Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Embassies, paranoid surreptitious religious discussions, and beads (April 26)

Our first stop this morning was the Dutch embassy, since the Netherlands have recently pledged substantial money for sanitation issues in Ghana. We met with the main sanitation officer for the embassy (a Ghanaian lady) and the students did a fantastic job presenting Kweku’s Biofill and getting great feedback and research.

The lady we talked with was extremely enthusiastic and excited about the Biofill. When we asked her what she would do with one if we could give her one now, without any hesitation she said that she’d install it at her house. Even though she lives a comfortable upper middle class life, her septic system (like everyone else’s) sucks and backs up all the time. This is what Kweku is trying to fix—replace broken septic tanks with magical odorless poop-eating bugs.

The Dutch embassy was actually really cool. The inside was quite IKEA-esque, with fancy bright plastic furniture, colorful canvas paintings, and airy, open staircases, while the exterior was fancy and modern. Like this (only during the day). Apparently it’s famous in architecture circles.

While talking with the sanitation official, she offered us coffee and tea, which inevitably led to the revelation that we were Mormons and don’t drink that stuff. She then told us that her neighbor, an American lady from North Carolina, had recently given her a Book of Mormon but that she hadn’t read it. Because the Church is in a strange legal position in Egypt and the rest of the Middle East, I’ve become accustomed to deftly avoiding any conversations about the Church or our doctrine. Since Egypt has been the bulk of my third-world experience, I keep thinking that we’re not allowed to talk about the Church here. I cringed when students started talking about the Church and asking her about the Book of Mormon—I subconsciously started looking for eavesdropping mukhabarat. Then I remembered that it’s totally legal to talk about the Church. There are six stakes in Accra alone, half a dozen missions in the country, and a temple just around the corner from the Dutch embassy. Oops :)

After we finished at the embassy, we started the long drive up north to the Volta Region, making a quick stop at the Cedi Bead Factory, just like last year (go there for pictures… I was too lazy to take any new ones this year :) ). We arrived at Chance’s Hotel in Ho late, spent a couple hours doing dinner (I think they go find eggs, raise them to chickens, slaughter them, and cook them once you order a chicken kebab, it takes that long!), and went to bed.

Except me. I stayed up super late once again to read more Hunger Games. I can’t get enough of that series :).

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