Thursday, March 31, 2011

One Class My Students Will Always Remember

Today I made a very noticeable error teaching my class about the bombing of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. Instead of the reading "fort" I read the following sentence to my class: The British sent two bomb vessels and a number of barges to pass the FART and assail it in the rear... Yes, I really said that. No, I'm not kidding!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Prayer

I've received this prayer from three different people today as an encouragement. What a gift!

I arise today through God's strength to pilot me.
God's might to uphold me;
God's wisdom to guide me.
God's eye to see before me.
God's ear to hear me.
God's word to speak for me.
God's hand to guard me.
God's way to lie before me.
God's shield to protect me.
God's host to secure me -
against snares of devils,
against temptations and vices,
against inclinations of nature,
against everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and anear,
alone and in a crowd...
Christ be with me.
Christ before me.
Christ behind me.
Christ in me.
Christ beneath me.
Christ above me.
Christ on my right.
Christ on my left.
Christ where I lie,
Christ where I sit,
Christ where I arise.
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me.
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me.
Christ in every eye that sees me.
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Christ.
May Your salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.

- Amen

Oh, thank you Jesus! Thank you friends for sending these words of truth!

Needing Prayer

My sincerest apologies for my lack of communication on our blog. The internet here is extremely slow so pictures will have to wait until we are home, but I'm going to copy some of the e-mails we have sent so you will know what has been happening here! So much!! Oh, we praise God!


We have awoken this morning needing prayer. Godwin Derrick has a very high fever, shallow breathing, etc... Lenusia suspects malaria. I have given him the medicine available here by suppository, but wonder if this could affect us coming into the states if he is ill. Please pray. Our flight leaves tomorrow. HIs fever needs to break. Dorinda is home as well today with malaria. The Lord was gracious to allow us to be stay with a doctor!

Braden also has several blisters coming up on his arms and legs. Mason is having an infection begin as well. We suspect a staff infection which he is particularly prone towards.

I am here with Godwin Derrick today, but Reid and the boys left several hours ago to go to the deprived school with John, Marvin, Dominique, and a few others. Please pray for God to keep them safe as well. They are visiting the most deprived area yet. This village is extremely impoverished -more than anywhere we have been on this trip. I expect they will arrive home late this evening after traveling bumpy roads for hours. :-)

Our Internet is sporatic, so my communication will be as well. We are all fine and rest in the truth that "nothing can twart the plans of God." All things are in his sovereign plan, but we do need prayer right now. The Lord has been so faithful and we know we will overcome this minor adversity. May the Lord's presence be evident to you all. We are so grateful for you all!

Hope to see you all soon.

P.S. This illness has actually been a blessing. Godwin Derrick has been held in my arms most of the day. He fell asleep on me this afternoon and rested well. The medication seems to be kicking in as his spirits seem better. We don't expect any delays coming home. We are praying there are none.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ghana Share What God's Doing

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement! The e-mails you have sent have been precious reminders of each of you. We are extremely grateful for your prayers.

Sunday morning was filled with ministry opportunities. Although the service started at 7 am, Mason played beautifully at Cedar Mountain. I was asked to teach their children, and did a lesson on becoming a new creation in Christ. The children all received a card from someone in the States. The 45 children knew God's Word and all asked when we would be back. From Cedar Mountain, we headed to Freedom Life Chapel where Reid has been preaching this week. Reid challenged the congregation to become workers in God's harvest field. He used the light sticks to remind everyone to be the light of Christ in the world. Oh, the children were thrilled. Reid presented Pastor David with 14 Bibles from Water Angels. Pastor David said he had been specifically praying for Bibles that the congregation could give away to others. It was beautiful to see the Lord answer this prayer! We were told that our family was the first white skin in the nine year old church. Everyone was so welcoming toward us. At the end of the service, they presented Reid and I both with new clothes. We now have two matching outfits - African style! What a significant gift! Can't wait to wear them in Knoxville!

Monday was Weston's 11th birthday. We ventured toward the coast to do two "tourist" activities. Our driver, Daniel, gave Weston his first birthday gift. He had to wear a smiley-face hat all day, compliments of Daniel! Very sweet! For his birthday, we all survived the rope bridge canopy walk in Kakuma National Park. All seven of us walked seven rope bridges extending from 12 to 120 feet into the air. Mason, Franklin, and Reid took turns carrying Godwin Derrick. He was a bit nervous walking on the swinging bridges, and I don't blame him! Mason and Franklin scared us all by performing flips on the ropes! (Karl and Grant Hengeveld would have been so proud!) Amazingly, within our small group was another mission team from Farragut Church of Christ! Can you believe we met another group from our hometown! The leader of the group, Paul Phelps, knows my mother!!! It's a small world after all! We exchanged information and hope to connect once we are back home. Nothing is coincidence.

