This is a guest blog post written by James Sloan. I don’t often take time out to reflect and to write so please bear with me. I hope that as you read this, as a friend of Becci and Eli you will identify with some of the emotions and echo with some of the sentiments. Most of all I hope you enjoy it and it gives you an insight into our family!
Growing up as a family we were privileged to travel all over the world and experience many different cultures. During our teens we spent time in deprived communities in Guyana and Uganda, supporting the work of New Hope, providing free healthcare through local churches in remote villages. Our parents allowed us to feel adventurous without ever feeling in danger. Since becoming a parent myself, my respect and appreciation for what they achieved with all 3 of us has grown significantly. I am hugely thankful to them for the way they raised us, whilst serving so many people in need, both at home and overseas. They are a true inspiration (and fantastic grandparents)!
With this upbringing it was inevitable that one of us would end up moving overseas! I felt immensely proud watching my big sister pack up her belongings and move to Ghana earlier this year. Selfishly I didn’t want her to leave, we’ve always been incredibly close and both her and Elikem had been great support during Theo’s first year. As much as we wanted to hold on to them, we waved them off through tears knowing that they were starting a new life together and entering into many unknowns, leaving many loved ones behind to serve the people God had called them to.
In the gospel of John, Jesus says “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV). In Becci and Elikem I see a couple who have given their lives to following Jesus and in that they have enjoyed life in all its fullness. Both individually and together they have brought joy to those around them, they have collected memories and experiences and shared them with such creativity we feel like we have journeyed with them. They have experienced heart ache and used it as a way to encourage and support others going through similar situations. I have so much respect for Elikem, taking on huge responsibility and continuing the work started by his father in providing the very best in healthcare. At the same time I admire Becci’s willingness to support her husband and embrace the unknown.
Needless to say we were excited to see them after 3 months apart, we were excited to see where they lived, where they worked, to experience a little slice of what life is like living in Accra. We were also intrigued to see how our 1 year old son, Theo would respond to his first taste of Africa, the sights, smells and of course the heat!
Seeing Theo’s face light up at the airport as he saw his auntie Becci through the crowd was a special moment for us, knowing that their close bond has remained through the many skype conversations and pointing at photos saying “Bec-ci” or “Cee-cee” as he preferred to say. It seemed no coincidence that whilst he was surrounded by family, passed from one member to the next he learned to say the word “cuddle” whilst holding his arms out towards the desired target or ‘cuddlee’. He had his very own house made from a cardboard box, aptly named ‘Theo’s Place’, it was a cosy play house which demonstrated the thought his loving auntie had put into every aspect of our arrival.
Adventure is defined as an exciting or unusual experience, participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises. It became clear to us that in Ghana these are daily occurrences! Whether it be torrential rain that causes everything to come to a standstill, buying mobile phone credit from a man dodging cars at the traffic lights or the unpredictability for the starting time of any meeting.
Becci has embraced the adventures of everyday life and for 2 weeks we were invited to join in with the fun, the laughs, the chaos and the frustrations. We met the people that she had talked about for weeks, saw how she had developed silly rituals with each of them in a way that only she can. We visited the places that had become her ‘locals’; the café, the shops, the swimming pool, the street fruit vendor. We ate the food that she had described many times; jollof rice, groundnut soup, mini crabs, ‘fufu’, plantain chips. For 2 weeks we were part of the adventure that Becci has embraced as home.
The highlight was celebrating my Mum’s 60th Birthday in a beautiful hotel on the Volta River. Elikem was able to join us and his sister Vako and mother Janet came along too. We were united as 2 families again for the first time since their wedding. We took a boat trip on the river, played and laughed by the pool, enjoyed live music and ate some fantastic Ghanaian food! It felt so much more than just a birthday celebration. We were also celebrating the ability that families have to grow, to adapt, to change, to relocate and to flourish. In many ways we were celebrating Becci and Elikem as 2 individuals raised on separate continents who have been able to intertwine their dreams, desires and passions together into one.
It was sad to say goodbye, as I’m sure it will be each time we see each other, whether it be in Liverpool or Accra. I miss Becci in a way that is hard to describe and sometimes hard to rationalise as she is only a ‘whats app’ message away. However, I came away feeling assured that I have a sister who passionately pursues life’s adventures, lighting up the lives of those she encounters along the way. She is an adventurer. She is my sister.