Beach Days and Such

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August 19, 2013. The day that lectures at UCC are supposed to commence. Pshh heck nah. That didn’t happen. Wanna know why? The entire university faculty is on strike. Please just think about that. Can I have class while they are on strike? HECK NOPE! Booyah. Bring on the adventures and spontaneous tro tro rides.

What shall we do on this unexpected break? Well, naturally, the first thing that comes to every college kid’s head when they get off school…go to the beach. So we took a taxi to the town market in Kotokraba. In town, we shopped around to search for a soccer ball, or actually a football, so that we could play on the beach.¬† From there, we walked to a restaurant near the Cape Coast castle, ate some yummy food and enjoyed the scenery of the town. After the delicious meal, we walked down to the beach and checked out some local craft shops. Interesting stuff fo sho. Way overpriced souvenirs but still fun to shop around. When we were done shopping around, we decided to crack out the football and start kicking it around. On our way to a place to play, there were a lot of kids sitting around with the goods that they are supposed to be selling. These goods consisted of water packets, pastry snacks, and other goodies. Let me just tell you…only ONE of these kids was a teenager. All the rest were twelve or younger. Seriously? These kids are so young and they are out on the streets trying to make a living. They all greeted us with great smiles and tried to sell us their goods. One of the boys, Joseph, came up to me with a piece of paper with some information hand written and a place for me to write and sign a few things. The information on the paper explained that he did not have enough money to pay for school supplies, food, uniforms, and all of the necessary school fees. I looked at the boy and then looked back at the paper. I put my stuff down and told him that I am not going to be giving him any money but that I wanted to ask him a few questions. I really wanted to treat the boy with some spare change, but I was resilient because of what I have heard about the scams that kids can sometimes try. So I began to ask him a few questions about his school, his family, and just his overall situation. He seemed to be very truthful and told me that his family did not have enough money for these things, but he could not tell me that the money was going to be used for school business. I told him that I cannot give him any money at the time, but that I will think about it and after a game of football, I may reconsider. So, after politely declining, I invited all of the children¬† to take a break and play football with us. Most of them jumped right in and started making teams. Some of them were too shy and wanted to sit by and watch. That was fine, but it didn’t stop me from bugging them and asking them about themselves.

One girl named Grace decided that she didn’t want to play. I asked her why and she just shook her head. She was carrying a plastic container, on top of her head, with meat pies inside and she had been selling them all day. I looked at the box on her head and then back at her and gave her a pat on the back. She looked so unhappy. After I started asking her about her life and what-not, she pointed to the box on her head and asked if I would buy her one. This girl, twelve years old, asked me if I would buy her a meat pie that she herself has been selling ALL DAY. Oh my goodness, my heart broke. I asked her how many she wanted and she asked if she could have two. I gave her 1 GHC, or cedi, which is approximately 50 US cents, and told her that I wanted to sit with her while she ate it. This way I knew that she would actually eat instead of just take the money. She thanked me and took a seat in the sand to eat her late afternoon lunch.

I will never forget that girl’s face. I still cannot believe that she had to ask me to buy one of her own pastries for her to eat. My heart still breaks just thinking about it.

The children here have already played such a huge part in my experience. They are thrown into grown up situations without any experience or help. Yet most of them are so incredibly happy. Why is it that people think if someone is “less fortunate”, they are automatically unhappy? Why? My view is quickly changing and I really hope that I will never forget this day.

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Kakum National Forest

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Ok. So after you finish reading this post, you are probably all gonna be pretty mad at me. Cuz I didn’t take any pictures of this place.

But it I called Kakum National Forest. It was about 45 minutes north east from campus. And completely in the middle of the jungle. So this forest is AWESOME. Here in the south of Ghana, it is technically still their rainy season but this day is the only day that it has rained since I’ve been here. Of course, on the day we’re going hiking and such. So the hike was a rocky walkway that was very slippery from the rain. It was a short, but kind of steep, hike that we had to take to the canopy walk. Yup. You read correctly. Canopy walk. In the jungle. Of Ghana. In Africa. BALLIN.

After the hike we got to the platform that started the canopy walk. Not too nervous. Just a little jittery. I take the first step onto the walkway (which is basically a series of ladders suspended and laid flat with planks on top). Still pretty calm…but then it starts shaking and I lose it. I start laughing uncontrollably!! The laughing makes my eyes water and my balance basically non existent. Freakin hilarious. I was walking so slow but my friends were encouraging me to walk faster. There were about five series of walkways with little stops between them. Seriously. The views from this walkway were NUTZ. Even though my nervous laughter made it a little bit difficult to walk, I still enjoyed it very much and I’m TOTALLY going back. No doubt. It was awesome. Hopefully the other international students will post pictures so I can repost them!

Town and such

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Hey. Guess what. Finally went into town! Instead is trekking around the campus we went to venture out. Dude. It was NUTZ. I finally got moved into the residence hall after staying in the chalet for a week. I was the first one in there so kinda strange. But my roommate, Lena, came in not too much longer. She is from Germany and she is super nice! I can already see us going on a lot of adventures together!