After the bridges, we toured the slave castle at Cape Coast. Heartbreaking! The boys were all moved by the tragedy of this period in history. As I walked through the "Door of No Return," I was holding Godwin Derrick. Chills covered my arms as I wondered about his ancestors, his family, those who have gone before. The dungeons, the smells, the marking on the floor from the shackles. It made my heart hurt. Our friend, Amela, came with us. She is native Ghanian. She confessed to crying during the tour during her first trip to the castle. This is the history of her people.

On the way home, we had another slight run-in with the police. Our trip home was delayed a few hours because the van we were in was missing a "triangle." It only had one, but legally should have had two. Sadly, the police here seem very corrupt. After an offer of ten cedis ($7 American), the driver's license was returned and we were on the road again. We are learning the ropes.

We arrived home to find Weston's beautiful Ghanaian birthday cake. We ate Red-red, rice, and fried plantain. Yum! Weston loved his gift we brought from home - a personalized Bible. He's been reading it frequently since receiving it. Today, he read the e-mails some of you sent for his birthday. He grinned from ear-to-ear. We were without power for a few days and it did not return until the late evening of his birthday. The return of electricity was a wonderful birthday gift for him.

Yesterday, we started the day with a Bible Study with the staff of Meaningful Life International (MLI). The boys all came, and we participated as a family. The lives represented in the room were full of people sold out for the mission of Christ. Beautiful! Afterwards, we visited the Accra mall. Quite expensive. We realized you really can find anything you want here, but you may pay a hefty price tag. A five pound bag of flour cost 12 cedis ($8 American), a small bag of shredded cheese = 9 cedis ($6.50 American). Gas is sold by the liter, and costs 1.65 cedis; roughly $7.00 per gallon. (Since coming to Tema, we have spent $400+ on gas alone!!) The cost of living here is very high. Ghanaians are called magicians because they can make their money go so far!

We ended the day visiting the hospital MLI is building. The Doron Medical Center will be a tremendous blessing to this community. Strategically located, they will meet the needs of numerous people, and also house mission teams coming to work in this country. The foundation is done, and now the structure is beginning. Funds are still greatly needed for this to become a reality.

Today, the four oldest boys attended a Ghanaian school for the day. Braden was the most apprehensive, but he enjoyed the day tremendously. All four of the boys made friends, learned some new things (Twi, French, etc...), and were glad that they went for the day. At the end of the school day, the superintendent took our photograph so we could be on the website as "friends" of the school. I will say this school was top-notch. They placed first in the nation for education last year. The winner of the national spelling bee was in Mason's class. Very, very smart students!

While the boys were in school, Reid and I went back to the orphanage where Godwin Derrick lived. It was difficult emotionally today for me. Some things within the home disturbed me. Children were crying and needed more attention than they were receiving. When we left, his best friend, Isaac, ran out the door calling his name. He was crying. Several children called for him as he stepped into the van. I wondered, when we he see them again? I pray the Lord will care for these children. May He hold them until they have parents who can love them well.

Tomorrow we head to Nyive, eastward from Ho. It is a five hour drive each way. We will be visiting a deprived school. Tonight, John came by to share with us about the school. There are several hundred children in the village. The school? It meets under a tree. (What will I do with the posters I brought to give to this school? Not exactly the most needed supply.) Tomorrow we will be giving the bags from Water Angels and clothing to the children. Please pray for all of this to be done only in the name of Jesus. May all of the gifts be secondary to sharing the gospel of Jesus. Please pray for our safety in travel tomorrow.

Friday, our plans are to first purchase the mattresses for John's home, CKO. (Feeding the Orphans project!) After this, we hope to go to the market before boarding the plane to head HOME!! We expect to arrive in Knoxville at 1:50 pm as a family of seven. We look forward to seeing our precious friends and family!!

Braden has numerous blisters coming up on his legs and arms. We are treating them with an iodine antibiotic, and hopeful they will be healed. Dr. Lu (our friend we are staying with) thinks this could be a staff infection, so please pray for Braden to be healed.

