Please meet Laura Consford and her family...
Is there such a thing as a "typical" day on the mission field? It seems there is always something unexpected that comes up, but we just learn to go with the flow.
We are the Consford family, currently serving in Ghana, West Africa. Joe and I first arrived in Africa in 2004. At that time, we did not have any children. We now have three children, Gilbert (7), Danny (5), and Bonnie (4). Each addition to the family has brought a little more excitement. There never seems to be a dull moment around our house. Our children say some of the funniest things. I do not know where they come up with some of their great ideas.
Here in Takoradi, Ghana, we have the unusual opportunity of being able to put our children in a Christian school. Another Baptist missionary started a school several years ago. They use the A Beka DVDs and have a teacher and a monitor in each class. Last year was the first year that our children attended there. They were a little overwhelmed at first since they were the only white children in a school of 250 students. They have just started their second year. They were all excited for school to start again. The school is only four miles from our house, but it sometimes takes almost an hour to get there due to traffic and road conditions.
When school is in session, a "typical" day begins at 5:30 for me. I get up, make breakfast, and get lunches packed to send to school. After I get Joe and the kids out the door for school by 6:45, I have time for my devotions and computer time. Then, I get started on my chores for the day - dishes, laundry, cleaning, baking, etc. Filtering water is also a daily occurrence. We have well water and rain water as our main water sources. So, the water has to be filtered before using it for cooking or drinking. At one point, we all got sick from the water. Since that time, we have stepped up our filtering system. Our water goes through a chlorination process and then four different filters before we drink it, and it takes constant care to keep the water moving along to the next step.
When the children are out of school, they are still up early, usually around 6:00. I still have all of the same basic things to do. They are old enough now that they can help out around the house. They clear the table, wash the dishes, sweep the floor, etc.
As is the case on many mission fields, there are not many "quick fix" type things available. So, meal preparation takes a little longer sometimes - making your own tortillas, soups, pizza dough, etc.
When the children get home from school, they usually swim or play outside for a while to get some of their energy out. They do not play much during school. They also like to help me make supper.
After supper, we like to play a game as a family. I grew up playing board games, and I still enjoy playing games. The main thing we are working on right now is not getting upset when we lose; it seems that someone always ends up in tears.
We have had "load shedding" recently. The idea is for the power to be off in different areas at different times, but the power in our area seems to be the first one to go off. We live up on a hill. Sometimes at night, the power is off in our area, but we can see lights all around us. We do have a generator, which is a necessity to keep food from spoiling and to keep the fans turning. It is a little frustrating at times because we never know when we will have "load shedding" or how long the power will be off. We do have a gas stove; at least the food keeps cooking when the power goes off. The other night, the power went off during supper. Bonnie said, "I guess we are having a candle breakfast." We sometimes get behind on the laundry because the generator will not run the washing machine. If the power is on, the washing machine is in constant use. That is better than doing it by hand. I know that I have it much easier than missionaries did years ago or than modern-day missionaries who are in very remote places.
Joe stays busy with sermon preparation, visiting, and transporting the children to and from school during the week. On Saturday mornings, he goes visiting. We also have Bible Clubs on Saturday mornings in different neighborhoods.
On Sunday mornings, I work with the children seven years old and under. I usually have around twenty-five in my class. Most of the children who have not been to school yet do not speak English. I usually have a Fante-speaking helper in my class. On Sunday nights and Wednesday nights, I play my clarinet as accompaniment during the services.
I usually go into town with Joe one day during the week to go grocery shopping. We have a couple small stores that carry refrigerated items. There is also a large market area that has a variety of items - fruits, vegetables, fabric, etc. We also buy some things in bulk at the market - flour, sugar, powdered milk. After we get our shopping done, we usually eat lunch somewhere before heading home. We do not have any fast food restaurants in our town, but there are some good places to eat; it just takes a while before the food comes.
My next goal is to learn Fante, the tribal language in our area. We have had difficulty finding a teacher. My husband studied Fante for six months when we were in Ghana a few years ago. (We started out in Ivory Coast but had to leave several times due to civil war.) So, he knows a lot more than I do. We learned French before going to Ivory Coast, but I have never studied a tribal language before.
Thank you for the opportunity to share our daily happenings here in West Africa. We have a blog which started out as a daily e-mail to family and friends to let them know what happens each day. You are welcome to follow along at http://consfords.blogspot.com/.
Thank you, Laura, for giving us a peak into your life. Did you enjoy reading this? We would love to hear about a "typical" day in your life. Please email us at baptistmissionarywomen @ hotmail . com (no spaces).