Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Walking in a Dusty Winterland

Sitope, Michal and I after helping decorate the Kennel's Christmas Tree :)

A lovely Togo Christmas Carol for all of you to the tune of Winter Wonderland:

Dusty Winterland

Motos honk are you list’ning

In the lane, dust is glistening

We sing a love song in the African sun,

Walking in a Dusty Winterland

In the kitchen we will do some baking

And we’ll make our own great food from scratch

Next we’ll do some shopping in the market

In French we will negotiate the cash

Later on we’ll perspire

As we dream by the fire

To face unafraid the plans that we made

Walking in a Dusty Winterland

Saturday, December 12, 2009

5 Things Unique to Africa

1. A butterfly flitting beside me as I walk to the burn pile in which I discover several lizards scattering as I toss in the trash. Also, I never remember chasing butterflies as a child in the middle of December…

2. We didn’t have to pay extra for the twinkling lights on our Christmas tree because the electricity surges make the regular lights twinkle.

3. A tail-less lizard named Fred who walks into spelling class on almost a weekly basis. I suppose he wants to learn how to spell :)

4. Having a unique class pet. Our class pet Bob the wall spider (who is roughly the size of a half dollar), which along with his relatives mostly shows up in the evenings when I’m in my room lesson planning. Occasionally in the early mornings, I see him running from behind the whiteboard as I begin to write on it. Every other spider I have met has been given the name Cousin Bob and once I met Uncle Robert who is much larger than Bob and I am glad I have only seen him once.. I think he might be glad too ;)

5. Walking onto my roof and hearing children below yelling up at me various French and Kabiye phrases. Including “Hansi, Hansi!” and if it is one of the neighborhood children I have met they occasionally call out “Sarah! Sarah!” until I look over and acknowledge them.

Actually, something I have never had before moving here was a roof I could walk onto. I love to go up there especially at night to look at the stars and soak up the peaceful solitude the roof offers. I have seen several shooting stars while watching the night sky here… I have also seen many bats fly overhead.

I actually just found out that we will have a large meteor shower tomorrow night! So I will definitely be visiting our roof again to witness the beautiful spectacle of shooting stars :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lome Thanksgiving Trip!

Friday morning of thanksgiving break we began our journey down to Lome in the Miller's
beautiful blue Land Cruiser.

Bethany, Jacque and I in the backseat of the Miller's car, where we spent a good amount of time together :)

Yes, that was delicious ice cream, coconut (my favorite), chocolate and cappuccino! (One of our first stops of course!)

Jacque holding the baby of the man who sells the official Togo soccer team's clothing in Lome.

Jacque and I sporting the green away team color of the Togo soccer team :)

Pizza place in Lome with a kid's playroom and even a prize box! The kids even received prizes with their meals Asher chose a mask and Anna Marie picked a light blue straw hat with jalapeños around the brim.

Our room was reminiscent of a cabin with bunk beds along the side walls and one single bed in the middle as you walked in.

One of my new favorite places in the world, the house of chocolate! Yum! We enjoyed eating a few goodies after eating dinner at a chinese restaurant in town. Bethany and I split a dish of beef curry.

A mural on one of the walls at Coco Beach.

Yay Atlantic Ocean!

You have to have a burger on the beach to call a trip a vacation, right?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Joyeux Noël

It's December and Christmas decorating season :)
Here is a picture of our living room for your viewing pleasure with some of our festive lighting and decor!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving :)

I want to wish you all a happy thanksgiving with your family and friends :)
I wanted to share a fun poem I found with all of you:

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

~Author Unknown

We all enjoyed a beautiful feast at the Kennell's house with all the other missionary families :) We brought a beautiful pecan pie, pie crust thanks to Bethany and Filling (with homemade corn syrup by Bethany) thanks to Jacque!

We're heading to Lome for the weekend, so I'm going to go pack! Hope you enjoy the holiday :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009


To everything- turn turn turn
There is a season- turn turn turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together

A time of war, a time of peace
A time of love, a time of hate
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew

-The Byrds
(Ecclesiastes 3)

The last three pictures above are from the last storm of rainy season. The first two are of a beautiful sunset thanks to the dusty season that has arrived. The harmattan is here and with it the roads are dustier and everything is drying out.. It was such a sudden change. The nights are much cooler in the upper 50s (F) and the days aren't humid like before, but they still reach temperatures in the upper 90s (F). As the harmattan came, so did illness... Today it seemed as if the whole schoolhouse was full of sickness. I have a bad cold that came on suddenly a couple days ago, and it is starting to let up some-- I'm pretty sure it was caused by the change in seasons.
Other than the changes in the seasons there have been so many changes taking place in adapting to life here. The normalcy of everything in particular amazes me at this point. I know what to expect for the most part and when to expect the unexpected even.. Even as I become accustomed to day to day life here, I find myself still being amazed at the different climate I now find myself living in. Lately I have been missing family and friends from the states more and missing the seasons the states has to offer with the layered clothing and the bulky jackets and the falling leaves or snow to jump in. The seasons here still change, but in such a foreign way to me..

