Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 49 - Last Day in Koff-town & Movie Night with Children

So today was my last day here in Koforidua. While 7 weeks is not that much time, in some regards it seems like so much longer. When I arrived here in Ghana, there were many things that seemed quite strange and out of the ordinary. Now they just seem normal. Its interesting what 7 weeks in a place will do to your perspective on things.

There are many children that live in the compound behind the Burro office. Many times they will come up during the day just to play or see what is going on. Jan has befriended many of them and treats them as if they were her own children (she does not have any children of her own). I have been wanting to try and do something for the kids before we left. I had thought that it would be a great idea to have a movie night with them, but didn't know how or where I would find a projector.

Last thursday Andrew, Cecilia (a Burro employee) and I were out shopping in the market. We stopped by an electronics shop and to see where we could rent a projector. They didn't know, but said that they might be able to find a place that does. They started calling some people, but weren't able to reach anyone. They told us to stop by another day and we would see if they could find one.

On Friday I was in the office all day and didn't have a chance to go back to the shop. On Saturday afternoon, I went out for a little while and stopped by to see what they had found out. I ended up meeting the owner of the shop, Kinsely Jefferson. He is, without a doubt, one of the most Christlike people that I have ever met. He hadn't been able to find a projector, but said they he would personally take me around to some other shops and see what we could find.

We first went to a store and was told they didn't have one. A few nights earlier, Andrew and I had seen a restaurant showing a movie out front, so we went over there night. Yes, some patrons had watched a movie there some nights before, but no they didn't know where the projector was. However, they told us of someone in the market who might be able to help us.

We went to the market and attempted to find the individual who might know something about the projector. We couldn't find her little store, so we had to ask around. We were finally directed to a small nail salon and Kinsley started explaining what we were looking for. Yes she said, she know the man who has the projector, but doesn't know if the projector has already been rented out. However, she can direct us to another place where there are some people who can find out.

We walk across town to a "cold store." A cold store is where you go to purchase frozen meat (chicken, beef, fish, etc...). When we got there, Kinsely asked for some certain individuals, but we were told that they were out running an errand. We would have to wait until they got back. We sat around and waited for about 20 minutes and finally they showed up. Yes they know about the projector, and yes they rent it out occasionally. But no, they don't have it. Their uncle has been entrusted to help watch over it. Kinsley tells them that we want to have the projector by Monday and asks if that will be a problem. "No," they reply, but they will have to check with their uncle and make sure. Kinsley takes down their name and phone number and indicates to me that he will call them on Monday morning to make sure and then he will let me know.

All in all, Kinsley nearly spent 90 minutes with me on Saturday., trying to help me find a projector.

I called Kinsley this morning. He replied that he had spoken to the other individuals but that the projector wasn't going to be available for some reason. He did, however, want me to come to his store around 2:00 and we would go out looking again to try and find one. I showed up around 2:30 and we went out looking for a projector. He has an idea in mind and off we set. Getting there, we find out that no they don't have a projector, but that there is another place that might. Kinsley makes sure that he has the directions, and off we walk to the other location.

While we were working, I learned that Kinsley shuts his store down at 2:00 every day. He works at the store in the morning, but is also a minister of education or something like that. He also works in a school and helps teach the kids about  and do other projects with them.

This is Kinsley Jefferson

At one point, I thank him again for his time and taking me around to find a projector. "No problem," he replies. He just wants to help out because he knows that someday he will need help of someone else.

We find the location, and Kinsley proceeds to negotiate on mybehalf, making sure that I get a good deal on the rental of the equipment. He also double and triple checks to make sure that we will in fact be able to get the projector tonight. What diligence he demonstrated. The reservation was made and we agreed to come back around 6:00 to pick up the machinery (and the individuals that come along with it to watch over the equipment). Although he didn't need to, Kinsley asked me to stop and pick him up so that he could come back with me to get the equipment. He wanted to make sure they gave me all of the equipment that they said that they would and that they didn't try and charge me more that we had agreed upon.

After we picked up the equipment, we dropped Kinsley off at his store. I tried to give him a little bit of money for his time, but he refused.

The movie night went off without a hitch. Everyone had a great time. And the best part, it only cost GHC 24 ($17.14 USD). This was a fun way to spend the last night in Kofforidua

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 48 - The Church in Ghana

Wherever you happen to visit an LDS church meeting in another part of the world, you can take comfort in knowing that it will be fairly similiar to what you are accustomed. When you visit other locations, however,  there are always unique perspectives that give the church a certain flavor in the location that you should choose to visit.

Here in Ghana is no different. Today for example, there were many things that happened at church that are worth mentioning.

1) When he who directs gets up to welcome everyone, he will start by saying "good morning." Almost in unison, the entire congregation will repeat "good morning"

2) During sacrament meeting, the leader speaker was Elder Cranney (the senior missionary that we spoke about at the beginning of my blog). He gave a very good talk about tithing and about how you will be blessed by paying your tithing. The message must have hit home with one woman and she got up out of her seat, walked to the front of the the chapel, and proceeded to ask Elder Cranney for a tithing slip. He politely asked her to return to her seat and mentioned that she could get one after the meeting was over. Talk about giving such a power message that you inspire people to act (or get out of their seat :) )

3) During Sunday school, the lesson was on Samuel 11 and 12 "Create in me a new heart." We were talking about the story of David and his fall with Bathsheba. Somehow the conversation turned to whether or not David raped Bathsheba. For the next ten minutes or so, several people felt that it was their moral responsibility to voice their opinions on the matter. Finally, the teacher happened to look over at Andrew and I. We gave him the "its time to move on" look and he finally moved on.

