Friday, 5 August 2011

Time has Flown By!

Wow! Time has flown by!  I leave tomorrow night to head home to the U.S!  It is a bitter sweet thing!  I love the people here, the friends that I have met, and the things that I have learned, but I am super EXCITED to come home!  I cannot wait till I can give my mom, family, and best friend a big hug! J  I am so grateful for all the opportunities the Lord has truly blessed me with this last month!  He works in mysterious ways, and being in Africa, I have learned and have grown more than ever!

I started off today the best way that I possibly ever could!  Bailey, Hilary, Ashlee, Megan and I went and did baptisms in the Accra, Ghana Temple!  So Amazing and beautiful!  As we walked into the temple, I could feel that same spirit that I feel in the Timpanogos Temple.  It’s cool how each temple is the Lord’s house and he walks in each one!  We sat in the waiting your for a little big and talked with the Ghanaian temple workers!  They were so excited to see us there!  No one else was in the temple!  It was interesting to see no one there and how quiet it was!  One of the temple workers was hilarious!  She had actually been to Utah before, so when she found out we were from Utah she sang us a song that went like this, “Da da da da da da Utah is the best place on the earth!”  She was very humorous and fun to be around!

As we walked into the baptismal font, I jumped with excitement!  It was beautiful!  So different than Timpanogos, but yet so beautiful!  After we got dressed, before we walked into the font area, we had to wash our feet in a bucket of water to make sure all the dirt was off of them.  After doing baptisms, we all just sat in the waiting room and just listened to nothing!  Knowing all the traffic and world that outside, it was wonderful to feel peace and silence!  I enjoyed every second I could get!  It’s amazing to see how the gospel is the same no matter where you are in the world!  I’m so thankful for Temples and spirit that we can feel and draw nearer to our savior through temples!  I had such a wonderful experience and this opportunity made my whole trip complete!

Monday August 1st - Wednesday August 3rd, 2011
Mole Trip

Who needs Disneyland when you can go to Africa?
That was my exact thought late Monday night.
It was finally our trip to Mole (pronounced as Molae).  WE were all pretty stoked to go on a safari and see some wild animals and elephants.  We knew it would be a long drive, but we never knew what we had in store for us!
First of all, what was supposed to be a 10 bus ride, turned into a 16 hour bus ride!  We drove 6 hours to a place called Kumasi, where we would stop for lunch.  But before we hit Kamosi we had to take a washroom break (bathroom break).  Our bus driver stopped at a little village type thing.  There were three little wooden stalls.  As we walked towards them, I knew I was in for a treat.  Just the smell alone was hard to bear.  I watched a boy take buckets of water to dump down the toilet to flush down the sewage.  As I waited in line, a girl in our group came out and her face was not looking to good.  She said to me, “Out of this whole trip, that is the worst washroom I have ever been too”.
Yes indeed my time had come.  I opened the wooden door and to find a little hole in the ground.  The smell was unbearable and all I could do was think, “Get in… get out!”  I had flip flops on and as I walked towards the hole in the ground, I noticed all the fluid on the ground.  I didn’t even want to think of what my feet were soaking in!  I quickly squatted and peed faster than ever!  I must say that I am now a professional squatter!  I have had much practice here in Africa, and I now feel pretty darn confident to pee in a bush or on cement, now that I’ve done it a million times!   I wish I could describe this bathroom to you!  It was unbelievable!  It still astonishes me that people actually live this way!  So many diseases, unsanitary hygiene, the smells, I still am shocked at all that I have seen!

