Thursday, December 23, 2010


I just realized that a year ago today was the Christmas cookie making extravaganza at Haven of Hope where we made over 1,000 cookies! Here's a picture...oh, how I miss these little munchkins already!
And today, I just finished baking with my grandma and my cousin Jessica, along with Evelyn (her daughter). Yum! I'm enjoying being home and catching up with family and friends. The time is going WAYYY too fast, though, I wish we could just pause time for a few weeks. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year... well, summer's pretty great too! :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

There's Nothing Like Home...

I've officially been "home" a little over 24 hours and can I just say that I'm loving America?! The first difference I recognized was the warm water on the airplane, which was quickly followed by the excitement of seeing my breath upon getting off the plane in London. When I arrived home it was negative 2 degrees Fahrenheit...that's 90 degrees cooler than when I left Ghana! But it's okay...because the snow is amazing, and it just feels so right. I haven't experienced this cold for awhile, so it brings back memories and the novelty of it makes it exciting still! :) Ask me how I feel in 2 weeks...

So, I lost my camera on the way over. It must have fallen out of my carry-on when I was flying from Ghana to London. Luckily, I had 5 hours to kill in the London airport, so I got to do some no avail. However, I filed a report and today I called and it was found!!!! I couldn't believe it! So... there will be some "last moments" pictures soon along with some reflections when I'm feeling a bit more rested up. :)

Some highlights so far:
- I've eaten chili twice since I've been home! YUMMM!!!
- Got to spend the whole day with my mom today. :) (Shopping...note to self: shopping after not doing so in awhile is dangerous!)
- The Christmas lights and snow are beautiful!
- I'm just loving truly is the most wonderful time of the year! :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Catalog

The sky was dark, and the wind picked up, but with it being the last class before exams, my optimistic self was sure the rain would hold off just a few more minutes. We only had a half hour left of school. The students were working hard,
pausing occasionally to wipe the dust out of their eyes…as was I! And then boom! The rain came and it came hard, the wind picked it up a notch, and I felt in the middle of a windstorm. A couple of students quickly grabbed my two baskets with my teaching supplies in them, and we huddled in the corner of the activity center to try to avoid the rain. As I looked up, I saw students frantically trying to collect their papers and notebooks to get them into their bags. Some succeeded but I witnessed more than one math paper fly out of the activity center— caught up in the wind—never to be seen again in its original state. Others handed me soaking wet papers, covered in sand with the marks from my grading bleeding through the other side. It was- once again- another adventure, and yet, just another day in Ghana…

I write all that to tell you of the adventures of teaching in an open-air, tin-roof classroom, but also to give you a real visual of the needs we have here. As some of you know, the construction workers have been hard at work for many months now building a new school building to house the 3rd- 7th grade classes, which now meet on verandas, in the activity center, and the chicken coop! I can say first-hand that it will be so nice to have a school building with sides. The students will benefit so much from it, as it will eliminate some of the distractions—rain, dogs, tractors, vehicles, lizards, etc—just to name a few.

All that being said, are you looking for a gift for someone who has it all and you’re stuck on what to get them? Have you thought about making a donation in their name to people who could really use it? ECM has a Christmas catalog with many giving opportunities. Take a look and see if there’s something you’d be interested in giving this year…

For just $20 you can help start new programs designed to fight child trafficking.

For just $30 you can purchase 10 bricks, which will help keep our new school building going.

For just $5 you can provide 10 meals for a hungry child.

See more about gift opportunities by checking out ECM’s Christmas catalog.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Farewell Party in the Village

Tonight I had a little farewell party in the village to say thank you to the people there for being so welcoming and friendly and to say goodbye...even though I'm sure I'll be back there this week. :) I just wanted to bless the people there for all the times they've blessed me in my time here. So, as I wrote yesterday, Rose and I got all the groceries at the market yesterday, and the ladies started cooking around 10 am. I had to teach until noon, so I headed over shortly after that. Our first project was picking out the "spoiled" beans, sticks, and pieces of gravel from the beans...
Seraphin was a good little helper...Look at those eyes! Precious...

