A Sunday Drive, Ghana-Style

[nb. This is a long post. If you just want pretty pictures, click the “More” link and jump to the end. But it’s a fun story, if you want to read the whole post.]



Last week, we took delivery of our new vehicle, a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado. Buying a vehicle in a foreign country, buying a new vehicle for the first time, and all that comes with that whole process, was a big deal. It’s done now, and we now get to start enjoying the freedom of having our own vehicle.

So, yesterday we decided to take a leisurely Sunday drive after lunch. We have spent a fair number of days in the heart of Accra, but had yet to leave the city, so we consulted the Google, and found a route that looked nice, that would take us about two hours altogether. The plan was to head north from our house, end up along the edge of a nature preserve, and then come home.

Well, we started out, and everything was going to plan. The road was pretty decent, the weather was good, and the traffic got less and less as we got further from the city. We actually got out into the countryside a bit, and had some nice time riding along looking at the forests and the mountains alongside us. Continue reading


Thank You, and Please Help

Ryan's installation by Bishop Fynn

Ryan’s installation by Bishop Fynn

Thank you to all of you who have faithfully included us in your prayers. Thank you to all who have welcomed us into your congregations, schools, and homes. Thank you to all who have given one-time gifts, and those who have made pledges of ongoing support. Thank you, because without all your support and encouragement, we would not be able to do the work that the Lord of the Church has called us and placed us here to do.

We are grateful to God for the support He has given us through the members of His Church in order to get us this far, and we trust in His fatherly, divine goodness and mercy to provide for all of our needs of body and soul.

However, as instruments of God’s goodness and mercy, we need your help.

As you can imagine, moving to a new country and setting up a new household is no small endeavour, neither personally nor financially. We are grateful for the provision that has allowed us to do this, but we also face the reality that these expenses have depleted a great deal of our position budget for this fiscal year. These expenses include:

  • Travel costs: Airfare, visas, immunizations, etc.
  • Rent: In Ghana, standard procedure is to pay two years’ rent up front at the start of the lease.
  • Appliances/Furnishings: Stove, refrigerator, generator, etc.
  • Family vehicle: It is extremely difficult to find a trustworthy used vehicle, so we have ordered a new vehicle to transport our family. Import costs add a fair bit to the cost of any vehicle here.

To be clear, all these such expenses have been covered by the funds already raised before we deployed. We thank you for helping to provide these gifts for us. However, that has significantly depleted our budget for the rest of the fiscal year. This is why we need your help.

As of the last report we received from St. Louis, we are 27% funded for Fiscal Year 2017, which ends 30 June 2017. The minimum expected funding is supposed to be 28% by this point, but a suggested comfortable margin would have us 53% funded by this point in the fiscal year.

How can you help?

  • If you would like us to Skype into a Bible Study, chapel service, or meeting, please contact us, and we can try to set it up.
  • If you have not yet given a gift to support the Lord’s work in Ghana, please prayerfully consider joining our network of partners in the Gospel.
  • If you have given a one-time gift, please prayerfully consider making a pledge to give a recurring gift, whether yearly, quarterly, or monthly.
  • If you have already pledged your ongoing support, please prayerfully consider whether you could make a special extra gift to help offset these large set-up expenses.

If you would like to support us financially, please visit lcms.org/mcdermott and click “Give Now”. You can also call the LCMS Donor Care line at 888-930-4438 and speak with someone who can help you over the phone. If you prefer to mail your gift, you can make checks payable to “The LCMS” and mark “McDermott – Ghana” in the memo line. Checks can be sent to:

The LCMS + PO Box 66861 + St. Louis, MO 63166-6861


Mission Central + 40718 Hwy E16 + Mapleton, IA 51034

Please also check out our YouTube channel for videos introducing us and our work, which you can feel free to show and share with those who might be interested.

Finally, please continue to keep us, and all our missionaries, in your prayers. We thank God for all your encouragement and support, and we enjoy hearing from you!

[update: Post edited 21 Oct 2016, to clarify a few points. We are not in danger of being sent home anytime soon.]

Welcome to Africa!

Disclaimer: The following post is not about the happy-go-lucky missionary life. Some things are hard. If you are troubled by this, please pray for us!

Last week was a whirlwind, in more ways than one! We conducted interviews with several candidates for housekeeper and for Twi language consultant/teacher. After a lot of work with the interviews and writing contracts, we have engaged a housegirl and also a Twi teacher.

