A few weeks ago, we posted an interview with Missionary Kid (MK) Sean Pluger.  Here’s another view of life from MK Karissa Esala.  Karissa is the 12-year-old daughter of LBT missionaries Nathan and Sarah Esala.  A big difference between Karissa and Sean is that Karissa does not have strong memories of living in the U.S., because she was three when her family first moved to Ghana.  LBT sent Karissa the same interview questions we asked Sean, and she chose to answer in essay format:

“Gola-gola e paie maa e bam maa!” Annaka calls as she runs after the stream of kids looking for a place to hide. Fauzia sits on a log with her eyes closed, waiting for the signal to start searching. Crouched down in a hole Isaca yells “Peep!” and the game begins.

I live in the village of Nasuan in the Northern Region of Ghana, West Africa in a one-story, peach-colored, cement block house. Nasuan is a far cry from anything most people in the United States are used to. It does not have running water or electricity, and phone reception is a new addition to the village; a grocery store where you can get things like tuna-fish or oatmeal is three hours away! If you want to get cereals that don’t taste like soap, stock-up on cashewnut paste (I’m allergic to peanuts and can’t eat peanut butter) or buy Crisco, you have to travel the gruesome two day trip to the capital city Accra. For things like cheese and chocolate treats, it’s easier to get them from the U.S. when someone visits.

Everyday my Dad drives forty-five minutes on his moto to go to work, where he is helping to translate the Bible into the Komba language. My mom stays at home and homeschools me (7th grade), Annaka (2nd grade), and Aili (kindergarten), while all of us try to unite and keep my little brother Isaac (3) out of trouble. Unfortunately the four of us are rarely a match for him, and he has plenty of opportunity to create chaos. Presently he and mom are doing battle over him cleaning up his own toys. Mom is winning.

My favorite subject would probably be reading (if you can call it a subject). I can sit down and read a book in an afternoon and think it is as pure a pleasure as an extra-large bowl of cookie-dough and mint chocolate chip ice cream with a big squirt of chocolate syrup on top. Science is also very interesting; in fact, I like it so much that I read about three lessons every day instead of three lessons every week, which means I have about a month left of school and no science lessons left to read. Though school is mostly fun, I utterly detest my math. It is a tedious vexation that takes a long time to complete.

Besides school, everyone in the family has chores. On most days of the week, I’m in charge of making breakfast. Everyone helps (or is supposed to help) prepare for dinner in ways like setting the table, cutting up vegetables, and grating cheese. In the evening I usually help with dishes. Blugh! And on laundry days I fold and put away cloths.

Every Sunday we go to our little mud-walled church. The service starts at eleven and is in Komba, though some of the songs are in English. I really love going to church when we’re in the U.S. (except when we have to speak at churches; then we are just gawked at, and it’s kind of uncomfortable). I’d say that church in a different language is one of the cons to living here.

What do I do when I’m through with my work? Well, often I do more reading or writing and play with my friends. The only MKs that are around my age live almost an hour away, so usually I play with my Ghanaian friends. We play all sorts of thing; some of them we might play in the U.S., but with an interesting Ghanaian twist. We play dress up, and with all the pretty scarves and skirts it often becomes a wedding. Sometimes we get outfits on and tie baby dolls to our backs. Then we ride on the tire swing or make mud pies. If we decide to concoct some sort of “savory food,” it can get quite elaborate with all sorts of different leaves, seeds, flowers, and sand. Usually we have a few people “cooking” and a few people coming to buy the “food” like you would buy it from a market vender.

Another game we enjoy playing it Gola-gola. I described some of it to you in the beginning. Gola-gola is basically like hide-and-seek. Everyone taps the person who’s it on the head while saying “gola-gola e paie maa e bam maa” which when translated means “Gola-gola if you reach me you catch me.” This means that they promise they won’t make trouble about being it. Then everyone goes and hides. When it’s time, the seeker goes and looks for people. If he catches a person, he has to touch them on the head and say “sealo.” Then that person will be the next seeker. With our big yard, climbing trees, and walls, it can be really crazy.

Sometimes in the evenings I like to play with our two dogs. Our dogs each have two names. One is a name that you might name your dog in the United States, The other is a name that someone might name their dog in Ghana. One dog is named Savannah with her Ghanaian name being Be Happy, because Savannah is a rather grumpy dog. The other is named Julie with her Ghanaian name being Don’t Worry because she has these cute wrinkles on her brow that make her look worried. We used to have chickens as well but they got salmonella and died. The only one who mourned their deaths was my dad; everyone else rejoiced because now you could walk two steps without getting squishy chicken poop glued to the bottom of your foot or shoe.

An up-side to living here is the fruit. We have mango, guava, cashew nut trees and others around my house, everything free for the taking. Mmm! Delicious! Unfortunately we don’t have a book tree, but you can’t have everything. There are only three types of people who I don’t understand—people who don’t like mangos, people who don’t like guavas (I can make an allowance if you’re allergic to mangos or guavas), and people who don’t like books.

Something that is difficult about being a MK is that you don’t entirely fit in with the culture where you are living or the culture where your passport is from. It is tricky to decide where your home is–sometimes I say the United States and sometimes Ghana. One of the best things about being a MK is being able to embrace and learn about a different culture, hands-on.