June 10, 2011

story: life in ghana

we are staying at a guest house in Accra until we find a house to live in.  we have been here for 2 months and it continues to be an interesting experience, to say the least.

yesterday the boys kicked the soccer ball over the tall wall of the compound into the adjacent cemetery. they explained to me that their 2 friends didn't want to enter the cemetery alone. so i did the natural thing and jumped up from my seat, slid on my sandals, walked down the stairs, opened the heavy gate of the compound and began walking around the side of the compound along a rocky, dirt path that often smells like urine by the time it reaches the intersecting market-lined street.

about half a block down the market-lined road we entered through an opening of a cement wall that looked like we were entering an abandoned lot. tall grass was interspersed with rows of baby cornstalks, the tiniest chickens i've ever seen, and about 15 old tombstones. i followed the two local boys along the dirt pathway which led to the family's home. set partly under an old, large tree, the light blue colored, wooden home had 2 young women sitting in the doorway braiding hair. after a friendly greeting, i noticed their surprise that i could say 'thank you' in the local 'twi' language. they gave their permission for the boys to retrieve the ball and went back to braiding.

i realize now that i didn't take in much detail of the home itself. i was immediately attracted to the woman who woke up from her nap. she sat up on the bench which was put together with scrap pieces of wood, and with a bright smile she motioned for me to come sit next to her. we were under the tree -- in front of us was a dirt courtyard area; behind us were many baby cornstalk plants in perfect rows shooting up as a result of the rainy season that began last month. in the corner of the garden area was a large compost area next to a shed.

after sharing some greetings in twi, the elderly woman explained what all of the tattoos on her arms and legs meant. the young woman came over and explained to me in english what the woman was saying -- apparently the tattoos were very painful but she was proud of them: gardening shears, a scorpion, a butterfly, a bird & a watch (on her wrist). just when i was in the moment of this special moment, the boys returned with the ball. we hugged and said goodbye.

it felt like i walked into a world that was rich with stories of survival, cooperation, innovation and dignity. it reminded me of the kind of movie, like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, where a child enters a whole new world which is magically connected with yet completely different from the one from which the child lives in. we are staying in a giant guest house in a neighborhood full of big homes and large yards. behind us is a world of full of material poverty. 

i like entering new worlds and find myself drawn to the ones with less material comforts yet more humility and love -- it is there i find myself full of joy.  the woman in the cemetery is one of God's gems in the web of humanity's oneness; she enriched my life in that short moment together.

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