Monday, April 30, 2012

Spiritual Powers

Guest Blogger:  Mason, our son, age 15

  Recently I have been leading several devotions at my school. I have talked about being different and how to make a difference. Sadly, many American Christians think that in order to make a difference, they need to become a missionary, Christian musician, Christian author, or pastor. While all of these are great occupations, I think the best way to make a difference is to allow God to use you in your everyday life. God will not put you in a place where you cannot minister. He has put you where you are for a reason. If He calls you to a Christian occupation, great, but if not reach out from where you are.

   Christianity should not be about a few Christians doing big things, but every Christian doing something.

   As I was preparing my devotion for school I realized that so often, especially as youth, we hear "Make a difference, make a difference," but we have no idea how to do that. We often hear to just do small things such as talking to someone who looks like they need someone to talk to, but I feel that is shrinking the call that we have as Christians.

  We often hear of spiritual gifts, which are unique to specific people, but there are spiritual powers that are universal to Christians. I came up with three spiritual powers we have at our disposal.  The power of the Holy Spirit, the power of your age, and the power of numbers.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father." John 14:12 (ESV)

     Think for a minute about all the miracles Jesus performed. No really, think about it. He raised people from the dead, healed sick, fed five thousand men, calmed the sea, walked on water, turned water into wine, and the list could go on and on. These are all works of God himself, and Jesus says that we will do greater thing than these. Wow!

     I recently heard a story about a missionary in South America. One of the things he does as a missionary is ordain pastors. This missionary has a list of accomplishments that must be done before he will ordain a pastor. One of the things on the list for ordination is to raise someone from the dead, and, even with this requirement, he has ordained several men as pastors.  Miracles are happening at the present time. Miracles do happen today.  Jesus is strong and more power, and he is more than willing to share His power and strength with his Beloved.
     Why is it that American Christians do not perform miracles? Why is that not an everyday occurrence? I think the main reason is because people are afraid of looking stupid. In the Bible, Jesus always speaks to raise someone from the dead and speaks to perform most of his other miracles. Imagine if you went to a morgue where one of your friends had died. If you went to your friend and said "Get up" and he or she did not get up, you would look like you had lost your mind. But this fear of looking stupid reveals another reason why miracles are not everyday occurrences. We never have to rely totally on God. If we were reliant on God, we would not be afraid of looking stupid, because we would know that a miracle would/could be performed, and we would not care what the world thought of us.

     When you hear the power of your age, you are probably thinking, "How is that a power?" In Ghana this is very evident. The average life expectancy for an Ghanaian is 57 years. The average life expectancy in America is 78 years. In Ghana, since life is not very long, younger people will listen to older people. My Dad (not that he is really that old) has an advantage, because of his age. Ghanaians will be inclined to listen to him. For my brothers and myself, we will be able to connect better with the orphans and youth of Ghana, because we understand them. That is our advantage. When you think about it, your age really is a power. Older people have wisdom and experience. Younger people have more physical abilities and energy.  Any age holds power.

     The last spiritual power I came up with was the power of numbers. While it is very hard to estimate accurately, several sources say that there are about 2.1 billion Christians worldwide. If this estimation is true, then about a third of the earth's population is Christian. That is incredible to think that I have about 2 billion brothers and sisters around the world (and you thought your family was big). What if every 2 billion of us started making a difference right where we were? If that happened, imagine how many more children would be added to God's family.  There is power in the massive number of people who profess to believe in Christ.
 This is a challenge. What are you going to do about it? If you feel like you want to do more for Christ, right now, begin writing down what you want to do to make a difference. And don't get up until you are done. When you finish, find someone who will hold you accountable to this challenge. Give them a copy of what you wrote and make sure they hold you to this decision. If you do write a challenge for yourself DO NOT leave out how you will continue to grow, rely on and love Christ. If we are not going to be firmly anchored on Christ, then we shouldn't even try to make a difference for Him. You have power. What are you going to do with it?

"He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.” 
Joshua 4:24


Overcome, Overwhelmed, and Overjoyed

Today I was o-v-e-r-c-o-m-e, o-v-e-r-w-h-e-l-m-e-d, and o-v-e-r-j-o-y-e-d.

O-v-e-r-c-o-m-e with emotion.
O-v-e-r-w-h-e-l-m-e-d by the preciousness of children.
O-v-e-r-j-o-y-e-d by God's goodness evident throughout the day.

I wrote about my experience as a teacher on the last day of our co-op in this post.  However, I also wanted to share all the ways the Lord ministered to me.  God’s goodness was continual throughout the day as He tenderly poured encouragement over my tears.

When I stepped into my room yesterday morning, my eyes were shocked to see the surprise awaiting my arrival.  Sitting in the front of my room was a new set of nonstick cookware!  Brand new- in the box, with a note on top that blew me away!
This surprise had been on my “wish list” because I knew water would be scarce and cleaning nonstick pans is significantly easier than regular pans!  Wow!  I was deeply touched to read that the TC Board had come together to bless us with this gift.  Michelle said, “I want you to know we are surrounding you with love as you cook in your kitchen.”  Believe me, I will.  Thank you.

