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The Adventures of the 40 ft. Container

I have planned to update my blog a few times, but it is difficult for me to figure out exactly what to say… it is almost a writer’s block plagued with apprehension.  I remember this when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi.  After a few months, things seemed so normal and ‘everyday’ to me that I wasn’t sure what I could share that would create an ‘Ah ha’ or provide an exciting new cultural piece to family and friends.  I feel like I am in the same predicament, so bear with me as I trudge ahead (although as you can see once I begin writing, I can’t stop!)!


On a positive note (this became positive after a few emotionally raw and resentment filled weeks) we were able to clear our container through customs, although not without some major financial expense.  I am not sure how customs quantifies things nor do I really want to know.  For my own sanity, what is left unseen is probably best.  We were told anything that was more than 6 months old was considered used and was duty free, which 95% of our things were older than six months and the remainder was virtually impossible to determine.  A week and a few days after the container arrived at the Tema port, we were finally told we could begin the clearance process, which happened to fall on a Saturday.  Carlos began teaching at a school on Saturdays and I was afraid if an Obroni (white person) showed up there would be more to pay plus I really didn’t want to witness the whole process for the fear of pure and utter frustration.  So our friend Barnabas and a friend of Carlos’ sister who has had experience clearing items went on our behalf.  Apparently, the entire container (remember this was a 40 ft. high cubed container fully packed) was unloaded and spread along a long cement strip.  I am told one was on high guard to ensure onlookers didn’t pilfer through our things, which was a good thing because someone was caught trying to heist one of our CD’s.  The contents were then reloaded onto an open air truck (this is the part that I was not so happy about) extremely haphazardly.  At this point, the day was gone and our things remained at the port until we could find a way to pay the duty.  By Monday, I was ready to move things into high gear; contact customs, bargain the duty, pay a bribe, claim damage on our possessions and drive our belongings away.  I was told such attempts would be futile and only leave me more aggravated.  We were advised if we didn’t pay the total sum, a fine would be added for each additional day and worse our things may be sold.  A battle lost.

Our belongings…


Like I said, the first few weeks after the container arrived were filled with some major disappointment, but today I am so grateful for our things.  They are just material belongings and nothing a little black paint can’t cover and most importantly, they are the comforts of home!  Throughout my disappointment, I felt ashamed and guilty at how upset I was.  1.  I should have been more than grateful that the container even arrived after more than eight weeks on a ship from China and 2.  I should have been thankful our things were intact.  I have heard of owners discovering an empty container upon arrival.


I was beginning to question and really second-guess our move when prayers were answered after uncountable follow ups with several contacts on Carlos’ part and grueling and beyond intimidating interviews.  Carlos began working full time on November 1st at one of the private universities in Ghana; Central University.  He is helping to develop a leadership institute, which is a great fit to his educational background.  He is also an adjunct instructor for two other schools in the evenings and on the weekends.  Hence, he is very busy, which I am sure is not a shock to anyone.  At the same time, he is working to implement his own leadership institute and continuing to provide scholarships to high school and university students through NAPE Foundation.


I planned a surprise birthday party for Carlos at his family’s home, although we made it to the party way before anyone else.  Classic!  My attempt at a surprise failed.  Ah… African time!

K.B., Carlos and Anthony.

Rosemond (K.B.’s wife) and Nana Adwoa, me and Amerley and Mary (Anthony’s wife) with Whitney and Trinity.


So, Amerley developed a ‘crush’ on K.B.’s son Afriyie.  I say developed because it lasted only a few days, thank goodness!  I think he was quite relieved when it had blown over as he was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing.  She is quite a demanding little lady!  I am still wondering how it all happened.  She required him to hold her hand, sit with her, walk next to her side of the stroller, help her out of the car (which didn’t go too well), eat with her and play with her.


Palmer is developing his own feistiness!  The two can go at it.  At least he puts up a fight and doesn’t easily cave at Amerley’s incessant bossiness.  Often, Amerley is running away from him!


So, here are a few photos of the house.  It is beginning to feel like home.  We still have work to do, but it is coming along… little by little (as they say in Ghana).

The living room.

The dining room.

The kitchen.

Amerley and Palmer’s room.



16 responses to “The Adventures of the 40 ft. Container

  1. Laurel Sapp ⋅

    Beautiful pictures! Glad you are getting your home settled.

  2. Hi Beth, thank you so much for sharing your stories. I was thinking about you last night, when I got notice of an email and there you were. So happy you survived the return of your stuff. Also congratulations on Carlos’ job(s).

