"We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 1:3

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Blessings


So far, we have been treated to delicious meals and delightful outings on the weekends, and last night was no exception.  One of the parent's from our school invited the entire faculty and staff from AIS over for "dinner."  I did not feel like I was walking into dinner, but more of a carnival of sorts...



It was a sit down dinner, much to the likes of a wedding reception.  We were served and sat at long tables with white table cloths.   A man with a video camera, followed by a man with a spot light filmed the entire evening.  Their were toasts, prayers, and praises.  The parents of the family both spoke to the group.  The family's business is the largest employer in Ghana, and they contribute all their success to God.  The mom was in tears sharing how thankful she was that we were here to teach, and that we had accepted her invitation to dinner.  She said we bless her and her family and she wants to do anything she can to bless us.  


I think just because of my teaching experience last year, which, for the most part, had a lack of parent involvement -- this whole evening was really surprising to me.  Most of the parents I have met are super amazing and do so much for the school and for their children's education.   Many of the students and their families are not Christian, and come just because their children are getting an American education.  We actually have several students who are fasting for the muslim holiday right now.  It is awesome to know that there are some who support our mission to be a Christian school first.

Of course, it wouldn't be complete without the traditional Ghanaian dishes of fufu and banku.  Here is a banku ball in okra and crab stew. Yum.  Really, I only ate one bite of it - I just do not like it at all.  If I didn't write about it earlier - you eat these dishes with your hands.  It was really funny to see people at this really nice dinner eating with their hands!





Friday, August 28, 2009

Here's the kitten! I am so not a huge cat person - but this one is amazing! (and a few others...oatmeal, blacky, jaya, sandy, dutch, steve, and harold have been pretty cute too!)  They named her "Nani nani."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

HIS plan

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

Jeremiah 29:11

So, I have tried to plan my life out.  I tried.  I did not take time to ask God what in the world I was suppose to be doing - I just did.  For most of my life I have make choices according to what I "ought"do.  And, I never thought I "ought" to go to Africa.  It's funny how God's plan is so different from what we think it should be.  God always knew He was going to send me here.  

I went to the orphanage Tuesday to see the kids and also see what I could do to help.  I was able to sit down with the amazing woman behind the whole operation.   This orphanage is unique because it takes in orphans with special needs.  This amazing woman travels out to the villages surrounding Accra, and finds orphans who need a home.  She even takes in orphans from other orphanages that are not able to meet their specials needs.  She told us how they have been blessed with an overflow of medical supplies, clothes, books, etc. - so much that she is able to take supplies to places that have less access to supplies.  They just got their first full time volunteer teacher for the 30 orphans she is housing right now, and it's looking like two more volunteers are on the way.  

Because these children have never had toys, they have never learned to play.  Therefore, they can not have toys in the orphanage because they honestly do not know how to play with them.  I thought that all kids had imaginations, I thought that all kids played "house" or "school."  These kids have never had the luxury of seeing such behavior, much less had the time or ability to imagine such things.  

She liked the idea of murals on the walls - and bringing some of my high schoolers over to do art projects with the children.  I am going to try to get this together in the next two weeks, and hopefully be able to take kids over to love on the kids and help them create something to decorate their temporary home.  Please pray for the timing of my visits, and for supplies to use for a mural and art projects.  I leave in tears each time I walk out the door, so broken by the orphan's little smiles and from realizing the opportunity God has blessed me with. 

Yesterday, I went running after school.  It was the first time I had run without my ipod (last time, someone had asked me for it, and it made me nervous) so, I was hearing the people I pass talk to me for the first time.  The men were saying "my wife, come here" or "I love you."  Younger children would begin to run as I passed them, many would say "may I join you?" One made me laugh out loud - without pausing, he said "actually, I will join you, but tomorrow." So funny, the culture here is overly polite - If someone were to ask us if we would like a fufu ball (for example), we would say "no thank you"  - here, they are so polite, they actually lie and say "tomorrow" - even when they have no intention of eating fufu balls tomorrow.

Later in my run, I was passing another empty/half finished/filled with squatters house, with a red dirt driveway.  I stopped running when I noticed the tiniest little kitten in the middle of the driveway.  I know, I am not suppose to have anymore pets, and this one was surely full of disease and infection and fleas and all things bad from Africa, but it sat there and looked up at me with the biggest blue eyes, and I had to pick it up - or someone would surely have tried to eat it.  So, I picked it up and started walking back to the house, feeling a little crazy, several people asked about my cat - keep in mind that I am the only white person I see anytime I run - and now I am the "obroni" (white person) carrying an animal that they do not keep as a pet, but would cook for dinner.  One man actually said to me, "hand me your cat," and licked his lips as if it was some delicious chocolate cake.   I was so glad I had saved him.  

