Tuesday, July 17, 2012

11 Weeks!!

I am convinced that the Adversary tries his hardest to stop people from going to church on Sundays because we never have problems with taxis unless it’s Sunday. Today our driver drove less than 10 mph most the way and stopped about every 5 minutes to pick up or drop someone off. Yesterday it took us 25 minutes to get all the way to Asamong but today it took us almost half an hour just to get to Agona. Once we got to church, we were miraculously there a couple minutes before it started so we sat down behind Jackie and Lauren and Sacrament began. I read my Teachings of the President book and the Book of Mormon the whole time. Sacrament got out at 9:15 and we had a “5-minute break” which actually lasted 15 minutes so Sunday school was only half an hour. The new Branch President was supposed to come but he was travelling from Accra so I’m sure he had some issues getting to the building. We normally never have Relief Society so today when they told us we were going to have it we were very excited. We went into a very small room, probably meant to be the storage closet. The books being used for the lesson were old books with pastel faded colors on the front and lessons about “How to Weed Your Garden” and “How To Prepare Healthful Meals” for your family. We mainly read through the manual laughing, sometimes out loud, at how absolutely ridiculous some of the lessons were. One section suggested each woman get an apron with pockets so she can multi task throughout the day. The pictures for the book were almost as ridiculous as some of the lessons themselves. Today was our last day at this ward so we took pictures with the primary kids, branch presidency, and Relief Society. On our way home we ran into this man with thick rimmed glasses making him look like a total hipster. We talked to him for awhile asking him if he was a hipster and he said “Yes I am the Chief” so we called him Chief Hipster although the guy had no idea what we were talking about. After we ran into him Cassie saw a kid carrying a camera so she yelled “obibini take Pitcha” just like the little kids yell at us for a picture. He gladly got his film camera ready, attached the flash, and took Cassie’s picture. For lunch we cooked four eggs and divided it up giving us each about 2 spoonfuls of egg. I didn’t have anything for breakfast either so I was pretty hungry after this snack. Lauren pulled out her peanut butter and let us dip obama crackers into it. We sat around and talked before King took us to go see the Fetish Priest. We arrived at her house but she had traveled to Kumasi but she would be back to do her show on Friday. Once we got back home we watched The Proposal and ate the most delicious tomato stew over rice I’ve ever had. Mama makes the best dinners so I’m really going to miss them. We were about to leave until we heard King cracking up in the family room watching TV. We walked in to see the British version of Wipeout on TV. We sat down and watched the episode laughing so hard right beside King. The show is one of the most ridiculous but hilarious shows. Once the show ended it was pretty late so we had to quickly walk to get a taxi. We ended up catching a tro tro back to Agona and got into a taxi to return to Wiamoase.

Day 76

Cassie and I woke up at 6:45 and left by 7:15 to meet Jackie and Lauren to go to our 1st counselor’s cocoa farm. We got to Asamong in record time and waited outside the church for Jackie and Lauren. We walked together to Brother Tawia house and waited for him to finish his breakfast so he could take us to his farm. We made a pit stop at his storage shed so he could pick up his cutlass and put on his boots. We got to the entrance of his farm and he led us in with a little helper boy following closely behind him. He told us about how he inherited the land from his father and how he shares it with his two other sisters. There were cocoas everywhere and he showed us the difference between each one. If they were black it meant it had the black pod disease, which can spread and infect all of the other plants if not cut down soon. Brother Tawia gave us a cutlass to share so we took turns looking out for the black pods and hacking away at them. We stopped and Brother Tawia chopped down a cocoa and let us eat the middle of it. It tasted really tropical which makes it hard for me to believe this is what chocolate is made out of. He showed us the cola nut, which makes coca-cola. We stopped and took a few pictures before going back to his house. We had to stop off and return the cutlass and boots to his storage shed so while he did that we sat on a bench and watched a lady cook a whole goat. She had the goat cut up into different pieces with its head completely intact faced towards us. Once he finished up we continued to his house making a quick pit stop while Brother Tawia bought us crackers and black current Fanta. We ate them at his house and met his whole family. His older brother had just passed away so they were painting the house in preparation for the big funeral that was to occur there soon. We walked back to Mamas house to watch a movie. Mama made us delicious bean and rice stew to eat while we were watching the movie. After the movie we all took a nap. I had been feeling weird all day long so I was happy to get some rest in. I woke up in a daze while the other girls began playing Skip-Bo. We played some other card games but during the middle of one I got a call from my parents so they could tell me some exciting news. I got to talk to them for a while and hear all about their life. I can’t wait to see my family in such a short time. I got a couple of recipes from Mama Doris for me to cook for my family when I return. I returned to playing our game just in time for Mama to heat up our bean stew again and cook some more rice for our dinner. We spent the entire day there so once it started to get dark we walked to the station.

