The first week is past

April 1, 2007 at 4:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hello loved ones,

It is one week today since I left Philadelphia to come to Ghana and I cannot thank you enough for your prayers and well wishes.  Your encouragement and support has meant everything to me.  I am truly blessed for God to have given me so many brothers and sisters with whom to share His love with. 

I miss you my friends and family, but I am slowly making new friends here and being introduced to the riches of Ghanian culture.   Today marked my first mass (church service) here and I went to the Cathedral which isn’t too far.  I knew it would be a long one being in Africa and this being the beginning of Holy Week but um…three and a half hours after arriving we finally slowly processed out!  Goodness!  I was relieved to see that I wasn’t the only one starting to droop.  The girl next to me had started snoozing.  😉  Hadn’t had my morning caffeine yet myself, but that didn’t stop me from being completely moved by the whole experience. 

Church in Africa is a party man. People dance and sing and have a great time. I think they dance here even more than in Zambia. I probably seemed like the most boring person there though I tried to start shakin’ it a little when I processed up for the offering (there are two, not one by the way).

They put on a veritable passion play with incredible acting and energy! The altar and surrounding area was turned into a stage and the entire passion episode from the last supper to the crucifixion was enacted complete with the mocking of Christ, his beating and the Via Dolorosa where he carried his cross up the main aisle of the church.  It was very hard not to cry and I was glad when I saw other women crying as well.  I cannot emphasize enough how talented these people were and what a great show it was, albeit a sober one.

Although, the energy was so good that the young kids couldn’t help erupting in laughter initially as it really seemed like they were truly hitting, slapping and whipping Jesus and Barabbus. I remember learning stage combat in high school and I don’t think they were faking that!

To mark the time where Jesus gave up his spirit and died, a group of young kids stood up while everyone kneeled and sang “Crucified” by M W Smith. It was so wonderful to meditate on the words:
“Crucified and laid behind a stone
You lived to die, rejected and alone
Like a rose, trampled on the ground
You took the fall and thought of me
Above all.”

Then when they made their curtain call to take their bow Jesus stood in the middle of everyone dressed in white as if he was appearing resurrected in the middle of the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us always and is waiting for us in heaven. How beautiful it all was. Man, I can’t wait for next holy week! :-))

Before I arrived here I prayed that God would grant me a nice birthday in my new surroundings. He and my coworkers did not disappoint. They’ve been working 12-13 hour days all week but took me out Friday night for Indian food, paying for my dinner even though they had to work the next day. At the end of dinner, in classic, ad hoc, expat style, they gave me two small gifts wrapped in toilet paper – the best they could do in a pinch. They were a small wooden carving of an owl (somehow symbolic here) and a nice bracelet. It was so kind! I was really touched and they’ll remain very special to me.

Afterwards I headed to the Alliance Francaise (French linguistic and cultural centers around the world) to catch the end of a brilliant performance by a very talented African singer/dancer. Oh could she move. Made me miss dance class! It was so neat to hear my french again and to see so many people from different countries having a great time and dancing. What a heaven that was! African, European, North American and Asians all celebrating life together. They have events every Wednesday so you know now what I’ll be doing on Wednesdays if I’m not at work. 🙂

Then I continued on to a bar by the side of the road (sounds wierd but it works, trust me) with a couple others and danced the night away to great West African music under the moonlight. Oh, life was GOOD. My dancing did not disappoint apparently, though I feel rusty. At least I know I can fit in here while I’m dancing! 😉

As far as work goes it was a slow, easy week last week workwise. I think my training will start more intensively this week and apparently things have been slow for a couple months with little travel. Around April 21st though we’ll be heading to different places to do a circuit ride (interview refugees for asylum) so I’m getting started with a bang! I’ll go to Guinea and I’m a little intimidated but excited to use my french. I’m just a little out of practice and mostly concerned about the accent. Sometimes it’s not hard to speak but is hard to understand different accents. Still working on the one here in Accra. Man it’s thick! Apparently no one leaves Guinea without getting sick as well so pray for me!

Now here’s the part for fun facts of life in Accra:
* The power is cut off every four days for a day and then is on for half a day and then off again and then on again due to low river water in the Volta. AC is never that high anywhere but when the power is off, oh baby you feel it. You pretty much spend the night drenched in sweat but remember, it’s not humid yet. The humidity gets much higher in a number of months.

*You have to bargain for taxi’s, for food, for everything. And if you’re white you won’t get a fair price initially but you learn how to bargain for it and sometimes have to be flexible.

*Sewers here are open and people do fall in them.

*I have about 22 mosquito bites on my body. It appears my experience in Zambia is confirmed. Mosquitos like my particular flavor so I’m “offering it up” and praying that I don’t catch malaria for awhile.

*No one can really live here without catching malaria several times so I’m biding my time until I get lucky enough to catch it. The good news is, it’s never as bad as the first time and is easy to cure (after several days of feeling like a sewer yourself).

One last not so fun fact is, as long as you’re not walking alone at night much Accra is pretty safe and most people are good but petty theft is a problem. Some of my coworkers have been the victims of crime schemes and believe me, people are fast. Last night at the internet cafe, though I was keeping my purse close to me and “on” me, it suddenly disappeared. Most people steal cash and phones here. The girls (coworkers) I’m staying with are at the beach and I would have had no one to call. I immediately found it opposite me around a wooden barrier. Someone had pulled it underneath the barrier but then left it sitting there. Everything was in it. I couldn’t believe it. I have no doubt that this is due to the many prayers being offered up for me. I cannot thank you enough for them. I return them as often as I can but still somehow feel unworthy of your love and concern.

Hope this has been a good update! So far I’ve only been able to access the internet about once a week so I’m sorry if it seems like I’m unavailable. Know that I’m thinking about you and miss you. When I’m on a circuit ride I likely won’t have any access so I’ll be in touch as I can.

Some have asked for my phone number. Of course I forgot it at home and can’t remember the whole thing offhand. I’ll try to remember it next time. Calls are 24 cents a minute for me. Not that cheap but I’d love to hear from any of you! It helps ease the newness here.

(Spontaneous fun fact) Earlier they were playing Christian music in a non-religious internet cafe! Now they’re playing a Chinese sounding version of Danny Boy and and an African across from me is singing jubililantly to it. Ah, life in another culture…Oh, here comes Don’t cry for me Argentina. Yup, he likes this one too.

Love you guys. God bless,
Grace

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2 Comments »

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  1. It sounds like an incredible, awesome experience! I can so see you making friends and soaking in the cultural ambiance. Every time I read your blogs, you inspire me to want to do more with my life…You Rock Girl!

    Miss you and praying for you!

  2. You’re funny Grace. I’m finally getting back to your blog. Happy belated birthday my sister. Sorry its belated but I’ve been monster busy with work after Matt left. Trying to get a web site up.

    I love you — C and I and the chitlins pray for you every night. Be safe sister.


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