Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ghana: Day 1 & 2 - Compassion Visits

Early Monday morning we finally arrive in Accra. We rush off the plane toward immigration, where we still end up last in line. When my turn comes, the officer was cordial. All the fingerprints on my right hand were taken and then he asked for the other hand. I smiled and asked, "Is this in case I come back without a hand or some fingers? It doesn't sound promising." The offiver smiled back and told me to enjoy my time in Ghana. From that moment on it was non-stop...

We got our luggage off the one conveyor belt to find it was wet from all the humidity and headed through customs. We had piled the bigger suitcases on 2 carts. Everyone on the first cart was waved through but I was stopped to check my luggage tickets against the luggage on the cart. Except my stuff was on the other cart. After a moment to explain, he waved me on. Phew.

Our driver was waiting as the flight arrived an hour later than he had expected. He wisked us to the van and loaded us up to head to the first Compassion Center where JD would finally meet Ato Sam.

Word of advice: Make time to go to the bathroom before heading out into the middle of Nowhere, Ghana. I did not and I regreted it as it was probably like 10 hours until we were able to use one. (and there weren't woods to go in either. Just saying)

As we drove, we took in our first sights of Ghana.

After about a two hour drive, we arrived at the Compassion Center where we were treated like royalty and a whole program was put on for us.

As we were entering they were announcing "They are here.
They are coming!"

JD and Ato Sam


Toward the end of the program the children began to creep up on the stage. Once Debra and I let one climb on our lap, we were instantly surrounded with kids. Meanwhile the staff tried to get them to sit back down so the program could continue.

Soon we were on our way to visit some of the homes of the children and present them with the gifts we had brought. Additionally, the center hosted a soccer match between Ato Sam's center and the twins center. When the festivities had concluded, we loaded up and went to dinner. At dinner, JD had a little more one on one time with Ato Sam before having to say goodbye.

 The next morning we headed to the first of two centers to visit. It was here we got a good look at how Compassion runs it's centers and the circuluum. We also were able to address many of the parents and be blessed in return by them.

The 2nd center of the day was where George and George are. This was one of my favorite experiences of the trip. I loved holding Kakra and seeing JD with Panyin. We learned that this center had only been in operation about 11 months. The difference from the first center was obvious. I know it will continue to improve with Compassion's assistance. 

The twins are 6 years old but both are closer to the size of 3 year olds. In fact, holding a 5 month old on Thanksgiving, I noted that he felt heavier than Kakra.

Panyin and Kakra

 In the beginning both of the boys were very shy. Panyin became more at ease first. I tried tickling Kakra. I tried seeing if he could snap his fingers. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Several times he just turned his head and stared into my eyes like I was supposed to know exactly what he was saying with them.

Finally, when I pulled the Curious George monkeys out, both of their eyes lit up and smiles were aplenty after that.

The whole family

As a special treat to us, since we didn't end up staying in Cape Coast due to the arrival plans all changing, Samuel (the compassion visit coordinator) took us there for dinner. 

Elimina Castle

The first Coke

 After finishing dinner, we headed back to to the capital in order to connect with our Touch a Life contacts.

Ensue next adventure...

We hadn't booked a place to stay for the night and hadn't had time to buy a cell phone to get in contact with anyone. We were left with our driver who spoke English but understood it far less. He was unfamiliar with any of the hotels we mentioned so we went to Plan B - take us somewhere with internet.

Sometimes is wiser to set more parameters.

The first place the driver took us did not have internet, but the second did. I'm sure the man smelled out slight desperation at this time and overcharged us and slightly misled us, but we didn't have much choice. I am fairly certain that white people DO NOT stay where we were dropped off. Debra was kissed in the lobby and they told us we could leave our luggage in the lobby. Apparently, they thought we were rich and stupid.

Let's just say it was an interesting night, most of which was just a great imaginative buildup in our own minds. But there were some unidentified stains on the bed...

In the morning after many emails and phone calls, our whereabouts were located and we were gratefully rescued. I couldn't take another minute of the horrible soap opera (dubbed in English) playing in the lobby.

"Tell me you love me."
"What? I can't hear you."
"Say it louder."
"Say what?"
"Tell me you love me."

Gag me.

Now we began to prepare for the trip to Kete Krachi and what we would see and experience there.

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