I was looking back through some of my older posts just now. I was so nervous about going to Ghana. I was worried about lots of things that I had no control over and I look back now and realize how foolish it is of me to worry about things that I cannot change. I feel like I've grown a lot in the last 6 months. I still probably worry about things that I can't change, but I think I've gotten better. Coming back the to States has been challenging to me already and it's only been 10 days. In just 7 months I got very used to the kind of life I had in Kumasi. I got used to very disciplined children that are polite and nearly always do what they're told. I got used to people in general being kind to each other and not being sarcastic (for the most part) or hurtful. I got used to living with people that are very different from me and we all worked on accepting our differences. I got used to having family devotions and family night and "hippie" night and talking about spiritual things and trying to encourage everyone to our higher calling as Christians. Coming back, is culture shock to me. There have been quite a few times in the last 10 days that I have felt very uncomfortable. I don't really want to be too specific because I know that some family members and friends occasionally look at this blog. Suffice it to say that I have grown up in a world that is VERY different from that of the children I've been working with in Ghana. Children here have so many more opportunities available to them. To see parents that don't discipline their children really worries me. What will happen to those kids when they're 16-18 years old and suddenly they're expected to "act their age" but they've never been properly disciplined? It worries me to see Christian parents that don't stress the importance of getting in the word and Bible study and prayer to their kids. Forget about memory work since in the States that's pretty much reserved for Vacation Bible School. My nephews and niece don't even have chores. They're 13, 8, and 4 and they basically have no responsibilites. I don't know if this is typical of American children today, but they watch TV and play computer games or listen to music almost constantly. I just don't know what's happpened to the values of this country. There are so many things I want to say to so many people, and I'm afraid of saying them. I know some of them would get extremely angry........but what if I still need to say it? I might totally lose the relationship I have with some of them. Am I willing to give up a good relationship with a friend or relative if they really need to hear what I have to say? I don't know......it's hard to think about. There are so, so many things going through my head lately. Family issues, personal growth issues, spiritual issues, so many things. I sometimes wonder if Ghana is so appealing to me because it sort of offers an escape from the life I had gotten used to here. Is that a bad thing? That's enough ranting for now;
Here are a few things I learned over the last 6 months......
>"Fufu" is not just a word used to describe a fluffy dog
>Food just tastes better when you eat it with your fingers
>When white people eat Ghanaian food with their fingers, the Ghanaians love it
>If a Ghanaian tells you that something you're eating will "make you run" they don't mean it will give you lots of energy
>spoons are not necessary for eating soup
>Hamburger Helper made with tuna instead of hamburger, is not that good
>canned beans with canned tuna added to them.....also not that great
>you will eat anything when you are really hungry, and you'll enjoy it
>Children should appreciate the discipline they get.....and thank you for it
>Memory work is not as hard as most people think.......just think of all the songs/movies etc that you can quote lines from
>in Ghana you can "look like someone who will get married"...whatever that means
>If you never eat, you're always invited
>If you never eat when you're invited, people will get annoyed with you (at least taste it)
>Sarcasm is usually not that funny.....and usually mean spirited
>I do not need air conditioning......even when it's really hot
>People are beautiful
>I am talkative, when I'm around the right kinds of people
>I like okra.....even when it's slimy (who knew?)
>You can walk a lot longer when you have someone to talk to
>Homecooked food is exponentially better than ANY other kind of food
>Learning another language is hard, especially when mischevious friends teach you a word and you later find out that it means something totally different.....
>Lifting weights is fun....even when it's really hard
>Your friends can convince you to do things that you would NEVER do under normal circumstances
>When Christians actually act like Christ, it's an amazingly beautiful thing
>Animals are not as important as people's souls
>You can't blame who you are now on "the way I was raised".....grow up & take responsibility for your actions
>Forgivness is totally necessary and sometimes totally unfair....it's called grace
>most Americans have NO idea where Ghana is
>most Americans think all Africans live in mud hut villages and worship idols and don't have shoes or cars or computers......
>most Africans think that all Americans are rich....although, by African standards, we kind of are
>When your friends love you, they don't care about your shortcomings, but they'll try to help you fix them anyway
>A lot of people don't really care when they ask you how your trip was.....they just want you to say "oh it was great....I saw an elephant"
>The people that really do care, don't care that you saw an elephant
>No matter how many times you tell your grandma that you're going to WEST AFRICA, she will still believe that you're going to some terrorist state where you'll be kidnapped and beheaded on television.
>It is too easy for me to forget about people when I am away from them......I need to work on keeping in touch.
>When you're out of the country for 7 months, you find out which friends/family members really care about you & which ones don't.....for the most part
Lastly I learned this.....I am really Ghanaian at heart.
