Sometimes it is the simple things that make me smile. Yesterday was a day full of simple things.
The day after Katie left to return to the states, we moved a young single mother and her son in with us. The mother's name is Etornam and she is a vibrant woman who yearns for nothing more than to care for her 11 month old son, Elyon. Our family has quickly attached with them both and we love having a young chattering child crawling around the house.
After watching the David Platt / Francis Chan "Multiply" simulcast Friday night, I've been reminded to take discipleship seriously. Since Etornam moved in, she and I have been doing a daily Bible Study on our identity in Christ. My time in God's Word with Etornam, and another orphaned young woman, Naomi, is a highlight of my day. Right now, Etornam and Naomi are people God has placed in front of me to intentionally disciple. In my weakness, I am trying.
Our family is trying to help Etornam make a fresh start for herself and her young son. We are trying to help Etornam establish herself as a seamstress to pursue her trade of sewing. We are working through Feeding the Orphans to give her and her son a new beginning. Etornam has no parents. No grandparents. No husband. However, Etornam is blessed to have an elderly man in her family who will speak on her behalf. This wise elderly man visited our home yesterday. We are thankful for his role as family leader.
However, it's hitting me that orphaned children eventually become adults. They continue through life without a parental figure unless they pursue relationship with an older person or unless the Lord brings the two together. By God's orchestration, Etornam is now in our life. We are thankful and submit to God's leading for whatever our role in her life may look like in this season. We say, "Yes, Lord."
Yesterday was Elyon's first birthday. And, of course in the Beebe house, we celebrate!
Yesterday, I helped Etornam learn to bake a cake from scratch. Although cake mixes can be found here in Ghana, they are extremely expensive. (Like $9 for a box of mix and $14 for the frosting!) So, we used what we had and made a cake with basic ingredients...flour, sugar, butter, etc...
Etornam had never used an oven. She said she had always seen cakes but never knew how they were made. Today she leaned and she giggled the entire time!
Our only obstacle was finding our flour infested with bugs. When we moved here, some missionary friends told us that one day we would be sifting the bugs out of our flour and eating it. I can honestly say that, yes, the day has come. We spent the first 20 minutes of our "cake-baking lesson" sifting bugs out of the flour. (Oh goodness, I am sharing this on the blog! What am I thinking? Friends, don't judge me. I did eat the cake and it was delicious and I am still alive today. Praise God! No, I did not tell our boys about sifting out the bugs until they had eaten the cake. Yes, they are all still alive today too.)
After baking the cake, Etornam decorated it. We even shared some of our special candy from home - Skittles - to decorate the edge. Here's the finished cake - baked and decorated by Etornam. I love that the first cake she ever baked in the 28 years of her life was for her son's birthday! Precious!
Last night we had a birthday celebration for Elyon. It was just our family and a few friends. We played simple games and Elyon's day was filled with fun! Again, it's the simple things...
SPECIAL BIRTHDAY MESSAGES
A GAME OF "PIN GHANA ON AFRICA"
BLOWING OUT THE BIRTHDAY CANDLE!
CUTTING THE CAKE WITH FAMILY - A GHANA TRADITION!
(Our power was out by this time, of course, and we were all drenched with sweat because it was very, very hot in the house. Without fans, the temperature rises quickly. Our home was at least 90 degrees. Just wanted you to know why my neck is glistening in the photo...Whew! Also, you will see Naomi in this picture in the teal shirt. Reid should be in the photo, but he's holding the camera! Thank you, Honey, of taking the picture!)
A WATER BALLOON TOSS IN THE DARK - SORRY NO PICTURES -
BUT LOTS OF WETNESS! GHANA TRADITION!
TIME WITH FRIENDS CELEBRATING ELYON! WHAT A BLESSING!
I'm quickly realizing how fast we accept people into our family here. If people are with us, relationally, they become like one of the family. Whether it is a volunteer, like Katie, who lives with us for a few months...
Or friends who travel into country and stay with us for a few weeks...
Or missionaries serving here in country...
Or a young orphaned single mother who comes to stay with us until we can find a place for her to live,
I'm thankful for God's family.
Mother, Father, Son, Daughter, Sister, Brother - we truly are all one family within the body of Believers.
Without trying to complicate things by defining relationships, it makes me happy to see Etornam with us. Reid and I are not old enough to be her parents, but in some ways, as she navigates some life decisions, we are standing in the gap for her in a parenting role. It's a blessing and an honor.
As I hear more people call me, "Mom," I'm thankful. When I think of how God brought Mathiang into our lives as a son, I'm overwhelmed. He entered our life calling me "Mom" too. Reid, "Dad." Sometimes, I've even wondered if that is my role in ministry here in Ghana? Just to be a mother figure to others. A Mom. Who knows? Even as I type this, it sounds small. In the world's eyes, at times, it even seems small. "Mom." Right now, it seems complicated to me to define a ministry "role" for myself. I'm praying through this, and have been for several weeks. For now, I'm trying to take the people God places in front of me as assignments from Him and forget trying to "define" too much. It's humbling.
What I do know is that I'm thankful for what I see God doing around me. He's making our family larger. He's adding people to our lives who love us and for us to love. What a gift! I'm thankful!
As of today, we have lived in Ghana for 156 days. (I can't believe it!) We have lived in our home for 149 days. In the days we have lived in our home, we have had overnight guests 90 evenings! This includes Katie and Etornam living with us, but even as I type the number, I am amazed that our house is continually full! Out of the 149 days we have lived in our home, 90 days have been filled with others as part of our family. 90! I love that! Sometimes there are numerous folks here all at the same time. Last Friday night, for the Multiply simulcast, we had 16 people sleeping in our house besides our own family = 24 people total! Crazy good! The Brownings stay with us overlapped with Katie's departure and Etornam moving in. Friends from GMI sometimes have spent several days with us. If outreaches go late into the night, men who work with Reid at MLI spend the night. Oh, God is good!
As God grows our family, I see more of Him reflected.
It really is the simple things that bring me joy.
Happy Birthday Elyon!
May God bless you abundantly, and may you grow into a man who follows hard after God!
Behold, children are a gift from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.