When I saw the cookware and read the note, the floodgate of tears sprung forth.  Unstoppable.  My poor class witnessed me weep for 10 minutes because the blessings continued.

After reading the note, I turned around to face a young woman I’d never met.  In fact, I’m not sure I’d ever seen her.  Her face was unfamiliar, but emulated a sweetness in her demeanor.  Embarrassed from my tears, I quickly tried to explain my emotion.  She shushed my explanation and handed me an envelope.  She said she’d read some of our blog and her family wanted to help us.  Then she walked out the door. 

Later, I opened the sealed envelope to read this note:
“Last night I found myself on your blog for the first time.  We hope this small gift meets one of your many needs.  I am sure to return to your blog, if the e-newsletter gives more information, please include us.  We will be praying that you each feel the peace of Christ as you step into this mission field.”

After reading the note, I unfolded the enclosed check.  It was a gift of $500!  $500!!!  From strangers…  No, not strangers.  An incredibly generous gift from a family with a heart for God’s World and an understanding of our call to live on mission for Jesus.  I was blown away.  Actually, I still am.

After this generous woman left my room, I attempted to teach my class.  (Teach through the tears…teach through the tears.  I think I can...I think I can...)  It was difficult to regain my composure.  I’d purchased journals for all of the English students so they could record the story God is writing with their lives.  After giving the books out, one of my students, Brandon, handed me a book.  The cover was red construction paper with a cut out yellow piece in the corner.  On the circle, written in ink pen were the words “Newbery Award.”  Brandon had written a book just for me It was precious.  In the story all of our boys get lost at the airport causing us to miss our flight!  Hilarious!  Children are such a blessing!

As my first class left, the teacher from across the hall walked in.  Niki was carrying a bag.  She handed me the grocery bag and said apologetically, “It’s not much.”  Then she held my hands and dropped something in them.  “I want you to have these.”

Looking down, I saw a sparkling gold ring and bracelet.  “Gold?”

Niki said, “You can either sell these or keep them for a bribe.  When I was in Ethiopia, people would not allow me to leave the country without giving a bribe.  I was ill and needed to leave immediately. Finally, my mom helped me find some gold to give.  Robin, you can do whatever you want with these.  I simply want you to have them.”
Each piece of gold jewelry had a story which Niki shared.  I am astounded.  Niki’s family lives like us…simply without much extra to spare.  She and her husband have adopted several children and foster others.  Their home is a house of love always filled with children needing a family.  In fact, when we were considering adoption, Niki was a primary influence leading us toward adoption because of the way she lives her life.  Niki gave what she had.  I was amazed by her kindness and generosity.  What an amazing gift!

Throughout the day, God sprinkled more of His love upon me through the TC families.  I received gift cards for supplies, monetary gifts toward the mission (helping us hover close to 96% of our need).  One family even gave a gift in honor of their children’s co-op teachers.  Friends brought suitcases for packing, games, shampoo, batteries, deodorant, movies, peanut butter, and other things on our wish list.  People dropped into my room all day long with bags of Ghana goodies.  One family even loaded some things in our car surprising us when we left!   I couldn’t believe the generosity.  It’s such a picture of the BODY OF CHRIST.  Wow!  Our family is only one teeny-tiny piece of the puzzle.  The entire picture comes together when all people are a part of what God is doing!  Unbelievable!

Beyond the tangible supplies for Ghana, God lavished love upon me through words of affirmation.  Kind words came throughout the day and into the night.

My boys wrote beautiful poems and sentimental notes for me.  Yes, boys.  Yes, poetry.  Yes, sentimental words.  They were tucked in my notebook for me to find later.  Is there a more precious gift?

Of. course there were also sweet gifts from my girls.  An envelope was handed to me from Sarah, and it read, "I'm Ghana miss you."  Inside were some dollar bills that I believe came from her - not her parents.  Beautiful!  

Other gals also touched me...
Girls sent e-mails and posted on FB.  These were some of the things I read today:
From Emma:  This week has been so depressing! Had my last day of TC ever, because next year i'm going to public high school. Gonna miss all my friends sooooo much! And I'm gonna miss Mrs. Beebe who is moving to Ghana with her family in June. I'm gonna miss everyone!
From Julia:  I love you Mrs.Beebe. I am going to miss you guys so much! I will be praying for you and your family. Have fun and hug some kids for me♥
From Abby:  Amazing last day at TC. Emotional, yes! Mrs.Beebe has been an amazing role model in my life and made Hannah and I cry the whole class! :) so sad to say goodbye to all my friends not comming back next year! :( going to miss you guys! Love you!
From Hannah:  Had an awesome but emotional last day of T.C. Im going to miss all my friends through the summer! And Im going to miss Mrs. Beebe soooooooo much! Thanks for making it an awesome year guys!

Many other students and adults wrote notes, said kind words, etc...  The day was so filled with love, I could never record everything.   Even parents sent nourishing words to my soul thanking me for the impact I've made on their children.

