What Ghana has taught me to appreciate

Dirty Feet. Coming home with dirty feet from walking on dirt roads and having to wash my feet in the evenings was humbling. It reminded me of how many tiring roads the apostles walked daily to share the love and message of Christ throughout the world. Jesus had dirty feet that had to be washed each evening and now I have had them also. What a sweet and constant thought it was to be linked to such a noteworthy group!

Water. What a precious resource. Too few have too much and too many have too little. Is it a problem of resource management or greedy misuse? Probably both depending on where you are, who is using it and how it is being utilized. It will be a long time before I waste water again; I pray a very long time…

Fruit. The best fruit ever will forever come from (what generally tend to be) the poorer countries that ring the equator. There’s always something delicious and fresh available here no matter what time of year it is. It’s the best revenge these countries have against the industrialized, countries of the North that fill their standardized and dust-free grocery store shelves with shoddy imitations that are picked before they’re ripened and have less nutritional value to boot. Someone needs to market an international Harry & David’s style fruit delivery service from the 3rd world.

Personal transportation. How insane I became at one point from having to haggle over a fair taxi fare 2-3 times a day for months and months on end. And then have to bear being told for the 3 billionth time after the price is settled that the cost of fuel is going up and that I should pay more. If you are getting into your car every day and not having to negotiate anything with anyone than you are lucky indeed to have that kind of peace, convenience and wealth.

Culture. How to appreciate my own culture (and the many subcultures contained therein). It’s amazing how extended absences from your culture will make you miss or identify with things that you never would have otherwise. Some examples: a rapid appreciation for hip-hop music after hearing similar African styles so often; an increased appreciation for conversations with Europeans who have a more similar cultural mindset to Americans than Africans do; an average, ordinary, economy-sized car that doesn’t rattle apart so much that you think it’s going to leave you behind on the road as the front half roars ahead. It’s amazing how long cars are made to last here.

Heat! I certainly have spent most of my time feeling way too hot and sweaty here. But the warm climate and welcoming sun each day made it impossible to stay inside for long periods of time. Living in a warm climate makes you feel more alive by beckoning you outside to enjoy the beauty and life that swirls around you. People are always milling about and buying and or selling this or that; the ocean is near by. It’s a lot easier to smile and be social when the sun is high in the sky, than when it’s gray and cold outside.

Our sanitary environments in the West. Even if people try to bathe everyday (and not enough people have enough water to, or perhaps don’t have the habit) you still end up smelling pretty strongly in hot, humid weather. Many people here have to engage in hard, manual labor in addition, to have money for food each day . Add that to the open sewers cooking in the hot sun, and non-functioning toilets indoors due to water shortages or mechanical problems, and you have a life constantly filled with the humbling smells of the body. If you can walk around and catch the scents of perfume and cologne around you and haven’t smelled a stopped-up toilet for awhile, then you’re living a sanitized life. I suppose you could argue that the person living a more humble life is living a holier life, but there are plenty of opportunities for humility and holiness all around the world, so I don’t buy that. Enjoy your sanitary environments and pleasant smells!

Peace and Quiet. If you don’t wake up almost every morning to someone hammering something, roosters crowing, music playing or people yelling, then you live in a reasonably quiet area and it’s probably in Europe or North America. While it makes you a bit more boring, it sure is preferable if that’s what you’re used to! Enjoy your tranquil and silent spaces.


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