Blank Stares


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Africa » Ghana » Ashanti
February 29th 2008
Published: February 29th 2008
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Sometimes!Sometimes!Sometimes!

Sometimes you just feel the need to choke your best friend! Praise and Nana Kwame, his best buddyaside from Kwabena.
Blank stares, a teachers queue that “they're not getting it”.

While referring to a common body thermometer, I received a room full of blank stares from the 3rd & 4th graders. After several questions I found that not a single one of these kids have ever been to the doctor! They’ve never had their body temperature taken! They’ve never seen a doctor’s office! I just laughed and laughed in amazement. When our laughter subsided I questioned the other grades. I also found that they know absolutely NOTHING about the dentist! They had no idea that there is a doctor specifically for your teeth. At the same time I think this shouldn’t surprise me quite as much as it does. Last year Ophilia, the schools top student, was under the impression that animals visit the same doctor as people. She and I still laugh about one.

I make jokes with people about living life under a rock. The world could self destruct and we in the village of Apebouso would just go on living, unaware. They do import a few items from town for their enjoyment and ease such as bar soap, bread, and shotgun shells for hunting. But they are so totally self-sufficient they don’t need anything from anywhere else. They can make their own lotion and soap. They are experts at using a catapult and building their own house from natures elements. They have awesome night vision and don’t need a flashlight to see where they are going. The list goes on.

The “westerners” initial reaction to this lack of medical attention is generally shock and sadness for the Africans. Personally, I can’t seem to decide if this is good, bad or sad. It is a rare occasion throughout the year that someone actually needs a doctor. When malaria strikes they simply swallow some Tylenol (which is sold locally) and take a nap. If Kirk and I tried that approach we would have an eternal nap. Their teeth and bones are incredibly strong. You won’t find osteoporosis here and very, very few people with cavities. Their immune systems kick in to heal wounds and the common sniffles that come during the rainy seasons. They eat “real food”, food that’s fresh grown and harvested daily. No Hamburger Helper or sugary foods in these pantries. As adults their academic education is lacking greatly and their chance to “get ahead in life” rarely ever comes. But they talk together and laugh together. They rejoice when babies are born and cry together when trouble comes. Is it really so bad to be so remote? Does the good out weigh the bad here? I honestly don’t know. Hmm...?

Tomorrow morning Kirk and I will take Kwabena, Praise and Nana Kwame to the city of Kumasi (70 miles away) to get money to buy paint for the school building! The painter has come, given his estimate and is ready to get the job done. After business in the city we’ll stop off and visit “Jimmy” a young chimpanzee at the zoo. This particular chimp is quite the character! Praise doesn’t know yet. He’ll be jumping up and down when he finds out!

As I share our funny little events, dreams and plans for the future I thank you for sharing about your personal lives. Your simple, silly, family stories warm my heart and make me laugh. They keep me connected and let me know that I’m not forgotten here in this secluded environment. Thank you for keeping me connected!

Christine & Co


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1st March 2008

God honors the simple life
I tend to agree with your question...which is better, having all available to us (so much unhealthy and unwholesome) or having little and getting by. My years in Africa gave me perspective to appreciate the simplicity with which our brothers and sisters live...joy through whatever may come and holding onto unwavering faith that God is good...all the time. We Westerners have much to learn from their tenacity and resilience. And we can certainly do with fewer, better yet... NO Big Macs!! God bless you!
14th March 2008

God Does Honor the Simple
Thank you Sandy. Life is full of lessons and rich experiences here. Sometimes so hard to grasp and relay verbally.

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