If you haven’t read part 1 of my moving to Ghana post, please read it here.
The minute the wheels touched down in Accra, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and joy rush over me. Even though I had a terrible migraine, fever, and a slew of other symptoms…I had made it through part of my journey and I was finally on Ghanaian soil. I knew I had quite the feat infront of me with customs and baggage, but I will thrilled that I made it to Ghana in one piece.
Throughout both flights I kept praying for all my baggage to arrive, and for there to be a way for me to get my 10 suitcases through the baggage check and out to the arrival hall. There was no way I could manage 10 suitcases by myself, especially when I was feeling so sick.
After over an hour waiting in the sweaty and humid customs hall, my passport was stamped for entrance into Ghana and I began to walk to the baggage area. To my complete surprise and shock, my Ghanaian brother, Mac Jordan, was standing at the baggage carousel waiting for me! The baggage claim is still inside the secure part of the airport and only people arriving are allowed to be there! I knew he was picking me up, but because of security, rules, and customs, he normally has to wait in the outdoor arrival hall. I was so relieved and thrilled to see him! I messaged him during my layover in London telling him I wasn’t feeling good and that I was really worried about picking up my bags, and he was able to use his connections and sweet talk a little bit to get permission from the airport security to allow him to meet me at the baggage claim. I breathed the biggest sigh of relief. Thank you God for always finding a way to provide.
One by one my bags slowly came off the plane and luckily all 10 arrived. I breathed another sigh of relief once Mac Jordan and I rolled the 3 luggage carts out of the airport and my other Ghanaian brother, Jerome, was waiting to greet us.
It was after 10pm by the time we left the airport and started heading to the house. The smells, the sights, the sounds, everything was the same. Everything was familiar. Everything was normal.
I was planning to only stay in Accra for the night and to take the bus to Kumasi early in the morning with all my luggage, so I could move into my house right away and start settling down, but after we got all my luggage into Mac Jordan & Jerome’s house…even more sickness hit. Dizziness, exhaustion, and nausea came, and stacked ontop of my other symptoms. I decided it wasn’t the best to try and make the trip to Kumasi the next morning, so I would wake up and see how I felt, and maybe leave in the afternoon.
I didn’t sleep a wink and tossed and turned all night. I woke up in even more pain and exhaustion than before. If I stood up, I would pass out and see stars. I could just barely drink water, and even thinking of food made me more queasy. I had all the symptoms of malaria (which I knew it wasn’t because I started feeling sick on my flights), flu, sinus infection, ear infection, parasite, and strep. I had no idea what was going on with my body, but there was no way I would be able to make the 5 hour trip to Kumasi anytime soon.
I really don’t remember much of the next 2 days because I was sleeping off and on, sweating profusely, having chills, and trying to tell my family and friends that I was okay. My incredible Ghanaian brothers came to check on me often and made sure I was drinking water and eating whatever I could. Their hospitality and love was endless and they were determined to help get me better…or at least make me laugh to lighten the mood. When we are sick, all we want is our parents tending to our every need, and this time was no different, but thanks to my lovely brothers, I was being well cared for.
People all over the world were praying for quick healing for my body so I could make the trip to start moving into my house. I was on a time crunch, as new volunteers were arriving soon and would be my first house guests. All I wanted to do was feel better so I could begin settling in, and had no idea why this horrible sickness was thrown at me right when I arrived. I had just made the biggest move and decision of my life thus far, wasn’t it supposed to be joyous and happy, not pain and illness?
But there was a silver lining to being sick and not traveling to Kumasi as planned. My new (American) friend Jamen was in Accra picking up a volunteer for the nonprofit she works for and offered to come pick me + my 10 bags up, and take us in her private van back to Kumasi, meaning I wouldn’t have to take the public bus or try to maneuver my luggage! I’ll explain the whole story of how Jamen and I met another day, but know that she is a complete & utter God-sent person. Without her, my life here in Ghana wouldn’t be what it is and I thank God every single day for bringing us together.
So off we went to Kumasi and it seemed like my sickness was getting worse. We had the number of a Russian doctor who is living in Ghana, so we called her in the car and told her all my symptoms. She said that I probably had some sort of infection or the flu, but because my fever was breaking and getting lower, it was probably on it’s way out of my body. Because I still wasn’t feeling 100% we decided it was best that I stay overnight at Jamen’s house and start moving into house the following morning. I prayed that entire car ride that by the time we arrived in Kumasi, that my health and strength would be on the mend.
The following morning I woke up and felt 5,000 times better. The best that I had felt in a week. We drove to my house, got the keys, and started cleaning every room top to bottom. I had super strength and besides looking sickly pale, I felt like a million bucks. God heals and restores in the knick of time and brought so many people together to help me move into my new house.
