There are so many things bouncing around in my head that I could share and I want to share but I'm not entirely sure how to get them out without boring anyone. But then again, maybe nobody is reading any of this so it will just feel good to get it all out and this is just going to become a potentially very public diary of sorts. Oh well.
I'll start with Wednesday. Wednesday I got to experience a couple of new things. One of them was "koko" which is a local beverage that looks kind of like chocolate milk but tastes nothing like it. It's a little thick with an edge of spice from ginger. I'm not sure exactly what's in it aside from ginger, sugar, I think some milk, and more sugar. It was definitely interesting.
The other new thing I experienced was talking about my faith in an academic setting. We were given a lecture on Western & Traditional Religions in the morning and for some reason, the way the professor spoke about “African Traditional Religions” in comparison to others, such as Christianity, made me feel extremely defensive. But not in a “dog growling as you walk by his freshly served dinner” kind of defensive. More in the way of “wait, this feels untruthful and invalidating.”
I think it was the way he explained how religion is so deeply embedded in an African's life, that it impacts every aspect of his/her life. But that's what I'm trying for, I thought. And I'm not the only one, I also thought. Or maybe it was when he said that other religions, like Christianity, don't really care about this life or this world because we are just waiting for heaven, but Africans know that this is the only life and only world. But we were taught to pray “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” I thought. On earth as it is in heaven. It's also possible that it was when he followed up the knowledge held in ATR that it's only one life to live, that the main goal of the religion(s) is to have “total life.” But it is written that Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
These would have all been good points to make, I think. Or maybe just good words to share. Unfortunately, I didn't get very far into my attempt to expand on the generalized Christianity the professor referred to and explain that a lot of our beliefs weren't so different before I felt flustered and foolish.
Later in the day I was reading Love Does, the book I've been telling you about. The author is Bob Goff, and he works as a lawyer. In part of the book, Bob explains a piece of advice he gives to all of his clients who have to go through a deposition. The advice he gives to each client is to keep their palms up: “Go ahead and try it. Right now, wherever you are. Set your hands on you knees and turn your palms toward the sky. You can try the opposite too. Clinch your fists. Most people could get angry at a grapefruit when their fists are clinched. Something about the hardwiring that God gave each of us links the position of our bodies and position of our hearts. I'm not sure why we're wired this way, but I rarely have a client get frustrated or confused or get tempted to exaggerate or tell a lie when his palms are up.” Perhaps I'll try that next time.
In the evening, we had a dance & music workshop. Listen, if you know a couple things about me, one of them is likely to be the fact that I don't really like to dance. At least, not in public. Give me a room with a door I can close and some speakers through which to play some tunes, and I become one heck of a ballerina. But you're never going to see that. Not. Ever. So, what I'm trying to say is that this made me uncomfortable. Don't get me wrong, I thought the dances were awesome when Kofi and the dance instructor were doing them, but I sort of hoped they'd just teach me to play the drum so everybody else could just keep dancing while I watched. It took me awhile to loosen up and deal with the fact that it wasn't going to look perfect so I should just have fun taking in a piece of the culture they were willing to share with me. And it was great! (Please note I did not say that I was great.) By the time I got the choreography down, it was just really fun. I may have gotten a little red when people looked as they walked by, but maybe it was just because my face gets red when I laugh and, let me tell you, I was laughing the whole time.
Now I'll continue with Yesterday. Yesterday was really a cool day. We visited Kakum National Park, which is only about 30 km away from UCC. It's very beautiful, indeed, and home to one of only four canopy walkways in the whole world. You better believe we walked it! I felt really safe, even though we were so high up it seemed the layers of trees seemed to go down forever.
After Kakum, I assumed we were going back to UCC to have lunch in the same restaurant we have almost all of our meals. Instead, Akwasi pulled off the road very quickly and into the drive of Hans Cottage Botel. This was our first meal off the campus and it was awesome. The whole restaurant was open-air and we sat at a table right next to a big pond on the property. Akwasi ordered us each a glass of passionfruit juice, which was organically grown and produced right there on the property. Dang. I mean it. Shannon and I have been talking about how the juice and fruit here tastes so much different (better) than it does back in Ohio. We had 100% fresh pineapple juice the other day and my immediate thought was that it tasted like it had been mixed with some apple juice, and I liked that it was less acidic. And then I remembered that it was 100% fresh pineapple juice. And then I felt silly. And then I wondered what the heck it is that I drink at home. Anyway, this restaurant was AWESOME. There were flowers and passionfruit plants all over, hundreds of little yellow birds singing & flying, and there was even a crocodile sunning himself in the enclosure of the pond. (I'm glad I didn't notice that last one until we were leaving.) I ordered “redred” which is a traditional Ghanaian meal of baked black-eyed peas with mashed cassava (I think) and fried plantain with palm oil. Yum.
This morning I meet my host family for the first time! Wish me luck—I'm kind of awkward.