Sunday, May 2, 2010

"You don't walk like a white person"

Yesterday was Saturday. At 10 o'clock my day began. I met Gado, my friend and coworker at the gangway. She had told me a week or two ago at work that she wanted to take me and show me around Lome, and today was the day. so we walked down the gangway and through the port. Outside the Port gate we walked to the traffic roundabout five minutes further. Then we got some Zimmy jons (which she later informed me the locals call "Olea") and we were off. I had the whole day and she was my guide. ;)
First we went to a village where one of her friends lived and saw his house and met his sister and hung out there for a while. Of course we were given soda's and some snacks. Then onto another Zimmy that took us to Togo's independance memorial. A concrete structure with the cutout of a man showing strength, and pictures of all the presidents. The rest of the day was a wonderful time of walking the streets of Lome, talking, riding in taxis and oleas, walking the beach, and meeting up with friends.
We met with another one of our friends from work, Dodgi. He took us to his village, and showed us where he lived, though we couldn't go inside because he had locked himself out and his brother was not back yet. :) then we sat under a palm tree and talked to some of his friends for a while. after that we went to his mother's restaraunt and relaxed and talked with his mother, sister, aunt, and little niece who was deathly afraid of me and my white skin. By the time we left. She had watched me long enough that I could see she was less terrified but still quite wary. :) I so enjoy my african friends God has blessed me with. And I loved spending a day letting Gado show me around her world.
At one point as we were walking, we were talking about our other friends from work and all the fun we have. As we talked and joked, Gado told me with a smile, "Feda said, you are not really white. He said, Leah is white on the outside, but on the inside she is African like us. No one else does things like us." What he meant is that I have enjoyed trying the things they do. I've learned to carry a bucket of water on my head (though I still have to steady it with one hand;-p), as the water in our clinic has not been working for about 2 or 3 weeks, and may not for the rest of the time here. So every day in the morning we go get our water from a spicket downstairs. And throughout the day we go and refill our bucket. I realized that if you can learn to balence, it is actually lighter to carry it on your head as your whole body is supporting the weight instead of just your arm.
I've also had Gado show me how to carry a baby on my back with a big piece of cloth like all the women do (I think I mentioned this earlier in my blog). I enjoy trying to learn words in their language (Ewei) and French and greet with the typical hand shake/snap. Also I learned that everyone in Togo, and other African countries as well, give everyone a name for the day of the week they are born on. So they figured out that I was born on a Monday. When they asked me, I didn't know, which made them all burst out laughing. It's like not knowing your birthday in the US. :) They figured it out by asking the year I was born and looking at the calenders on their phones. So my name is Adjo, Monday, or Adjovi, Little Monday. Pastor Arnold, who gives the patients instructions before and after their treatment, always calls me Adjo, to which I respond, "Kodjo." That is the male name for Monday, because Pastor Arnold was also born on Monday. After he says my name, he often tells the patients, as I come up and down the stairs during work, "elle s 'apel Adjo." (pardon my french and my spelling ;-p) "her name is Adjo." He has told me, you are not American Leah, now you are Togalese Adjo.
I just enjoy really getting to know my african brothers and sisters, and for me part of the fun is learning and trying things that are part of them and their culture. I was touched to hear how much they felt I was a part of them. I thanked God that he would allow me to have such a close bond with people that live so far from where I do, and live so differently than me, and yet God has given us a love and friendship with eachother where we truly can see and accept eachother as brothers and sisters. Like Feda said, our skin may be different but in our hearts God made us all related.
As she told me this I laughed and said "well thank you." And she laughed, and said "yes, so you are half black."
And at the end of our Saturda, around 3:30pm, Gado, Dodgi, and I were walking along the edge of the beach and Gado and Dodgi were talking to eachother in French. Then Gado said, Dodgi says you don't walk like a white person. I laughed and said "what!? How does a white person walk?" Dodgi laughed and said, "we have a joke that white people maybe from England or other places, have dancing in their walking." And he demonstrated. It was so funny. And we all started laughing. I so enjoyed the day. It was a blessing. And I am realizing more and more, how much I will miss these special friends I've made here when I leave. But as everyone says here, "God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good." I pray he blesses my friends here and leads them to great things and I pray he blesses me in whatever he leads me to next.
I know that we have touched eachothers hearts. And even if we only see eachother again in heaven, I know I will remember them, and I'll still laugh and smile as I think back on the memories we've made, and I believe they will remember me as well. Even if it is only for a short time, I am so thankful God blessed me to know them, love them, laugh with them, work with them, and learn from them. God knows everything and he knew we would make a mark on eachothers lives; and they, like every other significant person God brings across my path, is part of his plan to mold me to be all he created me to be. Thank you Gado, Mouwli, Dodgi, Tekko, Feda, Simiou, Sosou, Delali, Emanuel, and Pastor Arnold (you guys can help me with all the spelling ;-p) for your friendship, I feel so blessed to know you all. :)