I am truly humbled by all of the undeserved words from so many.  For when anything good is seen in me, it is simply a piece of Jesus shining through.  This life is not about me.   Nothing good is a reflection of me - it is only a reflection of the goodness of Christ.  I praise Him that HE chose to allow me to be a vessel for Him.  I was overwhelmed by emotion today because of how great my God is!

Then I read e-mails like this one:
We have your family photo on our refrigerator and in my Bible. You are in my
prayers. I hope you don't mind if I share something with you. On the way to
TC Thursday my girls and I had just finished praying. The Father spoke to my
heart and said, "Stay in your own lane." This was not a driving correction,
but a life focus encouragement. He ministered to my heart about what He has
given me to do and that I am to be about that, not looking at what others
are doing in their lanes or being distracted by surroundings.

What He has called your family to is large. HUGE by western standards, but
His call for you all, nonetheless. Keep your eyes fixed on Him. I wept with
you as I prayed yesterday, as I know there is so much you are leaving and
will miss, but the GREATER part is what you are going TO and what you GET to
be part of. What an amazing adventure! Your boys will become men serving in
a capacity that many never even fathom. May you find peace and joy in your
journey, savoring each experience and being mindful to be present to every

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your
heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it."
Psalm 37:4-5

We are lifting you up!

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

Finally, the most precious gift of my last day at co-op day was witnessing the answer to prayer for little Molly Rader.  While she was in the womb, the Lord burdened my heart for this beloved child.  She was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome and a major heart defect prior to birth.  Forty days before her due date, God led me to fervently pray for her while fasting from one of my favorite things as a reminder to pray for her. 

Last Thursday, Molly’s big sister Annie gave a presentation on Molly’s surgery.  She passed out prayer cards asking the students to pray.  It was to be a very serious, complicated surgery with the top prayer request being, "that Molly would not die."  The surgery was postphoned from Wednesday to Thursday, so we were praying sporatically throughout the day at co-op.  We prayed as classes until we received word that the surgery was complete. 

We all rejoiced to hear the word that Molly’s heart had begun to beat again.  She had survived the surgery and was in recovery.  This news made the day complete with JOY.  It was a gift to celebrate with Molly's siblings, Jackson, Hannah and Annie! 

I’ve been so blessed to be a part of this co-op.  I’ll carry a small piece of each person from TC as we move to Ghana.  I thank you all for your role in God’s work over the Earth.  Thank you for joining so mightily with His Work.  I’m grateful for each of you.  YOU are a blessing!

If there are discouraging days ahead, I will be remembering this precious day of LOVE!  ALWAYS!

"To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, 
to guide our feet into the way of peace."    
Luke 1:79.  (a verse given to me on Thursday from Timothy Lumsdaine, 6th grade)

Friday, April 27, 2012

First Goodbyes

Today I was o-v-e-r-c-o-m-e, o-v-e-r-w-h-e-l-m-e-d, and o-v-e-r-j-o-y-e-d.

O-v-e-r-c-o-m-e with emotion.
O-v-e-r-w-h-e-l-m-e-d by the preciousness of children.
O-v-e-r-j-o-y-e-d by God's goodness evident throughout the day.

It was my last day to teach at Thursday Connection, the homeschool co-op where I have taught for four years.  The place where I have seen children grow, mature, and develop into strong young men and women of faith.  The people there have become my "Thursday Family" and it's been an honor to be a part of such an incredible group.

A few blog posts I've written in the past about TC:
Why I Love Thursdays
A Few Reasons Why I Love Teaching
And a Little Child Shall Lead Them
Helping Orphans in Africa - Perspective from a Sixth Grader

During my time at TC, unforgettable memories have been made. Sometimes, I can't believe the things I've done as a teacher.  Let's see...  I've led funerals for "banned words" laying them to rest in a real coffin so my students will stop using them in their writing assignments.  I've bribed kids in my classes to sing their 49 Prepositions for the Talent Show.  I've made a working digestive system - ending with real poop.  I've willingly held pig eyeballs and other organs which I picked up WARM from a sausage factory.  (Yes, students, I sacrifice much for you!)  I've witnessed middle school boys and girls create a skit and perform it as synchronized swimmers building a bridge.  I've had boys cut their hair with scissors I passed out for a craft.  I've had my blood drawn in front of a class for educational purposes.  I've read papers written by students that expose the depths of their soul.  I've cried with kids who are hurting.  I've been burdened for children facing challenges and have had the privilege to pray for them.  I've read the work of budding poets.  I've read stories and seen student presentations that make me cry.  Unprompted, I've had students write poems, stories, and books for me.  I've been given visions by God showing me what potential is in each child and what kind of impact each one can have on this world.  Mostly, I've been given an undeniable gift - a small piece of each child's heart.  And, I've given them part of mine.  

