Monday, August 23, 2010

What Planet is This?

I flew into OKC with Francis Flair last Thursday to bring him to America for college at Oklahoma Christian University.  Seeing the USA through the eyes of Francis has been a whole new experience for me.  I had the opportunity to introduce him to things that were completely new and fascinating for him.  Such as mailboxes, ice machines, grocery stores, chocolate chip cookies, dead bolts, etc. He mentioned he felt like he was on a different planet all together.  Our lifestyles are so completely foreign to him.

I might have almost drowned him trying to teach him a cannon ball in the pool.  Good thing my dear friend Amy Hubble came to the rescue.  I might have been too busy laughing to notice that he was actually panicking.  Bowling went a little better.  He actually came out on top during the second round.  The movie theater, was impressive.  So much so that he fell asleep.  (I'll let him off the hook with jet lag on that one)

Francis was amazed at the campus of OC.  He has never seen a school compound like it in his lifetime.  I had a great time giving him the tour and introducing him to the faculty and staff we met along the way.  I was completely overwhelmed with the love and support with which he has been received.  Gifts from cash, to cookies, to bicycles and open arms awaited him.  God is truly wonderful.  I am amazed at the way he has taken care of Francis.  I hope the OC community will continue to help him adapt to life in the USA. 

I tried to teach Francis the things he could not say in America.  Let me give you a few examples of our America lessons:

#1: Don't ask for a rubber. 
(a rubber is a plastic bag in Ghana)

#2: Don't say you are going to flash someone.
(flashing means to call and hang up after your phone number has appeared on their phone)

#3: Don't hiss at people.  In America, it will still get their attention.  But not the kind of attention you are looking for.

#4: Lock public bathroom doors.  (He learned that one the hard way)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

painting the town red

I am not really the domestic type.  Nor do I really get into interior decorating.  But for some reason I had the urge to repaint the house.  Perhaps it was the mildew yellow color.  Or perhaps it was the fact that it looked like chalk on a cement slab (because it is).  Whatever the case may be, Alayna* and I made the executive decision to paint the house.  Well at least the bedrooms and hallway.  Not that it was really our decision to make.  Because it is Tommy's house.  But, he is in America right now.  I still haven't told him.  He'll like it. Right?

Painting in Ghana is not like painting at home. You can't just go to Sherwin Williams and whip up a batch of fabulous paint and go home with all the accessories to paint like a pro. 

Step1: The Friday before paint day we took the 1 hr tro-tro ride into Kasoa market to find a little paint stand to buy the first oil based paint we could find.  Turns out you have to mix turpentine in with it.  Then we had to find a way to get the 4 cans back to the VOH along with our other market purchases. 

Step 2: Pull a Tom Sawyer and pretend like painting is great fun and find some recruits.  Thankfully it worked.  Shaibu, Asuo, Dana, Francis, and Sualesu joined in the "fun."
Step 3: Sandpaper the walls.  Now, what should have been step 3 is take all the furniture out of the room. Because suddenly everything in my room was CAKED in yellow chalk powder.  Including my body. 

Step 4: Without the blue painters tape, drop cloths, or anything besides a brush, paint, and a pan dominate the walls.  Turns out that beige color does not look like the sample.  Thanks a lot paint man.

Step 5: We ran out of paint.  So...while I am covered in paint splotches I have to put a skirt back on and make a three hour trip to get more paint from Kasoa.  As if they don't stare at me enough when I go into "town" I had to add some paint marks. 

Step 6: Spend all afternoon repainting the ceiling white.  Turns out those boys have never painted before and let the roller of beige paint hit the ceiling on every stroke.  Or so it seemed.  Without any ladders, my perches were precarious as I made my way around the room fixing the ceiling lines in the bedrooms.

Step 7: Repaint the bathroom.  The beige looked like puke.  So it had to be re-painted white.  Finished around 1:00am.

Step 8: Sleep out in the hall with all the doors to the rooms closed, because the turpentine was about to give us cancer with the fumes. 

Thank goodness I did this all the day before I left on vacation. Let's hope the smell is gone when I come back.  Its amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to a house.  And new curtains. Did I mention that we had new ones made? Hope Tommy doesn't mind. 