Dorinda, the daughter of Godwin and Lunesia (our friends we are staying with), is also sick. She has a high fever and other symptoms. The doctor in the house believes she has malaria. (Lenusia is a doctor here in Ghana.) Please pray for her as well.

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1

Thank you for your continual prayer covering. They are felt by all of us! God is on the move!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

March 12-13 in Ghana

Thank you for covering us in prayer. We are grateful and can feel your prayers for us.

Our boys are engaging more quickly with people. Their comfort level is rising here. Praise God! None of the older boys have ever seemed uncomfortable, but they have not been relaxed. That is changing. We can count the number of light skinned people we have seen here on two hands. It's a different world for them.

Today at Godwin Derrick's orphanage, he was unsettled which required Reid or myself to be holding him. I think he was fearful we would leave him. although we assured him over and over, I realized we have yet to earn his trust. Whenever we gave attention to another child, Godwin Derrick said, "Go!" to the other children. Please pray he will feel safe and secure with us. Tomorrow we head back to CKO, then travel to settle in at Tema, then Reid will be preaching at a church service. We don't know where, and he just found out tonight that this is planned so please pray for his message. May he only speak the words God gives him.

Tonight as I was using my electric toothbrush to brush my teeth, I thought about the people here who use a stick to clean their teeth. There is so much to process and take in!

Reid has prayed for every place we have visited: the village, the orphanage, etc... Please pray for Ghana to be a City on a Hill whose light cannot be hidden. The region we visited yesterday was more muslim. We have seen many mosques as well. Please pray for the light of Jesus to shine!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Grieving with Grandmother

Thank you all for praying for today. It's been one of the hardest days of my life. Meeting Godwin Derrick's grandmother will always be a cherished gift. She loved him so much. It was obvious her heart was breaking. She sobbed the entire time. One of his great-uncles even had tears in his eyes. This is very uncommon in Ghana. The entire meeting was almost like a ceremony. Many of the villagers silently watched as she handed him over to me then continued weeping. I was weeping as well. As I looked into the faces of the children, I realized that Godwin Derrick is probably related to many of them.

I grieved so much. The poverty was unspeakable. Many of the children were not dressed beyond underwear. No food or livestock in sight. No well to speak of. No water.

We left from there and traveled further out to the Christ Outreach orphanage. We stopped on our way and bought food for Feeding the Orphans to deliver. We spent $270 cedis on rice, oil, tomatoes, and corned beef for the children. This seemed to be a great blessing. The children were ectatic. Then we learned that this orphanage for 30 children was without water. They did not have the $40 cedis to purchase it. However, all of the children were filled with JOY and of the 8 children I interviewed while we were there, all of them quoted a different favorite Bible verse or passage. (Yes, they quoted entire passages!) I was amazed. These children needed food, and were without water yet, they were still filled with JOY! I can learn from them.

Tonight, I'm struggling with the vast difference in the world's wealth. During our devotion tonight, we asked the boys if there was anything they realized today. Braden, our 7 year old, said, "I realize how rich we are. We are really wealthy." Mason is now thankful for paved roads. (We were driving for nearly 5 hours today traveling to these two places.) Weston is thankful for trashcans. There is trash everywhere here.) And, Franklin said he thought a lot about what it would have been like if Godwin Derrick had grown up in his village. This sits precariously close to our heart because Reid and I both grieved the children who were in dire need within both of these places today. We hurt tonight. For the forgotten. The ones whom we have been to busy ourselves to remember. I pray we will never again forget. What I've experienced today is reality for most of the world. And, I've realized our family needs to take responsibility to care for a tiny part of it. More than we have. I wish I could convey all of this more clearly.

Tomorrow, we are visiting another orphanage. The one where Godwin Derrick has lived most of his short life. I rejoice because several of our friends are adopting from this home. Yet, while I am excited for these kids, tonight I'm thinking of the ones who are still hoping for a family. I think of the older boys at CKO who were adorable, but will likely never come into a home. What is their future if they have no family here?

Please pray for our hearts continue to be broken for what breaks God's heart. Please also pray for our entire family to shine the light of Christ to everyone we encounter here. Our boys have been tremendous troopers. Our two rooms have two beds total, so each night one of the boys has been sleeping on the tile floor with only a sheet under him...not a single complaint. Today, we were traveling on difficult dirt roads will bumps all the way for nearly five hours...not a single complaint. Today we were out all day so there was no lunch...not one complaint. What a treasure to see their hearts already surrendered to giving up for others. Thank you for praying.

