Geez Louise!

I can't believe it's been so long since I've blogged! Life just seems to get in the way.

I turned the 'ripe' old age of 62 in July and decided to take early retirement from Social Security. I now only work 19 hours a week at my wonderful nonprofit job at World Joy. I've been so busy that I don't know how I ever had time to work full-time. I'm really enjoying this early retirement status.

As promised, I need to catch you up on the status of the well in Abrenya, which so many of you donated to. We raised over $8,000. We have been waiting for a dryer part of the season before drilling. There was a terrible flood shortly after we left Abomosu, which destroyed most of the farmer's crops. It's been too wet to drill until now.

Abrenya was probably my most favorite village that we visited. The people are so grateful and willing to do their part in improving their conditions. We had to walk on foot, about two miles, into the village. It wasn't a hard hike and the weather was cooperating with us ... not too hot. There were sights, sounds, and smells that I had never experienced before and I was so grateful that I was finally here in Ghana, Africa!

As we approached the village we could see the World Joy school up on the crest of a small hill, nestled among the jungle. I watched a teacher running along the classrooms, clapping his hands to announce our arrival. Then the most marvelous thing happened. At least 200 children came running out of the school towards us. They placed their arms around us and loved and hugged us. As they were running they were shouting the word, "Obruni". I thought they were yelling "Granny", which my grand kids call me. We were all overwhelmed with the welcoming party and we all had tears of joy in our eyes as we hugged the children back. I later found out that Obruni means white woman and not granny!

We were shown the lovely school which World Joy built for this small village a few years back, as well as the living quarters for the teachers. The school is overcrowded and they need more classrooms. They could also use playground equipment and supplies for the students. The tribal leaders and village met with us under the Mango trees and had a little traditional dance and singing for us. They proceeded to thank us for all World Joy has done for them and then petitioned some additional help which they are in need of. We told them of our plans to build a well in their village. They were so grateful for the news.

Upon our arrival back to the states we found out that the government was going to be drilling a well shortly for their village. But, they are in need of an additional well, so the funds that we raised from our dinner in July will build the extra well that they need. We are in looking for a contractor and the drilling should take place any day now. I'll keep you posted with pictures as they become available.

I'm excited to announce that two large companies have asked if they could do a service project in our villages and then take 50 volunteers over to complete the projects. Veridian Energy from Norwalk, CT will be going over in February. World Joy will be conducting the excursion. They will be installing solar panels which will generate electricity for our new Health Post and Library in Asanafo, and school in Abrenya. These solar panels will store electricity in lanterns and the children will be able to check out a lantern in the evenings so they can work on homework and read.

I'm not at liberty to announce the other company's name just yet. But many of you are familiar with this company and may even be distributors for them. They will be announcing their venture at their annual convention in the New Year. So, I may be seeing some of you on their excursion to Ghana. They are going to build a school and then at least 50 of the distributors and executives will go over for a week to complete the project. I can't wait to announce the name of the company after their convention. Oh ... and I'll be at their convention in our World Joy booth so you may see me there!

After immersing ourselves in the African culture in Abrenya, the skies were threatening rain so it was time to hurry back to Abomosu. The rains came and the floods came up ... as we slipped and slogged our way back to camp. And I mean it didn't just rain ... it poured. I met a lovely young woman with a baby strapped to her back, a pan of plantains on her head, packages in her arms and she handed me a large palm frond to hold over my head like an umbrella. She insisted that I take it. She gave me the one that she was holding over her and her baby. I tried to refuse, but she insisted. That was the most kind and loving gesture!

So ... lots of great things are happening for our brothers and sisters in Ghana, Africa.

Life has been kind to the Hansen family. I'm so grateful for this past year. We've had three lovely grand babies join our family. We're enjoying good health. Perhaps I've partied a little too hard ... I've got about 10 pounds to lose. I've signed up for the Salt Lake Half Marathon in the Spring so will be starting training as soon as I get rid of this nasty cold. I lost my voice on Christmas day and it still hasn't returned. BOOOO!

Got lots to do today to get ready for my laundry room makeover, which my daughter Ginger and her family gave me for a Christmas present. Can't wait for Friday!