Friday, September 26, 2014

A new routine

When moving to a new country, it's easy to fall out of the routine one has been following for several months.  I found this to be true when I transitioned to Ghana.  Finding local eateries that serve American style dishes, locating a gym that teaches aerobics and yoga--all these things take time and in some cases, were even pushed to the back burner as I got settled in.  Fortunately, things are beginning to fall into place.  Last week I was able to attend church with a friend, attend BSF, and purchase the sweetest fruit at the night market.

On Tuesday of last week I attended the first Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class of the season.  BSF International provides people from all different backgrounds opportunities for study of God's word among people of the same gender (women's BSF/men's BSF) or age (young adult class).  Last year I attended for the first time in Charleston and studied the book of Matthew.  The impact it made on my life was wonderful.  And once I confirmed that there was a young adult class in Adabraka (about twenty minutes away from Legon) I knew I'd be going back.  This year we are studying the life of Moses (Exodus).  The night of the first class, I was concerned about how I would find my way to the church, but one of the BSF administrators gave the taxi driver directions over the phone and before long, I had arrived.

The class took place in a beautiful sunny yellow room at All Saints Anglican Church.  As I walked up the steps, soft melodies from the choir rang throughout the building.  All of the subgroups met in what appeared to be the fellowship hall.  The BSF leader welcomed me, said they had been expecting me (I had sent an email about directions a few days earlier), and put me in a group of young women who appeared to be slightly older.  I usually have a lot to say but, decided to keep quiet for the first lecture.  I was enjoying listening to the choir sing and observing all of the Ghanian students engaging in the study.  I also remained quiet because it was very hard for me to hear what the group was discussing.  In general, Ghanaian women speak very, very quietly and do not really project their voices.  That compounded with all the other people in the room talking, unfamiliar accents, and the choir singing, I had an extremely hard time understanding what in the world they were saying.  Next time, I'll try to sit right beside the group leader since the answers are always directed at her.  Maybe then I'll be able to hear what's going on!  All in all, it was a very special experience and I'm looking forward to next week's study.

After studying at the library for six hours on Wednesday night, I hailed a taxi and made a trip to the Night Market before heading home.  The Night Market is a place on campus where students come to purchase food, household products, and other goods from local vendors.  The market usually opens around 6:00pm or 7:00pm in the evening and stays open until the crowds die down.  This is why it's called the Night Market.  One of my favorite things about Africa is its natural bounty.  The pineapples and paw paw (papaya) is by far the sweetest I've ever tasted in my life.  Each time I take a bite into a pineapple, it's like eating a spoonful of sugar!  The Market is my favorite place to get fruits, groundnuts, sugarcane, and fried plantains.  The women who run the stations are very sweet and greet me warmly each time I visit.

Delicious fruits at the Night Market, September 17, 2014
Spices, yam, vegetable oil, rice, eggs, tomatoes, canned goods, and everything in between, September 17, 2014

A curious vendor selling plantains and other goods.  I'm so glad she didn't dodge my photo like the other women did! September 17, 2014
About two weeks after I arrived, I was walking back into the hostel from class when a girl greeted me in the hostel courtyard.  She told me she remembered seeing me the day I moved in and asked if I was settling in alright.  We began chatting and I immediately liked her for her kind nature.  We exchanged contact information and kept in touch.  When she invited me to go to church with her, I took her up on the offer.  Similar to Charleston, the Christian faith is very prominent in Ghana.  There are churches on every corner (on Sunday mornings, three small church services are held right on the hostel yard).  On Sunday morning, she met me at my room and together we walked to the road to catch a tro tro.  After arriving in Medina (a neighboring town) we hopped into another tro tro and headed to School Junction.  From there we walked about 15 minutes through a village to the church.

Before arriving at the church we came to a pond that was surrounded by small mud-brick buildings.  Soft white lilies dotted the pond and made for a tranquil setting.  The church was small and simple, and the people were very kind.  I had been to church with my host mother the first Sunday I was in Ghana (where a European was the pastor), but this was my first time attending an African church.  The format was different, but the spirit was the same, if not more lively!  The pastor was very young and delivered an important message: pray without ceasing.  He and his wife were very friendly and urged me to return with Rachel every Sunday.

On the way back home that afternoon, we stopped in Medina so Rachel could purchase some vegetables, eggs, and rice to cook dinner.  I had never been to the Medina market before and she explained that I could find anything I needed there.  Just as with the Night Market, the fruits, vegetables, grains, and spices were fresh and beautiful and although I wasn't cooking that afternoon, I couldn't help but at least purchase some groundnuts.  As we walked toward a tro tro, we stopped by a woman selling boiled corn on the side of the street.  As my friend purchased some corn for us, I watched attentively as vans and taxis whizzed by too close for comfort at alarming speeds.  Just as with the fruits, the corn was very different from home.  It had a soft, warm taste that was full and delicious!  As we headed back to the hostel that afternoon, I had a sense of calm and was very glad I had attended service with my Nigerian friend.

Getting into the swing of things in a new town, city, or culture isn't always easy, let alone a foreign country.  But by going through it, I'm learning to enjoy it.  My routine has changed and evolved quite a bit since I left home.  It's through these changes that I'm learning to adapt and find joy in everything I do.

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