After cleaning all the rooms, I started to unpack and organize and plan for furniture. I took a few moments to sit in my living room and soak in all the goodness and newness of the house and marvel in the possibilities of the mighty plans the house could be used for, all for His glory.
The landlord left a set of couches in the living room that were scheduled to be picked up in a few weeks, so I decided to stay the night at my house by myself and sleep on the couch. I went and got some dinner and came back to the house when it was starting to get dark. My stuff was scattered all over the house, rooms were flipped upside down, and everything was pretty bare, but I planned on getting up early to continue cleaning and unpacking a bit. My night security guard was outside in the guard shack so I knew I was physically safe from any harm. The sun was almost down and I went to turn on some lights when I realized that almost all the lightbulbs were burnt out. Only a few dim lightbulbs were working, which didn’t even light up the room. I was running around testing which lighbulbs worked to see if I could switch them around to light the living room where I was going to sleep. None were working and I began to get a little worried. I’m not scared of the dark, but was beginning to freak out being in a huge, empty house in a completely new area without lights or internet or anyone around.
I was just overcome with worry and fear and began to panic. (I have never had severe anxiety or panic attacks ever before). Everything just began to build and I was freaking myself out, trying to calm myself down, and then freaking out again. I wasn’t sure why I was panicking so much or what caused it but I was feeling so physically, emotionally and spiritually attacked. I tried to sleep but just kept jumping up and pacing. I kept telling myself that I was strong and could stay the night, because this was my house and I was safe and secure and fine.
But things just kept getting worse and I made a decision. I needed to leave and not stay at my house overnight. I needed to put my ego aside and made the decision for myself and my needs. I called Mike (Light for Children director & my host father every other time I’ve been in Ghana) and asked if I could stay at his house for the night. Of course he agreed and I took a taxi all the way there. His house was always a place of peace and comfort to me, and immediately felt a little better, still anxious and panicky, but safer.
The next morning I woke up and was still feeling the same emotions, only intensified. I began to question my purpose in Ghana. I began to question why I moved. I began to question if moving was the best choice. I questioned and analyzed everything. All the possible negative thoughts flooded my head. Anxiety was building and I felt myself breaking down. I called my mom crying and wanting to take the next plane back to the US. I was saying that I wasn’t strong enough for this life and I wanted out. The thing was… I knew all the negative things I was thinking weren’t true. I knew why I was called to Ghana & who called me to Ghana. I knew parts of my purpose and how those were being fulfilled. I felt the enemy attacking every piece of me: physically, emotionally, and mentally. It felt like I was being choked with negativity and it was all I could think of.
It was 4 of the darkest days I’ve had in a long, long while. I have never, ever felt so physically alone and weak. During the days I would go over to my house and try to sort through things and unpack, but when the sun began to go down I could feel the anxiety rising, and would head to Mike’s to stay the night. My mind was constantly running and I couldn’t calm it. I felt as though I couldn’t control my body and I was in a fog, with the present moment and world being just out of reach. It wasn’t fun at all and each of those 4 days was a struggle to make it through the day, and not keep myself awake all night. The enemy wanted to infiltrate my heart and mind, and make me feel so weak that I would give up and return to the US. And to be honest, I was pretty darn close to letting him win, because that’s just how horrible it was. I only told a few close friends about what I was thinking and feeling and asked them to pray.
I prayed all day, in every moment that I could. I just begged God to fight for me. To bring joy and laughter back into my days. To re-show me my purpose. To put a shield of protection around me. To let His will be known. To give me a new heart, with positivity, and always focused on Him. And most of all, to absolutely stomp the enemy down. Down to the ground and out of my life. I desperately needed Him to interfere and rescue me.
And He did just that…and more. After 4 days I woke up and decided to choose joy & choose my loving, strength-filled, and protective God. And slowly…the joy, purpose, laughter, happiness, and love returned. It wasn’t easy & it wasn’t instant, but it was a start. That same day my big purple monster of a house felt like a home. I walked in and the walls were half painted, the kitchen was disheveled, and there were cockroaches in the bathroom…but it finally felt like home. I spent the night in my house for the first time and woke up and blasted Hillsong and made breakfast and began decorating. Everything was back into place in my heart and mind, and was filled with joy & enveloped in grace. And things have only gotten better from that day….
I share all of this with you not to make myself look courageous and strong (because I think these stories show just how weak & vulnerable I am), but because I committed to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. Life isn’t always sunshines and rainbows and we have some very dark moments. I want this blog to be a space of truth, love, and complete honesty.
When you don’t have a ladder, this is how you clean the windows
Hanging right when you walk in the front door
Thankful for friends who will come over to paint the kitchen!
Sunsets from my street are breathtaking
Kitchen in progress (need to buy a ladder to finish the top section)
Before we loaded all 5 mattress on top of a taxi
My floors are never as clean as I would like them…oh well
The windows outside are reflective & will act as my mirror until I buy one!
Weekly verse in the kitchen