Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ghana Journey: ALL GOOD THINGS . . .


Thursday 13 June 2013

Twelve days ago, as I was frantically packing my bags, I wondered how I was going to make it through the next two weeks. It would be a long time, not only away from home but away in another country. I would be living in community, something I had not done in three decades. Would my companions be able to stand me? Would I survive?

Twelve days later, as we approached the end of our journey, I marveled at how quickly the time went. I was reminded of the final days of a youth summer camp program, which I experienced both as a child camper and as a young adult counselor. The kids spent the final days in non-stop activity, to keep them busy and distracted from focusing on leaving camp. The final day arrived, the buses were loaded and then -- out came the tears!

That dynamic was similar with this group. We've had an extraordinarily busy schedule, flying and driving long distances to meet incredible people and experience first-hand the good work that CRS is doing in Ghana. We were warmed by amazing hospitality, delighted by smiling and friendly children, and touched by the stories and faith of a people who often struggle against insurmountable odds just to survive. Along the way, the ten of us grew close to each other in a unique bond that we will share with no one else. 

And now, it was time to go home.

The final day was spent in prayer and reflection as we asked ourselves: What can we do to keep this momentum going? How can we share this experience with our communities back home? How can we help to build solidarity between the people of Ghana and the people of the United States? All ideas, big and small, were on the table. 

And because we're friends bonded by our Catholic faith, we prayed over each other, rejoicing in our individual gifts and expressing gratitude for the unique ways that we each contributed to this journey. This prayer was affirming, uplifting, and very moving.

Father Ray Tangonyire, one of our Jesuit hosts, presided at our final liturgy. Picking music for this Mass was a no-brainer because we had three new songs: "Akwaaba!" for the Entrance; "Seeds of Justice" for Communion; and "Send Us, Lord" for the Sending Forth. We promised each other that the songwriting would continue. 

We thanked our Jesuit friends and departed immediately for Accra airport. It was a three-hour drive and we had to give ourselves plenty of time to go through customs. 

The seven-hour flight to London was a bit like that final bus trip from summer camp. We exchanged goodbye hugs at Heathrow -- and out came the tears.

Ted, Martha, Alsy, Thomas, Robert, Sarah, ValLimar, Ben, and Greg -- THANK YOU! I am forever grateful for sharing this experience with you. 

Akwaaba!



Monday, June 17, 2013

Ghana Journey: SONG WRITING


Wednesday 12 June 2013




After such an emotional morning at Elmina, we went back to the Jesuit house for an afternoon off. It was a welcome opportunity to pray, reflect, recharge -- and write songs! 

In an earlier blog, I mentioned how Ben, Sarah, Greg, ValLimar and I were just sitting around the TV in a Tamale hostel when the muse struck. Ted witnessed that and he also contributed well to the song we composed that night, "Seeds of Justice." 

People often ask me how we composers do our craft. There is really no set way. Sometimes the words come first and the melody follows. Other times the rhythm of a new melody suggests the text. When we composed "Seeds of Justice" last week, we started with the text by sharing favorite scripture passages that spoke of hospitality and justice. It was really an exciting process as we bounced ideas off each other. Sarah sang the text we created against the chords Ben was playing on his guitar. A song was born.

There is another way to write a song, and that's by starting with a voice part and building the song around that. I'm a bass player and many of the classic rock songs were built around a bass line. On Monday morning, we were watching a video about Nazareth Home orphanage in Yendi. We had just finished singing with the children so I still had my guitar, and I was silently noodling on it. Suddenly, a bass riff came to me. I played it over and over and stored it in my memory so I wouldn't forget it. The riff stayed in my head as an ear worm, and I realized the only way to get rid of it was to build a song around it.

Greg and I have been friends for a long time and I have always wanted to write a song with him. So on Wednesday afternoon I played the bass riff for him and suggested we compose a new contemporary Sending Forth song for the liturgy. Greg has a superb gift for melody. He took my riff and ran with it, creating a Refrain for a song that we call, "Send Us, Lord." We then worked together on verses based on Luke 4: Jesus' proclamation in the temple of Isaiah 61. One hour later, we had our song, a good rocker that we hope will send young people out to bring Christ into the world.