After having that experience we finally head to Komasi for lunch.  We had been driving for about 6 hours at this time.  After lunch, we continued on the road.  Another 6-7 hours went by.  I was thinking about going crazy!  We had been in that bus for so long!  We finally arrived to a little village where our group was switching into two smaller vans that could drive on the road to Mole better.  Sure enough, we get 15 of us in one tiny van.  We were so squished!  Now by this time we had been traveling for at least 13-14 hours!  We started in the dark, and we were ending in the dark.  As we started up the road to Mole, I seriously wanted to laugh so hard!  We were on the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland that lasted for 3 hours!  Imagine this:

Its pitch black, no light posts, no light at all except for the head lights of the van.  You are on a narrow dirt and rocky road with green African jungle grass and trees on both sides of the road.
The road was so bad!  Like bumpy bad!  I kept thinking I was on the Indiana Jones ride!  The driver would speed up to 80 mph and then swerve to miss some bumps, only to hit other bumps.  Our bums flew off our seat most of the drive.  I am so thankful that I don’t get car sick easily or else that would have been one drive from heck!  I have never had an experience like this!  It was quite fun for the first hour, but the last two hours were way exhausting.

We finally made it to Mole!  We had dinner at 11:00 pm.  Very delicious and full of carbs as always! Haha After dinner we headed straight to bed so we could get some sleep and get up early for our safari hike!

Indeed we got up at 5:30 am!  I walked out my room door and there were baboons everywhere!  One of our tour guides told me to get back in my room for a minute.  Baboons are not nice!  After a few of them cleared away, we started our journey to find some fun animals.  Our Safari tour guide’s name was Adam.  He had a rifle…. Just in case an animal decided to attack.  As we started our hike, the first thing we got to see were wart hogs like pumba from Lion King.  They were very silly looking.  We walked through lots of jungle where the baboons lived.  Baboons are not very nice (as you will learn in my next story).  After passing the antelope, we finally made it to the Elephants!  They are GINORMOUS!!  If one wanted to walk on me, one of their feet would smash my whole body!  They are so pretty!  The elephants were my favorite!  We didn’t get to see any animals like zebras or giraffes.  Those animals live more in southern Africa, not Ghana!  I wish I could have seen them, but I was happy with the elephants!  We walked through the beautiful jungle for a couple hours. 

After visiting our elephant friends, we headed to a very poor remote village.  This was true Africa right here!  It was sad but cool to see the things that we have learned in class become a reality.  There’s a disease called Kwashiorkor disease that affects mostly children.  This is a severe protein-energy malnutrition disease.  The child is not getting the nutrients or proteins that their bodies need so they start to lose their hair in clumps, their skin becomes dry and flaky, and they have edema or swelling of the legs, ankles, and/or belly.  As we walked towards this poor village, I noticed plenty of kids who had Kwashiorkor.  It breaks my heart!  Such a simple disease to prevent!
We had a tour of the village, we met the chief, and the medicine man!  Very interesting traditions!  After touring the village, the villagers danced for us!  They are amazing dancers!  I love watching them, but the next thing you know, I’m being pulled in to come join them!  I had a blast!  I never thought I could still become more grateful for all that I have, but after this village experience, my heart was full of gratitude for all that I have!  Including Deodorant!  J

After the village, we headed back up to Mole to make it in time for our evening hike.  We didn’t see any elephants on the evening hike.  In fact, we walked so far into the forest, I was getting nervous if the tour guide, Christopher, knew his way back.  He was following elephant tracks, but sadly we couldn’t find them.  At one point, our tour guide told us that he saw lions here the other day.  That brought much comfort!  The lions aren’t out in the day, only at night, but night was on the verge at this time!  He kept his gun pretty close to him and his finger close to the trigger.  Then all of a sudden we found a turtle!  Our tour guide was so excited!  He picked it up and said he was going to take it back to put it in the museum.  So I guess In Africa you can just pick up animals and take them haha.  We named the turtle Abrunie (that is what everyone calls us.  It means white man).  We all had a fun time carrying him around back to our motel.

