Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Farm

We spent 4 days at the farm. Our plan was to finish building a shelter for hay. We learned quite quickly that things don't always usually go as planned in West Africa. : ) The blessing in this "plan gone out the window" is that the shelter DID get put up! It just wasn't us who put it up. Our trip was encouragement enough for the dairy farmer and her workers to get this shelter up! They were working diligently on finishing it while we were there.

Here is a feed storage area on the farm

A great contrast between old cart and new tractor (in the background)

The old tractor is shot and the new is being borrowed


Milking stanchion

Milking machine

Vet vaccinating

I love this...the vet's cell phone : )

View across farm

Rice fields

City America

We set up camp early in the morning the first full day in West Africa after driving to the farm. We left the capital city at about 5:30am to miss the traffic and that gave us the ability to set up camp before the heat of the day struck.

There were a couple of workers on the ranch that could speak a little English. They called our camp "City America." It was fun the way they said it with an accent. : )

There were 3 couples in City America: our friends that we went with, the host missionaries, and us. Each couple had their own tent.

The host missionaries were very good to us and brought some mattresses for us to sleep on. It made all the difference for me. They also brought a solar panel to run 12 volt fans to help keep us all cooler at night. Another blessing! It was HOT and HUMID to say the least (like 90 degrees with 60-80% humidity) . I think I sweat BUCKETS while there!

Now let me warn you...City America was HIGH TECH! Try not to be jealous of all our amenities!

The "bathroom"
(that is a toilet seat on a wood frame on a cement slab over a hole in the ground)
We decided to put a sheet over the doorway when we realized that we didn't have privacy Day 2. Our "signal" that someone was in the bathroom was that the toilet paper roll you see on the doorway branch would be gone. We shared our bathroom with lots of ants, other bugs and even some lizards!

And the "shower"
Our "plumbing" (spit bath, anyone?)

"Clean water" (We used this for everything but drinking!!! That is called SURRENDER! It had leaves, dirt, and sometimes bugs in it)

The "dish washer" (and we used the "clean water" to wash dishes!)
Our "garbage disposal"
The "laundry room"
The "stove"

"Fridge" and "pantry"...the bucket with the hanging cup was our "sink"
Here is what part of our lunch looked like one day
(and guess what? They don't refrigerate mayo!)

We collected some of our trash for the local kids and families...
some people's trash is another's treasure

Monday, November 21, 2011

Taking It All In

We left for the farm early in the morning. It was an hour and a half drive. All I did was watch and try to take in everything that my eyes were seeing. You cannot just take pictures of everything you want to in West Africa. You need to have a relationship (aka. permission) to take pictures of people. So, for the drive to the farm I just soaked up the sites with my eyes. I was able to take pictures on the way back though. This is what part of the drive was like:

There is a constant "clash" of societies...here you can see the big house in the back with shanty's directly in front of it

Many buildings are not finished. This is on the outskirts of the capital city:

There are many mosques

Ever been to a furniture store like this?

This is an unusual site...
All along the roads in the city there are shacks (aka. homes/stores) that people are living in and/or selling from
This is in the city...it is the livestock sale area

A kiln...randomly placed along a road
There is trash all over. Here they are burning it along the street:
Out of town a ways we saw this pothole

The river by the farm
A main country road

The bush
Some beautiful mountains

Stepping Through Faith

Our flight to West Africa was uneventful but as a team we talked about how our nerves had really kicked in and we were just about to embark on everything unknown. We had been told many things about the airport and the country that didn't leave us at ease. We really wondered what we would experience when we stepped out of the plane. On our flight I sat next to a man from the UK and he had been to West Africa once before on business. He travels all over the world and he shared with me that the country we were visiting is one of his least favorite places. Yikes!

We all looked at each other with wide-eyes and deep breaths as we stepped off the plane and walked the corridor into The Unknown. The air was hot and humid. My heart was beating fast and I wondered what in the world I was doing. I had to push through fear and keep going step after step.

We were pleasantly surprised by the order and ease of the customs lines. We had been told the opposite. And as we stood their and waited our turn we saw a man walk into the customs area holding our picture. The host missionaries knew this mans mother and he works at the airport. This man sweetly took us through the rest of the process. We were hassled a bit leaving the airport with our luggage. The woman was harsh and questioned me before letting us go. And then we were off for the rest of our adventure.

The ride to the guest house was overwhelming with sites to take in. There were people EVERYWHERE along the streets. We went to the host missionaries home to eat before going to our guest house at the CMA church compound. I don't remember sleeping that night we were so exhausted. We woke up early the next day to leave for the farm.

Chocolate And Architecture

We "planned" to race into Brussels on the express train from the airport on our long layover on the way home from West Africa . Well, we learned from DAY ONE on our trip that if you want to make God laugh, make plans! The only thing we could plan on for our 10 days of adventure was the unexpected!

So, we embraced the opportunity to be flexible and went through each day with the expectation to be surprised!

SURPRISE! You're staying in Brussels for the night!

We spruced up a bit, used our lunch vouchers in the Sheraton restaurant and made sure our checked bags were secure for the night.

One of the really good choices we made was to pack our essentials in our carry-on so that in the case of a layover or lost luggage, we would have what we NEEDED and some of what we wanted.

We got on the express train and headed to the heart of Brussels. It was exciting. It was a BEAUTIFUL evening, and since it was Saturday there was much going on.

We wandered around with big eyes and took it all in. There was live music, dancing, and a street market going on. We watched the sunset behind the gorgeous detailed buildings. We smelled Belgian waffles and French fries. We didn't eat any though and I think we all regret it. We did sample and buy some Belgian chocolate. HEAVENLY. And some got some ice cream.

This is the Grand Place

When we returned to the hotel we found out they were having a buffet at 8pm for all of the guests that were there due to flight issues. We enjoyed the feast which included smoked salmon and (this is a glimpse into HOW MUCH Jesus loves me...) CHOCOLATE MOUSSE!!!

We slept great and got up at 4:00am to make our flight to Paris.

In Paris we were held on our plane to West Africa for 2 extra hours. There was a man who had an epileptic seizure and it took awhile to get that taken care of before we left.