The bonding between all of us has been incredible. Godwin Derrick seems to love us all and feels safe in our arms. He immediately stopped crying whenhis grandmother handed him to me today. A picture of peace. What a beautiful gift from God!

I'm trying to post the pictures on Facebook and have posted a lot. Our connection here is very slow, so please look at the pictures there if you can. It's difficult to do e-mail and the blog too.

We love you all and are praying for you here! Thank you for your continued prayer covering!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Amazing First Day at CKO

What an incredible first day!  Completely God-filled!  Completely joy-filled!  Completely family-ministry-filled!  Completely-filled with surprises in Ghana!  What a gift!
We traveled today to Teshi and spent the day at Charity Kingdom Outreach  (CKO).  On our way, we stopped to purchase some water to take for all of the children.  Nearly all of the stores are road-side kiosks selling everything from toilet paper to fresh coconut.  We stopped at a tiny place near CKO to make our purchase.  Our driver, Pessy, honked his horn while Reid waited for someone to come take the money for the bags of water.  A young teenage boy came out in his underwear to greet us.  (I am not kidding!)  The boys took this in with a bit of shock.
After our side venture, we arrived at CKO.  This children’s home is run by a young pastor, John, and his wife, Irene.  They have one son now and are expecting another child.  Their family is always giving themselves to the children whom they truly LOVE! 
We joined the children for the church service which had already started.  The kids were singing praises at the top of their lungs.  Boys were beating on the drums and Marvin was playing the keyboard.  The little ones sang, and sang, and sang.  Their unhindered freedom in worship made me long to see it in America.  These kids really know how to praise!  They sing a JOYFUL and LOUD noise to the Lord. 
After the singing and dancing, John delivered his sermon based on Isaiah 40:31
But those who hope in the LORD
   will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint.

We were sitting in tiny wooden school desks for the duration.  I loved it because it was truly pure praise.  No show.  Beautiful. 
Watching the kids express themselves with so much JOY, I thought about all of the distractions that can keep me from focusing on praising God for his goodness.  I kept thinking, “I want to worship like this all the time!” 
The sermon was translated into Twi as John preached it.  The boy’s name who translated it was Godwin.  All of the older boys participated in leading the service.  Some sang.  A few helped preach.  Several children also came forward to give testimony about the Lord.  Again, beautiful. 
After the service ended, the children came outside to sit under the tree.  We handed out water and Reid shared about Jesus being the living water.  After some prodding from his mom and dad, Mason played two songs for the kids on his guitar.  They loved it.  One of the songs he played is a favorite at Water Angels ministry, “Friend of God.”  When he finished, Blessing asked him to write the words to the song for her. 
Blessing is dear to our heart for several reasons.  Her picture has been on our fridge since our October visit.  We have prayed frequently for her. She is one of the children we have sponsored with our Life Group.  We brought her a bible with her name engraved on it, and she loved it.  What a blessing to be with Blessing today!
We also met the other child we have sponsored, F.  He is adorable!  The boys all hugged him several times during the day. We brought him a few gifts as well which thrilled him.  It was so special to meet him for the first time.  Now we will know who we are praying for. 
After Mason finished the children made a craft we brought.  It was a rendition of the fabric glue cups done at Club 180 last summer.  The children made a heart-collage out of the fabric.  One thing is for sure, these kids love making things!  Every child came to show me their creation!  Precious!
Then we gave CKO, the gifts we brought.  I’d made collages for them from our trip in Oct.  John and the children loved it.  They loved seeing their pictures.  John and the older boys turned the collages into a bulletin board to display in the sitting room.   God used this to minister to their hearts as a reminder of how special they truly are!  I had no idea!  After the bulletin board was started by the men, Jemima and I covered the frame in the fabric pieces from the craft.  The Club 180 craft lives on in Ghana!
Mason and Franklin’s English classes wrote letters to each of the children individually.  Each letter was addressed by name to specific children.  Besides the worship service, this was my favorite part of the day.  Every child climbed up onto Reid or my lap to have their letter read to them.  I kept holding each child and whispering God loves you so much.  You are so special.  You are precious to him.  Then I kissed every soft cheek and cherished the sound of their giggles!  Several times, I became choked up while reading.  Although from middle schoolers, some of the letters were powerfully written stating the gospel of Christ clearly.  Every child kept their letters close.  These obviously were very dear to them.
Today was also the first day of soccer from Grandmama and Papaw.  Every year my parents give to a charity instead of gifts for extended family.  This year they decided to give the money to Mason to spend on the orphans in Ghana.  Mason purchased soccer balls and pumps planning to give them to the children’s homes.  Today he unpacked the first two balls delivering them to CKO.  What a HIT!  Franklin, Mason, Weston and Braden bounced the ball back-and-forth with kids for hours.  Thank you Grandmama and Papaw!
Now, I know you are wondering about Godwin Derrick.  Today has been incredible.  Evidently, many are praying for bonding because he is responding so well to everyone.  His laughter is frequent!  When we first arrived at CKO, I think he was a bit apprehensive.  He held onto Reid and I for the church service. 
Once we were outside, he kept climbing in and out of the “ka” (car).  I think this helped him to realize he was different.  We were not going to leave him.  Someone from our family stayed with him at all times.  (The boys have been fighting over who gets to carry him!)  After a little bit though, he completely relaxed.  He began playing on the playground equipment.  He ate a huge lunch.  He became comfortable without us being in sight. 
We talked with him before we left this morning assuring him we would never leave him.  We would all be coming and going everywhere as a family.  God’s hand has been evident because I think he actually comprehends this.  He rolled with our family all day long then fell asleep on Mason on the ride back to the hotel.  Please continue to pray for our bonding as a family.   Today has been wonderful.
When I tucked him in tonight, I prayed with him lying beside him.  He was sound asleep before the end of the prayer! 
Our boys have been so affectionate and accepting of Godwin Derrick.  Wow!  The roots for the depth of their relationship are being planted on this trip. 
Finally, Braden’s buddy today was Peter.  They were like two peas in a pod.  Loud, fast, playful, and the both don’t care anything about staying clean.  Reid and I have never seen Braden so dirty!  Oh my!
There’s so much to share.  I know this post does not do the day justice.  My heart hurts for these waiting children.  There is not a home on earth that would not be blessed by the presence of one of the children we were surrounded with today. 
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  
James 1:27

