Ghana Day 5
This morning we got up early and dressed up in our new traditional Ghanaian cloths. When we got to the orphanage we discovered that Courage had just gotten his haircut so he would look good for the Judge. Delight was dressed up in her beautiful orange Ghanaian dress and Courage had his little outfit on. We were all ready to go for our 10:00 pick up by AAI. About 10 minutes before the hour I got a phone call saying that the judge didn’t “feel well” today so our court date will be rescheduled for next Tuesday. It was just awful. When we told the kids they both were very disappointed but especially Delight. She just laid down on the little couch in Emily’s office and buried her face into the pillows. She wouldn’t dare let us see her cry. We were bummed out, but what could we do?
There is a very fancy hotel to the east called the Ramada. It has a nice pool area. We decided to give the kids a diversion and take them swimming. They have swum in the ocean, but neither of them had ever swum in a pool. It was really incredible.
We went with Emily and we took Courage’s best friend, Joshua (waving, in the red swim trunks). It was really neat to watch them experience a pool for the first time. They were very cautious about getting in. The water was the perfect temperature and very clean. (As nice as any pool I have ever seen back home). I got in with them for about an hour and by the end of that they were jumping off the side and playing just like any other kids back home. It was really nice to see them laughing and playing and not worrying about court and the disappointment from earlier in the day. After a couple hours we went over to the area of the pool where there were little dining huts that looked out over the ocean.
It was an upscale hotel resort so I felt the menu was safe. I order grilled Tilapia, and the kids had goat soup with Banku. (Notice once again, Jenny ordered nothing but a bottle of water). I love watching them eat that stuff. I took a video of them starting out. It is a very messy food, but they are so quite systematic about how they eat it and very clean when it is all said and done. Before the waiter brought out the food, he brought out a plastic bowl full of hot water, with a little hand soap dispenser, and a stack of towels. Then he brought out the big bowl of soup, and a plate that had two balls of Banku wrapped in plastic. I wanted to say that I tried it, but with my OCD with germs, I wanted to try it before they tore into it. So I snuck a taste before they had a chance. I was very surprised at how delicious the goat meat tasted. The Banku tasted like a ball of dough that reminded me of a very thick grits. They would break off a piece of Banku and with their hand they would tear off a piece of meat and simultaneously dip the piece of Banku into the soup. They dipped their hand in the water and washed it before they started and when they were done eating they cleaned it very well and dried it off and it was actually very sanitary. I realize some reading this might think I’m very weird for paying so closing attention to the detail but I wanted to learn. I recently learned that it is rude to use your left hand to do pretty much anything in Africa. All this meal was eaten solely with their right hand. Impressive!!!
Then after watching them with amazement, I decided to try my fish. It was cooked whole, and I mean WHOLE. It wasn’t cleaned and the head and tail were still attached. It was beautifully presented alongside a cabbage salad with thinly slice roma tomatoes. I took my fork and separated out a big bite of the meat. It had an extremely spicy rub on the outside of the skin. I took a bite of the skin, meat and all. I can honestly say that it was the best tasting fish I have ever tasted in my entire life.
I hadn’t really eaten a great meal since the airport in New York (and that was even sub-par compared to some of the great meals I’ve eaten), so I really enjoyed this fish. I was cautioned not to eat vegetables that aren’t peeled (like tomatoes) but it was so good and I was so hungry (not to mention it was a little expensive). I think Jenny also took a video of me eating the fish so I will post it to this blog if I can find it. And part of that video includes Courage eating the entire skeleton of that fish. Prepare to be amazed (and a little disturbed) when you see this video. It was like he was eating fruit snacks or something…”la dee dah, I’m just sittin’ here eating some fish bones. No big deal…”
We spent the entire day at the pool, and loved every second of it. Jenny and Emily and I just laid under an umbrella in these nice lounge chairs. At about 4:00 Delight got out of the pool and slipped and fell and cut her bum right on the corner of a brick by the pool. We could tell she was hurt, but Ghanaians believe it shows a weakness to show emotions. It is shameful to cry in front of people. Emily ran to her and asked her if she was okay and she shook it off and jumped right back in to the pool with the boys (this pool was salt-filtered, so we knew she couldn’t stay in too long without her cut starting to sting like crazy). She was only in there for about a minute and got out, didn’t say anything and went and laid down in the lounge chair right beside me, with her face flat down. She was really hurting but didn’t want to show it. I looked at her bum cheek and I could see it bleeding and really didn’t know what to do. Jenny just dabbed it with a paper towel and said that we would put some Neosporin on it when we get back to the Hotel. For the rest of the night she was very quiet. (Actually didn’t say a word even if we talked to her.) I would probably even say that she was having one of those pouting fits Jason and Brandie talked about.
