was, since it was already five days old.

Time is a rather fluid element here in Ghana. It seems to move differently, to have different qualities and in terms of fluid dynamics, a different rate and flow and consistency. Adjusting to the time change was easy, getting used to its passage…will take some time. It isn’t like things happen whenever, for there is a schedule, it is more like the culture never lets time get in the way of relationships. For example tonight we were eating dinner out at a place called Frankies when everyone was finished except Anna, who is our slow eater. Everyone else was itching to go down to the bakery for ice cream, and so the urge was to get Anna to finish quickly when it occurred to me, hey, we don’t have anything else better to do tonight—which is true—let her take the time she needs.

I don’t think I fully appreciated how much time and effort the church took to pastor. I’ve been amazed at the young adults my children have grown into. I didn’t have the time to see that, I’d come home from the office too tired, or have to stay for too many late night meetings, and I shutter to think what I might have missed if this sabbatical had not come along.

So right now, in the evenings we have plenty of time and so we sit around and read, or talk, or play cards, and it strikes me as funny that we had to come this far to turn into the family I hoped we would always be. God is so good, knowing just what we need to become the people we’ve always wanted to be.


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