Thursday, July 24, 2014

SELF RELIANCE CENTER

The evening of the Ghana vs U.S. Soccer game we stayed at the "temple Complex" to enjoy the game with some of the staff members.  There is little opportunity to eat when we go there and it was dinner time (no lunch). Shelly Cannon invited us to their missionary apartment and fed us.  It tasted SOOOOO good.  We ate a vegetable soup and I've made my own version every week.  (with what is available to me on the street) It's a staple!


We've never been more appreciative of a meal in our lives I believe

Russell and Shelly Cannon, directors of that Self Reliance Center saved us from starvation

The Self Reliance Center is an amazing operation of classes, monitoring and required "follow Through"  They promise that if an individual will follow ALL the steps they outline, they will find employment in 30 days!  That's quite a promise in Ghana.  It is still hard for them to accomplish.


Watching Soccer with true Ghanaians

Game was projected on a white board. Never were able
to get the sound!

A cute couple we met who had just completed an internship

THE VALUE OF LIMITS

Bob and I are quickly learning the value of having limits!  
We've learned this by not recognizing them at first.  Ghana is a "pay as you go" country and there is a certain beauty to that!  

We are so used to bills being paid automatically with little thought of when and how they are being accumulated.

This is our electricity breaker box.  When the electricity goes out, we wait to hear the generator go on then switch it up to access the generator.  Eventually the generator goes off, that means the electicity is now on again, so we switch the handle back down to access the electricity. We need to be sure it is in electricity mode when we leave because otherwise the refrigerator won't be working once the electricity goes back on.


Our electricity is purchased in advance and this little box tells us now much electricity we have left.
If it runs out there is no more electricity.  We can't use the generator either since that's not under our control.  We are just "left in the dark".

We had made one trip to the company that sells electricity but didn't buy nearly enough.  Sometimes $140 cedes sounds like a lot but that's really less than $50. If you bought your electricity in $50 increments you would be running to the electricity store pretty often.  

Think about it!


Well, we were smart enough to check the electricity now and then and could see we would need more.  However, we realized that the next day was a Ghana holiday which meant we would need to be very careful and hope it held out for another day.  We used no A/C, turned off all the outlets, watched the lights, etc. We were blessed to make it through the Tuesday holiday, still have a fan during the night and just as it was getting light on Wednesday morning the electricity went off.






It was a rainy day so we didn't tackle the long walk to the electricity store, caught a taxi instead.

Nope!  This isn't Bob!  
He was on the phone so I had to respond when our number was called.

Whether it is our special Ghana "unlocked" cell phones
or the internet, we have to go through a "process" of adding credits that we buy on the street

T

We have run out of each of these.  Thank goodness they are fairly available.  Not like electricity!

Limits help us think about the things we enjoy and have come to depend upon.  
Regardless of the cost or availability, it's good to have limits!

MISSIONARY WORK


We were blessed the very first Saturday to attend a ward baptism!

These are some cute missionaries in our area.  Elder Peterson is assigned to our Kwabenya Ward and was doing splits with Elder Green.

Our Ward Mission Leader Frank Ashon is dynomite!




The three below were baptized the first Saturday.

We had two more baptisms last Sunday but were attending another ward in Tema so missed that!


The electricity was out the evening of the baptism so we had our meeting part on the back patio and used the flashlights on our i-phones to shine light on the speakers.

The stand alone font is in the back yard.


Along with the rooster who chimes in occasionally



There was no keyboard accompaniment since our only keyboard player just left for a mission to London.

The lovely young girl who leads the singing sings the first line herself, then begins over with everyone else singing (yes, EVERYONE else)

That's the procedure in all of the meetings.


Baptisms make Happy Elders!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

TRANSPORTATION

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Van buses are seen everywhere packed with people. The driver decides on a route to take and picks up people, wherever, on the way. Luckily, my husband is interested in how any business is operated and Hans is happy to explain. I catch as much as I can from the back seat as we travel.

The bus is owned by one person. A driver contracts with him to use the van at a set fee. He hires a conductor who is paid a wage at the end of each day.


The driver gives his full attention to driving (it's truly a full time  job!). The conductor leans out the window looking for passengers and communicates with them where they are going. If the route fits the client, the bus stops and picks them up. The conductor keeps track of where to let people off. Customers keep looking for a bus that has space and can get them where they want to go. The fare varies, depending on the distance. It works.

In some ways I'd like to try a bus sometime just for the experience, but I can't understand what the conductor is saying and I know my husband would never do it.   

Our chosen mode of transportation is a taxi.
At first Stephen, Hans and Emmanuel picked us up and dropped us off but that isn't very practical since we live so far from where we need to go and it makes a double trip for them, so we have resorted to a taxi.  We hail a taxi, tell them where we are going (we used to have to have it on a paper to remember and be sure we were getting it right) Then we negotiate the price.  We sit in the back seat and bump along the roads, weaving in and out of traffic in spaces you wouldn't believe.  