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Day in My Life

Here are some more pictures of my day to day life here in Togo:

My bed is on the left with the green cover... (I should take a new photo since I now have pictures hung above the foot of my bed and a trunk at the head of the bed with a lamp and books. Until I post a new photo however, you will have to imagine it.)

Our Kitchen, with our little fridge where I awake to make myself a quick bowl of oatmeal most mornings :) Unless one of my kind roommates has decided to make pancakes or some other delicious morning treat! (Honestly this photo was taken a while ago, our microwave is no longer on top of the fridge and we have a seasonal tablecloth on our table now as well as a few additional pictures put up on our walls. Again I encourage the use of your imaginations!!!)

The pathway to my Kindergarten Class, I often feel as if I walk in a daze to my classroom most mornings as I go to unlock the door.

After school is over I lock up my classroom and go up to the roof to grab random laundry on a typical sunny day.

This is the view of our front gate from the roof. If you look just to the left of our gate in the street there is a burn pile that our neighbors use-- often sending smoke into our apartment. Or on occasion into our classrooms...

The typical afternoon we have a couple hours of down time after school before we all get picked up in a car like the one in the picture below.

Depending on the day we go to different families homes for dinners or other team gatherings.

This picture was taken after one of our women prayer times... Jacque had me take several photos since it looked like a car commercial... This is the SUV that can take you anywhere in the rough African terrain, even through the muddy and bumpy back roads.. Yes, even all the way to our own schoolhouse door!

Here are some fun pictures from a fun girls night at the Kennell's house:

This girls night was at the Kennell's where we celebrated Lisa's birthday and we had a makeover night. Everyone had their feet washed and Maddie and Abby gave Bethany and I makeovers :)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween and More

Since this was the week of Halloween we had some fun activities to celebrate the fall season :)
Here are some pictures of the older students with their faces painted...

Miss Bethany was the master artiste (red nose courtesy of Elijah Reeves).

Hannah Reeves chose two candy corn pieces.

Abby Miller had some sparkling swirls.

Maddie Kennell had a sparkly pumpkin painted on her face.

Michal Kennell decided she would color instead of having her face painted.

Elijah Reeves was the funniest clown -- he even stood on his head ;)

And Aidan Miller.. well I think the paintbrush was too sharp after Bethany finished his pumpkin .. :/

Of course, I joined in saying "Ok Bethany, do whatever you want- be creative!" This is what she came up with... Spider Woman!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


This week started off with a beautiful restful weekend, but then by Tuesday afternoon I was having chills and a mild fever. I took the rest of the day off and had a malaria test done, and thankfully I was malaria free :) The next morning I was still very fatigued, so I took the day off to sleep it off. After getting rested I have been feeling much better, thank you to all who were praying for me!

We have been living here for two months now, which seems unbelievable to me. I can now distinguish one dirt rocky road from another-- the picture above for example is the street where I live :) Today walking to the Kennell's house Bethany and I had a conversation that went like this:

"Is this the right road?"

"Yes, I think so, it looks like the right orange dirt road."

"Unlike the other less orangey dirt road with potholes?"

"I believe so.. the other road was less orangey and more a pale tan..."

Monday, October 19, 2009


Today I visited a lovely little shop called Codhani to pick up a couple orders and to look around. I went with Becky Reeves, Aimee, Hannah and Maddie, while Bethany and Jacque stayed at the apartment getting some work done. We were able to visit both the part of the store where the different fabrics are dyed and sewed and the shop where they sell premade items and you can place orders for specific designs. Codhani is a specialty store with various fabric goods that are sewn and dyed by disabled workers. Although they weren’t working today we took a brief tour to look at how they make the fabrics. First they pencil in the different ideas and sketch them on the fabrics creating unique pieces or reproducing specific ordered items. Next, they place wax on the portions that will remain the background color and then they dye the fabric the second color. After all the dying has been completed they wash out the wax and dry the fabric. Last, they sew the fabric into clothing items, tablecloths, blankets, purses and many other items. One of my favorite pieces that they make at Codhani is the Africa map that I purchased as an intern in 2007. Niki Martz and I both had these Africa maps hanging in our dorm last year, so every time I see them at the store I smile thinking back on fond memories of my dorm last year :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Kindergarten Class!

