Get ready, everyone. I’m about to attempt to do the impossible… bring closure to a 13-week, life altering experience in a blog post. I’m going to accept that this won’t do it justice and try anyway. To start, let me knock out two of the questions that everyone seems to ask: what did I miss most about home, and what will I miss most about Ghana?

Things I missed about home:

Okay so I promise you that this list is not at all what you would guess, but here it is. After 12 weeks in Ghana, these were my top 4 most missed things:

  1. 20160920_123851
    Our makeshift couch. Better than nothing, but no match for the real thing!

    Couches – I love couches (the extent of my love was unknown even to me until this trip). There’s nothing better than wanting to sit down and getting to do it on a soft, comfy couch that holds you close and says, “Lara, I love you too. Stay here forever.” If you’ve never experienced this, you need a new couch.

  2. Washing machines – I’m going to guess that I did laundry about 8 times when I was in Ghana. The first 3 or 4, my clothes smelled worse than when I started, still had soap in them, and/or inspired zero confidence that any “cleaning” had truly happened. By about halfway through my trip, I had the laundry technique perfected, but I probably also would have won the “slowest laundry washer in all of Ghana” award, if such a thing existed. Needless to say, perfected technique or not, I’m happy to spend some time in the company of mechanical laundry washing.

    My patented laundry washing setup: soak bucket, soap bucket, rinse bucket, rinse bucket.
  3. Napkins – Yes, napkins do exist in Ghana, but we never had any at the house. You never realize how much you appreciate napkins until you want and don’t have one.
  4. Clean floors – Somehow, no matter how often we swept the floor in the house, there was ALWAYS dirt on it. Sometimes, I just wanted to walk around the house barefoot or in socks. The result? Dirty feet, dirty socks, and a still-dirty floor. Take me back to the land of vacuum cleaners and my parents’ house where shoes are removed on entry.

Beyond those things, I honestly didn’t miss too much. Yeah, sometimes I wanted some cheese or reliable electricity or a trip to the bathroom that didn’t require fighting off flies or mosquitoes (real life: bug spraying your butt before nighttime bathroom visits to avoid extra-uncomfortable bites), but those were all minor.

Things I’ll miss about Ghana:

  1. The people – Both the locals and my volunteer friends. This is #1 by far.
  2. Pancake day (plus Agnes’s cooking in general) – Pancake day is the best! There were a few dishes that I wasn’t a fan of, but for the most part, I really liked the food! (Two thumbs up for peanut soup, waakye, fried rice, indomie, and jollof rice.) If you missed my food post, you can check it out HERE.
  3. Machetes – I think this one speaks for itself.
  4. My bed – This one is weird, I know. Who likes a foam mattress (no, not fancy memory foam. Literally just a block of yellow foam)? Well, me apparently. My bed was the comfiest, my pillow was the perfect flatness, and there’s something kind of fun about having a mosquito net curtain around you.
  5. Drive through markets – Fan Ice (ice cream) and bofrot (donut balls) delivered to you on someone’s head? Talk about living the dream.
Week 2… basically a lifetime ago.

Now, time for some real talk. When I started this trip, I was pretty sure that my long-term impact on any of the communities I lived in or people I met would be negligible. Now, I’m not so sure. I think it is possible for me to make a real difference, even if I only spend 3 months in a place. I was right in saying that I’m not going to save the world. That’s an idealistic approach to this experience that would certainly leave me disheartened and unmotivated. However, that’s more than enough time to build relationships, share ideas, and start moving towards improvements. I could name specific changes that occurred in me during my trip based on things that certain people did or said. If they could have individual impacts on me, why couldn’t I do the same for them?

With this new outlook, I’m even more excited about the rest of my adventure. I’m ready to keep practicing being comfortable with being uncomfortable (try to wrap your head around that one). I’m ready to take each day as it comes, celebrating the good ones and pushing through the hard ones. I’m ready to do my best in every situation and trust that God will handle the rest.

Oh yeah, and I haven’t consciously eaten any bugs yet, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of time. (Though I’m still strongly leaning in the direction of ‘not gonna happen’.)

I’m headed to Peru on January 18th, so you can expect consistent posts to restart then. In the meantime, I have a couple other posts in the works with some random Ghana stories, book recommendations (relevant to travelling and helping others), etc.

Bye for now!

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