No, I did not keep him.  One of the teachers has been wanting a cat, so I walked straight to her house - I didn't know if she and her husband would be happy or upset that I brought it to them - because it was right off the street - but she was so happy.  She cried and said God knew she needed this, and we named her "Nani nani" and we cleaned her and took her millions of fleas off her and fed her and she's going to the vet this weekend and she is amazing and so so so cute and tiny. I will post her picture tomorrow, I left my thingy thingy that puts the pictures on the computer at school.

School, by the way, is amazing.  Last year I had millions (over a thousand, really) elementary age kids, and this year I have a little over a hundred 1st - 12th graders.  I was nervous to teach high school - but it has gone really well.  We have been discussing articles and pictures, and the kids are super smart and insightful.  Right now, all grades are beginning self portrait projects.  We have been reading together from Genesis 1:26:

"Then God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness."

We talk about how cool it is that God loves us so much that He created us in His image, and how each one of us is special.  It is really different teaching in a Christian school.  We pray together at the beginning of each class - it is really awesome.  I am really excited to get to know all the students and brighten up the school and the orphanage with art work.  

I forgot to blog about this earlier, but one of the funniest things that has happened since I have been here was in a taxi ride home from dinner.  The taxi driver put in a new CD for the 5 "obroni" pilling in - and he played for us "I will always love you," sung by Dolly Parton.  So, of course, all of us burst into song and the driver laughed at us the whole ride home.  Good stuff.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Birthdays and Skype!

Happy Happy Birthday to my Aunt Dixie and my friend Mollie - I think it just turned Tuesday that side of the ocean!  Hope you both have wonderful days today and great celebrations! My skype name is lollyjohnston - try to catch me sometime today at the school!

First Day of School!

It was great! The kids came, I couldn't pronounce their names, but they were learning and the building looked A - mazing, and I now have beautiful "Name Stars" decorating the walls of my room!!! Yay! I am so glad to have the school year on the way.  The school is made up of mostly Ghanaians, then Americans, then South Africans, then Koreans, then various other nationalities. Most of my students today spoke English.  The only ones that I couldn't communicate with spoke French - which I have absolutely NO background in! So....I spoke with the French teacher, Simone Bado, and I think we have worked it out for me to sit in on some of her French classes!  The only person I can speak Spanish with is the Exceptional Education teacher, who is from Puerto Rico - and she speaks much better English than my Spanish!  (she also wears higher heeled shoes than I do!)

One small student that I taught today, had a big impact on me.  He was fine when class started, but somewhere in the middle, he got really upset, and I didn't know if I had said something to upset him.  When I had a minute to talk to him quietly, I tried to ask what was going on, he said it was his stomach first, then it was something else ... I realized who he was, and that his family had recently moved here ... so ... I was able to talk to him about how and why he was so sad.   This precious little boy is going through so much right now.  We talked about the friends that he is missing from home and how it is so hard to be in such a different place.  God really used this to show me even more reasons why am here and even more ways to minister to these kids and share Christ's love with them.  I am here to love on the Africans, who have never had hope for their lives, but also to minister to and love on these kids who are experiencing tremendous feelings of loss and sadness, but come from a place that I can completely relate to.  It is so cool to see so clearly how God works for the good of those who love Him, ALL for His glory.  

Please continue to pray for our school, for all the students who come from all over the world to learn at AIS, and also, please pray for my time at the orphanage tomorrow.  I'll try to be on skype during the day tomorrow - so that you could skype me and see the school! Hope to see you!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Happy Sunday!


It is so strange how some things here seem so very familiar, while other things seem so very foreign.  This picture is with the three kids that I am living with and some of their friends who will be attending AIS starting TOMORROW! Levi is in the way back, Sophie is in the middle with dark hair, and Olivia is in the front rolling her eyes at my enthusiasm taking the picture!  We all went to the very nice, and very "American" movie theater at the Accra Mall to see "Up." It was so cute - I loved the dogs calling the boy "the small mailman" so funny.  Then, I met several people who were Auburn fans.  That's right SEVERAL people in Accra, Ghana are Auburn fans - War Eagle! They even invited me to the embassy for a crawfish broil to watch the Auburn - Alabama game this year.  Some things here seem soooo familiar, and then you walk outside...

