Friday, June 29, 2012

Congratulations, Justin!

I am so sad that I will be missing my brother’s pilot training graduation tonight. I wanted him to know that I have been thinking about his accomplishment and missing him terribly today. I have never missed anything big in Justin’s life – high school soccer games and graduation, Wings of Blue jumps, and college graduation. So it’s depressing missing this awesome accomplishment.
To Justin:
You are going to be the best MC-12 pilot that the Air Force has ever seen! Your perseverance this past year has been inspiring. You worked hard and you deserve to celebrate. I hope your career becomes everything you ever dreamed of. I pray that the Lord will lead you and protect you in the chapters to come. I love you! I hope you know I am your biggest fan and will always have your back. You better celebrate like there’s no tomorrow!  Congratulations, Megan

Shea Butter Ghana Style

Apparently, Ghana is the number one in exporter of Shea butter around the world. Who knew, right? It comes from the Northern region. The Shea butter you buy here is different than the kind in the US. Here it’s very white and completely pure. So we told Dr. Anderson that we wanted to buy some, and he asked the driver if he knew anyone in this village who makes it.  The driver knew a police officer, who knew someone, who lead us deep into this village to a older lady’s house. The walk to the lady’s house was shady – it kind of felt like we were going after drugs. Anyways, the lady makes the Shea butter at her house and apparently has the best product.  We asked her to buy some, and buy some we did. For the four of us who wanted Shea butter, we bought her entire stock for 35 Ghana cedis. This is about 18 US dollars.  The bowl was bigger than we expected – it filled a 3-gallon bucket and a gallon bag. So, I got about a gallon of Shea butter for $4.50 US. Talk about a deal. I have been using it the last few days and I love it! It works so much better than lotion and its completely pure. We, also, felt like we were helping the lady out financially, since most families live on only 150 Ghana cedis annually.

Mole National Park

            We made it safely to Mole National Park for the safari. The safari was somewhat of a let down. Growing up watching Lion King, you come to Africa expecting to see the savannah with lions, zebras, and giraffes. But we are in West Africa with more jungle, so we only saw elephants, warthogs, antelope, and baboons.  Don’t get we wrong, I’m glad I got to see Mole National Park, but for the crazy drive it wasn’t really worth it in my opinion.
            Mole National Park is more of a reserve than a park. The animals roam free and are allowed to go anywhere they wish – including the lodge. The first afternoon, one of the elephants named People’s Friend the Second came right up to the grassy area in front of our room. He was only about 20 feet away from us. Then on the morning we were leaving, we were eating breakfast outside and one of the baboons jumped up on the table next to ours and started charging at us. Luckily, a worker charged at the baboon and he or she ran away. Then we looked up and the same baboon was sitting on the edge of the roof. According to the safari guide, baboons are very aggressive animals especially towards women. Needless to say that was quite the adrenalin rush. One cool fact I learned on the safari was that elephants are actually black. We watched the elephants bathe and they are defiantly solid black. 
            On the way out of Mole National Park we stopped at the oldest Mosque in West Africa. The mosque was built in 1432. It wasn’t a very elaborate building, but it was in good condition for being in a village with thatched roofs and mud bricks. The cows outside the mosque used for sacrifices, really bothered me. They were tied up around the feet, where they couldn’t move or even stand up. The children also pulled at the heartstrings. They were dirty, lacking shoes, clothes and probably food yet, their eyes revealed innocence. They want what every child wants – food, clothes, shelter, and parents to love them. I pray for these children and their parents that they may have food to eat, clothes, and a clean place to live. Sanitation in the village and everywhere in Ghana is a major problem.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Crazy Drivers

 Driving in Ghana is crazy. I’m talking dirt roads going 70 mph. (I have seen the speedometer.) The police do not enforce driving laws so speed bumps are everywhere, especially the villages. The roads have no lanes so people tend to just drive wherever they want – even directly at oncoming traffic on the wrong side of the road. Traffic in Accra is horrible. We are in Mampong, which is about 30 miles outside of Accra and it took us 2 hours to arrive in downtown Accra this morning. Also, everyone drives extremely close to other cars. We were even in a slight fender bender today, but luckily we were moving slowly in stop and go traffic. The trips are very stressful for me, because we come very close to death frequently.  Please, please pray for safe travels tomorrow on our 12 hour journey.