But the major drama of last week was electrical in nature. Wednesday morning, the power went off. This is no major catastrophe here; it happens, and you manage.

However, the issue came that the voltage monitor on the house (which prevents excess voltage from coming and damaging our things) burned up and malfunctioned. Several visits from the electrician did not solve the problem, and we lived by running our generator twice a day from Wednesday morning til Friday night. Continue reading

The First Month

Akwaaba! Welcome to a peek into our first month of life in Ghana. So much has happened, that it is challenging to reduce it all into words, let alone digest it into a blog post that isn’t ten pages long. But here we are, and thanks for being on this journey with us.

We have discovered that many, many foods taste different here, and often better than in the USA. Fruits and veggies here have much more flavor. Here are some photos of foods we have experienced so far:

The plant life here is rich and varied, and there is always something new to see. Here are some of the beautiful and interesting plants we have seen around town:

Just as rich and varied as the plant life is the animal life. We have not ventured much out of the city, so we have not yet seen any large creatures, but here are some lizards and creepy-crawlies that we have seen here and there:

Personal updates:

  • We are bit by bit finding our routines with school and home life. Rhys and Eva are working hard to get in the rhythm of things, but are doing well so far. Joshua is doing amazingly well at beginning to potty train!
  • We have made several excursions out and about in our area to find out what food is available within walking distance. So far, we have found produce, wonderful bakery-fresh bread, and eggs.
  • Probably sometime next week we will begin the process of finding a vehicle for our family. The prospect of driving here, and of driving a manual transmission vehicle, is intimidating, but the prospect of either being isolated here or having to pay for taxis to get everywhere is less desirable.
  • Please pray that we will soon be able to engage a language helper to help us learn Twi, and also possibly a part-time housekeeper. With these helpers, we can start to work on developing the skills we will need to live and work in the local culture and community.


Five Things We Had to Come to Ghana to Get

Tonight will mark two weeks of us having arrived in Ghana. These past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, introductions, shopping, unpacking, and trying to get settled. We’re still not there yet, but we’re making progress.

A lot of things could be said about these past weeks, but for now I am writing about some things that have struck us as amusing. Hopefully this doesn’t sound too trivial, but it is fun for us to reflect like this.

Five things we had to come to ghana to get
  1. Stainless steel appliances. In our house in Iowa, we had white appliances, and we used to look at stainless steel in stores, and think about designing a kitchen, but it was just a pie-in-the-sky idea. Here, we have a stainless fridge and stove.
  2. A five-burner stove, with sealed burners. Not only is our stove (called a cooker here) nice and pretty stainless steel, it has five burners. And, even better, it has sealed burners! No more crud falling down into the nether regions under the surface!
  3. Matching furniture. Until we accepted this position, the furniture we have had was a hodge-podge of college acquisitions, rummage-sale specials, and hand-me-downs. In the downsizing process we divested most of those things. But now, our house here in Ghana is furnished with matching furniture – a living room, a dining room, and bedroom sets!
  4. Nice mobile phones. In the US, we have had mid-to-low-market cell phones. Well, here nobody has fixed-line telephone service, and many people use their mobiles as their primary internet device. As part of our compensation package, the LCMS provides us with an allowance for phones. So, following the advice of others who have been here and done their homework, we have much nicer phones than we could have rightly afforded in the US, and for cheaper.
  5. A wicker laundry hamper! This may sound silly to anyone else, but it’s a big deal to us! Since before we got married, Emily has been wanting a wicker laundry hamper, and for whatever reason, we have never had one. Well, on our first shopping trip in Accra, we stumbled upon a nice-looking set for a good price. So now, after long wait and 6,000mi/9,600km move, she finally has her hamper!

Of course, there are plenty of things we don’t have here that we did have in the US, but that is another post for another day. We are still working on getting the house set up and in photo-worthy order, so keep watching for pictures of our new house. Thanks for all the prayers and encouragement to get us to this point!

Green Light!

green light

We received not one, but two emails this morning informing us that we have officially received the “Green Light” to proceed toward deployment to Ghana!

As you probably already know, we received word that our scheduled deployment date is 10 August. That is still the plan. What happens now is that we can go ahead with securing tickets and filing visa applications, and all the myriad other details that have to be ironed out before we leave the USA.

If you want us to come visit you, or you want to visit us, before we leave, please contact us sooner rather than later. The summer’s itinerary is set in broad strokes right now, but we can work with you to see how much we can do.

