So for starters, Ghana. It’s as hot as a hot summer day in Iowa, just all the time. Even when it’s overcast, it’s hot and humid. We live in a place that is about the size of the Cedar Rapids Stake center, just split across three levels and one of the levels we only use for sleeping and showers and things like that. It’s crowded and anytime I can get out, I do. It’s also really hot in the hallways. There are only A/C units in the classrooms and the chapel (they’re also in the cafeteria but only used sometimes). Other than that, we have open windows and fans in most the rooms. I’m already getting used to sweating a lot. The African Elders love to play Football all the time and by Football I mean American Soccer. They’re really good too. We’ve been doing a lot of classes and It’s been pretty sweet because they combine 2 dorm rooms for 1 district and you have class with your district so It’s nice to get to know some of these Elders. We have 5 american Elders and 5 African Elders and 1 from Fiji.
One thing I have noticed is that Africans love to laugh. One little thing will happen and everyone will start giggling. It’s so contagious that in serious situations it’s a little hard not to laugh. We have 2 Elders from South Africa. These guys are really nice and cool and they probably have the closest to American accents that aren’t American Elders. Since South Africa has 11 different official languages, they love to communicate in different languages that none of us understand. It’s pretty funny actually. The next 3 Elders are all from different countries: Malowie, Kenya, and from good ol’ Ghana. Wonderful Elders all of them.
The traffic is absolutely crazy in Accra. Tema is almost as bad. Kumasi is said to be a bit better than Tema so I’m still hopeful, but what baisically happens is everyone cuts each other off and they use their horn to simply let you know that they are there, so you will know. There are only police officers directing traffic at roundabouts and I haven’t seen a speed limit sign yet. If you are going slower than the person behind you, you will be passed, even if there are two lanes and the second lane is oncoming. Yes, I’ve seen a bus splitting the median coming straight at our bus and I freaked out. Stop lights stop for a long time and because it is so busy people are on busy street corners selling all kinds of products. You could find anything you want if you drove around long enough. I’ve seen all kinds of food, from chips to Papaya to soda. I’ve seen toilet paper and I’ve seen gum. I’ve seen jeans being sold and I’ve seen playballs. Lots of people do public transportation so they just roll down the window and hold out money and the seller comes running over. I haven’t bought anything but it’s apparently the same price as the store so I might do that in the field. Almost everyone carries their wares on their heads. Usually using a cloth between the basket/bucket they’re using and their head. I’ve seen a lot of weird things being carried but the most absurd as of yet was the man with the Jeans. He had a garbage bag about 5 feet long on top of his head, full of jeans. I’m sure I’ll see even crazier things.
There are a lot of French Speakers here. I think they make fun of me when I say “Bon jour” back to them. The Sister missionaries laugh at me at least. But sometimes when someone speaks around me, I’m not sure if they have a very thick accent or if they’re speaking French. I have to pay attention extremely closely when someone does talk because it can be really hard to understand sometimes. I want to say that the Ghanian Missionaries are some of the hardest to understand (Lucky me). I am trying very hard to be a disciple of Christ and to learn how to Invite others to come unto him, but I really want to get out into the field.
My Birthday is in 3 days and it’s a tradition in Africa to sing back to the people singing to you for a 3rd verse of Happy birthday. The 1st verse is what we all know, the usual happy birthday song. The second verse is “How old are you now?” and for the 3rd verse I have a solo to sing back “I am nineteen now…..” I’m half looking forward to it. It’ll be an experience, for sure, Haha.