The other night we were sitting in our sitting room reading with the florescent light on. (Every room in the house has a light, but most are very low wattage florescent bulbs with just enough to light to see, but not read.) We started noticing a large insect or two flying near the light. Then there were 8 or 10 and then there were 30 or 40. This was within seconds! Our host mom, Philo, came in and started swatting them with a hand broom. We started looking around to find how they were getting in. When we checked the window screens we found them covered with bugs. We were in the midst of a flying ant or termite swarm. Apparently the rain that day was enough to force them out of the ground. They had wings about 2 inches long on 1 inch bodies. We determined that they were getting in under the front double doors, so Philo laid down a rag in front of the door but it did not cover the whole width. At that point it seemed we had hundreds of bugs inside so decided we needed to tu! rn off the light since that was what was attracting them. Then in order not to attract them into our bedroom we turned off that light too and started using flashlights. At that point there was not much else to do but go to bed safely protected under our mosquito net, so we got an early start on a nights rest. (We are really loving our mosquito net.) The next day all the volunteers were talking about the swarm which enveloped the whole village. Apparently some of the families were catching them and eating them raw after removing the wings. But some took the time to roast them, a real delicacy we presume.
Our mornings are much more pleasant than the evening just described. Due to the temperature being around 80 degrees most nights, we sleep with the windows wide open. The roosters start crowing around 4:30 AM, but in the 10 days we have been here we are already tuning them out so that they do not awaken us. Sometimes we hear singing from nearby or drums from far away starting around 5:30. Other morning sounds are a rhythmic sweeping outside and well water being drawn and poured from the well bucket into larger pans or buckets. (The house well is in the courtyard and has a cement wall around a 2 foot diameter hole. The water is about 30 feet down in the ground. There is a pipe in the well that provides the input to the pump that pumps water into to large tank connected to the house running water system. Don’t ask me why they still draw water with a bucket when the pump is right there. Perhaps they are saving wear and tear on the pump.) We are served breakfast around 6:30 AM! . Usually it’s hot porridge of rice, corn meal or tapioca - with bread and an egg – hard boiled, fried or omelet. Often there is a bucket of warm water in the shower for a bucket shower that was warmed over a charcoal stove outside. Running cold water showers are nicer later in the day when you’re hot. Our classes start at 7:30 and go ‘til noon. Then we have 2 ½ hours for lunch. At 2:30 we start class again until 5:30. Classes consist of French and Small Business Development sessions where we learn about Togolese culture and business. We also have health classes and safety & security classes along with bicycle repair classes.
On Sunday we went to a Baptist church with Philo. It is about a 20 minute walk from the house on the main road near the edge of town. Everyone dresses in their colorful finest for church. It is a simple, large structure like our house with cement walls but with lots of open pattern bricks for ventilation and a tin roof. It holds about 200 or 300 folks. It was very full. There are 6 foot long, 6 inch wide benches to sit on without backs. Men sit on the right side and women on the left. The service is done in both French and Ewe, the local African language. French is for folks who have moved here from elsewhere in Togo where Ewe is not spoken. "Blessed Assurance" was the first hymn sung by the congregation. Other songs were not as recognizable. They ask newcomers to stand and introduce themselves. Cate was moved to try it in French so she blurted out an introduction and told them were we in the Corps de la Paix. The broken French brought lots of smiles and laughter. A coed adult acapella choir of about 25 sang 3 songs with a definite African motif. That was the best part of the 1 ¾ hour long service for me. (They use an electronic organ, trombone and a one string base for musical instruments to accompany the congregation.) The preaching was pretty tame compared to some black Baptist preachers we have heard in the states. One of the texts was Romans 8, which will be recognized by the Lundring clan as Axel’s favorite scripture.
The other day we all went to meet the local tribal chief. He sat on a long porch with an assistant and we sat down on the porch as well. For starters we bowed down all together and said a local greeting in the local language. Then he welcomed us and we introduced ourselves in French. This meeting was done just for protocol to keep the local "powers that be" informed and respected. Chiefs are appointed by the ruling political party which has been in power since 1964 and just won the election in April.
On a more personal note we are feeling fine now, having recovered from our intestinal problems of the first week. (Other volunteers have had similar problems, but none hospitalized.) We are de-caffeinated, de-chocolatized and de-wined – something we thought would never happen! We have a cell phone working now so you can call us for 10 cents a minute. (It costs us over a dollar a minute so don’t expect a call from us.) Dustin and Claire have info on the cheap African calling card. Our number is:
001 228 903-3224.
The site Claire found is: http://www.zscomm.com/classic-africa.htm
We have talked to Claire, K&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;K and N&N so far. Call us any time between 6 and 9 PM our time (11AM and 2 PM Pacific Daylight Time).
Email access is very sketchy, but we have received many messages and thank you for your notes and encouragement. It’s hard to respond to each email, but it is GOOD to hear news from home, so please keep us updated on your lives, too. We are learning how to be patient with the internet…just one more cultural adaptation.
Love and blessings to each one of you!
Wayne and Cate
Now, some pictures (which you can also find here).