Here is a picture of my very energetic kindergarten class :) You can see they have a lot of spunk! Class has been lots of fun practicing handwriting, doing science experiments and working with vowel sounds and blends with reading! I love the energy and excitement these boys have for learning new things and the joy they bring to each school day :)
This weekend Jacque, Bethany and I have a planned outing to Codhani, a place that sells soft fabrics that are dyed to order. After that we're going to go on a hike up a waterfall that is out that way. I'm excited to be able to go on a hike, we haven't been able to go on one yet, and I love just getting out and exploring! I am planning on going on a shorter hike to explore our neighborhood some time tomorrow morning as well... Of course, my plans are subject to changes.. especially here.
That is something I feel God teaching me everyday is to be more flexible and more patient. So much can change at the last minute or take a lot longer than expected :)
I love living here in Togo and getting to teach all of the kids here! They are all so much fun!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sarakawa Safari

So in amongst getting lesson plans done and living without internet for a weekend... we went on Safari with Brett Emerson and saw Zebras and monkeys :) Really close up. So exciting! This is one of my pictures! It is such an experience living somewhere where you can walk out your door and see lizards and geckos that would be on some special exhibit in a zoo... or go on safari 30 minutes from your house.

This is the third week of school and the boys have been so much fun! They get really excited when they figure out how to spell a new word or just in sharing stories with me. I really enjoy teaching and I am so excited to progress with all that the students are learning, I hope they look forward to what they are going to learn this year :)

Monday, September 21, 2009


So this is the end of our weekend here! Instead of Saturdays and Sundays off we have Sundays and Mondays off. On Sunday we went to Jim's house again for games and coffee with people from their team. We played scum which was hilarious. There is a president and vice president and you are ranked based on how well each round goes. The lowest person gets the title of scum. I ended the game with the least overall points making me scum :) hehe.
After that we hitched a ride over to the Emerson's for our team devotional and taco pile up! Yummy! It was so good enjoying the fellowship of everyone together and hearing Brett read from 1 Corinthians 12 about the body of Christ. The reminder that each of us play different roles in the work that is being done here and how each is necessary really encouraged me. It was something I needed to hear.
Today we were going on a hike with Brett Emerson, Mark Kennell and Ryan Richardson. We began the walk on a trail, but to stay closer to the water we had to walk through some brush and we ended up having a minor injury. Bethany had her foot sliced by a cornstalk in between two toes so we ended the hike early to get it cleaned out. So now we are all enjoying the extra time with internet at the Emerson's house :)
Keep us all in your prayers this week as we begin the second week of school!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


This is a picture of the outside of my classroom for the kindergarteners. I love the colors of the windows and the plants outside :) Oh and note the freshly painted floors in the picture... This was taken prior to decorating.

As was this photo... Note the beautiful white walls that were repainted :) Also note the organizing and decorating that needed done :)

Here is a picture of my classroom at recess today.. it still could use a little love, but looking at how far it has come, I love it :) I will post pictures of my students soon, I took one during recess today, but it is too comical to post.. perhaps I'll post that one with a good one later.

The first day of kindergarten was today and it was good to get accustomed to our schedule and work on transitions between subjects. We had 'A' day in kindergarten today :) It was a blast familiarizing myself with the materials available and getting to know my students, Asher and Gabriel. We had tons of fun reading books together and learning to write uppercase and lowercase A's! We read some 'A' books together during snack time after recess, which was so much fun. I really enjoy the curriculum I am using for teaching Reading and Writing. Sing Spell Read and Write incorporates music and it is very detailed and easy to use.

I am so excited to see how these boys grow in their reading and writing skills throughout this year... and they are already so far ahead!

Other than school things, all of us teachers have been getting in a good amount of walking this week :) Saturday and Sunday we walked to the Emersons, (which is about a 15 min walk) and then we walked to the Millers (12 min walk) on Monday to visit before we walked to the market (25 min walk) to do a bit of shopping. Today after school we walked with Nicole and two of our students, Hannah Reeves and Maddie Kennell, to the Kennells (20 min walk) for dinner, internet access and good company :)

So everyplace is in walking distance, but I definitely will be getting my exercise this year :) It has been fun to walk and greet people that I pass and it has offered opportunity to meet other local Americans. We met Matt from DC in the market yesterday who is working for Peace Corps for the next year and a half in Kara area. It was so odd to be approached while looking at a fruit stand with an english voice asking if we were in the Peace Corps. It was nice to meet another english speaker though and I think he hadn't seen very many Americans in a long time.

