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Archive for August, 2009

Alaafiya!

Even in a tiny village church with mud walls and mud floors, you are not safe from the interruption of a cell phone ringing in the middle of worship.

This morning, after our first night on our own at the schoolhouse, the Kennells picked us up to go to church. We drove about a half hour out of town down bumpy dirt roads, through a little town, and to a village where we got out of the car, and walked another 15 minutes through the countryside with an incredible view of fields and hills and mountains to the church at the village of Ewede. You can see Jacque keeping balance as she dodges puddles.

walking to church at Ewede

Matt and Grace Hangin were already there along with a few Togolese church members. We started worship and more and more people trailed in. The sound was great in the little room, and I loved listening and trying to sing along. They sang and spoke in Kabiye, but thanks to the Millers having been missionaries in residence at Harding my sophmore year, I actually DID know a couple of the songs. Even though I couldn’t understand the specific words, it made my heart so happy to be worshipping with these precious brothers and sisters of mine in Christ.

On the walk back to the truck, we saw some very tiny baby goats. Jacque and I started to follow them, but Mark called us to keep going on the right path. For the 200th time over the last week we exclaimed how much we want to get a kid to keep at the schoolhouse as a pet. Apparently they’re pretty cheap and easy to get. It’ll be fun to have the children help take care of it…Speaking of pets, Brett Emerson recently got a monkey and I got to feed him yesterday at the tree in their front yard.  His name is Tiggy, shortened from the Kabiye name for monkey.

me feeding tiggy

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To begin with…

The first attempt at explaining a new place is always a challenge, and usually something I procrastinate to do. But I know that my family especially is anxious to know what I am experiencing so here it goes. 

Tuesday morning we woke up at 4:30 and left Accra around 5:30 am. The city had lots of western conveniences and the roads were paved and comfortable for the first couple hours. The natural landscape was pretty gorgeous for the entire trip- lush, hilly (an occasional mountain) , palm trees and plenty of other varieties of vegitation, lots of long grass, corn, etc. We saw 2 waterfalls on the drive. I’m pleasantly surprised with how pretty it is, but I’m told to enjoy it now because the rainy season will end soon the scenery will become more arid. Below is a picture of Jacque, Sarah and I sleeping in the truck on the drive. Actually…we’re pretending, but we did sleep a little before the bumps started.

drive from Kara

 

Along the drive we saw lots of things you would expect to see in Africa. Lots of motos, crazy driving, women carrying things on their heads that I wouldn’t want to lift with my arms, much less my neck. We passed through villages and towns. It’s hard to describe, so I’m going to post some pictures later that may tell better. Structures are  mostly shacks, mud brick houses with tin roofs, mud brick houses with grass roofs, and some metal siding or cement buildings. There may have been some other materials I didn’t recognize. I don’t have a good picture of the streets, but here is a picture I took as we were getting into Kara.

road into kara

We had a good time with the 2 missionary women who picked us up in the truck on the drive. We started off with trading basic life stories and progressed to more and more random tidbits. April taught us how to set up a “peeing tent” with a large cloth hooked with one corner in the open truck door’s window and the other tied to the top of the back corner of the trucks cab. This came in handy for a potty stop on the side of the road. At the border between Ghana and Togo, the Togolese border patrolman enjoyed a long discourse on our heights, ages and the spelling of our names. April’s middle name is Rene, which is a french name but not a french spelling, so he insisted it should be pronounced “Ren” instead. HE didn’t have an 11 hour drive ahead of him.  He was very friendly though and crossing the border was no problem at all. After a VERY bumpy and very long drive, we arrived “home”. Being exhausted after 2 days of traveling and not sleeping meant that I slept great all night last night and got up at a decent time this morning! I’m hoping jet lag will not last long.

Yesterday we did enough but not too much. I don’t think we were up to very much yet. We went to the market briefly (and besides being overwhelmed by the stench of raw meat and fish, I was happy to see such a variety of produce) and then to the school house to see it for the first time. We won’t move in to our apartment over the schoolhouse until friday or saturday, to give time for the men to get a couple things fixed (I’m not sure what they’re doing exactly). It’s cozy staying at the Kennell’s house, and Nicole Kennell is a great cook, so I think we’re happy to  be here for a few days.