Last year, my students walked with us through our adoption.  I remember when Reid came to tell me our I-600 had been approved.  I started crying and all the kids started cheering - even though they had no clue what an "I-600" was!  Later other students were running up to me celebrating that we had been approved because, you know, Mrs. Beebe's I-600 approval was the buzz in the hallways.  These students were prayer warriors who prayed our son home!  Students from my classes even surprised us at the airport when Godwin came home.  Papers written last year about caring for orphans caused me to wonder what seeds the Lord was planting on hearts.

Thursday Connection has been such a blessing in my life.  I've looked forward to teaching each week.  And today was the last day with the kids who have filled my life for years.   It's hard to believe.

Pardon the derailing, but last Saturday I had a bad fall which injured one of my ribs.  Either a severe bruise on my rib or a fracture has caused pain since then.  A dull, throbbing pain has been constant with sharp intensity sideswiping me if I breathe too deeply or cough.  It's been the same with the emotion of my heart.  A dull pain has begun to cover my inmost being - knowing we are leaving the people we love and everything we have known.  This dull heartache is constant.  Today the pain intensified.  Sharp intense pain came in waves as I said "Goodbye" to my precious kids.

As each class left the room, tears swept down my cheeks, and I didn't care.  Today, I warned each class I was "weepy."  (Poor kids.)  They didn't seem to mind, and some became tearful with me.  Even the stalwart boys showed some raw emotion.  I knew today would be the last time I would see some of these children, so I had to make the most of it.  I told my kiddos that as they left the room, I planned to kiss them on the head and give them a hug.  Then as each child stood before me, as my composure would allow, I spoke God's blessing over each boy and girl.  I shared words I hoped would penetrate the depths of their heart conveying the truth of their value, worth, and purpose.

What an honor.

What a privilege.

What TRUTH in the value of each child.

It's crazy how much I love these kids.  I recently heard this quote, "I hope you hurt deeply.  If you hurt deeply, it means you have loved deeply... and that you have been loved deeply."  Today, this was my reality.

So, students of mine, please always remember...

Shurley English 3

R, E, B, and N, you've made me proud this year.  My days always started with lots of laughter and learning because you were my students.  You brought much JOY to each week.  I'll always remember you.  Keep growing.  Keep writing.  (Please use a "frindle" for your writing so it will be permanent. Ha!)  All of the special books, poems and pictures you gave me are now packed for Africa.  (Kim and Stacy, thanks for learning all the parts of speech inside and out so you could grade the workbooks!)

Precious students, I love you all!

Hands on Human Body 4-6
We had a year, didn't we?  Remember sticking your finger in a real aorta, examining bones, soaking teeth in orange soda, covering a scab, cupping water at the pace of your heart beating, and turning a PB&J sandwich into real poop!  Thanks for loving each other well and growing together.  You all blessed me with your incredible presentations.  Isn't God's creation of our body amazing?  Thank you for making learning FUN this year!  Your special gifts will be traveling with us to Ghana.  Thank you!   (Ty, I couldn't have done it without you!  Call me for a letter of recommendation should you ever need it.)

Silly Poop-Makers, I love you all!

Hands On Human Body K-3
What fun we had this year!  Remember the war between the white blood cell and the bacteria.  Remember the red blood cell serving everyone food (nutrients).  Remember our bone race and our platelet race.  Never forget making a candy cell with a plastic egg.  Remember having your body traced and measuring your digestive system with yarn.  Most of all, remember praying for little Molly as a class - then seeing that prayer answered today!  What an amazing God we have!  We praise Him!  

(Stacy, what a blessing you have been!  Thanks for stepping into the craziness and loving it!  You were a life saver!
Sweet Prayer Warriors, I love you all!

Shurley English 5
Oh, how you make me laugh!  Oh, how you make me cry!  Thank you all for giving me a glimpse into your heart.  Heartfelt writing assignments tugged on my compassion.  Poems about dolphins, pets, blue balls, etc... made me smile.  Limericks and reading about what happens when you oversleep made me laugh.  Thank you for sharing your writing assignments literally by bringing Dutch Baby Pancakes on our last day!

Thank you for writing what you would do to help the orphans in Africa.  (Caroline B and Grant R, if you are reading this, I still remember your paper on this topic from a few years ago!)  Students, thank you for diving into challenging books to learn about history and Godly character.  Corrie ten Boom can teach everyone!  Thank you for avoiding the banned words, (ha!) applying yourselves to your assignments, and giving your all.  It was evident you desired to learn and grow.  Now that you all know how to write letters correctly and address the envelope, I hope to receive many once we are in Ghana!

(Cheryl, thank you for the help.  Abby and Hannah, are you done crying?  Thinking of the two of you makes me want to start again!  Thanks for all your help, love, support, and HUGS each week!  You were a huge blessing!  I love you both!)

Future Writers of America, I love you all!

Brain Quest

 Riddle me this - Who can cross shark infested waters on lily pads as a team?  Who can begin with different numbers, perform the same mathematical operation, and end up with exactly the same answer although beginning with different numbers?  Who can build a hide out at TC in the yard to protect all the students and area goats in the case of a national emergency?  Who could have escaped from the World Trade Center on September 11th, with a physical handicap?

