Saturday, September 26, 2009

A "Normal" Day...

I thought I'd share with you a "normal" if those really exist here! :) I woke up around 6 a.m. (That's what happens when you go to bed at 10..and you live near chickens!) The other night I thought about writing a letter to the neighborhood chickens. It would read something like this: "Dear Chickens, Don't you think 3:50 a.m. is a bit too early to be cock-a-doodle-doing!? I do, and would most certainly appreciate it if you could set your alarm clock a little later. Thank you."

I was in my apartment until about 8 a.m. We were planning on going for a jog about that time. So, I went to go round up the kids, but found out they had a farming meeting to plan where they'd plant their garden plots. So...I went in to help Mama Carolyn sort and size shoes for the kids. (We're trying to get all the kids new slippers and tennis shoes, which are desperately needed!) It's not as easy as it sounds when you have 48 kids and whether or not they fit is determined by laying the shoe on top of a tracing of their foot. Anyways, we worked on that until about 9:15.

Then, it was jogging time! We made it to Medie and back...a good 3 miles I'd say!

After a shower and some more shoe sorting it was time to head to Nsawam to take the cook to a place where he gets the bread dough kneaded, buy some more shoes for the kids, and pick up some veggies. Here's a picture of me learning to carry our purchases "African style". As you can see, I still have to use my "training wheels" (hands). The ladies here are amazing...I don't know how they balance those things...sometimes in addition to a baby on their back and another load in their hands!

I'm getting lots of practice with my driving skills these days! I'd have to say that I'm really starting to get the hang of those potholes! We got back around 2:45 and went down to the kitchen to help form the bread into rolls.

After that, it was back to shoe sorting! By about 5:30, we had successfully matched all the kids with some shoes! So we passed them out around 6 and took some pictures to send to the people who donated the money for them.

Then, it was time to make dinner and banana bread! :) it's about 10 pm and the power just went off...must be time for bed!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Take Cover!

"Okay, please send Matilda over nex....ahhh!!! Never mind!" haha...This morning I was sitting in the middle of the activity center doing some math testing, and I saw some really dark clouds rolling in. It was quite obviously going to rain. What I didn't know is that it would come within a matter of seconds and bring a dust storm with it! There was no warning and I soon was trying to shove everything into my bag while being blinded by the dust blowing into my eyes! It started POURING, and since three of the classrooms are in the corners of this open-sided activity center, class was temporarily suspended. :) The water poured in and some kids ran out in it, while others huddled in the corners for protection from the rain and me! :) The rain was so strong that the desks were soaked and even one of the math lessons on the chalkboard was erased from the rain coming in on it! Just another reason to be flexible here in Africa! :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Who needs video games...

…when you can just drive in Ghana and experience 10 times the excitement live??? Today I got to live through my very first real-life video game experience. The kitchen crew needed to make a trip to the market in Nsawam (a nearby town). Since neither of the cooks drive (even though they are considerably older than me), they needed someone to take them and to stay in the van to watch the goods as they continued to go out for more. Carolyn was going to go, but since she has a friend visiting I offered to go in her place, because apparently it’s quite the venture…which I soon found out! (I waited in the car for 3 1/2 hours while they shopped! But that was fine; I had a book!)

So, here’s “Ms. Oburoni” (white girl) driving two Africans to the market…seem a bit ironic? I thought so! I was a little nervous, because the drivers and the roads here are crazy, but I thought it’d be fun to give it a try. So, we made it safely to and from the marke. And let me tell you…it was an adventure. I felt like I was playing a video game where you have to navigate your way through all sorts of obstacles in order to be promoted to the next level. You have to watch the biker coming up on the right-hand side, while the taxi scoots by on the left, only inches away…oh, there’s a man walking in front of you…and a pothole…oh, a speed bump!

Here’s a picture of one of the roads we had to go through to get to the market…you see what I’m saying now???