Many random things have happened that I have yet to blog about. If you would like to email me and ask any questions feel free to email me at sarah.elizabeth.hug@gmail.com or facebook me. Just be aware that it may take a while to get back to you. Also feel free to check out my fellow teachers blogs (listed on the right) if you would like to read more about our life here.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

First Day!

So Today I had my first day of classes with the older groups teaching french. It was an interesting learning experience. I found out about where they were with their french and more about their learning styles. It was great to see all of my students and I am super excited for kindergarten to start on Tuesday and excited to show the older kids how fun french can be :)
Hopefully, I can at least have fun in the meantime while they are being convinced... honestly today I had a blast working with the older girls on a few things with pronunciation and counting. I think I'm going to make out a sheet of vocabulary they should work on at this point. I also have curriculums to work from, which I think I will begin to go through this next week adding homework and activities to make it fun and a positive experience.
Kindergarten will be fun, I need to make sure I have a nailed down schedule to start off and create a good routine so we can get the learning and work done while still having the time for fun! We had a wonderful processing discussion with Mark after our first day of teaching and it makes me excited for the next week of teaching and getting into the groove. I love my classroom more and more each day... I'm in the process of finishing simple decor and posting rules and things are more organized... I'm thinking of moving all my french teaching supplies to a room upstairs for me to access during lunch before my french classes and when I lesson plan. That way it won't be there getting mixed up with all the kindergarten curriculum.
Living here is so amazingly beautiful. Before my classes today I was able to just walk out my classroom and see the hills in the distance and I just savored that moment. It reminded me of the day I took the photo above on our roof. I just love how life just moves along here just like anywhere else. I love you all and miss you! I have been learning so much about myself here and about communication of all things.. Learning and growing really never leave you. Which I am very thankful for :)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

BBQs and Friends

Yesterday we went to a BBQ with another missionary team at Jimmy White's house. His house was a great spot to have a get together with everyone. The gathering included the Hangens, the Emersons, the Kennells, the Huffs, the Shanks and the teachers :) We had a great assortment of American treats that each family had brought for desserts, it was fun! We brought Bethany's chocolate chip spice bars for our contribution to the desserts, and corn for a side dish.

Today has been an eventful day, currently we are at the Emerson's for dinner after team devo. I woke up this morning and Bethany trimmed my hair, and then a couple men, Joseph and KouKou, showed up at the house to see my classroom and to talk about painting it :) I am really excited about that.. hopefully it is all dry by the time classes need to begin. The class was overlooked when they painted the main building so now they are going to paint it on Monday morning 8/9 am ish.

Jacque, Bethany and I walked to the Emerson's this afternoon early so we would be able to get some internet time before afternoon church :) I was able to catch my mom and dad and get to skype with them which was really awesome! I'm posting this picture of me by request from Cecelia, who says I don't post enough pictures of myself... and also for Mom and Dad. It seems a bit blurry... I think that is from the humidity.

Although planning curriculum and arranging things in my classroom has been taking up a good bit of time throughout each day, I have had opportunity to read more which has been fabulous. I like to take a bit of time before sleeping to read and journal, currently I am reading John Adams, which I borrowed from Jimmy, and I just finished reading I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which Jacque brought.

It is preparing to storm outside right now so the wind is blowing strong, which makes it feel much cooler. I love how powerful the storms are here, the only downside is that it is usually accompanied with bouts of no electricity... which means no internet, and no fans. The electricity is flickering on and off, so I'm going to post now and see if it works :)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Babysitting and Wandering :)

Yesterday was our first Monday, which will usually mean our day off from school. This Monday us girls watched the Emerson's boys, Caden and Corban so that Brett and April could celebrate their anniversary. It was lots of fun hanging out with the boys and watching Veggies and Curious George!
Soon after we arrived at the Emerson's house, Jacque and I realized as it began to rain outside that we had forgotten to shut our windows and she had left her iphone... so we decided to leave Bethany to watch the kids while we walked back to the apartment to check on things. This was quite the adventure as it was still raining as we walked and this was our first walking expedition so we had to orient ourselves to where we were.
We arrived at our apartment after taking the scenic route... and then found Jacque's iphone safely next to an opened window that hadn't let any of the rain water in yet. We closed up the house and made our way back on a much more direct route... arriving back at the Emerson's soaking wet and laughing as we greeted Bethany to share our story. We have since realized that corn, red doors and chickens aren't good landmarks :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Church in Ewede

