Thursday, August 20, 2009

Colors


For all the dirt I experienced, I think I saw equal parts
color of everything else.
Just random photos really~

We went to some of the houses in the monkey village
to see how people lived. This was just a
gate with laundry drying I thought was pretty.
I wanted the fabric!

I loved all the buckets and pots for wash and food.

This is how we bleached our fruit before eating it.
Kinda pretty though~

Jordyn got so excited to find this unique shell...
until we kept walking and were practically
dancing around the sand dollars!
Oh, back when we had clean toes:)

Sunset at Mole

Most rustically colorful gas station

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Pick-Me-Up

HAHAHA
Been back a week or so now and I've found myself looking back and back again at the photos I took and the photos my friends captured. So, just as my mom has hooked me on her Jamba Juice Pomegranate Pick-Me-Up craze, I have hooked her on my African children's faces Pick-Me-Up. I swear, just look at these faces and you'll feel a little happier~


Teshi Orphanage

Lynley loved these girls

The kids come out from every corner to find us.
Here is the little "bum" girl and the little girl with the flip flops and underwear


It's sad to see, but her stomach is distended because of poor nutrition.
But I do love the huge flip flops and backwards underwear,
not to mention the excellent color coordination!



I think this girls face is stunning

Ok, so William has glitter all over his face.
One of my classmates gave a lesson on germs, using glitter to
provide a visual example of how they spread and....glitter
is all over his face. Yum! Not sure how well that lesson 'took.'

Felix...see his name in chalk?!

This little girl hung around the Manya Krovo lessons, just watching, until her brother came to walk her home~

Lynley snapped this photo from behind of the girl holding my hand. Notice the little boys crack. haha!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Spoils

In order for any trip, vacation, or study abroad to be any success at all, one must purchase as many souvenirs as possible...preferably with a few you really don't need. I like to think I made only "very necessary, must-have" purchases!


This little doll was made by my bishop's wife. I love the authentic fabric, of course, and her hair! All the beads too. And on her back is her baby with the round head of hair. Such a cute touch because that is exactly how they carry their babies. And, holding to the African tradition of naming their kids with two names (one Ghanaian and one Christian) depending on the day they were born, my doll's name is Afua. I, being Sunday born, would have been named Anne Marie Akosua Hyer. (Christian, Ghanaian, Father's name)

I looked high and low for these next two finds. Early in the trip, mama wrote me and told me to make some fun purchases, but to also make sure I found something that would remind me of my time spent here in Ghana. I knew I had to find something that would remind me of all the many women carrying everything from chips to shoes to water on their heads while at the same time carrying on their backs their sleeping babies with their bobbing heads. I also knew I would hate it if I never found a little elephant memento from the crazy week we had at Mole Animal Reserve. So so lucky I found both after much perusal of the markets~

Around her middle in this profile you can see the little wrap she has around her. The little dot is the baby's head. Both of these wood carvings are two toned mahogany. You can see the shop owners hand carving them behind all of their market shops so they are original to each shop.

The other two elephants were a separate find at a nicer shop, seeing as how they are stone. Pretty huh?!

Doesn't this look awesome?! Basically, Africa leant itself quite nicely to my obsessions with fabric and jewelry. Here we see an abundance of the latter. They had the most inexpensive earrings and bracelets that are still so fun. I bought the two great bowls at another market and slowly they just kept filling with all my jewelry finds! The lime green earrings and the white with black dots earrings are examples of the cedi beads. The "dollar" is called a "cedi" and years ago they used to use these cedi beads as money, hence the name which has been transferred to their paper money today. The beads are everywhere. There is a story to EVERY ONE of these purchases! And the fabric beneath it all took me forever to bargain down, but I got it! They'll be good R.S. table runners I figure. :)

Now, this fabric is special. As in many cultures, black is the traditional color worn at a funeral. Something unique they do in the part of Ghana I was in is the addition of red to the funeral colors. I was there when one of the MPs (members of parliament) died and you could see many many people in black fancy dresses and robes for the men with red accessories of sashes and hair pieces. This was some beautiful fabric I found not for a funeral but just for fun~ And these beads were just everywhere so we all bought tons. Easy to do.