PS - When we stopped back at the same kiosk for water on the ride home, the mother came out wrapped in a towel to take out money.  Too funny!
All pictures are on Facebook.  The connection here is beyond slow, but have no fear.  I'm taking lots of photos.  Over 450+ today!  Perhaps that is why it's taking so long....

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Finally a Family of SEVEN

World, we’d like to introduce our son, Godwin Derrick!  He's been known as Overcomer on this blog.  We praise God because he is now with his for ever family!

We are finally all together, as a family of seven.  Isn’t he precious? As I took this last picture of him with Mason, he was beginning to smile. It’s the JOY I’ve been longing to see.  He’s been laughing, giggling, and completely warmed up to the boys now…but the pictures will have to wait until tomorrow because the battery on the camera died as soon as I snapped the one I have of him smiling.

When we finally came together today, it was a surreal moment. I felt like I was watching it happen to someone else. My emotions were there, but I kept them at bay. Godwin Derrick was very shy at first. His apprehension was in his face. Reid held him. I held him. The boys held him. We were all swelling with joy because we were all together.

Surprisingly, my eyes were more dry than I expected when we came together. I thought I would shed tears of joy.

After Miriam and Percy left, we came upstairs to our room. I leaned down to Godwin Derrick and said, “Can I have a hug?”

Godwin Derrick wrapped his arms around me and said in his tiny voice, “I love you.” Then he held on. Held on. Held on. My tears flowed freely and I began to cry like a baby. All of the sobbing I’d expected surged upon me. Emotions hit me like a tidal wave. Yes, he is ours now. Our son. Our child we have prayed for, longed for, waited for. He is ours. It’s a gift from God! We are a united family now. We will never have to say “goodbye” again. God is so good!

As I’m typing this, I just tucked in Godwin Derrick. Kissing him over and over on the forehead. God love you. Jesus loves you. Mommy love you. Daddy loves you. You are loved...

Yes, he is ours now. Our son. Our child we have prayed for, longed for, waited for. He is ours. It’s a gift from God! We are a united family now. We will never have to say “goodbye” again.

Thank you so much for your prayers. The bonding between all of the boys has been incredible. Thank you for praying! My battery died on my camera after the last picture I took of him where he was finally smiling. He's been all smiles since and more pictures will come tomorrow. I think God wanted me to lay the camera down and enjoy him. I have. The joy we've longed to see is finally shining in his eyes! Oh, it does my heart good so see him smile! Watching him interact with his brothers is a dream come true!

