Once we were in the car, chatting away to Johnnie the driver, finding what had changed since our visit last April, the hassle was forgotten. There seemed a few more street lights than last time near the airport and also one or two more roads might have been tarmacked. Surprisingly the temperature was quite acceptable and a fresh breeze blew as we reached the last road – a mud one – with plenty of bumps, chickens and goats to welcome us en route to the compound of our hosts.
John and Alex Kpipki have five children. Emily came to England about 3 years ago and did a placement in our Lowestoft church and that’s how the connection started. She’s now studying at Accra University and so are her sisters Esther and Ruth. Anna and I.J are still at home and together they make the most formidable opponents to contrast ones wit against that I have ever met. If Tom thought he was in for an easy time away from his older sister Amy, then he was severely mistaken.
They live in a large house that has a 2-bedroomed annex at the bottom of the garden. This annex is to be our home until our house is ready and has a little terracotta-tiled porch where we can sit and watch the lizards and birds hopping around a variety of trees and pink-flowered bushes. Providing less opposition than suspected are some rather large biting ants and mosquitoes but we have our malaria tablets and repellents in defence. It is worth noting that doxycycline, the most common anti-malarial is loads cheaper here than England and so are the repellents. The expensive UK sprays containing ‘deet’ are not as good as a cheap cream you can buy called ‘Medisoft’. So anyone thinking of visiting Africa, take note.
A few bearings
Back to the Kpipkis; John is lead elder at the City of God church which he started with his wife Alex and a few others back in 1992. In 2004 they opened New Nation School on the same premises where the church operates. John and Alex don’t have far to travel as it’s only a five minute walk from their house. More challenging is the new school site which they opened up a few years later, splitting the school into two sites, with the lower primary ages still at the church complex. The plan is to have the entire school at the new site.
It’s a robust 45 minute march from the church site to our new house. I know, because Heather and I walked it one day. We didn’t need to, mind you, because a taxi there only costs between 33 pence per person or about £2.30. The difference is whether you get a ‘loading’ taxi or a ‘dropping’ one. Humour me, by having a guess at what the difference is by commenting in the box at the bottom of this post. From our house to the new site takes about 15 minutes to walk. When school starts, it has its own buses to ferry teachers and students between the two sites. Tom and me will be based at the new one but I think Heather has to travel between the two.
Our location is an urban village called Ashaley Botwe. What I mean by urban is that there’s lots of people, traffic and dust. In the distance we can see large hills which I know are lush and green because we visited botanical gardens up there on our ‘survey the land’ visit in April. Creators of the dust are the many (quite dilapidated and unroadworthy) taxis and minibuses called tro-tro’s. The latter are ridiculously cheap but bumpy and when using them I usually have to lunge and plonk myself down in the seat with exceptionally little control over landing. Accompanying this event are a bundle of suppressed grins from the polite locals.
Phil is author of A12 To Heaven a true account of the kindness and compassion of God immediately after the deaths of his daughters Claire and Jenny. Day after day for a whole year he recorded how his love just blew him away. “I cried uncontrollably so many times in his presence as he revealed to me so much about himself and the wonders to come.” Whatever your circumstances, if you think you’re alone, read this book and think again. If you have already met Jesus, come and be reassured that nothing is too difficult for him. There is truly no one and no thing that we can lose that can surpass what we have gained in belonging to him.