Thank you to all those who have been supporting us with your prayers, encouragement, advice, and financial gifts! We will continue to need all those things, as we finish up classes here at GIAL, travel around the country, continue building our support network, and get done what needs done before deployment.

Languages on the Brain

This term, we are taking a course called “Second Language And Culture Acquisition”. Yesterday afternoon was our first language-lab session, and we are in a group learning the Ngambai language from southern Chad. The curious wrinkle in our learning process is that our native speaking Language Consultant does not speak much English, so we have a French-speaking Staff Consultant to help facilitate the group sessions.

As we were going through the activities and exercises in our lab session, the SC was communicating with our LC in French. Even though we were there to learn Ngambai, I (Ryan) found myself unconsciously paying attention to the exchanges in French, as much as the Ngambai. It was surprising to find that I could figure out most of what was being said in French, although I could not have produced the dialogue myself.

Emily says that she also found herself listening to the French, because she has had previous exposure to Romance languages. However, she had to consciously tune it out, because we are there to learn Ngambai and not French.

It is a mind-bender to be working in two foreign languages at once, especially ones as different as French and Ngambai. Recalling vocabulary and structures will be a fun exercise. We have joked with our colleagues in Francophone Africa that maybe God is preparing us for another bend in our road – who knows!

“Rejoicing in the fellowship of all the saints”

As you may have seen on our Facebook page, our friend and fellow missionary, Pr. Jacob Gaugert, departs from Dallas today. We will miss his presence here, but we pray for his safe travels and fruitful journeys, as he makes his way eventually back to his home in Togo.

In the last few weeks, I have been wrestling with a sense of being “left behind”. On one hand, we have left a lot of things and people behind on our journey thus far. On the other hand, many of those with whom we entered this process are already in their respective fields of service, while we are still stateside in training. This makes for a certain sense of isolation.

However, in the past few days a petition from the Litany in the liturgy of Evening Prayer keeps coming to my mind, and has shaped my prayers lately: “Rejoicing in the fellowship of all the saints, let us commend ourselves, one another, and our whole lives to Christ our Lord.”

This is a great comfort to me. I can’t stop the progress of time, or control the journeys of others, or myself right now, but I can rejoice in the fellowship of the saints, and I can commend myself and others to the loving care and gracious protection of our Lord. Flowing from this thought, I can rejoice in the liturgies, hymns, prayers, and Sacraments of the Church, knowing that these things bind me to those who are physically separated from me, since these all flow from and back to our one Lord Christ.

So, while I miss those who are not with us in the flesh, I rejoice in their fellowship in the Church of God. And I rejoice in the fellowship of all those faithful people who are praying for, encouraging, and supporting us along our journey. Finally, and most importantly, I rejoice in the grace of God given in Christ, which binds us all together.

And I once again ask for your prayers, as we persevere through the next few months of classes in preparation for service in Ghana. Oh, and if anyone wants to come visit us here in Dallas, you are welcome!

A Lesson about Planning

A fellow missionary was visiting recently, and I asked him what it is about missionary culture and thinking that makes it okay to tell people to run headlong toward the mission field without knowing basic things like what your job description is or where you and your family are going to live. That led us into a discussion where this friend described how he has come to view life on the mission field. His thinking went something like this:

I get up in the morning, have my breakfast, then have coffee and read my devotions while I listen to the birds. Then I go through the day, getting done what I can. At the end of the day, I do not dwell on what I did not get done, but on what the Lord was able to do despite the changes and challenges of the day.. Because sometimes you have no control over what you can or cannot get done.

That is not a direct quote, but a summary of the conversation.

The interesting thing, I reflected later, was the lesson this friend taught me, not only with his words, but with his presence in my home. I had been about to work on a project when he came to collect something from me. Then I invited him in for a chat. Then we started chatting. Soon, it was time for him to go home and me to go to bed. I had not touched my project, but I had learned an important lesson with respect to our future life on the field, and we had enhanced our relationship by that visiting time. I had failed to accomplish any work on my project, which would only have benefitted me; I had succeeded in enriched this friendship.

Thank God for friends whom He sends to us at such unexpected times to teach us such invaluable lessons! May God enrich each one of us with godly friends to be an encouragement and support, to comfort and to rejoice with us!

“What are you doing here?”

“What are you doing here?” is the question we have gotten over and over again since arriving in Dallas last week. Want the answer to this question? Click to download our latest newsletter, McDermott January 2016 , and you can find out.

The short answer: we are taking classes as part of our pre-deployment preparations. We will be in Dallas until the end of May.

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