On our way home from church today, we stopped to buy some coconuts.  William, our driver, couldn't believe that we had never eaten a fresh coconut.  So this dude just chopped it up with his machete and we took them home.  (The guy in the far background stands at the same place in the road everyday selling the most gi-normous snails I have ever seen.  He wanted to charge me 20 Ghana Cedis to "snap" his snails - so maybe you can zoom in and see them? They are unreal - would have to be 5 lbs a piece!)


So, William had to cut open the coconuts and show us how to eat it!  He and the guards ended up eating and drinking most of it.  The "milk" inside was not delicious.  It smelled/tasted like a  pumpkin when you are carving it.  The "meat" wasn't bad, but I will not be pulling over to get another coconut anytime soon.  The whole city is the strangest mixture of buildings.  Many of them look like these pictures, just shacks.  And people are all around, all the time.  


Half of the roads here are dirt and half are paved.  ALL are filled with pot holes.  The drivers are forced to drive all over the roads, often seemingly right into oncoming traffic to avoid them.  I haven't been in or seen an accident yet.  I think the only traffic law here is that you have to honk at every person, animal, or vehicle you see.  Maybe this should be adopted in America?  Just kidding, the constant honking is quite unpleasant. 

The house that I am staying in is super nice, full of Americans, and American food.  I can walk right outside of the gate, and see goats and chickens wandering the streets, or the "kabob guy" at the corner.  The church I have been going to is a mix of American and Ghanaian culture - the worship is Ghanaian, while the preachers are American and the messages are hitting home for sure.  Today's sermon was from Romans 8 - "If God is for us, who can be against us?" I have such a hard time believing or remembering that God is for us - God loves us.  His love is so much bigger than I can even imagine.  I had never really thought about our "response" to His love - but it's our call to be in relationship with Him.  And, because of His grace, He is always calling us back into relationship with Him - even when our love isn't perfect.  Pretty cool.

So, Happy Sunday, God Bless, and please being praying for our first week of school.  We are meeting for prayer tomorrow at 7:15 - which is 2:15 am in Auburn - Can't wait to let you know how it goes!

Friday, August 21, 2009


My room is "ready" for students.  Lesson plans have been made, bulletin boards decorated, supplies ready to be passed out.  The Bible verse that brought me to Ghana is my classroom's verse.  I am going to share with my student all of our need to prepare our hearts as a blank canvas for Christ to work on.  Please pray for our school, to be ready for students, and for the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of our students.

Thank you for all your comments and encouragement - I love hearing from you!

Address!

I just found the for sure correct address here!

Lauren Johnston
c/o American International School
P.O. Box 16177 KIA
Accra, Ghana


Thursday, August 20, 2009


Lots of working on the classroom has been done this week.  It has been exhausting, and the dust from all the construction is making my head all stuffy!  It is very strange, but apparently people (not just me, but all of us) require more sleep here than in America.  Interesting.  I think some of it may have to do with it getting dark here around 6 - which makes 7 feel like 10 pm!  I also think that it is super draining to see life here.  This is what I see when I look right outside of my colorful new classroom.


Emotionally, it is taking a toll on me, and I hope that I never get used to it.  Just walking to school, I pass families who live and work on the side of the street.  I came home tonight and passed a mother sleeping on a bench with her children under it - crammed in, lying right on the red dirt (yes, red dirt - the land and the weather here are much the same as Auburn - the humidity and the red dirt - I feel terrible for all the adjusting the Yankees who have come over have to do).  But, I feel like I am "roughing" it and then I see these people who live with nothing, for nothing, with no expectation for tomorrow.  They say when a child dies here, almost no one shows up for the funeral.  But for an elder who has lived through the tough life here, there is mourning for weeks.  It is exactly opposite of the US.  It is terribly tragic when a child dies, while almost expected at a certain age.  They lost two orphans at the orphanage this week, and I have not heard any plans for a funeral.  This is normal here, and I do not want to get used to this part of Africa.  

Because of the high mortality rate, life for Ghanaians is all about what is right there in front of them.  There values are based on "immediacy."  A doctor in Accra attempted to better the medical standards for the country and bought an CT (or some kind of x ray/ bone scan).  When it was shipped to Ghana, the workers at the port took a bribe from a Doctor in Nigeria, and their country lost a chance to help its self.  Ghanaians do not look to the future at all.  Its tragic, and also so far from most American's way of thinking - where efficiency is a high priority.

