Monday, November 15, 2010

Reggae Benefit Concert- Thursday November 18th

I have been very fortunate to have such amazing friends and family to help me with a benefit concert, but we are trying to raise money to help build the orphanage. It is going to be in Rexburg, Idaho at the new cafe called Sammy's, which has delicious food. There is going to be the new rising artist Colter Wilson playing along with Sylvia Belford, this year's Idaho Idol along with other local performers. We will be selling T-shirts and wrist-bands, which 100% of the proceeds will go towards the project. For all donations that night, Sammy's will give a discount of buy one large shake get the second free. If you would like to donate and get a T-shirt or wrist band but are not or were not able to attend, please contact me and we will be able to figure something out

When: November 18 at 7:00-8:30 pm
Where: Sammy's Cafe in Rexburg, Idaho

Friday, November 12, 2010

Since Being Home

I have been in the United States for about 7 months now. From my last post, I had to unexpectedly come home due to a medical problem. I experienced a Gaul Bladder attack but did not know that at the time. With one of the hardest decisions of my life, I decided, along with my family, that the best and safest thing to do was to head home two weeks early. It was

It was so hard to tell the kids that I had to leave early. I still remember the walk home that we had holding the kids hands as we crossed the street. We made jolof rice and watched a movie. I then told them with some of them crying. Austin, Xenia, and Simmone were there also. I made a promise to come back and I plan to be back 2012.

I also said good bye to the medical clinic and to the Incoom family. Since coming home, we have stayed in contact by phone and email. I feel very homesick but I am comforted knowing that I will be homesick no matter where I am in the world. We have had one fundraiser, that was a yard sell, that was able to raise $500 and we are currently working on another fundraiser. It will be occuring November 18 in Rexburg, Idaho @ Sammy's Restaurant. I It is called "Raggae Charity Music Night to the Raise the Roof." The children are needing a new orphanage and thanks to The Global Oppurtunity Fund, a non-profit organization I meet in Ghana, Sarah Davie Walters and a few others were able to raise around $27,000 but they still need about $3,000 to complete the orphanage. So our goal for this new fundraiser is to help " Raise the Roof"!!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

March 11th:Part 2-- Elmina Beach

Part 2

For today, I cleaned up my room and tried to search the web for a little bit until I left for Cape around noon. I met Elvis and got a ride from him and Amos. They dropped me off at Cape near where I needed to take a shared taxi to go to Elmina Beach Resort. Elmina Beach Resort is the nicest Resort in all of Ghana I think. So I met Austin and our friend Caine there because they have a pool. It only cost 4 cedi to get in. The pool was pretty good. I could have even done laps in it if I had some goggles. They even had chlorine for the pool too. And it was right by the ocean. It was so beautiful. But since there is no competition, they have a monopoly. So they charge from 90 US dollars to 300 dollars a night there. It is very nice though. I would say I have only stayed in such nice hotels in my life back at home only a handful of times. So we swam and sun bathed for awhile. It was very nice.
I then got a taxi back to Cape after having Austin and Caine being dropped off at Cape Coast University. I then tried to find powdered milk but just decided to buy evaporated milk for pancakes tonight. I also bought a corn bread thing too because I have this craving for anything with flour tonight. The pancakes turned out great though. I forgot to have Mrs. Incoom come in and have me teach her how to make it so I will do that next time.
For tomorrow, I will wake up early and do my usual routine. I have taken it easy the past week, so I need to get back on my elephant and ride. I hope the two new volunteers come. Elvis doesn’t like Germans… I mean he hates them and so he is really not excited about them coming to stay with him. So he has no interest in knowing if they are still coming. I love you and I hope to talk with you soon!!!