Later on, Ben, Sarah and ValLimar joined us. After a prayer to the Holy Spirit, we discussed the tantalizing musical rhythms that we heard throughout Ghana for the past two weeks. Wouldn't it be great to incorporate these rhythms in a new song? Ben immediately launched into a terrific guitar riff with a Ghana-inspired rhythm. Greg, Sarah and ValLimar started singing along, and this became the basis for an Entrance/Gathering Song called "Akwaaba!" which is the Ghanaian greeting for "Welcome!" It has a joyful call-and-response refrain with verses that are based on the Magnificat's call for justice. 

We had come to our final days in this wonderful country. Soon we would fly home and return to our families and communities. Our eleven days in Ghana were tightly scheduled with many memorable activities. It's a wonder we were able to find time to compose at all, but that's what we songwriters do. One of the goals of this trip was to build solidarity by telling the story of the people of Ghana to the people of America. We are doing that by song.

The Spirit guided us to compose three songs together while in Ghana. We resolved to continue writing our own individual songs about our experience when we get home. It has been a great privilege and joy to work with such great musicians as Sarah, ValLimar, Ben and Greg!

What do these new songs sound like? Will others be able to sing them at their liturgies and prayer services? It's too early to make any concrete announcements at this time. But I close this blog with two optimistic words:

Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ghana Journey: ELMINA


Wednesday 12 June 2013




It was a restless night. At bedtime I took my malaria medication, Mefloquine,  which is known to induce vivid dreams. Last night's was a whopper! I dreamed I was playing piano for my parish school drama club but instead of "Godspell" it was a production of "Jesus Christ Superstar." My friends in the CRS/spiritandsong delegation were also in the dream, which was narrated by Thomas. Lastly, the dream took place in my former home in Orinda, California. Huh??

Anyway, I woke up groggy from the medication and arrived late for breakfast in the Jesuit refectory. My mates had finished their meal and were entertaining our hosts with more music. I chomped down a hastily made peanut butter & jelly sandwich because we were already heading to the van for this morning's activity: a visit to historic Elmina Castle.

Erected by Portugal in 1492 as St. George of the Mine Castle, Elmina was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea and the beginning of a consistent policy of European exploitation of the land and people of Africa, particularly on the Gold Coast. Smooth-talking explorers and military leaders would regale tribal chieftains with promises of prosperity, only to turn against the locals when it was advantageous to European interests.


Elmina became a strategic seaside port for the export of gold, ivory, spices and, most infamously, slaves, which became the most financially lucrative "commodity" of the 17th century. Over the years, control of the castle and the slave trade would pass from the Portuguese to the Dutch to the British.

Slaves were captured in the African interior by European slave-catchers and brought to Elmina to be "processed" under the most torturous and inhumane conditions before being shipped out to Europe and the Americas through the castle's notorious "Door of No Return." By the 18th century, 30,000 slaves had passed through Elmina annually, a policy of horror that "thrived" for three hundred years.


A guide walked our group through the castle, which is in a state of arrested decay. I am hard of hearing and could not really understand the guide but I didn't need to hear him to feel the castle's impact. The main structure still stands, with many rooms empty. But the bars remain on the windows, and the passageways are dark and putrid. We had a real sense of the cramped quarters in which the slaves were housed, and the clumsy castle construction in which slaves risked severe injury by bumping their heads on low beams and ceilings in the darkness. We were even "locked" into solitary confinement, a humid and claustrophic experience that is not for the tender-hearted. At least we tourists were freed after a few minutes; the slaves were not.

We had all been silent and subdued during the tour as Ted and Ben took photos. I soon found that I needed to distance myself from my friends because I was becoming increasingly emotional and distraught. Allow me to explain.

One of my gifts is the ability to literally feel what another person is experiencing. I'm guessing this is in compensation for my loss of hearing. People tell me I'm a good listener and this empathic ability is probably the reason. I cry easily when a friend is experiencing grief and sorrow; I'm filled with joy when others are happy. So as we walked through Elmina Castle, I began to feel pain -- the pain and distress of the millions who suffered within these walls, as well as the somber emotions of the friends around me. 





