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#14 End Times

The end of our year in Ghana is now fast approaching with under three weeks to go. Having just peeled and sliced fresh pineapple and mango and demolished these amazing fruits, I am a rotund picture of contentment.
No improvement possible
The tasting has been heavenly – forget chocolate, cakes and cookies – forget crunchies, twirls and Thorntons – forget them all: these fruits cannot be rivalled. No added chemicals, no sugar, no supplements because the tastes are perfect already.
Just like the Good News of Jesus, nothing more is required – the factories cannot add anything to mango and pineapples to improve them, in fact they extract the goodness of them to improve the tastes of other foods. This is just what the world does with Jesus … extracting little bits and adding them to their rubbish religions and humanistic beliefs in the hope they will appear more attractive.
“What a kind man that Jesus was but forget that Son of God and judgement stuff. We can’t have that. End of rant.

The Weather!!
Ghana has been cooler than England at times, In fact the past few months have been the rainy season and sweating in the humidity has almost become a memory. Cool cloudy weather where I can cut the lawn (a mass of grass, weeds and humungous stinging ants that massacre my feet) and less grainy sand dust sweeps into the house under the doors and through the windows Of course the mud roads aren’t doing so well, churned up as they are with huge puddles and sinking sand in some parts. Best way to navigate them at the worse times is to go out in flip flops: reach puddle, remove floppers, wade through, replace floppers and wash feet at destination. One of our current visitors ventured into a particular nasty bit of road one rainy morning and suffered the consequences: a step into the mud, a sinking sensation, a satisfying ‘splodge’ sound as her foot came out minus the flip flop. We provided assistance in the usual Stoddart manner.
Heather +Bex

Since daughter Amy and now-fiancé Farmer James left us at Easter we have had two visitations from the UK. Bex – a family friend came for two months and worked as a volunteer in the school and there are four girls from Hastings staying with us now for two weeks. It’s been nice to have people of our own culture experiencing Ghana as we do. Bex really regretted having to leave as there is something about the people and lifestyle which is so nice that I count it as a real privilege to have been among them.
Heather with D & S
Phil with Selorm
Heather with girls
In the UK we are so busy and influenced by materialism through the media and way our society has gone that something precious has been lost. There are no ‘super’ businesses dominating the commercial landscape here but rather there are a plethora of little shops.

They are mostly in wooden and tin shacks like beach huts – where materials are on sale and seamstresses and tailors make clothes. Carpenters and metal workers ply their trade and taxis and tro-tro buses dominate the roads. Vegetable shops, butchers, bakeries, electrical and plumbing supplies and second hand bikes and cathode ray TVs abound in stacks. It’s great. This is how people earn their living – no super technologies stealing their jobs, no self-service checkouts and human petrol attendants.

This week is possibly my last one as a teacher and it’s been a fantastic way to bow out. I hate the way teaching has gone in England with the takeover by politically motivated bureaucrats who want written evidence in triplicate for progress in every lesson for every individual. To do everything they ask and maintain freshness for teaching is nigh on impossible. Here, the workload is sensible and pragmatic, yet homework is set every week. Tom does complain sometimes about the amount of homework he gets, but he does it and says he would never have learned as much in class in England as he has here.
Kids Form 4 New Nation School 2013-14
Teaching is traditional – none of this ‘total interaction’ tosh which is really disguising the fact that we have allowed our children to believe their low attention spans is a result of ‘inadequate teaching’ rather than games consoles, television and the internet. “If the child is not on task, the teaching is inadequate” Ofsted righteously inform us. Really? In the school here, they listen politely and learn. Poor behaviour is virtually unheard of. Detentions are few and mostly set for lack-of-work related issues. In short, I have come to believe that all these new directives about how teachers should teach are to disguise a social breakdown: a move away from traditional Biblical-inspired living to a Godless, directionless and poorly behaved self-centered society. Ah that would be rant number two.

So what’s going to be strange on returning to England? Water here is precious. I shower from a bucket and I flush the loo with a bucket. Do you know how much water loo-flushing uses? It’s huge (the flushing that is). We also have plastic bottles in the cisterns to minimise how much water goes in. Greeting strangers as they pass you by will be replaced by “What you looking at mate?”
I will miss cows, goats and chickens on the road and the noise of numerous little local churches singing. There are people in church and school who have become good friends. The name of Jesus resounds from the lips of many people. Sometimes it’s as at they pass by or in a tro-tro. There’s the Form Three (Year 9) girls for whom I’ve been hosting a games and Bible-based debating club. There’s my school classes and oh – the ginger-nut biscuits, sausage rolls and mangos and pineapples. But at the end of the day England is my home and heart.

Warnes family old Wedding Heather parents

Finally, Heather’s mum went to be with Jesus on Monday 14th July, two days after her birthday. We are coming home to a funeral. Margaret Warnes – what a saint. It is rare to meet people who are so kind and generous of spirit. She always made me feel welcome, always looked for the good in everyone and loved Jesus. She is the first person outside of my immediate family for whom I have cried. She is reunited with her grandchildren and my daughters but above all she is receiving all that she lived for in abundance. You unbelievers, especially you who dismiss Jesus as yet another unwanted supermarket product, to whom do you turn to when people die? It’s not that you cannot believe – the evidence for Jesus is undeniable to any logical thinking person – it’s that you refuse to do so. So so sad. Rant number three. Over and out.
Phil is author of A12 To Heaven a true account of the kindness and compassion of God at a time of loss. “There is truly no one and no thing that we can lose that can surpass what we have gained in belonging to him.”


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