Oh my goodness!  I cannot forget this story!  So our tour guide warned us that if you have a plastic bag in your hand, baboons have learned that usually humans carry food in plastic bags.  So sometimes a baboon may come and attack you for the bag.  After our village visit, sure enough a great memory was about to happen.  A few of us had some shea butter in a plastic bag we got from the village.  I suddenly watched a baboon start running after Ben in our group.  It ran and jumped on him and tried to get his plastic she butter bag.  The tour guide started throwing rocks at the baboon to scare it away.  Ben was ok, he just got a scratch from the baboon.  It was scary, but so funny at the same time.  I realized I also had a plastic bag in my hand so I hurry and put it in my back pack so no baboons would attack me.  Not even 10 minutes later after this attack, Ben and Heather were in their room when they heard something pounding on their door.  Then all of a sudden the baboon walked right into their room.  The baboon had watched which room they went to and decided it still wanted their food. Lol.  Ben had an umbrella and quickly pushed it open against the baboon and pushed it out the door!  So funny!  This was probably one of the funniest things that happened this day!

Wednesday morning we woke up at 4:30 am and loaded on the vans for another 3 hour bumpy ride!  WAHOO!!  Indian Jones for 6 hours total this week!  We finally made it home Wednesday night at 9:00 pm!  The Pink Hostel has now become such a sanctuary and home to us all!

This trip has taught me so many things!  One thing that I have learned or realized is that I truly believe that the Lord puts certain people in your life at a certain time for some reason.  I have had many one-on-one or heart-to-heart conversations with people in my group and I feel like there are certain things in our lives where we could relate!  I just feel like I have made new friendships here and have gained so much love and respect for other people, and the way they live their lives!  I have learned that judging gets you no where!  And that it’s nice to always have someone to lean on!

So the internet will not let me load anymore pictures.. so pictures of the jungle are to be continued!

The Accra Ghana Temple

So Gorgeous!  :)

Bailey, Megan, Hilary, Ashlee, and I after baptisms.

WAHOO fOr GhAnA!!  :)

After doing baptisms, we headed over to the day care right across from our hostel.

This is Emily and she runs the day care.  There are over 100 kids!  Thanks so Shayna, Saydee, my grandma, and Keri for helping make the burp rags!  I donated some to Emily's day care and she was so excited and thankful!

This is one of the many rooms where the kids play.

They had cribs lined up against the wall with babies sitting in them.

I could not resist her sad face!

So I picked her up and held her.  She was so light!

No matter how hard I tried to make her smile or laugh, she wouldn't.  I have notice that most babies don't have very many emotions.  It's almost as though they are numb to their sedentary lifestyle.  It makes me so sad!

This is Joe.

Group Picture at the day care.

Look at her cute hair!

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Last Weekend in Accra, Ghana

Oh my goodness only one more week I have here in Ghana, Africa!  It seems like I have been here for months, but at the same time, time has flown by!  Crazy!  I'm so excited to head home and see my family again, but I am sad to leave all the wonderful people I have met here!  I cannot wait to give my mom a Big hug!!  I'm so grateful for all that she does and has done for me!  I have the most AMAZING mom ever!!

Today we went to church for the last time.  We had some pretty intense lessons.  All of sacrament meeting, sunday school, and relief society/priesthood combined lessons were on doing family history work.  It was very interesting to hear what they have to do here in Africa to get family names.  To find family names, the people here actually have to travel out to villages and different tribes to find their relatives and ask them questions to find out about their family history.  How easy is it for us back home to search names, whereas the people here actually have to travel miles to villages to talk to relatives to find out information about their family.
Another cool thing that happened today... So one of our receptionist here at the Pink Hostel came to church with us today.  He had never been to our church and agreed that he would come.  It was just cool seeing him sit through all the meetings, actually listening, and singing the hymns.  He said he loved the hymns!

After enjoying a fun lesson at church, some of our group headed over to the Teshie Orphange.  I was so excited to go!  And oh my goodness how much fun it was!  The kids there were so sweet, fun, and well behaved!  I wish I could just take them all home!  No one at the moment is even looking at adopting them.  I wish it was easy to adopt, because if it was, I would seriously bring them all home!  I love them!

