Monday, May 12, 2008

It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better

April 11, 2008

Although the first day in Bole was incredibly long, the night is much longer. I have a long history of stuffy headed allergy problems. My mutant power is the ability to tell if a cat has been in the room. It's not a good mutant power I know, but it's all I got.

All night long, my head is stuffy. It's so stuffy that I can literally hear it all rolling around in my head as I toss and turn. I have trouble sleeping. Two hours is about all I can muster. My head feels a little better as I get up in the morning, but the stomach is starting to rumble now.

Breakfast is eggs and toast. Big mistake. The eggs and toast don't stay inside my stomach very long. I contemplate staying in the room all day. If I DO decide to stay in the room, I know I'll always wonder what I missed. Although I'm a little weak, I decide to go on. How many times will I be in the middle of the bush?

The bush is what I called it, because the second day that's where we were. In the middle of freaking nowhere. The village is called Gun-Yiri. That's not how you spell it. It is how you say it.

There are no paved roads. There is dirt for miles and miles. As we walk up, the entire village has taken the day off. No farming. No fetching water. No cooking at all. It's time to go watch the Obruni's. As soon as we pull up, they are all staring. They wait until we are seated and start dancing. Music over there is quite different. There is a repetitive beat. The melodies are sung over and over and over. Dancing is just as much a part of worship as singing or praying. There is something very spiritual about the shaking that goes on.

Jobe is there to translate again. This day is unbelievably hot. Mississippi in August hot. We teach the kids a song, they teach us one as well. Nobody can speak each other's language, but they don't mind. When they don't mind, we don't mind. I tell a story about Zacchaeus again. It takes more effort for me. I still feel pretty exhausted. But the rest of the team pulls everything off with great ease. We hand out crayons and color sheets in a much more organized manner this time.

They don't know how to color. They've never seen crayons. We have to put the crayon to the paper to show them how it works. After a while, they catch on.

One kid comes up to me and points at his color sheet.

He points to the man in the tree on his sheet. "Zacchaeus", he says. Then he points to the other man. "Jesus". For the first time, he has heard a story about the son of God who knows his name. He has heard a story about the son of God who created and loved him.

They have a small church building, but what they really need is a school. We have committed to help make that happen as well. If they pay a teacher for a year, then the government has to maintain the school. That's what we're going to do.

It all dawns on me. I don't want these people to change. I don't want them to get a plasma screen. I don't care if they ever talk on a cell phone. It doesn't matter to me if they ever drive a car. What I do want for them is opportunity. I want them to hear the voice of Jesus. If they ever wanted to come to Mississippi and see how we live, I want them to be able to. I don't know why they would, but it would be nice if they could.

Over the afternoon, we break up into groups to look at houses. I get to visit the chief's house. He has a wife inside. He has another wife somewhere else. The chief is very nice. He is so focused on giving us a tour that he doesn't notice the bat flying around in his house. We are a little more easily distracted. Numerous times, wings hit us in the face. But we try to keep our cool.

We also get to see a yam farm. Yams in Ghana are not sweet. They are enormous potatoes. They are as long as my arm and heavy as a bowling ball. This is not an exaggeration.

Although I was sick throughout the day, Gun-Yiri was one of my favorite places. The people were incredibly friendly. We have given "footballs" as gifts. As we start to pull out, the villagers start to bring gifts for us. One is a sack of yams that weighs about 100 lbs. The sack is a large part of the crop for Gun-Yiri. But we cannot refuse. It would be impolite. The other is a goat. Not goat meat. Not goat milk. A live goat. There is no room in the van. We have to tie it to the roof.

For the 45 minute drive back, we have a goat on the roof. He is not happy. He lets us know he is not happy.

I start to feel a lot better. We have gone to two of the four areas. I finally start to feel like I can do what we have set out to do. I am so entrenched in the culture that it's starting to feel a little like home. There is no more uneasiness. It's time to go to bed. Tomorrow will be a good day.


Emily said...

I'm enjoying reading your thoughts so much! Good writing.

My daddy had goats, but we never tied them to the top of a van. Although there is a story about a goat on the roof of Pontotoc High School that I had absolutely nothing to do with. I promise.

Here, There, Elsewhere... and more said...

Great read and interesting to discover different pespectives on a country i know so well..:)