Look at how big Little Nico has gotten! I don’t know that you can really tell from the picture, but he’s not the little squirt that Amber wrestled into a corner anymore.

This morning was ANOTHER full house at the farm, but subtract Yara and add Amy instead. We did more machete-ing which I think successfully convinced Amy that she never wants to come again, especially when all of us said that it’s our favorite farm activity. Here we are, on my second to last day at the farm, and we managed to work in another field that I NEVER would have guessed was ours. I give up. I will never know how big the farm actually is. I know, you’re wondering why I don’t just ask. Yes, that would make sense, but would take a bit of the surprise out of each morning. I want to leave it as one of life’s mysteries.

So clean!

I also finally found out what we do with the pigs. This is another thing that yes, I probably should have asked about a long time ago. I was a little curious because if you’re trying to get milk or eggs to sell, you obviously aren’t going to raise pigs. The only thing pigs are good for, product wise (as far as I know) is meat (and, according to the poop hole, poop) (ahhh sorry I broke my promise about never bringing that up again! Ignore me). Some guys were checking out the pigs this morning, and Joe said it’s because we’re selling 6 pigs and will use the profits to buy chicken and rice for the orphanages. Ah. Makes sense now.
The rest of the day was low-key. I went to school and graded papers in Everlasting’s class, went home and worked on thank you notes for some people, sat in a power-less house for a couple hours, took a rain shower (probably my last one!), and drank some hot chocolate.

Genius, right?

Besides all that, Anna and I had a project for the afternoon… currently, our handwashing bucket puts water into another bucket that has to be emptied all the time and is not user friendly. She asked why we didn’t just put a pipe or something from the bottom of the drain bucket so the water gets piped off the side of the porch. The next question was, well do we even need a bucket? I brought a scrap of roofing material from the farm (that was used for the you-know-what) and we hammered it flat, cut it to size, folded the edges over so they wouldn’t cut anyone, and formed it so it would catch the water and direct it off the porch. Success!! I’m very excited about this development. It’s the little things.
A new volunteer also came today. She was originally at Olive, but she decided that she wanted to switch to Purple instead because she was the only volunteer at the orphanage. Her name is Zahra (so add that to the already confusing Lara/Yara mix, plus we have the confusing Avy/Amy), she’s taking the bed on top of me (which meant that I had to move all of my nicely organized things), and I am literally going to see her for 1 day before she goes to Cape Coast for the weekend and I’m gone forever. Weird. I know I’m overusing that word but whatever, that’s what it is. This whole leaving thing isn’t going to get any less weird.

Okay so I probably shouldn’t have been taking a selfie, and I clearly know that because my eyes are filled with worry and fear. But I’m still alive so that means it’s fine.

I woke up early this morning and went for a bike ride!!! As much as I hated waking up earlier than I had to, I did NOT want to bike on the road during the day when there are more cars. Since there’s only one paved road in town, my options for non-dirt routes are limited to the busiest street. I figured that at 6AM, it would be light but it wouldn’t be too hot or crowded on the road yet. If I put it off until later in the day, there’s no way I would have mustered up the courage to go. We can pretend that I had a helmet and that there’s a huge shoulder on the road, if that makes you feel any better.

Some of the scenery along the road. Yes *wink*wink* I stopped the bike to take this picture.

The open road!

I decided to bike away from town and towards the orphanage because I think that way is a little less populated. I went for about an hour, did around 11 miles, and made it all the way to Asikuma, the town where the orphanage is. Even though it was early, plenty of people were awake, and I was apparently quite the spectacle, a yevu on a bike. Some guy even took a picture. I would equate it to one time in Philly when I saw Benjamin Franklin on a bicycle. I thought it was funny and ridiculous, and most of the locals seemed to think the same about me.
Avy proving that it’s possible for a girl to know how to use a saw.

Don’t worry, this is way safer than it looks… But anyway, they said they knew what they were doing.

Stabilizing the back

It’s amazing how much time there is in the day when you get up early! I got back to the house and still had time to do some stretching and a workout before breakfast and church. We went back to Agnes’s church (it’s looking like that’s going to be our church home) and brought all of the new volunteers with us. The setup of the chairs was different AGAIN, which means it’s never been the same twice in all the times I’ve been there. This week was really fun. I can tell that people are starting to remember me, and I’m beginning to feel like they’re accepting me (not that they were ever unwelcoming or anything, but like they’re seeing me as an actual part of the community rather than just a one-time visitor).
Putting in the shelf supports.

The finished product!!

When we got back from church, one of the neighbors was on our porch with two saws! He said that his dad would be mad if he let us use them, but he could cut the wood for us. Fine with me! He ended up letting me use the small saw to cut the pieces to reinforce the back, and we helped a little with the big cuts for the shelves. I was just happy to be able to finish the job. We stabilized the back, measured out the shelf heights, nailed in the shelf supports, and we were finished! Now you can actually see all of the books and games we have, and there’s even some space left over! When Joe came over later, we asked him if he regretted doubting us. He said yes, but who knows. I’m just happy that we didn’t talk ourselves up and then get stuck and have to ask for help.

​Avy and I decided that today we were going to do a project. We have one really horrible bookshelf that is leaning like crazy and looks like it’s on the verge of collapse, plus it could be so much more effective. Avy cleaned it off yesterday, and we wanted to reinforce the structure and add two more shelves. We asked Joe if we could have some tools to do the work, and he told us he would call the carpenter to come do it. We said, “what, do you not trust us?” The answer was a strong no.

Bookshelf “before” picture. I wish we had gotten a picture before we took all of the books off because it was leaning so much more dramatically, but you can still see that it’s totally unstable. And I don’t know who added that top “shelf”, but it’s worthless.