I say all this to try to give you a glimpse of where I am.  I am going to get used to taking naps and trying to find new ways to bring the hope and peace of Christ to the people here.  

More fun cultural experiences this week have been LOTS of food tasting.  One good native food is boiled plantains with "Palava" sauce.  Plantains taste like potatoes, and the sauce was like spicy spinach - it was good, I would eat this again.  The main food here is called "Fufu."  If anyone has ever read the "Poisonwood Bible" this is the food the girls eat when they arrive in the Congo - that brings tears to their eyes.  It is some kind of mashed up and fermented corn, that is the texture of slime.  "Banku" is the same fermented corn, but in a paste form.  Neither of these dishes are to be chewed or tasted.  It is a way for the people here to have enough food extremely cheap.  They are both served with very spicy soups, and both you eat with your hands.  Recap: soup + slime with hands.  Super messy.  I could only eat a taste of each, and I will never choose to eat either one of them ever again, ever.  After this, we headed home for Mrs. Laurie's twice baked potatoes, pork, rolls, and veggies.  It's very simple things that I am thankful for today.

Tonight was one of the teacher's birthdays - so we met and played cards at a place the Americans have named "Rosemary's."  Here, we sat and heard Ghanaian music blaring - which is fun - it is much like the our music - except I can't understand any of the words.  We could also hear the preaching from one of the charismatic Ghanaian churches across the road.  Wow, one of the many "Africa" moments I don't think I will ever forget.  Then, we went over to her house for cookies and ice cream - a very fun night!  We are meeting at the school to pray at 7:15 tomorrow - I hope I can get up! Please pray for all of us, for strength and energy.  School starts Monday!



Sunday, August 16, 2009

First weekend in Ghana

Saturday night, all the teachers went to eat dinner at "Chez Afrique," where we saw probably a hundred other foreigners! Dinner was surprisingly good.  I ordered "Gari Fotor," which is made from "some root" ground up with lots of spice, and chicken, which I probably saw running on the street earlier!  The Gari Fotor tasted alot like cornbread stuffing with Mexican seasoning.  I thought my fork was a good sign...


I was able to try a new church this morning! It is another international church, but this one has more Ghanaian traditions -- like the worship was A-mazing! The choir was awesome, and everyone was dancing!   After the first part of the worship, all the first time visitors were asked to stand up and introduce themselves - most people stood and even told a story -- I stood and introduced myself to the whole church and every one clapped and said "Amen."  It was great. Then, they asked everyone to give a testimony or share what the Lord is teaching them or anything to encourage the church.  There was maybe an hour devoted to church members sharing!  It was really cool to hear.  This is so what a church should be - a place to share what the Lord is doing in your life, for His glory and to encourage other church members.  Most of the time, at church in America, I feel like there is much more "small talk" instead of this.  The most interesting/ entertaining/ memorable story was one woman who shared that God had laid it on her heart to tell every man over 50 in church that he should get his prostate checked out!  This was followed by a woman sharing about God miraculously taking away her cancer.  She said that she was driving when she got the call from her doctor, and she was so overwhelmed, that she let go of the steering wheel and ran right into a tree! 

After the sharing, we had more worship - this time there was even more dancing.  Many of the people had white cloths that they were waving and twisting around over their heads.  Some women even took off their head wraps and were waving them around.  Unreal.  Then, it was offering time. Everyone walks to the front - in order as if going to take communion, but quickly, some dancing, to give their offering.  Supposedly, at a real Ghanaian church, everyone dances the whole time and dances down the aisle to give their offering - I hope to a church like this at some point.  I will need to travel out to a village to attend a real authentic Ghanaian church.

The preacher was american - I have heard about he and his family because their kids go to our school and the have all the teachers over for dinner often.  The sermon was from Job - about Holiness in relationships.  It spoke to me about the relationships that I am building here, as well as the relationships with everyone at home, so far away now.  We went to eat with he and several of his friends, and other visitors from the church.  Reverend Mozley is from Georgia and his wife went to Auburn!  Crazy!  He kept saying War Eagle to me and his son knew the whole fight song! I am looking forward to meeting her! 

Tomorrow is parent night at the school - so please pray that everything goes smoothly there, especially if we have to push back the first day of school!