    It amazes me that your resilience gets stronger and larger by the day, even if it doesn’t feel that way to you. Enjoy your time there and all the cultural differences. You and the children are so fortunate to add this dimension to yourselves.

    Please know that I am your forever cheerleader and look forward to your posts. Bless all of you with my love.

  3. Doris Sanders ⋅

    Finally, some news from you!!!! Glad to see that you’re all settling in well and feeling more at home.
    I can’t imagine the frustration with customs, etc. You certainly handled it much better than I would.
    Your house is beautiful….but, most importantly, the kids look happy and beautiful. And you and Carlos sound happy and busy!!! Keep up with the writing…you’re doing great!!!

  4. Nancylee Stewart ⋅

    So good to receive an update. It really is great to see and hear that you are all doing well. Your home seems very special. Your children look happy, and so I hope you & your husband are too. It certainly can be a trial when all the systems works differently. Good for the soul. Take care 7 stay in touch!

  5. Paresa, Bill (DSHS/CA) ⋅

    Hi, Beth. I am just glad none of you were injured in the mall collapse. I love the fact that Amerley is so bossy, AKA: assertive. It will, hopefully, serve her well. Of course, I can’t imagine where she gets it from. ☺

    Bill Paresa, Area Administrator
    Department of Social and Health Services
    Vancouver Cascade Office
    Children’s Administration

  6. Pauline Martin ⋅

    Oh my what an adventure. I remember all the hassles we had in India and the bribery just to survive but loved it all the same. Hopefully now things settle and you guys get your groove on

    Things good here girls tho can’t find jobs they want experience but can’t get it without a job. Say a prayer for them, and us, love them but don’t want them moving home lol.

    Gracie in vancouver school of arts and loves it she is thriving, growing and maturing. Where has the time gone?

    Our other news is since we lost my cat I was lonely so researched and got a dog. I wanted a poodle as they don’t shed but roger didn’t so we got a golden doodle. Golden retriever and poodle mix. Gracie named her Lucy and it fits. She 4 1/2 months and absolutely a dream. We are really pleased with her soft quiet personality and she is smart. How did it work getting your dog there? Lucy will slow down our travel. But a lady at my work dog sits and needs the money, she is 77 and like a grandmother She will stay with her while we go to Arizona in jan

    So pray you all are healthy and things are smoothing out

    Love Pauline

    Sent from my iPad

  7. Sarah ⋅

    OMG, I can’t believe the container hassles. But the pic of your stuff on its way to your home in the truck made me laugh. Amerley is beautiful. Palmer is good looking too. And your house is pretty. Did you do that painting yourselves?

  8. Wayne Pollard ⋅

    Thanks Beth, I will take a look at this very soon. It was great to Skype with you this week and your children are absolutely adorable.

  9. Marj Simons ⋅

    Your home is looking awesome now that you have your stuff !!! Appreciate the updates about you, Carlos and the kids. Keep up the great work. Love to you, Peter, and kids.

  10. Anne Johnston ⋅

    Think of you often – love the updates! Glad that you are settling in and that even though there was stress and hassle, that you are now united with your belongings!

  11. Trina Zwiebel ⋅

    Thanks for sharing this story, Beth! I will be living vicariously through you for the next 4 months!

  12. Jane Faulkner ⋅

    Your kids and your house are beautiful. All you are missing here is bad weather.

  13. Pat Shaw ⋅

    Hi Beth,
    What a lot you’ve gone through to claim your belongings.
    Thank you for posting photos of your family. Everyone looks happy and healthy. I look forward to reading more news from you. Love, Pat

  14. Wayne ⋅

    G-d is GREAT and your home is beautiful. Most importantly, you are all together, safe and moving forward. I am truly looking forward to having our two WWU social work students learn from you and to gain their practicum experience there in Ghana with you. Blessings as you conquer your daily tasks. Be well. I enjoy your blog.

  15. Becca ⋅

    I really enjoy your updates Beth…thanks for putting them together! It’s wonderful to see God’s provision & your beautiful home! Have a blessed Christmas & please keep our family in your prayers as Troy is in need of a new job!

    • Jim Dorsey ⋅

      Love your comments. What an adventure! Sorry I missed your Thanksgiving call. I need: mailing address; telephone #; and how I can send a monetary gift for the kids’ Christmas.
      Would’ve responded sooner, but Judy’s been going through testing and surgery, fortunately successful and she’s on the mend. Look forward to hearing from you. Dad

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