Monday, November 30, 2009

Pictures & Randomness

Here's some of the nursery kids during break time...I just can't get enough of long as I don't have to teach them! :)

A couple of times a week a few men come in to teach the kids Ghanaian cultural dances and drumming. On Sunday they got to perform at a church nearby. I was really looking forward to going to a more rural church, but it definitely didn't turn out as expected. For one, it was a Catholic church, which really surprised me, because there aren't many of those in Ghana. Second, during the second part of the service they had an auction, which I didn't necessarily agree with. They sold everything from pictures to glass dishes to live goats and chickens (in baskets with vegetables). It was very bizarre! Kind of strange to hear a goat during church! The timing of the whole ordeal didn't seem very appropriate, but the kids did a great job, nonetheless. They made me proud! :)

And finally..."The ants go marching 2 (million) by 2 (million)...horrah...horrah...the ants go marching..." As I was walking to the dorms one night recently, I stopped dead in my tracks upon seeing this insane number of ants blocking my view. (The dark lines that look like tree roots are all ants!!!) I could've just stepped over them, but they somehow always seem to find a way onto my skin, and they're the nasty biting kind. And...if you read my previous post about my encounters with the lower forms of creation, you'll know that ants and I don't get all! It was quite a crazy thing to see, though. We got out our RAID spray and had a hay day! :) Ants no more! We definitely didn't want those buggers in our apartments. Speaking of which...I'm proud of myself, as I opened my precious chunk of Velveeta cheese that's left, only to find ants had gotten inside the box and ZipLoc bag. Some were still crawling around, while others had died on the cheese. I decided the cheese was too valuable, cut them off, and away I went! Progress... :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

An Unwelcome Visitor

As I glanced up at my kitchen wall a couple of nights ago, I froze in my tracks and wasn't sure whether to scream and run or not move at all. Turns out I was stunned silent, and after I snuck out of the kitchen I had to call Mama Carolyn to help me kill the beast. I hope none of its friends are hanging around. I've gotten use to all the lizards both in and outside, but spiders and I just don't get along. :)

Orange Pickin'...

...or should I say "green" picking?! This morning we went for a walk, and on the way back we stopped by one of the student's houses. Her family has a poultry farm and lots of land, so the kids love going there. As soon as we came, Stella (the student) ran out with her cutglass in hand, grabbed her boots out of one of the chicken coops, and off the kids ran down the path into the "bush". Then, the orange picking frenzy began. Kids were everywhere, and of course the boys were all up in the trees, as the picture above shows. The kids filled bags, their shirts, hands, and whatever they could find with oranges! The strange thing is that their oranges have a green peel instead of orange! It was very generous of them to share with us! In the picture on the right, I was trying to balance the oranges on my head, but as you can see by the look on my face, I have lots of practice ahead of me. How the women here (and even the kids) can walk miles with huge loads balanced on their heads is beyond me!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Wonder Of It All

Tonight as I headed to the girls' dorm to read, I heard their Chris Tomlin music blaring from a mile away! I thought they probably wouldn't be too interested in any story that interrupted their music and dance time, but I was wrong. They quickly turned the music down and gathered around me as I found a spot on the floor. I started reading to them from a book with a bunch of Bible stories for kids. Tonight's was about Creation, and as I finished reading, the song "How God is Our God" by Chris Tomlin was playing in the background...coincidence? I think not. So, I asked them to share things that made them realize how amazing and great our God is. It was so neat to listen to them share. I was blessed by the wonder of children, as they were genuinely filled with awe over how the sun rotates around the earth, eyelashes, ears and hearing, how hair keeps on growing after you cut it, roots of plants, and many more.

It sooned turned to asking ME questions...rhetorical, I think...and hope...."Where does the sun go at night?", "How did God make our throats?", "Where does the moon stay?" As adults, I guess we learn to take these things for granted (or we learn the scientific explanations), when really, each one of these things is nothing short of a miracle. Of course there's a scientific reason for the fact that although the earth is sphere-shaped we don't fall's called gravity. But, God designed gravity and it's pretty amazing. Sure...the earth rotates around the sun each day, causing day and night, but it still boggles my mind to think that as I type this e-mail at 9 o'clock at night, my HK friends are getting up for work (It's 5 a.m.) or people back home are finishing their work days (3 p.m.). I loved "wondering" and being in awe right along with the kids.

I hope I never lose the sense of wonder that is so obvious in children. I hope I never stop being amazed at the fact that God has created a universe that is so incredibly huge and diverse that it's impossible to wrap our minds around. He's created people who are so intricate and complex that only a Mastermind could design.

Psalm 19
1The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat. (Ain't that the truth!?!)