Friday, August 14, 2009

TGIF! We had meetings this morning, and worked on our classrooms this afternoon.  Here are some pictures of the construction of the school - so interesting - most of the workers don't wear shoes at all!



God has His hands on AIS.  They started adding onto the school last year, before they knew it would grow by 50 students since last year! All the teachers are freaking because they have 15 or 16 or 17 students in their classrooms.  It is crazy to believe that they had even smaller classes than that.   I am really excited about having such small classes!  The senior class has grown the most...from 2 seniors to 3 seniors! 

We also made a trip to get supplies and books.  I found the used book store particularly interesting!  The service was nowhere near J&M's - I don't believe they spoke to us at all!  They had recent college text books - with the "USED" stickers on the side!


I was able to get into my classroom and rearrange a little more.  I think it looks good so far! Here is a picture of the room - I still need chairs for the kids - but it looks totally awesome!


This evening, the Korrum family (that I am living with) had all the teachers over for sloppy joes and chocolate chip cookies that were truly A-mazing!!! I was worried about starving in Africa - but I am eating crazy delicious things all the time.  I am getting spoiled living with a family who has such an amazing mom and cook - I might have a different story when I get into my own house!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Back to school!

The school is still under construction  - and we are supposed to start school Wednesday!  If anyone has not seen the building process in a third world country, it is remarkable.  Well, even before that, the Ghanaians work ethic is unreal.  They will do manual labor for only a few Ghana Cedis a day (one Ghana Cedis is equal to one and a half dollars).  The workers at the school work around the clock and even sleep there at night.  Each day they mix cement themselves to build the walls for the school.  They have one small saw for cutting the tile for the floors.  And, when we showed up to rearrange furniture today, they moved all of our file cabinets and tables and supplies into the correct rooms.  Wow - we worked hard moving everything today!  I plan on sleeping well tonight!

Since so many people have asked about what I have been eating since I have been here - I took a picture of the lunch we bought close to the school today.  It looks just like chinese food from the food court at a mall...


Except that it came from here....



It was spicy, but pretty good.  I believe the spray paint on the outside says "Simple Brother."  -ha! Chicken and rice is pretty standard here.  

I was able to move into my classroom today!  I was so excited to see all the art supplies! I have tons of great things to use for class this year.  I had been told there would be plenty of funds for supplies - but everything I found today far exceeded my expectations! I'll post pictures when it gets a little more settled.  Tomorrow it is back to meetings and further preparation for the school year!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Take me to Obama!!!"


and "Obama's sista's are welcome here!" were common phrases at the market this morning.  If any of you did not know, the President of the US visited Ghana last month and the Ghanaians LOVE Obama. I had no idea just how well he was received here until today.  There were signs greeting Obama still up all over the city - "Akwaaba" is Twi for welcome.


Several members of the PTO guided us through the Makola Market in downtown Accra today.   It was super nice of them to take time to show us around the city! We started with a culture meeting with them this morning at the school.  We picked up a seamstress, named Gertrude, on the way to help us pick out fabric.  Having dresses made here is much cheaper than buying them off the rack! So, we all picked out nice Ghanaian fabrics for her to make us dresses with - I loved the batik fabrics - I skipped over this fabric with Obama's face, and choose a nice teal and green fabric instead!


I was amazed at the amount of people in the market - It was similar to one I had been to in Beijing a few years ago -- the biggest difference was the A-mazing women who could carry the most A-mazing things on their heads!  Which made me wonder what I would want to carry on my head.....


I am going to attempt to post a video that, I think, captures walking through the market today.  There were women all up and down this alley with sewing machine in the tiniest spaces just working, right there in the middle of all of this.  I was also very surprised to see people sleeping in the middle of all of this chaos.  Supposedly, Ghanaians can sleep anywhere!

  video

After the market, we went to eat at a hotel on the beach – it was so freeing to look out onto the ocean after the market experience!  I went down to the beach to take a picture – it was not like Destin – the beach did not (as most of Africa that I have experienced does not) smell particularly delightful.


I came home to the Korrums for peanut soup and a rice bowl tonight, yum.  Because it gets dark here so early (around 6:30) we are beginning to be more creative with our evenings.  Several of us played Catch – Phrase, it is nice to have bonding time with my new family overseas.  Please pray that we don’t get on each others nerves too soon this year!

First night without power!

