December 01, 2011

observing our life in ghana

it's a sunny day of heat and humidity here in accra, ghana.  we're very fortunate to live with air conditioning.  as simple as i try to live, i think i'd be completely worn out if we didn't have the air con.  this surely must be why people who live in the hot regions of the world typically move very slowly.  this comfort of life enables me to have energy to serve my family and the community.  without it, i would not be able to accomplish much of what i can because i feel exhausted after a short time of working in or out of the house without it.  the heat consumes me after 15 minutes of working in the garden or keeping the air off in the house while doing some cleaning in the morning hours..such are my genetic limitations coming from northern europe. :)

our way of life seems normal to us now, but i often realize that what we're seeing, hearing, or doing, and how we are living, is quite different from most of our friends in the world.  today is a common example.  i'm outside gardening -- pulling weeds, removing stones, watering, and replanting.  i decided to use the water pump cover, which is too small for the pump, as a table/shelf for 2 potted plants.  it's very ghetto to most middle-class, educated people, but to me it's being transformed into something very useful instead of continuing to sit outside without a purpose (as a result of the new pump which will not fit under it).  while rearranging the plants i decide to uproot a handful of the mung bean plants which are growing too closely together.  at first i was going to add them to the pile of decaying green matter (which i still hope to use for our next sheet mulching experiment).  a thought, though, came to me to share them with katrin who is 17 and helping sprout seeds and grow food in her compound.  i walked down the dirt road and into her big yard, finding her lying down on a rattan mat.  she sat up and received the seedlings with appreciation.  i noticed that she had the children's version of the Dawnbreakers with her on the mat.  it was such a sign that something is happening in our neighborhood, something invisible -- that mysterious attraction of the soul to the spirit which animates our lives.  if the thought hadn't come to my heart to share the seedlings, i would have missed that opportunity to see our book being enjoyed by another soul who may not realize how special this story is..i felt so deeply happy..

the masses of ghanaians typically wake very early with the roosters, collecting water, washing clothes, sweeping, smoking fish, preparing porridge, fufu, gari, kenke & banku, & walking long distances to get to transportation, school or work.  black plastic bags carry everyone's meal or groceries -- no one carries something by hand unless they are eating it.  my driver explained that the black bag protects any bad spirits from affecting the food.  i use cloth bags when remembering to bring them with me, but if i try to take the local produce without a bag (like a bunch of bananas) and place it in my car, the ghanaian merchant will try to offer me a bag even after i've explained i don't need one.  in addition to the black bags, small, square-shaped sachets which carry water (instead of bottles) are bought & sold everywhere by everyone who is traveling by foot or in public transport (with the windows down, the merchants walk along highways and roadways selling the sachets).  the amount of waste thrown onto Mother Earth is disheartening.  no bins or enforced laws exist so people just throw the bags on the ground..

yesterday our jr. youth group's first service project, in response to the abundance of litter on the ground, was picking up trash.  with plastic bags in hand, we worked mostly in pairs to collect mostly plastic bags, but also empty food containers and wrappers, etc.  for the 3rd group meeting of newly-formed relationships, it was a big success seeing them cooperate, consult and have a good time doing something worthy of praise together.  one car stopped on the main road, rolled the window down and gave us a thumbs up with a shout, 'Good job!'  it was very rewarding and truly a divine confirmation. we welcomed people to our home 5 separate times throughout the day.  what a great sign that we are part of a community!  some kids joined us for Devotions this morning.. when we were hanging out at the pool, the kids who live across the street came by to hang out with us.. mid-afternoon 3 jr. youth came by to talk, 2 of which missed yesterday's session..before dinner 3 Baha'i youth came to hang out..and 7 other jr. youth and kids who are our neighbors down the dirt road joined us for sunday night 'storytelling'. :)  though we couldn't hang out longer with each of the friends who came by (or else we wouldn't be able to study or do what we do as a family, especially on a day that dashiel leaves for a business trip), it made us feel happy that we finally have established bonds of friendship with people in our neighborhood, most of whom are enjoying children's classes and jr. youth group with us!  now i will be thinking of them when we leave this week for the States and stay for 4 weeks.  some of them have already said how much they will miss us. by the grace of God we are all sharing bonds of love together. :)

1 comment:

  1. what a great post, Pamela! I love everything that is happening so organically in your community. It sounds like the JY group is really transforming the community as well as the hearts and minds of the youth. And I love how much gardening and growing of food you are doing! So much love and respect for how you are choosing to pass your days! xox