Update from Ghana!

Hi Everyone! This is Rebecca Overson, Rachel’s sister. (For those who don’t know, it’s my husband Robi that is over there with the gang.) I was able to talk to Rachel for about a half hour a couple days ago so she could tell me some great things to post on her behalf. I know you have all been waiting patiently!

First and foremost, they arrived safely and had no problem at the airport getting through customs. They breezed right through and were met by my husband Robi, Heidi, and two men from the deaf school. They had about an hour drive from the airport in Accra (that’s pronounced uh-CRAW) to Mapong (sp?). Rachel was disappointed to discover that the one “Internet Cafe” is no longer in service. Apparently the owner simply stopped showing up. So it’s still there, just all locked up and useless. Thank heaven for calling cards and satellite phones!!

I’ll try to do justice to Rachel’s excitement and enthusiasm, and I trust that when she gets back she will fill in any blanks I may have left in these stories… oh and by the way, she said she is journaling about 7-8 pages a day; there is SO much to take in – in her own words: “INDESCRIBABLE AND COMPLETELY OVERWHELMING” (in a good way!) and she says the only way to really bring you along for the journey is for her to publish her entire travel journel in her blog when she gets back. She says when you read it you will laugh with her, cry with her, stand in utter amazement with her… She wants to share it all… I personally can’t wait! She also said that Aaron is getting some incredible video that she will share as well. And pictures too. So for now – here are a few tidbits I think you’ll enjoy.

-They have had power every day (ah, electricity… the things we take for granted!) which is rare. Typically the power cycles off and on depending on the lake levels (hydropower I am guessing?)… and the lake has been high enough that they have not had to switch to a generator. So they have had some refrigeration and lights at night, albeit very dim, and that’s been nice.

-They are the ONLY white people in this town. In Ghana, they have a nickname for white people: “Obroonie” (I’m sure I didn’t spell that right!). She said it is almost comical – everywhere they go, people point and say “Obroonie! Obroonie!” They were even riding in the back of an open truck (aka the School Bus!) and when they passed a regular school, all the kids went chasing after the truck laughing and yelling “Obroonie!” They aren’t teasing or taunting – it is just so rare to see white people, let alone a group of EIGHT of them in one place!

– The food has been ‘touch and go’ – she just prays every day that they get to eat chicken and rice instead of GOAT. (My husband Robi lived in Uganda, Africa for awhile several years ago and still gags when he tells me about eating a bowl of goat stew that was also full of goat HAIR. Blech!)

– Rachel and Leah took showers with buckets of water from the well. They have to draw water every day from the well and boil it to wash their dishes and other things.

– On their drive through the city, she saw interesting signs on businesses: “God is Great Mobile Phones” and “Our Lord and Savior Hair Salon,” to name a few! She’s considering changing “Two Little Hands Productions” to something along those lines… just kidding!

– Rachel got to meet and visit with Marco, the first deaf man in Ghana to graduate from college. She said she mentioned him before in her blog. She is going to get his story on video. She said his personal story is THE MOST INCREDIBLE journey – and she can’t wait to share it.

– She says they are living in a place that looks like the set of “LOST” (her favorite TV Show!).

– Every day, people burn their garbage. There is no garbage man, trash cans, dumpsters – nothing. There is a haze over the entire city of Accra because of the constant fires. They’ve all developed little coughs since they arrived because of all the smoke.

– Speaking of garbage, they were walking down the road one day and Rachel asked Curry what she should do with the orange peel she was holding from the orange she had just eaten. He said “Just drop it on the ground.” She looked at him like, “What???? Are you kidding? I am not going to litter!” He said, “Rachel, seriously, drop it on the ground! The animals will come eat it… don’t worry.” She was still a little freaked out about it and as they were walking through a field she gingerly let a piece of the orange rind fall to the ground. Leah stopped, looked at her and said, “MOM!!! Did you just put that on the GROUND?!?!?” Things are SO different there…

-They played a game of soccer with the boys from the school (who were all mostly barefoot), much to the amazement of the female students. One girl pulled Rachel and Leah aside and said “you can’t play soccer with the boys – you are a girl.” (as in, it is not possible for girls to play with boys.) Rachel looked at her and said, “No, we can play soccer. We are girls, we can do all the things that boys can do.” This girl looked like she was in shock. Rachel said, “If someone tells you you can’t do something because you are a girl, it is only true if you believe them.” And again the girls were amazed to hear this. These are little girls, who are deaf, who are going to be told many times they can’t do anything… Rachel wanted them to get that the only thing they can not do is hear!

-Another thing that made me laugh is that the kids there have a fascination with all the white peoples’ hair because it is so different. A little boy came up and started rubbing his face against Aaron’s arm hair, back and forth, back and forth, like a cat! And Robi had some little kids pulling on his leg hair, just because they wanted to touch it. Alex is getting petted to death – his straight, blonde hair is something they never get to see!

– The children were utterly amazed to see Alex and Leah signing. They said they have NEVER seen American Obroonie children who also knew ASL! (Yes, they do use ASL over there.)

And here’s my favorite story –

The first day after they arrived they went to the Elementary deaf school to meet the head mistress, Agnes. As they were walking up the dirt road towards the school, she saw something she’d never seen before – a group of seven-year-old children pumping water at a well. They were all dressed in their green and white checkered uniforms, and when they saw this group of white people walking towards them, all the children came running to meet them. Rachel said they nearly got mauled! They were just completely surrounded by a crowd of exuberant children anxious to give hugs and walk with their arm around you. Curry and Heidi told Rachel and everyone “Keep walking or they’ll never let you go!” Well, that proved difficult and pretty soon this swarm of kids had Rachel and Leah separated from Alex and Derek by about a hundred yards (they were being mobbed by their own group of children). Rachel’s eyes were full of tears at the sight of these beautiful, sweet, loving children.

They asked her name, and she said and signed R-A-C-H-E-L and showed them her name sign. They began signing their names excitedly. Then they asked (pointing to Leah) what’s her name? And of course Leah just signed back. They looked at her and said, “Leah?” and did her name sign – an L circling behind the ear – and said “Leah? Like on TV??” to which they responded YES! And the children said, “Where is Alex?” using his name sign as well!!! She was just blown away that they KNEW and recognized who they were. The children continued on: “Alex and Leah, come and play! Come and Play! In the Tree House!” (I add my comment here: you know, we always knew that Signing Time was making a difference for children but to be received by ‘fans’ in Ghana just blows my mind!!!!) I think “Stunned” was the word Rachel used to describe her feelings.

WOW!!!

Rachel says “We TOTALLY appreciate everyone’s support. We could not have done this without you! We love that you are dying to know what is happening over here – and I am so sad there is no more internet cafe or I would be posting every day! I promise when I get back you will hear EVERYTHING… You are a part of our family and you made this happen. We LOVE YOU!!”

So there you have it!

I will probably call them again tomorrow, because I paid for a phone card to call Ghana and I have about 100 minutes left. I have less than a week now to use all the minutes! I’ll be on the Chat on Wednesday night to share more. If you have anything to share with Rachel, or if you have any questions, post them here and I’ll do my best to relay everything to her!

Love,

Rebecca