Most taxis don't have working seat belts so your life is in the hands of the Lord.  It doesn't seem to make us nervous, however.  It's just the way it is.

There are obviously no seat belt laws



 Traffic is always congested but rush hour traffic is terrible!  I said driving is a full time job and that's the honest truth.  It is an art.  You wouldn't believe the way cars work around each other to the left or the right or right down the middle.  We haven't been in an accident of any sort yet but most cars are dented.

The two missionary couples we have talked to have each had 3 accidents so far.
Our new mission president, President Heid had one the first week he was here and he had previously served a mission here.  He opened his door on the street side to get out then leaned in (thankfully) to grab something and a car whizzed by and took off his door.  He said he thought a bomb had it.

This gives you some idea of what many roads are like.  Driving is a very bumpy experience with lots of swaying from side to side as the driver negotiates the obstacles.  I am usually in the back seat and Bob is too when we take a taxi.




When riding in a taxi the windows are down a ways so the air can flow - no A/C, no seat belts, and little room in the backseat.  We add our backpack and computer bag to the mix. The driver often speaks very limited English so we are hoping he knows where we are going.  They often take a different route than the last driver so it's interesting.  Bob loves to track it all and try to figure out what they are thinking.
This is how our taxi driver was dealing with mud! The biggest challenge to taxi rides is the music most of them play.  This driver played church music.  It was refreshing!

STREET SHOPS

Apparently the "middle class" in Ghana are those with a somewhat dependable income. So many of the people are dependent on what they can sell on the street each day.  Shops are made out of old shipping containers or scraps of wood and tin, whatever is available.


In addition, women walk through the streets with baskets of produce, drinks, breads, most everything imaginable on their heads. They stand regally, clean and modest, approaching cars to offer their wares. They are not abrasive, but polite. The transactions are made through car windows which is easy to do since traffic moves so slowly. (A nation of "Drive Throughs" as Stephen Abu suggested)



I often wonder just how much they truly can sell in a day and what they can take home to their families. They get their goods from a supplier and sell from early morning until late at night.
I get such a kick out of these babies hanging on their mother's backs.  It is practical, however!

Since we are either on foot or in a taxi, we buy most all our food from these street shops.  Luckily they are everywhere.  We cross a small but busy road to our neighborhood stores right by our apartment.  We buy bread at one store, produce at another, then find some canned goods farther down the way.

One Saturday we walked a mile or two to a larger market, bought produce and took a taxi back.

This last week, Hans was taking us home and drove us to a larger store where we got some "fresh" meat (maybe too fresh) and cheese, etc.  Things that are not available in our own neighborhood.
The two times we have been in a regular store I've only had a few minutes, never time to investigate!


Water is sold in "sachets" which are pint sized plastic bags.  We just bite off the corner with our eye teeth, spit out the tiny piece and suck the water from the packet.  The water is purified but I can't vouch for the plastic we put our mouth on.  Not a good practice if you are germaphobic.

Obviously, if we are eating street food we are not that picky but with little access to larger stores, it beats being hungry!


When we need more phone or internet time, we can buy it close.  The phone companies advertise their representatives by umbrellas marked with their name.  Most phone card venders, both at the umbrellas and selling through car windows have most all the phone cards.

This car wash is in our neighborhood.  You drive into a dirt floor lot and men wash your car.
Isn't that what a car was it?




 There are piles of old tires and old cars everywhere .  It seems like some business that would use those items would be a winner here.

On our trip to cape coast a beach resort used painted tires like flower pots.  I'll put it on that post when I get to it. They even hung them on a block fence.
 This woman is carrying peanuts!  They are stacked in a crescent. I have no idea how she keeps them in place or why she never spills them. See the nice house in the background?  Nicer houses are often found out away from the road.  The road is almost always lined with these shops.


I love that the mothers always hold their small children by the hand and the child let's them!  I guess it's like car seats.  They just don't have a choice!  Cars are whizzing past all the time. It's definitely a safety issue.  I'm still surprised at how clean and neat people dress, especially when they basically live in the dirt.

Two cute gals making banku on the street.  Seems I wrote about that in a blog.  Maybe it was on instagram.  I tasted banku one time. It's just cooked cornmeal dough that they dip in a stew of sorts and eat.  I'd like a chance to try some more of the local dishes.

Look how nice she looks!  I definitely did not bring nice enough clothes, especially for where I live.  I didn't want to spoil my nicer clothes so I brought older ones that I don't care much about.

Big mistake!  I feel underdressed a lot!  Who would have guessed!!!

LIFE IN GHANA

There are so many things that I experience each day that I want to remember.  Some of them are related to the culture of this fine land but some are just part of our experience living in Africa for the summer.

Our Clothes Dryer
It makes for a LOT of ironing!


We are so grateful to have a clothes washer 
right in the kitchen and it works great!
We wash and rinse our dishes after boiling our water, adding detergent and bleach
Bedroom vanity. What a luxury!

African Hairdo. I haven't used a blow
dryer in weeks.  Just grateful it curls!
Hope I can make it through without a haircut!

