May 18, 2011

Day 10

Redeemer HANDS Team:

Today was our last day in Ghana. We woke up early – 5am so that we could be on the road by 6am. The bus that we were going in got stuck in traffic on the way to pick us up, so he didn’t arrive until 6:30. Imagine – traffic at that hour! This was nice though, since we then had more time to say good-bye to our wonderful hosts at the guesthouse. We took many group pictures, then held hands in a circle and sang the song My Friends May You Grow in Grace. After loading our suitcases into the bus, we gave last minute hugs. Both Auntie Jo and Belinda cried. Several of us teared up and cried as well. They had been such a blessing to us and we will miss them!

Our bus driver, Antony drove us to Mary Ashun’s house to pick her up. At her house, we also picked up some raw shea butter – yay! Then we were on the road again to Accra, the capital city of Ghana, for a day of relaxation. First on our list of activities was getting a quick drive-through tour of Mary’s high school. It was a beautiful campus with classrooms, boarding residences, and teacher’s houses. The names of the boarding residences were fun. There was even one named Cadbury, after the chocolate company in England (pronounced “Cadbrah”). This made some of our mouth’s water! The school’s banner was some black and white piano keys. Mary explained that the white keys sound all right by themselves and so do the black, but there can only be beautiful harmonies when both the black and white work together. What an inspirational goal, which was also reflected in their motto: “That all may be one.” God certainly blessed us with unity on our trip among ourselves as well as with the workers on the school site. We also drove by the first university in Ghana, appropriately called the University of Ghana. There were international students there, so it took us off guard for a moment when we saw a white person! In an ironic reversal of roles, we shouted, “Abroni” every time we saw a white person! We had fun counting the abrofo (white people), even though we only saw four “white” girls. At the top of a hill on campus, we stopped for a few minutes and enjoyed a panoramic view of Accra. The roofs were all so colourful! Of course we had a mini photo shot.

Next stop was for some shopping. We could have gone to a larger market where we would be “mobbed” (the word Mary used!) by people calling after us to buy their items, but instead we voted for the “non-mobbing” option of a row of shops lined along a street in Accra. We got to practice our bartering skills (a new experience for some) and found some great deals on carvings, paintings, and jewelry. It was a great experience of the culture there. Some vendors, once they sold you something, would take you to their sister’s, friend’s, or cousin’s shop, too so you could buy from them as well!

We then went to a resort and did the touristy thing – all the girls swam in the pool, and then some of them tanned, making the most of the African sun! Trevor downloaded everyone’s pictures onto the computer so that he could distribute them later. At one point, a worker at the resort held a door open for us. We responded with “Madasi” (thank you in Twi). This pleasantly surprised him and he beamed as he replied, “Akwaaba” (you’re welcome). I wonder how many “white tourists” have spoken to him in Twi! We spent the afternoon at the resort. It was a nice way to relax before beginning to travel again. Around 5pm, we left and went to a restaurant called Southern Fried Chicken for dinner. Tamarrah and myself tried some very spicy kabobs, which were delicious, while everyone else enjoyed some pizza. Then it was off to the airport. Once we arrived, we had to pack the items we had bought at the market, so right there on the sidewalk beside the bus, in the dark, we opened up our suitcases and fit in the extra souvenirs. It was probably quite a sight, all ten of us trying to pack our suitcases! Once inside the airport, we said good-bye to Mary Ashun and then went to customs. They searched our bags, then weighed and checked them in. We then joined a massive line of people leaving Ghana. One man checked our passports as we passed through a door. Trevor said Madasi as he passed through, so since I was behind him, the man asked me how I was in Twi and I replied. It’s sad to think that it was one of the last times we could speak to someone in Twi and have them understand. We then stood in another long line. We noticed some people reading our team verse on the back of our shirts (1 Peter 4:11b)! We passed through booths that checked our departure cards, then after another long line, we put our bags through a screening machine. We were then patted down, which was an interesting experience. Unfortunately, some of us lost our shea butter, which accidentally stayed in the carry-ons instead of the check-baggage. It was very sad to see them just thrown into the garbage.

Then we all made our way to the gate. After a final check (swabbed our bags for explosives) we could sit down and wait to board the plane. It was a fairly intense security check and we were glad we arrived more than 3 hours early! At the gate, we filled out evaluation sheets of the trip and wrote letters to ourselves about what we learned on the trip. It will be mailed to us three months from now as a reminder! Some people went to the duty free shop to use up the last of their cedis (Ghanaian money). Finally, at 11pm we took one last look at Africa as we boarded the plane. In the distance, we could see the Akwaaba sign, which first welcomed us to Africa.

On the plane, we were all fairly tired: we had already been awake for 18 hours. So after dinner was served, we tried to get some sleep. Unfortunately, some girls who had the beef dinner instead of the chicken version ended up with upset stomachs, so they didn’t get too much sleep. It was too bad that they made it all the way through two weeks of food only to then get sick from airplane food! In the early morning, around 5am, a three-year-old in front of us began happily playing, but rather noisily, so we relinquished the idea of getting any more sleep. We filled out our declaration card for customs and then breakfast was served. We landed just after 6:30, surviving the ten-hour flight. We continued on to pick up our baggage, re-check it onto our next flight and make our way to Gate 26 for our flight to Buffalo. Once again in America, it still seemed a bit strange to see so many white people! As we waited for our flight, we enjoyed some American smoothies and shakes as we debriefed from the trip. We praised God for the unity He had given us as a team despite the fact that each one of us was so different from the others! Then it was back onto a little plane for a one-hour flight to Buffalo.

Once we arrived inside the airport, we held hands in a circle and thanked God for all He had done. Then we said good-bye to each other. We walked through the terminal and met our friends and families who were waiting to pick us up. We picked up our baggage and then all went our separate ways. It seemed to happen so quickly. After all we had been through together for the past two weeks, nay the past year preparing for this and now suddenly we were all walking away! But what a journey it had been. We learned so much, especially about trusting in God. We are so thankful for this incredible experience. We left a part of our hearts back in Africa. What a privilege it was to partner with the Ghanaian workers at the school. Although we were only with them for the past two weeks, we will continue to partner with them through prayer as they carry on the work so the school can open in September. The school may bless many of the children we saw as we walked to work each day. Thank you all so much for partnering with us and lavishing your prayers and support on us! We thank our God every time we remember you!


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