Friday, August 8, 2008

Home thoughts about our final couple of days

Hi Folks,
Back home, sitting in my kitchen again. Jet lag is not a lot of fun, and we were up 30 hours straight trying to get back here. That's a long story; on a day when I can find it a bit funnier than now, I'll tell you my "JFK Int'l Airport" story. So hey, you'll just have to keep checking back in here even though I"m home. You never know what I might be thinking about that comes through my writing!

I love my home and my family. They're my rock; my mom & dad have been my encouragers and supporters from Day One (which for me happens to have been August 29, 1956). I love calling them when I'm back in the US and saying, "Hey I'm home!!!" because they are almost giddy with excitement that I'm back! My kids all tell me things that happened to them that they havent been able to tell me b/c of bad phone connections while I was gone, so I get a "Readers' Digest Condensed Version" of their lives over the past 2 weeks. It's all good.

And my home is always a delight to return to. Amanda stayed here, keeping the home fires burning (or the a/c going, as the case may be), and making sure all our furbabies were fed and loved. I really appreciated her taking care of business around here.

I didnt finish my thoughts on Africa; I realize there are several days missing from my blog. David managed to post just about every day so I'm hoping you kept up with where we were & what we were doing on his blog.
He's got lots of photos and some videos in his blog as well.

We spent 3 days at Logba Tota, in the Volta region. It's such a special place to many people, myself included. I want to devote a complete blog on that one place, because I feel it's important to try to portray the "feel" of the place to you -- and a short blurb in one post isnt enough. So hey, there's another blog entry you'll need to stay tuned for!

One other entry that is formulating in my mind deals with families who live in a garbage dump. The images I have from that are seared into my mind. We learned of this place by visiting a nearby school & talking with Julius, the teacher who tries to keep those kids in school.

Our last few days were alternately slow and rushed. That's kind of typical; we usually try to slow down a bit our last couple of days. And yet, there are other things we try to do on mission teams to try to "decompress" a bit before leaving. We try, on each visit, to tour some historical place in Ghana, to try to teach our team members a bit about how the country was birthed and the area's history. This time, we visited Elmina Castle at Cape Coast -- my first trip there. In past visits, we've gone to the Ghana National Museum, and the Kwame Nkrumah National Memorial -- both fascinating places. Another place our teams usually go on the last day or so is the Arts & Crafts Center in Accra. This is a great place to pick up gifts for folks back home! Fabrics, glass bead jewelry, wood carvings, drums -- most anything you can think of is there!

So in the midst of travelling one day to do some shopping & check out the US Embassy, we did get into a bit of a "rush" now & then.

But there was a little down-time, as well, which gave me some time to begin packing things up and get ready for going back to Peachland.

One "big event" we had -- actually we did it twice -- was the "family reunion dinner." This is a dinner, usually on our last night, that our team hosts the folks that have been with us during the mission work. It's a fun, upbeat time, and we get to treat them to a nice meal.

As I said Dave & I actually did this twice! Sunday after church, we invited several folks to go with us to SFC -- "Southern Fried Chicken" and have lunch & ice cream. We had a great time -- and a HUGE crowd. Rev. James & Mary with their kids; Rich & Vic & their kids; my friend Ato and his wife Ruth with their daughter, Chief Takyi, a new friend named Happy that I'm anxious to get to know better, Abigail, Emmanuel, and a couple of other folks that joined us, just for the fun. Lunch was delicious -- they have "American" food as well as Ghanaian -- and Dave & I shared a Hawaiian pizza. Dave's nuts about pineapple, hehehe!!! Then we all had ice cream -- one of my favorite treats!

The other "reunion" was on Wednesday, our last night there. We spent Tuesday purchasing all the ingredients for the party. Dave bought a 2nd goat earlier in the week, so both goats were slaughtered (while we were out shopping, thank goodness). We went to the Tema produce market, and to Evergreen supermarket, and a couple of other places to purchase fresh fruits & veggies & other ingredients. I liked the produce market, with all the fresh carrots, garden eggs, kontumerie (greens), cassava root, plantains, bananas, pineapples -- all out there ready for you to bargain with the ladies over. There's also dried fish, rice, gari (sorta like grits, yall), dried beans, fresh chickens, eggs, spices, oils -- the sights & sounds are colorful and exciting. (You will notice I didnt say the same about the smells, hahaha!) The supermarket was really nice; much like ones we have here only with about 1/4 the amount of parking. There's actually a guy employed by the supermarket to direct traffic & assist with the tight parking!

Wednesday the feast preparations got into full swing. Vic & Abigail & Mary were in the kitchen cutting/chopping/grinding the veggies. The smells were delicious -- onions, tomatoes, spices. They made rice (mostly for me b/c I just cannot eat fufu w/o gagging, lol) and a goat stew, a tomato-based veggie sauce with carrots & peppers, goat with pineapple, and plantains. They also made fufu -- which David helped pound outside with Emmanuel & Abigail. There's a distinct rhythm folks have to get into in order to pound that stuff -- else someone's fingers could get crushed! The fufu pounder is H*E*A*V*Y -- what a good way to develop your muscles, huh? I was proud of Dave for giving it a try, he really got a kick out of it -- plus he LOVES fufu. Even bought some fufu powder so he could make it back home sometime. (I'll have a bowl of cereal, thank you very much!)

Rev. James' house is beautiful but not quite finished. The workmen chose Wednesday (of all days) to come and install the interior windows in the place. Ghanaian homes have windows on the interior walls to assist with ventilation. So -- in addition to the fufu pounding outside, and the busy-ness of the party prep in the kitchen -- we had these guys making a pure mess of the rest of the house. NONE of the windows they brought fit (of course) so they had to knock out pieces of the plaster walls to MAKE them fit. (I'd have been screaming bloody murder, I think!!!) There was dust & rocks and stuff all over the rest of the house. So much so, we finally took the dining room table & chairs OUTSIDE to the terrace for the party!

The party itself was grand. In addition to the families of RJ & Richie and Dave & myself, pastors Ben and (Motorcycle Minister) Johnson were there. Also Chief Takyi & his son Samson; Emmanuel and Abigail. And a "surprise" guest -- Julius, the teacher from a nearby school. We feasted & laughed way into the night. It was fun and light-hearted and a good way to wrap things up for us.

Other delights of the day included a massage & a manicure from Abigail -- she's just completed her certificate of training and is EXCELLENT. And we got to play with the kids one last time. Those 5 kids have been delightful and funny and a sweet part of our visit here this time.

On Thursday, our flight left at 10 am; we had to be in Accra to check in by 8. So Fifi, accompanied by Richie, picked us up really early. We said our good-byes to RJ, Mary, & the girls, then packed up the stuff and headed to the airport.
Once there, we were surprised with an extra good-bye hug from Ato & Ruth. Leaving is bittersweet; yet necessary.

There was a 3-year gap since my last visit. Many things remained the same, yet I noticed many differences. I'm still trying to process a lot of that in my mind. Most of the differences were good -- some were GREAT.
I try to have a positive outlook on things, it helps life seem more of a joy than a chore.

I still have several more thoughts to post about in the coming days, so keep checking back in with me!

Thanks to all who have emailed me or posted responses! I really appreciate the feedback. I liked "taking you there" with me through the blog; perhaps one day I can take you there, for real!

I'm grateful to God that I get the chance to go to Ghana; I'm grateful also to God that I get to come back home again.

Love to all -- more later!
Antia <><

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