Yesterday (Saturday) we had a free day and could day whatever we wanted.  Most of our group went to the big Art's Center Market.  I did not like that market!  You have to understand that the market is like the size of costco with rows behind rows of shops.  People would literally grab me and pull me into their shop. 
"Buy something from my shop" they would say.  I would walk out and I would literally walk 2 feet and five people would say, "Sister, come to my shop.. I make you good price!"
Good price my butt.  For something that should be 20 cedis they wanted 80 cedis! 
All of the pressure was stressing me out... and out of rows beyond rows of stuff, nothing stood out to me!
I was so happy when we finally left that place!
Lynley, Ashlee, Hilary, and I went to Palm Beach Hotel and swam and layed out all day!  Needless to say I was worried about burning so I put on lots of sun screen.  I barely even got a tan haha.  We joke that instead of being 10 pounds lighter and tanner when we come home we will all be 10 pounds heavier and whiter haha.
Anyways, I had a great time at the pool!  We all enjoyed a diet coke and had some really good talks.  Lynley is such an amazing woman and amazing example to me!  I'm so grateful for all that she has done for our group on this trip!

Tomorrow we are headed to Mole (You pronounce it like Molae) at 5:30 am!  A 10 hour bus ride!  Wahoo!  Right now we are at the bottom of Ghana and will be traveling all the way to the tip top of Ghana.  We are going to be staying in the middle of the jungle with elephants, monkeys, and lions for three days!  I'm super excited!  I keep thinking that I've had enough culture shock, but everyday something new happens that astonishes me!

I know this is a quick post, but I at least wanted to share some pictures of my experiences today and yesterday!

My last day at church in Accra, Ghana Africa!

Lynley handed out pearl necklaces to all of the relief society ladies!  They loved them!

This is me and Evangellica.  She was baptized yesterday and this is her baptism dress.  So Cute!  :)

These are the Elders in Accra, Ghana.  Elder Lindsay who is from Orem, Utah and Elder Mlilo, I believe from Nigeria.

Yes I realize I look like a dork with my shirt tucked in.  I will make sure I make mental notes next time haha.

"I need me a strong black african man.." Everytime we get in a taxi this song comes on!  We laugh every time!  I don't need one because I have my own white strong man! :)

This is Laurance.  He is 19 and wanting to go to law school.  We encouraged him to go on a mission first! :)

The Teshie Orphanage

Blowing up punch balls.

They had a blast with them!

This is me and Nadie.  So dang fun and cute!

Playing with the Parachute.

They loved to be under the parachute.  They thought it was the coolest thing.  Thanks for letting me borrow it mom lol.

A ball accidently hit a light and broke glass all over the ground.  This is their brooms.  They make them from sticks or bamboo leaves.

This is me and Annita.

This is me and Felix.  He was very outgoing, had lots of energy, and fun to play with.  I love it when they smile! :)

They made balloon people out of these balloon things I brought haha.

This is me and Blessing.  The most beautiful one year old I have ever seen!  My heart melted instantly for her!  I wish I could bring her home!

Oh my goodness she is too dang Cute!!

Don't worry, after the picture I took the balloon away so she wouldn't choke.

Mindy made a bunch of folder games and was showing the older girls how to use them so they could teach the younger kids.

This is Grace and I.  Such a sweet girl!

Janessa and Nadie.  I think this picture is funny.

Group Picture!

We went to Paloma Hotel for dinner and had pizza.  Hilary, me, Lacey, and Heather... Hanging out all with our braided hair  :)

A Ghanaian Dish... Tasted like Playdoe.  I about threw up a little!

Hilary, Me, and Lacey
We Love Ghana, Africa!

Saturday July 30th, 2011

We started Saturday morning off with a wonderful breakfast at Frankies.  Best breakfast I have had in a month!

Ashlee, Hilary, and I at the Palm Beach Hotel

A wonderful clean pool to swim at!  We had a great time!

A view from where we layed out in the sun... very much needed!

I had to have my diet coke!  Totally made my day!

Ashlee and I laying out in the sun.

Hilary and I shared a Pasta bowl that night for dinner at the Paloma Hotel.