Paintings were everywhere. I just loved the simplicity in this one. Simple portrait to bring lots of memories back.

Jackpot! I found these at a market and at a shop around the corner with a nice lady and her husband. It was so tempting to buy it all. But I have ideas for each yard!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

By God's Grace...

The people of Ghana are a very religious people. Worship service is held every Wednesday morning at Grey Memorial School, preachers have sermons numerous times a week, and when we would ask people how they were, the adults would often answer, "By God's grace I am fine."

video

Something fun I started to do after a few weeks in Ghana was to take note of all the religious references made on car windows and shop fronts. On about 75% of the taxi and buses there would be big yellow gold stickers of a 2-5 word religious phrase on the back window. And easily 80% of the shops had a purple or black title incorporating religion. In just one day, on one bus ride, these are the phrases I took note of on the cars and on the shops:

TAXI/BUS
-With God
-Back to Sender
-We are still praying
-Fire & Holy Word Worship...7-Day Holy Ghost Package Included
-God will provide
-God is great
-Jesus, power
-Read Da Bible
-Isaiah
-Good God
-The Lord is my light
-Jesus is the answer
-Clap for Jesus
-Give your best to God & ask God for His best

Look at the Shop titles

SHOPS
-Not By Might
-My Shepherd
-Jesus Connection Enterprise
-To God Be The Glory Dishes
-That I May Know Him
-Jesus Cares Salon
-Hallelujah Hardware
-Everything by God Beauty Salon
-Glory Be To God
-God's Time Is The Best
-Right Way Book Shop
-Virtuous Ladies Beauty Salon
-Grace & Glory Nursery School

Some are so funny! You just can't deny that God is very important to these people.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

They're coming to America

Our last "Hurrah" ice cream run at Frankie's before we headed out the next morning

It's official, I'm back in America! All day Monday I had Neil Diamond's song "America" in my head.

Home, to a new and a shiny place
Make our bed, and we'll say our grace
Freedom's light burning warm
Freedom's light burning warm

They're coming to America
They're coming to America
They're coming to America
They're coming to America
Today, today, today, today, today


In the airport with our Ghana shirts from Rom


Stepping off African soil and onto the plane

It felt odd to be so excited to go home, because I LOVED my time in Africa. I was leaving a place I learned so much from, a place where everything and everyone I saw taught me something about a whole different world. But I felt it was a blessing to be so calm about going back to America. My time was very well spent. I know there are so many things I couldn't photograph, but the memories and feelings I gained from my experience will impact me for the rest of my life.
On our descent into New York airport, Carlie and I sat quietly looking out the window. I imagined I would feel relief and sadness landing back in the states after living in a third world country, which I did. But mostly I think it was just mild shock. Carlie and I both commented on how organized everything was, how different it looked, and then in unison, "everything is so clean!" It really was so blatantly clean compared to Africa we both laughed. And what makes the difference between two worlds? A plane ride.
The rest of the trip went really smooth, and yesterday after 36 hours since leaving the Pink Hostel I finally landed in Oakland, Ca. I hadn't cried at all saying my goodbye's to everyone and to Ghana. But the moment I saw mama it was all over. I cried a lot yesterday talking to her about all the kids I met.