We walked back from the “First Junction” corner where the Taxi dropped us off, and she walked alone. That was the first time this whole trip that she wasn’t either holding Jenny’s or my hand. She either walked ahead of us or fell back behind. We would ask her a question and she ignored us. By the time we got back to the hotel to change, Jenny and I both decided the if she was going to be that way we would just let her have her little tantrum and not pamper her. We thought it might set precedence for whenever she wanted something she couldn’t get. We quickly changed and all of us walked back to the Orphanage. We took a book of DVD’s of Brandie’s and went into the main room and put on “Jungle Book.” Delight didn’t come to dinner with the other kids and she went up to her room. We let her do it. When the movie started she stayed outside, and we let her. About an hour into the movie she went and got a chair and set it beside me and watched the movie. (I think she was kind of “making up” with me in her own way, but she wouldn’t hold my hand.) I liked her effort, so I wanted to get her alone so we could talk. I stood up and grabbed her hand and took her into Emily’s office where we get on the computer. I sat her down and she was polite but not the same Delight. Emily told John (the owner of the Orphanage) that she was acting funny and asked if he could speak with her. John came in and sat in front of her and started speaking to her in Ewe. I didn’t understand a word he said, but I could see that he was having a very direct conversation with her. However, as they continued to communicate in Ewe, his tone with her began to soften, and so did the look on his face. Then he got up and told me that everything will be fine. I followed him outside and asked him what the problem was. He told me that Delight thought that court was canceled because something didn’t work out and that when Jenny and I go home to America, she would never see us again. She just didn’t know how to tell us in English what she was thinking or feeling; she didn’t know the words. She was only trying to protect her heart from one more disaster in her life. I went back in and talked with her. Now we were alone. I had her sit on my lap, and I asked her if she understood what John was saying. She said “Yes”! I could see a small little tear forming in the corner of her eye. I held her head against my chest where I couldn’t see her face and I told her that it is OK to cry. We have been telling the kids all week that they need to talk to us and tell us what they are wanting or feeling. (All they ever say is Yes, No, and I’m fine.) I told her that she has so many emotions inside but if she doesn’t get them out, I will never be able to help her. I told her that not only is it OK to cry, but I wanted her to. Then, I looked down at my arm where the tears were starting to puddle. She didn’t whimper, shake, or even move, but she finally (maybe for the first time in her life) let all of her emotions go and just let the tears flow. I just held her and let her cry. My shirt was soaking wet by the time she finished, but it was such a huge break through for her. Just then I saw that my parents were on Skype. I asked them if they wanted to visit and of course they said yes. As it was connecting, Delight snapped out of it and said, NO! They will know I was crying. It was too late to stop so I just told her that she could sit to the side and watch and not say anything. When my parents got on, I told them quickly that she was having a hard time and that she couldn’t talk right now but we would Skype with them tomorrow. My Dad knew where I was going with that and said, “Hi Delight. This is Grandpa; I love you and can’t wait to see you.” I looked over at her and for the first time in a couple hours I saw a smile. She took a rubber band and pulled her hair back, fixed herself up and then came and sat on my lap and said hi to her grandparents. We had a very short conversation with them and then said goodbye. It was so timely because when we got off, I was able to tell her that she has so much family, friends and loved ones that will be there for her and will love her no matter what. I told her that we will be a family forever and ever and that she will be safe. It was the best moment we have had together so far. The greatest thing was, right after I said that to her, Jenny came back in the office from tucking Courage into bed. She sat down by us and without knowing a bit about the talk Delight and I had just had, told her almost the exact same things I had. Everyone else had gone to bed and the three of us shared this special little moment with no distractions or interruptions (something that rarely happens in this house). We gave her a kiss and I told her that if she went to bed I would be up in a few minutes to tuck her in.