The carpenter came this morning, so we used his tape measure and then kind of brushed him off. We told him that we were going to try to do it ourselves, but if we found ourselves needing help, we would call him. Come on though, how hard can it be to fix a bookshelf?
We went to Juapong to get some wood and other various things we needed and then came back and got to work. The piece of wood we got is definitely not straight, and it’s super rough. We also bought some sandpaper, so we started sanding it down and measuring where we needed to cut before hitting a standstill. We don’t have a saw, and Joe’s is at the farm right now. No way was I walking there to get it! Joe said that the carpenter would let us just borrow his saw, but he came by, said he would bring it, and never came back. I mean, I don’t completely blame him because we weren’t hiring him for the job, but he should have just said no if he didn’t want to.

Our workshop and piece of wood that’s perfectly straight. We sanded it down, so at least it looks and feels a little nicer now.

So much for finishing the job before the new volunteers showed up… We had tools and sawdust strewn all over the porch when they got here. I’m sure it was a great welcome to the house! It’s fine though; we’ll hunt down a saw and finish tomorrow instead. There are six new volunteers – Sal (USA, Teaching, 1 week), Clarina (Hong Kong, Teaching, 2 weeks), Doug (USA, Teaching, 2 weeks), Jamie (USA, Medical, 4 weeks), Yara (Germany, Teaching, 12 weeks), and Anna (Germany, Teaching, 12 weeks). It’s weird that there are new people here who are going to still be here after I leave! AND it’s beyond weird that I’m more than halfway through my time here. It’s freaking me out a little.

Can you spot the chicken? Yes, it’s inside our house. Glad we’re doing a good job of keeping the doors closed…

I’m also just overwhelmed by the idea of having to get to know so many new people without having Amber and Nico here too. It’s easier when you have more people you already know. I know I’ll be fine, but having six new people at once (especially with only three old people) is a lot to process. I just need some time to get to know each of them individually… I’m sure I’ll feel better by the end of this week.
Maybe an hour after they arrived, it started pouring, and Avy and I sprinted outside to take a rain shower. The new volunteers were looking at us like we were a little insane. They’ll learn. Rain showers are seriously the best (well, second best to warm bucket showers, but those are more effort), and they’re always followed by a cup of Milo (hot chocolate) because the rain is freeeeeeezing. Yummm.

​This has been a crazy day! I had only been in bed for a couple hours when Amber’s phone started ringing this morning. I was freaking out a little on the inside (as much as you can freak out in a mostly still asleep state) because I thought it was her alarm and couldn’t even begin to think about getting out of bed to go to the farm. I forced an eye open, checked my watch, and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw it was only 1AM. Amber gave a groan and then pulled together an impressive awake voice for a conversation that seemed to consist solely of her saying, “thank you.” I assumed that the call was about a delivery, but she didn’t get up so I didn’t worry about it.

I don’t know if you can tell how hard it’s raining in this picture, but just trust me when I say it was pouring.

Five minutes later, someone started banging on the door to the house. Avy got up to investigate and came back into the room to tell Amber that a taxi was waiting to take her to the hospital. Later on, Amber said that she didn’t remember anything about the phone call (which explains all the “thank you”s). Anyway, she pulled herself together, woke Tolu up to come with her, and got a chauffeured ride to the clinic. She’s kind of a big deal.

When Nico and I woke up at 5AM to go to the farm, Amber and Tolu still weren’t back… I guess the delivery wasn’t as urgent as they thought. The baby came around 6AM. Hooray for a healthy baby boy!

Nico and I headed out alone, and about halfway to the farm, it started POURING. It was the same as when we were hiking to the waterfalls. You could literally hear the rain getting closer and closer, and within a second it went from no rain to buckets of water getting dumped on your head. By the time we got to the farm, we were soaked and I was grumpy. Honestly, I was worried that they were still going to make us work outside, but luckily that wasn’t the case. We all sat inside the equipment storage room and shucked corn.

Part of the path to the farm… There’s always water to wade through at this point in the walk, but it’s usually maybe 4″ deep and now it’s probably around a foot.

The rain stopped before we finished, so Nico and I checked out the poop hole and did some strategizing before heading home. Guess what? We were maybe 1/3 of the way home when it started pouring AGAIN. The path home was totally flooded, and by the time we got back I had water inside my boots from rain running down my legs. Ick. We took rain showers since we were already wet and then attempted to warm up with some hot chocolate.

James, Amber, and Nico fully enjoying the new couch.

At that point, all anyone wanted to do was lay around, so we decided to take an extra mattress out of one of the bedrooms and make a couch. Best idea ever!! We’re going to leave it there until someone says we have to move it… hopefully never. I’m telling you, the couch changes everything because the only other seating we have is plastic chairs, and how comfortable can you really get on one of those?

Amber triumphantly holding Little Nico, our favorite pig. He lives outside of the pig pens because all of the other pigs kept stealing his food. Amber made it her goal to catch him. Not shown: Little Nico’s terrified squeals and the chorus of pigs who started snorting their support

The rain stopped again in the afternoon, so we headed back to the farm to do more poop hole work (our project to make a place for them to combine the pig poop with organic matter to create fertilizer for the farm). We had a pretty solid work crew because Isabel, Avy, and Sosane joined as well. The ground was SO wet, but it actually ended up being easier to dig (Amber mostly dug with a bucket). It was an awesomely productive afternoon! I think we’re going to be able to start building the walls next time. No more digging! Thank goodness because I hit myself in the face with a shovel today, so needless to say, I’ve had enough. I’m okay though. Mostly.

The flooded sludge pit that is our poop hole.