We have an early start tomorrow. We will spend the day at CKO children's home beginning our day at the Sunday morning worship service. We plan to spend most of the day there. Mason is taking his soccer balls an guitar. We are taking a craft hoping the kids might enjoy it. (Debbie and Kristie, you will recognize this craft from Club 180!) Please pray for our hearts on Tuesday. We are planning to go to the village where Godwin Derrick's grandmother lives. He was abandoned to her as a newborn, then brought to the orphanage when he was only a few months old. He father is deceased. I know our hearts will be absorbing a lot on Tuesday, so your prayers are appreciated.

Godwin Derrick is beautiful. His health seems much better. Once we were alone with him, we saw him come to life! He's been laughing, giggling, and talking with all of us. He's attempting the boys names, but Franklin keeps sounding like, "Lanklin..." He's telling all of us, "Ga bess you!" (God bless you!) Finally, when Mason brought his guitar out of the bag, Godwin Derrick's little fingers were all over it. He's been jumping around our room singing! I love it!

The Lord has been good to us, and great is His name to be praised! To God be the glory! Great things He has done!

PS – Franklin waved to a taxi driver. The driver thought we needed a taxi and pulled over. It took some convincing on my part to assure him we did not need a taxi. 
PSS – My hair is frizz central b/c the temperature here is 90 degrees!
PSSS -  The rhythm Godwin Derrick's is the most beautiful lullaby beckoning me to bed.  Good night world.   From Ghana.  Sweet Dreams to all.  We will all be sleeping peacefully here.

Finally a Family of Seven

I just tucked in Godwin Derrick. Kissing him over and over on the forehead. God love you. Jesus loves you. Mommy love you. Daddy loves you. You are loved...

Yes, he is ours now. Our son. Our child we have prayed for, longed for, waited for. He is ours. It’s a gift from God! We are a united family now. We will never have to say “goodbye” again.

Thank you so much for your prayers. The bonding between all of the boys has been incredible. Thank you for praying! My battery died on my camera after the last picture I took of him where he was finally smiling. He's been all smiles since. The joy we've longed to see is finally shining in his eyes! Oh, it does my heart good so see him smile!

We have an early start tomorrow. We will spend the day at CKO beginning our day at the Sunday morning worship service. We plan to spend most of the day there. Mason is taking his soccer balls an guitar. We are taking a craft hoping the kids might enjoy it. (Debbie and Kristie, you will recognize this craft from Club 180!) Please pray for our hearts on Tuesday. We are planning to go to the village where Godwin Derrick's grandmother lives. He was abandoned to her as a newborn, then brought to the orphanage when he was only a few months old. He father is deceased. I know our hearts will be absorbing a lot on Tuesday, so your prayers are appreciated.

The Lord has been so gracious. We have been blessed with several surprises from HIM. An upgrade on our flight over gave us room to stretch our legs for the 10 hours flight. God also allowed us to waltz through customs here without a single bag check! Praise God! We were afraid it might be a nightmare b/c of the 24 bags we were carrying between the six of us.

Godwin Derrick is beautiful. His health seems much better. Once we were alone with him, we saw him come to life! He's been laughing, giggling, and talking with all of us. He's attempting the boys names, but Franklin keeps sounding like, "Lanklin..." He's telling all of us, "Ga bess you!" (God bless you!) Finally, when Mason brought his guitar out of the bag, Godwin Derrick's little fingers were all over it. He's been jumping around our room singing! I love it!

The Lord has been good to us, and great is His name to be praised! To God be the glory! Great things He has done!

Finally, we have two more prayer requests. First, please pray Braden will not suck his thumb while we are here. He's been trying to break the habit, but hasn't yet. For his protection, please pray he will not be tempted to do this here. Also, Weston's birthday is next Monday. Please pray Weston will feel loved, accepted, cherished, and very special on his special day! We are grateful to you all for your prayer covering!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Jumbled Thoughts

Up Front Apology:  The following blog post is a jumble of thoughts - several topics, numerous thoughts.

It is now starting to feel like Christmas Eve!  The excitement is rising.  I'm staying up later and later just like I do on Christmas Eve as I fill the stocking.

The boys have packed their clothes. They continually ask questions about Ghana.  For the past few days they have shared dreams they are having about meeting Overcomer. And they tell me how excited they are over and over and over!  Love it!

