Most of our time in Africa was spent in the city of Tamale at our friend’s house scraping and painting the walls and ceilings. We tackled the job with gusto, learning as we went along. Charity did a delightful job of picking out paint that made the house look beautiful and welcoming.
I greatly enjoyed scraping the walls. It was so rewarding to see the large chips of paint floating to the floor and the walls turning different colors. There were ceiling fans on in each room and we had them on all the time except when someone was working right up by them. They did an amazing job of helping to keep the rooms cooler since it was over a hundred degrees fahrenheit each day.
My sister, Helena, and cousin, Aubrey, did almost all of the ceiling work which was amazing. The rooms are really tall and the higher up you go, the warmer it gets. I have no clue how they perched on their ladders for so many hours each day.
The first week we were in Ghana we got to know a really good Ghanian friend of Wes and Charity our friends who we were visiting; her name is Topaga and she lives in town with them. She generally did the cooking for us a job I’m accustom to having at home so we got to enjoy a lot of Ghanaian foods. It was a good experience. Then the second week we were in Ghana Topaga was visiting her family back in the village so I took over some of the cooking duties which I really enjoyed.
I also spent a lot of time hanging out with these guys, ^ Hudson and Steven. I quickly lost count of all the games of Uno, Sorry!, Shoots and Ladders, Memory and various other games that we played. Since I’m probably the biggest board game/card game fan in our family, it was so much fun to be with people who were equally into the games as me. Although I do have to say, that was the first time I’d played some of the games in about a decade Hudson and Steven are amazing and it was so interesting listening to them explain to me about football (soccer), quiz me on Ghanian history and expound on the different countries they’ve visited.
Even though it was great being in Tamale, my favorite part of Africa was when we went out to the village for the weekend. Wes is a fantastic tour guide and offered to pull over any time we wanted to take pictures. Since most of the time we were the only traffic on the road, it worked out quite nicely.
Even though there wasn’t any big game where we were, there were huge termite mounds. Even though I’ve read about them, I don’t think I ever realized how massive they actually are. Wes said it was fine to climb on them, so of course I had to try it. I can’t get over the fact that such tiny little creatures make this tall of of a mound (it was really wide around, too).
We were in Ghana during the dry season, but when there were still green leaves on the trees. It was beautiful to have the splash of color as we drove through hour after hour of red and brown dirt and light yellow grass. It was delightful to hear from Wes what the different kinds of trees we were passing were. We passed kapok trees (where they used to get the material to make kapok vests), and Shea butter trees to name a couple.
It was staggering to hear about how some of the people live out in the villages. I’d always heard about how precious water is to these Ghanians, but then meeting the people and seeing first-hand how terrifically hard the work just to have enough water to survive on made it a lot more real.
At one of the villages we visited the ladies have to walk two hours to reach water and then two hours home, carrying the water on their heads. Only, that’s not enough water for a full day, so they have to make that trip twice each day. Yes, you heard that right. They literally have to walk eight hours a day in 100+ degree weather, simply to have enough water for their family to survive on. And that doesn’t take into account the rest of the work they do in a twenty-four hour period to stay alive.
There are a lot of people who are working to get wells dug in these remote African villages. The wells have to be so deep though, that the African’s can’t do it themselves because they don’t have the right equipment. While we were visiting in the village the chief of the village had Wes come and visit him and he asked Wes if there was any way that they could get a well in their village so the ladies wouldn’t have to walk so far. (Check out what another friend of ours who grew up in Africa is doing to help with this problem!)
Despite the hardships they go through, the Ghanians are an extremely friendly, sharing, generous, honest and respectful people. I was blessed and amazed over and over again how these people with so little compared to what I’m used to, went out of their way to bless me, share with me and make me feel welcome.
We visited yet another village on Sunday morning so we could have church with the people there. That was a fantastically amazing experience and I’m SO glad I was able to be there. After church the pastor and his wife invited us to tour their compound and go in one of their huts so we could see what Ghanian homes looked like. Peter (the pastor) spoke English (which is the national language of Ghana, but not many of the villagers where we were spoke it) and so he explained to us what different things were.
At one time his wife and another lady who were sitting there watching us (they didn’t speak English) asked him why he was telling us what everything was and acting like we were stupid? Then Wes explained to them that as strange as it may seem, we didn’t know what the various things were and what they were used for. They were shocked, but responded graciously.
Thinking about it, we realized it would have felt very strange indeed to have someone visit our house and have to explain, This is a couch, people sit on it. This is a bowl, people eat out of it. This is a spoon, people stir with it. But in reality, their commonly used tools and household items were so different from what we were used to that we did have to have them explained to us.
Before we left, Peter and his wife asked us if we had any advice we could give them that would help to make their lives better. I was so amazed and humbled by the question. I know that for me, if someone came to my house and didn’t know anything about the way I lived, I would be the one offering them advice, not the other way around! I guess that goes to show how full of pride I am, even when I don’t realize it. We told them that if they ever came to the States then we could help teach them how to live there, but here in Africa they knew so much more than we did and we wanted to learn from them.
Africa was astounding and I’m so glad I got to go. If I went again, I would want to spend more time getting to know the loving, friendly people who live there.
Writing this post took a couple of hours and reminded me of how many blessing I got to experience while in the far off country. I’m so thankful for Wes and Charity and Hudson and Steven and the amazing time we had with them.
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I don’t have any more Ghanian posts in the works, so if you have questions, ask away and I’ll be happy to answer them.