Friday, February 27, 2015

ABC's of Life in Lawra

A Ali's Tea Shop is the BEST place (and only place) to buy bread and egg.
B Bicycle repair shop is under the tree at daily market
C Cakes - local cakes are made out of white bean flour and look like tortillas. They are eaten with fresh vegetables.
D Daily market is where you go to buy your vegetables.
E Eggs have brown shells
F Fruit is not easily available, but, when it is...yum!
G Ghana Post Office is where I pick my mail. There is no home delivery.
H Harmattan is a season of cooler temperatures, high winds, no rain. It is usually mid November to mid February.
I Indigenous people group with whom I work is the Dagaba. 
J Juju is anything worn to prevent evil spirits from attacking you, usually in the form of some type of necklace or bracelet.
K Kalsagri is the village where I do most of my work. The church for which I am a caretaker is in Kalsagri.
L Lights out (no electricity) happens periodically. It is a way of life.
M Maakum is the Dagaari word for "Grandmother," a name that is music to my ears.
N Naa is the word for "Chief." The Traditional government has a chief and runs through the bloodline.
O Oppressive. During hot season, temperatures can reach 120 degrees - very oppressive!
P Parcel. Receiving a parcel in the mail is most exciting.
Q Q...there is no "Q" in the local language. A "kw" makes the needed sound.
R Religions. The three main religions of the area are Traditional, Muslim and Christian.
S Superintendent Minister. I work along side The Methodist Church Ghana, and more specifically with the superintendent minister posted in Lawra, the Very Rev. Ernest K. Baiden.
T Tro tro is how I travel to the nearest city. A tro tro is a van that has seen better days and travels between Lawra and Wa.
U Under a mango tree is the best place to relax on a hot afternoon.
V Vegetables are quite limited here. If you like okra, you will be ok!
W Weekly market is a much larger market and a variety of items are sold. It occurs every six days!
X Xylophones are made locally. They are made from teak wood and calabashes.
Y Yelmenga, the Dagaare word for "Truth" or "True." Everything on this list is true!
Z Zinnias grow wild during rainy season.



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Home Again

I arrived in Ghana on Tuesday, February 17, 2015. But, I didn't arrive home until Friday, the 20th. Jasper picked me up at the airport. Then, I exchanged money and went meat and cheese shopping before going to the Jackson's house to spend two nights. When we arrived, I discovered one of my suitcases was broken and in a matter of minutes, I dropped my phone which was now beyond repair! I was thankful for the phone that was given me while in the US. I put my stuff in the freezer. Later that night, the electricity went out. (Accra is on a schedule 12 hours on, 24 hours off.) I prayed my food would survive!
Wednesday, Charlie took me to Vodafone to buy a new one. (The phone from the US does not support the apps I use. The operating system could not be updated. But, it works great as a second phone!) I also prepared for my trip north. We decided to take two days, not pushing a 14+ hour drive in one day. Jasper and I left Sunyani on Thursday, and on to Lawra, Friday. We stayed with the Methodist bishop in Sunyani. His deep freeze was working fine and the electricity was on, so everything of mine was solid before we left on Friday. On Friday, we stopped in Wa so I could buy vegetables at the market. Lettuce was available! We arrived in Lawra around 1:00 in the afternoon. There were things to be done before going to my house...greet the pastor, drop off donations to the Lawra Methodist Children's Centre and buy fuel.
Finally, home! Sydney was there to greet me and unlock the door. The truck was unloaded and Jasper was on his way back to Accra. I was greeted with dust...EVERYWHERE! I had to clean as I started to unpack and put things away. Even so, it was good to be home!
Since Friday, I have had my motorcycle serviced, twice. Once for an oil change and a new battery and once for a flat tire. The tube was spoiled. The plumber is here for the second time. Yesterday, he fixed the kitchen sink. Today, he is fixing the wash sink. The clothes line was spoiled and needed replaced. Monday, the laundry was done and floors were well cleaned. I also found out that I needed to buy a new SIM card for my internet. the one I had was too old! I have worshipped in Kalsagri, visited the pastor, the Lawra Methodist Primary School, and the Tea Shop. I visited daily market and saw some of the ladies from Kalsagri selling their shea butter. (See above picture.) Now, I am trying to catch up on church work, emails, etc. Even though the pastor told me to rest this week, it hasn't happened much. I am just so glad to be home! I thank God for bringing me back safely. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Packing for Home

I leave “home” tomorrow to return to my “home.” Which one is my REALLY REAL home is a topic for another blog. Today’s topic is packing.What do I pack when I live in an area where there is so little available and I am traveling from an area where so much is available. Well, here is a list of things that I’d like to pack, but can’t:
  • my sister, brothers and extended family
  • friends
  • worship in English
  • hot and cold running water
  • snow, for those really, really hot days
  • dependable electricity
  • a bathtub
  • Tula’s pool
  • nice, clean rest stops
  • home delivery of mail
  • the privilege of having a toilet in which I can flush used TP
  • home pick up of garbage and recycling
  • a/c when it is hot and heat when it is cold
  • a washer and drier
  • my bed at Nancy’s lake house
  • easily accessible doctors
  • the ability to shop for whatever I would ever need or want
I will be satisfied with packing some new clothes, Yankee candles, Smith’s hot dogs and tons of other stuff And, I will thank God for providing me the means to acquire all these things for myself and others. May I bless others as I have been blessed.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Random Thoughts

