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 :)