Today was our first day to go to church in a village. We were planning on going to Njei for church, but instead we ended up walking to Ewede which was where I had gone for my bonding experience as an intern 2 years ago. It was fun to see the family I had stayed with and they asked to see me again for a meal.
After walking a ways through fields and puddles to Ewede, the church service had still yet to commence. We went to church with the Kennells and we met up with Matt and Grace Hangen once in Ewede and as we walked up to the church building chairs were gathered and brought into the church for us. Once we were inside and seated more people continued to show up throughout the service. The singing was fun and familiar, especially when they sang Ameya which Jacque, Bethany and I had learned in the states. Then there was the scripture reading, which we could follow along decently with our english Bibles, but once they started discussion all of us teachers were pretty lost in the slew of Kabiye vocabulary which we don't know. It was a good experience... Jacque made a list of all the things she learned about village churches today :) It is a fun list which includes our experience this morning with a cell phone going off during the service. After the ringtone played for a good bit, the man that owned it stood up, answered it and walked out.. I think that was one of the funniest highlights of today.
So, I probably will get a bit of online time before and after dinner the days of the week that we visit the missionaries for dinners. We don't have internet in our apartment, but we can access internet at most of the homes we will visit.
I will try to update often so you can get a glimpse of my life here!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Moving in!

Today I spent most of the day cleaning all the random things out of our closets in our apartment above the schoolhouse. I selected which tupperware will be kept for storing our leftovers and which dishes we will actually use and reuse for the next nine months. The leftovers of the dishes and tupperware will live under my bed in this nifty storage place where we can get them if we change our mind, or if we have a lot of company :)
I also went through two of my boxes and unpacked a majority of the things in them and placed them into our wardrobe and dresser... after of course cleaning out all the little gifts previous teachers had left for us and dusting. These little gifts included, but weren't limited to random wires to connect things, two old computer speakers, power strips, surge protectors, and some used old spice deodorant left by the gentlemen who once occupied our apartment (maybe if we get very desperate ;) ).
I have a couple bags that were left here at the Kennell's for tonight and I'll be finishing my unpacking tomorrow and then we'll be moving in officially :) It is so incredible to think of living there and making our little home there in the schoolhouse! It's really exciting!
We are visiting the market tomorrow .. we have been by it a few times already and stopped there to pick a few things up, such as "fast food" for lunch today, which included banana "donuts", and fried plantains... mmmm.. Anyways, April will be taking us to the market so we can stock our kitchen with essentials for creating all of our meals from scratch. We are lucky to already have some rice and sugar to start off with and a few other staples, but after writing out our menu we still have a lot of produce to buy as well as a few essential items for our apartment.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Yesterday we were able to visit the schoolhouse :) It was really neat to be able to check out our classrooms and to see what our apartment would look like!

Here are a few pictures of the first looks at where we are going to live this year:

The schoolhouse is two stories with access to the roof. We have a lovely terrace with an entrance from our stairs and also from our living room :) Our kitchen is equipped with a gas oven, a sink with a filter for clean drinking water and a few staples we'll need when we begin to cook for ourselves. We are still living with the Kennells for now, but we're moving our stuff into the apartment tomorrow!!! I'm so excited :)

This is one of the windows to my classroom which is in a separate building to the right of the main school building. I'm teaching kindergarten this year! I will be teaching two of the boys, Gabriel and Asher, so I am looking forward to figuring out fun boy themes for the room.

So today I spent the day setting up the classroom or rather tearing down old decorations and organizing old paints. Hopefully I can get the room cleaned out by the end of this week and start to really put up new things next week. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but since I only have my math curriculum so far I've been focusing on getting the decor situated for the next year. I hope to make things fun for the boys by changing up decorations for different seasons and I am full of many ideas to make the school year fun for us.
I was really enjoying spending time today with Grace Hangen who is one of the missionary wives here who won't have children that I will be teaching. It was fun to have her company as I tore things down from the walls and collected things I think I will be using for decorations. This year will be fantastic getting to know the missionaries here! They are all so much fun to spend time with and I feel as if I have so much to learn from them.

I wanted to share this picture of the two Kennell girls, Michal and Maddie. They have been fun to spend this week with! This is a welcome poster for us teachers that they made for us :) It makes me so happy how they are excited for the beginning of school.. and it seems they are anxious for it to begin soon! I love that they are happy to learn new things and I figure it will be a blast this year teaching all of the children french.

I look forward to this year with all of the new things I will learn and I know it will stretch and grow me into more of the woman God created me to be. Please keep me in your prayers!