The first thing I’ve learned from Esi is the appreciation and satisfaction there is in working hard. One day I asked Esi about her typical work day. Basically she wakes up at 4:30AM each morning, gets herself ready, makes breakfast, gets the younger kids started on their baths, and is out the door by 6:15AM. She then drives 2 hours to work, goes through a full work day, then drives 2 hours home. Esi does all of her cooking for the week on the weekends – makes the meals for each day of the week and then freezes them. This way she can have dinner already made each evening for her kids – and they are able to warm it and eat it before she gets home at 7PM. Other than her full-time job at the customs headquarters and side-job of managing the grocery store, I also found out that Esi has created one more side-job for herself…decorating for weddings and doing rentals for wedding decor items such as chair covers and candles! I came across some pictures of the weddings that she has decorated in her pile of photos that she brought. I couldn’t get an actual picture of one of them, but here is something similar from one of my friend's weddings. She takes fabric like this and sways it all over into beautiful masterpieces.
The pictures she had of some of her work were so neat. Esi told me that it is very hard for a woman to make a living in Ghana, so she said she has kind of become a jack of all trades…making money here and there.
Another thing I learned from Esi is to not be afraid to try new things….whether it was food, or going places with me, Esi was very adventurous and up for anything. It was so fun having Esi along with us in going to church, bible study, the grocery store, Target, and even to my Mom’s a few nights ago. She was always ready to meet new people and to strike up a conversation with anyone. Esi claimed that she had a ‘wide appetite’ and was really up for tasting new foods. Some of her favorites that she had while staying with us were pickle/corn beef dip, club house chicken squares, roast, pillsbury cinnamon rolls, smore bars, and my Grandma’s apple pie. In fact, she was sad that she forgot to ask to take a piece of the pie home with us the other night!
And, the thing I appreciated most about Esi was how she really took the time to get to know us. She loved to ask us questions, and we loved to ask her questions. The mutual openness allowed us all to learn a lot about each other. She also was a great observer, and really had a good read on our personalities. She told Jake one night ‘I really love how you take the time to play with JJ…you do so good.’ And, 'You really know how to get things done and the right people to call.' One day she told me ‘You are very organized. You will have to help Nana Yaw learn this.’ Of JJ she said ‘He really knows what he wants. This is good.’ And ‘JJ is a fun guy. I like how he talks.’ Of Jayla she said ‘Everywhere we go she draws attention.’ And ‘I will always remember her smile.’ Yes, I think she got a good read on each of us.
Esi and I have already been making plans for the Sullivan's own trip to Ghana in a few months. Esi asked us to stay with her and her family when we come to pick Solomon up. She’s got all kinds of meals she wants me to try, and even has a list of spices that she plans on sending me home from Ghana with. And, she told Jake she would let him borrow her car! I can’t wait!