Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Off to Market we go!!

Thanks for all the GREAT encouragement from the last blog. I like to read it a few times afterwards and all of your comments made me smile as much as the story!!

If you commented on my first version, I needed to edit it to change the names of my Ghanaian friends so it erased my original ‘comments’ section. I did get to read all of them though!!

It is Tuesday night. Again, my baby is asleep next to me and hubby on the other side. As I said at the end of my last post – we got to rest all day yesterday. Mark and I didn’t even go out for the dinner. We just had them bring rice back to us. That ‘right-before-the-summer- diet slim down’ has kicked into full gear!

It is HOT here. From the way Ghanaians talk coming to the North Region of Bolga is like travelling from North Dakota to Florida. Ok. Not quite. But it is much hotter here than Accra. You just sweat to death here. Even though you are drinking tons o’aqua you don’t have to pee as much bc you are sweating it all out!

This morning we travelled to a local pottery & art place where they make products and sell them around the country. It was very interesting! We learned the term ‘Calabash’ today! For our island friends who remember the Coleman’s store behind the carwash on Demere named Calabash – it is a bowl with a top to put shea butter or jewelry or spices in that is made with pottery! Very interesting!

Today, Zoe decided she is independent. HA! We let her get a taste of walking around in public while at the restaurant Sunday night when we arrived. I can’t really gauge if this is an American thing or not bc we haven’t see any Ghanaian children in a restaurant. It is usually too precious to spend $ on a meal typically to take children too.

At the tour of the art spot – we are outside in a covered pavilion with benches. Much like a gazebo – there is one way to walk in and out– it is perfectly fine for the kiddos to walk around while the guide is talking. We are the only people on the tour so nobody cares. Then we walk over to an outdoor area where we are introduced to a statue of a very important Ghanaian UN rep bc he has visited this art center. Both kiddos totally fine -wandering around in the yard near us – content and happy not to be carried.

We walk into the art making house & it is like walking in to a china shop. So, we pick up Zoe – she is NOT having it today. Mark tells her no, sternly and she falls apart. I pick her up, walk outside – only bc I think the Ghanaians are uncomfortable with a crying child- I am fine! She is doing what in America we could call “a fake cry”. No worries – we just walk around the yard. Then Ghanaian mommy woman making baskets under a tree can no longer take it and she comes to get Zoe. She INSTANTANEOUSLY stops crying. I feel foolish and white and go back into the art center as she follows us.

She eventually goes back outside with Zoe to sit under the tree while I stay in to listen for another 10 minutes. When we return to the yard to leave – I see Zoe sitting in a chair playing with Brandi’s bandana. She smiles as I arrive. Gives me a high 5 – I pick her up – and there she goes again!!

It was short-lived – we get in the van to go to the crocodile ‘park’ – and she falls asleep in my lap. She was tired. That’s what I’m telling myself.

Crocodile Park – We have now driven to Paga and are just a few short miles from Burkina Faso which is the country north of Ghana. In Paga, crocodiles are considered sacred. The man who founded Paga took one in – the story is that he fed it and it became his friend. They train the crocodiles. We learn the ‘entry’ fee and we are also charged to take pictures per camera. We decide we will all use one camera to take pictures and email them. Good decision! Our ‘guide’ who is about 18 years old takes a chicken to feed the alligator and we head down to the pond below us.

This is no joke!! I didn’t believe them. Until I saw them WHISTLING for the crocodiles in this large pond. Here comes the ‘little one’…no, no, no… we think he is going to feed that one the chicken. Yes, we are going to feed that one the chicken but we are going to take pictures with the big one. Whistle! Whistle!! I see one – Yes! That is the big one! He begins to meander up towards us and opens his mouth like a baby bird. The women obrunis are backing up because we have small children in our arms. I’m sure that’s the only reason we were backing up.

The 18-yr old guide pats the gator on the back and then says “who will come?!” Our foster daddy is the bravest and heads on out to ‘squat’ on the gator and touch it. Snap! Next comes Mark. He is done this before and is acting like the veteran of the group. Snap! Next comes Jesse – Brandi not so happy with this decision is shouting ‘Let him eat all of you if he starts chomping!’ Snap! I succumb to the peer pressure and head on out to pat that gator on the back. (WITHOUT the baby) Snap! We all peer pressure Brandi into doing it. She does it but is neither happy nor proud!! Snap! What fun that was! The chicken is thrown in to the mouth of the OTHER alligator who has not performed a thing. The big alligator has already eaten today! YAY! I am so glad he did not want a mid-morning snack! We want to know where we are going for lunch.

As we leave, Owen asks if you were to swim in the pond, would the gator eat you? The 18-year old guide says…….it depends on what your intention is. Huh? Owen laughs and says, why don’t you take a swim and we will see your intentions! Funny, Owen!! Very funny!