Who can act out a skit five times beginning a new way every time, but always have the same ending?  Who can invent a new sport called "Yarishuneka" for the Olympics?  Who can perform ballet while in a hurricane?  Who can perform impromptu charades?  Who can deduce, if A, then B with C. If not A, Then B not C?  Who can locally tell me if a man travels to Nantucket on a plane taking 15 hours on a Thursday with a stopover in Germany then who was trailing with the man?  Okay class, who is it?  Why it's all of you, of course!

It's been so much fun teaching you this year.   your creativity inspires me.  Your reasoning astounds me.  Your humor surprises me!  What a blessing all of you are!  E, S, C, S - I've taught you for years, and will miss your presence in my life.  YOU are all a JOY!

Crazy Brain Quest Class, I love you all!

There are so many "God Stories" from today.  I hope to share them all.  However, it's been a long day.  My eyes are still swollen and I need to head to bed.

Everyone at TC, you have impacted my life deeply.  I am grateful for each one of you.  Keep loving and living.

"I hope you hurt deeply.  If you hurt deeply, it means you have loved deeply... and that you have been loved deeply." 

"A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher."
Luke 6:40

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Packing Wish List

Several of my students at Thursday Connection asked how they could help us. We've been blessed by students bringing in some of the items we need.  A friend then said, "Well, I want to help too!"

So, here it is.  A Wish List.  We will not have easy access to these things or if we do, we will pay a huge amount for them.  If you would like to help provide anything on the list, we would be very grateful!!  Anything helps!!

Ink Cartridges for HP Office Jet Pro 8600
Transformers (110 v to 220 v)
Batteries - all sizes needed 
Multi-Vitamins for our family for at least one year (Adults and Kids)
Probiotics for our entire family for at least one year (Adults and Kids)
3 Lightweight Twin sized blankets
DVD Movies (Missionaries have told us these will be a treasure when we are
craving a taste of America.)
Sharp Knives
Bibles to give away
Gift Cards - SAMS, Walmart, Target, I-Tunes
Headlamps and Flashlights
Cool-Dri Shirts and Shorts for Boys (Childs 1- 5t, 1 - XL, Mens 1-Sm, 2-Med, 1-Lg)
Pull Ups - Size 3t-4t
Small items we may give as gifts for hospitality
Chocolate Chips (Can't get these either)
Large Containers of Spices (Need them to make anything tasting familiar!)
Gluten Free Mixes (Not there! Two in our family must eat gluten free!)
Peanut Butter (Yes, seriously!)
Gum (a real treat!)
Coffee (Please!)
Baseball Equipment (the boys want to teach the kids!)
Soccer balls!  Basketballs! Footballs!  Frisbees!
Thumbdrives for computer
Wii games 
Board Games  (Who Gnu?,  Quelf, Loaded Questions) 
Paperback storybooks to read at orphanages - especially Christian!
Surprise packages for the family to open when we are homesick or
needing encouragement (an idea from another missionary!)

MOST IMPORTANT - Picture of YOUR family or a personal drawing for a "Wall of
Friends" in our house!   Anything that would remind us of YOU or make our house feel like a home. 

Please know that many of these things are "wants" not "needs."  If we don't receive them, we will do without.  Some of the things above will simply serve as a reminder of what is familiar to us.  We will need that.  As a mom, my desire is to have a few treats for our boys once we are there.  If there is anything you can think of that we would need that we might not have thought of, we would be grateful for the input.  

Finally, please pray for our hearts.  Goodbyes are beginning.  Last visits are starting to take place.  Tomorrow, I say goodbye to children that I have taught for years.  This weekend, we say goodbye to Reid's family - his sister, brother, Dad, grandfather and the rest of his side of the family.  And, it's hard.  Very, very hard.  Please pray for our emotional stamina to remain rooted in the Lord.  May we not be shaken as we grieve leaving everything familiar.  May we love well as we begin to say goodbye to family and relationships formed over years together.   Please pray for each one of us - we are all beginning to deeply feel grief.  

May we be as Jesus, a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief, yet, willingly going to complete the work God had planned.  May we do the "goodbyes" through the strength in Christ alone.  

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.
John 17:4

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mission Definition

Recently it's come to our attention that we've never defined on this blog what we expect to do in Ghana.  I've received two messages this week asking the question, "What exactly will you be doing there?"  (We've shared verbally with so many that I never realized we did not have it posted here.  Eeek!  So sorry!)  Therefore, we've updated our Ghana Mission page to share what God is leading us to do for Him, but today you can read it in the following post.

Friends have asked, "What will you be doing in Ghana?"

It's an easy answer, 

"We will be living the gospel through LOVING orphans and 
preaching the gospel by bringing HOPE to unreached people."

(First picture we received of our son on May 27, 2010.  Heartbreaking.) 