 I used to try to style my hair.  The hairdryer needed an adapter and was awkward to use and eventually I found it worked better to just lift my hair with my fingers, scrunch it to make it curl and call it good!

Make up is also an issue.  I can put it on but will soon find it running down my cheeks.  The heat and humidity are not make up friendly.

So, now I am old, have frizzy hair, little makeup and I'm stuck with it! However, it doesn't matter one little bit!



 Our bathroom looks good but has issues.  There has been a leak in it since we arrived. We've had people in to fix it twice but it's worse than ever.  We put a wastepaper basket in the shower to catch a drip and towels along the wall to absorb the water.

When the floor is wet (which is usually), and you step in the wet, it makes your feet really slippery on the tile.  That's my biggest concern.  We don't need to fall.  We may just have to give up and change to the guest bathroom.  I have a feeling the leak is coming from within the wall in the pipes that lead from the water heater hanging under the ceiling in our bedroom which leads to the shower.  Sure would like to solve that one! It's not for lack of trying!
This table is used for meals, meetings, holding electronics while they charge, wash, ironing, whatever.  It comes in handy!  I prefer it without the table cloth.

We have quite a time keeping all our items charged.  We have 3 adapters but two computers, two ipads, four phones and two mobile internets besides appliances.  We are constantly rotating devices to be sure they will be charged for the next day's activities.


There are items I am so grateful I brought and those I could have left behind. I brought measuring cups and spoons - use them daily! Also zip lock bags and these containers for leftovers.  Love them! I brought a roll of plastic wastepaper liners.  Will be so sad when they are gone! For some reason I brought tin foil.  Use it all the time in place of plastic wrap. I thought I would make tin foil dinners in the oven but the oven is gas and complicated so haven't used it.  At least not yet.

We don't use most of the emergency type things we brought, mosquito netting, extra repellant, ponchos, water filter bottles.  We mainly buy our water in bottles.  We do filter water to clean vegetables and eggs in a bleach water bath and cooking noodles, etc. that takes more water.

 It's amazing how few utensils you really need.  I don't have a whisk, a rubber spatula, a grater, a crock pot or a working oven and I thought I didn't have a lot of other things until I discovered they were hanging on the wall.


We buy our bread every few days just across the street, fresh out of the oven.  That sounds dreamy, doesn't it? However, you haven't tasted it yet!  One of the challenges with food is everything tastes different than we are used to.  There are flavors there that are strange to us.  Not sure if we will get used to it or just tolerate it!



Obviously one of our favorite breakfasts.  We bought
this pan because the ones in the apt. were thin and
didn't cook well.  The pots are fine!
 Occasionally we will find and indulge in something decadent! We found these oreos in an American Store (most things are stale). We paid 22 cedis for it.  That is still over $7. It seemed worth it at the time. Sometimes we buy a snickers and put it in the freezer


Bananas are a staple!  They never look very good but are always delicious.  These look decent.  Most are very small and look like they are ready to be thrown away but they are firm and tasty inside or am I just hungry?  No, they have been good from the beginning! We actually eat several a day. We also eat apples, pineapple and mangos.

 One big obstacle is the lack of milk.  Well, they actually do sell milk in a box but we can't stand the taste.  We've tried different brands but taste them and throw them away.  We don't even want to risk cooking with them.  I put a can of "Morning Moo" from WalMarts in a zip lock bag and packed it in my suitcase.  It has been a true lifesaver!!!! I just wish I had brought two or three!  We make up one quart a week to share.  That means we rarely use it for anything but on our cereal.  We also brought a bag of Quaker Granola, two jars of peanut butter, granola bars and some nuts.  We'll be majorly sad when any of those things are finally gone.
We try to ration them.

 I made a container out of a bottle to mix the milk in then later found this plastic one that fit in the refrigerator well.  I boil water to have warm water to make it dissolve, then add filtered water or use bottled water to finish it up.  We can't get more than about two breakfasts each of cereal, hot or cold that requires milk.

I found some Cream of Wheat and we really like that.  Bob didn't think he liked it but now really enjoys it.  All things are relative.  We also have a type of oatmeal and eggs.  I'm going to try some swedish pancakes this weekend.
While driving home one day Emmanuel bought some polo through the car door on the street.  It tasted like macaroons to me and I enjoyed it.  It was something with some flavor to chew on.

A couple of weeks later I told him I wanted to buy some polo.  I bought 6.  That was a mistake.
By the next day they were pretty stale.  I managed to eat a couple more but ended up throwing them away.  Oh well, it was fun the first time!

I must conclude with our newly discovered
favorite treat of all...buttered popcorn

We love to pop it in the microwave in a brown
paper sack, melt a french butter that is yummy
and pour it over.  Then salt it.  I made the
mistake of buying unsalted butter so we also
salt the butter!  What a treat!

We were hoping to lose some weight since nothing tastes very good, but I have a feeling that's not going to happen.  We are too good at trying to compensate!