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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Notes from November 06

Charlie writes...

We are keeping busy with the logistics of life here. Traffic is horrendous, as the roads are in poor condition, and cars, taxis and tro-tros (15-20 passenger vans that function as an unofficial bus service) frequently block each other and cause gridlock. This and the lack of restaurants in our part of town are our biggest complaints. So, really we don’t have it so bad. We are doing pretty well in our language lessons. We can make simple sentences describing activities or a picture, and hold some basic conversations. I get more practice with the women in the market than Charlie does at the university.

The boys have plugged right in to their school. Chip is in the school play this next week, with two smaller roles in Oedipus Rex. He is also enjoying playing goalie for the JV soccer team. Ken is his usual carefree self, and enjoying after school activities like karate and chess. They both had good reports on their mid-semester report cards, some room for improvement, but that’s to be expected!

Charlie is teaching two sections of Freshman Math for IT students, a Discrete Math course. He has a day session with about 40 true freshman, and an evening session with 9 “mature” students. He really is enjoying it, especially when he sees that they understand what he is teaching or when they get engaged enough to really start asking him questions. Please pray for him and his students as they will be having mid-term exams this week and next, and Charlie has to prepare his final in the next couple of weeks as well. One of the other things that we are really enjoying is the Wednesday morning worship service at the University, which we both attend. The chaplain draws from a wide variety of speakers, both on and off campus, and the choir is terrific!

I have had two meetings with the Methodist Church Ghana, starting the groundwork for future water projects. I am looking forward to getting to know the Ghanaian civil engineer that they have hired as a consultant. He will be a great resource for me as I try to learn about the practice of engineering in Ghana. I will participate in a Dry Farming workshop on November 21st. We want to educate farmers to work together to put in wells near their fields so that they can irrigate crops and increase their yields. We will be sharing a number of technologies with them that day, including a treadle pump and clay pot water filters for drinking water. I will also attend a conference on Rural Water and Sanitation that is being held in Accra the last week in November. So keep me in your prayers as my schedule picks up.

We’ve started to look for a vehicle to purchase. Right now we are borrowing a car from friends on furlough, but they will come back after Christmas. This seems to be a very complicated process here. We found one used Pathfinder that seemed like a pretty reasonable deal, but then were advised by several friends not to buy a used car in Africa, as you never know what you are getting and vehicles are often poorly maintained here. So we will start looking at new cars next week, but of course that has budget issues. We have been blessed to find a terrific driver, Jasper, who helps with getting the boys to and from school. He worked at one time for a German organization that was involved in water projects, so he is knowledgeable in that area, too. He has been a big help to Charlie as they have looked for a car together.

We’re attending church at Mt. Olivet Methodist Society, here in Dansoman. It is a truly Ghanaian church, probably about the size of DUMC. It has an English service at 7:30 am, that we attend for the boys’ sake. Several other lecturers from the university are members there, as well. It has an interesting mix of traditional and contemporary worship in the services, which last 2 to 2-1/2 hours each.

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