First adventure: go to the market.

It was so overwhelming I barely bought anything! There were so many stands and so many specialties I had no idea what I should buy. So for this time, I just took in the scenery. I absolutely loved it! The people are all super nice and the children running around make my heart smile so much! God had filed these people with so much joy and it shines through their gorgeous smiles.

But you would not BELIEVE how many goats I’ve seen!! I want one so bad!

Oh! I forgot to write about my adventures at coconut grove! So staying in the same chalets as me, there was a group of people volunteering with AFS and so they were hanging around the complex a lot. On Wednesday night, I met onetime and he was so stinking hilarious. His name is Roger and he lives in Ghana but a different region than Cape Coast. He came by a couple of nights and kept asking me if I would go with him and his team to a resort about 20 minutes outside of campus. At this time, I still have yet to explore outside of campus…so I said no. But since he was leaving on Sunday I told him that maybe on Saturday I would go with him. I prayed about it and asked God to please protect me and give me a spirit of peace. So when Saturday came I was honestly stoked to go. Still one downside, I literally only know one person going. That still made me suppah nervous. The time came for us to go and Roger came to the door and I saw a truck already full of people and I looked at him…then the car…then back to him. I thought he was nuts thinking we could all fit in there. So I got in the car and he was like, I’m just going in a bus and I’ll meet you there. I said ok, but I was FREAKING OUT on the inside. I did not know ONE person in that car.

Anyways. Long story short. It was an awesome night with cultural dancing and music and such. African adventure number one: success. Not saying that I’m gonna make a habit of getting into cars with strangers, but I’m just gonna be less selective of my adventure opportunities.

Ordinary Thursday…

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Today things have pretty uneventful to say the least. I took a very long walk this morning after breakfast and explored more of the campus. I could get lost really easily here if I’m not careful. There is another thing I realized today this time it was about me, not the people. I have got to become more humble. There have been a lot of people that have tried to make a big effort to just say hey to me. At first, I was like alright! This must be what celebrities feel like. Seriously, it has been kind of crazy. I met one guy named John who works on campus and he believed fate took him down the road he was walking on so that he could meet me. Quite the flattery, but come on. He then proceeded to tell me about how much I should trust him and asked me where I lived and my room number. Mom, I did NOT tell him, don’t worry. Even though he seemed creepy, he might have had good intentions. So I’m not gonna intentionally avoid him. And that is not the first time a guy has approached me here.
Anyways, my point, I have GOT to stop letting all this flattery get to my head! Attention is going to follow me while I’m here, I know that, but I just have to think of it differently. At first, I really liked it, honestly. It made me feel special, in a way. But now I just have to appreciate it in a different way. God has given me the opportunity to be here for reasons I am still not sure of, but it is not for the filling up of my confidence or my head. Hopefully I’ll be able to get past the boastfulness but still be able appreciate it.

First night. Check.

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So last night I spent my first night here by myself. My dad left yesterday afternoon for the airport and right after he left, I slept. I slept a lot. I woke up this morning feeling strange. I just felt like I was completely unsure about what to do the rest of the week. The campus is very big. Probably the size of about 4 KSU’s. It is very hard to get around everywhere. I am hoping to get a bike very soon so that I can go around town pretty easily. There are about two or three villages right in the middle of campus. We were told that this was because the government took the land for the campus and those that chose to not move stayed and the campus was built around them. Very funny story. My dad and I walked around them yesterday and one of the villages I felt very comfortable around. The other not so much. It’s going to take some time getting used to this place. I love it, don’t get me wrong. It is just very different.
One of the things I find the most obviously different is how these people have a different kind of relationship and experience of God than most Americans do. Driving from the airport to the campus, there were countless glorifications and praises written on street signs, taxis, buses, buildings, and clothes. It was crazy. Nothing like I’ve ever seen before. While that was all very surprising, there is something else that surprised me even more. When my dad was taken to the airport, a man from the International Student Center came down to give him a ride, his name is Nathan. Before they drove off, Nathan came into my temporary living room and asked if I had prayed yet. A stranger. I had only met him the day before. When he asked me that question, I was completely embarrassed to say no. I hadn’t prayed yet. So right there, at that moment, I prayed over my father and thanked The Lord for Mr Nathan. I can see that now, it is not myself that is going to be teaching them anything, but it is them who are going to be teaching me. I have so much to see and so much to learn.

Until next time,
Lauren

Made it to the airport

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So we made it to the airport! First step. Check. I am now just sitting waiting for my flight in the terminal. But lemme just tell you what I heard on the radio in the car ride here. I don’t know if you’ve heard but evidently the US is in a national security scare and suspect that there is a huge terrorist attack that is in its final stages of completion. WHAT. THE. HECK. If I was calm before….it’s gone now. As soon as I heard that, my heart fell into my stomach. I really hope that nothing happens on my trip or after I leave. I am not sure how serious this threat is but PLEASE keep praying. Pray for this country most of all.