We soon found ourselves in the dark room at the "Door of No Return." There were three floral wreaths there, placed to honor those who suffered. ValLimar lit a candle and called for Alsy to join her at the wreath wall. As they held hands, Val sang a haunting version of the African-American spiritual, "Freedom." Tears filled my eyes and I was grateful for the darkness. Val then segued into "We Shall Overcome" and the dank room was filled with the sound of our sweet voices, singing in solidarity and remembrance. It was a powerful prayer experience!

We eventually made our way upstairs to the castle overlook, with its spectacular view of the Atlantic. I looked down at the square where the slaves probably stood at attention in the blistering sun as the garrison commandant barked orders, and where slaves were beaten and roughed up by merciless soldiers. I could "hear" their cries of anguish in my head; I was feeling the pain of centuries of torturous abuse. That pain was beginning to crush me and overwhelm me. I was dizzy as I walked gingerly down stairways and passageways, hoping no one was noticing me. I was not feeling well.

The castle seems devoid of color. The walls are an off-white; the doors and the trim around the windows are black. It almost seems like an apt metaphor for the rough relations between the Europeans and the Africans, and for the austere existence of the slaves. After a morning of stark empathy, I was unprepared for the rush of joy that would wash over me when we entered a room whose walls were filled with art -- paintings by the people of Ghana, the descendants of the slaves. These were vibrant, hand-drawn masterpieces of African trees and animals and children, in brilliant colors and movement that lifted me from the despair I was feeling just moments before. I walked slowly from painting to painting, soaking in the positive energy behind these marvelous creations. Out of centuries of desperation and oppression, hope somehow broke through. 




(Note: Photography was not allowed in the museum art shop. This is an example of art found in the shops of the marketplace next to the castle.)

I began today's journal entry with my vivid dream of the night before. But my dream pales in comparison with the dream and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a descendant of African slaves who, decades after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery, was fighting for the rights and freedoms that were so cruelly denied his ancestors. 

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. . ."
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. . .

. . . And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
                Free at last! Free at last!
                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!



Friday, June 14, 2013

Ghana Journey: THREE HOUR TOUR


Tuesday 11 June 2013





Note: We were without Internet for four days but I kept on writing blogs. Will catch up with posting as I am able. Photos after I get home.
=== 

We caught an early flight this morning back to the capital city, Accra. I have now been here long enough to see the difference between northern and southern Ghana. Whereas Tamale is rural and rustic, Accra is definitely urban, a fact borne out by heavy bumper-to-bumper traffic on the main streets. The "hawkers" or walking vendors are a ubiquitous presence, bringing every product under the sun to your car window in the hope of making a sale to impulse buyers.





(Incredible sight! This is a Tro-Tro, the Ghanaian bus. Notice how people sit on TOP of the bus when there are no more seats inside.)

We stopped for breakfast at an airport restaurant called, appropriately, The Landing. A high-class place in which waiters wear white shirts and bow ties, the egg dishes were delicious and light. Ted advised us to do a simple breakfast since we are driving to a good lunch at Cape Coast. I normally don't eat a morning meal but broke that custom when I learned that we were in for a three-hour drive!

There is probably no better way to see a country than to drive its roads. Downtown Accra reminded me a little of downtown Los Angeles. The two cities share a dense cosmopolitan vibe, traffic congestion, and a compact layout that is filled to the brim with people interacting with intensity and purpose in the restaurants, shops and offices. The only thing missing in Accra are the skyscrapers that tower over LA, although that is slowly changing, as witnessed by all the high-rise construction.

It took around 45 minutes to finally get out of the city and into the open road, where we picked up speed after the toll booth. The flora and foliage are definitely African, with palm trees giving a characteristic look to the landscape. Occasionally, we passed small villages lined with roadside vendors and food booths, just like in Tamale. 


Three hours of groggy napping later, we were heartened by the sight of the Atlantic Ocean to our left. Signs began to point to our destination: Coconut Grove Beach Resort. Alas, the main bridge to the beach was down and our drivers had to spontaneously figure out an alternate route in unfamiliar territory -- without a map! So they relied on the tried and true pre-Google method: stop at gas stations and ask strangers for directions. 






Half an hour and several inquiries later, we finally found our way. There, at the end of a long and bumpy dirt road (of course), was Coconut Grove. And what a beautiful site it was! 18-hole golf course! Fishing pond and horseback riding! And a stunning outdoor restaurant right on the beach! 