Day 75

Today was spent deep cleaning to try to rid our room of the fleas. We woke up at 7 and spent almost the whole entire day cleaning our room. We first cleared out all of our clothes and stuff then removed our mattresses and stripped them of the sheets. While we were cleaning the power went out around 8 so we were pretty hot and sweaty cleaning up and moving around the furniture. I had to pack all my stuff into the bags and thankfully it all fits. We swept, mopped, and dusted the whole room. Not only did our room feel twice as big but actually smelt normal. While we let the floor dry I washed all my sheets while it was sunny out. Kofi came over and hung out while I organized my stuff. I absolutely adore that kid. I gave him the rest of the stickers I had and let him just hang out in the room and play. I am going to miss Kofi more than I can understand. He has the cutest laugh and is quite the troublemaker. His cousin Kobi came over and played with the rest of the stickers too. Cassie left for the school so it was just the two boys watching me as I cleaned the rest of the room. The gate opened and I assumed it was Cassie but it was just a bunch of school kids curious to see what we were doing. I shooed them away because Madam Esther said no one is allowed except for Kofi and Kobi. They got mad at me that I wouldn’t give them water and let them stay but I felt so violated that they had walked into our room without permission. Kofi is a pretty clever kid and hid while the other kids came over so I don’t think they knew he was over. Kofi, Kobi, and I played for another hour or so until Cassie came home. The school kids were still yelling at us through the window but after ignoring them for awhile they left, or so we thought. We sent Kofi and Kobi home so we could get some work done for the res of the day. I put on my workout stuff and began my workout. The kids were all watching me over the fence and looking at me like I was crazy. Afterwards I wanted to shower but since our water wasn’t running I had to put some water into a bucket and take a nice cold bucket shower. It feels so great to be clean here because it doesn’t last long. Afterwards I did some notes before Cassie and I ventured out in the town to run some errands. I needed some oatmeal and to drop off some material for skirts for my sisters. We ran into Cassie’s farming friend Baron and ended up agreeing to go to his church tonight. We had to quickly go home to finish some things and make dinner before going to his church. I read about an hour of my scriptures and from the Teachings of the Presidents: George Albert Smith book. I am amazed at every single one of our prophets and can’t wait until the ones are released for President Hinckley and Monson. We walked to the station and had some really obnoxious kids follow us the whole way yelling things in Twi at us. We waited awhile for Baron and grabbed a snack. Once Baron arrived at the station in his nice church wear we got into a taxi and practically went off-roading to get to his church. When we arrived, the church was almost in the middle of nowhere with no lights on anywhere. There wasn’t anyone else at the church yet which confused both Cassie and I because he said church started at 7 and is was 7:20. Literally everything here starts hours after they say. When we got to his church it was strangely decorated with plastic chairs and wooden benches for pews. We didn’t know but Baron is actually one of the preachers for the Pentecostal church so he sat up in the front leaving Cassie and I to sit in the audience together. We waited for awhile and only 4 women had showed up in half an hour. A nice lady said she would translate for us when the sermon began. The sermon began and the chairs slowly began to fill up. The woman and men sit separately so it was easy to see that there was more than twice the amount of women than men in the room. The first 45 minutes were allotted for praying which to me sounded more of like a competition of who could pray louder. Some men grabbed microphones and proceeded to pray at the top of their lungs.  The drummer and pianist got up and began playing which cued the beginning of singing and dancing for another 45 minutes. This was my favorite part of the night because we got to pick up tambourines and dance around. Afterwards Baron and the other 4 preachers gave a sermon on bearing good fruits. Then prayer began again and it was very different than anything I have ever experienced before in my life. Most members had their eyes closed and yelling so they weren’t phased at all when Cassie started taking pictures. One girl about 17 years old began spinning around and screaming mabababababa really loud for 5 minutes until the preachers went over to put their hands on her head and cast out the evil spirit they believed was possessing her. The sermon wasn’t over until 9:30 so once we got home I did some coursework and fell asleep pretty quickly after my long eventful day. 

