Every Athiest’s Favorite Activity: Three Hours of Church

My desire to soak up a lot of culture instead of sleep is waning fast.  Last night/this morning my host mom said that I could go to church if I wanted, but I could also stay home and rest.  Stop the idealized traveler act, Becca, you still aren’t going to be enlightened from going to eighteenmillion minutes of African church services.  I was awake this morning so I was like yeah for sure I’ll go.  So after my breakfast of a lot of bread (this is every day.  Bread for breakfast is a big thing here.)  I put on one of my new snazzy dresses, actually I put on the least snazzy and most conservative of my new


Anyway, the most conservative of my new dresses, and set off to church with my two host sisters.  They are really nice and one of them actually talks to me a lot so that is good.  I’m still super awkward and really bad at starting conversation and semi bad at responding to conversation, but I’m working on it.  We took the nice long walk to church.  OMG another ant on my keyboard please go away.  And don’t eat my cookies.  I actually like all the walking here because I feel productive and exercising while waiting to get to things is better than sitting in a restaurant for ten million hours while SIT coordinates things that are easy and exactly the same every semester so the hour delays aren’t really necessary.  We got to church which is a very different church from the one I went to last week.  That one was giant and had real pews and was giant and probably fit not exaggerating 600 people.  This one was pretty small, with plastic chairs in rows and maybe 50 people ish.  What followed was what you’d expect, three hours of church in a language I do not understand, except for he’d occasionally talk in English about forgiveness which was great because that’s my shit.  Here is a semi complete list of the things I thought about during church:

1.)    The dream I had LAST night, where someone was consistently trying to murder me.  I know that it was someone I know but I can’t remember who except that it was a male.  I probably blocked it from my memory so that I won’t secretly start hating the person like Phoebe did to Ross in that one episode of Friends.  But don’t go trying to stab or assault me on roller coasters, male friends, I suspect all of you.  I also had several saviors (Joe Taylor?  Was that you?  Were you one of my protectors? Politics boyfriend?  Were you there also?) and there was a lot of running around and suspicion and people being like Why aren’t you in Ghana?

2.)    Trying to distract myself by looking at all the different patterns of fabric.

3.)    Imagining scenarios in which I might get a badass scar that I could nonchalantly show off while in Africa without actually losing a lot of blood or really getting hurt.

4.)    Being annoyed that I have no cool stories so far.  Like so far if someone asks me for a cool story all I can think of to say is “I feel sick 90% of the time” “There are ants all over my bed” “Last night I watched American rap videos with my five host brothers and sisters” and “I’m waiting for the day someone pukes out the side of a tro tro,” AKA all statements and not stories.  I just want some badass stories!  I feel like I collect stories like rocks at home, as in the song “I collect Rocks.”

5.)    Being interested in the fact that I don’t actually get stared at THAT much here.  I mean kids yell OBRONI and sometimes adults do too, but everyone made me think it was going to be way more intense than it actually is.  And only a few people have said I’m attractive, which I think is nice because it means that most of the men are realistic and acknowledge that I am by no means more attractive than all the crazy beautiful African women here.  Really, there is nothing about being short stout and average looking with hair that is two colors and no matter how often I wash it NEVER LOOKS CLEAN that is better than all the women here with really strong features that can pull off short hair and are just hot.  So I’m glad that there is some decency left in the world.

The worst part of the church service was when I had to go to the front and introduce myself as a newcomer.  It was HORRIBLE.  I know you all think I love talking in front of people and being the center of attention but that is only A.)  when I have funny things to say and B.) when I am around people who know me and therefore I trust that they will laugh at the funny things I have to say.  Neither of these things were true here.  Oh they laughed at me all right, but I don’t trust Yemi when he says that they are always laughing with us.  I was definitely being laughed at for my indecipherable speech (and I was speaking in English, ya know, my native language, but apparently I still sounded like an idiot) (and not because they didn’t speak English, everyone did.  I was just being a bad public speaker) and then they kept asking me questions about church.  This was the worst part.   I have never lied about not believing in god or going to church before, even to like, Ted.  Okay Ted has never asked me if I believe in god but I always planned that if he asked me anything of the sort I would say “I didn’t grow up in a religious family.”  But that doesn’t really fly here and they were like if you aren’t religious you better lie if you want to talk about anything besides being converted for the rest of your time here.  So I said that yes I was religious and then they asked what church I went to.  I picked out the first thing that came into my head which was Queen of Peace, the church I went to last week in Accra.  So that’s technically true.  Then I looked awkward and stupid for longer and walked back to my seat.  Then there were 30 more hours of church and we walked home.  And now I am here.  I had other things to say that I was planning in my head while bored in church, but I forget.

