Friday, December 9, 2011

We're In America!

Well... I am sorry I didn't do an update last Sunday, things have been So busy! But Paul and I successfully (thanks to my dear dad) were able to get on our plane (Paul's first of so many new things) and were warmly welcomed by my family in Salt Lake. We are So happy to be home, can't wait to see everyone and are adjusting into the wonders of American life.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Up to Week of November 21

Sorry I didn't write last week, it is dry season here (which means No rain and Endless heat) and surprisingly the internet is not working as well as it did when we had huge rain storms? Surprising I know but this is Ghana. Anyway, biggest announcement yet, we went to the Embassy last Wednesday, we gave them the forms sent by my dear father and... were Approved at last!! They collected Paul's passport and we were given a "Visa Collection Receipt" which is a beautiful little piece of purple paper and are to report back to the embassy on Friday, December 2 (next week) to pick up the visa. Seriously it is unbelievably amazing and we are So grateful and excited! They did say though not to make any travel arrangements until we have the visa in hand so once we leave the embassy on Friday (praying that everything goes to plan) we will go to the airport after and check flights. Paul jokes that I would leave the same day haha which is true but we hopefully will be able to come the next week?! As of right now, it still feels completely surreal and I know that feeling will continue until we are on the plane home. But HALLELUJAH that we are almost there :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week of November 7

I had a great time with the orphanage as always this past week. My nephew, Felix has been coming along with me(he’s my little buddy) and I really love having him and the kids are sweet to him as well. There are even MORE little children that have come to the orphanage, including 4 sisters whose father abandoned them and they are all under the age of 5 and are ADORABLE, just breaks my heart to think of what they’ve already gone through at that age. They are all like identical too so getting their names down has been a challenge but I have finally conquered it. Also, there is a little boy who has been there for a couple weeks and is REALLY misbehaved and rowdy but actually super adorable when he smiles, and I was talking to Emilda (Mama Eugenia’s niece who is like her “right hand woman” and she was telling me that when he came here, he had been beaten so bad by his aunt that he has like gashes in his back so bad that you can’t even touch them. I had no idea to be honest and now am making a doubled over effort to shower that little boy with love. Beatings here in Ghana are maybe the hardest thing for me. It is like such a common practice for them and “part of their culture” as they always say but it is horrendous. I was talking with the kids here at the house about it and they were telling me stories of school. (which I know are true because Paul has so many horrifying stories of being caned as well)
-If they miss a day of school =  lashes
-If they don’t answer the teacher correctly = lashes
-If they don’t have socks on, or the right shoes, or have nail polish on, or aren’t wearing the right uniform, or are dirty = lashes
-If they talk in class = lashes
-If they don’t bring a pencil to class = lashes
 And seriously like a MILLION other things that kids will do, they will be beat and if they even flinch at the pain while the beating is taking place, then they get beat all over again. I only listed what happens in schools as well, it doesn’t even COMPARE to the beatings that occur in the homes (and sometimes on the side of the roads) by children and their parents. I could go on forever about how much I despise it because truly I find it unbearable and feel helpless because it is such a deeply embedded practice here that I don’t know if it will ever change.

Besides that little rant of mine…. Our cat just had kittens (yet again) this morning and the kids are so excited. So far she has only delivered 2 but we are determined that there are more to come because she is enormous. My wonderful friend from Scotland, Marcella (who I met at Eugemot 2 years ago when I was with CCS and she was just visiting the kids on her own) is back again for 2 weeks working her magic with the children as usual. She is an Amazing woman and does so much for the kids and has been doing so for 4 years now. Just yesterday she brought each and every child from the orphanage and the adults to Hohoe to the Geduld Hotel and had like a buffet for them, dancing and music, balloons and fanmilk for all. I was lucky enough to be invited and it was Such a blast and the kids had such a great time, people truly do amazing things here all the time and I am grateful to be around and witness it.  I also met 3 girls from Missouri that were also staying at the hotel, 2 of them are identical twins and one of them is a nurse and reminds me of my dear big sister Jenna and we had a great time chatting/ having girl talk after the party ended. One of them has a stomach problem and has been sick for 5 days with little help from the doctors here in Hohoe (not shocking) so I called Paul’s mom, she told us what medicine to buy and we got it, then we came to my house to give her my Gatorade powder so she could replenish her electrolytes. The kids made us spaghetti and we 4 girls and Paul stayed up late talking and had a great time. Oh and I got my wedding ring back this last week as well, obviously made for us by a different jeweler than before. It is REALLY simple but it finally has been made well, with all the gold intact and the right diamond this time and I really love it. We also hope to get the forms so generously Fedexed from my father by this Wednesday so that we will be ready for the embassy the following week J