4) So in sacrament meeting I was flipping through the front of the hymn book that I happened to be holding. There in the front of the book I found this image. Kind of ironic. (Does this mean that whomever wrote this will be punished by God?)

5) We had a joint meeting with the relief society and priesthood. Towards the end of the meeting, the first counselor in the branch presidency was walking around waking up people who were dozing off. Good thing that doesn't happen in the states or else they might be waking me up every week :)

These are just a few perspectives that I have noticed on the church while here in Ghana. Church will never be the same after experiencing the church here in Ghana!!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 47 - USA vs Ghana....

Would would have thought that it would come down to this. World Cup football match. USA vs Ghana. I happen to be living in Ghana, but am an American. Who do I root for? Do I root for my partria or side with the locals with whom I am living amongst? So much internal conflict!!!! :)

The days leading up to the game today have been pretty crazy. A majority of the cars seen driving down the road have Ghanaians flags on them. Everyone that you meet is talking about the game and how their "Black Stars" are going to end the match victorious. Everyone is willing to tell you their predictions on the game and by how many goals the Ghanaians will beat the US.

Andrew and I made arrangements to have a buffet dinner at the Capitol View with the other Burro office staff. It was nice to be able to just show up and have our food ready, without having to wait for an hour just to get our food.

Here is our table, with a great view of the game

Part of the waiter staff at the Capitol View, standing for the Ghana national anthem during the opening part of the game. The waiter on the left is Joseph. He knows us as we are regular customers

Our buffet

Minestrone soup, vegetables, egg fried rice, french fries, grilled chicken, fish fillets, beef stroganoff, and ice cream

Everyone deeply engrossed in the game

Rose, the burro office manager, worried that the US is going to score

So Jan brought these table decorations. Each country had its flag, along with three colored balloons representing the colors on its flags. When one team would score, we would pop a balloon of the other country (i.e. when Ghana scores, we pop a US balloon). This is the balloon situation at the end of regulation

The balloon situation at the end of overtime

Once the game was officially over, the entire place erupted. People were running around dancing in the restaurant. It was mad hysteria. The celebration continued the rest of the night, but in the streets. Driving arounds afterwords, there must have been thousands of people out on the streets banging pots and pans, blowing trumpets, and yelling. (Kind of reminds you of a King family New Years eve celebration).

Andrew and I were discussing this evening how awesome it is that these third world developing countires have something to rally around. Had the US won this evening, would you even known it driving down the road? Sure there may be select pockets of people in the US that would be out celebrating, but for all intents and purposes, it would have largely unnoticed, unless you happened to watch the game. Here in Ghana it is a completely different story. The ENTIRE country rallies around their football team. You see people, anywhere from young children to older adults running around the streets after a football win. Andrew and I have both spent time in latin and south America and the same phenomenon occurs. Your national football team wins, you are happy for days. If they lose, it is almost as if there was a death in the family.

Andrew and I were hypothesizing that perhaps it has something to do with the socio-economic status of the countries. Perhaps because the people do not have a lot materially, they find out things to rally around and prioritize in their lives. How awesome it would be for an entire country to have something to rally around. Something to get excited over and something to celebrate. Let us in American take note from these people. Let's find something that we too can all rally around as a country. After 9-11, for a time it appeared that the country was united. But shortly thereafter, everyone slipped back into their own little world. Shame, shame, shame

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 46 - Burro HQ (Where all the action takes place)

So many many weeks ago I promised to show some pictures of where we live. Now with less than a week left here in Ghana, I better do this post or else it may not happen. 

Burro HQ reside in Koforidua, Ghana, West Africa. We are located on hospital road, near the intersection of market street. Burro actually has their offices on the second floor of an old building that was build back when the British still occupied Ghana or shortly thereafter. (Ghana used to be a British colony) 

We have our offices and live on the second story. Below us is a restaurant, but we don't ever hear any noise from it. In addition, we have never eaten at the restaurant. Even the Ghanaians have told us that it isn't any good :) To get to our entrance, you walk to the left of this building and go around back.

You walk up these stairs

To our front entrance

View of the courtyard from the front entrance

Looking out from our front entrance. Behind us, there is a compound of houses, with a big courtyard in the middle

Looking down from the front entrance. The stairs are very steep. We are always afraid that the little kids will fall down them and get hurt.

Here is the layout of the office. As I show pictures from the rest of the office, I will try and reference the rooms above. The room entitled "Whit's room" is no longer Whit's room. Just before us interns arrive, Whit got his own place to stay. That room has since been turned into an office.



Hallway from kitchen, leading to toilet room and shower room

Shower room

Toilet room

Main hallway that you enter when coming into the Burro offices. The entrance is halfway down this hall on the right hand side
Conference room, what is labeled at dining/training room on the layout from above

Battery Charging Room (where all the action takes place)

This is the room where Andrew and I stay. This is the room labeled "spare room"


Views from the street outside of our house

Views from the street outside our house