May 8, 2011

The REAL day 4!

Redeemer HANDS Team:

Happy Mothers day!!!!!!

(I would say it in the local language however I have stuck to the basics of welcome, thank you and I’m fine as they are ecstatic when I attempt any of the above mentioned.)

I, Michelle have been having a wonderful time in Ghana. From my “shattering” (a story for another time) experience on the first night to mixing cement and carrying it on my head to being destroyed in a soccer match to sweating out the amount that could fill my pool at home. Compared to my last trip to Africa (Swaziland) this experience has been greater culturally speaking. Not only have I carried things on my head, and (although I am a bit lobster-ish right now) I have began to “blend” in a bit more; despite the shouts of “White Person” or as they say “Abroni”. We have also been able given the chance to wear cultural dresses or shirt (despite some design preferences from the girls on the team).

Today we were blessed with the chance to sleep in until 8 am, excluding the 4 of us girls who were woken up by blasting music at about 6:30 am. After getting in a quick bite of eggs, fruit and rice (no tuna on toast today!) we set down the street in our very colourful African patterns. Trevor, being the only boy on this trip, even has a nice shirt with various African print. So other than our snow coloured skin, we fit right in!

Being Sunday, our colourful group headed down the road to a Pentecost Church. For you to understand my experience you need to know a little bit about me. I grew up in a Nazarene church where dancing is not encourage, and in a very conservative family that followed this (My parents did not even dance at their wedding!). As we got closer to the church we could hear singing. We walked down a dirt path to a church with no walls (thankfully: I cherish wind!). As we got closer we noticed that women were sitting on the right and men were on the left. Try and follow as I give you a better picture: Firstly, we all sat in a square, we sat in front of the men on left since they wanted us to have the front row, beside us on our left, there was a group of people playing tambourines, and they were a step down from us, they were also sitting in front of the musicians, to our right, sat the wedding party and the couple who got married the day before, on their right sat the women and beside them on their right sat the women leaders in the church.

We reached our seats, began joyfully clapping and attempted to take in our surroundings. Mary Ashun, leaned towards us and said, “we’re going to dance.” I laughed at what she had just said but I knew she was not kidding. So we all followed her (except for Trevor since men and women do not dance together in traditional churches) and attempted to shuffle our feet, move our arms and some how move our bodies. We followed her in a circle and I could not look more forward to my seat that I was about 5 feet away from. I was a little nervous to dance because I know I suck, but I was also afraid to offend them by trying to “move my body”. Trevor also had a chance to follow the men as they did the same. But I am not done yet, it gets better.

We sat down and laughed at what we had just experienced and then the Pastor started joking about how we dance, and how we need to learn to move our whole bodies and not be so stiff. He told us that it does not matter how we dance, or if we jump, if we are moving our bodies to praise God than that is all that matters (that is something I have never heard before in church). After he welcomed everyone one to church, as they had many visitors and congratulated the mothers, we sang, “Blessed Be Your Name” as Rachel wonderfully played the guitar as we found out the night before she could play. Before playing I was given to the chance to exchange a greeting and express our love and gratitude for Ghana. I spoke, and then Mary translated into her language, and then someone else would translate into the local language. There are many different village languages.

After the singing, we had a second chance to redeem ourselves. Mary claimed the first time was just a warm up, and let me tell you, you do not need “warm” ups in Africa, our faces were soaked! First up were all the mothers, their dance seemed pretty short as I frightfully awaited our next attempt. Then Mary gave the word. We followed her out again, this time with a little bit more swing in our hips and bounce in our steps but we did not stop after circling the dance floor. The few women that were with us got us to form a dance circle. Haha. I still laugh when I think of a dance circle in church! We each took a turn to do a little “jig” in the circle. At that point we were all laughing with each other and having fun experiencing the Ghanaian culture.

The Pastor preached in English with a translator who spoke in the local language. It was kind of difficult to understand him. Even in their language they occasionally say English words so it was kind of mixed up English. Once he finished speaking the congregation stood up to prayer and everyone said their prayers out loud. At that moment we followed Mary out to the “Mission” house; A house that is built for the Pastor’s family and any other visitors of the church. We sat in the front room to cool off, and listen to Mary’s stories about her traditional engagement and her Parents arranged marriage. We are learning so much here!

Once church was finished, we went to take pictures with the people from the church. I really wanted to carry a baby on my back, so I lady began to tie her on but she wasn’t tight enough so I refused to stand up and she started to ball! I was so sad.
Once we got home we had a mini photo shoot and then immediately took our “heat trapping” dresses off. Being a true Nazarene I head for my bed, as did most of the others and took a nap.

I almost posted this as some thought there probably wouldn’t be anything else to talk about. Although, I just knew with the crazy 10 of us, something else was going to happen, and I was right. I returned from my glorious nap and some bible reading, to find the others playing a game of Uno. Melissa and I headed out to the enclosed porch behind the other’s rooms and we read some more and took time to journal. As we sat out there, we noticed the clouds and the sky getting darker; we sensed rain coming on. The wind was very strong, and the earth grumbled. It started off spitting, and with a couple of flashes of lightening, we were left in darkness. No power at all. I let out a few screams as I am terrified of thunderstorms, and we all ate our dinner with the few flash lights that we brought. The rain became to poor and we began to dance. Jess was soaked within a few minutes. We gain reflecting on how bad it must be for the villages around us. Elise couldn’t stop thinking about the houses on the hill that we walked by on our hike. So 9 of us stood outside on the stairs, holding hands and cried out to God for protection for his people. It was a pretty awesome moment. After praying we chatted in the family room for a while (which is now a daily tradition). We are definitely getting more comfortable with each other; poor Trevor. Prayers for him, we told him he could put this on his resume! “Survived 2 weeks with 9 girls”. In devos we reflected on church this morning, and as we said our roses and thorns, many people were looking forward to our trip tomorrow.

Pray for some of the girls who are starting to not feel well. Praise the Lord no one has gotten sick yet! Elise has a weird “disease” with indentation of the skin since she is drinking a million litres of water a day, Jess has a heat rash, and I have some type of rash on my arms that I got 2 summers ago, and got nicked name “Shellasaurus.” (That one is for you Brian.)

This blog is ridiculously long, but I wanted to give you all the details!

Keep praying for us, for safety and health. It has been so nice having a day off of work. For the 3 of us shovelling gravel, it has been a huge relief!

Now my quick shout out time! Thank you for all who are reading our blog, thank you to the ones that play a big part in my life. Momma Bear, I’m glad I got to call you today, and more so because Nana and Grandma were there! Hi Nana! Hey to my sister, my family and all my friends. Hey to my wonderful boyfriend, who apparently didn’t think I was far enough away so he flew to BC!! Miss you all, but know I am learning TONS and having a blast.

Last but not least, I wanted to make sure I extended a BIG Happy Mothers day to Momma; Misek, Kuipers, Mork, Moore, Voorberg, Kennedy, Dorian, Blackett and last but not least, my momma  . Today we went around and said what we were thankful for, and we are all VERY thankful for you. Thank you so much for bring us to where we are today, and thank you so much for your support for this amazing, life changing trip. We miss you!

Love you all!
-Michelle

Do everything in love.

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