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Village Life

Wow! I can't believe that I've already been here for 3 weeks! Time is flying by. Each week seems to go faster than the last. After 3 weeks I can't believe that I still hadn't been to the village across the road yet! I've been wanting to go there and check it out, but I wasn't really about to prance my way in by myself. :) Today some of the kids wanted to go for a walk; one of the girls lives in the village, so she offered to give me the "grand tour". It was really interesting and eye-opening to see how they live. Bamboo held many of the mud huts together and they had thatched roofs-- just like I pictured. What a simple (yet hard) life they live. As we approached the village well, I couldn't help but think that it felt like I was living back in Jesus' time. Many people were gathered at the well waiting for water. (I pumped a few buckets for some girls there. What a workout! :)) We walked around and observed many women preparing dinner over a small fire outside. I even saw one of our kindergarteners cracking palm nuts for soup. She may not know her numbers yet, but she's mighty good at bringing the rock down on those palm nuts and cracking them open! It's amazing how self-sufficient some of these kids are.

We then went to the village school, and I was floored to see their "Junior Secondary School" (comparable to our middle school). It was a ton of desks lined up outside facing three different directions, but all very close together. One of the three had a chalkboard on the ground leaning up against a tree, but the other two had nothing but desks. I asked her how the teacher demonstrated or taught lessons, and she then told me they didn't even have notebooks yet. It sounds like those may be coming next week. Wow!

I don't know exactly what to make of all this, except to know that I am extremely blessed and am called to share with those in need. If you are reading this, you too are extremely blessed (yes, even wealthy beyond your wildest dreams!) just because you have access to a computer and the internet. What will you do with what God's blessed you with?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dinner Club

Afua, Janet, Abigail, and Douglas eating our yummy food we made at "dinner club". The kids will each sign up for the chance to cook and eat a meal in my apartment, which they love.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Little More African Every Day...

Praise the Lord! Our generator was (temporarily) fixed today, so we had running water again! This was great because I'd been holding off on laundry until the water was running, because I didn't want to carry it all the way from the village. I was afraid I might have to, as I was down to one clean skirt! :) So, today I did laundry, which is done in buckets by hand. I'm so blessed to have many willing volunteers, so I asked 3 kids to come help me, and they loved it! Weird, huh? haha...but it's really not bad at all that way. We got it all done in about 30 minutes!

Yesterday we did have to go get more water from the village, and I decided it was time to learn the "carry a bucket on your head" trick. It can't be that hard; 8-year-olds do it...right? HAHA! Whew! Let's just say I think by the time we got back I had more water on my face and skirt than what was left in the bucket! :) It's harder than these little kids make it look!

My diet is becoming more and more African as well. As a teacher, I can eat lunch from the cafeteria. However, I'm still a bit selective in the meals I choose to join them for! Although some of the food is good, sometimes it seems like the perfect opportunity to sneak back to my apartment for a little PB&J! Too bad my peanut butter is 1/2 gone already! :)

And finally, I've been trying to learn little phrases of Twi here and there. So far I have:
How are you?
I'm fine.
I'm not fine.
Thank you.
What's your name?
My name is _______.
I would like _____ please. (Now I just need to learn some words to fill in the blank!)
numbers 1-6's a start, but it looks like I have a ways to go!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Our generator at the home has been broken now for two days, which means there's no running water. I've been learning how spoiled we are 90% of the time when we do have water. I've learned that bucket baths aren't so bad after all, but I'm going to need to find a way to do my dishes real soon! :) There's getting to be quite a stack.