Mar. 11th--Trip to Kumasi

March 11, 2010

We went to Kumasi the last two days. We traveled on the Metro bus for 4 cedi’s. It turns out that only Austin and I went. A small group was actually really nice in such a big city. On the Metro, we took the back seats for more leg room. That was such a horrible idea because we hit all the bumps. The driver would slow down for the front of the bus and then would speed up and the back would hit the bumps!! We went air born two times, and I got whip lash once. The road there is just horrible. Once we got there, I found out that one of Austin’s roommates, E-fe-us, had a friend in Kumasi. His name was Junior. He is in his first year of college. He picked us up after we wandered around in Kumasi for about half an hour. Immediately, I liked Kumasi. In Accra, you feel like your life could be in danger or that your bags at least are in danger. But in Kumasi, while it is still huge, people mind their own business. So it was like Accra in that there are literally mobs of people, but people just don’t care about you or what you are doing. But they are still friendly. You just have to push your way through. And since I have never been to a large town, other than Salt Lake City which doesn’t really have mobs of people, it is a cool experience to be here and experience it. I actually don’t mind the big city so much anymore. But I still do not want to live there. So I think that Kumasi is the New York of Ghana.
Junior picked us up, drove us to our hotel named Arena Lodge. It was super nice and for a room with a fan it was 15 cedi. Austin got another room with AC for 20 cedi. It was so nice. A bed, headrest, fridge, tv, breakfast table, bathroom with toilet, shower and curtain.
After checking in and dropping some stuff off, we went to the Ashanti Palace Museum. That was so cool. I learned about the kings and mother queens. Here, only the mother’s side is considered royalty and gets the throne. We learned about how they dress with all of the goods, how they are carried in basket with four strong men, and we saw the drum from 300, 200, 100 year old drums. They were used communication drums since they didn’t have phones, they would use these drums to send signals with a distance of 5 kilometers and then the next place’s messenger would hear the news and do the same message on his drum to the next 5 kilometers. This way, all of Ghana could have the message within 3 or 4 hours. It was so cool to see them. Being so old and having so much history. We learned about Kenti cloth and how each design has a name and a meaning. We learned about other cloth designs. Some mean courage, some mean rebellion, some mean faithfulness (the moon and sun), some mean harmony (two lizards on top of each other). We then saw guns that are a hundred years old. In a movie we saw a lot of history. We read about the golden stool. The history of the Golden stool is that some leader of the Ashati tribe called up to the sky to have this stool dropped on the lap of the next king. It was a man who as a baby was born with dread locks. The stool had the meaning that the Ashanti region would not live under war if it was kept. So then when the British came, they wanted the Golden stool. So to not cause any war with the British, they gave them a replica with gold on. The British returned the stool, only after taking the gold off and keeping it for themselves.
The other thing we learned about was the sword. Some king had this sword and placed it in the ground in front of the car and said for it to stop. Since then, it has never moved. The sword has never been removed from the ground. It also stands as a witness that if it is ever removed from the ground, the Ashanti region will no longer be in peace. A small building is built around it. A business man a made a hotel on the ground, his name is Mr. G, he decided to try and dig up the sword. It is supposedly said that when he was digging around it, it disappeared for two months and then randomly came back. Then, Muhammad Ali came and tried to pull it out of the ground and he couldn’t do it. So it is similar to the American Story of Sword in the Stone except you don’t want the sword to come out.
We then went to the Cultural Center and went to a museum there and learned more of how they make food, pictures, and other old artifacts. It was very cool. I then bought some more wood carvings and a djemba drum. We then also ate at the Vic’s Bamboo CafĂ©. It is highly recommended in Bradt guide. I ordered a 4 season pizza for 11 cedi. It is super expensive but it was so good!!! I miss pizza!!!
We then went to the Open market. That place is huge. I found some great fabric that I saw Jana had and I really wanted it and I found it. I also bought 30 cedi worth of beads. They are so pretty. I am excited to bring them back. After the Market, we went back to Vic and I got a chicken and rice and bought a necklace and pineapple. Although, I bought two I think they took the second one so I got ripped off, but I should just learn from the experience. I also got a burger and fries at one of the gas stations.
We then tried to find another Metro to Cape, but it already left and then tried for an STC but there was no other ones going out. So we got a ford bus (meaning a bigger more comfortable tro-tro). It had cheater seat covers and it was 9 cedi. Very expensive because it was going to Takaradi and you have to pay the full fair. But they dropped me off at Asebu because it was at night, and I just walked home I came home and I was super tired. I set my stuff down and just quickly checked Facebook.
On the way on the tro-tro, back we met two really nice guys working with the colleges. One was British named Caine and the other was Ghanian named Cris. They are working with sister colleges. Caine has been to Ghana 5 times and about 8 other African countries. He has traveled to many other countries too. Today, Austin and I want to go to Elmina and go swimming very badly. I decided to not go to the Orphanage today because I also told the kids I wouldn’t be there until Friday and I need some time to organize and clean my things, and also some other random things that I need to do in Cape. So I think today I will organize and then go tomorrow morning and then hopefully the New Germans volunteers are here and I can start introducing them to Ghana. Maybe go to Cape Castle on Saturday. Austin wants to come along too and show them around as well. But things are going so well.
I couldn’t wait to get home and go to my bed at Asebu. I feel at home here. I really do. Not to say that I am still excited to be back in the States, but I am happier here. The next month might be long because I am anticipating the whole getting back and going to school, but it will be more enjoyable I hope.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mar. 7th-- Tro-tro Mix-Up, Church and Football