Today, I overslept for orientation (I know this shocks everyone!)  The driver had to leave and come back for me this morning -- so everyone knew I was late - sad - must work on this!  So, my goal for tomorrow is to get up and out on time!  

It's strange, while I am in orientation, I do not feel at all like I am in Africa.  We are mostly an American group; there is one New Zealander, two Ghaneans, and one from further North in africa, who is the french teacher that I made a deal with today to teach me French, in return I promised to share with her my limited Spanish - I have always wanted to learn French!  So, looking around the room, and listening to fairly normal teacher orientation, I completely loose sight of our surroundings. 
 

It was a really cool day here - maybe in the seventies - so we were let out early to enjoy the day!   Several of us walked over to visit an orphanage near the school.  This totally brought me back to reality.  It was the first time our purpose here had really sunk in.  There were maybe fourty kids in the orphanage.  Many of them had disabilities, one precious little three year old was deaf, some were burned, some were scared to speak to us, while others begged just to be held.  A very bright 10 year old, who was blind in one eye welcomed us into their home .  He had just been adopted and was excited to be moving to the states soon.  Wow.  These kids were living in rags and all sharing small living spaces.  Please pray for these kids that I saw today and for the time I will be able to spend with them.

 

(Pictures by Melissa V)

It is 9:30 here and the power just went off, so I know that I am not going to be able to post this tonight - Tomorrow we are off to the big market downtown! We hear that it is very dirty and crowded - but I am all into the experience. I promise to have pictures, if the power is on tomorrow! 

Monday, August 10, 2009

Jet lag still??

So...I woke up at four or so this morning to the guards sweeping around the house, then almost fell asleep during orientation, then went for a run this afternoon and now I am wide away again! Crazy!  I can't wait to get used to the time difference!

Orientation went well today, it was great to meet all the teachers.  It is going to be really different teaching at a christian school.  It is such a blessing to work with people who are all living and teaching with the same goals in mind.  While our school is focused most on quality education, it is also focused on bringing the kids who attend to Christ.  Many of the students who attend AIS are not Christians.  Please keep AIS and these students in your prayers, as we might be the only Christians in their lives. 

All the teachers were really interesting and had great experiences traveling around Accra -- for anyone wanting to come visit!!  I also got our schedule-- Christmas break is from December 12 through January 4, we get Thanksgiving day off (Nov. 26), Feb 12 off, and Spring break is April 2 - 11, and we are gone for the school year June 4. So...you can come visit whenever you like!

While running errands this afternoon, our driver William (who is Ghanean) began to talk about the food he often eats here.  We have already seen the giant snails being sold on the side of the street, but I did not know that cat was a delicacy, yes, CAT! He told us how much better cat was than chicken - sick.  He also filled us in on the gruesome details behind the phrase "there's more than one way to kill a cat."  Totally bizarre! I am up for trying almost anything - but I think I am going to skip trying cat. (If you want to read details, one of the other teachers wrote more....www.anneclairserio.com)

During this conversation, I was so excited to get a phone call from the school administers to come up to the school to help pick out paint colors for the classrooms!  I was thrilled to be able to contribute to the school for the first time.  They have already said that I can paint murals!

This evening, I was able to skype with dad at J&M and Deedee at her house!!! I could hear and see them both well - I hope it was the same on their side.  If anyone has time to skype or ichat - just let me know when and I will be on line - anytime after three or four in auburn is good for me.  I am going to try to remember to take pictures tomorrow!!! 

(Here is a website where a couple here has done a much better job so far of posting pictures....http://www.vonhoyningenhuene.com/Main_Site/In_Ghana/In_Ghana.html

Sunday, August 9, 2009

In Africa...

... so i made it!  I am in Accra!  The city is very similar to places that I have been to in South America.  There are very nice things inside the city, while all around it I can see the poverty.  It seems to be a very typical third world country - very wealthy upper class, very poor lower class, and not much in between.  

This morning, we went to a local international church - which was very normal -- I am excited to try some of the local churches - I hear they are really different!  Then, we went to "Popaye's" for lunch - chicken and rice or french fries.  We were able to drive around the city a little and go to a mall and an outdoor market.  I got a phone! (233-278-809-056) And a surge protector/adaptor thing!  I feel well prepared and ready for life in Africa.

I am living in a part of the city called "East Legon."  It is one of the nicer areas.  All the houses here are very colorful and beautiful.  I have moved in with a missionary family living here - Laurie and Jeff Korum.  They have three precious children (who remind me of my precious cousins in Auburn) Levi is 6 and  is super into baseball, Sophie is 13 and loves to be around people, and Olivia, 17 who will arrive from the US later this week.  My permanent house here is still being built right now - and it is bright pink! 