A friend asked why we were taking our boys. Wouldn't it be better to spend the money elsewhere?  Couldn't it be dangerous to be there with them? 

We knew God was calling us to go to Ghana as a family so we have taken the plunge of faith to do so.  This is an enormous monetary amount, but we can't think of anything greater than investing in our boys to have a heart for the world.  God has been gracious to make this possible.  Reid and I long for our boys to understand where their brother is from, to pulse with God's heart for every tribe, tongue, and nation.  We desire them to each understand the reality of poverty in the world while embracing the responsibility God gives his followers.  We anticipate God will do great things in all of our hearts.  We pray none of us return the same.

As I'm typing this, Mason is sitting at our table preparing the devotion for his middle school in the morning.  He and Franklin wanted to ask their peers to pray for them, and now they will be leading the devotion.  Mason's planning to share some statistics and he's even done some math to make more impact.  Reid shared these stats on Sunday and they make me stop.    and.     think.  

According to the Consumer Price index in the United States, an individual needs to earn $9,800 dollars a year to stay over the poverty line.

Right now, 3 billion people in the world make an annual salary of $912 dollars. 

According to the census of 2008, the median household income among all races in the United States was $61,521 dollars per year. 

Today, if you took 567 million of the world's poorest people and combine what they have made in a lifetime, it would still be lower than what the 7 richest people in the world make per year.

The poorest 40% of people in the world account for 5% of the world's income. The richest 20% of people in the world account for 75% of the world's income.   

Today, 22,000 children will starve to death (according to UNICEF).

Less than 1% of what the world spends on weapons development every year could put every single child in the world through school.

2.6 billion people in the world have no access to safe drinking water. Every five seconds, someone in the world dies from a water related disease.

America (population: 311 million) will spend $18 billion dollars this year on bottled water.

Doesn't this make you     stop.            and.          think.          too?  Or are you able to continue reading without thinking about it to much.  If so, go back and re-read them.  Then again. 

This quote has been running through my head,

Sometimes I'd like to ask God why he allows so much poverty, famine and injustice in the world when He could do something about it...but I'm afraid he might ask me the same question.  

 A neighbor was with us today helping pack suitcases.  As he was looking at all of the supplies, he kept saying, "Wow!  I bet this cost a lot of money."  After hearing him say this a few times, I responded, "Yes, it did, but I can't think of a better way to spend money than helping a child who doesn't have a family."  Really, what is a better?

While by American standards, I'm sometimes guilty of thinking we are fairly poor.  Shame on me!  I'm slapped in the face by the statistics above reminding me of the wealth we must steward for God.  To borrow Stephen's words from his blog, our family is "uber-rich." 

Wow!  What a responsibility.  Not guilt.  Responsibility.  Isn't that what God calls us to?  

Recently, I was in the home of a missionary couple with three children.  A young-ish couple who lives a life modeling simplicity.  In groups, they never draw attention to themselves or anything they are doing.  They simply follow hard after Jesus.  On the wall of their kitchen hangs their family goal sheet.  It's broken up into several areas, but one of those is 'giving.'  (Remember - missionary couple - living fully on support.)    Guess what one of their giving goals is?  Ready?  To give away at least one million dollars to those in need.  One million dollars.  Given away.  Now that is a family goal!  As I thought about it on the way home, it hit me that reading that everyday would be such a reminder.  Never striving to be a millionaire - Only striving to love through giving.  After talking to my friend, I have no doubt this couple will do it.  Our family is hoping to take some "goal-setting" lessons from this amazing couple.

I'm now preparing my heart for the children in Ghana.  I heard today that friends of ours who visited in December cried the first four days they were there.  Simply weeping for the children.  They were staying at a children's home and wept for the fatherless.  Night after night, children longing to be loved and accepted within a family.  Is God speaking to your heart to help these children? 

I know God is preparing my heart for Overcomer.  Today a precious neighbor brought us a baby gift for him.  It was his first true "baby gift."  (Is that the appropriate term for a 3 year old?  For Adoption?  Maybe I should say she brought him his first true "Three Year Old Adoption Gift.")   Anyway, it was a monogrammed bag filled with toys for him.  As the reality hit me, I stood on the driveway and cried.  Yes, real tears.  This is really happening!  He is coming home!  He will be playing with these toys!  Oh, my heart leaps for JOY!

Another friend came over today and prayed on our driveway with the boys and I.  She prayed Isaiah 52:12, "But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard."