But before we settled into our tables, a wonderful surprise: We met Thomas' wife, Felicia, who happened to be taking classes at a professional college down the street from the resort. We were overjoyed to meet her and complimented her for her lovely children and beautiful house where we dined the previous evening.






So we ordered drinks and food and chatted with Thomas and Felicia and her associates who are taking classes with her. All too soon, however, the rolling ocean beckoned to my comrades, who ran en masse to wade in the foam, leaving ValLimar and me to keep Felicia and her friends company. I asked why the beach was empty of swimmers and surfers on such a lovely day. They explained that Tuesday is the traditional day of rest for the local gods. People stay out of the water on this day to allow the ocean to renew itself. Even the fishermen stop fishing. Sounds good to me! I'm all for respecting Creation and honoring indigenous customs. 





Coconut Grove was a pleasant break but it was time to hit the road again. Next stop: Holy Cross Centre on Cape Coast. The Redemptorist Fathers run this retreat center and the Jesuits have a formation house right next door. The Jesuits welcomed us warmly and invited us to join them for dinner. After the meal, we shared our stories and songs with them. Ben sang his recent hit "Make Your Home In Me." Sarah sang her lovely "In the Silence." Greg sang "Despite" one of my favorites of his. Lastly, I led the group in singing my "Alleluia! Give the Glory" (co-written with Bob Hurd). Some in our own party had been singing that in their parishes for years and did not realize I composed it. I told the story of how the song came to me in a dream. 






After Night Prayers we headed to the dorm but not before we each fumigated our rooms with Raid to banish the mosquitos and other bugs that have claimed the rooms since the last time the retreat center had guests. It was a "safe" insecticide but we had to wait ten minutes before re-entering our room. Unfortunately, I breathed in a whiff of it and started coughing and hacking, which caused much concern among the women in our group. But I was okay.

I tried to go to sleep but it was too hot, so I went outside into the courtyard to look at the stars. I was amazed at the position of the constellations. I have never seen the Big Dipper so low in the sky, nor Scorpio so high. The explanation is that Ghana is near the equator. I was in awe!

Then, in the distance, a four-legged animal stealthily approached me. I was alone and couldn't make it out in the darkness, so I walked backwards in slow steps to the dorm. It was probably a dog but I didn't want to take a chance on being wrong.

Safely back in my room, I slipped underneath my mosquito net and fell fast asleep. 



Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ghana Journey: GOATS! CAMERA! ACTION!


Monday 10 June 2013




I can't write about Ghana without mentioning the ubiquitous presence of goats. They're everywhere, roaming the streets and fields of every city and village as if they own the Gold Coast. 

Goats dart out into the roads unexpectedly, causing drivers to step on the brakes and shake their fists. They are there to greet you as you step out of a restaurant or church. They parade freely through a neighborhood like a pack of dogs, ignored by Ghanaians in the same way that Americans ignore stray cats. Goats are the domestic animal of Ghana.

One of our drivers was telling me that even though goats roam the hood freely, they do find their way home every night. Goats are an important source of nourishment for every family, supplying milk and, eventually, meat. That thought makes me shudder. I can't imagine owning a goat since it was a kid, watching it grow up as a friend of the family, then enjoying it for dinner as the main course. But every country has its own customs, and I respect Ghana's goat culture.

= = = 

Another thing I haven't mentioned yet is the fact that our Ghana journey is being filmed by a professional documentary company for future promotional use by CRS and spiritandsong. This means we're followed constantly by two cameras and a boom microphone. We all agreed to allow this because of the unique opportunity of several composers of the Church coming together in this great adventure. The footage will assist us in telling the story of our journey when we return home.

(BTW, special thanks to Dr. Sionne Neely and her faithful staff, Salaam and Abbas, for their professionalism and gentleness. It was a pleasure to work with them.)

We've all seen the various TV reality shows, and how having the camera on all the time makes for fascinating entertainment as the principals begin to break down and get testy from being together for so long. I'm happy to report that we have not been at each other's throats (yet) but having that camera literally in your face at all times can be a jarring experience. Speaking for myself, I have sometimes had to catch myself from yawning, or from making a dumb face, or from saying anything that might be considered inappropriate.

