4/13 – Our Lady of…

It was a very early morning wake up call. I felt like I hardly slept at all, and it was true, probably only a three or four hours. It was a little strange to clear out all the cabinets I had been using for almost three months. It was almost like going home after your first semester at college.

Pastor Jonah came over soon after I woke up and we shared a cup of sweet, creamy, Ghanaian tea on the couch. I almost didn’t know what to say, I was so sad to be leaving him. I finally got to present him with the gifts for him and his family, and the letter and Bible verse I wrote out for him. I was pretty surprised that I wasn’t crying yet. Maybe Africa is making me a little tougher!

We all got into the car, my dear friend sitting next to me in the cab of the lorry. The tiny thatched mud huts flew by as the sun climbed slowly into the sky. There were rain puddles everywhere, and gullies where the torrents of water had washed out the red dirt road. We saw many aluminum roofs blown off the top of schools, and several fallen trees due to the strong winds last night. These storms can be so damaging. It’s really hard for a community like Saboba to maintain all these buildings when funds are already so scarce.

The familiar road West led us to that same blue bridge that I saw when I first drove in to Saboba with Big Man and Barbara. I remember feeling absolutely elated–I was arriving at my home for the next 3 months! Now crossing the opposite way felt exactly that–opposite. I was leaving behind a home. I didn’t know when I would be able to see it again. A little while later, we passed the sign that designated Saboba District. It was happening too fast. We drove through Sang, the village where Big Man’s heart lies. Another memory from only my third day in Ghana.

And sure enough, there we were in Yendi. Pastor Jonah had to be dropped off near the bank, and he hopped out of the lorry like it was no big deal that we were leaving each other. I leapt out as well and embraced him, my brother in Christ and example in faith. The lorry was still running, waiting. It was happening too fast, and I didn’t know what to do. I had to get back in, but I rolled down the window to shake his hand, choking back tears. Bob and Jean saved me from bawling by chatting away, thankfully. I watched his orange and white striped polo get smaller and smaller, and that was it.

All of Saboba was behind us. I probably wouldn’t see another Konkomba until the next time I come back to Ghana. I stayed awake the whole way to Tamale for the first time, feeling sorry for myself. We pulled into Tamale pretty early, and were feeling pretty hungry, when Bob asked, “Should we go to our lady?” I immediately thought Catholic church for some reason, and asked Bob and Jean about it. They cracked up at me! They were really talking about their egg sandwich lady at the Goil station! Now we’re going to call her Our Lady of the Egg Sandwich. J

We ate, exchanged money, and pulled into Dan and Di Dzokotoe’s compound once again. It was beautiful as ever, but very quiet without all the kids from the school running around, as they were on vacation. Becca and Michelle, my two friends were inside! We stepped in, and there was Becca, going over curriculum for the next term with Di. I was so glad to see her! I previously didn’t know if we would ever meet again, but here we were together again! Michelle was at work in the market, and would be coming home before dinner.

I had asked Becca if she wanted to travel in the South with me (Michelle had to finish her practicum work and couldn‘t), so we spent the rest of the afternoon figuring out the cost of the trip, and where we would be for each night. After lunch of rice and tomato sauce, she called her parents (she’s still 18) to get permission to go, but it didn’t look likely. It looked like I would be traveling by myself down to Kumasi to meet Big Man, and again by myself to Cape Coast to meet some Peace Corps volunteers that Brendan (Unibonmo) hooked me up with! I would miss Becca while I was gone though. She is such an awesome 18-year-old!

We both went to the cultural center with JK and shopped for some gifts, then came back home to help dinner get started–it was spaghetti with tomato sauce and bread! Carbs galore, and delicious. I loved catching up with Michelle, Dzifa, and Becca over tea after our dinner. We just sat there and talked like girls do together, until it got late. We picked a movie to watch to relax for the rest of the evening, and then wished each other good night. It was great to be back with such awesome girls. I really spending time with them, even Dzifa, who is only 13. I feel like it would be awesome to have three sisters like this all the time.

I got to check in with Tabi before I went to bed–everything is going alright at the hospital–she’s doing great handling everything while Bob and Jean are in Tamale for their 30th wedding anniversary, and while I am making my way down south. I already miss my friend and her hilarious remarks. There’s so much to be sad about leaving, but at the same time I feel very excited to go home. Ten weeks of hospital/orphanage work was a lot for me, and my homesickness was reaching a high point.

Right before Brendan left for his Peace Corps conference, he told me that getting over the three-month hump in Ghana is the worst, and after that it gets easier and easier. I definitely felt like the three-month hill was a steep one to climb. The beginning of my trip was full of encouragement, uplifting experiences, and novelty. I was so happy and affirmed in being where I was, even though it was difficult to be there at the same time.

Then, nearing the end of my trip, living got easier, but I was beginning to be broken down a little by all the frustrations in the health and education systems. I wish it weren’t true because it demonstrates how weak I am, but I think it was definitely time for me to make my way back home and start my travels through the South. I wish I could say I could hack it out in Saboba for 20 years like Bob and Jean, but even 10 weeks was reaching a limit. I know for sure that I want to return to my little village, though. I still love them dearly, think about them constantly, and long to be with them. Maybe I’ll be able to increase my endurance and stay even longer the next time I come. I don’t know. I just know that even though it was really hard for me to say goodbye today, I feel it was the right time.

Only 12 more days until I am flying home to my family and friends. I miss all of you guys immensely as well. Can’t wait to see everyone again!

Love,

ATP

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