The Lord moved on our hearts through our adoption to recognize the truly difficult and sometimes horrifying plight of orphans.  (In Ghana, there is one orphan for every 23 people!)  Through an experience in Ghana in which a person drowned unexpectedly without ever hearing the truth of Jesus, we have been burdened for people who have never heard of Christ.  (In Ghana, 10% of the population is considered unreached because of language and cultural separation.)  In a nutshell, here's a brief synopsis of God's call on our life for ministry in Ghana:

1.) We will be working for Feeding the Orphans to care for orphans. We will be an on the ground contact for the orphanages in Ghana and FTO in the USA.  We will see that the physical and spiritual needs of the children are met. Additionally, we will be helping with a pilot project for FTO to establish homes in villages for orphans. These will be like permanent foster care homes that empower the locals to care for the orphans among them in a "forever family" environment. The children will be raised in their own village by caregivers that love and care for the orphans like they are their own.  Adoption is a huge blessing for children who are adopted into families, but it will not be the answer for all.  Our desire is to love and 

care for the waiting children.  They are God's beloved ones.

2.) We will be working for a Ghanaian ministry, Meaningful Life International to plant churches in the northern region where the gospel of Christ has not penetrated. Reid will be helping to train pastors and bridging the gap into these villages.  However, everything will be done through the Ghanaian people so that the ministry is not dependent on us. We wish to help empower the people and give them a vision for their country. We hope to come alongside the people in Ghana to see this happen. Compassion outreaches will show the gospel of love before it is preached.  Medical outreaches and provision of clean water will be some of the compassion opportunities in these villages.  Trained pastors will be in place to disciple those turning to Christ.

These are the two main components for what we will be responsible for. One additional thing is beginning to take shape.  Tiva Water here in Knoxville manufactures filters to provide clean water in areas where it is needed.  These point-of-use water filters assure clean water at the time of use.  These filters may be used as a bridge to introduce the gospel in the unreached areas.  Additionally, the plan is to follow a business model which will provide jobs for a sales force and maintenance team to service the filters.  Again, we will work with Ghanaians for this to happen.

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail us.  If you would like to be added to our newsletter list, you can e-mail us to add you too.  We appreciate your prayers!

"To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ."  
Colossians 1:27-28

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Leaving a Surprise Legacy

On February 25th, my granny left this earth to join her Savior.  She suffered a massive stroke the week before losing her ability to speak while laboring every movement of her frail body.  For eight days, I spent as much time as possible with her at the hospital.  Holding her hand, singing to her, stroking her hair, praying over her...all final moments to be cherished.

At her funeral, each of my sisters and I shared precious memories and things we loved about our Granny.  I remember baby chicks at Easter, my first Mary Kay party (at age 14), back-to-school shopping for one new outfit, special meals with the counters overflowing with food my Granny had prepared for those she loved, purple earrings, her contagious giggle of excitement when we came to see her, and, mostly, I remember her generous heart.  She always gave anything she had to anyone who needed it.

Over the last few years, I remember sitting with her at her nursing home.  She didn't know who I was.  But I knew her.  Last year, I blogged about being with her for Valentines Day.  There were other special memories with her while she lived in this group home  - making blankets together for the homeless, giving her change to give each of the boys so she could feel like she was giving them a gift, watching her eyes light up when all the grandkids came and sang Christmas songs, etc...  Even though her mind didn't hold memories from her past, her heart still leapt for simple, child-like pleasures of life.

Now she is gone.  What legacy does she leave behind?  How can the memory of my Granny live on?

My grandmother had requested that any gifts after she died be sent to her church.  At the funeral in her home church in middle Tennessee, there was a sign stating that one of the pews in the church had been given in honor of my great-grandmother - Bessie White.  It was special to honor my grandmother, Bessie's daughter, with a gift to this same church.  However, my heart wanted to do something else to honor her as well.  Lord, what would you have me do?

Meet another precious grandmother.  No, she's not my grandmother, but she is the grandmother to some special children...and the surrogate grandmother to even more.  This is Lola Crain who is currently serving as a volunteer with Feeding the Orphans in Ghana.  She daily gives her life away to love and care for children living in an orphanage.  And, she is pretty amazing.

On April 3rd, I sent Lola this message:
I wanted to let you know that I sent Kristie (who runs FTO) a check for you - $125. It's a gift in honor of my grandmother who died recently. I wanted to do something to honor her. Use it toward whatever you wish - wish we could send more, but I also sent a gift to her church as well. 

I admire you for spending your later years serving the least of these with your life. You are a blessing!  You exemplify what it means to give your life away. Completely.

So, I sent the check in and forgot about it.   

Two days later I receive a call from Kristie.  She told me Lola had called and wanted to do something very special with the money we sent.  Lola's desire was to buy Bibles for each of the older children in the orphanage - 25 kids.  Bibles in Ghana are very expensive.  Even here, they are not cheap.  How could $125 provide Bibles for 25 children?  That seemed impossible.

However, God is in every detail!

Kristie went into a Christian bookstore right after Lola's call.  She found beautiful Bibles for $5 each.  

$125 purchased 25 Bibles!!  

(Kristie tells her version of the story here.  And it is much better than mine!)