We head to a nice restaurant for lunch. The Ghanaians have been so gracious about finding nice places for us Obrunis to eat. Zoe & I eat Fried rice and chicken. Tasted just like Chinese with a little kick!

On the way home – Zoe falls asleep – we take a break/nap/rest for a couple of hours before heading back out to market and to see foster daddy’s new home for children in this particular region.
When we make it to the true ‘market’ here in Bolga – it is a little like the farmer’s market in America – bc they only have it every 5 days. It closes at 6 and we arrive shortly after 5:30.

Apparently, we have just been transported BACK to the Amazing Race. The market has very little stalls VERY close together that sell anything & everything. The stalls are small wooden spots with thatch roofs or tin roofs. Clothes, cloths, spices, food, shea butter, school paper. We are arriving very late & people are beginning to close up shop. I imagine it is fairly calm for the market bc it is so late in the day. The smells are STRONG and NOT GOOD. We are DEFINITELY the only obrunis AND we are obrunis with Ghanaian children. We are causing quite a stir with the stares. There are 7 of us and the 2 kiddos. (5 Americans and 2 Ghanaians) We have gone purposefully to buy shea butter for the kids skin (like lotion for special purposes) and cloths for Brandi & I to tie the babies to our backs. Anita let us borrow a couple of hers but we wanted some to take back home also. The lady we bought them from is very happy. There is lots of translating going on with Owen and foster daddy. We find the shea butter and buy lots of it between the 3 obruni women. If our Ghanaian friends had gone and hidden – there is no way on God’s green earth we would have found our way out of there. We were so deep in the market. I would have loved to seen that market from an aerial view.

The thing that stands out in my mind about the market were the children. Small, small children had on very few clothes and very dirty – nothing is paved and it is very hot! The more elementary school children are VERY interested in the Obrunis!!! Hello! They shout and run to see. Hello!! Several of them sitting on a bench while there parents are packing up. Hello! The mothers are less friendly. I wonder if it is simply culture or disapproval of white women with black babies. Maybe I am paranoid.

While we are buying Shea butter, Mark is playful from afar with about 5 or 6 children. I have pretended to stand for a picture so that Mark can snap a picture of the market aisle behind me. As he snaps, a little boy poses silly and he and his friends laugh. Mark says ‘Again’ and he tries to act shy – ha! His friends laugh and encourage him enough that he does it. Mark snaps and then shows him the pic on the digital camera. All of a sudden about 20 children run up to see the picture. Laughs and pointed fingers are going all around.

Thankfully, our Ghanaian friends have not hidden and we follow them out of the market. Whew!

We go to dinner at a restaurant that serves pizza!! Not American pizza by any standard but good pizza nonetheless. I ordered a ‘tomato’ salad with a dressing that tastes a little like vinaigrette and put it between two pieces of toast. It was heavenly. The tomatoes were fresh grown. So happy!!

Zoe and I go out to a big patio to walk around several times bc it is taking them an hour to cook our food. Unlike America, Ghanaians start cooking whatever you order when you walk in. There is no cooked food waiting on you in the back kitchen. We play sweet games. She is SO happy to finally be able to walk around and not be carried. I told you that today was little Miss independent day.

She has begun calling me “Mommy” and “Ma”. I am totally in love. She is still very stand-offish with Mark, but will definitely refer to him as ‘Da!” and will respond if anyone says “Where is Daddy?” or ‘Give this to Daddy”. She will let him play a game with her but she will not let him hold her. She will flirt with her eyes in a blinking game with him when she is in a good mood during the day. It is just taking more time. ‘They’ say that the children typically attach to one parent before the other and that it just takes time. She and I are definitely bonding and I think I would be a basket case, honestly, if she had attached to Mark first. For those of you who know Mark well, he is taking it all in stride. I think Zoe will laugh at her early interactions with Mark once she is older and totally in love with her Daddy who is already head-over-heels about her. I am certain Mark is gathering more sermons in his head about how some of us play hard-to-get with our heavenly Father when all he wants to do is shower us with love LAVISHLY the Bible says.

During one of our times on the patio, she was standing in my shadow and I started patting my hands on my legs for no reason at all. She started copying me. I put my arms out straight to see if she would copy that also - she did – and then ran the 5 – foot distance between us to jump in my arms and hug me!! Yay!! We did this about 3 or 4 times. The 2nd time, I said ‘I love you, Zoe’ then I said ‘Can you say, “I love you, Mommy’? And she totally did!! Then kissed me. I am head-over-heels. Mark said today that I have a new best friend and I totally do.

Tomorrow, we are sleeping late (we got up early today at 7:00 so don’t get the idea that all we are doing is sleeping (KIM!!) We will head to a different market tomorrow after breakfast and then we are going to see Zoe’s home village. We found out earlier that my daughter and Anita’s daughter are cousins – I love that we know that!!!

