Monday, April 19, 2010

Hope Does Not Disappoint Us

It’s funny how you can literally feel hope leaving your body.

Your body tenses up. You want nothing more than to retreat into a state of apathy. You sigh. You feel utterly helpless.

It seems easier to turn away and create some distance from the situation. Scratch that.

It is easier.

Giving up though has never been an option for me.

Last week, with everything happening with the kids at Kissemahn, I was exhausted. I was so drained, and just so tired. I wanted desperately to understand the situation better, to know perfectly well what we could do to help, and more than anything, I wanted the kids to be okay.

When you realize your own limitations though, it’s hard not to want to remove yourself entirely. I almost reached that point. I was on the edge of wanting to call it quits; I was thinking that there was NOTHING I could do to help. I figured that this was above and beyond my understanding and that being the hero of this situation was not only grossly off the mark, but quite frankly, inappropriate. How dare we come into a community assuming we have the answers, assuming we could make things right.

Much of this, I believe is right. I still believe that this is beyond my understanding and that we can’t be the heroes and end all of the pain in this community. It realistically just can’t happen.

So, I prayed. A lot.

I think I got my answer today, as Rachel and I had some quiet meditation in the courtyard of our hostel. I found a little piece of affirmation. I reflected on the past week I had at Kissemahn—making a solar system with the kids, spending time with Rukia, walking around Christian Village, and teaching, really teaching—and realized that the last thing I can do, or want to do, is to retreat away from this community. Yes, I want the community to work on solving these serious issues, even seeking our help when appropriate, but the best thing that WE can do is to just continue to support these kids. Even more than that, support them by believing. We have to believe that problems like this may never fully disappear, but that with hope God will provide. It’s not simple. But, in some ways, it kind of is.

Hope does not disappoint us.

I read this from Romans 5:1-5 and made this my prayer today.

When the girls from Kissemahn came over today—Gloria, Akos, Rukia, Maame, Margaret, and Sala—I repeated this in my head. Hope does not disappoint us. Today, we painted the girls’ nails, danced to our favorite Ghanaian music, ate a ridiculous amount of jollof, chicken, and egg at the night market, let the girls shower at our hostel, and tried to chat with the girls about boys. We tried to gauge an understanding about what they know about boys and babies, just to see if they even understand that rape is a bad thing. We made a little progress, not very much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s the first step in trying to help these girls, I think. We came back after taking the girls back to their homes and I was just so tired.

But, I was hopeful, which means a lot to me these days.

I am hopeful that the girls will be okay, I am hopeful that the girls will one day be educated and can do big things in their lives, and I am hopeful that these girls will one day understand how loved and wonderful they are. Yes, tonight I will go to bed hopeful, a feeling I have been missing and needing this entire week.

Hope does not disappoint us.

It’s true. I know it’s true because I have lived that while I have been in Ghana. I came to this country, hoping to have my eyes opened, hoping to understand a totally different way of living, and hoping to embrace this journey as much as I could. Everything has been exceeded. I came to Ghana, carrying only 2 suitcases and a backpack, with lots of questions, assumptions, and worry. Here I am, with a month left to go, realizing that I am not that same girl who stepped off that plane into the intense and humid African heat. It’s a good thing, really. I have gotten used to everything here, and with that, comes change. The weird things that I found the first month or so here are just a part of everyday life. I say “no shakin”, I snap my fingers with the other person when greeting someone with a handshake, I run even more late to things and never worry because there seems to be an unspoken adherence to “Ghana time”, and I will even test my Twi abilities with people in the market by speaking one of my four go-to phrases. You know, your basic “Ete sen?” (how are you?) or “Medasse” (Thank you). I’m not very good, but I will certainly try.

More so though, I have spent a lot of time thinking about why I do things I do, and why I want to do the things I do later in my life. I think about what really matters, honestly. I think about the painful things I have witnessed, and wonder if such a thing as justice really does exist. I question what I have spent my entire life believing in. I try and understand more about the place I come from, a place that I think I have come to understand a little better since being away. I don’t know, but being here in Africa has encouraged me to ask the hard, difficult, painful questions. I don’t really have a lot of answers, at least fully developed answers, but when I reflect on being in Africa months and years from now, who knows what I might find.

Yes, in many ways, this place has become a home to me. Catching tro-tros, eating mango, sitting in the hostel for hours talking to my friends, and living without air conditioning has become a part of the routine here. It’s become comfortable. I hoped for that when I stepped on the plane to leave Denver back in January, a few short days after turning 21. I hoped to find a home. I did.

Hope does not disappoint us.

Rukia playing field hockey

Hanging with the kids, getting ready to watch The Lion King

Kissemahn--Salem, Gosway, and Forgive


Red, Gold, Green, Ghana Colors

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