You and Me, We Eat Bananas Together

Life here has been extremely busy. Time is flying by, and we are down to counting our days here instead of weeks. Although we get a different answer every time we ask, we are headed into the dry season and the weather has begun to reflect that: not a moment goes by where we are as close to a fan as we can get!

As the days wind down, I think all three of us are busy cherishing every moment we have here. Although my kids drive me up the walls most days and I head home exhausted, I am trying to recognize that the most important lesson I can leave them with is to love one another. My prayer is to see them as Jesus sees them … and so for every time I have to shout at the kids to climb down off the table, or out of the cupboards, or put them on time out for the millionth time that day, I try to always hug them and listen to their stories (or what I can make out from their broken English!) just as many times or even more. I try to take the time in the afternoon before they leave, no matter how tired I am, to laugh at their crazy antics and cuddle them close.

Victor

Roberta

Kingsley showing me five fingers.

This past weekend on Saturday we had the opportunity to travel to Akusua nearby to an orphanage. Kylie and Lauren had visited a couple times before, and Lesley and I had visited once earlier in September. We knew it would be our last visit, so we brought what we could find here as gifts for them, and picked up some biscuits along the way. It was overwhelming to see their beautiful smiles as we walked in through the gate, and we spent as much of our energy pouring into them as we could. We read to them, wrestled with them, took pictures with them, and watched movies with them. They were beautiful. I was mesmerized by their kindness to each other and to us, and even moreso by their desperate desire to be loved by us.

I went to go put on my shoes, and Ama ran over to help me.
Being served in such a way was so strange but absolutely beautiful!
Nail polish!

We left our mark.
Lipstick anyone?

At the end of the day, there was one boy, Yow, who had found his way into the living room with us where the daughter of the owner of the orphanage had served us some nuts and bananas. The kids don’t seem to get a lot of food, and aren’t allowed to ask us for any of the food they give us while we’re there. But as soon as the daughter left, Yow turned to me, pointed to the bananas and asked if he could have one. Lauren watched the door for the daughter while he ate the two bananas that were left. As we said our goodbyes, and Yow cuddled into my arms, he looked up at me, with a big grin on his face and said, “You and me: we eat bananas together.” It was hard to think that that would be the only time we’d eat bananas together.

Since pictures speak louder than words sometimes, here are some more from the orphanage.

Much love to you all,

Angie

All the Places Your Hands Have Been

Sometimes it’s easy to sink into the thoughts, the dark ones that belittle the beauty you hold, that minimize the worth that has been placed upon you, the thoughts that tell you that the love you share is so little in comparison to what you should be sharing.

It’s really easy to believe those thoughts. It’s really easy to take them, to hold them close, even though there is a small Voice deep within your heart that is fighting to remind you that they aren’t truth, begging you to cast them aside. But still you don’t.

And then a complete stranger’s words, a whisper of His grace, offer a gentle reminder.

Take out a piece of paper and write it down.All The Places Your Hands Have Been.The letters they’ve written. The wrists they’ve touched. The wounds they’ve bandaged. The children they’ve held. The stories they’ve grasped in their Tiny Palms. 

And marvel … just marvel at the good Two Hands can bring to a world in need.

And so in that moment, that’s what I do.

I think about the hand I held this morning when a student came with pain in her eyes and showed me her swollen knuckle where she was beaten that morning.

I think about the moments where I grasped an imaginary ball and played toss with my students.


I think about the rebellious student that I pulled onto my lap, ignoring her disobedience and teaching her how to give ‘air kisses’ instead.

I think about my hands as they pulled loose my new braids, allowing them to dance as little children’s hands found their way in between the numerous strands to play and pull and twist and tuck.

All it takes is two hands. Two hands. To bring just a little bit of good in this world.

Hands intertwined.
So my challenge to you is to take that moment today or any moment you feel discouraged, down on yourself, like you aren’t enough and just write. Write what your two hands have done. Write about all the places your hands have been. Who’s hands have they grasped? Who’s tears have they wiped away? What prayers have been lifted up as you’ve folded your hands in your lap?

And then just take a moment to marvel. Marvel at the good two hands can bring to a world in need.

With Tattoos Across her Hands

She held out her hands to me, the new gold bangles sliding down her narrow arms. Her eyes twinkled as she grinned at the sight of me, and it amazes me that a child can capture your heart so easily. With one smile I wanted to take her into my arms and cuddle her closely.

