Monday, July 5, 2010

In Praise of Cousin Carolyn

Cousin Carolyn has come “home.” Carolyn Houts (b. 1942) arrived in Kansas City on July 3 for her “final stateside assignment” and then retirement. Carolyn, as I wrote previously, is my cousin, the one nearest my age on the Seat side of the family, and she is “home” from Ghana. (The picture on the right was taken shortly after she arrived at the Kansas City airport Saturday evening.)
For nearly thirty-four years, Ghana has been home for Carolyn, as she arrived that west African country as a missionary in January 1977. That is the reason I put home in quotation marks in the first paragraph. If she is anything like June and I were when we returned to the States after thirty-eight years in Japan, it will take quite some time before this country really seems like home again.
Carolyn was a music missionary, although she did a lot of other things as a member of the Ghana Baptist Mission. During the last few years she mostly taught church music courses at the Ghana Baptist Theological Seminary.
Carolyn majored in music education at Northwest Missouri State University and taught public school music for seven years before entering seminary at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She was appointed as a missionary to Ghana in 1976, and when she first got to that country she studied Twi, one of the local African languages.
Missionaries are sometimes criticized for being patronizing or agents of Western cultural imperialism. But early on, Carolyn began to learn to play traditional Ghanaian musical instruments, and she developed hymns and gospel songs in various local languages across Ghana. She is available for speaking engagements, which can include playing traditional musical instruments. For about a year she will live in Independence, and her telephone number is 816-254-8825.
More than anything else, I have been impressed through the years at Carolyn’s love for the Ghanaian people and the close relationships she formed with many. She has said, “I am single, but have many African friends who consider me like their mother or grandmother now . . . They now call me Auntie Amma as my Ghanaian name.”
A “Welcome Home” reception for Carolyn is planned for 3:00-5:00 Sunday afternoon, July 11, at the Park Hill Baptist Church in north Kansas City. Those of you who know Carolyn and are within driving distance are cordially invited to attend and to be a part of the group who gather to welcome and honor of Cousin Carolyn. (See for contact information for, or a map to, Park Hill Church.)


  1. We are certainly proud of Carolyn's contributions over the years in Ghana. We look forward to welcoming her back on Sunday!

  2. I am sure Carolyn will find her place back here. Music is a universal language, much like a smile, and there are several immigrants from Ghana here. But you are right, home is where the heart is, and being 3rd culture myself, I often think fondly of "home" - so will she.