I cried when Kristie called.  Then I cried again when I shared this story with my mom.  After sending Lola a message thanking her for choosing to provide Bibles, I cried a third time when I read this message from Lola:

I was very honored that you would even think of blessing me on behalf of your Grandmother. I will write something very personal to each child and each one will say in honor of ... your grandmothers name, Mary White.  I cried when I read your email. Thank you for allowing me to bless through your gift! Love you

So this will be part of the legacy of my grandmother, Mary White.  My Granny.  Children without a mommy or a daddy will receive their own Bible.  Each with a handwritten message from their surrogate Grandma who loves them!  They will have God's Word in their own hands!  We will see these children growing in the knowledge and understanding of scripture!  What a powerful legacy!

God' continues to do incredible, unforeseen things that are all part of His plan.  I thank Him for His provision for these kids!  I thank Lola for her heart for the Lord!  I thank my Granny for the life she lived.  I praise God that a small piece of her will live on in Ghanaian children through the work God will do through His Powerful Word penetrating the hearts of the next generation.  Isn't our God amazing?

"The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue. 
It needs no furlough and is never considered a foreigner." 
William Cameron Townsend  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Letting Go

Guest blogger: Our oldest son, Mason, age 15.

     In the American Christian world we hear the term "letting go" a lot, but this term has been meaningless to me until our family was well into this journey. In America, everything is taken care of for us; we never have to really rely on God. I would say everyone who is reading this, should they lose their home, could find a place to stay, easily. I would also say that everyone reading this, should they lose their income, would not be concerned about starving to death. It is great that we have these things to rely, but do they teach us to rely on God?
      Before this adventure, I had thought of relying on God as having nothing and having to rely on God for every physical need, which is one way to view it. Now, I am realizing, that there are other things that I will have to rely on God for. Let's face it, I am a teen, and teen's want a lot. Teens want friendships, entertainment, fun, boyfriends, girlfriends, and plain, useless stuff. In Ghana, I will not be able to fulfill these wants... on my own. God can give me a friendship like no other... if I rely on Him to do this. God can give me entertainment and adventure... if I allow Him to.
     It has recently hit me loud and clear that America is not just a nation, government, or a culture, but it is a way of life, varying from person to person, where we just take in more and more to "fulfill" our desires. I am having to "let go" of this way of life to be effective for the kingdom, and it is hard. I know that the American lifestyle is not good for me, but I have grown to know this lifestyle of ease where everything is taken care of for me, as my life, and I don't want to leave it behind. I still want to be able to go out of town and stay in a hotel where the bed is already made with clean sheets, a clean (normal smelling) bathroom, and breakfast waiting for me in the morning. Just because I am going to be a missionary doesn't eliminate these desires (just to clarify).
     So how will I survive in a third world country? This is not a hard question to answer, but it is a very hard answer to actually carry out. I will have to let go of my American life, and cling to God. Even while I am writing this, it seems weird to say that I will let go of one culture and then cling to God, and not the Ghanaian culture, but I believe that God has told us to make this move, and if I cling to Him, He will work out the logistics.
     When we went to Colorado for our missionary training, they told me flat out that when we come back from Ghana I will not be American, but I will not be Ghanaian either. When we come back from Ghana, again I am going to be "odd man out". I will have seen things that many adults have not seen, learned things many youths have not learned, but also I could be somewhat lost. I will want the best of both of my lives. This will be another period of life when I will have to rely totally on God.
     To sum things up, I feel like I have jumped out of an airplane, with very little instruction on how to land still breathing, and have not figured out how to open my parachute yet. While this is scary, hard, and challenging, fun is not fun without fright and challenges. So in the midst of falling through the air, I am enjoying myself. I am getting very close to the cord that opens my parachute and lands me safely on the ground.
     For you that are reading this, I understand that it would be hard for you to let go of the things that I will have to, but I have been put into a scenario where that is required of me, and wouldn't be doing these things if it weren't for this event of moving to Ghana. What I am challenging you to do, is find things that you are holding onto that are not glorifying to God, and let go of them. If you let yourself, you might enjoy the challenges that come after.

My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63:8

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What Are You Doing?

Reid returned yesterday from Ghana.  He had an amazing trip!  God was with him.  He met all of the staff he will be working with at MLI, visited orphanages and villages on behalf of Feeding the Orphans, saw the house where we will live, met with other missionaries currently serving in Ghana, saw Palm Sunday parades in the streets of Accra, researched the needed documentation for our permit, read the proposal for the FTO village homes for orphans, delivered supplies, collected items to bring back, hugged children, gave swimming lessons to two children from an orphanage, learned local transportation by riding a tro-tro, spent time with our Ghanaian friends, researched in-country banking, etc...

(Several of you are wondering about our home.  It needs lots of cleaning, but will fit the needs of our family perfectly.  We need to purchase a stove and refrigerator, but are so thankful for God's provision!  Currently no air conditioning in the home, but it should be available in a few rooms when we arrive - we hope.  Ha!  Reid said it was in the 90's every day while he was there.)

I've received this question several times recently, "What are you doing now before you GO?"