March 7, 2010

Today has been a very surprising day. I was expecting the normal, slow-paced day, which it was, but there was a lot that happened. I woke up at 5:45 because I no longer wanted to sleep I guess but I was still tired because I could not fall asleep last night. So I laid in bed until 7. I then got up, put on a Ghanian dress and ate some rice from last night.
I then went to the roadside and picked a tro-tro to ABK for church. Little did I know they were not heading to ABK. So when we had just barely passed the turn, I looked at the maid and said “ABK? Is this going to ABK?” He said no and the driver stopped. I guess I got the maid in trouble because I didn’t have to pay anything to the junction. So I walked back to the BAK junction and didn’t have to wait at all for the next real tro-tro to ABK. Oh Ghana! I then got to church where I was greeted by Sister Elcee. I did not remember her name at first, or Sister Alice. You can imagine how many people I meet and for me to remember everyone’s name is hard, even if they have given it to me a few times. I have never been really all that good with names though. So she joking gave me a hard time. Brother and Sister Saunders then gave their quick testimonies in Fante. Even though I didn’t understand, both of their testimonies brought my eyes to tears. This is such a marvelous work! What a blessing missionaries are. I continued to read from The Miracle of Forgiveness. I have read two chapters today. The other things that I have forgotten to mention about church is that there is a crippled boy who has to walk on his hands and then a deaf, elderly man. You see it a lot in Ghana, if someone is crippled, they walk with their hands. One lady in Asebu is crippled the same way and she takes her flip flops from her feet and puts them on her hands, and then continues to put a have bucket or basket on her head and walk up hills. Today, this boy bore his testimony in church. He is always so happy. The deaf man gave the prayer last week too. I just can’t imagine what it would be like to be deaf in Ghana. The other cool thing I saw in church was that Brother Saunders told me that the lady sitting next to me was an investigator and had brought her three children three weeks ago. She said that she woke up one night when the spirit had come to her in her sleep and told her to go to this church. What a crazy story!! Everyone has a story though!!! I pray that she will continue in her investigation with the family.
After church, I waited to get a ride with the second taxi with the Saunders. Turned out he drove up on some sand and high centered the car and cut his hand trying to get it off only succeeding with the help of ten local neighbors. While waiting, I once again, got the whole history of Ghana. I think I have heard it 5 times. The Ghanian people really like to talk about their history. And I have learned that once you get a stranger talking to you, they just never stop. So I just listened and nodded for about 45 minutes. It was a one-way conversation. One I have had many times.
After church, I came home and ate oats and waited to leave with the Incooms to go watch the football match in ABK. So we went and watched Pastor’s team. It was fun to see how they use school desks as bleachers, how people cheer and yell for their team, and how they play. I got a lot on tape. It was 2 to 2. We then stayed awhile, left to go see where the team was staying. It was not a very nice place for them. They had no mattresses-- meaning sleeping on the cement; no curtains so when it rains it floods the floor they’re sleeping on. I also learned that for the 30 or so of them, it cost a little more than 1,000 cedis a month for them. That is so cheap. But then again, I even wonder how they got the money. But it is a very good project Pastor is doing. So we left after it got dark. Later than I expected. David, who I wrote that really long volunteer letter for because I thought he was going with Cosmic, turns out he was the guy from the Labardi Beach that really, I mean REALLY annoyed Annika and I. So now he is calling me. I have ignored about 30 or 40 or his calls the last week but I decided to pick up tonight. Turns out he wanted to visit Asebu to say hi and good bye before I left. I said plainly, maybe because he was just annoying me already “I am not comfortable with that. So that would actually not be okay.” He was surprised. So I said good night. He then called back asking for Scott’s email. Ahh!!! I thought he said he already signed up!!! So now he is going to call again!!! So I wish I had never had that email sent to him because I wasn’t sure if it was him or not. Well my bad.
Mrs. Incoom and I had been talking the whole day. We were talking about Bertha and how worried both of us were. There are some personal items that I will not note but I am planning on trying to help the communication barrier between Mrs. Incoom and Bertha. Bertha is not happy and both Pastor and Mrs. Incoom, me included, are worried. And I already knew that Bertha does not wish to be here or to resolve her issues with Mrs. Incoom so I was relieved when Mrs. Incoom asked me to talk to Bertha and then also be a mediator for them both to sit down and discuss. Although, I asked Berth about 20 minutes ago, when I started this email, if she could come outside with me, and she has not yet come. So I don’t know what is happening. But wish me luck on whatever happens.