Her hands reached up to mine, and she grasped my hand tightly in a greeting. It’s then that I noticed her hands, the black henna dancing across the soft brown of her skin. It curled and it wound; it twirled and it curved, delicate flowers and dots making their way across her fingers down to the nails. Her tiny hands lost themselves in my large ones, the patterns all but disappearing. She got up to hug me, and I noticed her feet as they slipped out from underneath the desk. Henna too decorated the sides of her feet, and it seemed to prance as her feet moved closer to mine.

Saturday marked the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha, the celebration of Abraham offering his son (whom they believe to be Ishmael) as a sacrifice to God. Locals described it to us as the Muslim Christmas, and when I sat on the roof Saturday afternoon, I could hear the celebrations from across the town. It’s so easy to forget that the Muslims students we have in our class are, in fact, Muslims. Sometimes their eyes are lined with thick eyeliner, but other days they blend in with the class, closing their eyes during morning prayer and offering no reminder they serve a very different God than we do.

Until her hands closed around mine, the black henna and gold bangles a stark reminder of who she was and who she most likely always would be. It reminded me of what her life ahead would hold: a lifetime filled with symbolic washing; a lifetime filled with submitting to her husband in silence and reverence. It reminded me that as soon as she leaves school and is back home a headcovering is placed over her hair, and her beauty is cloaked behind fabric and religion.

Beautiful Mardiatu

And my heart cracks a little, for in my mind dances who she could be. I see her smile grinning with the love of a Jesus she talks to all day; I see her beautiful hair and face reflecting a Creator, no longer hidden behind a headcovering. I see her choosing her path in life, making decisions based on dreams planted firmly in her heart. And even farther still, I can see her dancing across the clouds when she’s finally called home, the beautiful creation she is with her tattooed hands reaching high above in worship to her Creator.

Because all I see when I look at her, when I see her tattoos across her hands, is beauty and so much potential. And I cling to the hope and pray that someday she will become what she was always created to be, with beautiful tattoos across her hands.

A Week in Northern Ghana

The mud huts we saw along our way up north.

 The sun beats down on our pale skin, making its mark quickly and efficiently as our pale skin deepens in colour. We are exhausted, hours away from our African home, yet enthralled by the beauty we have found around us. Northern Ghana is very different than the southern half; tin houses are replaced with mud homes covered by thatched roofs, and the sounds of churches worshipping down the hill have been replaced by the Muslim call to worship. Instead of palm trees and hills there are huge canopy trees in the middle of corn fields, and although our skin prevents us from ever blending into the crowd fully, we are less noticed and shouts of ‘Obruni’s!’ are few and far between.

These were some of my thoughts as we travelled up North this past week. We found ourselves transported into another world after eighteen hours of travelling over two days. We were exhausted when we finally arrived at Mole National Park, but even in our tired state we were filled with excitement as we pulled into the Park and were greeted by leaping antelopes and scruffy warthogs. We definitely weren’t in Asamankese anymore!

Warthogs and antelope!
So excited to go on our safari!
The road that goes to the end of the world (not really, but one can imagine!)
Loving the beautiful drive!
A monkey hiding in the tree.

We spent a few days at the park lounging by the pool, getting sunburned even in the shade, and chatting with tourists we met in the hotel. Our days were marked with baboons travelling up to our tables; monkeys swinging from trees; and warthogs ambling through the grounds and dirt roads. At night, we could walk out of our front door and cloaked in darkness, antelope would peek up at the sound of the door, but quickly return to their search for a midnight snack. We took a safari one afternoon and drove through the bush in search of animals, and although we weren’t lucky enough to see the elusive elephants, we were graced with visits from various birds, antelope, bushbuck and waterbuck, and more monkeys and baboons. However, the elephants were kind enough to leave giant droppings and large footprints to remind us that they were hiding somewhere out in the wilderness! To conclude our safari, we saw a baboon running away from our car with its baby wrapped around its stomach!

The baboon dancing in the branches at dusk.
It’s hard to see, but there’s a baby wrapped around her stomach!

