On Sunday I had promised Emma that I would attend church with him. My body felt extra worn down when he told me I had to meet him at 7:30 in morning at Atomic Junction, which would require me to board a tro-tro at about 7:10 to get there on time, which required me to get up even earlier than that to shower (well, bucket shower), dress, eat, and walk to the roundabout. I am proud when I get to the meeting point without any directions by 7:20, but that joy quickly subsides. I ended up waiting for 50 minutes in the dust and hot sun waiting for Emma and his cousin. It was probably one of the most unpleasant 50 minutes I’ve spent in a long time, as there was no place to sit and I’m fairly certain the boy selling phone credits thought I was a bit crazy and lost. But it was Sunday, so I was in a forgiving mood when they finally arrived. And I basically forgot how hot and dusty I was by the end of church, as it was a really great service, all about having dreams and how those dreams are often tested, the bigger they are. Afterwards, they had all the first time visitors meet in a room and gave them drinks and food and chatted with us, and I felt very welcome at Agape. It was also a very familiar feeling service to me, as the pastor was American and I could understand him perfectly, and the music was a lot of songs I knew. Agape holds services in a hotel right now, which was new to me, but they are currently building a mini cathedral. When I saw the numbers they needed to complete the church, my eyes bulged a little and immediately reminded myself to never again think that my church back home was always asking for funds. Then, Emma convinced me that it was a tradition that the first time visitor buys everyone meat pies. Now, I’m fairly certain this is not a tradition, but it probably also won’t be the first time I’m tricked by something like this. So I bought all six of us meat pies. I’ll be sure to watch, however, the next time we take someone new to church. Emma swears he bought eight when he first came. Our party consisted of me, Emma, his cousin, two of his cousin’s friends who are siblings, and a younger boy who lives behind Emma, and I liked all of them a lot.
I went back to Adenta after church with Emma to eat lunch, since I was promised banku. I had met his mother before on several occasions, and she calls me “American lady,” but I had never met his father before. I had heard a lot about his father, how he is a counselor and a minister, so I was eager to meet him since Emma thought we’d have “long conversations together.” Sure enough, he was right. I was at their house from about 11:30 until almost 5 in the afternoon, and talked to his father the majority of the time I was not eating. These conversations, however, were more on the lines of a counselor session, where sometimes I felt like I should be sitting on a couch with my feet up in the air, or clutching to my Bible. To give a better idea of what I mean, I will share my very first encounter with him. He is a tall man and has a strong presence when he walks into the room. He sat on the couch, and Emma left to buy me some bottled water at the market. I was left alone with him, and suddenly felt as though I should smooth my clothes down. He asked me what I was doing in Ghana and I excitedly told him about my fellowship. His reaction: Why do you think a child can help children when you are so young and do not have children of your own? BAM.
I had never had a reaction like that when I described my work to anyone before! But I’m always up for questions that push me to think hard, so I sat silent for some time, collecting my thoughts before I carefully answered. I told him how I knew I was young, but I had also had a lot of experience in my life. I told him life was not always smooth sailing, and I worked hard and had seen a lot, and traveled far to get new experiences. I told him how I always tried to listen to those who had more experience in the areas in which I worked, which is why I’m not trying to just start on my own in Ghana, but rather am working with someone I greatly respect, in order to build a firm foundation for my project, where I will get the advice of those who know the children of Ghana better than myself. He seemed pleased with that answer, and continued to shoot one hard question after the other at me. Then he let me leave so I could eat the banku and okro his wife had prepared for lunch.
It was such a big meal that I embarrassingly fell asleep for half an hour on Emma’s couch, apparently having fell asleep while Emma was talking to me, so he just let me sleep. When I woke up, I was again left alone with his father, and this time the lecture side came out. He told me how I should learn Twi in earnest and he would get me a book. Then, he told me about how he does not like making friends but he loves people (still unsure how that works). But my favorite conversation was the one that started, “You need to stop traveling and make babies.” I nervously laughed and told him I was very young (in fact, I’m young in Ghana, so I was surprised at his comment) and had lots of time to build my career now, and settle down with a family later. He told me that what he meant was that I needed to start planning now. According to him, I needed to know exactly what it is I wanted out of life, and then find someone to complement that, meaning if I like to travel, I need to marry someone who would not tell me I could not go on a trip somewhere. At this comment, I heard a slight covered laugh from Emma and I had to force myself not to look at him, because he knows me, and knows that I would never marry someone who thought he could control my moves so easily. But it was my first time meeting Emma’s dad and there would be lots of time once he liked me in the future to have debates on male-female interactions in Ghana. As Emma’s dad went on he informed me that I should write this list down of the man I hope to find and even wear it around my neck if I thought it would help me memorize it better, and then I needed to look for that man so God could bless our relationship. He made me promise I would start planning now, so that when I am settled into my career, I will not suddenly jump out of my seat and think “Oh, no! Now I must find a husband and have children before it’s too late!” In effect, it was not bad advice. As long as the need to stop traveling and make babies was, indeed, a metaphor. And I’m glad he was not actually referencing his son, which would have made the conversation all the more awkward.
Although he asked hard questions and gave interesting advice, I felt like Emma’s dad was one of the most honest and open person I had met, and immediately liked him for that. And I think he liked me to. Emma said he never shows that much interest in anyone, and he asks questions about me when I’m not around. Emma and I have a running joke that I will just move into their house so I can live in Adenta again instead of moving into my own apartment in January, but, of course, it’s a joke. It’ll be a nice real-world feel to have my own place once I feel settled and familiar with the area. For now, I’ll just be coming to their house every Sunday for lunch and sometimes dinner too like this Sunday before heading back to my own home.