Tag Archives: Ghana

Ghana, Here I Come!

Ok, so the cat’s out of the bag.  I’m going back to Ghana!!

I am so looking forward to my trip back to Ghana in October.  Although all of the details are not yet worked out, I have made some preliminary plans.  Unfortunately, I will be traveling alone because of Alan’s responsibilities at work.  My travels start on October 12th, and I’ll return home on the 22nd.  I’ll spend nearly all of my time helping at Beacon House orphanage.  This is the same orphanage where I helped while living in Accra.  It is run by an Italian American woman who is also a missionary.  There are 30+ children living there at any given time ranging in age from a few months old to about 14 years old.  I’ll be staying in a room in the baby house, where it’ll probably be a little noisy.  I’ve also been informed that I’ll have to take bucket baths (a very common thing for the average Ghanaian).  Friday night I’ve booked a room at the SIM Guesthouse (the same guesthouse that I managed while living in Accra) so I can go to the Dzorwulu Keep Fit Club at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning to visit with many of my Ghanaian friends.

When talking with a friend recently about this trip, she thought I would be scared.  I’m not afraid to make this trip alone because Accra is the place I lived in and loved for 8 months.  It would probably be a different story if I was going to a new country, but I already know the culture and how to get around.  In addition, I spent 6 weeks of those 8 months alone (well, without Alan in the same country) when I lived there.  I know what’s expected of me within the culture.  Things can’t have changed that much in the 10 months I was away.  😉

I’ll be posting every few weeks as the time gets closer to depart.  Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.




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Ghanaian Food Cravings

Ever since being back in the US, some of the typical American food I eat and cook on a regular basis has been a turnoff for me.  It tastes fine the first time I eat it, but I have no desire to eat it a second time.

Admittedly, I miss the Ghanaian dishes and fresh produce typical of a tropical country.  I miss the groundnut soup (peanut butter based soup eaten with rice), red-red (black-eyed peas in a red sauce over fried plantains), light soup (red broth soup equivalent in Ghanaian culture to our chicken noodle soup).  All of these dishes are spicy, something I adjusted to and grew to enjoy.  I miss the street food and snacks that were so easy to get and yet so yummy tasting, like grilled plantains, kelewele (spicy fried plantains), groundnut cakes (similar to peanut brittle), and meat kebabs coated in a red spice.  Mmm.  Alan and I had a favorite little restaurant only blocks from where we lived.  They made the best rotisserie chicken and fried rice.  I enjoyed cooking new dishes in our apartment and having to be creative because of the limited and unique ingredients I had to work with.

I’ve tried making groundnut soup since returning to the US.  It was close, although not quite right.  We don’t exactly have all the same ingredients on hand here that were used there.  I’ve never seen the peppers they use to spice up the food except in Ghana.  However, my groundnut soup was close enough that I’ll make it again.  Alan’s favorite dish is red-red, which I haven’t attempted to make yet.  One key ingredient is red palm oil, which I’ve never seen in an American grocery store.

Yesterday, while out driving near Pine Hills, an Orlando neighborhood, I spotted something that caught my eye—an African grocery store!  I finished my errands for the day and backtracked to find this store.  I excitedly got out of the car and went inside, confident I’d find that one elusive ingredient.  Sure enough, AFIPA African Market carries red palm oil.  To my complete surprise and pleasure, it is owned and operated by a Ghanaian woman and her son.  She asked if I know any of the local language, and I responded “Ca cra, ca cra,” meaning a little bit or more literally, “small, small”.  She was very kind, even offering for me to call her at the store for Ghanaian food recipes.  This week I look forward to eating red-red, another of my favorite Ghanaian dishes.



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Mobile Phones Gallor

There were times when we were in Ghana that I would be walking down the road, cell phone in hand, talking with someone back in the U.S.  It was one of many surreal moments.  The dirt roads, trash burning in a ditch beside you, people talking another language or two or three, and I’m on a cell phone talking to someone 10,000 miles away.

It would not have been so hard to believe if I were in the U.S., but in an African country that teeters between a second and third world country it was difficult to fathom.  The reason it is easier to grasp in the U.S. is because there is a 89% penetration rate, meaning that 89% of the U.S. population has cellphones.  In fact, its becoming common place for U.S. homes to only have cell phones.

Surprisingly, though, in Ghana the numbers are quite high as well.  63% of Ghanaians use cell (or as the rest of calls them, mobile) phones.  It is easier and more cost effective for most third world countries to use cell phones than to use land lines.

