Archive for March, 2010

Tribute to Textures


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Strung Up Colors

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I realize that my blogs are not usually about my daily life here in Togo, so this post is dedicated to “normal” and newsy items of my life.

Electricity going on and off is the stuff of life. It is on more than off thankfully. Now that it is hotter, the loss of the ceiling fans makes intermittent electricity more lamentable. The heat causes an interesting phenomenon in our candles (see pictures below). The water has also not been working much the last three days. Dissimilarly to the power, the water normally works fine. Luckily, we keep over a dozen 1.5 L water bottles filled, so this hasn’t been an emergency, just a nuisance.

The heat doesn’t bother the lizards, which swarm our house and compound by the thousands. One large gecko type lizard, named Art (short for Arther- he lives in the art/craft corner) comes in the front door daily from his meeting with the Lizard Convention to find a meal of ants in the school house. We always have several awaiting their deaths after our own lunch period. Lizards who are particularly daring hide out in our staircase and dash across as we ascend or descend. They are not fulfilled in their lives and must tempt fate at the hands of our feet for a thrill. Jacque is especially satisfying to play chicken with in this way- one daredevil even got her to scream several times by jumping on her leg the other day as she went upstairs after spelling class. Poor Jacque has all the luck. Needless to say I didn’t allow him a share of the ants that day.

One thing that would never have happened in the States is cutting my own hair. The haircut I got at the ladies retreat didn’t really have layers, and my big hair simply can’t live with out layers. It’s not the most even cut I’ve ever had, but it’s not a disaster either. I indulged myself today and straightened it for the first time in over a year to see how the cut really turned out. Asher Miller, age 5, says, “you’re prettier than you were before.” And Anna Marie Miller, age 3, says “your hair looks funny”. Good thing my self esteem isn’t too fragile ;P .

Three mornings a week I go walking with Becky Reeves. These times during the week are a needed relief and time to talk and process as I am unable to do in a group setting. I appreciate the wisdom and encouragement I receive from her. Getting up at six in the morning voluntarily is proof of my much improved sleeping habits since graduating from college!

Art commissions have followed me here. I could not really talk about my first one on public domains because it was a surprise for Dave Reeves’ birthday from his wife. All she asked was that the painting be something inspired from the last two chapters of Revelation in the Bible. His birthday was February 28th and is hanging in their house, yet to be photographed or signed. Another painting I’m about to start is for the Hangens. It will be from a picture they took at a temple in Morocco. I may do another couple for the Millers if there is time before I go home. I love painting and I think God knew better than I did that I needed to be able to keep doing it this year.

For entertainment I read books and watch Lost or movies with Jacque and Sarah. While I’m not too busy, I also don’t have a lot of free time, mostly due to being a guest over for dinner at the families’ houses 5 nights a week.

That’s all the “normal” stuff I can think of for now. Enjoy the pictures!

Sarah decided to take my picture shooting the candles

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Delicious Vacation

I just returned yesterday from a simply lovely week in Ghana. We started off last Tuesday, a day earlier than originally planned. Togo had it’s Presidential elections last week and we wanted to be sure to get across the border before it closed. God answered our prayers to get across smoothly and the trip was uneventful, though long.  The trip back was a little more eventful. First a buzzard swooped down to a fatal collision with the trunks tied on top of our car. Not 5 minutes later, a coconut flew out of an open truck bed in front of us, bounced down the road higher than our SUV, but thankfully missed hitting us. Later, when Andrea was pulled over for speeding, still in Ghana, the police officer threatened to keep Andrea’s license and insisted she had to return to court the next day. When she declined, he decided he wanted to marry me, but he eventually let us go and I’m still single so no worries.

When we arrived in Accra we went straight to the baptist guest house, where we would stay for two nights. Then we had one of the most delicious dinner I’ve ever eaten at a restaurant called Rhapsody’s. The Millers’ sponsoring church, Homewood c of C in Birmingham, AL, graciously paid for this treat. It’s amazing how things that are normal in the states caught my attention as novelties after 7 months in Kara. Lane lines, street signs, trimmed hedges, billboards, nice buildings. One new thing in Accra was the masses of street vendors, walking down in between lanes of traffic, making already clogged traffic seem impenetrable. They sold all kinds of food, toilet paper, carvings, and so many more random items I can’t even remember them. I bought one carving that started at 20 Cedis (Ghana’s currency) and the guy came down to 9 because that’s all I had left. We even went to the mall and saw a movie in the theater during our free day in Accra! I can not explain how weird that was after living in Togo for so long, I was hesitant to even mention it. I think coming back to the U.S. is going to be slightly overwhelming.

Of course the main purpose of our trip was the WOTH (Women of the Harvest) Retreat at Coconut Grove, a beach resort outside of Accra. I didn’t have many expectations for the conference but the sweetness of being ministered to in such a way was beyond anything I would have expected. I really can not describe it, I tear up trying. God laid out the theme of renewal of hope during my time there. A good speaker, intimate small group discussions and prayer, fun gifts and pampering activities in a beautiful, clean, air conditioned resort can not mean as much unless you have spent significant time in a developing country. One of my favorite things about it was meeting other ladies who are serving in west Africa. I hope to keep in touch with a couple girls I met there. There were several who were not only my age, but single and teaching for 1 or 2 year terms. It was so fun to be around new people I have so much in common with. Nine African countries were represented by the attendees, including distant Ethiopia!

The retreat made me realize more strongly how much I miss having a bigger community around me, and how much I miss worshipping with a body in my own language and culture. Now that I’m back, though, it’s hitting me how little time I have left here. Please pray that I will life life to the fullest and use my time here wisely, that I will be spirit led in my choice of activities, conversations, etc. And that I will appreciate and enjoy every moment I have left here with the precious people on this team.

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This is a view on the way from our house to Mark and Nicole Kennell’s house. I enjoy the aesthetics of the varied layers and angles of the cement structures in this image. I do not enjoy the trash, or the fact that the people here have to live with it in such a constant, close way. I notice it much less than the first couple months here, but it’s still a reminder of some aspects of the quality of life of many people. It also makes me think about America, our trash, how much we create and what we do with it. This society doesn’t have NEAR the excess of packaging, no fast food, etc. Yet there’s still a considerable amount of trash laying around. Do you know how much trash you make and what happens to it after the garbage man takes it off your curbside and out of mind?

This is another sight to see on our weekly walk to the Kennell house. Instead of Wal-Mart, Kara has lots of specialized craftsmen and women. Tailors, carpenters, ironworkers, etc. This is the side of our local ironworker’s shop. His name is Nestor. If you scroll back through my posts, the one showing our Christmas decorations has a picture with one of three candlesticks he made for us (frequent power outages necessitate candlesticks). To the right of this wall is an open space where he works and displays some finished wears. I love everything about this image, I smile and giggle inside every time we pass it. Really, what is that goofy guy doing? I don’t know, but I enjoy the mystery and the colors! The colors!! Ah!

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