We usually can use the rainwater supply for bathing and laundry, but that also ran out today. Therefore, it was time to head to the well! I saw a bunch of kids heading out the gate and thought that looked like a fun adventure for me to join in on. We ended up walking to one place to get water from a river, but apparently it was too muddy, so we walked to another nearby village that had a well. We were able to fill up our buckets by dropping a pail deep down into the well and pulling it up again. Needless to say, it took awhile, and it began pouring rain while we were there, and the thatched roof didn't quite do justice. :) So we just embraced the rain together and got drenched! :) It was actually kind of relaxing to sit there and hang out with the kids. I was trying to learn some Twi (a local language), so they were working on that with me. It was a fun adventure, but I'm thankful for the rain...hopefully the tanks collected enough water for tomorrow...or even better, the generator will get fixed!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Just a Glimpse

Saturday I had the opportunity to travel with Papa Jim and two of the girls at the home to their hometown of Aflao. One of the girls recently lost her mother and wanted to pay respects to her family. At the age of 18, this young girl has quite the past. The marks of her tribe remain etched on her face, hinting at the hardship she's experienced. She was a trokosi slave, which is an African religious practice in which the chief of a village takes in virgin girls to atone for some wrongdoing done by a man in the family. This girl then becomes his slave and is denied many basic human rights; many people are afraid to interact with the trokosi for fear of misfortune coming to them from "the gods". Luckily, this young girl was liberated; however, her family then sold her as a prostitute. She now has a 2 year-old son of her own, and I can only imagine the feelings that she was experiencing as we walked the dirt path back to her village where she grew up...the memories of her past life in the shrine were sure to bring up bitter memories.

We walked into the village and each family unit was fenced off in some way. Here her family was gathered under a palm tree-- her grandmother, grandfather, uncle, and father. The children soon came and joined us...all 24 of them! It was almost surreal. I felt like I was in a movie. I couldn't help but imagine what life was like for them there. It would be a hard life, for sure.

As we went to leave, it was obvious that there was strong emotions. She had left her son in the village and returned back to the van telling us that she was going to stay there. She is an adult and can make that decision if she wishes. However, she must first go through social welfare to get approval. We talked with her about the importance of getting an education and training for a trade, so she would be able to take care of herself and her son. (Because of her past, she is currently in P3.) She wouldn't budge.

After a long talk with her and her family, we found out she wanted to stay in the village because her half-sister also recently lost her mother, and at the age of 8, has no one to care for her. The hard realities that these people face every day blow me away. So, Papa Jim is now going to start working to see if this younger sister can come join us at Haven of Hope. Please pray that the details work out, and pray that the older sister who is at Haven of Hope will have the determination and perseverance to complete schooling and complete some type of vocational training.
Bernice's family lives right down the road, so we were able to also visit her relatives' village which is right on the Atlantic ocean! As you can imagine, many of the men there are fishermen. Here are some of the goods! :)

It was a long day...12 hours on the road and about 4 hours spent there between the two families! However, it was very worth the long trip to get a glimpse of some of the kids' pasts. It helps me to understand them better. Not to mention, I was able to see the Atlantic and experience my first African public toilet...or lack thereof...I'll never complain about China's again! :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A-Maizing Experience

What started out as a fairly slow day turned more interesting this afternoon. A bunch of the boys were gathered around the tractor, begging to play football. However, they were told that if they wanted to eat, it was time to harvest the maize. And these boys like to eat, so the maize harvest trumped football—much to their dismay. I decided to join in the fun, with some apprehension due to the reported snakes around the compound. I put on my longest skirt and my jacket and made my way to the field. Each step I took was with caution, keeping in mind that there could be a snake beneath any piece of grass or stalk of maize. So you can only imagine where my heart went as I heard the boys gasp and say, “snake”. However, their calmness peaked my curiosity as I was convinced it couldn’t be the real thing. As I turned around, there they stood with a cobra snakeskin! They really do exist!!! NOT what I wanted to see! Please pray that God will provide protection…even from the snakes.

I made my way down to the dining hall where some girls graciously volunteered to pick off the tons of little seeds that attached themselves to my skirt (kind of like birdocks). They then asked if I was going to eat with them, so I was able to experience my first true African meal! It was an okra soup with some kind of maize concoction that you dip in the soup and eat it all with your fingers! The kids sure got a kick out of watching me eat it—I don’t know…apparently I’m not a professional yet! :)