Monday, April 13, 2009

Three good choices and one bad one

Today was a horrible day for a picnic.

Fortunately, however, I made several good choices and only one bad choice.

The first good choice: Agreeing to go with Sister Juliana to pick up her nieces and nephews from their house in Sakomono.

Since today (Easter Monday) is a day traditionally celebrated in Ghana with picnics, I had planned on accompanying the nuns to one of the church picnics that were planned. At breakfast, however, when Sister Juliana told me she was going to pick up her brother’s kids to take them out for the day, I told her how fun that sounded, remembering all the fun times I had as a child when my aunts took me and my sisters out. I didn’t mean that I wanted to accompany her, but that was how she took it, so she invited me to come. I didn’t want to intrude on her aunt/niece and nephew bonding time, but she said she really wanted me to come, so I went. We picked them up from their house (Felix, 13, Judith, 7, and Linda, 4)and took them to the shopping mall, a place they had never been. They each picked out a treat from the bookstore, which meant I got to spend some time browsing the books and despairing at how ridiculously overpriced the books are here. Then we left to go to a picnic.

My second good choice: NOT going to Legon.

We drove through Legon, where the Madina parish and several other parishes were having their picnic. We found the picnic spot, this big field with a few tents set up and people playing soccer. Sister Juliana paused for a moment, considering the situation, and asked me if we should stay here or go to the one at Agbogba. I secretly wanted to stay at Legon because there was grass on the field and I could have called my friend Joe, who lives there, to come hang out with me, but I shrugged and told her it was her choice. She chose to go to Agbogba, which was a much smaller community and would be easier to mingle.

The church at Agbogba, St. Barnabas, is only half built. It only has one wall, really, and pillars supporting the roof. They’re not finished with it yet, and in fact, when I first came to Ghana, they were having their services in the second story of an almost-abandoned building over a little provisions shop. In November they moved to the wallless structure a little ways away, and that was also where the picnic was.

The picnic itself was kind of lame, so I was bored for a little while until Sister Regina showed up and I could chat with her. One of the activities was “Pick and Act” in which people picked a paper with something to act out, lame suggestions like “Act like a Sunday School teacher,” or “Act like a mad person,” or “Act like Obama giving a speech.” In the middle of the game, the wind unexpectedly picked up very strongly, blowing dirt and dust into our eyes. I’ve never seen wind that strong before! The sky became increasingly dark, and quite suddenly, the skies opened and released a torrential downpour. You wouldn’t believe that rain! The wind blew the rain sideways into the church, and with only one wall to protect us, we became a bit wet and cold from the mist. It lasted about 20 minutes, so loud they had to stop playing “Pick and Act” because no one could be heard above the rain. When it became slightly less intense, the youth choir began drumming, singing, and dancing... live entertainment. It was nice.

I was SO glad we didn’t stay at Legon! We would have been caught in a ridiculous downpour and been completely soaked with water. I was also glad I was with Sister Juliana, because some of my housemates didn’t even make it... they were about to leave the house when the rain started, and they didn’t want to walk through that storm. It would have sucked to have been stuck at the house all day in the rain. Also, since I was with Sister Julie, I didn’t have to worry about walking back... I rode in her car.

My bad choice: Walking around the front of the car.

When Sister Julie wanted to leave, we hurried across the dirt to where she had parked the car. I went as fast and as carefully as I could, wanting to escape the rain without falling into the mud. I have a very strong aversion to mud; you might say I loathe it with all of my being. When I tried to pass in front of the car, however, I didn’t realize how deep the puddle was, and my foot went into the mud! Horrible! I kind of freaked out a little, but Sister gave me a rag to let me clean it. It was still quite disgusting, though. Then, instead of driving away, she drove the car closer to the church, and we got out to eat the food some of the parishioners had brought to share. (I was like, “So you mean I became muddy for nothing?!”) It’s quite handy going to church events with nuns, because everyone treats them with special care, giving them free food and drinks, and as their guest, you also receive special treatment. I recommend it. The food was very good.

My third good choice: Staying with Sister Juliana.

I had considered just leaving to go back to the house after the picnic. There were a few things I wanted to get done before my trip. For some reason (probably the fact that I didn’t want to walk through the mud to get back to the house), I decided to stay with Sister Juliana as she went to pick up a few things with the kids at Shoprite and take them home. I’m sooo glad I did because when we were at the mall, we saw some tables set up where people were giving out samples of this type of evaporated milk mixed with syrup or tapioca and sugar. Sister Juliana recommended I try a taste, so I went up and asked for a sample. It tasted nice, but not spectacular.

However, as I stood next to the table with my tapioca and cream, I heard a little voice say, “Miss Kate!” I turned around, wondering which student it was, and to my delight I saw Eno, the little sister of my favorite student Ohemaa. Next to her was their even younger sister, Nana, and this girl with long hair and sunglasses I didn’t recognize. Eno gave me a hug, and as I looked at the mystery girl, I realized she was Ohemaa! I took her sunglasses off her face and sure enough, there were those beautiful brown eyes that I adore. At school, the dress code states that they all must have short, buzzed hair, but since it was the break Ohemaa had gotten hair extensions. She was wearing a white headband and a white shirt over jeans and jelly shoes. She looked so ridiculously adorable! Ohemaa is my favorite student. I call her my mini-me, because she reminds me soooo much of myself when I was her age. Of all my students, she is the one I miss the most now that school is out, so I was completely delighted to see her, and looking so adorable with her long hair, too! She gave me a huge hug and a huge smile. Seeing her at the mall made my day!

When we had finished shopping, we waited in the parking lot for about 30 minutes in a line of cars trying to exit, but once we were on the road, the traffic was minimal. We dropped off the three kids, hung out with their mother and their one-week-old baby sister for a little, then Sister Julie and I got back into the car. There was no traffic coming back, which was miraculous and wonderful. I’m strangely exhausted now. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, why I become so tired now. Maybe I’m getting old?

Anyway, it turned out to be a very lovely day, despite the rain. Happy Easter Monday!

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