Well, here's a run-down of our latest things to mark off the list:
Ghanaian phone and phone number - check
Ghana home and address - check
Six passports and visas in hand - check
Applied for Godwin's passport - check
Made appointment with travel clinic for shots - check
Started final packing list - check
Transferred banking to an International bank - check
Monogrammed towels -with a SHARPIE MARKER - check
Bought more suitcases at thrift shops - check
Monogrammed suitcases - with a SHARPIE MARKER - check
Scheduled physical appointment for Reid for Ghana Work Permit - check
Sent two suitcases with two friends traveling to Ghana - check
Purchased glasses with current prescriptions - check
Mason and Franklin's braces removed, retainer inserted - check
Talked with a missionary in Kenya for advice compiling four pages of notes - check
Met with Pamela Ironside, who lived in Uganda for 2 years, compiling 10 pages of notes - check
Blessed with Math curriculum for Mason and Franklin - check
Blessed with curriculum for Weston - check
Purged winter clothes (very little left when we return - 7 hangers for me!  1 pair of shoes!) - check
Purging more of everything - check
Our small group committing to prayer coverage for us (ANSWERED PRAYER) - check
Time with friends and family - ongoing

In Process:
Adjusting to my new gluten-free diet (okay, not mission related, but it's been a HUGE change!)
Shopping for mission vehicle to carry our family and handle the roads
Finalizing packing list
Pricing shipping options
Analyzing customs taxes
Obtaining all of the remaining needs  (wish list coming soon, maybe you can help)
Obtaining Godwin's visa
Purchasing good shoes (blessed by a family to purchase them - only a few more to go)
Obtaining in-country work permit
Planning for electricity options - inverter?
Water Filters - figuring out how many to take for our family and others?
Mosquito nets?
Malaria Meds or not?
Figuring out Internet access for our Ghana home - right now, we must drive into Accra (30 min) for it
Purchasing needed items to take with us
Packing up - it's a daily process
Compiling frequent flyer miles (donations welcome!)
Pricing airline tickets - departure date will be set soon
Backing up computer files
Scanning, filing, recording documents
Figuring out HOW to do all of this?
Praying for final support to be provided - less than 9% to go!

Daily Time with our God
Spiritual disciplines such as fasting and praying
Serving and Giving
Seeing evidence of God doing AMAZING things
Moment by moment leading by Him
Rejoicing in His presence

(Please note: the Bible picture is a web image - it is not my Bible.)

Boring post.  Sorry!  I've been behind on emails, phone calls, etc... and needed to share that we are busy making preparations to GO.   We are so grateful for the encouraging e-mails.  We feel your prayers.  We know the Lord is going before us.

Spending time on everything above makes my head swim.  For those who know me, you know my personality is very spontaneous.  Managing all of these details stretches my abilities - to the max!   Only through the Lord's grace.  In the coming weeks, we will need help so watch the blog to see if there is something you might be able to assist with!  YOU are a piece of the puzzle!

This morning I read Psalm 82.  I thank God for the reminder.

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
Arise, O God, judge the earth;
for you shall inherit all the nations!
Psalm 82:3-4,8

P.S.  If you are not receiving our newsletter, e-mail me your e-mail address and we will add you.  We need your prayers more than anything else.  We will be sending an update soon.  Thanks!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ghana - March 2012, Chapter 3: My Old Friend

In my (Reid) "Chapter 1: My New Friend" post, I recounted the connection I have with one of my co-laborers, Wahab. That connection being the late Pastor William Lewis. (The memories I'm going to share here are quite personal but they have been stirred up on this most recent visit to our future home.)

I remember Pastor Lewis as big teddy-bear of a man. He had a deep confident voice and that confidence was especially resounding when he spoke of His Lord and His Lord's Word. He was gifted at encouraging others. I will never forget his words as he prepared me for my first trip to Ghana, "God doesn't call the equipped. He equips the called!" I have borrowed those word on quite a few occasions.

There are two specific memories that I believe the Spirit has brought to mind during my time in Ghana as I heard about my old friend from my new friend (Wahab).

I remember driving home from the celebration of life service for my African-American brother, William Lewis. I was alone in the car and I started weeping uncontrollably. Waves of sobbing ebbed and flowed. I didn't understand it because, normally, I'm not that emotional. I have experienced the death of close family members and have never experience weeping like this. Why? In my analytical mind I needed an explanation but I couldn't find one.

My second flashback was also to William's funeral. He had recently been accepted to serve in Ghana with Pioneers Africa - a mission organization staffed by Ghanaians. William was preparing to move to Ghana to live and serve here.

This may sound sentimental you, but I'm growing to believe it - that the deep emotions I experienced at William's funeral was the work of the Holy Spirit preparing me (and my family) to follow the same wooing of the Lord and to have the same heart for the people and the country. The calling isn't to take William's place but to follow in his footsteps to serve the Lord in Ghana.

The future remains in the hands of our Lord, but He is graciously showing us glimpses of the past that make our steps into His future more steady.