Thursday, January 20, 2011

Home is Where the Heart is

I have heard this before but I guess I never knew just how true this could be until I began to travel with my family.  I’m a single child so I’ve never had natural brothers and sisters or had that attachment that many know.  I’ve been traveling since long before I graduated high school.  Traveling abroad seemed as natural to me as putting on a familiar t-shirt.  Sometimes I found myself travelling alone and like anyone else my heart would yearn for home and family.  Once I married and had a family of my own I found that the longing to return home wasn’t as intense as it used to be.  Our family started traveling together abroad in the Philippines and then on to Japan and then just last year to Africa.  It was such a comfort to have them with me.  It was like for the first time I had brought my heart right along with me as we traveled.  My family is more than just blood they are my fellow mission team members and I’m so proud of them!  My heart now goes wherever we go because they are with me!


Perhaps it’s this sense of strength that has inspired me to try new foods and be less picky…I want to share in adventures with them thus the day we had an African food feast I highly anticipated it!  Many new things were being prepared including these rice balls…these things stick to your ribs!  Like in India where I visited and lived for some time dishes took quite some time to prepare so there were two ladies who came and worked all day on the meal.  Part of what flavors the food is the preparation itself.  These tools are not modern but they provide a unique flavor that I am sure would be lost in a modern preparation method.  Note this immense paddle that was used to stir the rice as it became thicker.  I found the food to be very tasty yet very heavy.  This is Fu-Fu in light soup with a savory meat.  I couldn’t even come close to finishing this though it tasted wonderful.  I smile looking at this picture now.  It looks rather like a bowl of mashed potatoes and gravybut it’s much heavier than that.  The Africans laughed as I grew so tired that I had to rest soon after eating this…yep, I’m still just an abruni!  I’m never a man for a nap so I picked up my camera and went outside to take a few pictures to work off my food a bit.  The sun was glorious through the fan palm on the guesthouse grounds.  The flowers on the grounds were a subject of fascination for me…but my head was so heavy…perhaps if I helped them stir the rice I would have worked this feeling off more quickly…seriously…doesn’t this look like mashed potatoes?  The mind is so funny how it grasps for the familiar when confronted with the unfamiliar!  Right now the snow and cold has become the familiar but I find myself clinging to Ghana now which has become my home away from home.  Where the flowers always blossomand the generator runs way too often!  Finally I found even I was growing weary with the scenery on the compoundso after taking a final picture of this tropical pine tree that’s never had it’s needles covered by snowwe headed out to see what the neighborhood was up to.  Can you imagine living in a place where your house was surrounded by castle like walls covered with rusted spikes to keep people out?  Would you leave all you know and are familiar with to see things like this?  I would have said I’d like to years ago but never would have dreamed that I’d be standing here with my family now.  We walked together with our African family seeing the sights strange to our eyes…relishing each thing we’d never seen before…enjoying the adventure with the familiar love we have for each other.  Smashed glass served as spikes on some, we come from a place that has houses that sometimes don’t have a fence at all let along defenses like this!  Growing near this formidable defense was a tree…chamomile!  I’ve had the leaves from this in soups in the Philippines without even knowing what it was…oh so good!  You can really feel the healing properties from it when you taste it in a dish.  Imagine getting your meat from a local butcher…that’s what they do here..few use the local superstore for their needs.  Spiked fences provide wonderful clothes lines..I’m sure this worked better than the razor wire fence we were using!  Glorious sights!  My children weren’t buying banana or plantain at Walmart…we were seeing where these things grew first hand!  Here the familiar and unique often clash.  Clover is familiar to all of us…but how often have you viewed it with a curious and suspicious tropical lizard watching you?  I’ve seen little flowers before…but how about these thorns…and again the lizard looks at me like I’m crazy!  What a blossom!  This palm nut cluster doesn’t even look like something from this planet!  The ground was littered with the palm looks almost Christmas-like…well almost.  I’m thinking someone looked pregnant..I’m just sayin’  .  Hey, are you smiling for the camera or threatening me?  I’m thinking not all the locals were friendly.  Sometimes we were so tired that we fell to using energy drinks…here was one that became one of our favorites…note this particular ingredient…talk about familiar yet stranger!  LOL!