This is the second part to the interview with Dave Towner. See part one on the blog post from November 28th.
2P – How about the second trip? Did you go back with the same objectives or did you go with a new goal? Are you pretty pleased with how much you accomplished from the second mission?
Dave Towner: The projects were different, so of course the project-specific goals were different. However, in a broader sense, we had a completion milestone that we wanted to reach for each project. Most came together in the last day we were there – literally in the 11th hour (11pm) in one case! I’m learning that timetables and project deadlines are different in different cultures. The African culture does not put as much emphasis on these things, and my American view of the world is just one perspective. This is teaching me patience. As much as I would like to accomplish more in the small window of time we have in country, I need to be content with what we accomplish.
The other goal I had was to reconnect and deepen the relationships that I had begun on the first journey. I am very pleased with this aspect of the second journey.
2P – There is a particular story about some challenges that you faced, particularly on the Second
journey, when you purposed on setting up a little computer lab. Can you talk to how those challenges were taken care?
Dave Towner: We set up a computer lab consisting of 10 computer workstations in the library we had constructed the previous year. Acquiring equipment in rural Ghana is not like it is here in the US, so we encountered some roadblocks. Knowing it would be difficult, we purchased most of what we needed prior to the trip and distributed computer gear among all the journey members’ suitcases. We decided to purchase monitors and keyboards once in Ghana since it would be a challenge trying to travel with these. To make a long story short, I traveled into Cape Coast, a city located about 45 minutes from the library, every day I was in Ghana going shopping for monitors, keyboards, and other equipment. We ended up receiving most of the monitors at the end of the week. This was after we had already held our demonstration of the lab to the village elders, and it did not leave us with enough time to hold training sessions. As far as dealing with these challenges, we just had to learn patience. Things rarely go according to our plans and we have to be flexible.
2P – What has been the most beneficial part of your trips to Ghana – Would you say your personal relationships or the structures that you helped to build?
Dave Towner: I’ve been learning quite a bit about short-term missions and how they can be beneficial and detrimental to the people we are intending to help. The relationship aspect is vital to making a difference without causing harm. This ministry has put a significant focus on building relationships from the start, and I agree completely with this philosophy. Frankly, this is the component that was missing from all of my previous mission trips. I’m now invested in the lives of people I’ve met in Ghana, and that has by far been the most rewarding part of the journey.
2P – You are currently in-charge of planning future mission trips for 2P. What are some of the first thoughts that you plan on sharing with those who plan to be travelling to Ghana in 2018?
Dave Towner: The first thing I will say is that if you feel called to go, even if you have apprehensions, you need to be obedient and go. I didn’t know what God had in store for me, but He did! Even though I didn’t know how I would be able to contribute, He used me as part of His plan. I know there are others that have had similar experiences.
We are going to spend time prior to the journey learning about how to go into a different culture on a short-term mission without causing harm and broadening our awareness of poverty and poverty-alleviation issues.
As a ministry, we continue to learn about how to interact with and help those in need. This training will be very valuable in educating all of us so that our 2018 journeys are effective and positive experiences for all involved.