Little Richard in the blue

Saw him a few days in a row. Always the same sweater~

Mary in the blue tank top

Mostly about my Mary. Mama said there was something about her face in the picture of the two of us that was different from the others. I told her I think it was Mary's calm and sweet spirit that just radiated from her face. Often times, I felt I loved the kids so fast and easily but you couldn't always tell just what you meant to them per-se. There was definitely a language barrier. But Mary I know loved me. She was always just there. Standing next to me, resting her hand on my shoulder or back, or listening intently from her seat in the back. She never said more then maybe 10 words to me the whole month, but that fit who she was. She never yelled at the other kids to be quiet. Didn't hit other people. And always came to the front of the class if we sang songs or did an activity. I know Mary loved me and I'll always love and remember her.
I wish I could have sat down with her one-on-one and explained how great I knew she was and how important I knew she was and wanted her to be. But our schedule and setting didn't lend itself to that. I really do pray she will have good things happen to her and she will be strong in her world.

I just can't get over the fact that one day you are in one world and the next day your're in another. I just can't wrap my head around it. A plane ride. That's all there is between the desperate situation some children are born into and the freedom and endless possibilities this world offers other children...born just across an ocean. Here I am, safe back in America under my American sky, and all my kids are back under their African sky living their lives just the same as before I came. I saw the happiness they have, and I really do believe their culture offers so many unique and different experiences I, having been born in the U.S., will not learn and have. But I can't help but feel like I escaped all the unfortunate, sad, and hard experiences that come with that culture as well. Life is hard there, and I saw that first hand at times. But I just have to remind myself of all the happy people I saw there, the fun and amazing drumming, dancing and singing, the fabrics and way of life of the people, and remember that everyone is sent to this earth to gain experience. The differences in these experiences are what gives this earth its color and beauty, and "happiness"is defined in many more ways than my own, a few of which I was blessed to learn during my time in beautiful Ghana, Africa.



(I will be adding many more photos and posts of memories over the next week or so. Feel free to stay posted as all my follow up thoughts come to me. I've enjoyed sharing everything so far. Thanks for all the kind and meaningful comments many of you have given me!)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

She's makin' a list...

I'm realizing more and more what I'm going to miss when this is all over. I've had some pretty great and new experiences here in Africa. I feel surprisingly comfortable walking and driving around Accra and chatting with the people. I still theorize that the moment I set foot on American soil I will feel a sudden rush of relief from the underlying anxiety I feel here and might even kiss the ground. But all the same, there's a lot to miss from this country.

The non-tangible things I will miss most:

-Children’s smiling faces

-Little hands constantly reaching for me and touching me

-Getting ready each morning in 30 minutes tops

-Teaching

-Everyone smiling and waving at me

-Vendors

-Being called “my sista”

-Women with baskets, bowls, crates and everything else under the sun balanced on their head

-Everything being green

-Learning about the world first hand

-The burnt smell of the air

-The fabrics the women wear

-Being with people all the time

-Speaking French with the locals

-Humidity (it’s cozy and warm)

-Wishing every time I blinked I could take a photo with my eyes

Some of the tangible things I will miss most:

-Mango

-Frankie’s Pizza

-Hostel fried rice

-Cadbury Chocolate with biscuits

-Gigantic Water bottles

-Rhapsody’s

(Ok please take note, as I just did, that ALL of the tangible things I’ll miss most are food. Nice!)

Things I don’t foresee missing anytime soon:

-The smell of urine wafting from the gutters

-Being dirty 85% of the time

-Having to put used toiled paper in the trash…not the toilet

-Anxiety

-Suffocating from exhaust on every taxi ride

-Potholes

-Preacher Man who sings for the Pentecostal church behind the hostel

-Mosquito bites

-Stomach aches

-One handed lukewarm showers

-Not being able to escape witnessing all the poverty and sadness in the world, as important as it is to see and learn from

Things I CRAVE!

-Salads and Vegetables

-Security

-Eye shadow

-Clean clothes

-Tuna

-Riding a bike

-Ketchup

-The news

-Red meat

-Fluffy shower towels

(This list is subject to change as I come home

and realize what I truly miss)

.....this, and a couple of other final posts from Ghana below...

Saturday

Two more days left…that’s it! I’ve been delaying writing anymore the past few days because that would mean I would have to write about “the end.” I realize that this dream of mine to come to Africa and live this adventure is ending soon. I’m sure the emotion of it all will hit me sooner than later, but for the time being I’m just having fun!