After two full days at the Park, we boarded a bus at 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning to head to our next destination, Bolgatanga, and from there to a place called Sirigu. It took about four hours, and if it was even possible, the land seemed to get flatter and drier as we travelled farther north. Once we arrived in Bolgatanga, we bartered with a taxi driver to get a ride out to Sirigu. Our hotel, called SWOPA (look it up – amazing place!) was filled with huts painted with bright African murals. We seemed to literally be in the African countryside, and what made it even more amazing was the fact that we could climb up steps to our flat roofs to lay under the half moon and starry sky! There was a courtyard between all of the huts where we were served our meals, lit up by lantern lights hung in the trees. SWOPA is an organization that provides a place for women in the community to make pottery and paintings, and although they offer lessons in their techniques, they also sell their wares for incredibly cheap prices. I bought four pieces of pottery to bring home and it was only 15 cedis ($7.50!). While we stayed at SWOPA for two nights, we spent time sleeping, reading, laying on the roof.

Some of the awesome buildings at SWOPA.

Thursday, our last day there, we hired a driver to take us to Paga. Paga is so far north that it isn’t much farther before you reach the Burkina Faso border. In Paga, there is a sacred crocodile pond. Here live about 200 crocodiles, and the crocodiles are apparently so tame that the local children swim in the pond! A guide took us out to the bond, holding an offering to the crocodiles of a live chicken. Everyone began calling out the crocodiles, and soon we saw a small croc swimming through the water before ambling out onto the shores. We each took turns holding its tail, but because it was so small we couldn’t sit on it, instead squatting overtop of it for pictures. After we were finished, the croc moved closer to our guide, as if expecting its reward of the live chicken. Our guide tossed it to the croc, and in seconds the feathers and body had disappeared into the croc’s stomach.

Touching the crocodile at Paga!

Afterwards our driver took us to a slave camp, where we were taken through fields to see the places in which slaves had been kept in captivity for years. We were shown rocks in which bowls were hewn out for them to eat out of; the field which they were forced to dance and entertain their captors was eerily empty and it was as if you could see their bodies lithely moving in the fields of grass. We wandered the paths which the slaves would have been forced to take, and it was amazing that such beauty could reside in such a place where unthinkable horrors had taken place. Pictures that I took don’t even seem to do it justice.

Bowls hewn out of the stone that slaves were forced to eat from. It was survival of the fittest; if you didn’t grab food first, you wouldn’t eat at all.

After we were finished our tour, we headed back to SWOPA to rest for the long day of travel we were going to have the next morning. We were prepared to leave at 5 am, but in typical fashion our taxi driver arrived late, and then of course got a flat tire. We still managed to catch our bus, however, and made it to Kumasi late Friday afternoon. We spent the night there in a little hotel with an incredibly helpful receptionist named Earnest, and then travelled the last four hours to Asamankese yesterday. We’ve spent the rest of the weekend so far ‘recuperating’ from our vacation. It’s amazing how travelling hours and hours by buses can exhaust you so!

Beautiful fields at the slave camp.

All in all we had a great week away. We learned so much: we were continually reminded to trust God for travelling mercies, and God continually blessed us by bringing people into our lives at exactly the moment we needed direction or help. We a lot of time just resting; spiritually, emotionally, mentally that  was so needed. I am so blessed by Kylie and Lauren and the way that they encourage me, draw out gifts and remind me of things about myself I never knew were there. We had a great time away, but are so thankful to be back safe and sound and are bracing ourselves for the busy weeks ahead before we all head home.

Love to you all back home,

Angie

A little bit of everything

Tomorrow marks exactly ten weeks of being on African soil. At times it has seemed to pass by slowly; and other days, it passes like the wind, and I fear before I know it I will be stepping out of the airplane into the brisk, cool winter air.

Concentration during a test! Look at those eyes!

School is keeping me busy and on my toes! Last weekend I spent quite a few hours marking midterm reports for my students. Since it’s something I have never done before, I jokingly remarked to Kylie and Lauren that I felt like I was twelve again playing teacher! But I spent a lot of time going through the kids’ marks and really trying to look for not just negatives but positives about each student too. As difficult as it is to sometimes teach, these kids are beautiful creations in all of their crazy-ness. I find myself caught up in the little moments of the day, like when one student, Mardiatu, always somehow finds herself in my office, asking if she can have her examinations today (because that means of course, a sticker!). Or when I, exhausted by two students who would just not stop wrestling, grabbed both of them and playfully joined in, and then the whole class noticed madame on the floor, and all of a sudden we had twenty students and a teacher in a pile up! Or the moments I am in awe of a few of my students’ eagerness to help clean up the books, or wipe off the white board, or sweep after lunch. Even amidst a crazy class I find rest in these moments, and I am acutely aware that when we have eyes to see, we can see God anywhere.