So we pray the Lord will go before us and prepare the path for this trip!  Break our hearts Lord, for what breaks yours!

It Feels Like Christmas

Reid's been bouncing around the house saying, "IT FEELS LIKE CHRISTMAS!"  He's on the computer constantly planning the upcoming trip - confirming, then reconfirming.  I've seen my husband come ALIVE!

Weston came upstairs tonight with his suitcase and backpack completely packed!  I love how he plans ahead!  (I did take out all of the long sleeve shirts knowing the temp is in the 90s right now in Ghana.)  Weston has already started a mental list for all the things I could forget!

Mason and Franklin are frantically working to complete their school work for the next week.  They want to come back free to love on Overcomer!  Mason is practicing his guitar constantly.  Franklin has already cleaned out his school backpack in order to pack it.

Braden now thinks the trip will be fun because he is taking his own camera - thanks to a precious, generous friend.  (Thank you so much Tarrer!  The boys are so excited!)   Braden has already learned how to take very unattractive pictures of his mother!  Earlier this week my sister asked Braden what he was going to do in Ghana.  Evidently, we have not communicated effectively because Braden quipped, "Buy lots of souvenirs!" Then, she and a group of boys prayed over Weston and Braden.  When they finished, Braden sighed loudly, "Finally!"

Me?  Well, today I've been cleaning our house with the gift of help from my sweet Mom!  Thanks, MOM!  The boys all worked very hard to make Overcomer's homecoming sparkling as well!   

Tonight I've been glued to Facebook looking at pictures some friends of ours have posted.  Three close friends - Righ, Drais, and Teg are all in Ghana this week loving on orphans around the country.  Check out Feeding the Orphans to learn more and see a few photos too!  Oh, these children need Daddies to love them everyday! 

The past several weeks, I've been purchasing items for travel, packing supplies, and praying constantly.  All the time, my heart is preparing to fully embrace Overcomer!  In so many ways, the journey is just beginning.  The pictures tonight on FB showed Overcomer with the same sad eyes.  I long to see his smile again!   We are coming, dear one.  We are coming soon!

Overcomer is finally coming HOME!

We want to thank you for all of the donations you have given.  Literally, we are taking 600 pounds of supplies with us!  Amazing!  Your gifts will bless so many with so little!  Thank you all for giving to others:
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.    - 2 Cor. 9:12

Along with the excitement of our family finally being united, all seven of us will be ministering in Ghana for 2 weeks.

  Yes, all seven of us.  Yes, fourteen days in country!  

Our family is very excited to see all that the Lord will do.  God has provided many opportunities for sharing His love in Ghana.  We will be with many orphans and children.  We plan to feed children on the street through Feeding the Orphans.  We will meet some children we have sponsored while taking gifts form other sponsors.  We will be able to take pictures for adopting families so they can see their children as I have done tonight.   We may possibly visit a children's home in a neighboring country.  We will join Ghanaian missionaries in the work God is doing through them.  We hope to bring encouragement to weary ones.  We expect to be traveling to a very remote region in Ghana.  We look forward to visiting several destitute schools delivering needed supplies and HOPE.  And the list goes on and on...  Our ambition is to reflect Christ in everything!

If you are willing, would you please pray for our family in the following ways:
1.) For Overcomer to bond/attach quickly.  For him to feel safe and secure once when we are with him.
2.) For our boys to embrace one another fully loving each other as brothers.
3.)  For a huge hedge of protection from the enemy.  Safe travels, no illness/injury, anxiety, etc...
4.) For ministry efforts in country to completely offer the love of Christ to all.
5.) For God to speak to us clearly on this trip - as a family, and as individuals.
6.) For our boys to come home with an appropriate perspective on the world.
7.)  For the light of Jesus to shine through each of us no matter where we are or what we are doing.
8.)  For the children/orphans in Ghana to know the depth of God's love for them and that they are fully accepted by Him.
9.)  For us to live our family quote, "Love is sacrifice.  Each member of this family will choose to GIVE UP, GIVE IN, and GIVE OVER for the sake of the rest."  And, for us to live our family motto to, "Be a BLESSING!"
10.)  Most importantly, FOR GOD TO BE GLORIFIED!

We, GO as His witnesses.

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”    -Acts 1:8-9

Please e-mail me if you would like to receive specific prayer requests during our trip.  We hope to send a few e-mails with prayer needs while we are in Ghana.  Please pray for our friends in Ghana now.