February 8, 2016 Abetenim, Ghana

I am writing this to a background noise of a Pentecostal crusade. My thoughts about all this energy being used to drum up religious fervour has already been alluded to.

Saturday, I spent most of the day, trying to ignore all the kids around me while I designed the mural for the women's sewing co op. Our only table and chairs are outside so there was no hiding away. The kids desperately wanted my attention and to try my paints. They blew their horns in my face, leaned into me, pushed and shoved and made their little brothers cry so I would stop and pick them up and console them.They were just being kids, but I had to get this mural design done.

I am amazed at the toys the kids have made. A six foot long stick has a home made wheel nailed to the bottom, a small stick nailed to the top and it is "driven" everywhere. The remains of an old bicycle, that still has one front wheel provides hours of fun. A bike rim is rolled with a stick. Old rubber tires are rolled. Tiny plastic tubes, that could easily be choked on, make whistles. I am reminded of the kids in South America using old balloon bits as chewing gum. Here, I saw a little kid chewing on a plastic sandal. Any old piece of cardboard can be rolled into a horn and any pot or container can be drummed on.

We had borrowed the only meter stick in town from the school to measure our ten meter mural wall so I made a tiny paper ruler to be able to scale up the drawings. By late afternoon, I had colour drawings and the gridded base drawings done. We walked into the centre of the village where the building is. The new stucco seemed dry, so I started in drawing on it. New stucco eats pencil lead. Jim and I have never sharpened so many pencils into nothingness. There is only a narrow, uneven rim around the base of our wall and then the land slopes steeply down. Drawing and painting is tough. You definitely can't step back to look at it.

Yesterday, we headed to the mural site bright and early to get a full day of work in. Jim was put to work painting as well. We were very surprised when at 9 AM people started arriving for their 9:30 church service in the co op building! I was just hoping that someone had approved our mural work while this is still a church. Once the service was in full swing, we thought it prudent to stop work until.the service was over at noon. When we resumed work, I kept throwing up, so by 2:30 we had to quit. I thought maybe it was hunger because breakfast was just cake and pineapple. I am taking lots of new pills including the malaria pills, so I had some lunch hoping I would feel better. No luck here, I continued to throw up for the next 15 hours! And then the terrible runs started and a terrific headache. We are well stocked with pills for almost everything but Jim was worried and with out asking me, a doctor was called this morning. Yes, doctors still do house calls. The doctor diagnosed food poisoning and prescribed rest and liquids.

This mural is a huge project. It is something I have never done before and it is certainly something that was not in Jim's travel plans. Our time here will no doubt be the highlight of my trip. When ever I am away and sick, I am reminded of what a great fellow I am married to. He still loves me when I am feverish, cranky, barfing and have the runs! By lunch time, I felt that I had to get some work done, so off we set. Unfortunately, this time it was Jim who had to go back and lay down. Believe me, I felt like joining him but I stuck it out until 5:45 when I quit and walked back. It suddenly gets dark here at 6 pm. I definitely am not up to eating anything yet but I did manage a half bottle of a cold beer.

It is hard enough to be in this strange environment when you are feeling well. When you are sick, everything is much harder and we have it easy compared to the locals.. We don't have to haul our own water, or cook over an open fire. We watch everyone hauling large buckets of water on their heads, morning noon and night. The school kids drop off their buckets on the way to school so when the day is over they can fill them and carry them home on their heads. The stream is somewhere down the hill in the woods. We get three buckets of water delivered to our bathroom every day. Quite often, we have power and then we have running water to our bathroom! The schools, including the new Junior High, don't have any bathrooms, just a very rustic shed with a hole in the ground. I appreciate water like I never have before. We are also the lucky ones in that we can afford to buy drinking water. We ran out today and I was so dry that I drank my first bagged drinking water, instead of a distilled bottle. It was cold and delicious but may come back to haunt me.