One day the girls and I decided to dance in the rain with the kids.

Saturday night we took a break and invited two of the ladies we work with at the school, Rytha and Dora, and Belinda to join the three of us girls out for supper at the one restaurant in town, First Stop. It marked a very important night for us in recognizing a Ghanian custom, that when you invite someone out for dinner, you are expected to pay! Luckily between the three of us we had just enough cash to cover the bill and our taxi ride! But even despite that awkwardness, we had a great time, got to have some Western food, and dance to some African music. I am in awe that everyone here has some sort of ability to dance – I wish it was that easy for me! 🙂 But it was still a lot of fun.

Right now I am sitting outside, under a beautiful night sky, and the crickets are chirping loudly. Just moments ago a church service was loudly announcing its presence to the community, with prayers and songs and cheers being heard for the past few hours. It is never quiet here. Although there are times when I long for the quietness of home, the sounds and noises have become familiar and almost comforting here. You are always reminded that you are never alone, the community around you a constant presence.

Ghana has been a place where I have learned so much in the short time that I have been here, and my heart swells with the stories I have heard and the smiles that I have felt touch deep within me. I am amazed at the laughter that we share in our small little home even amidst times of homesickness. I’ve fallen in love with our rooftop that overlooks Asamankese, where I have gathered in my batik fabric (the only ‘blanket’ here in Africa I suppose) with my Bible and journal in my lap, and found that God doesn’t just listen when we pray, but He loves to talk with us, too. And how, when we come to know God, He never restricts us, but shapes us more into the person we were always meant to be (and isn’t that flipping amazing?!).

Well, it is getting late here for this exhausted Kindergarten teacher, so I must head to bed soon. But know that I miss and love you all and you are all in my thoughts tonight.

With love,
Angie

Happy Thanksgiving & Other News!

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

In some ways it is so hard to believe it is Thanksgiving, and we are creeping slowly towards the middle of October! It was a tough weekend to be away from home, and I’ve felt a bit homesick for the past few days, but we managed to celebrate all the way here in Ghana. Saturday we spent the afternoon visiting the largest tree in western Africa, and although it might seem like a silly thing to visit, it was quite spectacular! It was about a 40 minute drive from here, and so we hired a taxi to take us there. The tree was huge! We spent probably about an hour wandering around it, visiting with other tourists and Ghanaians who had stopped to see the sight. At the foot of the tree was a giant shrine where people left things and made a wish; Kylie left a pesua, Lauren left a euro, and I left a Canadian quarter 🙂 I can’t tell you what I wished for though, just in case it doesn’t come true! 🙂

And then, Kylie being the adventurous one, convinced Lauren and I to go walk through a trail with our taxi driver in the woods/jungle/whatever you call places filled with trees here in Ghana. It was a short walk but it was really amazing, because the forest was incredibly different than home – different trees, vines, plants, unidentifiable fruit. We had a fun adventure. And then the adventure continued when I went home, collapsed into bed for a nap, and woke up to a lizard crawling across my chest. To say I was scarred is an understatement and I may still check under the beds to make sure he’s gone before I slip into bed at night … maybe 🙂

Sunday marked our actual Thanksgiving celebration. Mary’s mom was amazingly gracious and sent us a Thanksgiving meal from Accra! We had turkey, mincemeat patties, veggies, and a sweet rice for our meal. I decorated the table with construction paper leaves and we went around the table and did our thankful lists. Auntie Jo and Belinda joined us, which was wonderful to celebrate a Canadian holiday with them!

Things are busy here with school, as the two kids we suspended are back in the class. Parent teacher interviews are next week Friday, so I am busy figuring out marking and report cards.

And this leads me to my biggest announcement: although my original plans were to stay here for the full school year, after a lot of prayer and discussion with everyone in charge of my internship I will be coming home in December after the first semester is finished. I love being here in Ghana; but I am not prepared to be a teacher without any formal training. Being a kindergarten teacher, to a class of 33 students, who speak very little English, is incredibly hard. I’m doing my best but I know that a teacher with experience and training is what this class needs, and so I am learning that there is strength in knowing our limitations and understanding that Plan B’s are not always a bad thing.