Mar. 6th--Ind. Day, Toys, Confronting Georgina & Ester

March 6, 2010

Today is Ghana’s Independence day. I think I will go with the kids to Asebu’s March in the Park or something like that. Last night was interesting. With Georgina, she is a very nice lady but also very interesting. The kids were ready for bed by 9:30 but Georgina kept walking around, doing this and that and finally went to bathe. By the time she was ready for bed it was almost 1 or so. I slept on the mattress with her. Cho-Joe was so cute last night I played with him and had him fall asleep on my mattress with me until I moved him to his own bed beside us. It is such a special experience to watch a child fall asleep.
We also handed out the sunglasses and bouncy balls that Kendra gave to them. They really enjoyed it. I will put up some pictures soon. But there were only 12 items so I grabbed 4 more spinner tops from the closet to give to the kids who didn’t get the glasses or bouncy balls. They really liked them, Kendra. Thanks so much!!!
By the time is was 5:45 a.m., Georgina was up, but I wanted to sleep some more so I slept until 6 until her yelling at the kids was too much. I knew that if she was yelling, that the kids needed me in some way. Ester and Georgina got in a yelling fight. Not too big, but obviously Georgina was pulling rank on Ester about not going a good job or something. Then Georgina had Grace grab a stick. Elvis had told me that no one but him was allowed to cane the kids. So while I desperately wanted to go home and bathe and wash clothes and get ready to come back by 9, I needed to stay to make sure they were not beaten. Georgina gave two quick swipes to Joshua. I was about to say something but she was done with it. I felt bad that I didn’t say something then, but in my mind I was thinking “That is all she will do.” So she continued to lecture and lecture and yell and yell at the kids. It seems like the kids wake up being yelled at and go to school being yelled, come home being yelled at, and then fall asleep being yelled at. But I couldn’t stop the yelling. But then she started beating the beds and then she turned to Elvis and gave him two quick swipes. After the two, Elvis turned around to take his punishment from Georgina. I will never understand how a human being in the first place would beat children so much, and second, beat a child when they either cower or turn their backs. It is like hitting anyone who cannot defend themselves. I think it is disgraceful to the one beating.
When Elvis turned around I yelled “Georgina!!!’
She stopped and said “yes?”
“Are you allowed to beat the children?”
“Are you allowed to beat the children? Elvis told me that only he was allowed to beat the children.”
“Elvis said that , huh?”
“Well, the children need to get beaten. I only beat them little so they don’t spoil. If there are not beaten they will spoil.”
“You don’t need to beat children. It is not needed. When you beat them, they spoil!”
At this point, She was not happy that I was standing up to her, a young foreigner. Ester was also being the peanut gallery, finally being able to add some of her own words to how I stopped her beating the kids. When I said, “When you beat them, they spoil!’ She got very angry. I have never stood up to an adult like this before. I could hear my heart starting to beat faster and harder. I know how rude it is in America to stand up to an adult, or the elderly, but here, you must always respect the elderly. She then told me of how a European mother came here and the child was doing something bad and how the mother beat the kid.
“That was the mother’s decision to beat the child. As for me and these kids, Elvis is the only one to beat the kids.”
She then continued to protest by showing examples of how the kids spoil things. She showed me their dirty shirt and other items. I think the kids were in shock from seeing me or at least someone else stand us to Georgina. I don’t know if I did the right thing, but I am going to talk to Elvis again and see if he keeps to his word. If he backs down and says that Georgina is allowed to beat the kids, I am not sure of all I will do yet. It will take a lot of time and thought. If I say I would never recommend Asebu to any volunteers, then the children suffer. And I will not leave now because then the children suffer. So I am praying the Elvis sticks to his word.
Georgina then left for the funeral. I stayed for a little bit longer to make sure the kids started brushing and bathing. I also played some Ghanian music that they like to make the mood a little lighter. When Georgina left, she was not angry at me. She said a very friendly good bye and that she will be back later. So I believe that we are okay for now. As for Ester, I am not sure if we will ever be friends for life.. hahaha…! ^_^ The kids also told me that Ester had told Georgina that when the kids were reading a book to me that Sammy and Joseph were pulling my ears. Which the kids were not. So now Ester has lied to Georgina or has gravely mistaken herself. So I will also address Elvis about it. I pray he finds someone soon besides only Ester. The kids need more.
For the rest of the day, I went to the 6th March Parade at the Asebu School. My original plan was to go out of Asebu and experience a larger celebration but the kids wanted me to stay. Then Elvis invited for me to go with him to Cape Coast. So I kept my phone by me and took a nap. Around 3:30 I noticed he had not called. Only David from the beach who I emailed. In Ghana people call so much and just want to check up on you. For me, I find it very tiring but nice of them. So I ignored about 10 calls from him. I just get so tired talking to locals on the phone. I then talked to Pastor and found out that Elvis had already left for Cape Coast, so my plans of seeing a big Ghanian celebration was spoiled. But that’s okay. I saw a little in Asebu and I had even the older boys use my video camcorder. They felt very cool being able to use it. Even though some of the times I didn’t let them know it wasn’t recording, just because they were moving too much to make a good video. It was very interesting to see everything. I then went outside for some fresh air. The clouds and the air were giving it away that it was about to rain. And I was so excited. It had been two weeks or so since it had rained and the rain makes the night much cooler. And it smells wonderful. The thunder is so cool too. The light was off also. It reminded me of the times at the cabin when we would all just sit and count the seconds between thunderbursts. I think that nature is one of the most wonderful things a human being can experience. For the rest of the day, I will just be at home because I believe that it will rain on and off the rest of the day. So I won’t be able to head back up to the House.