For example, on Sunday afternoon the film crew was in our van to get road footage as we traveled from Bolgatanga to Tamale. We started off with friendly, innocuous banter about favorite music or the experiences of the day. Since it was a hot sunny day and we were tired, we all eventually nodded off to sleep as the camera rolled away.

About half an hour later, I was suddenly awakened with a jolt as our driver honked his horn loudly. We were on the other side of the road, trying to pass a slow truck when a motorcycle suddenly zoomed up to pass our van. Up the road, I could see another truck getting bigger and bigger as it headed straight toward us. Without thinking (remember, I had been asleep), I blurted out:

"Holy . . .!" Everybody turned toward me. I paused quickly, realized I was on camera, then continued, ". . . Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen."

My mates burst out in laughter. Whew! Good catch!

And yes, we passed the slow truck safely and got back on the right side.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ghana Journey: LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE



Monday 10 June 2013

Rain. As we departed this morning for an orphanage, rain started coming down, light but steady. Wouldn't you know? Every day I've been dragging this essentially useless rain-proof windbreaker during the hot sunny days. On the day I decide to leave the jacket in my hotel room, it starts to rain. Oh, well. 

Today we visited the Nazareth Home for God's Children in the Sang Village Community, Yendi. It is an orphanage for children who are abandoned because of physical disability or, in some cases, simply for being born on a day of natural disaster or calamity. In some villages, such children are feared and blamed as harbingers of bad fortune, witchcraft and even death. Their presence in a family is sometimes considered as a curse; hence, they are abandoned or even killed. Unfortunately, such superstition still persists with some tribes.

The Marian Sisters of Eucharistic Love heard of the plight of these children and opened up a home for them here in Yendi. There are 35 children here between 6 months and 16 years old. Each of them are lovely, smiling souls who immediately capture your heart when they meet you.





When we stepped into the orphanage's main square the children were standing together as a choir, and they greeted us with a happy song. "We welcome you! We welcome you!" They were each dressed in their Sunday best, and it was really touching to see the genuine joy in their faces. One of the Sisters directed the choir from the back row by intoning the first line of each song. They sang a few more tunes in their own language, then launched into an uplifting rendition of "This Little Light of Mine." Our group happily chimed in and then returned the gesture by singing our songs for them. Music truly is a universal language of goodwill. 

We were shown a video of the orphanage that told their story on national television. Then our group brought a gift: paint! The old exterior walls were in need of brightening, so we got straight to work on giving them a fresh coat of salmon and blue.  So for a couple of hours we painted the front walls and the entry hall, with a little help from some children who were eager to participate. 



The orphanage staff gave us a delicious simple lunch of vegetable rice rollof and baked chicken. Sadly, it was time to leave our new friends, but not before another singalong. Val, Alsy, Greg and Sarah sang "Over the Rainbow" in stunning harmony as Sarah accompanied on her ukelele.










Ben saw a little toddler on the floor who was crying because she was unable to walk and felt left out of the party. So Ben scooped her up in his arms and she hugged him tightly as they watched us sing "The Cry of the Poor," "This Little Light of Mine," and "Trading My Sorrows," with one energetic boy leading the gestures with Val. That was followed by formal farewell speeches by an older girl and boy -- lovely sentiments in perfect English that were memorized and delivered to perfection. Finally, Sister led the children in a goodbye blessing song as we reluctantly got into our van and drove away as our little friends smiled and waved.

I will never complain about the rain again. After such a powerful experience of joy and hope, I don't know if I will ever be the same.



Ghana Journey: THE LORD'S DAY


Sunday 9 June 2013

Note:  I will post my Ghana blogs as Internet access allows. Photos will be posted after I return home.


Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bolgatanga

Full, conscious and active participation. That catch-phrase from the Second Vatican Council is the best way I can think of to describe Sunday Eucharist at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Bolgatanga. From the moment we set foot in that church, I could definitely feel the Spirit of Christ there in the midst of the people.

The cathedral is modern and huge, with a spacious sanctuary and seating for 1000 people. A Risen Christ cross is the centerpiece, which is flanked by a statue of Mary to the left and the Sacred Heart of Jesus to the right. Colorful red and white fabrics flow underneath the statues, creating a serene sense of movement. A large tabernacle in the shape of the Sacred Heart is to the left of the sanctuary, along with the organ, an electronic keyboard, and several congas. To the right of the sanctuary is the archbishop's Ex Cathedra seat underneath a large brown and red umbrella and in front of a banner of the archbishop's coat of arms. Below that is a large wooden xylophone, plus space for even more percussion instruments.