Anyways, I am looking forward to what these next two months bring and I am excited for whatever adventures I may find myself in. I am learning so much and blessed to be here, whatever the timeframe that may be.

Love to you all! Happy thanksgiving!

Angie

The Strange Thing

Thursday morning I travelled to Kofuridua to get my Visa updated. I needed to meet Kujo at the lorry station for six a.m., so I taxied there in the cool morning air. I found the Kofuridua tro-tro’s with ease, as it was the second visit in one week to get things with my Visa sorted out. I sat down to wait on a bench for Kujo (oh Africa time!) and watched the chickens fluttering around, as they so often do everywhere you go. They are so much prettier here, with bright reds and oranges and sometimes even flecks of green. They love to prance around, with little chicks flocking behind them. To the side of the lorry station I watched as shopkeepers opened up for another soon-to-be busy market day, and as I got lost in my still tired mind, I heard a woman’s voice close to my shoulder.

“One cedi,” she insisted. “One cedi.” I looked to her, unsure of what she was trying to sell, but when I saw nothing in her hands, I shook my head. “Pacho.” She was insistent, offering her ‘please’ in Twi. “Pacho.” I shook my head again, and with a hesitation, she turned away, already briskly walking towards someone else to ask for money. I watched her, seeing it happen again and again, her boldness growing. She would walk up to men, poke their shoulders, and beg for money. In response they would yell, sometimes pushing her away, and I even saw one of the ticket sellers grab a ruler and threaten to hit her unless she left.

What struck me were my thoughts. Being a foreigner and a white traveller has made my defenses rise; I instantly hate the assumption that because I am white and different I am incredibly wealthy. So it makes me draw back, and not give at all. Which isn’t good. And I wrestled with that as I watched her move from person to person, begging.

That could have been me. It could have been me begging for money, so lost and anxious that I was driven to beg complete strangers for money. And I know she could have been asking to feed a habit, I know that. But she could have also been asking because she was hungry.

And so I sat on that bench and I wrestled. I wanted to go find her once she left and give her something to eat; I wanted to offer her a hand and let her know that someone cared.

But instead I worried what others would think; I worried what others would think when the obruni, who is already strange to begin with, chased after the beggar to offer her a few cedis. And in the end, those thoughts won, and when our tro-tro finally left the station and I saw her wandering between the tro-tros, my heart hurt.

Because I should have done what Jesus would have done. I should have run after her, and I should have given her a hug. I should have given her something to drink, something to eat, because even though others would have thought is strange, sometimes the strange thing is the right thing.

And so even though I know that now, I still am haunted by her voice and her face and I pray that God would bring her back into my path so that I might have the chance again.

To do the strange thing. To do the right thing.

On Being the Bad Guy

She sits across me in my tiny office, her slender frame settled in on the flimsy green chair. Around her back, swaddled in cloth, rests a tiny baby, quiet. Her dark hair is pulled back, and her eyes are thick with eyeliner that I’ve noticed most Muslims here wear.

Beside her on the floor rests a little boy, one of my students. He has most recently taken a black crayon and scribbled across the floor, quite proudly I might add, as he awaited his mother’s arrival. He was sent to my office as the last straw, the final result in a string of time outs and shouting and reprimands of “Say you’re sorry!” He is a boy who leaves us exhausted every day, tired of not seeing any change in his behaviour. So the warning was made to him, and after it was repeatedly broken, a phone home was placed with an explanation of his suspension.

And so here I find myself, across the desk from his mom, who only later I would find out took that position after his biological mom left. Her eyes are sad, and I feel my heart break and voice waver as I explain to her his behaviour. I look to Rita, our teaching assistant, to explain what my English cannot, and afterwards his mom turns back to me, that familiar defeat in her eyes.

I try to find words to convey that he’s not a lost cause, even though the defeat in her eyes surely has convinced her of that. I think of the moments where he hugs me at the end of the day, the rare occurences where he jumps in his seat anxious to offer an answer to a question I’ve posed. “He has so much potential!” I offer feebly. “I know inside of him there’s a beautiful boy that’s waiting to emerge.”

She nods as she smiles and thanks me, reaching down for her son’s hand. And my heart breaks as I watch them walk away, wishing I could have done more, wishing that a warning had sunk into his heart or a time out had made a simple impression on his behaviour. My heart hurt as I wished I hadn’t seen her despair and defeat in her eyes; wishing, wishing, wishing.