Shine like stars
Well, things have been a bit hectic/crazy/busy since I got back to the US on the 16th/17th. My brother's family has to move before the end of June so we had a yard sale which I helped with, my mom got married on the 26th, I was the Maid of Honor/Caterer so I had to prep all the food. Then, since I've been out of the country for the last 7 months, my mom was handling all my bills for me, well, she is a little late on a couple of them so I had about a million calls from College Foundation and CapitalOne. Grrrrrr. I've ridden or driven several hundred miles in the last few days and I'm pretty beat. One of my friends asked me if I wanted to work camp with them this week...my brother will be there working and I'd probably enjoy it, but I really feel like I need some good rest.
I can honestly say that this week I will feel more at home than I've felt since I left Ghana. The friends I have from college that I'm staying with, are like family to me and I feel totally at home in their house. I know I can come and go as I please, I can get things out of the fridge I know where all the dishes are, I feel at home. I haven't felt at home really since I've been back. The first week I stayed at my mom & her new husband's house which I've never been to in my life. It's a perfectly fine house, and they try to make me feel welcome, but it's just not "home." At the end of the week I stayed with one of my brother's & his family but it's not home either. Then on Thursday I stayed with my other brother & his wife, I was comfortable, but it's not "home."
I'm the kind of person that once I get used to being somewhere I really settle in and don't want to leave. I have grown used to Ghana over the last 7 months. Ghana is home for me now. That's exciting and a little scay all at the same time. I am comfortable in the Hostetter's house, I'm comfortable in the school, I'm comfortable with the people. It's great! The things I thought I'd miss, I really didn't care too much about and the things I worried about before leaving worked themselves out. Mostly I was worried about my mom being alone, well God worked that one out didn't he, she just got married a couple of days ago.
I love my friends here in NC. I really, really do. They're the greatest and I know that any of them would be there for me if I needed them. But I love my friends in Ghana too. I really feel like the work I'm able to do in Ghana is so much more important than anything I have ever done here in the States. A few years ago I never would have belived anyone telling me that I'd be going to Africa and liking it so much that I wanted to go back. Now I can honestly say I'm so excited about getting back to Ghana in September. One of my friends asked me today if I could see myself living there permanently.......that's a tough question, I've only lived there for 7 months, but I really think I could make Ghana my home permanently. Sure I'd miss my friends and family here in the States. But communication is so easy nowdays even in a country like Ghana. There's an internet cafe right near the house, I can get a cell phone. People are only an email or phone call away.
Sometimes I wonder what in the world I'm getting into. Can I really live in Africa full time, not just for a few months? The voice in my head says "you're not a missionary....you're nuts." But I'm not so sure I should listen to that voice anymore. All Christians are commanded to "go and make disciples" so technically we are all missionaries in one way or another. I just feel strange thinking that I could go in to ministry in some form, full time. I feel inadequate most of the time when I think about it that way. I feel like I just don't know enough about scripture or God or the Bible or any of that "spiritual" stuff. But I'm learning every single day. I have grown a lot just from being in Ghana for 7 months. I cannot imagine staying here in the States. I have really missed my friends, but now that I'm here, I really miss my friends in Ghana. As cliche as it sounds, I really feel like my heart is in Ghana. I am so thankful that my friend Connie went to Ghana when I was in college and then later Travis went and I ended up going because of that. The first trip I took over the summer really changed my life. I have no idea how long God will keep me in Ghana, and I'm excited about it.
Man, it's been a very long time since I made a real post in here. Now's the time I guess. I've been back in the US about a week now and I have to say, it feels really really weird. I really miss Ghana a lot. If I already had a return ticket, I'd be counting the days. I can't explain it, but I just feel like I fit there. I really love the kids in my class, even when they get on my nerves. I have some really good friends in Ghana that I can't imagine living without. Mostly though, I feel like working in BCA makes a difference. Before I went to Ghana, I was working in a restaurant. It was a good job, I enjoyed it a lot, but it really wasn't changing any lives or anything. I feel like this is where God wants me right now, and I'm excited to see what he's got in store for me. Well, for the next 2 months I'll probably post pretty regularly as long as I can get to the internet ok. Here are a few pictures to keep in interesting.
These are the kids from my learning center in Kumasi. L>R ladies first we have Abigail, Monica, Christiana, Dinah, Sherrie and Gloria. Boys L>R we have Isaac, Abraham, Kwabena, Jeffrey and Emmanuel.
They are MY kids and I miss them all. I can't wait to get back to Ghana!!
I'll post more pictures this weekend, I promise
Well, I'm finally back from Ghana, for the time being. Before I even got out of Accra I was already missing my friends in Kumasi. I'm glad to be back to visit family and friends here, but I really really miss everyone in Kumasi. I'm still a little tired from all the traveling, so a little later this week I'll try to put up some pictures and make a more thourough, post. Thanks to everyone that was praying for me etc....keep praying I'm planning on leaving in September to go back to Ghana to work in the school, I'll be working hard all summer gathering support & such.