...stirring the stew...
I will definitely miss these kids. It was a fun afternoon, because after the initial prep, there wasn't a lot to do except wait, so we did a lot of just hanging out with the kids. They're soo precious!
Mavis (to my left) is one of my students, and here she is with her sister, Ophelia...and I have of the happiest, smiliest kids I've met!
The waakye is ready...let the people come! (And there was no problem there!)
Because there isn't an abundance here like other places, Ghanaians know that if they don't fend for themselves and unfortunately push to the front of the line, they may not get any. Luckily, we did have enough, but that didn't stop the mob! I did a little bit of crowd control...whew...not my career of choice! :)
Ahhh...waakye at last! It was definitely a hit!
The smiles say it all...worth every minute! I love you, Akotoshie #2!!!! :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays...

…always get me d….Nope, actually that’s not true. In fact, here in Ghana I hope, cheer, and root for the rain as it cools things off. The rain is (almost) always welcomed with a smile. However, this afternoon it made for an interesting adventure…

The black clouds directly over the town we were going to should have been a good indication that going to market was not the best idea. But the problem is, we had to. Tomorrow I’m going to prepare and share a meal with my friends in the village—sort of as a goodbye…hard to believe it’s that time already! So today Rose and I headed to Nsawam to buy all the goods!

On the way there it started pouring, just as I had predicted. We were in a tro-tro (think 15 passenger van that usually has an average of about 30 people in it), and well, you could just say this tro-tro didn’t have the best roof. The rain started leaking in through several holes on the roof, one of which happened to be right above my legs. It started as a slow drip, then there were more, and then it seemed as though it was raining INSIDE the tro-tro as there were some pretty steady streams. Nobody seemed too happy about it…personally, I found it quite humorous.

When we got out, we ran and huddled amongst many others waiting for the rain to stop. I think this was the second time in my “Ghana career” that I’ve been cold. (It was probably about 75 degrees….do you think I’m ready for WI??!!) In my defense, I was wet.

After a half an hour of waiting, the rain let up and we headed out to shop. It’s always an adventure, but even moreso after a heavy rain. I wish I could adequately explain it or give you an accurate picture, but it’s nearly impossible to explain. Just picture walking through some of the worst-smelling fish stands possible, trying to remain grounded as you quickly shift all your weight upward onto a slanted rocky path as a man with a cart comes barreling through with no intentions of slowing down. I feared for my ankles! It was slippery, muddy, smelly, and quite an experience as we continued to buy more and more and carry more and more…inside I was screaming, “Piggly Wiggly, where are you???” haha…no, really, it’s a fun experience. I enjoy all the excitement, but I think I’ll enjoy “regular” grocery shopping again too. It just seems so easy…so adventure-less, but that’s a-okay with me!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Day on the Town

Last Saturday I took Esther (the girl I sponsor) and her friend Stella out for a girls' bonding day. We got up bright and early and took the 6 am train out of Kotoku. It was a 2 hour's only about 16 miles by car! :) However, no was not a boring ride...heaven forbid something would be boring in Ghana. I just don't think it's possible. :) We witnessed a man getting in a fist fight with the man in charge of collecting the fares. The man was trying to sit in 1st class when he only paid to be in second class. This is a matter of 40 pesawas...or about 28 cents we're talking about. He made quite the scene! Yikes...
Esther and I on the train...
This is a picture of the "bend-down market" on the way in, but we took the train to the end and picked out some material for the girls to get dresses made for Christmas. After that we headed to the pool!
This was the very first time either of them had been to a pool before, so they were quite hesitant at first, but when they warmed up to being in the water they didn't want to get out! :) All in all, it was a fun day!

"Tis the Season

With the scorching sun blazing at about 90 degrees these days, it doesn't exactly feel like Christmas, but the Christmas spirit is in the air! :) We spent some time in the girls' dorm this morning decorating it with this beautiful tree. The girls had fun and may have had more glitter on themselves than on the tree by the time we were finished, but it was a good time. :)
I'm gonna miss these kids...
Comfort & MaaAbena being their cute selves :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mmmmm.... first of all, Happy Thanksgiving! I have to say it didn't really feel like Thanksgiving today as it was 90 degrees and I taught my normal classes. But there were some bright spots that made it a good day. First of all, I was introducing fractions to my 3rd graders, so I got to brag on my Grandma's cooking skills, share about Thanksgiving, and eat her pie vicariously through the fraction examples! :) That was fun!