I guess I will just do some more musing on studying abroad in Ghana.  Well, I may have mentioned this before, but a lot of the time you are just straight up doing nothing and have to figure out how to get used to it.  The classic response to this is “Go out!  Explore!  Experience!  Blahblah blah.”  Sometimes, this is just not possible.  Reasons for this include nothing being open on Sundays, even if things were open on Sundays you don’t know where you are so you can’t really leave with any hope of getting back, and everything either looks so the same or so different that if I walked two blocks away from my homestay (blocks don’t actually exist jokes) I would be lost forever. Maps? HAH.  Y’all should have been there for the day one of the girls in my program asked for a map of Accra and the directors laughed and said they don’t exist.   Also, African teenagers like to watch TV/nap/be alone in their rooms so the idea that most people have of homestay families sitting around waiting to absorb your life and entertain you and such is a totes myth.  Also, most of the homestay families here have hosted like 15 American students before so they’re not just waiting to ask you questions about Kanye West and cheeseburgers and the fourth of July and snow and the lack of public transportation.  They’re all friendly for sure but we definitely aren’t like the iPhone when it first came out or the seventh Harry Potter book.  I am fine with all of these things because I like taking nice breaks to sit in my room and rest my constantly sore back, but people seem to not understand when they ask me how I am that I am not riding elephants or camels or having heart to hearts with my homestay family or being crowned as an honorary Ghanaian princess.  Being abroad here is a lot like life at college (except not at all) because sometimes you are really busy and doing cool things, but a lot of the time you just need to lie down and do something normal like read a book or nap or watch TV.   These things become far more precious and necessary than you would ever imagine when basically everything you do here in your daily life is 86 times harder than something you want to do at home.  Like people have culture shock and things are different anywhere you go, but we just can’t use our left hands.  Ever.  Good luck learning to say goodbye to 50% of your body.  Mosquitos are annoying in America, but imagine your life when you have to put on 7 gallons of bug spray, bug lotion, and clothes soaked in deet anytime you want to leave the house.  False, anytime you want to live, because there are mosquitos in the house.  The only place you are safe is in your mosquito tent.  Also taking pills from a bottle that likes to explode every night and your suitcase being 10x heavier because of all the protections.  Also you’re probably just going to get malaria anyway.  I don’t really feel like listing more reasons, but basically when was at home, being sick was struggle city.  Working at Hoofbeat was at times struggle city.  Now, my LIFE is struggle city.  But it’s good for me, it helps you cut out a lot of bullshit.   Instead now I will list some observations about Ghana:

  1. There is no recycling here and the trash system isn’t so great either.  So trash is everywhere, to the point where plastic is literally embedded into the dirt roads.
  2. Ghanaian people ARE far more friendly than Americans, like on the street and in public, but once you get to the private sector I’d say it’s about the same.  Like there are really open and friendly people everywhere in the world when you get down to really getting to know someone, but walking along the street the people are very hi-saying here.
  3. Everything here is so different that you just have to kind of stop noticing it.  Like it’s not like if you go to a country that isn’t America but is industrialized, because there it seems the same but then you NOTICE the differences.  Here, nothing is the same so you have to notice the similarities.  I have been to one store that is a store in the traditional sense, one.  Everything else is like a shack with things in it or things hanging off a tree or the ever popular wooden stand with an umbrella sticking out.  Also it is interesting how tons of things are sold on the streets but none of it is ever anything you would want.  Like what do I want right now?  A sandwich.  Can’t get that.  1000 used t shirts and books about God and energy cubes and converters and pastries that are actually spaghetti with a weird covering, those you can get.  But the things you might actually use?  Good luck pickup truck.
  4. I can’t think of other things to say so maybe it is bedtime.

Um I can’t think of much more to say right now.  I should be able to but I’m just tired.  I want to go do something but for the aforementioned reasons I don’t think I really know how so I will probably just take a nap/ attempt to not die at school tomorrow.


4 responses

    • Don’t be! I am trying to find a way to communicate to everyone that when I explain how things are here I’m rarely trying to complain (except about the YAM INCIDENT) but just finding a way to communicate what everything is like. Because honestly, I am NEVER scared here (except when it rained really hard but it does that anywhere in the world) It’s just like a COMPLETELY different. Everything is amazing but not in the way that people talk about amazing in America – it’s just so different. Without realizing it you just develop a completely different outlook. I don’t know how to communicate all these things but basically when you live it it’s your life and there’s trash in the streets and bones in the fish but you still want to take the brown goat home and have a beer at a hole in the wall (literally) after school and be amazed that your life is your life.

    • basically what that rambling was attempting to communicate is its hard, yeah, really hard, but we grew up with hard meaning bad and here you realize that hard can be your life but bad never has to be your life.

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