(written the night before I left Ghana)
Today was a very humbling day for me. I just feel so blessed by the people here. It’s impossible to put it into words, but I have so much in me that I have to at least put some inadequate words down.
My co-workers here bless me beyond measure. I don’t just feel lucky that they are good workers and take good care of the children in our care. My life is enriched for knowing them as people. I don’t see them as “those Ghanaians.” They are my friends. They are my sisters and brothers, my aunties and uncles. I will truly miss them when I am back home in America. My heart is forever split between two continents—one half always missing the other half.
I am very ready to see my children and husband again. Oh how I miss them!!! But there is a real sadness about leaving “my” Ghana—my Africa home. I’m going to miss the genuine hugs I receive…the warm smiles…the smell of small fires burning off yesterday’s waste…the sound of hip-life Music blaring from radios…the red hue of most foods, thanks to the Palm Oil. There is no way to recreate these things in America.
America is undoubtedly a wonderful country and I feel very lucky to have been born there. However, we Americans could learn a lot from our Ghanaian brothers and sisters. How open they are about their love for Christ!!!! To “dumb down” ones’ Christianity in order to be social acceptable is unheard of here. They are loud and proud about our Lord Jesus. How freely the people help each other here! If someone is having a hard time parking their car it won’t be 10 seconds before a passerby stops to help the guy out (“keep coming….stop!”). Hospitality—it is all I could do the past two weeks just to carry my own plate into the kitchen, or get my own sachet of water out of the fridge. My Ghanaian sisters could barely stand to watch me do these things on my own because their sense of hospitality is so great that a “guest” should never have to lift a finger. When I protested that my room didn’t need to be cleaned and my sheets were fine, my sister waited until I was out of the room and then cleaned it without my knowing. I came in to crisp white linens and a bathroom scrubbed to sparkling. This wasn’t some washer lady in our Children’s Home. This was our administrator—the big boss.
More than anything else it is the generosity of Ghanaian people that humbles me. We Americans are not generous at all compared to Ghanaians. Sure—we give more money than anybody, but we have more money to give. We give our time to volunteer (which is great) but we have more time to give! When was the last time that someone you have known only two weeks spent a 1/3 of their monthly pay and several hours to make a gorgeous piece of clothing for you AND EXPECTED NOTHING IN RETURN AND WANTED NOBODY TO KNOW THAT THE GIFT HAD BEEN GIVEN?!?!?! In Ghana, this happened (to me). In America, is it the employees that give the “bosses” gifts after a visit? Except for a cursory gift on Boss’s day—no. We reserve gifts—nice gifts—for people very close to us. In Ghana, a stranger will give you a gift just to let you know that you are welcome.
Yes, I have learned a lot from my Ghanaian family. I always do. But this being my fourth time to the country, and my 10th week spent here, I think I am getting down to some of the more subtle traditions here. People don’t act this way because I am American, or because I am “boss.” They act this way because it’s the way they believe ALL people should be treated.
So…next time a guest comes to pay you a visit, don’t curse under your breath that they didn’t call in advance; don’t resent that you have to take time out of your day to keep your guest happy. Just serve your guest water (as is the tradition here) and be thankful that you have a lovely home, with extra hours in the day and extra pennies in your wallet. Nobody is asking you to give 1/3 of your monthly salary in America. Nobody is asking for it in Ghana either—but here, someone might gladly give it.
With gratitude to my Ghanaian family at Eban House,
Saturday, February 23, 2008
(written the night before I left Ghana)