Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ghana Update: Saturday, Day 5

Day 5

“Tell me about your day.” –The Scribe’s Proofreader

Jared Bontrager: “Well, the bus ride was a little long, but the ocean was nice.  I floated out there for a while.”
Dan Borntreger:  “You were WAY out there, for a couple of hours!  We were wondering if you were okay.”
Jared Bontrager:  “Oh? Well once you get past the waves, you don’t have to worry about undercurrents.  You rise and fall on the swells. It’s nice.

“It was very relaxing.  I always love being by the ocean.  It’s soothing to the spirit. Our minds are full from taking in new things from the culture, so it was nice to relax.  I loved it.” –Maudeen Chupp

“It was a wonderful day.  The slave castle was beautiful but gave me a sick feeling in my stomach for the way the slaves were treated.  The ocean was beautiful, and I was glad the fish on my dinner plate didn’t have eyes.” –Luetta Borkholder

“I don’t know how to describe it. I had one of the better days of my life!  About the slave castle, I thank God for a savior because without Him, man is nothing but the devil inside him.  The ocean…hmm.  Today for the first time, I wished I was a poet.  Did King David see the oceans when he wrote about the power of the seas?  I don’t have words for the ocean.  It’s too beautiful.” –Theresa Yoder

“Today was very interesting. I knew slave trade was brutal at times, but I didn’t realize the extent of it. Kiki’s was very relaxing.  I took a nap in a hammock, swallowed enough salt from the ocean to last a few days…very relaxing.” –Dan Borntreger

“It was a very relaxing day.  It was nice to be with the group.  The slave castle really makes you face the reality of slave trade.  The beach was SO relaxing, and the fish for supper was amazing.” –Barb Geigley

As you can see from the Proofreader’s interviewing, this day was different than usual.  The break from crusading was needed and much appreciated.  Unlike the clinic days, which started at 10am, our Saturday started pretty early. The team awoke at 5:30am, hopped on the bus at 6am, and ate breakfast on the way to save some time. Once we got our first destination, we split up a bit. The Slave Castle located right off the ocean and has been open to the public for tours.  A few people had been on the tour already, so they opted to explore the town.  The rest of us went on a very eye-opening and saddening hour-long tour.
We started off in a room called “The Room of No Return”. If any captive slaves were caught escaping, they would be put in there to die. Our tour guide was very good and had a lot of details for us to ponder. He shared that the men in the room would be chained together until they all died. So if the men beside you had died, you would be left there chained to them until the same fate claimed you as well. The bodies were then taken out by other captives to be thrown into the sea. This duty also served as a warning to the slaves as they disposed of their fellow Africans: this will happen to you as well if you try to escape.  I was struck by the cruelty and inhumane treatment that was deeply ingrained in the history of the castle.
 As we toured the upper level, we were shown a room that had been used as the church building for the British soldiers.  Directly outside the door was a trap door that dropped to the male slave dungeon below.  On Sundays, worship services and Scripture readings were held in that same room right above the hundreds suffering below.  Our tour guide commented that it was heaven above, hell below. “It is ironic” he said, “that the Word was preached to ‘love your neighbor’ right above those living through hell below.”
As the tour progressed, so did the sick feeling in our stomachs. You could almost feel the group grieving together.  Our guide shared about how women were brutally raped by the soldiers. If the women refused or fought back, they were taken to a punishment room (a cramped, 8’x4’ cell), chained to the wall, and then were starved and beaten until they submitted.  After these disturbing details, the guide ended our tour with a challenge.  He simply stated that slavery is still going on today in many different ways, most of which are illegal. We need to be aware of it and do our part to bring it to an end.
Heavy hearted, we left for our next stop for the day: the beach. We had much to consider as we drove the long distance to Kiki’s resort. We arrived and there it was…the ocean; crashing and powerful yet somehow cleansing and peaceful. I can’t speak for everyone but after such a sorrowful beginning to the day, the water washed away the sick feeling as well as allowed reflection. Swimming was delightful, though I quickly realized that salt water does not make a good mouth wash. =) We enjoyed a meal at the resort and packed up to leave.  After two hours on the road, we arrived back home at 9pm, which is the earliest we’ve returned.

I’ll end this update with the plaque inscribed at the Cape Coast slave castle, which definitely left an impression on our team.

-The Scribe

In Everlasting Memory
Of the anguish of our ancestors
May those who died rest in peace
May those who return find their roots
May humanity never again perpetrate
Such injustice against humanity
We, the living, vow to uphold this.