More Mar 1st-- Stealing from Orphans--ugh!

March 1st, continued--
After my research, I then sat and watched tv for a little. They were watching Jurassic Park. Oh, that movie was so scary to me when I was little. I then talked with Mrs. Incoom about Elvis and the kids. I have become confused about the Ghanian culture. There is such a lack of communication and pride about the people, in general, not in everyone I am sure though. But if someone tarnishes your name, even if the gossip is not true, then the whole community will not speak or even look at you. You name will be a disgrace. The Incoom’s and Elvis and both such good people, tyring to do good in this world. But because of the lack of communication, they cannot be true good neighbors. Elvis is too busy. But I will just have to live with that part of Ghana and not fight it. I then talked with Elvis. I sat him down and we talked about Ester and how she takes advantage of the kids. She takes the money and pockets it sometimes and when Elvis buys the food in bulk, she has been giving it away. So she is stealing from the kids. If we were in America, she would be charged with a crime or at least fired. But here, it is tolerated. I do not know why. But I guess because Elvis cannot find anyone else. AHH!!!! I really just want the kids to be taken care off. But in Ghana, things take longer.
At the house, I then knew that we needed to work and not play. Even though I wanted to play, there was too much to be done. So I cleaned their rooms, because they all say “I lost my brush… I lost my shoes!!” I then washed socks and got my fingers a little sore. I then fetched about 7 or 8 pails of water. Then Elvis came and talked with the kids. It was like a council. They reported about school and the house-- if there were problems or not. It is nice that Elvis’ comes, but I wish he would do it more often. I found out that it is true that if the new orphanage is not built by the next few months time, that the kids will be left on the street-- no food, no money, no shelter, love, or safety unless something else can be figured out. So when I get back, I really pray that I can do fundraising well. I will try big and small businesses, local school and stores. Anything I can do. Because here, a hundred dollars can do so much. Even just a dollar, something so small to us, can actually feed half of my kids one dinner a night. So small a thing could help so much. I pray that since the fundraiser will be 100% of the proceeds to the kids and since it is a private donation, people might be more willing to give. But I still need to figure out all of the legal stuff for it though.
Also during the council, I had another glimpse of Heaven. I saw the kids in a different light. Their faces were glowing and a voice whispered not in words, but in feelings “These are God’s children. Just as talented, just as beautiful and smart.” I am so grateful for that reminder. I love them so much. I now have less than a month and a half. It is long yet so short.
Elvis then drove us down and bought some things for the kids at the store. I came home and called mom. At which point, I promptly wanted to cry because everything was so different. I am so grateful for my parents. They are one of the greatest blessings Heavenly Father has given me. They know how to comfort me, to love, to give me guidance. She said some very needed things to me that I needed to hear.
I am now at home and I might ask if I can have a Ghanian dish. Because for the past three weeks, I have only had spaghetti, oats, bread, PB and J and then the once pancakes and French toast. So I need a little balance. I think meat or some kind of protein.