Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day off...

This morning I went with 9 other girls to a orphanage in northern Lome. It took about 45 minutes to get there, but it was proabably only 20 miles away... you would not believe the roads! Everything's red dirt, the rainy season makes huge puddles and leaves large ruts when the road dries, the potholes are about 8" deep and 3' across, and traffic has no rhyme or reason! Sorry, no pictures to post... it's an agreement that Mercy Ships has made with any Mercy Team outreach... but I have lots of pictures in my mind.

Anyway, there were about 25 children at this center and a Mercy Team from the ship comes each week for a few hours on Saturday mornings. We got there and helped the children move the benches to the outer walls and then sat among them. We started off with a few songs they had learned this past week at "summer camp" and even though they sang in French, we got to clap along and smile like we knew what they were saying! Then they sang, "Seek Ye First" and we all joined in with "A-le-lu, a-le-lu-jah" at the end! :)

Then Stephanie, our team coordinator, told the story of Noah through a translator. Emmanuel got into the story and sometimes he would turn the translation into a question for them to answer. It probably went something like this:

STEPHANIE: "Noah obeyed God and took two of EVERY animal into his boat."

EMMANUEL: "Noah obeyed God. What animals were on the boat?"

CHILDREN (shouting all at once): "les chiens! les chats! les tigres! les éléphant! les singe!" (dogs, cats, tigers, elephants, monkeys)

Stephanie asked one of the older boys to act out Noah and he pulled some of the older children into his "boat". These "family members" then recruited pairs of children as various animals. Aleah and I became "les éléphants" and the little girls beside us joined the group in the middle as meowing cats. :-)

After the story we each colored large cutouts of animals. Stephanie handed pictures of a chicks to me and the girl across from me. I found a yellow coloring pencil in the bag we'd brought and sat down to color... soon the other girl came back with a yellow pencil too and started coloring hers the same way. I picked up the orange pencil to color in the beak and feet--she did the same. :-) When all the children pasted their colorings on the posterboard boat we put on the wall they made sure to pair up the animals. Our two chicks looked almost identical! It was fun to see the children color animals the correct colors even though they've never seen giraffes or dolphins!

We had a few minutes to play with the children some of the games we'd brought and then it was time to go. But as soon as we piled into the land rover to come home we found out we had a dead battery. Twenty minutes later Emmanuel had managed to find someone with jumper cables and the orphanage director pulled his car around. None of the 8 men that came around knew anything about jumping a car! It was quite a fiasco to try to convince them that you really can charge a battery, that you must connect the cables in a certain way, and that it's not easier to exchange the batteries, start the land rover, and then change the batteries back while the land rover was running... wow... things I think are common sense are not so common.

We finally got back to the ship, scarfed down our sack lunches (the kitchen's closed for weekend lunch and so you pack a sandwich at breakfast), and got back into two other land rovers for a trip to two markets. This weekend the Peace Corps organized an artisan's market and it was fun to see all the Togolese handiwork! 

One stall sold gorgeous batik fabric bags, shirts, and decorative items... We tried to bargain but to no avail! I was about to walk away from a super-cute lime green/turquoise bag and finally decided to buy it. I paid 8,000F for it (1,000 cefa is about $2 USD)... overpriced a bit, but it was very nice handiwork and it was obvious that the lady working the stall was only a worker for the batik company and she was not allowed to reduce prices. (I promised myself that was the last time I fell for the fixed price scheme!)

We then went to a local market that only had some tourist flavor. Sorry, no pics either... my camera died... :P One stall sold custom shoes and upon the urging of several other crew members, I decided to buy a pair of pretty green leather sandals. (What's up with this green fling?) The man drew a tracing of my foot and I'll go back next weekend to pick them up. Then I found a few hand-painted cards a few stalls down. Melissa and I walked into one stall that sold beads and beaded jewelry. We found a few pretty pieces but weren't willing to pay 5,000F for each necklace... sorry Mom! :-)

There was a small fabric store there too, but I wasn't willing to pay 4,000F for a 4-metre piece... Kathy told me that she'll take me to a huge fabric store where I can pay 4,000 for 6 or 8 metres of nice quality batik or traditional African fabric. :-) And one of the day workers in the E Ward eye clinic is a tailor! Here's to coming home with a traditional African dress. Something a bit like this, maybe.

We got back to the ship about 4:30pm and I jumped into the shower then headed up to dinner. Long day, lots of dust, lots of new stuff... and it was a very welcome sight to come back into the port and see the huge white ship. As much as I'm coming to love the gorgeous African people and their culture I still love my clean clothes, hot shower, familiar food, and electricity!

It's 9:04pm and I'm off to bed... going to Ward church tomorrow!

*if you're gonna bargain at the market, you have to be able to walk away from the item. Once you "have to have it" they have you hooked!*

1 comment:

  1. Katie,

    It's Abi's mom, and I want to thank you for your detailed journaling! You are blessing me profusely with your day-to-day accounting of life in Togo. I love reading the different perspectives, job responsibilities, and writing styles of you girls.

    Ironing are serving above and beyond! I remember, when I was about 10 and the oldest of five children of young parents, and hearing of a lady in our neighborhood who, "had no children, and couldn't have any, so she spent her time ironing her sheets, her wash cloths, and her husband's jeans." I thought that was so very sad. Even at that young age I felt the pain she must have felt, and her desire to serve where she was planted even though God had not yet blessed her womb.

    Anyway, I'm sure the ironing of the sheets is a service of love, and I commend the entire hospitality crew for the work you are doing! The scripture requires a spirit of hospitality in those who are to serve and lead the church, so you are doing a very important work!


    Connie Reese