Then, after school, Priscilla-- a girl who lives in the village nearby-- came over and taught Tawnee and I how to make my favorite Ghanaian food...waakye! It was really fun to learn how it's prepared and have some bonding time! Some interesting differences in cooking were that you first need to sift the small stones, rice, and "bean shells" (for lack of a better word) from the beans before washing and then cooking them. Then we put these "weeds" (as Priscilla called them) in with the beans as they cooked to color them. Here we are pulling out the weeds!

...and here's our Ghanaian Thanksgiving meal! haha...on Saturday we're planning on concocting a more traditional version. :)

After eating we walked Priscilla home, and got to see the village at night, which doesn't happen very often. And I'm sorry to my faithful blog readers for all my ranting and raving about the village, but I just love it! The stars were out, it was pitch dark, and the frogs were having quite the concert. It was fun to walk around and visit all of our friends (and students) in the village and see everyone preparing their dinner over the fires by candle light. I always feel like I'm in a movie out there, but I love it, because the people are so loving and friendly.

All in all, besides missing being with my family, I'd say it was a good Thanksgiving. I have SO much to be thankful for.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A breath of fresh air...

With the way things have been going at the home lately, Friday night was a breath of fresh air. We took three girls-- Attah, AfuaKyere, and Aisha--to Mr. Fred's house for a girls' night sleepover. It was a night filled with laughter (lots of it!), games, talking, and of course popcorn!
These girls are so full of joy and remind me why I can press on! They are precious and such great encouragers!

AfuaKyere-- the popcorn expert :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas...

...just like the ones I use to know."

I’ll admit it… last night I woke up dreaming of Christmas and I just can’t stop! :) I’m dreaming of the smell of Christmasy candles filling the house, sitting by the fireplace and watching Elf, wearing warm clothes, going to the Christmas Eve service at church, looking at all the pretty lights, getting bundled up to go outside, sitting inside making Christmas cookies while the slow flies outside, eating Dad’s stew, making chili, buying and wrapping Christmas presents, going sledding (maybe skiing?!), going ice skating and coming in to some nice warm cappuccino…and most of all spending time with my family and friends! …25 days! :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Let us run with perseverance...

"Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..." Hmmm...I sure know what that's like! That's what my body is screaming to me every morning around 6:45 a.m. in the middle of my run when all I want to do is stop and walk. But I don't...I keep "trotting" away (as they call it here).

Why? Why don't I just quit and walk? Well...numero uno, because I was crazy enough to sign up for a 10K in HK in February and if I don't keep on keeping on, I won't finish it. I want to cross that finish line knowing I did the best I possibly could. It's a goal I've had for awhile, and I was finally committed enough to sign up for it. Second, I know I'll never get faster and gain more endurance if I just stop and walk when I'm tired. Those times that I push through the pain and temporary discomfort are exactly what help me to build endurance and get faster.

I can't help but see a significant parallel in my life right now to this picture of running with perseverance, not giving up, finishing strong... Life’s been a little rough this week. I’m hurt, saddened, and frustrated beyond words—probably more than I have been since coming here. It’s probably a result of all the little things built up over time, but the straw that broke the camel's back is the disrespect from the kids this week. One of the hardest things for me is to feel like I’m pouring my heart out for these kids…giving them love the best way I know how, spending time with them, teaching them, laughing together, reading stories, providing material things, and then in the blink of an eye you can become their worst enemy simply for disciplining one child who was—for Pete’s sake—harming another child!!!!

As a result, for the past few days we’ve been insulted and given the cold shoulder from most of the girls and some of the boys. Not getting a response to a simple “hello” is so hurtful when you love these kids so much. Yesterday I’d had enough. Sometimes I wonder if it’d just be easier if I didn’t care… if I didn’t love them at all, then I couldn’t be hurt. However, I do love them. That’s not going to change. I care about them so much and only wish they would see it.

Through this all, I’m comforted by two truths. First, these troubles are temporary and don’t come as surprises to God. Jesus states in John 16:33b, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” How great to know that as followers of Christ all of our trials and troubles are temporary and so minor compared to the glory that is to come! Romans 8:18 says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Second, I’ve been comforted by the realization of God’s love for me. I have been chosen and loved by God and have been just as stubborn, rude, unloving, and ungrateful as some of these kids are being right now. Yet God does not turn His back on me; He does not refuse to have anything to do with me. His love is constant, sacrificial, and real. Romans 5:6-8 says it better than I possibly could, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. In the midst of our own sin against God, He didn’t give up on us—in fact, He DIED for us!

