I heard from Z today after he returned from his mini-vacation. It turns out that the trip was not really anything that Z was expecting. He was wanting a trip outside Accra to see how rural Ghanaians live and to see a bit more of Ghana. He was expecting a "rustic", authentic African experience, but instead went to Cape Coast and saw lots of white European tourists. Bummer. Cape Coast is an area of tremendous historical significance to Ghana, so it is not a bad thing that he went there....it just wasn't what he was expecting. Z's request is probably a very unusual one...most tourists want to see tourist sites. But, Z wants to experience Ghana, understand Ghanaian culture, eat Ghanaian food. It is important to him to know about the place where his children have come from. It is important for him to understand their culture as much as possible, to eat the food, to visit their neighborhoods and see how a typical Ghanaian lives. He wants to understand his sons...and a big part of that is to understand where they are from. Its difficult sometimes for people to understand that.
From personal experience when I've traveled I can say that without exception every time I have gotten "off the beaten path" I have learned a great deal more about where I visited and gained a much better appreciation for the people I was visiting (this was true in Tanzania, Taiwan, and Costa Rica....in fact, that's even true here in the U.S.). Sure, when I spent time in Tanzania with the Maasai and Hadza people I smelled bad because I hadn't showered in a week, I was tired and sore from sleeping on the hard ground in a tent in the African bush for a month, but those times are the times I will never, ever forget. I gained a tremendous appreciation for how people in Tanzania (and many parts of Africa) live their lives. Having no safe drinking water, no clean hot water to shower with, limited food choices, and stark housing is what the majority of people on this earth deal with every day. Visiting for a week, two weeks, or a month and giving up those things to experience life is a very small sacrifice.
Did I appreciate the comforts of home when I got back from Tanzania? Sure...but I also felt tremendous guilt and shame that I had so much "stuff" and yet I felt compelled to complain about what I still didn't have. The people I met in Tanzania had very little (or no) "stuff", yet they would have given it all to me in order to make my stay more comfortable. They had the widest smiles I have ever seen. They lived their lives with gusto and did not dwell on the little things. THAT is what I always want to remember from my time in Africa. I learned a lot from them...and sometimes I need to remind myself of their example.
I am hoping that Z is able to experience just a little bit of that while he is in Ghana. I know already that Z loves Ghana. He loves the people he has met...he loves hearing music blaring at all hours of the day (and night). He loves hearing rastafarian music in the internet cafe...he loves the food (especially the fish)....he loves that everyone has been kind and accomodating to him. He loves the culture, especially how it seems that western culture and tribal culture are fused together in so many ways. He loves that there is a church nearby, that religion is such a big part of life in Ghana, and that Christianity and other religions are fused together in interesting ways. Sure, some of the experiences are different and hard to get used to (like the tremendous amount of traffic in the market, the hustle and bustle, and the unspoken rules of the flow of foot traffic). But even those experiences are exciting and great learning experiences.
The only thing he hasn't really appreciated was his time in the embassy. It seems that even with an appointment, no one seemed to know what paperwork they needed to turn in...no one could give them a timeline for processing...and no one seems to know what should happen now. We are still praying that he will get word on Wednesday about the I-600. We would appreciate prayers for approval so that they can begin working on the boys' visas.
Today Z seemed a little bit "down". I think that being away from home and not knowing when things will get done is getting a bit frustrating. I think that he may just be overly tired and maybe the heat is getting to him (although, he seems to thrive in heat...I don't know how he does it...this Minnesotan tolerates cold far better than heat). And, I think that being away from home during the holidays is hard. On top of that, Z is getting really attached to his sons...and the thought that he might have to leave them behind is really difficult for him.
But, don't worry...Z rarely stays down for long. I am sure he will be back to his normal, upbeat, optimistic self in no time! At least I surely hope that is true!
The picture at the top is the photo I've been waiting for him to send...a picture of our boys!!!