Monday, August 23, 2010

Maa Lizzy's

My host mom owned a restaurant of sorts. In Ghana I believe it might be called a “chop bar.”
We simply called it the shop.

“Is Lizzy at the shop?”
“Oh, I’m just going to the shop real quick for dinner, then I’ll be back.”
“I’m gonna run down to the shop and talk to Lizzy.”

The shop was only a couple minutes walk from the house. You simply walk down the lovely dirt road until you hit the main road, and right across the street is Lizzy’s shop.

She pretty much only served Ghanaian dishes there, but she really tried hard to find things I’d like.

Here is “Maa Lizzy’s”:

The television (located in the corner of the shop on a plastic chair) was usually on all day. It was pretty static-y, and would become more so as big trucks drove by. Don’t ask me why a truck would affect the TV, but it did. Most of the time I was there the world cup was on. Ghanaians LOVE football [soccer]. (As a side note—the day Ghana beat the US was a very sad day indeed for me. I had talked up the US big time, and so I got a lot of “I told you so”s from my family and friends when we ended up losing...).  Then in the evenings, in addition to the TV being on, the radio was usually turned on as well.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Favorite Part of the Day

The kids got a little sidetracked with the camera...but mostly this is how I was greeted every single day.

I love these kids. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Uniqueen School, School my school!"

I already miss this school incredibly.

This little two-room structure that in American would never be called a school. 

Well, maybe Americans need to think again. You don’t need some nice, big structure. You don’t need air conditioning. In fact, you don’t even need glass to cover the windows or lights to illuminate the building. 

You only need children eager to learn.

And teachers giving of their time to teach them.

Uniqueen was nothing like American schools. I may not agree with how they taught or how they disciplined, but the important thing is that they taught. While not understanding quite yet the best way to carry it out, they realize the importance of education. That mindset will help them to develop the best tools and methods for teaching. In the end, that mindset is what really matters.

Monday, August 16, 2010

this is the way i live.

Unlike many other volunteers who live in Ghana, I had a very westernized home to live in. Running water. Shower. Air conditioning. Oh wait, scratch that last one. Just a nice little ceiling fan.

 Here are a few pics of my humble Ghanaian abode:

looking away from, and looking up to my house. i walked this way each day.
...and walked past this each day.
outside of the house
the living room
my bathroom

Somehow I didn't take any pictures of my bedroom. Oh well.

So there it is folks! Pretty nice, huh? And I only had to bucket shower a few times when my actual shower broke! I was so blessed. [And no, that is not sarcasm. I have friends who had to bucket shower everyday and did not have the luxury of a nice home.]

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Second Family

I was so blessed to be able to live with a wonderful Ghanaian family during my stay in Ghana. They were amazing people, and I miss them so much! They took a place in my heart, and I will forever think of them as my second family.

My host Mom is Lizzy. She owns a “chop bar” (later post), waking up long before I got up each morning to go to the market, and going to bed each night later than I went to bed. She worked hard for her family, and to have a nice place for volunteers to stay. Her husband, Prince, was away with his family in London while I was there. 

The oldest of Lizzy’s children living at home was Eunice. She was around my age and worked an hour tro-tro ride away in Accra. I spent some of my evenings in her room watching movies with her. Somehow, I did not get any pictures with her!  :( But I did steal one from her Facebook to post on here!

The next child was 16 year old Sam. He was away at high school (all high schools in Ghana are boarding schools), but I did spend some time with him on a couple of his visits home. He was even kind enough to show me another internet café when the one I usually went to broke down.

Then we have my dear Emmanuel. We called him Emman (pronounced ee-muh). Emman is 15 and such a great kid. He helped me out a lot in my first few days especially, showing me around town, and helping me get tro-tros when I still was unsure how to. And even sometimes even when I knew how he still went with me in the mornings as I waiting sometimes close to a half hour for a tro-tro. Much of our conversations were filled with my girl advice for him. So basically, they were great conversations. :)

Cobbie was the next in age living in the house, but actually not one of Lizzy’s kids. He was her 10-year-old nephew. His parents were divorced, and his mother could no longer financially take care of him. In the goodness of her heart, Lizzy took this adorable boy in, but sadly could not pay for him to attend school. School in Ghana is incredibly expensive as it is not government funded and instead run as a business. A previous volunteer that stayed with Lizzy extended her charity to Cobbie and has been paying for his school for about 5 years now.

