Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Swimming lessons…


He said that when he came to Jesus, everything in his life changed.

He stopped drinking.  He went to mechanics school.  He learned to drive and he started a business driving others around Ghana.  Now he has other drivers working for him too.

He’s a leader in the church now.  He’s married and has one son that he has put through school.  He had another son that died, and when he tells us this I see the pain in his eyes.

He drives the treacherous Ghanaian roads with the skill of a Nascar driver, weaving in and out among the thousands of cars on the busy city streets, and dodging the potholes the size of ditches and disabled cars left abandoned, on roads winding through jungle and remote villages.

He looked out for us like a mother hen, especially my grandchildren.  He was strong, protective, funny, kind.



We stayed at an American hotel chain on the coast, and not far from the Accra airport, our last night in Ghana.

He said he didn’t know how to swim, as he watched our grandson and granddaughter paddling around like fishes, there in the deep end of the hotel pool.  He’d never been in a swimming pool, he said.  Evidently, this was the case with most of the Africans at the hotel.  It looked like segregation, them all in the shallow end, and us “obruni” the only ones in the deep end.


My son-in-law said he would teach him to swim.  He taught the grandkids before they were old enough to go to school.

When it was just us at the pool, he got in.  This strong African man had fear in his eyes.  My son-in-law tried to explain that he just needed to relax, that if you relax you will float, the water will hold you up.  His muscles stained and time and again his head went underwater as he flailed and fought.  He came up snorting water, grabbing his head for the burning pain of water in his sinuses.   Aloud he cried, “Father, help me.  I want to learn to swim!”  Long after my son-in-law got out of the pool, giving him a few simple things to continue to work on, he stayed there in the shallow end of the pool, straining, struggling, fighting the water.  Relaxing didn’t come naturally to him, and neither did giving up.

My eight year old granddaughter wouldn’t give up on him either.  She stayed right there with him, encouraging him, coaching him along.  That big, strong Ghanaian man laid all pride aside, and let this little eight year old girl help him.  It was one of the most tender, dearest things I’ve ever seen.






He didn’t figure it out, not his very first time ever in a swimming pool.  He told us he wants to find a way to get access to a swimming pool near home, somewhere that my son-in-law can work with him some more. 

Even now, remembering, my heart cries out,  “Father, help him!  He just wants to learn how to swim!”


Still following,



An addendum to the post above.  Just received this photo from Ghana.  The swimming lessons continue at a local pool at the university.  Here our dear friend gets a little confidence boost from a yellow inner tube.  Will you remember “K” in your prayers?



  1. The gift of swimming was one of the best gifts my mother ever gave me. She paid for seven years of lessons because she herself couldn't swim, and she was afraid I would drown.

  2. this is a very cool story...and i love how he let the kids teach him...and how gentle they were with him...smiles...i hope he learns....

  3. Oh my...this is so tenderly sweet...I love how you granddaughter just could not leave his side...oh yes...Lord give him this gift...such a reminder of how we take so many things for granted....thanks for this...blessings~

  4. Such a precious story. Fear keeps us from so much in our lives. It is good to see a strong man face his fear with grace. btw, your sil and granddaughter are blessings.

  5. What a great story! I hope he learns to swim!! How precious are your grandchildren in there with him, willing to help.

  6. oh, i hope he is able to have access to a pool so he can learn. what a gift, this tender connection, the way we look after each other and cover each other's weaknesses.

  7. So I had to let you know that you inspired me to get in that kitchen and cook a yummy sauce for dinner last night for our pasta. I left a comment that you inspired me to get in there and bake. Thank you for just inspiring. My daughter said mom this sauce is sooooo good. What more can a mom wish for in the everyday! I popped back over as I knew I would. Blessings.

  8. What a beautiful story.we take for granted sometimes of the little things in life, like being able to swim."if you relax you will float, the water will hold you up."This makes me think of Jesus, how we just have to let go of what is holding us back because Christ has the ability to hold us up.God bless this man and his family!

  9. Tender, tender story, one still in progress. He wouldn't relax, but he also didn't give up, so one day he'll see the key. Thanks for sharing this.

  10. oh i love this elizabeth. i love how he taught you so much, and in turn, you were able to help him overcome his fears. xo

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  12. What a moving story! Thank you so much for sharing it so beautifully.

    Sorry the above comment was from me signed in on a different account :)

  13. I can't believe I missed this earlier. I think that God must have been saving it for me for this morning for reasons left unsaid.

    I do not know when a post has stirred me any more than this one. I am abundantly blessed by having read it.

  14. Hello, I am visiting from imperfect prose. This is so beautiful. I am praying right now that he learns, and that God rewards your family for their loving kindness. Such a pleasure to visit here and know your heart for being the hands and feet of Jesus.

  15. This was a remarkable post, filled with grace and concrete examples of what it looks like to love. I echo your prayer--may God grant him this simple joy!

  16. I'm so glad you told me about the update. I will be honored to pray for him. His Father has wonderful plans for him. That, I know!

  17. Ah there is so much beauty in this post. Prayign for him to learn how to swim. Blessings.

  18. One of my favorite parts of this story is that he had no pride in asking for help ... and even in letting a child help him. I found myself praying for him, too ... praying that prayer with him: "Father, help!"


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