Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Clean your plate

Saturday the 22nd of May was quite the day. Saturday morning I had to say goodbye to my sweet friend Stella. Stella just graduated last saturday from JHS 3. She will be staying with her Ghanaian sponsor for the next few months before going to high school in the fall. She came to say goodbye and when she layed her head on my shoulder I noticed huge tears rolling down her face. She is scared to go, and sad to leave. I hated saying goodbye to her.

That afternoon I took the third set of students to reach Papayes to Accra. My dear friend Offei was one of those who had completed the reading program. Offei lights up my life. His mannerisms and comments are histerical. He ordered his food, then told me he wanted to get it to-go. I was confused, assuming he must be hungry. However, when his food came he started devouring the rice. As the food on his plate was waning, I told him that if he ate everything on his plate, right down to every last grain of rice and the bones I would buy him ice cream on the way home. I was talking to the kids sitting next to me, and was not watching Offei when I suddenly realized there were no longer chicken bones on his plate. I asked him where they were, and he gave me a closed lip smile and laughed. Jessica Ortman, who was sitting next to him, realized she could hear him chewing on them! I was so shocked I could hardly beleive it! I must admit I was freaking out a bit, which Offei thought was even funnier. I asked all the other kids if it would make him sick and they said no. He then just wanted more of a reaction out of all of us, and started to collect the other kids' bones!! I never dreamed he would take me literally when I joked with him to clean his plate. Oops. Apparently Offei means business when it comes to ice cream. I was going to buy them all some anyways!

Saturday night we showed the film the BIG GREEN, a kids soccer film from the mid-90's. You would have thought they were watching a world cup match the way they were chanting, clapping, jumping, and shouting during the film. It was so much fun. They were so into the film, even chanting "kiss the goat" and "go big green" at various points in the film! They have already been asking me to show it again.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The gift

Ebenezer has been my constant companion for sevearl months now. The other day he was quite angry at me because I called him out on his bad attitude. He spent most of the day upset with me. He even told one of the OC boys that is here that he wouldn't be my friend anymore. On my way to church that night he came running up to me apolozing over and over for his behavior. He kept saying "I was acting crazy wasn't I?" "You knew that I was being crazy." He spent the rest of the night saying sorry.

It is not very often the VOH kids have money to spend, only if friends or visitors give it to them. Yesterday I was sitting in the library when he walked in with a bag of pure waters for me. I buy these sets of 30 "pure waters" that are in small sachets to drink. He had 1 cedi ($1 essentially) and decided to spend all of it to get me water! Ebenezer knows kids are always asking me for water and I run out very quickly. He wrote me a note and told me that the reason why he was doing that for me was that he loves me very much. It was so sweet. It is moments like that remind me exactly why I am here. It is humbling to accept such sincerity from children. I told him it was quite possibly the best gift I had ever received.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Honeymoon Suite for One Please

Ever said that before? I found a cheap hotel in a small beach town halfway between here and Accra for the weekend. The honeymoon suite was $5 more than the regular room so I splurged. I found it rather amusing to be in the honeymoon suite alone. Although, really I had come for a date. A date with God, I needed a serious weekend getaway with him to sort through some stuff.

I spent the majority of the weekend sitting on a rock outcropping in solitude on a quiet stretch of beach in Kokrobite. Saturday morning I scoped out a great spot in front of a half-finished hotel. The security guard on duty came to greet me and brought me two fresh coconuts! He was quite gracious when he realized that I had come to be in solitude and left me alone the rest of the day. I won't spell out what happened those two days-but it was a fabulous time of silence and reflection and prayer. There were no epiphanies or decisions made, simply a beautiful reunion.

The last night I found a great hippie place to stay even more cheaply. It reminded me of Portland + Rasta + Ghana + beach. There were cute little huts with tie-dye sheets, mosquito nets, bucket showers, coconut trees, hammocks, bamboo, outdoor dining, and all the ambiance that goes with it. It felt great to not hear "Madam Chelsea" every second, and not to be called Obruni, or to feel obligated to be doing something every minute of the day. I have never stayed in a hotel alone before, it was a bit weird and lonely. But wonderful all the same. Just what I needed. Some time to really feel the things that I have been neglecting to reflect on and to feel.

Bumper to Bumper

An understatement: Accra has traffic. It doesn't really matter what time of day, unless it is before 5am or after 10pm, the roads are packed. It took 4 hours for me to get from one side of Accra to the other on Friday night. At one point I was sitting in a crowded crowded, hot, loud city bus being smashed between two people listening to all the passengers shout and argue about the price of the fare with the fare collector. The situation struck me as rather amusing. Accra is a bustling metropolis of people. I am slowly learning my way around on the tro-tros, knowing which place to change cars. Bumper to Bumper is the name of a really popular hip-hop song around here. And while it actually has nothing to do with traffic (something more sensual I'm sure) I feel like my life does right now. My mind has been flooded with so many thoughts, emotions, responsibilities, etc that it felt like a traffic jam in the head. So I decided it was time to get away for a few days. Long overdue actually.