Walking through the airport on the return trip from Ghana in April, Loralee Wiebe of Durham was the recipient of some confused glances.
Her 19-month-old son Caleb had become fussy, so she carried him in a brightly colored sling on her back. She thinks nobody had seen a white woman carrying a child like that before.
She demonstrated the sling for a visitor Friday evening, and it was an unusual sight — she was wearing her traditional long, earth-tone dress with her hair tucked into a small black cap, and Caleb was riding on her back in a bright green-patterned sling.
Caleb was born in the west African nation while Loralee and husband Wayne were there on a 33-month mission for the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite.
They were in the town of Kyekyewere, which means “comfort.” The town, which Wayne estimated to be about the size of Hillsboro, is located in central Ghana.
When they decided they wanted to go on a mission, the Wiebes informed their church’s mission board. The mission board chose Ghana as their destination.
In Ghana, Wayne was pastor of the mission’s congregation. Attendance averaged about 30 each Sunday, he said. He also worked repairing hand-pump wells, which were the primary source of water in Kyekyewere. Loralee homeschooled their children, 7-year-old Ross and 5-year-old Landon.
Ghana was hot year round and usually wet. There was a dry season that lasted about three months, when winds would blow dust from the Sahara Desert. Loralee said it was especially noticeable when cleaning the house.
During the wet season, temperatures usually were around 80 degrees, sometimes in the 90s, with about 80 percent humidity.
The Wiebes said they thought their time in Ghana did more for them than the people of Ghana.
“I don’t know that we did so much, but we learned a lot,” Loralee said. “We learned to really know and love the people there,” to bring them the Gospel without trying to change their culture.
They learned to be flexible about time, because people in Ghana don’t give as much consideration to time as Americans do.
“They would even joke about ‘Africa time,’” Loralee said.
The Wiebes returned to Kansas April 29. It is taking some time for the children to readjust to Kansas, especially Caleb. The mission had a watchman who would baby-sit Caleb and carry him to the market.
“I think he misses him,” Loralee said.