Saying Goodbye to a Ghanaian Friend

The Africa Area Director sent us several photographs of the church in Ghana when we first considered entering a partnership with them seven years ago.  In a couple of photos, there was a lady sitting at the front of the church, to the right.  Her face seemed familiar before I even knew her.

When we moved to Ghana and attended our first church service there, I recognized her instantly.  She was sitting in the same place as she was in the photograph.  She didn’t know the relief she gave me simply by being there.  In a world that was so strange and far from home, I knew that woman from the picture.

Eventually I was introduced to Rosemary.  She was timid, but kind.  She was among the first to welcome me into the women’s group.  She took pity on me when I didn’t know the language.  With the little English she knew, she would let me in on what was happening and the back and forth dialogue at the meetings.

She always offered me a seat beside her at the church functions.  She made obvious efforts to ease my transition.  I can remember when she asked me what I liked to eat.  It seemed so out of the blue, out of context.  I answered her anyway… and discovered all those things – eggs, bread and milk – in a care package given to me the following week.

Over time, we built a friendship.  Language was always a barrier, but her character shone through.  She was always serving, always thoughtful, always present.

So it’s with a heavy heart that I tell you Rosemary passed away today.  She had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.  I found this out on the day I was leaving Ghana on this most recent trip.  This news follows on the heels of the death of her sister, Angelina, who died of throat cancer last year. Another amazing woman and special friend.

Rosemary has made her way into many of our pictures both from our time in Ghana and pictures from past teams who have visited the church.  It’s hard to think she won’t occupy that space in Ghana anymore.

I suppose this is the part you can’t prepare for when you agree to take part in a missions partnership.  There is excitement and anticipation about forming friendships in the name of Christ and working with ministry partners who share a passion to serve God despite cultural differences.

You expect the blessings from the union, but the heartache is difficult.

I also suppose this is evidence of a true partnership.  We love our sister church, we mourn with them because Rosemary was our friend too.

My memories of her aren’t necessarily large, momentous occasions, but of her ongoing diligence and kindness to me as a foreigner in a strange land and her constant and faithful service in the church.  She was an inspiration.

Heaven will receive her well.

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Rosemary was a single mother of four children, now late teens and young adults.  She was a step-daughter to Pastor Charles, daughter to his wife, Fredericka.  Please pray for the whole family as they mourn.

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