5:15 this morning we woke and left for Accra. We toured the national museum of Ghana and then left for orientation. We met with the head of health services of Accra about the medical problems plaguing Ghana. Malaria is the number one health concern, followed by cholera. Accra has exploded in population with people moving to the cities for work, but the work is scarce. Unemployment is about 20 percent. This has lead to massive slums, which lack running water and basic sanitation. Sanitation is Accra is a major problem only about 75 percent of solid waste is collected. This has led to dirty, smelly streets. Also, animals like cows, sheep, goats, and chickens roam the streets. We visited the market in Accra and I witnessed the sanitation problems first hand. I was very uncomfortable in the market – it was crowded like NYC on New Years Eve with vendors and people everywhere. The buildings are not even constructed well, they are thrown together with whatever the people have. The vendors are selling everything from fruit to hair dryers. We did not buy anything, since Dr. Anderson said that other towns have better souvenirs.
            On the drive home we saw the first American fast food chain to arrive in Ghana – KFC. This KFC had three levels and was one of the most elaborate KFCs I have ever seen. McDonalds is set to arrive sometime next year.  The food in Ghana is very, very spicy. I haven’t really found anything I am enjoying except the mangos and pineapple. For now I’m surviving off a PBJ for breakfast, fruit, and snacks from home.


June 24th
Today, I experienced church like never before. We attended the local Methodist Church with Dr. Anderson. The church was easily 150 years old, and made to comfortably seat 300 people. It was shaped like a T, with pews on the side of the pulpit as well. Today, there were easily 400 people in the church. The pews were packed and some of the people were even sitting in the isle on the side in lawn chairs. There was a funeral yesterday, and today for a female member of the church, so the people were dressed in the traditional Ghanaian funeral colors of black. Almost everyone in the congregation was wearing black and white. The service was filled with music, dancing, reading scriptures, and preaching. The service lasted 3 ½ hours, we didn’t even attend Sunday School. I only recognized one of the hymns – It Is Well. The other hymns and scripture reading was in English, but the preaching and other talking was in the traditional dialect of Mampong. I was reminded why, the bible was written in the language of the people. The gospel wasn’t for the rich, or well educated religious leaders. The gospel is and was for everyday people – the tax collectors, the liars, the thieves, and sinners just like me.
            After church we came home, changed clothes, and headed out to lunch for Tyra’s birthday celebration at Palm Hill Grill. (Tyra’s a fellow student who turned 27 today. She’s a PhD student studying public health.) I just ordered hot chocolate, since it was 3pm and we eat dinner at 5 o’clock. The hot chocolate came out and I had an entire tray. I was given the coco, sugar, cream, and hot water to mix together and make the hot chocolate. It was actually very delicious. Others had fried rice with chicken, but by far the most interesting was the cow foot soup that Gene ordered. It was hairy and looked strange. Gene did NOT like it, he said too spicy and weird for his taste. (Mine too!) He was a good sport though and just ate the broth off the soup.  While at Palm Hill a local named William invited us to join him while he ate. He was very friendly. We learned that he is the leader of the first college ever established in Ghana.
            Tomorrow we head to Accra (the capital) for orientation about the health care system here. Then on Tuesday we travel north to Mole National Park for the safari. This is the longest and most dangerous drive – 12 hours by dirt road with the occasional robbery at gunpoint. We are leaving by 4am so that we will arrive before dark. Here in Ghana it gets dark by 6pm. Please pray for safe, uneventful travels.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

First Impressions

I'm here safe in Ghana. The flight and drive was easy.
First Impression
1. The house is HUGE and very western. Its a gated house with little villa's around it.
2. Its humid - Georgia's humidity is nothing.
3. The fruit is awesome, especially the mango and pineapple.
4. The small group is going to be very nice.

We are just hanging out to day. Nothing to special. Tomorrow we are going to church. I'm very interested to see how church in Ghana is.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I just finished packing my last bag. I'm pretty sure I packed enough for this life and the next one. Of course I packed the essentials, but I also have lots of bug spray, sunscreen, scrubs, toothpaste and toothbrushes to donate, toilet paper (yes, toilet paper) , medical supplies, malaria pills, and even a solar shower since running hot water is lacking. The solar shower actually works and I'm betting that its worth every penny of the 6.97 I paid for it. I also packed tons of food: meal bars, easy mac, instant grits, dried fruit, nuts, and pretzels. I'm not sure about the food in Ghana - more to come on that subject. My two checked bags weigh almost the max and my carryon is stuffed with clothes. My mac and Modern Family DVDs will also be making this voyage. Even though my bags are maxed out, I'm still hoping I packed enough. I've never been gone six weeks and its hard to know exactly what to pack.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Location, Location, Location

Since, I've received a fair number of blank faces on the location of Ghana I decided to post a map. As you can see its in the western part of Africa. Surprisingly, its only four hours ahead of east cost time. Its about the size of Oregon, and I'll have the privilege of visiting most of the country before I return home.

Good to Go

Its my last Saturday before I leave for Ghana, and what am I up to -  creating a blog. I've always wanted a blog, but I've always felt that I didn't have stories worthy of others time. But now that I'm headed to the other side of the Atlantic I'm sure I'll have plenty of interesting posts. Anyways, I'm not sure how often I'll be updating this baby, since I'm headed to a place that lacks even hot water. Hopefully, though, I'll be making it to an internet cafe at least once a week.  I hope to post pictures, stories, prayer requests, and anything else. Feel free to leave me comments  or email me ( while I'm gone, I'm sure I will (I already do) miss my friends and family back in the States.