Day 74

Today was quite uneventful. Before I went to the clinic I stopped by Elizabeth’s shop to pick up my skirt. I was so shocked at how great it looked. This is another skirt that I will wear once I’m home. I tried it on underneath the skirt I was wearing and decided to wear it that day. I paid the seamstress then continued my walk to the clinic. A few men told me to stop and talk but seeing that they weren’t in a quite sober state at 9 in the morning I declined. I spent the next few hours at the clinic in the dispensary helping out. Only Gideon and Edmund were working today. I did some informal interviewing on them and go some great material again. I closed at 2 and went to the market to pick up a couple of things we needed for the week. Cassie was in Kumasi so I did the market shopping alone. I picked up some onion, green pepper, egg, and bread. These have become our staples since we’ve been here. Cassie and I have had fun experimenting and cooking up new recipes. We hate it when Matilda or Madam Esther watch us cook because they are just as confused as us about what we’re making. The mixture of food seems weird even to us but we always love it. We put nutmeg, onion, and green pepper in almost everything. This experience cooking here has really motivated me to start cooking a lot more once I’m back in college. I know that if I can get creative with these few ingredients in the Wiamoase market I can do wonders with an actual grocery store of a thousand different things. After I came back from the market I did my notes until Cassie came home. We worked out together for half an hour then prepared our egg sandwiches for dinner.

Day 73

Last night I was not very happy with my body deciding to stay awake until 6 a.m. Cassie left for the Internet Café around 9 I think but I didn’t wake up until 10 getting a full 4 hours of sleep in. I too needed to go to the Internet Café so, in a daze, I walked to the station to catch a taxi. I didn’t have anything at the house to eat so once I arrived in Agona I grabbed some fried rice and ate at the Gentle Spot with a Orange Fanta to drink. I had to email professors about coursework and once I finished that I just browsed the Internet mainly seeing what was going on with Facebook. After the Internet Café Cassie and I came home and ate a delicious banana nutella sandwich. I put on my workout gear and picked a workout from the Nike Training Center App. Cassie joined me today which always makes the workouts 10 times better. I love workout buddies because when someone else is working out next to you, you’re less likely to slack off. Our power was still out which meant so was our water so I just took a nice bucket shower with the cold water. Even after the dozens of showers I’ve taken here I still can’t get used to the cold water. I do have to say that bucket showers are the most water efficient ways of showering. After we both were clean we hopped onto my bed and watched the Blindside. It’s one of my favorite movies so I was very happy about watching it. After the movie we both realized that we were itching a lot and had a lot more bug bites of some sort on our legs than were there before the movie started. For awhile we thought that we had bug beds but we haven’t been able to see any and they aren’t biting us leaving blood spots on our bed. So I pulled out my handy dandy iTriage app on my phone and looked up bug bites to see what we could possibly have. After looking at this and calling Cassie’s mom we came to the conclusion that we have fleas. Gross. I could barely touch my bed afterwards. This was the first time that I have really just wanted to be home right this second. Jackie and Lauren have huge rashes on their body, Cassie and I found black colored mold in our fridge the other day, and now we have fleas. We are all falling apart right at the end. I just hope we can all make it to the end without malaria or other serious problems. After our slight freak out about our health problems starting to pile up I wrote up some notes and recorded my women’s health info.