So, maybe it shouldn’t have been as surreal as I thought it should have been walking down a dusty road with a cell phone tucked in my sweaty hands…


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Ongoing Effects of Malaria

Let me take you back to August of last year.  I was toiling away in Africa, pretty bored actually.  August was a very slow month.  I was helping with some revisions on a crisis workshop that was supposed to take place in September in Kenya.  My excitement was evident in that I was looking up places to eat and where I could buy some coffee while in Kenya.  I could smell Java House!

But then malaria attacked with a vengence.  I hospitalized for two nights and three days of mostly horrific pain and a-go-ny.  I have yet to find an illness that compares with malaria in terms of discomfort; and I hope I never do.

Shortly after getting out of the hospital, I started developing these scaly raised red spots all over my torso and some on my legs.  The old Ghanaian doctor told me quite confidently that I had ringworm.  I consulted with a few expat nurses whose faces wrinkled with skepticism when I told them my diagnosis.  Nonetheless, I used every medication I could get my hands on to kill Kofi (a good Ghanaian name) the ringworm.  None of the meds worked.

The dermatologist was one of the first medical appointments I made when we returned from Africa.  I thought I was going to stump him with this new fangled African skin disease.  Nope.  “What you have here is drop psoriasis,” said the doctor.  And he was good on his word, as the medicine he prescribed finished all the spots off in a day or two.

The cause of these spots: Stress, injury to the skin, and…malaria.

Ok fair enough.  I took care of that little bugger once and I just did again.  Done.  Right?  Maybe not…

Until about three weeks ago.  I started developing a rash on my upper leg which would not disappear.  It was as consistent as rain has been in Florida this winter.  The pain gradually increased until I could no longer walk.

I went to the doctor last week who put me on a round of antibiotics because he said I had cellulitis.  Cellulitis.  Really?  Cellulitis occurs to people with poor blood circulation and obese folks.

Causes of cellulitis: Open infected skin wound or…drop psoriasis, that reoccuring skin disorder I thought I had put behind me.

Now, I am on my second round of oral antibiotics.  The doctor said that if there is not improvement by tomorrow evening to find my way to the closest emergency room.

So, let’s review.  Mosquito…Malaria…Spot Psoriasis…Cellulitis.  Who knew one little lovable insect could cause so much fun!!

Please be praying us financially as I do all of this doctor stuff.


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Preconceived Notions

There was something that happened to me (Alan) a few times in Ghana and in my travels around the world.  It was going into a place or situation with preconceived notions about how something or someone was going to be.  What I quickly discovered was that because I had listened to well intentioned but misinformed stories before entering the situation or place, I was mistaken, to put it lightly.  Bluntly, I was wrong and looked dumb.

Chimamanda Adichie recently did a TED talk on this subject, although she calls it the Danger of a Single Story.  Its well worth the watch if you have 20 minutes to spare.

What are some of your preconceived notions about life? Where have you heard a single story and been mistaken?

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Coping With Pain

Disabled Ghanaian

Over the many days and months that we were in Ghana this is a picture that we would see in most of the major cities across the country.  These people, men, women, children, and  elderly, would be on street corners wanting a handout from passerbys.  Most of the time, they would not pester, but ask and move on.  I saw some look at these people with disgust;  disgust for the person or disgust for the country for not taking better care of its indigent.  Some looked at them with apathy.  Some never even looked.

But for me (Alan) I saw them differently.  I saw them clothed with perseverance.  Here are people who have any number of ailments but continue to press.  They would be on crutches or in a wheelchair, like this man pictured to the left, out in brutally hot weather trying to make a living.  They might not have been doing something that seemed worthy, but their worthiness came in their tenacity and perservance.

Now that we are back in the U.S. and I am dealing with back pain to varying degrees, I often think of these Ghanaians.  I look to them for encouragement to press on towards the mark.  I love counseling missionaries and their children, even though I am in pain.  God has called us to this place, and humbled I sit ready and willing to persevere.


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Three Weeks

I was watching the John Adam’s HBO miniseries while we were in Ghana.  (If you haven’t taken the time to check it out, do so.)  During one of the episodes, the character playing Thomas Jefferson was asked what he thought of Paris, France, since he was the U.S. delegate to France and had been living there a little while.  Jefferson replied that only when he returned to the U.S. (home) would he know how France had effected him.

We’ve been home a little over three weeks and I (Alan) am beginning to see how Africa has changed me.

  • It might sound trite to say this, but living in the U.S. is easy.  The infrastructure in the U.S. makes life pretty simple.
  • But…I’m even more careful to compare the suffering in the U.S. to the suffering in Africa.  We all suffer on one level or another.
  • Experiencing life with friends and family is something to be cherished.
  • There are many things I miss about Ghana, but maybe the biggest thing is the slow-paced nature of life.

With the new year upon us, we look forward with anticipation to the happenings ahead.  And we look forward to taking you with us on this crazy journey of ours.

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