Then, my visit concluded with a little dance party and a group hug, which literally brought all of us into a pile on the floor. My first reaction was to be upset that they had got so rowdy that we all fell down, but upon "surveying the scene" and seeing that no one was hurt-- even the little 1st grader that I landed on top of-- I couldn't help but laugh. :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Seeing God in Pink Chickens & Trash

Just about everyday here it seems like I hop on a rollercoaster, hang on tight, and get ready for the ups and the downs that the day will surely bring. There are moments where I cannot imagine being anywhere else, as I'm coming to really love these kids and I see glimpses of progress, and then there are moments where I cannot imagine being here until June. These conflicting moments are interspersed within the same day and it makes me feel like I'm going crazy! haha...but I'm pretty sure it's just getting use to a new culture and experiencing new values, communication systems, ways of doing things, etc. However, God is good, and in the moments where I feel homesick or frustrated, He always seems to send a situation or a person or word of encouragement my way. It's the little things that can turn my day around, and I thank God for those little things!

For example, one night this week I went for a jog, just to get out a few minutes before dark. It had been a long day and I was feeling rather lethargic, but after a self-pep talk, I decided to go, despite my desire not to. Once I get going, it always refreshes me and makes me feel more energetic. On my way back, I'm usually greeted by some of the village kids who go to school at Haven of Hope or their siblings. You just can't help but smile when you see little 3, 4, and 5-year old African children running towards you yelling either "Yevu" (another name for white person in Ewe- the local language) or "Miss Dana, Miss Dana...". It's automatic. Any frustrations seem to be wiped away by their joy and hugs! They're precious.

Well, sorry to make a short story long, but this particular night, I happened to walk back by one of the childrens' houses, and what did I see? Pink chickens! And I mean PINK! (Well, you can see for yourself!) I originally thought they did that to distinguish their chickens from their neighbors, but later found out they rub this dye on them to prevent the hawks from swooping down and snatching them! You learn something new every day!

Then, one of the boys in kindergarten tossed me a small bag of trash, and there began our new entertainment....I throw the bag of trash while all three siblings giggle and push and wrestle (in a friendly manner) to try to catch it. Wow...I can't tell you the last time I saw so much joy and excitement over a bag of trash. I'm telling's the little things. :) You just have to look.

Although I've heard and believed it before, since being here, I've really realized that "things" do not make you happy. I've met people who have nothing more than the clothes on their backs, but they are very full of joy from the Lord. I work with children every day who have very little, but are thankful to be getting a good education and a meal. Not once have I heard a student from the village complain about what was being served for lunch. I think sometimes the more we have, the less grateful we become. This seems natural, as Jesus says in Luke 12:15, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

This world is not our home. It's only temporary, so let's chase after things that will last for eternity...the things of God! "For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever."

Here's the update on our "Water Bag Challenge": 3,504.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Calling All Beautiful Boys!

Quote of the day: After reading to the girls tonight, one of them asked me if I had a boyfriend. Upon hearing “no”, they said, “Oh, when you go back to America, will you choose one?” I explained that it didn’t exactly work like that, but they persisted: “When you come to choose, choose a beauuuuuuuuuuutiful one.” :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Taxi Anyone?

Every once and awhile I get to play taxi driver if Daniel's out somewhere else. Today was one of those days. We take two groups of teachers and students either home or out to the main road to catch a ride home. It's not very far distance-wise...less than 2 miles each way. However, the pot-hole filled roads don't really lend themselves to high speeds! :) So, the whole endeavor takes about 50 minutes. I actually enjoy it, as it's kind of relaxing and forces me to get out for a bit...and the bonus today was that because the road is under major construction, there are lots of workers around, so there are actually people out selling things. Today there was a man selling FanIce, which is my new favorite treat...vanilla ice cream in a bag! Yum!!! You bite off the corner and then suck it up through the hole. :)

All of the students walking home from other schools get a kick out of the "oburoni" driving the van, and therefore, shout "Oburoni" followed by big smiles and laughter...but over the last few days, I've gotten away from the "oburoni" label and moved on to "white girl". It's pretty funny to actually be addressed as "white girl"...think people could get away with that in America?!?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

2 Days in the Life...

It was a pretty laid back weekend here for me. I spent most of the day on Saturday around the home. We have a store open for the kids on Saturday mornings, as we’re trying to teach them the value of things and that they need to work if they want to buy things. Then, we made a quick trip to Nsawam with Brother Richard for him to mix the bread. I’ve included a picture of the bread mixing place, not to be confused with a “bakery”. The first time I went with him, we were talking and he said he wanted to show me where they mix the bread, so I said, “Oh, so it’s like a bakery?” “Yes, madam.” Ha! As you can see, this is not necessarily what I expected when I heard the word “bakery”! But the bread tastes good nonetheless. I just prefer not to think about where it came from!

After that I helped form the bread into rolls. Then, it was time for some basketball action with some of the boys, which was a lot of fun. It’s been way too long since we’ve done that. I was energized after that and went for a quick jog, and miracle of miracles…I think it was the first time I didn’t have kids trailing behind me. As much as I love them, it was kind of nice to have a peaceful job by myself.

Today was a momentous day in my “Ghana career”! I ventured into town by tro-tro (big van-like public transportation) by myself for the first time…and I survived! Everyone is very friendly and helpful when you ask for directions, so I did that a couple of times and was able to enjoy going to church, the pool, and then the mall for some internet time. It was a good day, and I must say…it feels good to feel like I’m starting to get my bearings.