*I met Alayna in 2008 at VOH.  She is currently in Ghana implementing a new curriculum  project and is stayed with me for a couple of months.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Jesus looked at him and loved him.  Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.
Mark 10:21

I took the weekend off to celebrate the completion of the school year and to just chill for a bit without the persistent shout of "knocking" at the door accompanied by "madam chelsea!" (In Ghana, knocking is a statement you make at the door not something you do to the door)  I dearly love these children. I'm sure you all know that. But sometimes one has to take a chance to breathe, reflect, and rest. Since school vacated on Thursday the children are free--and are therefore continually wanting attention for one reason or another.  I tried to get some cleaning done a the house on Thursday and failed miserably for the steady stream of interruptions. 

I read the gospel of Mark this weekend.  I was struck by the constant demand for Jesus' attention.     I know there is no comparison between my life and the ministry of Jesus.  There are not thousands of people following me from town to town wanting to be healed or expecting to hear me preach.  My small glimpse at endless needs makes me more in awe of his patience and compassion that he displayed for the people.  In Mark 6 it recounts how Jesus had tried to sail away in a boat to a solitary place.  But the crowds beat him there.  Instead of responding in exasperation in verse 34 it says that Jesus had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. 

Often times Jesus tried sneak away at times to pray, or to teach his disciples alone.  It rarely worked, the people found him.  It amuses me at the kids' ability to find me wherever I am on campus.  One little boy came to interrupt girls devotional Thursday night because he wanted batteries.  How he knew we were meeting at a different location that night is beyond me.  I need to learn that practice of sabbath and solitude.  Taking time away so that when I am working I am working from the fullness of God's love within me, and not my own strength. 

In chapter 10 of Mark, the author tells us the story of the rich young man who thought he had it all figured out.  He thought he had figured out how to follow God's laws, be righteous, be rich, and get to heaven.  Until Jesus rained on his parade.  As I was reading this morning I just stopped at smiled at verse 21.  Jesus looked at him and loved him.  Not because he had it figured out.  But perhaps because he was so naive to think he did.  I think it must be similar to how I reacted when a student asked if we grew the same fruits in Oregon as they do in Ghana.  When I showed him on a map that most of our tropical fruits come from Florida.  He asked if we had been going to "the down there" to get our fruit.  I couldn't help but smile at his precious innocence.  I wonder if that's not how Jesus felt.  Looking at the rich young man and thinking. "oh my friend, you have a long way to go." 

I'm quite certain that he must do the same with me.  I hope he looks at me and loves me, despite my naive attempts at serving and loving in Ghana.  I'm sure he looks at me and thinks, "oh child, you have much left to learn."  But I sure am thankful that he is able to look at us and love us inspite of it all. 


At long last our school year has finally come to an end.  I am used to the September-May/June plan.  So this school year has been a stretch.  It hardly seems like the school year is over because it did not end with the usual fanfare and bang that accompany many American classrooms. There were no class parties, no awards assemblies, field days, etc.  They did spend the last day cleaning the school compound, and they simply won't come tomorrow.  At the end of every school day the bell ringer ringer clangs the bell several times then yells, "closing please." Except every sound is drawn out.  Wednesday I heard it for the last time. 

The teachers have been frantically entering grades into the report books.  Grading was never so menacing as it is doing it by hand.  You also have to wait in line for each classes record book.  I finally finished my last class late Wednesday afternoon. 
We had a teachers seminar this last week with a group of teachers from the Prestoncrest Church of Christ in Dallas, TX.  The teaching staff here was surprised when I showed up to the meeting the first day.  Sometimes they think because I am an American I am exempt from such meetings and trainings.  I try to present myself as just one of the staff.  I admit sometimes I fail to follow the regular teacher's procedures.  Such as the chain of command when requesting a leave of absence.  I think it was very important for me to be a learner right beside the other teachers during the seminar.  The fact that I am just one of the team is slowly setting in. 

I have started thinking about the new students that I will have next year, and the repeat students.  I am really excited about teaching the same material as last year-only better.  Second year of teaching has got to be so much better!  In the meantime, I have plenty of programs, activities, and preparation to do during the short school holiday! School reopens the 6th of September.