The red-orange sunrise illuminated the rolling hills of the McKnight ranch. As I squinted, I could distinguish herds of little black dots scattered about on the rolling hills of this west Texas rangeland. I could feel the humidity in the air, almost like a damp blanket covering my skin, as I slowly crept onto the porch of an aging homestead. Out of the corner of my left eye stood the cabin where the rest of my team still slept. My back faced the glassy lake that lapped its way up to the rocky barrier outlining the front yard. I found myself staring at the wooden door in front of me, covered in peeling and cracking paint. With each step forward, the weathered floorboards let out a soft groan. My curiosity had been peaked by the aging ranch house beside the cabin, a forsaken structure that neither the owner of the ranch nor any of the fellows had taken time to acknowledge. I had to see what waited inside. As I reached out to turn the rusty doorknob, I hesitated. My mind raced with the possibilities of both discovery and danger! Re-gathering myself, I grabbed the knob, leaned into the door, and with a soft groan it swung open.
It has now been two weeks and one day since my team and I have arrived in Ghana. As we climbed out of the Boeing 747 onto the tarmac, an airport security guard rushed us into an awaiting bus that would take us to our terminal. Stepping off the bus, into the terminal I read a familiar word proudly displayed above the doorway, “AKWAABA,” which means “Welcome”. We had made it…well, not quite. After a quick bathroom break we rushed through the heat screening and on to the immigration line to have our passports stamped. Our instructions were to secure our bags and make our way the exit where our escorts, John and Sampson, were patiently awaiting our arrival. As we stepped out of the airport into the mass of overly eager cab drivers, I immediately broke into a sweat and began scanning the crowd for John, all the while trying my best to repel the mob. I heard a yell to my left and swung my head to see the smiling faces of my teammates and savior from south Texas. After 7000 miles and 26 hours, we had finally arrived.
Here is an excerpt from my first journal entry in Ghana: “Classic rock flows through the air, pushed to and fro, into the night by the single, pale white ceiling fan in the center of the room. I’m sitting at an old wooden desk penning this entry…The city of Accra is a flattened metropolis, smelling of gasoline and biofuels. Much of it is humble and run-down. Off in the distance you can hear a police car chasing some unknown criminal. Directly below the hostel, in the dead of night, is a man chopping firewood – you would think he could find a better time of the day to do this. It’s been quite the day…For now, I will resign myself to the steady hum of the single, white ceiling fan. Tomorrow is a new day to be discovered.”
Training has since commenced and finished. I sit here in a hotel room on the campus of the University of Cape Coast, the still of the night easing my mind into a state of reflection. Though we’ve been instructed on the things we might expect, it has become abundantly clear that each situation we will encounter is unique, and few decisions will be easy. Having a desire for structure, my level of anxiety has slowly increased as training has concluded. How will I adapt? What if I fail? If I succeed, how can I be sure to ride the momentum? In all this uncertainty pertaining to culture, education, distance, and novelty, I remain confident that those things done in love and with true purpose cannot be done in vain – no matter how glaring the failure might be. I cannot be my community’s savior. My goal is to be a bearer of knowledge and a reservoir of energy for the people in Akatakywa. My identity will not be based upon my successes and failures. I am defined by the love of my creator who has established a path and provided an opportunity to go serve the nations.
The door to my journey into Ghana has swung wide open, and I am left with two options; to turn back or to step forward with confidence. I have chosen the latter. With uncertainty I am stepping into Ghana, and tomorrow, with uncertainty I will walk down the dusty road leading into my Ghanaian community. Nevertheless, I confidently and optimistically move forward so that I might be challenged, overcome adversity, and leave a positive impact on people. I am eternally grateful that I am not the only one. Let the games begin.
Merle Mullet is an Agribusiness major from Purdue University. Before becoming an AgriCorps Fellow Merle was very involved in Agriculture Future of America and studied agriculture in South Africa.