                                               
     (This is the archbishop's "ex cathedra" chair. Note the canopy.)

At our dinner last Friday, I asked Monsignor Roger about liturgical music. He said the music in Ghana is lively and rhythmic and definitely of the people, who sing and participate with enthusiasm. What about Gregorian chant? He said the Church's official music is sung at the seminary, but the people in the pews would find chant to be foreign to their experience. During this cathedral liturgy, at which Monsignor presided, I saw first hand a powerful expression of these views in the singing of the people, their drumming, their dancing, and their holy sense of prayer and worship.

This was the cathedral, so that meant the formal elements of the Roman liturgy: large Entrance Procession with many ministers and servers; not one but two robed choirs; singing all the parts of the Mass; incense and bells. But this was Ghana, so the music was lively and filled with tantalizing rhythms that were drummed out by several percussionists. Our group sat in the middle of the church, toward the back, so we could easily see how the drumming was making the people in the pews move and dance to the beat. 



The liturgy was bilingual, in both English and the local dialect. As mentioned in the blog from last night's concert, the collection consisted of money boxes placed in strategic locations throughout the church. Everyone got out of their pews and stood in line to place their donations in the boxes. The song at this time had such a good beat that the collection lines were really conga lines in which the congregation danced down the aisle while singing along. 

The music was inspiring, alternating between a contemporary choir and a more traditional SATB choir, with percussion punctuating both groups. Communion was well organized for the over-capacity congregation as servers with large white crosses marked the locations of the Eucharistic Ministers within the church and also outside, where a spillover crowd was seated with a sunroof and speakers to hear the liturgy.



                                        

      (The Eucharistic tabernacle of Sacred Heart Cathedral.)

Announcements took at least 15 minutes! The commentator delivered everything from the events of the week to the parish financial report and other details, concluding with the introduction of two couples who were celebrating their anniversary. Then, to my surprise, our group was called up to the sanctuary.

We've been introducing ourselves everyday for the past week. Saying our names is easy; the challenge is to share some brief comments about our experience in Ghana (Wonderful! Awesome!) without duplicating what the others are saying. I spoke of how inspired I was by the way this cathedral assembly so obviously loved God and each other, and how I want to take that love home with me. The people applauded warmly.

Of course, we sang for them, a cappella. First, we did Greg's "We Are His People" and the assembly joined in eagerly with the hand gestures. Seeing the whole cathedral sign and sing my friend's song so enthusiastically overwhelmed me to tears. Then ValLimar launched into a rousing rendition of "We Are Marching." The crowd erupted into clapping and dancing as the parish percussionists punctuated on their congas.

Between the lengthy announcements and our segment, we must have added at least thirty minutes to the liturgy. And the people didn't mind! In America, priests and people get antsy if the Mass goes on too long with too many add-ons. Not in Ghana! I am reminded of the words that Peter said on that holy mountain when he and his fellow disciples encountered the transfigured Jesus: "Lord, it is good for us to be here!"


                                              

              (I couldn't resist trying the xylophone in the percussion area!)

After Mass we went shopping at a craft marketplace across the street from the cathedral. I have no room in my tiny suitcase for souvenirs but my friends walked out with baskets and ear rings and  mini-congas. We lunched at a nice outdoor restaurant. Ben and Greg sweated buckets with their spicy banku  while Val and Alsy feasted on whole fish, fried Ghana-style. I decided to play it safe and ordered spaghetti with a mariana sauce that turned out was African-spicy. Thankfully, a large bottle of Star beer (brewed in Ghana) cooled me down.




From there we drove back to Tamale for the 6:00 Charismatic Mass at Holy Cross Parish, which was a smaller church than the cathedral. It was certainly a joy to hear their young choir lead us in spirited Praise songs. We shared our songs at Communion. After Mass, Fr. Carolus Gambogi, the pastor, feted us with dinner in the rectory courtyard as the sun slowly set. It was a good end to a joyful celebration of the Lord's day.



(Ben jams with the Charismatic Choir.)


  (Greg charms the children with his songs.)