Today we worked at the school house. We looked over curriculum and began organizing all the stuff laying around, and getting stuff put together in our apartment. For you homeschool moms, we use a combination of Sonlight, Abecca and Saxon. Saxon is just for math, Abecca for grammar, and Sonlight for the core curriculum (bible, history, and literature). I just hear good news, the apartment is done enough to move into, so as soon as we can shop for groceries and get our trunks transported, we will move in to our new space! I’m excited to begin teaching. I’m a little more nervous about teaching art since I won’t have a curriculum to go by, but I love art and expect to have a lot of fun teaching it and sharing my passion with the kids.

This is a picture of the side of the school house.

school house from side. pic taken standing in door to kindergarten room.

 

Below is a picture of the school house. The first floor is the school, and the 2nd is our apartment. There is a 3rd classroom, an office and possibly some kind of work room that are the extra buildings around the main house. A wall surrounds everything for safety.
school house

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Arrived in Ghana

I have officially been to four continents.

I’m not yet in Togo, but assuming everything goes as planned, that should come tomorrow. We flew away from Atlanta Sunday night and now, 24+ hours and many emotions later, we are in Ghana, west Africa. Customs was a complete breeze, they didn’t make us stop or open bags or anything. All of our bags made it fine, and some nice African men loaded them into the back of the missionary’s truck (for a tip). A nice thing about Ghana is that they speak English, but that luxury will end when we cross the border and then Sarah, who was a French and Math major, will have to tell Jacque and me what everybody is saying. 

Tonight we are grateful for a shower and bed at the Baptist Guest House in Accra, Ghana. Tomorrow we’ll leave bright and early at 5 am to brave the 9 hour drive to Kara, Togo. Two of the missionary wives, April Emerson and Nicole Kennel, came together to pick us up and the 5 of us should have a jolly time :o) . 

prayer request: that the drive will go well and we will get to Kara tomorrow. I guess there’s a possibility that we won’t make it in one day. I’m looking forward to being finished with the “haze” of traveling.

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almost there!

It’s officially 2 days until I fly to Africa! I’ve been getting ready to go, packing, etc. It’s amazing how complicated packing 3 50 lb. trunks can be when planning for 9 months. So far weight is more of an issue than space. It’s getting done though, and I’m getting super excited to finally be going!

Jacque and Sarah and I will meet up in Atlanta this sunday night and have dinner before flying through London, and then to Accra, Ghana. Ghana is right next to Togo in the western portion of Africa. Two of the missionary wives will pick us up, we’ll do some shopping (there’s apparently a lot more stuff available in Accra than Kara, Togo), and then make the 9 hour drive to our new home for the year!

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my ebenezer

I’d like this post to be raised up as an ebenezer of God’s faithfulness to me in my life up to this point. I got the idea while writing in my journal this morning; the last entry in my old journal before starting a new one to have in Africa. I can not think of God’s faithfulness with out thinking of His grace, because I have done nothing to deserve his good faith, and he certainly was under no obligation.

It is just 10 days until I fly to Togo. Among many thoughts and emotions, I find myself reflecting on the past. Stepping into such an unknown would be scary except that I know the love and faithfulness of my Lord.

I do expect to have struggles this year. I expect to lay empty before the throne of God and be filled with his love, grace and strength. I expect to come to know myself and the two girls I’m going with very well. I expect to love Africa and love my life there. And I have no idea what to expect after that.

I look back over the last four, or better yet, the last eight years of my life and I see God’s unwavering faithfulness and constancy to pursue and pour his grace out for me. I see myself running away from Him in high school, rejecting him to his face, dragging his love in the dirt. I see Jesus Christ crucified for my sins. I see him rising, glorified, and raising me into a NEW life of beauty with him. I see pleasant times as well as struggles, falls, and confusion- all driving me to greater intimacy and deeper joy with Jesus. I see a love story, and I’m breathless with gratitude and joy. Praise God, I get to be with Jesus forever! Nothing can compare, and nothing can take that away!

Hither by His help I’ve come. I will take Jesus’s arm, and walk forward with my Love into the adventure that He is leading me into.

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