I take a deep breath. Sometimes it sucks to be the bad guy.

It’s the Little Things

This past Thursday Lesley and I got a little surprise. We found out, unbenkownst to either of us Canadians, that Friday was a public holiday, and consequently we weren’t having school that day. It was a great surprise because we had planned to travel away that weekend to Lake Volta region. Mary’s friend Becky offered us a place to stay, and so we jumped at the chance. Sadly Lauren and Kylie had to stay behind because we’ve adopted two (now one) puppies that were abandoned by their dying mother. They’ve been busy around the clock feeding, pooping, and cleaning the little guys. Sadly, on Sunday one passed away, but the remaining one is going strong! And she opened her eyes for the first time yesterday, which was incredibly exciting! 🙂

So anyways, Friday morning Les and I boarded a tro-tro from Asamankese towards Akosombo. We were told it would be two tro-tros to get there, which didn’t seem bad, but it ended up being three. We arrived in Kofuridua at the lorry station to transfer to another tro, had the worst bathroom experience of life (I took pictures – will never complain about bathrooms back home again), then arrived in a place called Boyng but spelled Kpong. A local was very helpful in flagging down another tro-tro to take us straight to Akosombo, and 15 minutes later we arrived at Becky’s work, the local hospital.

We received a tour of the hospital from one of the nurses who works under Becky (she is the Director of Health Services in Volta Region) named Grace. She was incredibly friendly and excited, and loved showing us around and introducing us to all the patients and workers! It was very different than hospitals back home; a lot older, but still well-maintained. Each wing was separated into separate buildings, and oh the beauty – there was grass! It was lovely.

After our tour, Becky picked us up to take us into Akosombo. The area was incredibly different than where we’ve been so far. The terrain reminded me of Quebec – beautiful rolling hills and lakes and full of vegetation. It was also much cleaner than everywhere we’ve been, and the roads were well maintained (paved! with guardrails!). Becky’s community in which she lived was gated and the houses were all similar to ours with beautiful grass lawns! I am not quite sure why I’ve missed grass lawns so much, but I have and so it was wonderful to feel at home there.

Anyways, Becky, being the director of health services, holds a prominent position in the community. She arranged for a private tour of the Volta Lake dam, the dam which previously provided all of Ghana’s electricity (now there are some thermal plants as well). It was a bit over my head, all of the mechanics of it, but it was really cool to get to go under the river and see the huge turbines, to get to drive and walk across the dam (it’s SO BIG!), and hear about how Hydro Ontario (woop woop!) provided all of the training for the workers there. You have to love every connection to home!

After Becky picked us up, we headed home for a lazy night in. We had a lovely homemade dinner, and then vegged in front of our first TV we’d seen in almost two months. It was wonderful! And to top it all off, I got to have a hot bath. Yes. You don’t need to remind me that I am in Africa, where it’s over 30 degrees every day without the humidex – I love hot baths. It was a huge huge treat! I think Becky must have been amused at my enthusiasm, because she told me, “Angie, if you want you can have a bath here three times a day!” (Don’t worry, I didn’t … or maybe I did … hehe, just kidding!)

Saturday was a busy day for not only us, but Becky as well! Because of her position in the community, she had two events that she had to be at, and so we went along. The first was at the Catholic church. It was a huge celebration for the 51st anniversary of those killed while building the Volta dam. There was fundraising, and unveiling of a memorial, lots of speeches, and of course, dancing. It was interesting – but so incredibly long (and eventually boring) as it lasted for over four hours. But in the end, the wait was worth it – because as Becky’s guests, we got to accompany her and other dignitaries to the fancy Volta Hotel and have lunch. We dined with the ambassador from Italy, the man who designed the dam, a right-hand man to the president of Ghana, tribal chiefs, and other people I can’t quite remember the title of. It was really cool – and the food was great too! Not to mention the views of the hills and dam were spectacular. We took a lot of pictures!

After lunch finished, we made our way to Becky’s next event, which was an olympics-like event called the Volta Lake utility games. Basically it is a bunch of energey companies who compete in events like football (soccer), volleyball, tennis, and of all things, musical chairs. Which is the event we took in when we arrived. Let me tell you, it is incredibly amusing to see grown men arguing over the rules of musical chairs! So after viewing a few matches, getting drawn up into the dance floor in front of a huge crowd (there are videos which will remain tucked away on my computer – so embarassing!), we headed home for a quiet evening.