Please keep praying for us. We have some important days ahead.

Kim & Holly – thanks so much for helping with the boys and for giving my in-laws a break.

Frank & Dixie – THANK YOU for loving the boys these 2 weeks.

Asa & Eli – Daddy and I love you!! We keep saying how much you are going to love Zoe and she is going to love you! We can’t wait to have our first dance off with the 5 of us!!

Love to all!
Amy for 3 of us.


  1. Loved reading every word. What an experience! Glad you are making lots of pictures. Perhaps Zoe is a bit shy about Mark because she has not had those kinds of positive interactions with father figures that you own children have had? It will come in time and she will realize what a treasure she has in Mark! I can tell you are enjoying the mother-daughter relationship already. It's priceless, isn't it? Can't wait to see photos! Oh - and stay away from crocodiles!

  2. So exciting!!! You are doing great! She is doing great! When you have to leave, will you be able to leave her with pictures of you 3 together and some "stuff" you have bonded with together? That will be such a long six weeks :-( but this first meeting will make your transition next time SO much easier on her. I totally know the feeling of having native folks STARE! Praying for you and so excited! Can we PLEASE see some pictures? :-) Please? And I am so glad you didn't let your baby sit on a gator.

  3. Amy, I'm transfixed reading all of this! Best of luck to all of you- and what a change SSI is going to be for her... ! When she's 10 years old and all attitude about something she wants, you will have to remind her of the bus trip- such incredible images you've painted!


    Claire Lynch

  4. Great post AMY!!! So glad it's going well. And I'm so glad Zoe feels so comfortable around you. All your stories were so sweet. Tell mark I was suspicious of him at first, too. I can't wait to MEET HER! And it sounds like the boys are having a good time, too. :)
    Love, Love, Love to you 3.
    Katie B.E.

  5. Hey! Loving the posts. Love the pictures. Love you! Was going to see if the guys wanted to hang out at the ballfields Friday evening. Faith has a game and Simon would like the company. Keep writing!

  6. My sweet friend, I am loving these posts and especially reading them in your voice in my head. I couldn't comment on your last post-something was wrong with my computer-but I am thankful that God's grace and comfort has been sustaining you. I can't imagine that bus trip with a smile on my face!
    Can't wait to meet Zoe! And I'm just guessing but it's possible that Zoe is skeptical of Mark because he asked her what the latest book she had read was, what her life verse is all while glaring at her from underneath a baseball hat. I'm just saying, he's pulled that trick before.
    LOVE and prayers from the Slatens!

  7. Yay! This keeps getting more and more exciting. I'm pretty sure that we went to the same place y'all did when I was in Ghana to take pictures while sitting on the aligators. So much fun, and yet so very scary! Prayers are continuing!

  8. Amy, you are amazing. Thank you for sharing your life and your love with us!

  9. I can totally hear you telling all these stories!! I am blinking back the tears from reading that Zoe is calling you Mommy, running into your arms and telling you she loves you. PRECIOUS. Thank you so much for sharing this journey with us!! We'll be on the island this weekend, hate that we'll miss you but SO, SO HAPPY you are with your sweet Zoe. LOVE YOU!!!

  10. I look forward to every word. Keep writing! Love, Missy

  11. My mouth is wide open reading this and my eyes keep tearing up. What a journey for you all. You are so right about it just taking time with Zoe and Mark. The day will come when she sees the gift she has in him. I am loving that you and Zoe are bonding. What a blessing, it is a miracle when you think about it. I can't wait to hear the sermon's that Mark gets from this experience. I love you guys and I am praying for you!! - Niki

  12. Sister Anne

    I can't wait to meet Zoe. She and Autumn will be great playmates! You all are in my thoughts and prayers. I am glad that she is bonding so well with you, Amy. My heart has been carrying some love and heaviness for she and her mother too, so you do not have to carry it alone, Dear One. Love to you and Mark!--Anne

  13. Weird. Just read your newest blogpost, but it is now gone and wouldn't let me comment. Anyway...the Bob Marley connection was hilarious! If you would have made that up for a movie, it would have been cheesy, but it was REAL! Too funny! Glad you are back in Accra. Enjoy the week and we will be praying about Wed.

  14. Hi Amy,
    I am David and Bismarck's (soon-to-be)mother. I so appreciate your comments about the boys. It totally made my week. I just read about your adventures in court and on the bus back to Accra. I was just in tears and so thankful for how God confirmed every step in court through Zoe's actions. He is amazing. It gave me such hope. However, the bus ride was another story - I get sick in car rides so I'm a bit anxious about that situation. Anyway, thanks for sharing. I have been and will continue to pray for you. Blessings,Kim