Thursday, March 25, 2010

I love this place!

Today was one of those non-stop days. The kids had a football match in the village this morning since they're finished with their exams (picture above of me with part of the cheering section), and then I was busy around home...I was exhausted after doing lots of laundry, cleaning 2 apartments, and washing just about every thing in my apartment! Add a temperature of 94.5 to that, and I was dragging! :) So, I really didn’t feel like going to the village, but also didn’t know what else to do…I was really just looking forward to going to bed!

However, there’s a lady named Rose in the village who’s been teaching me Ewe (the local language). So, I was supposed to go for my "quiz" yesterday, and I couldn’t because of dinner club, so I thought I’d go today as life will probably get crazy with all the visitors here. I didn’t bring any books to read tonight as I just wanted to talk with the people and practice all 3 of the Ewe phrases I know…haha…just kidding, but really…we’re talking very limited skills at the moment! Regardless, they seem to get a kick out of teaching me, and I think it’s a great way to get connected with them and show them that we (as missionaries) are not there to change them, but rather to walk alongside them and show them how Christ desires to be a part of their life, as well as the hope and peace He can bring them.

Tonight’s visit to the village was probably the best yet. I did get a chance to practice my Ewe, but also got to be a part of lots of other everyday occasions: I watched Freeman climb a really tall coconut tree to cut some coconuts down. Then they cut one open and shared it with me. This was after my very exhilarating and exhausting workout of learning how to stir/cook the akple, which is a main staple of their diet. It looks a lot like mashed potatoes—but much thicker, and doesn’t take as good (in my opinion). :) They ball it up in their fingers and dip it in a soup. All their cooking is done outdoors. They have 3 large rock-like bumps set in the ground in the shape of a triangle, and the pot sits on top and the sticks for burning go below. (The one day I didn't bring my camera! Ahh!) Anyways, Rose wanted me to try to stir the akple that she was making, and let me tell you, you'd never know by looking at it that it required so much skill...haha...but they definitely had a method...and I was not getting it! :) It definitely made for lots of laughter, though, and there were literally 25+ people gathered around cheering for me...and laughing at me. :) I was exhausted by the end of it, and then Francisca, a 7 year old who goes to school at Haven of Hope, called me in to show me that she is an expert at it...guess I'll have to keep practicing...or continue to let the kids show me up! :)

It was just so great to be there in a real community and feel like I was welcomed and a part of it. I'm no longer "Yevu" (white person)-- although they still call me that! I'm now Miss Dana-- learner of Ewe, friend, and professional akple stirrer-- to-be! :) I love this place!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Never Underestimate...

..."Kidpower"! See what I mean about helpful kids??? They're quite amazing! We hauled this shelf from the office into the library today with the help of (according to my counting) 24 wonderful little helpers! :) I've been working overtime (with lots of help) in the library lately, with the hopes of opening it up for the kids over break.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Labor of Love...

One thing I love about the kids here is their willingness to jump in and help. You can barely get a foot out of the car before being bombarded by many willing hands ready to take your groceries in. They're always ready to lend a hand.
That came in handy for me today as I am getting ready to host lots of guests in the next 2 weeks, as well as welcome a new missionary here as my roommate. As a result, today was "moving day"...with the help of 5 of the boys, we set up and/or moved 4 bed frames and lots of matresses! I was a bit intimidated by this seemingly "manly" task, but it wasn't so bad after all...especially with all the help. For their hard work, we baked up some chocolate chip cookies and I got a mini drum lesson from Eric (left) as we waited for the cookies!
Lots of laughter as we worked made a not-so-fun job not so bad. However, it feels so good to have it done...bring on the people! :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Walking with God...

Sounds easy...walking with God. I've realized, though, that I am such a "do-er". Give me a to-do list anyday. I get a thrill checking things off my list. In fact, don't tell anyone, but sometimes I add things to the list after they're already completed-- just so I have another thing to cross off. It makes me feel accomplished...and I like accomplishing things.

This morning my devotion focused on Enoch, a man who was commended in the "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews 11 as one who pleased God (Hebrews 11:5). However, as you look into his life, not much of it is mentioned in the Bible. There are a few verses in Genesis 5 about him, but all it really tells us is that he was a man who "walked with God". I've been thinking today how often I am tempted to do things for God. It seems easier than walking with Him...allowing Him to guide me each step of the way. I've been thinking today that what God really wants from me is not a bunch of "good works", but He wants my heart, my time, my energy. How often do I run around like crazy trying to accomplish things (for His glory, even), when what He really desires is for me to find that quiet time to be with Him, to lavish His love on me, and to teach me to be more like Him.

This is a hard balance in a world that is so focused on doing. However, this message is especially meaningful for me right now, as there are so many needs surrounding me here in Ghana-- so many ways to reach out. At times it's discouraging, because I can never really do enough. At times the thought of "Where to start?" is paralyzing. There will still always be hunger, physical ailments, and emotional and spiritual brokenness. I'm not trying to shrug off our responsibility as Christians to care for people, I'm just encouraged by the fact that if we walk with God, HE will make clear to us who to help, teach, pray for, and minister to. We don't do it alone.

On a separate note, I'm contemplating and praying about what's next. Pray with me that among the fifteen things I'd love to do with my life (starting this summer), I would keep my eyes focused on what God has for me and trust Him to provide along the way. It's hard to think about job applications, interviews, paperwork, etc. from half-way across the world, but I'm confident that He will provide whatever's needed. I just need to "walk with Him"...not ahead or behind, but right beside.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Now that's a new one...

As I've mentioned before, I've been getting pretty use to my new African lifestyle. Electricity for just a couple of hours at night is manageable. Having a cooler for a refrigerator and buying ice every few days has become pretty has dealing with the disappointment of water-logged food! :( However, this afternoon something happened that was not normal and I hope I will never become accustomed to it!
I opened my cooler and was getting ready to put some water bags in it, when I noticed my hand brushed something blackish on the cooler. I dismissed it at first, as I thought it was just a piece of plastic from the black plastic bags that I had some of the food in. Well, on second glance, I realized that was not the case. What was staring back at me was not a piece of plastic, but an itsy bitsy tiny lizard that had scurried its way between my cooler and the lid the last time I had closed it. It's tail was bleeding and it was not moving...ick ick ick! Needless to say, after immediately washing my hands with soap and water, I had to call in the troops (aka the 10 and 11 year old boys!) to take care of this for me. :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010