Monday, December 17, 2012

A different kind of Winter Wonderland

Well, the holiday season is for sure here! If I thought moving to a different continent would change the hectic schedule during this time, I was wrong! Life here has been anything but slow. While many of you are snuggling up to the fires, singing "Baby, it's cold outside," or drinking hot chocolate, I have been figuring out how winter works in West Africa. There may not be much of a winter here, but it is definitely still a Wonderland to me. Many of you have been asking about living conditions, so I thought I'd share a small glimpse into some everyday sights. 

This is the main street through our little town. On a normal day you are usually dodging people, moto's and horse/donkey carts as you walk to the market. However, it was 70-75 degrees on this particular day, so nobody was out! We asked a friend where everyone was-her response? "It's too cold to be out!"

View of my street. I absolutely love the colors of the flowers against the white house. 

Home, sweet, home

A picture of my room. 

This past week we also had to say goodbye to a couple of sweet friends. Two of our team members finished their terms and headed back to the States. I tried to talk them into staying a little longer (like, a couple years longer), but I didn't have much luck. These girls made such an impact on this town, and they will for sure be missed!

Even though life looks so different this Christmas, it has been such a sweet time of remembering the real reason behind the celebration. We have received a gift that is far greater than anybody on Earth could give. The sacrifice Jesus made seems so much sweeter to me this season. Hoping you get to share the hope of this gift with someone this year.

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
-Isaiah 9:6

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sometimes it's ok...

Sometimes in life it's ok.... google conversions.
 (83.3 if you're wondering) use an abnormal amount of hand gestures in a conversation. miss home...
     ...while completely falling in love with a different kind of home. hop on the back of a random moto to ride to the market. have a photo shoot just because you are precious. take a nap in the middle of the day. share a plate. have no idea what is being said in 90% of the conversation.

...(& affordable) to have a custom made outfit. be constantly amazed at the life that the Lord has given me. 
 (the view on our morning runs)

Last Sunday we heard a talk about the Son-how He came with a radical view that tore a belief system apart, only to reconstruct it into what it was always meant to be. To love how He loves. To serve how He serves. To truly live out your relationship with Him.  This is how I feel about every experience here in Africa. I feel as if the Father is tearing down my pre-conceived notions about how life should go. From little things (like never riding on the back of a street bike with a stranger) to major things (like having to depend on Him in a completely new way), He is showing me how much I have to learn.  And while that is terrifying at times, it brings me continuous joy to know that He is growing me and stretching me into who He would have me be. While I'm experiencing many new things, He is strengthening the desire that He has placed in my heart. Life is crazy, y'all, but I am so happy He pushes us out of our comfort zones.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Village People

Our training ended with some time spent with a family...eating the way they eat, living the way they live. Two other girls and I were sent off to a village with no electricity or running water for a 4 day/3 night home stay. 

We were pretty nervous, but also excited for this chance. We were not to be disappointed. The family that we stayed with ended up being amazing. The father was a pastor in a local church in the village, and we were able to see him truly love on his community. He encouraged us by the way that he always had time for his ministry. We were able to see him disciple new believers and encourage members in his church, while still having time to be an amazing father. 

The mother was such a hard worker. Even though she spoke no English, we were able to communicate through many smiles and dancing. (Maybe I'll learn some rhythm while living here.) She had such a joyful spirit that you couldn't help but smile when around her. 

While there, I learned so  many new lessons. One of these being that it's ok to just sit. In my head I always have an agenda-something to be done, someone to talk to, somewhere to be. That is the exact opposite of life in an African village. This was hard for me, but the Lord showed me that such amazing things happen when you don't expect them to. A great conversation happens while you're "just sitting", you're able to take in His magnificence while "just sitting", and lasting friendships are made while you're "just sitting." 

At night we sat around the compound and just gazed at the beauty of the stars. We were truly reminded of verses about the vastness of God. 

 "But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom, and stretched out the heavens by his understanding."-Jeremiah 10:12

Yes, we had to eat things that were foreign to us. Yes, we had to bathe out of a bucket. Yes, we had to sleep with no ac or fan. But, we also got to dance and sing African praise songs by moon light with children in the village. We were able to see how truly big our God is, and we had the chance to spend time with a family who I fell in love with. This was such a great weekend, and I'll be forever thankful for the experiences that we had while in the village.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Simple kind of LIfe

For the next part of our training we traveled to a little town in the northern part of Ghana. We were able to see how the people live in the more rural parts of Africa. We were also able to experience many new things, such as....

meeting a king-
 The man with the golden rod in his hand was for "crowd control", the man sitting in the blue striped shirt was there to tell the king what we were saying, and the man you can't really see is the king. Someone pointed out the goodness of our Father. For an earthly king we had to go through someone to talk to him, but for the King of Kings, we are able to have a direct relationship with Him.

We even received a couple of gifts from the King..both of which we ate a couple days later. 

hunting for crocodiles-

 Our "fearless" leaders.

Such fun little tour guides.

learning how to make food from scratch-

We were thinking of going into a custom tortilla making business..think it'll work?

A couple of us also got the opportunity to share the story of love to women who lived in a witch's camp. These are women who have been accused of witchcraft, so they are taken from their family's homes and forced to live in this small section of town. The women were sweet and very attentive to the stories we shared with them. 

In the rural setting we saw more of the traditional beliefs, and the people were more open to talking about certain things. The pace of life is completely different than anything I'm accustomed to, but I found that I enjoyed the rural setting more so than the city. As much as I loved the people that I met in the first part of our training, I really enjoyed the smaller villages.  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Life in the Ouag

For the past month I have had the pleasure of traipsing around West Africa, staying the night in places I couldn't even begin to pronounce, and seeing what this whole "life in Africa" thing is all about. Y'all, life is about to get crazy.