As I sit here and look out over frozen Lake Erie, my mind is filled with random thoughts. The first one is...I'm headed home in 10 days! At least, that's when the journey will begin. Although I would never have chosen to return to the United States last September, I am grateful for the things I have experienced since I have been here. And, if all my experiences weren't positive, there was a lesson to be learned in each one of them.
Now, I I really want to retire in Erie? There is snow here - LOTS of snow. I would miss my brother and sister who live in Erie, but, with modern technology, we keep in touch even when I am in Ghana. Visiting churches makes me examine myself to really see how I respond to visitors to my church. Are they welcomed? Do THEY feel welcomed? What would I do differently at the church in Kalsagri? I hope I will become more aware of those worshipping with us and take more time with people, not just hop on my motorcycle to go home. Medical issues...I am grateful to have had the knee replaced. I am not grateful for the medical bills. I am grateful that God has provided me means to pay them, even if it takes awhile. I am grateful for the people and places I have seen in the past several months. I have celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas with family. I have attended the wedding of my nephew. I have gone to The Mission Society office to re-connect. I have gone on vacation. I have visited with friends.
I am more than ready to move on and go home. I leave in TEN days. I can't wait. Ghana is more home to me than Erie is at this point. Packing is a challenge, even with extra luggage. I am blessed to have so much "stuff" to take back, some for myself, some for others. And, food. I am taking back some food, some things to celebrate special dogs for Memorial Day. Stuff like that. I am looking forward to worshipping in Kalsagri and seeing my church family again. Oh, how my heart yearns to see them again.
Enough of that. Let's just say, my mind is working overtime these days. Ghana, I miss you.  See you soon!

Bus Travel the Greyhound Way

In January, I had the opportunity to travel by Greyhound bus. Boy, was I in for culture shock! First of all, I bought my tickets online. There was actually a schedule of when and where to join on the bus, when and where it would take a break for a rest stop and when and where it would stop and I would alight. 
When I entered the bus station, I noticed right away that it was a clean, shiny bus station! I took my luggage to the desk where it was weighed. I was told how much to pay according to the weight, not just an arbitrary amount, but one that was used across the board!
I waited inside until it was time to board the bus. It was clean and comfortable...with wash rooms and flush toilets! (With toilet paper AND running water at the sinks AND soap!)

As I sat and waited, I watched the activity outside the windows, by the buses. Then, I saw it...a bright yellow plastic STEP to more easily get inside the bus. What will they think of next? The announce-ment was made to board the bus, so we all lined up, showed the driver our tickets and found a seat.
The bus was not full, so I was able to find a seat by the window. No one sat beside me. The bus left the station before it was full! I had two seats all to myself! In the back of the bus was a wash room! And, under the windows were electrical outlets so people could keep their electronics charged. The ride was smooth and blessedly quiet. We stopped at the rest stop on time and arrived at our final destination on time. Greyhound Bus Lines...I love you!

Bus Travel the Metro Mass Transit Way

When I travel in Ghana, it is usually on public transport. I love living in Lawra, but, it is not the easiest place to travel to or from. When I need to travel ANYWHERE except Wa, the day begins long before the sun comes up. I leave my house at 3:30 in the morning, carrying my baggage to the bus "station" in downtown Lawra so I can get a seat on the Metro Mass Transit bus going to my destination . Some mornings the bats are swooping down as I walk, sometimes not. Once, I walked through a torrential deluge. Needless to say, I was soaked way before I entered the bus.
Once on the bus, I look for an empty seat and settle in for the duration. It is comfortable at first, the sun is not up, so the heat is not yet stifling. We stop many times along the way, picking up passengers and dropping them off.

People bring whatever they can on the bus. Room in the boot is limited, so the aisles are frequently full of all kinds of things: luggage, yams, paint, chickens, Big 50kg bags of rice or produce...When we have a rest stop, it is challenging to make it to the door. The facilities at the rest stop are usually behind a building, parked vehicle, tree or some other vegetation. But, that is not always the case. Once in a while, there is actually a urinal or maybe just an open space where I take my cues from other women on the bus. The rest areas that I am used to as an American, are not even a dream here. (That is why I quit drinking most everything 6-8 hours before I travel.)

 When it is raining, one has to be careful. If you have a window seat, you most likely will get wet. Once, I was on a bus where the water came up through the floor every time we went through any size of a puddle of water. It made for an interesting ride!
After a long day of heat, dust and bumpy roads, my destination is reached. Praise God! In the midst of  a smooth or bumpy ride, heat or rain, break downs or not, I have always reached my journey's end safely. Metro Mass Transit...Moving the Nation!