Another amazing thing happened when I went up there. I stayed in the office and talked to Jenny about my experience with Delight for about 20 minutes. I figured that because she was so emotionally and physically exhausted she would be sound asleep when I got to her room. I was I wrong. When I got up there, Mahti and Elizabeth were happy and silly and dancing around the room, having a lot of fun. I looked down at Delight’s bed and she was sitting at the end of it with two buckets. One was full of hot water and had a bar of laundry soap in it and the other was full of freshly cleaned clothes. I asked her what the heck she was doing. She said that she wanted to take care of these clothes. Grandma Jonie bought her a few changes of clothes the day before we left Nampa, and that was what she’d been wearing for the last three days. She didn’t want them to sit dirty any longer and wanted to get them clean. I kissed her on the forehead and told her I would see her in the morning. I got some great hugs and kisses from Mahti and Elizabeth and then I went down to get Jenny so we could walk back to the Hotel. Jenny and I talked to Emily for about 15 minutes and then as we walked outside the orphanage Jenny noticed that all three little outfits from Grandma Jonie were neatly pinned to the clothesline and will be fresh and clean in the morning.
The poor kid is physically and emotionally exhausted, but can’t rest until her things are in order. Once again, “Man, I love this girl!”
And now here’s my take on the day (Jenny)…
First of all, a bit of administrative housekeeping: I can’t retrieve ANY email down here. We’ve tried everything we can think of and it just isn’t going to happen. So if you’ve emailed me and I haven’t answered, sorry!...it isn’t going to happen until the 16th of this month. You can email me (just put “jenny” in the subject line so John knows it’s for me and doesn’t read it in case it says secrets about him or something) at his address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Okay, here we go…This morning was a drag. We were so amped to go to court; for heaven’s sake, I even put on a dress! We were so confident that since it was only an hour and a half from happening, nothing was going to get in our way. We were all set, right? Then the phone rang. Before John even answered it, I knew what they were going to be telling him.
I almost wanted to call the judge and tell her, “listen here, lady; I came 7000 miles to be here TODAY. I’m sunburned, I’m tired, and I look like I have leprosy from all the mosquito bites I can’t stop scratching. I have eaten about 2500 calories total in the last 5 days and when I don’t get enough to eat, I get very cross. Now get your sorry self over to that courthouse, or I’ll give you something to ‘not feel well’ about.” At first I felt sorry for myself and was annoyed with this aspect of the Ghanaian culture, but then I looked over and saw Delight and felt even worse. John’s already told you everything, but now as I look back on it and know the day she had inside her own thoughts, it frustrates me even more. I wish these government officials could come and experience the lives of these children and feel what their lives feels like. They might just have fewer “not feeling well” days then, I’d bet.
Nevertheless, a really good part of today for me was watching Courage with his best friend Joshua at the “circle beach” (what they call the pool). They’ve known each other since they were little and originate from the same village and tribe. They are “brothers” and it is darling and heartbreaking at the same time because Joshua is being adopted by a family in Pennsylvania… not a quick trip from Boise. I wish for these boys’ sake they could be closer, especially after today. Courage would not drink an orange Fanta without first filling a glass with half for Joshua, and he gave Joshua at least half of everything he ate at lunch (yes, even half of the fish skeleton, which they happily crunched on together until every last bone was gone…lol). They are kindred spirits and it was tender to watch. He will miss his Joshua.
So, you can see that this day was filled with one powerful emotion after another. Lots of laughing and happy hearts; some deeply emotional moments; even some feelings of grrrr! and &#*@!$ But it was a good day, still the same. We made a breakthrough with Delight tonight, and that feels good. Establishing trust and attachment is key, and it feels like both were strengthened today. So, in all honesty, I feel like maybe we accomplished more in our relationship with her today than would have happened if we’d have gotten what WE wanted and gone before the judge and gotten that part taken care of. It is so clear to me that “Someone” else is in control of this process. Because of the circumstances we experienced with her today, she is better able to understand what needs to happen in the process, as well as feeling assured of what will never happen (us leaving her here and never coming back). I hope that Heavenly Father blesses her with a sweet peaceful assurance as she sleeps tonight. After the day her heart has had…she deserves it!