We had all day today to play, so we started out with some breakfast and Frankie’s. We stayed up until 3 am Friday night, so sleeping in and a yummy breakfast was necessary. Afterward, we walked a mile or so to an African market. This was a very calm two story market where Esther, the stake Relief Society President works. It was clean, but unfortunately very pricy. So instead of spending much time there, we headed to a fabric store I remembered seeing while jogging in the mornings. Unfortunately, after finding the right street we found the wood slates empty. But walking just a little further we found another shop.

Jackpot. They had totally reasonable prices and beautiful fabric. I swear I am at one with my world when I am surrounded in fabric.

Taking back our great new finds, we started packing. Weird! It means things are ending. As long as some days have felt here, I still feel like it has only been two weeks since I arrived. Packing again is just odd.

After we took a little break, some of the girls wanted to head back over to Teshikwashi market for the last time. I had so much fun messing around with all the vendors. The guys like to call out, “Tsss, my sister. Let me show you something special for you. I give you good price, good price. Just look in my shop. No price for looking.” Everyone has something special. Everyone will give you “a good price.” It’s pretty funny. So now I feel comfortable enough here that I just mess around with them. They seem to have fun. Like I’ve said all along, it’s going to be hard coming home because nobody’s going to think I’m cool! Just on the merit of being a white blonde girl, I am instantly super cool and popular. It’s gonna be a bleak picture indeed.J

Now, after we cleared out this market we had to hurry and meet up with our group for a last hurrah dinner at Rhapsody’s. In order to get to the Accra mall, we had to cross some ground. Let’s just say I checked off running across a freeway from my Life List of Things-to-Do. Now it’s back packing, writing down last day memories, and roommate bonding. Tomorrow I plan on eating as much mango and fried rice as I can and soaking up as much Ghana in my bones as possible!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dromo

The world is always smaller in the church. People know people, word spreads like wildfire, and someone is always there to “invite” you to share your talents with others. Guess what? Same holds true in Ghana as it does everywhere else. The work Lynley does every year in Africa has gathered quite a reputation in the areas she has served. We were “invited” by our ward, the Christianbourge Ward, to share our talents of teaching! So, last night (Friday) we headed to the stake center across from the temple to hold a fireside on our AIDS lessons.

Knowing we were in a church setting, we catered the lessons to our audience. I spoke on the Divine Institution of Marriage. We had already introduced the myths and transmission of HIV, so to kind of lead into the church discussion, I spoke about how in the time of Moses there were plagues sent among the people. Now in these latter-days we also have plagues, such as HIV/AIDS. Spoke on the importance of providing a safe haven from these plagues, the responsibility of families, how families are made up of men and women, and finally leading to my teammates discussion of abstinence and faithfulness and the happiness that comes to marriages when they follow simple guidelines.

They dance towards each other, jump up, then come down and bump hips

After what I’m sure was an entertaining lesson from all of us :) …some of the boys and girls of the ward gave us a really entertaining show of dancing and drumming. They belong to a group they call “Dromo” which means By the Grace of God. Fun costumes, fun drumming, happy faces, it was just fun.

Check out the boots. Way cool!

Front left??? Yeah...I danced with him. Hello muscles!

"Him"

In the last number they came over to where we were watching and picked some of us out of the audience. The boy I danced with was gorgeous. I can NOT dance like an African. They move so beautiful. And they look like they are having such a great time. But I gave it a try and attempted to forget how ridiculous I was looking and just have fun. And it was!

Oh, and something else fun…when I was at Frankie’s the other night, we were getting ice cream (surprise) and the boy dishing it up had a ring on. I asked him what it said even though I thought I knew, and it was a CTR ring. Fun! So we walked in to the stake center last night and there he was. It was neat to see him in both environments. The world is always smaller in the church~