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Week of October 31

Drumroll..... Well good news from the Embassy is that we were approved :) The bad news is that we had brought in the wrong form for the Affadavit of Support (fault to no one, we were just misinformed) so we were given 3 weeks to get the right form and are to report back on November 23 and if the right form is presented, we should be good to go. I could bore you all with the hairy details of getting into Accra at midnight the night before, going to 4 different hotels before we found one with room (super ghetto), going to the embassy then having Paul go in by himself then me being allowed in an hour later while I stood outside the embassy stressing out of my mind, still waiting 3 hours to be seen, turning in papers and all evidence, Paul getting fingerprinted, then going into the interview with the Ambassador of the embassy. It was a long day and has been a LONG 10 months, but with a big thanks to all the help that we have received, we are finally feeling as if we are coming to the end of this struggle and are preparing for the next struggles (and excitements) that lay ahead.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week of October 24

Well I am very proud of my husband. All I did this week was basically go to the orphanage, which was as fun as ever although Crazy with the 7 new children they have gotten in the last 2 weeks. Plus, a woman I met at Eugemot a couple months ago, coming from England sent six boxes of shoes which I took to the orphanage and handed out to the OVER THE MOON happy kids who now can go to school without getting beat for not having shoes. But back to to why I'm so proud of Paul... he went to Accra twice. The first time he went, the tro tro broke down like 2 hours into the journey and he ended up waiting on the side of the road for hours for another car and then after a while just decided it would be too late by the time he got to Accra so he just had to turn around. Friday though, he had a lot more success, leaving at 4 A.M. and got his police report in the morning :) He has no criminal record haha which we knew already. He then went to the hospital and waited for hours for his report. It's sealed but we assume he's in good health. We also received letters from some of my CCS friends this week that have seen mine and Paul's relationship from the beginning which will be So helpful. We have the affadavit of support (thanks to my dad), wedding cards, letters that I sent Paul while I was in America, a letter from Paul the first time I left Ghana, my journals since the time I've known Paul and lots and lots of pictures. Tomorrow we just have to print off emails that he sent me and also our Google voice phone bill. I am the only person in Hohoe who knows what Halloween is so we are just going to watch Hocus Pocus and make Corn bread with the kids at Paul's house. Then Tuesday, we will make our way to Accra to spend the night and be at the embassy at 7:30 Wednesday morning. We are obviously both So excited but at the same time So nervous for the outcome, and basically all we can do now is pray.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Up until the week of October 17