I was able to see the school today - it is under construction as well.  The enrollment has grown rapidly over the past few years (Nothing, compared to McAdory!)  They have added new classrooms and are extending the field area outside.  My room is great, it is upstairs and has plenty of windows!

Tomorrow, we start teacher orientation! Ah! The whole "work" part of this experience is starting!! 

Friday, August 7, 2009

In the Atlanta airport!

I am so excited right now, sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to board.  It is so amazing to feel the peace that only God can give!  I am moving to Africa - I should be totally freaking out right now -- instead I am delighting in my anticipation of things to come. I was able to give hugs to lots of my family this morning - and my sweet mom drove me up here to see me off!  I am about to board a flight to Frankfurt, Germany and then anther one to Accra, Ghana!  Ah!

GREAT NEWS -- I was really worried about getting all of my bags on the plane.  I was told I could take two 50 lb bags, and I had a third requested, but I would not know if I was able to take the third bag or not until I checked today! Ah! So......the guy at the counter was amazing and let me take three 60 lbs (yes, they were all over weight!!!!!).  He even changed all my seat arrangements, so that I would have aisle seats on both flights (without me asking!) - God is good and He is taking care of me in all of these small ways! 

I am really excited about what is to come in Africa!!! I should get my new phone number to you in the next few days.  If you get your skype up and running - try me tomorrow! My skype name is lollyjohnston -- and Ghana is 5 hours ahead of Auburn.

My next blog should be from Africa! 

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Skype Test Day!

I spread the gift and excitement of skype  with family and friends today! My dad is even set up at work!    Deedee and I were skyping Elizabeth and Tracey; Lee Alice was skyping Hannah and I; Dad, Hannah, I were skyping with Tracey; Hannah, Lydia, Paul, Skip and Glenda were trying to skype Dixie and Gray; then I got home and Deedee was skyping Hannah and Lydia!  Craziness!  It is going to be so strange to be without a phone starting tomorrow - I am thankful for skype and how it will keep us all in touch!  I wonder if it will work in the airports Friday and Saturday?? Y'all keep yours open -- and maybe I can skype you!  All the hard work required a delicious pineapple cake...


Cake decorating process by Lydia and Paul, documented by Hannah.  Love you guys, Thanks!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Farewells!

It is so amazing to feel supported!  I am so thankful to be able to see family and friends before I leave.  I wish I could post the amazing video that my sisters made for me! I am so impressed with Tracey's skills -- maybe she can figure out how to put some of it on here?
 My college friends who came to Auburn to see me off!

B-B-Q at my grandparents house!

Lunch with students and teachers at McAdory Elementary School.  

I love you all so much and look forward to emailing and "skype"ing!!!  Thank you all for making the effort and taking the time to see me before I move.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

“Just pretend you are moving to Africa”

Over the past few weeks, I have had a new perspective on common conversations with friends. Some worried about jobs or relationships, others searching for answers dealing with things in their past. When listening and attempting to give advice, I try to describe the clarity I have had while considering teaching abroad. I have a hard time describing all that I am going through, and just how I see my life relating to their issue. So I say, “Just pretend you are moving to Africa.”

This time has been blessed with healing and peace in many parts of my life. I believe there are two reasons for this:

1. I have the mindset of leaving. This creates a need for closure and healing in relationships. It’s like moving to a new house; you clean up, reorganize, decide what you want to carry with you to the next place, and purge all that is left. I have reconsidered priorities in my life.

2. In addition to a change in mindset, I am experiencing the blessings that come from obedience.

I have never felt so “blessed” in my life, even though I am leaving all the “comforts” of my life (including most of my favorite high-heeled shoes). This made me wonder what it is that I consider a “blessing” in the first place? While I never really believed that shoes were a blessing, I know that I have been more focused on the details, like shoes, rather than on our Creator and the giver of all true blessings.

God has called us to be obedient, but He has also given us His Son, so that we may receive grace, when we are disobedient. So, I think that a “blessing” is any gift from God. Even difficult circumstances can be “blessings” – it may just take a little more time to see how.

So...whenever life seems difficult, don’t limit yourself to the options right in front of you. “Just pretend you are moving to Africa,” and listen to how God wants you to respond.