Saturday, July 12, 2008

You know you live in Africa when...

Where has the time gone? Moving time is here.

Exactly one month from now, we are returning to the United States. We left with a 8 year old and a 4 month old. We will return with a 10 year old and a 2 year old. We left one state and return to another. We left family and friends and we leave here with good memories of new friends we've connected with here in the land they call Ghana.

You know you're a foreign missionary in West Africa when:

  • your luggage consist of plastic totes
  • your "luggage" is closed by plastic cable ties attached through drilled holes in the tote lids
  • you learn words in a different language to communicate to people you see everyday
  • you sleep with a mosquito net over your bed/mat
  • you have diarrhea a few days a month on average
  • you'll eat hot cooked things off the street for awhile until you live there long enough to eat raw things (prepared by someone else) without getting sick
  • you weigh your "luggage" to use it to max capacity (for us 50 pounds each, two pieces for each person)
  • you point to things without using your index finger
  • you start speaking with a British English accent instead of talking the "American" English, because it is easier for people to understand you
  • you know what "light off" means (power is out for unknown reasons & amount of time)
  • you know construction barriers are just for show
  • you know there's always a walking path that people back home would think looks like a "cow" path
  • you think that a handkerchief is a necessity and you carry it with you everywhere
  • you think "clean, pure" water comes from plastic bags or bottles
  • the street vendors put hot liquid porridge in "poly" (plastic) bags
  • most people cook outside
  • you have your house water supply delivered once a month by truck
  • you have a mango tree in your back yard (or avocado, or lemon, or plantain, or banana, etc.)
  • you have a palm nut tree in your backyard (or coconut, or maybe bamboo growing)
  • you have a tin roof
  • your "front door" is a large metal gate by the road
  • you think dust is normal on your kitchen table (which is used at least three times a day)
  • you have no carpet
  • your floors are cement
  • you have a dry season and a wet season
  • the popular sport in the country is football, otherwise known in the states as "soccer"
  • your neighbors have no electric, but have mobile phones
  • you see how long your clothes can last before you get more than one hole in the fabric
  • you don't own a car and haven't driven in two years
  • your whites aren't so white
  • you hardly notice the roosters crowing at all hours of the day (or night)
  • you think white chickens are boring
  • your spelling is starting to lag
  • you go to a village church that has 20 people in attendance and they have a sound system with microphones set up to use
  • there are plastic arm chairs everywhere
  • "tie and dye" fabric is available where most fabric is sold
  • car repairs are done right on the street where the vehicle broke down
  • the prices go up because you are now their friend
  • umbrellas are for shade
  • ladies (and many men) carry everything on their heads, not babies and young children - they go on their mama's backs
  • the plumber and electrician wear flip flops
  • you have a watchman (nighttime security)
  • you haven't worn socks in two years
  • you don't think your two year old knows what a blanket is
  • you make free calls around the world using Skype on your computer
  • your road looks like a stone ditch
  • the local market sells bat, grass cutters (like groundhogs), fresh snails and fish all without refrigeration
  • the local market sells plantain, bananas, white yam, fresh coconuts, avocados, mangoes, garden egg (eggplant), hot chili peppers, fresh pineapple, fresh ginger - all at what would be considered cheap prices in northern climates back in the US
  • you like the corn (called maize here) even though you know it's not sweet corn
  • you eat your boiled or grilled corn with a piece of fresh coconut on the side
  • you've eaten fried everything (no meat, of course) off the street
  • you think the state of Pennsylvania would have a hard time trying to do car inspections here
  • "it must be malaria" is said whenever anyone gets sick
  • people are really afraid of your dog
  • you live in a country (slightly smaller than Oregon) with tropical climates which include: warm and comparatively dry along southeast coast (along the Atlantic Ocean -Gulf of Guinea) ; hot and humid in southwest (with rain forest); hot and dry in north
  • you can get a guy's haircut for under $1.00
  • people actually like rice and beans, yourself included
  • speed limits are merely suggestions
  • it's both hard and easy to be "green" (take the ecological footprint quiz)
  • the word "chop" has two meanings - eating food or stealing something
  • mowing the lawn involves using a knife
There are so many more I could add. I'll miss Ghana.


Sarah Halter said...

Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes again!!! I love it. I think you will be really glad in a few months that you wrote that down. It made me so happy to read! (but a little homesick too)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful comments that had me remembering my stay in Accra and Kumasi Ghana a few years ago. How I am blessed to read you blog. The recipes seem to be written for me as they reflect choices I love.
May God bless you and keep you in his care. Maranatha

Loretta said...

Sarah, you were right. I am glad that I wrote them down. Looking back on this after 3 years plus, makes me grateful.

Maranatha, thank you for the pleasant comment. May you also be blessed by our Creator. Shalom blessings. =)

Anonymous said...


So good to hear from you. Your list is amazingly true, now that I've been there, for just a few days, I have images, sounds, smells and noises in my head, some of which match your list! The list made me smile, you have to be there to really understand.

Thanks for directing me to this post. I have a much deeper respect for those who leave the comforts of the western world to live with and among these people who are also created in God's image. For me, the cultural shock was pretty intense yet God is incredibly faithful.