Sunday we headed home by tro-tro, and got to have a special dinner to commemorate Lesley’s leaving. Belinda made us fufu. It is basically plaintain and cassava ground together into a dough, and then shaped into a ball and put into a bowl of soup. You are supposed to use your hands to scoop the dough and soup into your mouth, but if you guessed I used a spoon, then of course you are right! 🙂 It was delicious though!

Yesterday marked our first day without Lesley here. She spent yesterday and today in Accra, and flies out tonight. I have loved having her here and she will be greatly missed, but I am excited for her to go home and be with her family once again! She has taught me a lot – not just about students and school, but about life in general and I’ve been very blessed to have her here.

I am busy teaching on my own this week. I taught alone last week, but Les was always nearby if I needed help. I’ll definitely share more about how teaching is going, but his blog is long enough, so I will write about teaching later on this week!

Miss you all back home! I hear it is getting colder, but here it seems to be getting hotter and hotter and it remains an impossible challenge to dress without feeling like you’ve enveloped yourself in a sauna! Very thankful for fans and of course our favorite fandangos.

Love to you all,

Angie

Life Lessons in Ghana

1. I can understand the point of rain dances now. Seriously. We have gone without rain for days now, I hadn’t showered since Friday, and when the rain drops started pouring on the tin roof of the school, I literally made all the kids follow me out into the front courtyard and run and dance and flap our arms with joy.

2. You haven’t lived until you’ve laid under the African starry sky. 

3. Never will I ever complain about losing power for two hours back home. We have lost power three times since Saturday – I appreciate laptop batteries incredibly!!

4. We waste SO MUCH WATER. Seriously. Why do we flush every time we pee?! Water is so precious and so very few of us have the privilege of using clean water to wash away waste.

5. Dirt doesn’t kill you. Spiders don’t kill you. Leaving eggs out on the counter instead of the fridge won’t kill you. Unrefrigerated cheese won’t kill you. And sachets filled with water? They don’t kill you either!

6. Any poop is good poop (sorry, but I’m being frank here!)

7.Canada is awesome. I’m serious. As much as I am loving Africa, and learning about a new culture here in Ghana, I am so thankful for my country and the freedom and blessings we have offered to us in our country. I’ve never felt patriotic until I’ve left. Today we taught the kids the national anthem for Canada, and my heart just swelled at the words to the song, words I’d heard a thousand times over before, but words that now carry so much meaning to me.

8. Living in a new culture takes a lot of grace, a lot of turning the cheek when they laugh because you said a word wrong, or when they look at you funny because you prefer salad instead of rice and stew, or when they laugh and tell you you have no idea how to do laundry because you rubbed your knuckles raw since you’ve never washed laundry by hand before. It’s a lot of swallowing your pride … which is a good thing!

9. God is not confined to the boxes we put Him in. He speaks wherever you are, through whatever you’re doing, through whoever is around you. He takes brokenness and makes it beautiful. And He is near to us when we are lost, confused, broken … especially in those times. He is my Home, my Shelter, my Strength.

10. Mosquitoes here don’t bite like at home. You don’t feel them bite, and most times they don’t even itch very much – they just swell into that ugly, familiar bug bite. 

11. In Ghana they call avocadoes pears. How interesting – needless to say we were a bit confused when Belinda said she was going to cut us up a pear to eat with dinner.

12. Speaking of food, Pineapples here are so much sweeter than ones at home (they are more acidic). Watermelon is ALWAYS amazing, and mangoes are the best fruit in the entire world. (Also just because it’s always hot here doesn’t mean that they don’t have seasons for fruit – sadly they do. And mango season is finished).

13. It really does make more sense to call soccer ‘football’. 

14. We are overcharged for everything back home. Taxis. Cell phones. Internet. Food. It’s ridiculous.

15. I am so enthralled by all the colour here. Colourful dresses. Red dirt. Green and pink and red buildings. Brightly coloured chickens and roosters that freely roam the streets. I am in love with colour – we need more colour back home.

And that my dear friends, are some life lessons I am learning here in Ghana .. so very thankful for all that I am learning and experiencing!

Love and miss you all!

Angie