I pray that I have the grace, forgiveness, mercy, and love that can only come from God to love on these kids, because everything inside me just wants to hide out for the remainder of my time here, but I know that’s no way to finish. Just like in my morning runs, I need to press on, push through the pain, insults, and hurtful ignorances, and realize that we are to rejoice in our sufferings because they produce perseverance, character, and hope. (Romans 5:3) Why? Because I'm running to hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

School is school, right?

Not really... :) As I walked down to the “office” last night with my trusty flashlight to make copies—in hopes that the generator wouldn’t be turned off before my copy-making-mission was accomplished, I realized all over again that so many of the things that are just normal to me now as a result of living here for over a year, really aren’t normal at all. So, I’ve compiled a list of interesting school facts that are probably pretty unique!

- All the students (Nursery through JSS1) gather for assembly in the morning, where we sing, pray, recite the memory verse, national anthem, and pledge.

- When a teacher is absent there is rarely an effort made to find someone to substitute or cover for them.

- The JSS1 class (equivalent to 7th grade) meets in the chicken coop…don’t worry, there’s only one chicken!

- There are 11 and 18 year olds in the same class.

- The female teachers serve the male teachers at lunch.

- The kids sweep the classes (and the dirt) before school each morning, and a group is also assigned to clean the toilets before school starts.

- Classes are cancelled if it rains hard, because most of the classes meet outside with just a roof over their heads.

- Pencils are a huge problem—between handing them out, discussing who lost theirs, and sharpening them, class is always delayed.

- We usually find out about days off due to holidays the day before the holiday.

- The bell that rings to change classes is a small hand-held bell.

Just a little bit different!

Service with a Smile?

Service…seems like a fairly simply concept. You do a few nice things for people who are less fortunate than you in your spare time and at your convenience, right? HA! . If there’s any lesson I seem to be learning lately it’s that my life is not my own and much to my dismay, service doesn’t happen on my timetable. I often have my priorities, preferences of what I’d like to do and when, and my ideas of how my time should be spent. However, as a follower of Christ, I am instructed to “deny myself, pick up my cross daily and follow Jesus” (Luke 9:23).

I have never been in such a position where it is so clear to me what it means to serve (even when that’s the last thing you want to do), and although it can be very challenging, I know God is using these experiences to teach me to have a servant’s heart and be more sensitive to His Spirit leading me. Back in America and even HK, I use to wake up and have a pretty good idea of what my day would look like, which is good because by nature I’m a planner and love schedules and predictability. However, being here in Africa, it seems like planning is a foreign concept and any plans and expectations are temporary and can change in the blink of an eye. There are a countless number of things that can change plans-- from rain, dentist visits, vaccinations, football matches, dorm inspections, and staff meetings—all which cancel classes—to impromptu trips to drive ill teachers out to the junction, bring one of the cooks to grind maize, take the kids home, or take the dog to the vet from a suspected snake bite.

When these “surprises” come up—especially when I have just sat down to do lesson plans or grading, have planned something with the kids, or have planned to take a short siesta—I have two possible reactions to the inevitable circumstances—I can serve with joy and sincerity or I can serve with a grumbling and reluctant spirit. Honestly, at times I react one way and at times the other. However, God has really been showing me lately that my life is not my own. I belong to Him and Him alone…whether I live or die (Romans 14:8).

Since I belong to Him, I need to be more submissive to His plans for my life, which cannot happen if I have all my plans already set in stone. So, although it’s not always bright and rosy, and I sometimes fail in the attitude department, I’m learning to put my agenda on hold and embrace God’s plans for my minutes, hours, and days. And I’m trying to serve joyfully, for Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9:7-8, “…for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

God is able to strengthen and equip us for all good works! I often find that even when I may be reluctantly helping someone out, there are blessings that quickly give me an attitude check. For example, last week when I had to take the kids and teachers home from school, which is about an hour worth of pot-hole filled, gut shaking adventure, I wasn’t feeling the most excited about it, but as I was getting in the van the kids were so excited that the “oburoni” was going to drive them home, and then when I dropped them off about 10 of the younger ones stood by the passenger door and blew me kisses. What’s not to love about that? They are precious and just melted my heart.

