3 week check-in

April 18, 2007 at 9:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hello loved ones:

No time to write an update last weekend unfortunately.  Please feel free to call me.  I’d love to hear from you.  Email me for my number. Generally the best time to call is 5 p.m. or later my time.  Don’t call after 11:00 though unless it’s a weekend night.  I probably won’t be asleep but I’ll be trying to sleep! Also, the thing about 3rd world telecommunications is that you have to try harder.  If you get a busy signal I may not be on the phone.  Just try again or try later to get through.

To be honest, all in all it has remained very challenging to get used to life here and to not miss my family and friends.  It’s getting easier “small small” as they say here though.  Some reasons for the challenge:

1) Housing: There’s a shortage of affordable housing here in Accra for expats.  If you’re white, you can expect to have to pay rent two years in advance.  Clearly that’s ridiculous so most people have to network awhile and stay in less than ideal places until they find something decent.  Some stay in the less great places to save money also.  Average places that my coworkers stay in cost about $150.00-$200.00 a month.  My new dwelling place that I moved into last week and will live at for a month or two costs $200.00.  I had a choice between that place and one other.  That’s it.  And believe me, I’m constantly asking everyone I meet about possible housing.

The water has not worked since I moved in and don’t forget that we have “lights out ” every couple days which means no power for 12 hour blocks.  The paint is peeling off the walls everywhere and there is no A/C.  Oh, it’s also above a bar.  That means every Thursday night there’s music blasting until 2 a.m.  It’s kind of nice, like having a stereo in every room.  That is,  until you want to sleep of course. 

We’re right on a main road with much road noise and accross from a small plaza where people congregate speaking loudly and yelling way into the night.  Earplugs are no defense my friends.  I do have a fan I use to try to block some noise but it has a timer on it and a loose connection so if it doesn’t go off every couple minutes – which it usually does – it oes off every hour.  Then, when it’s lights out you just lay in your bed covered with sweat dreaming of your bucket bath in the morning.

So, on top of trying to adjust and acclimate to the new culture and city, learn the new office politics and all the rules and regulations involved in refugee processing I’ve been treated to 4-5 hours of sleep a night this entire past week.  I’m not saying I’m at the end of my rope.  It’s just that God must have some kind of tremendous respect for my potential and belief in my inner resources because it’s all I can do to constantly trust in Him and pray for His mercy and grace to constantly accept every hardship that comes my way as His will.  Just when I think it’ll ease up there’s a little more added to the load.  Whew boy!  I’m on the treadmill running as fast as I can knowing that sometime soon I’ll catch a break.

2) Office politics and environment: Before moving here I was told that we have an office staff of 100.  I didn’t know that most of those are Ghanians.  In time any good expat (no not every one, but definitely those who seek to respect the new culture in which they live so, again any “good” expat) learns the local language and culture and seeks friendships with local people.  At first though, it’s important to be with those from your culture to help you adjust and give you some comfort.  That said, there are less than 10 Americans with whom I work.  Not many.  I have begun to miss the quality of relationship that I had with my friends back home.  I don’t have that much in common with these people, particularly spiritually so the poverty I experience is an interpersonal sort.  Not easy for a relational person like me.  I guess that’s where the rubber meets the road in the mission field.  (Insert great slight misquote from Ma Theres here) “People are self-centered, unkind, impatient and unloving.  Love them anyway.”  Identifying myself with Christ, the most misunderstood and rejected man in history has helped greatly again in reinforcing submission to whatever He allows me to experience and to focus on Him as my constant indwelling friend.   Love always wins in the end.  It never fails.  Thanks be to God.

Well, life is what you make it and I intend to make this experience as positive, career-building and redeeming as possible.  For, I hold a treasure not made of gold, in my earthen vessel, wealth untold.  One treasure only, the Lord the Christ, in my earthen vessel.

I truly feel often since I left as if I’ve stepped off a cliff and am in a constant free-fall, only to land safely in God’s strong hands.  He allows me to fall so that I can feel Him catching me.

Last night was a great stress reliever for me.  I went out with my coworkers for the first time here and we all had fun.  It was good to meet other expats and to mingle with Ghanians in the same facilties.  We went to a Karaoke bar and I sang “What a feeling from Flashdance”. Classic cheese (!) complete with dance number with a friend’s boyfriend that jumped up to add to the festivities during the bridge to the chorus.  Then we continued on to a club and then another one for some intense dancing.  Ahhh, there’s nothing like dancing the night away till 4:30 a.m and then going for pizza.  Only outside of the U.S. baby!!!  It’s just great to meet people from all over who have grown up all over.  No part of that is ever uninteresting.

Let’s add some fun facts now for your amusement and interest:

Dial-up is so slow sometimes that it takes me five minutes to log into my email account.

:-*(

Actually I was told that the house I moved into would have working running water.  When it didn’t I had to carry 5 buckets of water up a skinny, spiral staircase with uneven steps in the dark as it was “light’s out”.  Then I was determined to cook some food from home for myself so with covered in sweat I proceeded to do so probably frustrating myself more from the energy it took to do all that in the heat than it would’ve take to buy some food somewhere!  That’s the cook in me I guess.

People drink water from big, green coconuts here.  You just walk up to a big cart of them and people with machetes cut off the top for you.  Then you slurp it out and wipe the dribble off your chin with your sweaty forearm.  It doesn’t taste like much but it seems to be healthy.  My blood sugar started to drop once when I was shopping (i.e. I was getting hungry) and I drank one of them.  That thing gave me energy for a couple hours.  I was very impressed.  It costs about .25 cents.  Top that you American energy drink drinkers!

I eat fried chicken and rice very often.  In fact, you’ll find most typically Southern food to be available here because it’s the food that the slaves, a lot of whom came from this part of Africa made for their white owners: fried chicken, greens, cabbage, cole slaw, black eyed-peas, peanuts, etc.  It’s pretty poignant to sit down and remember that sometimes when you eat.

Tonight is light’s out and as I was typing this we completely lost power in the entire building.  Most internet cafe’s protect against this.  Not the one I’m in!  Thank God my blog site saved most of what I’d typed.  In the interim a Nigerian struck up a fiery conversation about how Nigeria is still very safe if you take reasonable precautions.  He’s a pilot who’s determined to show me pictures of Nigeria from the air to prove it’s beauty.  People are funny…

Okay, I need to blow this taco stand and go back to my dark apartment.  Next week I train a little more and then will be on my own interviewing refugees so please pray for me to do well.  I keep you all in my prayers and hope for the best for all of you. 

I’m coming (said locally, it means I will return/be right back).  So, I’m coming next week.

your sister soldier in the good fight,

Grace

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2 Comments »

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  1. […] 3 week check-in « Ghana Girl April 15, 2007 at 12:57 pm | In | 3 week check-in « Ghana Girl […]

  2. My oh my… you’re such a special person Grace. I love you and admire you and really appreciate you. I know you’ve got it in you.

    Remember, you need to let me know what you’d like that you can’t find — food, treats, toiletries, whatever. I’m waiting to buy you something really special that will be waiting for you when you return.

    We pray for you every night during family worship Grace. Be encouraged and hear His voice.

    We love you MUCH!.


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