Day 72

I woke up earlier than most Tuesdays so I could actually get a few hours in at the clinic before going to meet the other girls in Agona. Edmund, Rita, and Elvis were all working today. I interviewed Edmund and Elvis for my research and they gave me so many great answers. I did a free-list and asked them why they think parents bring their children to a clinic. They both made some excellent points that I can add to my research. Rita fed me some delicious rice with spicy red tomato sauce. There was so much rice that when she gave it to me around 9 I couldn’t eat all of it so she told me I could save it and eat it later. About every hour on the dot she would tell me to eat more rice so by the time it was 12 I had finished off about 3 cups of rice. I was so full I could barely move. I left right at noon to meet Cassie at the station to go to Agona together. We got to Agona and we were both pretty sick of rice so we opted to just get a drink at the bar. On the way to the bar I saw a woman with a glass case on her head filled with, what looked like, chocolate powdered donuts. We were both curious as to what it was so I bought a couple to try them. A lot of confusing conversations occurred all at once and I ended up with a bag of the mashed up donuts mixed with sugar, water, and milk. We continued walking to Nana’s bar and ordered Alvaros. I’m glad I waited to get my drink before trying my snack because it was disgusting. It was a ginger porridge with chunks of ginger floating around in the milk and water mixture. The other girls also tried it and agreed it was not as good as it looked. We sat around and talked for a while before going to the Internet Café. We got power last night for a bit but this morning it was off again. The Internet café has a generator so we could still use the computers thankfully. I had a ton of emails from my family. It’s getting to the point now where we are all pretty anxious to go home and see our family. I posted to my blog, wrote back emails to friends and family, and then had to leave quickly to pick up my skirt from a seamstress down the road. She had to go to her mother’s house soon so Jackie and I left our computers there and went to Mama Kates house. I was pretty bummed because my mom had just gotten on facebook chat and chatting to someone is so much better than our back and forth emails. We walked as fast as we could to Mama Kate’s house but soon found out it didn’t matter how fast we walked to her house because she still wasn’t entirely finished with my skirts. We got there and she was still sewing part of one of my skirts. I had them made 5 weeks ago with the intention of wearing them to church. We only have a couple Sundays left but thankfully I think I can wear them back home. One of them is not too cute but with alterations I’m sure I can wear it just fine at home. We walked back to the Internet Café and found that the network had cutout and probably wouldn’t return. We waited around for about half an hour but the network wasn’t coming back on anytime soon so we left for the market. I was pretty bummed that I didn’t get to return to chat to my mom but I hope I’ll be able to talk to her next week! I bought bananas, bread, and a fan-choco before hopping into a taxi. I came home at 4 with a splitting headache, popped some Excedrin, and took a nap. Kofi and Kobi came over at some point to play with me but I was so tired I just gave them a sheet of stickers and sent them home. I woke up at 6, got on my workout gear and did one of my workouts from my Nike Training App. I only did a 15-minute workout because I felt pretty sick still. Our water or power wasn’t working so I had to wipe off with some baby wipes. Cassie and I watched The Proposal after my workout. After the movie we sat and talked for a bit before doing our research and coursework. I intended to go to bed around 10 or 11 like usual but I couldn’t fall asleep at all. I just lied in my bed endlessly thinking of what I could to finally fall asleep. It was getting later and later and I still wasn’t asleep. It was about 4:30 when the neighbors and roosters woke up. The goats started bleating and the roosters started crowing making it next to impossible for me to fall asleep. People around our house were wide-awake before I remembered that I had sleeping pills I could take. I debated not sleeping at all and just going to the clinic but decided against it. I took the pill at 5 but still didn’t fall asleep until 6 am.

Day 71

Today I worked in the dispensary with Rita all day today. It was only her and I the whole day so we just bonded most of the day. She gave me some of her delicious red sauce over spaghetti for lunch. We talked about her family and her relationship with her boyfriend. She doesn’t want to be in the relationship much longer but wants to travel instead. She wants to go to the United States and is working on doing that right now. It was surprisingly very busy for a Monday. Whenever one of us sat down to talk, someone would come to the window with their chart. I was sent on a bunch of errands all around the clinic. I am always happy to help out and make it easier for the actual workers. They all call me their personal assistant. It was relatively normal except for one incident with a woman throwing up all over the waiting area for the dispensary. I wasn’t behind the window but actually out in the waiting area also while I watched her collapse over the bench in front of her and throw up. I’m not sure if she was shaking or convulsing but I watched for a few seconds before running to get a nurse to help her. I went right next door and found 3 nurses just standing around and talking. I told them that a woman is throwing up and she needs someone to help her. They all turned around and said “what do you want us to do about it?” I was so shocked at their response I sort of stuttered out “Something, quick!” But the nurses waved me away and continued to stand around and talk. I told another staff member walking by and she said “Don’t mind her, she’ll be fine soon”. I don’t know what I expected them to do but I expected someone to do something. The woman just sat on filthy floor and looked absolutely miserable. I kept remembering how I felt last semester when I got really sick and felt so bad for this woman. She sat there for quite a while before someone came and got her. I worked at the clinic until 4 before walking home. The power was out all day today so the town was pretty quiet while I walked home. I usually have parades of children at my side so it’s nice when I can walk home in peace. I got home and talked with Cassie for a bit before going out in the town. She didn’t go to the school for very long today so we just walked to Nana’s shop to get water and then to the station to buy some Obama crackers. We came home around 6 and started making dinner. We have a new dish that is so good, we’ll probably end up eating it for dinner every night until we leave. We are both so sick of the rice and want something not so heavy. Cassie made it up a couple nights ago and loved it so I thought I would try it too. We sautéed onion, green pepper, and groundnut and then added one egg with nutmeg seasoning and salt onto it. We put it on top of sliced bread and ate it like a sandwich. It’s such a strange mixture of food but it works. I am blessed with the taste buds that allow me to eat almost all and any types of food. After dinner I went inside and did some research and coursework.