Service is not always convenient, fun, or easy, but it’s what we’re called to do as Christians and Jesus set the perfect example for us while He was here on earth…serving selflessly even unto death. What’s a minor (or major!) schedule change in comparison to sacrificing your life?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Costume Party

Saturday we had a costume party for the kids, which seemed to be a hit. At first many of the kids were reluctant and didn't know what to be...but some last-minute creative juices seemed to flow and they came up with some creative costumes!
MaaAbena, Anna, Tawiah, Attah, and I
SUPERMAN! (aka Bequin)

Joshua and Father Christmas (Sylvester)

We had 5 different stations set up with games and prizes, and it's so great how they get excited about the simple things. It was a great day, and so fun to see even the oldest kids find the "kid" in them for a few hours!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What a Day!

What a day it’s been! It’s definitely been one of those non-stop days, and although nothing out of the ordinary happened (well, for the most part), it was a great day. I taught my three classes right away this morning and was done by 11:35. They all went pretty well, and I think we’re getting into a bit of a rhythm…although, that can literally change in a matter of seconds!

By the time I finished grading some papers and organizing a few things, it was noon, so I was going to make some copies of sponsor letters so we could help the kindergarten teacher with those at 12:45. So in between I quickly decided to throw in a load of laundry; then I had to help the electrician find a plug some cord he was using, make the copies, and eat lunch. Well, apparently, this was a little too much, b/c I made a very stupid mistake… details coming soon!

We went on and helped the kindergarteners write letters to their sponsors, which was a lot of fun, because they are just SO adorable! This is when Amanda broke the news to me that I forgot to put the hose that drains the water from the washing machine (which we now use…instead of hand washing…yay!) into the shower. The result? I flooded Lauren & Amanda’s apartment! Haha…well, that might be an exaggeration, but I did flood their hallway and bathroom and their basket was floating. So, I got to spend almost 2 hours mopping that up! I can pretty much guarantee that will never happen again!

After that I opened the library and had some of the kids come up to read and color, while I helped some of the little ones with their sponsor letters. So, here’s my shameless plug for sponsors: We have TONS of new, adorable, eager to learn, African beauties who are still in need of school sponsors. For US$1 a day ($32/month) you can make a huge difference in their lives, and I can honestly say that the kids really appreciate their sponsors and greatly treasure any correspondence they get from them. If this is something that God has laid on your heart or you think you may be interested in, you can contact Every Child Ministries at (direct your e-mail to Monica) or contact me and I can hook you up!

Okay, back to my day, just a few other highlights:

- saw a shooting star on my way to the girls’ dorm tonight

- Tawnee was in town and brought me back a Snickers bar! :)

- and…quick funny story: I walked one of the girls up to her classroom to get her books, and it was dark. A taxi just dropped some people off and it drove about ½ down the lane through the middle of our compound and stopped. I thought this was strange, so I pointed my flashlight straight at him to see what was up, greeted him, and quickly realized that he was out of his car, relieving himself! Haha…. Not expecting that one!

Just another day in Africa… :)

Lions and Tigers and Bears...oh my!

Yesterday afternoon I took some of the little ones on a "safari walk"! We ran from imaginary tigers and lions, played dead when we spotted bears, and killed imaginary snakes.... oh, to be 4 or 5 again! So fun! Here's a few pictures and the nice sunset we came back to...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Where's Waldo?-Lizard Style!

Can you spot all 13 lizards?!?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

That's M'am to you!

A quick funny story to share...this afternoon I had to go pick up my medical report (for my HK visa), so I picked it up, got in a taxi, and the driver responded to one of my questions by saying, "Yes sir". Thankfully just as I was about to correct him, he started laughing and corrected himself. :) (This is a common mistake here...I'm probably called "sir" an average of 5 times a week, so I'm use to it and was surprised he caught himself.)

Ironically, I open up my report and at the top of my very professional report it says:

AGE/SEX: 25 years/M

What is going on here!?! :)

Weekend Adventures

Dear Friends & Family,

Thank you so much for your continued interest and support of my time here in Ghana. Here’s a little recap on what’s new on this side of the world. This past week was really good…school went smoothly and the weekend was great!