To say the least... I have slacked in my blog writing and to those (if any) who read I apologize. Three weeks ago, I was hospitalized nearly the entire week with malaria and a bad infection. It was an Experience to say the least with the ants everywhere, sharing a room with 6 other sick women with a single ceiling fan in the center of the room, having my IV "penetrate" whatever that means to the point where all the nurses and students were crowded around me as I threw a tantrum as they pulled it out while Paul just held my hand, to being wheeled around in a wheel chair being to weak to stand with everyone gawking at the lone "white girl" in their hospital. There was some good though... Paul was at my side as long as he could be until the nurses kicked him out, Paul's sweet mom Mary was working most of the time and made sure that I was treated better than royalty, and my cuter than cute friends Abby and Emily (visiting Ghana from Virgina) would come in to visit me and read me Harry Potter until I slept.
After the hospital, I had a few days of serious bed rest (ordered by Paul and his mother) and I felt a lot better. Paul picked up my cousin Ali on Saturday, October 8 in Accra and she stayed for a week and it was Such a great time. We went to the monkey sanctuary, the waterfalls, on a muddy adventure to the river behind Paul's house, she fell in love with Fanice, we went to the orphanage, the kids all fell in love with her and the s'mores she brought, we went to a Very drawn out opening of a school built by a German couple and the "king" of Hohoe, and basically just had a lot of great bonding-family time. Oh and I do want to mention as well that Paul (after spending a night in Accra and getting to the hospital at 4 am the next day to wait in line all day) got all his immunizations, and exams required from the embassy and his results will be ready in time for our interview on November 2.
 Then on Thursday, (with Ali being my vomit assistant the whole way) we (Paul, Ali and I) went to pick up my best friend Kylee at the airport who we were So excited to see after she'd had a hard time getting all her visa stuff together. We went from the airport on to Cape Coast, it happened to be my birthday and Ky had brought with her cards from home, the most amazingly thoughtful video birthday present and Ali had brought me a magazine, a flashlight (very handy), and a peanut butter chocolate cookie that we put in the middle of our dinner table and I had Happy Birthday sung to me :) Nothing like home, but still wonderful with my sweet husband, best friend and dear cousin. The next day we went to Kakum National Park where Ali and Ky did the canopy walk (haha with apparently some assistance from Ghanaian girls) and then we went to the castle which is always interesting and haunting at the same time. From there we went on to Kokrobite to spend the night watching cultural dancing and then the next day just relaxing in the sunshine and us girls doing a bit of shopping. It was wonderful but bittersweet because from there we came to Accra to ride into Hohoe for the start of the adventure with Ky but then also had to say goodbye to Ali, I really did love having her here.
I had a great week with Ky, we had a lot of girl talk, went to the waterfalls, did some good shopping (thanks to my parents for the birthday money), found ourselves some "americanish" pizza and went to lunch twice (almost felt like home), gave all the great stuff that Jenna and her young women had sent to Eric, Confi, Felix, Vera and Sika plus Paul's mom and little brother (Which really quickly do have to say that Paul's mom figuring out what floss was, may be one of the highlights of my life), gave the rest of the hygiene kits to the orphanage (Mama Eugenia was thrilled), got all the food sent by my dear mother, did glow sticks with the kids (Paul was fascinated), lit of sparklers when the power went off, watched my birthday video from home over and over again and I cried, and just honestly had a grand old time. Paul this week too went into Accra and filled out his form to request his police report for the embassy requirement which also should be done this coming week. Been a whirlwind for the last couple of weeks and I'm tired yet very, satisfyingly happy. Please Please keep us in your prayers this coming week as we get the final preparations for the embassy ready.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week of September 26

We are definitely being watched over.... We went to the embassy on Wednesday and after a bit of a wait, we were able to meet with a woman at "the window" in the consular section. She told us that we were going to be given an appointment package which had all the information we would need to know what we needed to do to prepare for our interview but then she regrettably told us that the next appointment they had was not until February 2 which is 4 months away and however much I love Ghana, Paul and I really are both so ready to get to the US and get going on our lives. Paul being good natured as he is just said okay and thank you. However me being who I am, burst into tears and told the woman that I really want to get home but won't leave without Paul. She looked genuinely concerned and told us to sit down again and she would see what she could do. She then called us up again and informed us that she found us an earlier appointment for November 2 :) Which is exactly a month away today!  I say this all the time, but we really are so blessed. So we thanked her profusely and then were given our appointment package so basically we have one month to get Everything ready to prove that we really are a "valid" couple. It won't be too difficult we hope but please keep us in your prayers.

Other than that, I have malaria which is so weird because it's not like it's a contagious thing. But we traveled this last week to Accra and then went to our beach Kokrobite with our friends Abby and Emily for a couple of days and I must have gotten bit there. It really is the most miserable feeling in the world and I'm so grateful we don't have it in the US but I'm here and suffering haha. Paul's mom though is doing her best of making me eat everything possible too because the medicine like rocks your system and seriously does like make you more sick at first. Also, earlier this week I went with my friends Abby and Emily to Suzzy Mother Care (the school that I taught at for like a month when I first came to Ghana) and some of the kids recognized me and it was really great. Suzzy Mother Care is the school that Abby was placed at when we came with CCS so they are to her like Eugemot is to me and the kids there love her. She brought them all these art supplies which is really so great. Paul too has been taking like computer programming classes and once he's finished will work for the man that teaches them, which is really great. The days really are flying by now and Paul and I both can't wait for my cousin Ali to arrive on Saturday and my best friend Kylee to come the following Monday :) Life is good