Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Weather: Mild and muggy in the mornings under cloudy skies, with temps in the upper 60sF to lower 70s. As the day warms, the sun shows up, the relative humidity drops a bit, and the winds pick up to around 20mph. Daytime temps in the 80s, but nighttime is cool and breezy. Even though this is the rainy "season," we know that this close to the equator we will see a dry period in August between the two short seasons of rain. So we have seen very little rain in our first week in the Accra suburb of East Legon.

Non-Stop Settling-In

Is it too soon to say I love it here in the red hills of suburban Accra, Ghana? True, the water sometimes comes in spurts, and it has to be filtered-- but it spurts right out of our taps. No pumping or hauling! And yes, sometimes the city shuts off electricity for a few hours to save energy, but mostly it works. And while the Internet is not really able to stream YouTube or the PGA championship, it comes into our home. No driving miles to a dingy, unreliable cafe. And it is indeed a fact that Accra, like Monrovia, is an equatorial city on the ocean with high humidity. But-- dare I say it? Will saying it jinx it? But, dear readers, unlike the still, stifling air around Monrovia, Accra comes with a breeze! Nobody told me this! Oh, nobody told me! It feels good here almost all the time! Who cares about humidity when you got a 20mph breeze blowing all day? Oh happy, oh, joy!

So, can I say I love it here yet? Naw, I'll wait until the other sandal drops. But I like it a lot so far. I feel the Akwaaba-- the welcome-- of Ghana.
We've spent a full week here in an almost non-stop selecting, purchasing, signing in, registering, liaising, testing, and adjusting mode. Our nice Ghanaian home (see video below) has nothing in it so we need to buy it all-- bedrooms,
living rooms, office, kitchen, bathroom, electrical adapters, step-downs, regulators, surge protectors, lamps, plates, rugs, pillows, towels, refrigerator, ... but I'm not complaining. Give me cash and a
breeze, my people, and there is nothing I can't buy. The photos to the left and right document our daily taxi rides from our neighborhood, above left, through the city. Click on 'em to see a larger version.
The kids, Hannah and Noah by name, are now enrolled in the American International School, a new enterprise started just a few years ago with an excellent, professional, dedicated and enthusiastic staff. Tis very small-- only about 6 students in Hannah's 11th grade, and another 5 in Noah's 10th. But that's good; it means individual attention, and there are a lot of kids in the local church-- Ghanaian, German, New Zeelanders, British, and North American-- for them to get to know.
Last Saturday, Renita and I took an hour out of our tasks and visited an "inventors fair" in downtown Accra, a place where Africans and expatriates ("expats") have worked together to come up with some easy ways to make things work out of odds and ends one might find in a small rural village anywhere in Africa. The inventors had come up with ingenious ways to chlorinate water, create power, process food, and recycle waste. Renita and I found the show fascinating, and may be able to use some of these ideas with others in our work worlds. Pictures of a few of the inventions are below.
Both Partners Worldwide (PW), Renita's agency, and Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC), my employer, remind us that for the next few weeks and more, our main job is to simply get set up and get settled here as much as we can. But we know we came here for work beyond our home, and beyond Accra. Our work will take us both throughout West Africa, and both Renita and I are essentially servants, helpers, even water-bearers to the men and women in cities and villages spending themselves on enhancing the lives of their neighbors and communities. We are patient but eager when we look to our "non-domestic" work tasks. We want to get out there!
Since it looks like we have safely planted ourselves in Ghana, we want to say thank you to so many of you who extended yourselves, provided housing or transportation while we were there, stored our stuff after we left, paid bills and advocated for us all the time we are away, and continue to uplift us in many essential ways every day now that we are here. We are merely the front-line hands and feet to this work, while many of you act quietly but doggedly, behind the scenes as heads and hearts, path-clearers and bridgebuilders, encouragers and challengers. You pray for us daily, call us on Skype, send us emails, donate real hard-earned cash, occasionally visit us, and always welcome us when we return. I'd love to mention you by name, but there are dozens and I'd forget somebody. I hope you know who you are.
Here are a few more images.

Renita hunting for housewares at one of Accra's several large, modern stores. Most items are comparably priced to what we saw in the US, except for food. Food is at least 1.5 times more expensive, and some items, like spaghetti sauce, salad dressing, cheese or most meat, are completely out of our range. Hamburger works at about $5.50 a kilo (2.2 pounds per kilo), and I get get a whole chicken for about $6.00.

Now on to the Inventor's fair. These are batteries made from salt water and old soda cans...

...a cassava grinder for making fu-fu...

...a 'cycle operated millet shucker...

...and our favorite, a bamboo-frame bike.

A final shot o' the fair-- finally, something to do with old plastic water bottles, which are otherwise a blight on the world. As Hannah says, "Don't buy water in plastic bottles!" (Unless yer makin' furniture.)

A 5 second home movie. Literally. These our our new digs. Just click on the arrow.