We started the month out doing urban training. As soon as I arrived in the city I feasted on cheeseburgers, french fries, get the picture. Then, things got real. 

This is a meal that I'm a pro at eating now. However, it was not pretty at first. The white stuff has a variety of names, but it's basically just water and some type of cornmeal. Don't let the spoons deceive eat with your hands. It's covered in chicken soaked in a peanut sauce. 


Speaking of eating with your hands, this is our translator and some of her friends that we ate with one Sunday. I asked the guys how you should eat the meal. They told me you eat with your hands, so I dug in. A couple minutes later I look over, and these jokers are eating with utensils. As you can see, I quickly made them switch to their hands.

This sweet child was such a little boy. He kept us laughing, and by the end of our 2 weeks there he was my little "nephew."

Our job during the day was to go out and ask questions about life, and try to understand the community a little better. Our afternoons were filled with debriefing and learning in a classroom setting.

Even though we were going out and asking about their culture, it was super easy to get into conversations about the Word and sharing stories with them. We had great conversations and met some wonderful people.

I also learned various other things...such as:
paved roads are a luxury, not a necessity. (also smooth dirt roads=luxury)
cold showers are actually preferred.
you never ever want the electricity to go out at while you try to sleep.
and...every culture should have a siesta. Praise Him for placing me in a culture that does.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A little view of Africa

So, I am almost two weeks into this little journey, and it has already been quite the adventure! I can't wait to see what the next two years have in store. 

Here is a little glimpse into what life has literally looked like for me the past week or so. 

Drinking attaya (tea) has become a daily occurrence for us. The tea is a green tea that is imported from China, and it is really an art to make it. Mostly men make the tea, although our guard has been teaching Rebekah and I how to master this skill. The first time I tried it, I spilled tea everywhere, and he had to start the long process all over again. I felt terrible, but he just smiled and laughed. I think it's just because I introduced him to Lecrae, and he REALLY likes rap music!

This was taken in our neighborhood. There is a mixture between taxis, motorcycles, and horse drawn carts here. As you can see, these horses work hard! 
 This is another picture taken in our neighborhood. This is what the housing looks like here. 
Life in this city has been so much fun, but I am excited to see where I will be heading next. Tomorrow I leave for another training where I get to meet up with many friends from Virginia. I am so excited to see them and hear their stories. I won't be able to update the blog when I'm there due to lack of internet, but I will for sure have many stories once I get back on it. Hope this gave you a little glimpse into the life that I've been leading here. I wish all of y'all could come experience this time with me, but I'm so excited to share with y'all what is happening over here!

Friday, October 5, 2012

The New Home

I'm Here!!!

I am currently sitting in the living at my new home, trying to navigate around a website in French, with a hear that is full after an amazing day in this new country. 

In the past couple of weeks my life has gone through so many changes. 

1. I had to say see you later to amazing people who i trained/lived/laughed with for 2 months

2. I had the chance to say a quick hello, then goodbye again, to family and friends in the 3 places I have been lucky enough to call home the past couple of years. 

3. I finally got to say hello to my new home!!
The market in our city
We arrived in our country yesterday morning around 5 a.m. Once here, we drove about an hour and half to the city we will be calling home for the next couple of months. We also got the chance to meet our supervisor and other co-workers. Yesterday, we got accustomed to our new home and went to bed pretty early. We didn't sleep on the flight or all day yesterday, so we were pretty tired.

Today has been full of seeing more of the city, visiting the market, drinking tea with a local friend...and our first language lesson! I had so much fun learning a few key phrases in one of the languages we will be speaking in the city. This will not be the main language we speak in our village, but it is the main language in the city. Our teacher was great, and even gave us new names, Rama (Rebekah, my partner) and my new name is Abi. 

 Tea in the courtyard. 
Rebekah learning how to make tea. 
Tonight was filled with cooking dinner and a movie. Trying to figure out how to cook something that is not from a box is kind of challenging for us, but we're surviving! Now it's off to relax for the rest of the night. Can't wait to share more of this adventure with you all!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Life Lately

So many changes have taken place in my life lately, and so many more are surfacing within the next month. Changes that I'm so excited about, changes I'm nervous about, changes that I seriously can not wait to happen. This is just a little place that I can share stories that happen during these changes. Hopefully these stories find a way to entertain you because my life is anything but boring right now.

I have less than three weeks left in Virginia before the real journey starts. The time here has been such a sweet time where I have made friendships that are like no other. Here is a little glimpse of life here.

I've learned a little history. 

 (Here's the pink in the hair, Mom. I think Abe approves)

This is the girl who keeps me in check. Thank the Father for her. 

During my stay here, I live in a quad. Other people who are going to Africa are my neighbors. Such a sweet group of people. One night we had a chance to cook a meal from scratch. This was seriously one of the best nights. The food and the company were some of the best ever. 

 This is me, obviously. However, if you see what I'm doing here, you may have some doubts. I am really kneading dough to cook pizza from scratch. Watch out, Paula Deen. After 2 years, I'll be coming back to America a pro. 

Obviously my job wasn't that hard, though, because a 2 year old is doing it. Such a great help!

 The finished product. Yum, right?
 We also made salsa, salad dressing, and brownies...all from scratch. Guys, I should have been cooking like this much earlier in life. Late bloomer. 

Most importantly, I have gained a family. All of my Sub-Saharan Africa ladies after a night of celebration for surviving thus far. 
(I think we just use any excuse for ice cream. Better get it now, right?)

Although it looks like it's all play here, I promise we work..hard! Days are packed, and assignments are to be done, but I am so thankful for the chance to learn and prepare as I start this new chapter of my life. A little more than a month, y'all. A little more than a month and my address will be in Africa. Holy Smokes. Can you believe that?