Now we’ve got 8-year-old Calvin. This kid is a stud and could do a killer Michael Jackson dance! Better than anyone I know in America for sure. He got really shy when I tried to get him to perform it for my brother and mom, but we got him to do it! So maybe I can get that video on here one of these days. The below picture is when we were playing around with Princess's fake yarn-hair. He's such a goof. 

And finally we’ve got the adorable Princess. I absolutely adore this 6-year-old girl. She is just about the sweetest, cutest, funniest thing ever. She really loved me too, and would tell everyone that I was her mother, or, as she would say it with her accent, “muddah.” And when she wasn’t calling me “caa-trin” (Katherine) she was calling me “Mom.” Lizzy thought it was hilarious too and said I had better tell my family I have a Ghanaian daughter. If I could have taken this girl back with me, I would have in a heartbeat.

I love my second family.

I will never forget them. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

the tro-tro

imagine a 15 passenger van. now imagine that van has gone through years and years of driving on rough dirt roads, it doors being throw open and slammed closed with hardly any thought at all, the interior never worked on, the exterior never worked on, and possibly even the engine never worked on. Also now imagine that the owner of this van wants to fit more than 15 people in it, so he has added seats that fold down into the aisle. This is what a tro-tro looks like. They have no a/c, so if you get a seat by the window with the breeze blowing in, its your lucky day. Here a few pics:

The tro-tro system is somewhat like a bus system. People pile on and off whenever they please. The rate they pay corresponds with the how far they are going on the tro-tro. There is a driver and a “mate.” The mate sits on one of the fold down seats in the aisle, opening and closing the door for the passengers (which actually is somewhat difficult considering the state of the van. usually they slide it shut, then reach out the window and snap the back of the door into place. my brother tried to close it one time and practically knocked the whole thing off. luckily, they just laughed at the silly “obruni” that didn’t know how to close doors).

As the tro-tro drives down the road the mate leans out the window and shouts the destination extremely fast. If you don’t know what to listen for, you will have no idea what he is saying. For example when you hear, “Crah, Crah, Crah! Sirk, Sirk, Sirk!” He is actually saying “Accra, Accra, Accra! Circle, Circle, Circle.” I love it.

If you are getting on the tro-tro from a station, you wander around asking different mates where the “Accra” or “Kwabenya” tro-tro is and they point in a [very] general direction. When you finally find the correct tro-tro you have to sit in it and wait until it fills up. Then it leaves. 

Here is a picture from a 3 hours tro-tro ride to Cape Coast. This was by far the nicest tro-tro I ever rode in.  [This guy taught my friend, Lindsie, and I common phrases in 4 different African languages.]
In some weird way, I loved my daily tro-tro rides. I even enjoyed riding an hour on them into Accra central. Yes, they were dirty. Yes, they broke down all the time (I almost had to help push one once, but instead I just hopped on anther tro-tro because I was late). Yes, they need a paint job. But how can you beat this experience of being crammed into a van with a bunch of Africans? Conversations were always fun, the children (usually at least 3 to a space an adult would take up) would always stare, and the rides were almost like riding on a roller coaster. A very uncomfortable roller coaster that is. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Knowledge the Gospel Brings

I flipped on the TV this morning as I was eating breakfast, and there was some sort of religious show on. The host was answering questions that people had emailed in. Listening to this made me so very grateful to be a member of Christ’s church and have the true knowledge of His Gospel. Here is the question that was posed:

Did we pre-exist with God in Heaven before we came here to live on Earth?

The Host’s Answer: “Before you formed me in the womb you knew me.” The host explained that this Bible verse just means that God knew who we would be, He did not literally know us. We did not exist until we were formed in the womb.

The True Answer From the Restored Gospel: We existed with God before we came to Earth. Abraham 3:22, “Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was…and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.” The Lord literally knew us, as beings, before we were formed in the womb. We existed in a pre-mortal life with our Heavenly Father.

Why this knowledge matters: It means there was a plan. There was a reason we came to Earth. God simply didn’t just make the world and decide on the spot to throw people into it as well. We each existed before we came here, and CHOSE to come here so that we could prove to the Lord that we can live with Him for all Eternity.

Learn more about where we came from, why we are here, and God's plan here
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