In school I continue to remember that small progress is better than no progress. I’m learning more than ever to roll with the punches and be flexible. This is key to keeping my sanity. I also try to remind myself daily that yes…math is important, but even more important than the sum of seven and five is that they know, understand, and see thelove of God modeled in their lives. This is a good reminder on days where seemingly nothing is accomplished.

Friday night we took seven girls to Mr. Fred’s house. He’s another missionary here who is currently back in the States. He graciously opened his house to us to use for a girls’ night sleepover. He has a really nice place and it even has…waitfor it……..electricity and air conditioning! Whoa buddy! :) Definitely a bonus! As we were pulling up to his house, Tawiah, who’s 11 years old, says, “Shangri-La!” haha… It was a really fun night, and I look forward to taking the older girls next time.Saturday felt like three days in one and was probably been one of the best days in awhile. We woke up, made breakfast with the girls, ate, cleaned up and headed home. After 2 bumpy car rides home, day one of Saturday was completed by 9 a.m.! Time feels so different here when you rise with the sun!

After a relaxed breakfast and time with God, we took about 20 of the boys for a walk to the dam. Normally walks to the dam are pretty uneventful, but then again, nothing is Africa is truly uneventful or easy…that would just be no fun. ;) So, we got to the turn-off on our path only to see it not only covered with water from the recent downpours (as I expected) but covered by a raging river! Okay…”raging” might be an overstatement, but it wasn’t a small stream. So, we re-routed ourselves and made it to the dam eventually…just took a little longer than we expected.

After spending some time at the dam, it was time to head back so we weren’t (too) late for lunch. We decided to take the shortcut knowing there might be some ri

vers to forge along the way. We were right in this assumption, but were in for even far more of an adventure than we had expected! We came to a lower part of land that is typically completely dry and it was very flooded! Only one choice now…. It was time to dive in! We made our way through it, which was really no sacrifice for any of us, since it was extremely hot. The water was so refreshing, and the only setback was that as I was getting into the water I stepped on some sand, which sucked my foot in and as I lifted my foot, my sandal broke! Not a huge deal… it just meant I had to walk the rest of the way through lots of mud, one more river, and through the village one-shoed.

These adventures definitely spiced up our walk to the dam, and it was such a great morning!

Here are a few prayer requests:

- - for the students to have the motivation and desire to learn.

- - for unity and love among all the children at the home and school.

- - Patience, love, gentleness, and understanding as we teach, train, and live with these precious, but sometimes troubled kids

- for God to ease the pain and heartbreak that some of the kids live with on a daily basis because of their past

I think that’s all to report for now! Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing how you’re doing as well!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Annoying Ants

I write this blog for the sole purpose of gaining some sympathy! ;) haha... I feel like I am constantly fighting the ants here lately. I can understand ants in the house, but on EVERYthing?...c'mon! Here are just some of the items that I have had to remove ants from just this week:

10. our table
9. any glass of water that has sat on the table for more than 30 seconds
8. clean dishes in the drying rack
7. my bed
6. my computer
5. my body
4. the brown sugar (I have to admit, I still used it...just a little extra protein in that batch of cookies!)
3. any and all walls in our house
2. flour
and the number one most toothbrush!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The This Thing

One of my favorite Ghanaian phrases is “the this thing”. It can mean just about anything and can be used by just about anyone at just about anytime, and that’s not the only reason I love it….it’s just so non-descriptive that it just cracks me up! The crazy thing is that you almost always know what “the this thing” is referring to!

Yesterday, one of my students came up to me before school and said, “Ms. Dana, today is the this thing,” and I replied, “Yes…today is the this thing.” Of course he was referring to the test…what else? Haha…I’m going to miss all the African phrases so much… I can crack myself up pretty good with them, but I’m afraid people “back home” might not see the humor. I might just have to use them anyways… somehow. ;)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Village Visit & the Next Adventure...

Last night I went to the village to read to some of the kids for the first time in quite awhile. I was greeted by little Priscilla (a sweet, sweet, precious little 1 or 2 year old) and her brother running up and giving me hugs… ahhh…this is why I come here! So, I rounded up some kids (and of course the adults like the stories, too) and read a few stories. I just love being in the village. Something about it is just so simplistic…so relaxing… so real. I love the fact that they are so community-based. So much of their time is spent together.

