Monday, January 25, 2010

More pictures!

Here we are in front of the Elmina Slave Castle...we somehow managed to make it through the many vendors alive!
Elmina is a big fishing community. The boats go out each evening with about 10-15 men and/or children aboard and return in the morning with full nets.

Walking across the rainforest canopy...

Reading to some of the kids in the village...

The boys loved learning how to kick & throw an American football with Dad.

Mom & Michael :)

3 "washing machines" in action!

Dad & I taking on some girls in foosball!

Baby on her back, hand and head full of containers to big deal, just another day in Africa! I can only picture what this scene would look like if her and I traded places...It wouldn't be pretty! :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Visit with my Parents

I just saw my parents off to the airportlast night after their 2 week visit, which just flew by! I don’t knowwhere the time went, but it was such a blessing to have them here andbe able to meet the kids and see what my life here is like. The children stole their hearts and they were not ready to leave!

We sure kept them busy while they were here….or did they keep me busy??? Not sure…all I know is I needed my first nap in 2 weeks this afternoon! Dad was able to assemble their foosball tables which they received for Christmas the first day he was here, so he quickly became their best bud. He also did some yard work and organizing around the home throughout the week. Mom and I took on the project of the school’s library. There are tons of great donated books, but up until this point they were not organized enough to be used. We spent quite afew of the days "Lysol-ing" the books, then organizing and shelving them. We ran out of shelf space, so hopefully once the rest of theshelves are up, the library will be in service. I can’t wait…and the kids are even more excited!

We also spent lots of time playing games outside with the kids. During recess we attempted to teach the kids kickball. If you don’t think that’s one of the more challenging things to do in life, come to Africa and give it a try! Ha! :) Oh well, the kids had fun anyways, and I just laughed and was not-so-secretly pleased that alas my parents can now understand the chaos that is so often a part of living here!

Mid-way through the trip we took a few days to head to the beach where we thoroughly enjoyed playing in the ocean, picking up seashells,visiting with a village chief, walking through the rainforest on acanopy walk, and touring a slave castle which housed slaves for theTrans-Atlantic Slave trade before shipping them off.

Finally, I just want to thank all of you who donated either money or items for them to bring over. They came with 6 suitcases packed with goodies for both the kids and I…it was like Christmas! I The kids were thrilled to get either a new item of clothing or a pair of shoes or sandals, along with some socks and “docodoco” (candy—a word my mom and dad got accustomed to hearing!). I am just continually overwhelmed by your generosity and love. Thank you!

It’s back to school for me tomorrow! It may be a bit of a shock after taking a few weeks away, but those weeks came at just the right time and really re-energized and refreshed me to work with the kids again. Please pray for wisdom and discernment for me as I continue to work with the teachers and students. Pray for patience and love, along with a humble servant’s heart. Let me know how I can be praying for you too.

Handing out candy in the village is among the easiest ways in life to make friends! :)

Trying my hand at pumping water in the village...just another reminder of how blessed I am.

The slave castle we visited in Elmina...what a sad history.

We visited with Chief Nana (and the kids).

Mom spent some time reading in the younger classes, which they loved.

Dad with a couple of his best buds-- Comfort & Moses.

This is me cleaning books in the soon-to-be library. I wish I would have gotten a better "before shot" as many hours had already been spent back in December sorting books at this point. They were in general categories, so our mission was to sort them more specifically, clean them, and put them on the shelves...

...voila! Thanks to my parents' servant hearts and strong work ethic, we were able to get a great start! We're about halfway done, but got as far as we could with the shelves we had. The kids can't wait to get in there! :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hello there! I've been having a great time with my parents so far...the time is flying by so fast, but we are all enjoying their visit. I'll have much to catch you all up on after they leave, but for now I just wanted to share a quick story from today....what a day it has been!

It started at 3:12 a.m. as I looked at my watch when I heard Mama Carolyn talking outside. "Did I hear that right?" I thought. Sure was confirmed when she knocked on my door next, telling me to come outside as Ghana was expecting an earthquake to hit within the next 30 minutes. The strangest thing was that on Tuesday of this week many of my students in HK facebooked me over their concern that I was safe from the earthquake that hit Africa. Well, since it's difficult to keep up with the news here, I did a little quick search on the internet and found out that the earthquake actually hit Haiti, not Africa. So, I assured them that I was okay...Haiti and Africa are pretty far apart. :)

We all came out of our apartments, and all the kids were out of their dorms. We could hear people out and about in the village talking, as we congregated on the steps outside of our apartments-- trying to tune in to a radio station to hear the news. Before we had any luck with that, Pastor Sammy came over and said that the radio station said that the earthquake was no longer expected to happen. Whether or not earthquakes can actually be predicted that closely, I'm not even sure. In fact, I don't think they can. So, we're not sure how the rumor got started but it was on the radios and seemed to spread pretty far, as even our teachers who live 2 hours away were talking about being outside in the middle of the night.