I love just being able to get a glimpse of their everyday activities…a group of 4 little boys (young—probably between 2 and 5 years old) stood a couple feet away from where I was reading, ground their own hot pepper, and dipped their akpale (made from cassava and cornstarch) into it, looked over and laughed as I sang parts of the story… so precious!

I will definitely try to be more conscious of getting over there before I leave, which reminds me… some of you know, but I will be wrapping up my time in Ghana in mid-December. I’ll be in WI for the holidays (whoo hoo!...already put in a special order for lots and lots of snow!) and then Lord-willing, I’ll be heading back to Hong Kong at the end of December. I have been given the opportunity to take two long-term maternity leave sub positions. One is for 6th grade Bible and Math (my exact old position) and the other is for 4th grade… I’m very excited to go back and be reunited with everyone there in HK, share my experiences here in Ghana, eat lots of curry , and I’m hoping it will be a good time of discernment as I decide what God has next for me. So far He’s been more than faithful to line up all the details, so I am confident He will continue to make my path clear.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

My New Identity

It never fails that when I introduce myself to a Ghanaian, they say, "Oh, Tina...such a nice name," to which I usually respond by correcting them. Then they go on to say, "Oh Dena...oh, okay." About half of the time I try to explain "DANA" and the other half I just smile and nod. :)

However, my favorite story is the guy who upon hearing my name responded, "Oh, Dinner...I like your name SO much. I will never forget your name, because I love dinner." After some laughter, I tried to explain, but of course to no avail, so I was called "Dinner" for a few months. Well, at least it always gave me a good laugh!

So, it's official...Tina it is! :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Call of Duty

Lesson plans, teaching, grading papers....I never imagined having one of my "teacherly" duties be spotting poisonous snakes, but I'm proud to say that today I did just that! :) I was walking to the library today after my class when I noticed a little slippery, slithery creature slithering just within feet of me... my first live-out-of-the-car snake spotting! :/ Always when you least expect it! So, I called to Tawnee to get one of the older boys to come kill it, and in the second I turned my head to say that, I had lost the snake! Well, thankfully we were able to spot it, those little things can move! Freeman had come to kill it, and he took a rock and threw it at the snake... miss... Now it had slid behind the dog cage, so one of the teachers stepped in and used a stick to swat at it... success! :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Havin' a Ball at the Mall!

Saturday we were able to take the younger kids to the mall in Accra where they have a playground set up. The kids were ecstatic to be able to ride the train, jump around in bouncy houses, play in the balls and just be kids. They had a blast and I think us adults had just as much fun watching them!

When times are tough, all I have to do is find one of these younger ones, and I am guaranteed a smile and some love! :) (Here's a funny side story: When I got back from a run the other day, Moses (in the middle of the 1st picture) ran up to me and gave me a hug, so I picked him up. And of course I was extremely sweaty, which he quickly noticed and stated, "You are hot," to which I agreed. Well, before I knew it, he touched my neck and licked his finger! haha... he went back for more and then went to lick my arm...couldn't help but laugh, but I put him down and decided it was time for a shower! Gotta love that salt! :) haha....

They just make my day and are truly too precious for words. I love the innocence and love of children...
Comfort, Moses, and Nii
Aseidu and I

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Boti Falls

Saturday we loaded up the van with 15 kids and 5 adults and headed off to Boti Falls, a waterfall a few hours away (give or take a few). :) It was by far the best excursion since I've been here (excluding the 7 hours in the car!).... the landscape was beautiful and the kids were absolutely fabulous! The hike we took to Umbrella Rock was no joke and the kids were such troopers! It started out pretty flat, but turned quite steep-- as in straight up bouldering for a couple of stretches. We crossed a little stream, saw a cave, and after some more bouldering, finally made it to Umbrella Rock. Probably about 3/4 of the kids climbed the ladder to the top...I even conquered my fear of ladders and made it up there myself...what a gorgeous view from the top!
Then, we hiked down to the waterfall. There are 2 beautiful waterfalls and a wonderful mist that cooled us down from our big hike! The kids had fun wading in the water and just taking in the breath-taking beauty!
Amanda, Tawnee, and I with Bequin

The troopers!

A beautiful rainbow was across the waterfall!

Tawnee & I