After such a tragic and catastrophic event like the earthquake in Haiti, when a warning like this comes so unexpectantly, it really makes you realize how much we are not in control. Each day is a gift from God and we must live that way, because we never know what the next day will bring. I had all kinds of thoughts running through my mind. I even went back into the apartment to grab a big bag of water, thinking, "What if all the buildings collapsed and our food and water supply was covered? What if we became one of the millions of people focrced to wait in long lines to get relief food and water to survive? What if I had to go days without water?" All kinds of things run through your mind in moments like this, and it really makes you sympathize on a different level with the people in Haiti right now who are struggling to survive, fighting for their lives, and suffering from this terrible tragedy. So, although nothing came of it in Ghana (Praise God!), perhaps He used it to quicken our hearts to have compassion and understanding for the people who were not so blessed. Please join me in praying for the people of Haiti.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Immigration Irritation

First of all, I can’t take credit for the title of this blog. That was Papa Jim’s doing, although unfortunately I’ve found it to be all too true for me as well. Today I went for the third time now to work on getting my work permit, which is necessary in order to apply for a resident visa, which I must get even though I’m only staying like 5 more months. Ridiculous? Yes, yes, and YES! Every time I go in that immigration office I walk out 100 times more frustrated and always tempted to save myself the trouble and get on the next plane out. Ugh! …then I remember the kids and how much I really do love them and somehow manage to calm myself down.

The last two times I’ve gone there I’ve come out in tears—today being one of those days. I’m so tired of jumping through all of their hoops just to be able to stay here and help the people in their country. Now that I’ve applied for a work permit, my visa will expire before I get that, so I will probably need to apply for yet another extension on my visa, just because they’re so slow in processing the applications and I can’t apply for a resident permit before I have a work permit. Do they do that on purpose?! My theory is that it’s all about how much money they can get. What a hassle! If their past reputation holds to be true, I’ll be lucky to even have my resident visa by the time I leave!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Hello 2010!

HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone! Does anyone else feel like the song, "Party Like It's 1999" came out last year?!?! I'm still in shock that it's been 10 years-- a whole decade-- since Y2K. I still remember walking around ShopKo with my cousin around Christmas-time and seeing all the countdown clocks to the new millenium. Ironically, since the world didn't collaspe at midnight of Jan. 1, 2000, I'm now in Africa--of all places-- eating canned goods that were donated here from people who over-stocked for Y2K! :) Funny how things work out! :)

Last night I didn't exactly ring in the New Year in fact I was soundly sleeping by 11 pm! haha...sad, but true. However, I celebrated (in my brain) the Hong Kong New Year and just happened to wake up at 5:55 a.m. this morning-- just in time to lay there for a few minutes, count down...10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...think "Oh, now it's 2010 at home", and go back to sleep...for at least 15 more minutes! :) So, that's gotta count for something.

Tonight I think I was able to partially redeem myself as I went into the village to read to some kids. After sitting down in front of one of the houses where some kids and women were gathered preparing dinner and attempting to learn some Ewe (the language that most of the people in the village speak)-- which consisted of a lot of laughing, I ventured over and read a story and played with the kids.

Then, one of the girls wanted me to walk through the village with her, which I was kind of excited about since there was lots going on. It seems to me that New Year's Day (night) is the bigger celebration...last night many people went to church from 9 p.m. to 4! So, tonight many of the kids were dressed in new clothes; men were playing football (aka soccer), while a group of people were gathered around some drums nearby--singing and dancing. That's when it got interesting...someone told me that a lady wanted to talk to me, so I went to see what this lady I didn't even know wanted and was told they wanted me to dance! ha! So I of their most popular dance moves is very similar to the chicken dance, so even with my questionable dancing abilities, I could manage that! (Dad, you'd be great at it...only a few days and you can try it out for yourself! ;)) They were pretty excited to see an "oburoni" busting the moves! haha...Needless to say, I didn't last much longer than a couple of minutes, because for some reason, I felt like everyone was staring at me...I can't imagine why!

So, that's how I rang in's a little scary to think about how fast the last 10 years went and then realize that in another 10 years I'll be in my mid-thirties...yikes!!! Slow motion, please... :)