My Life Verse

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Unforgettable Moments in Ghana (Part 2)

If you haven't had the chance yet, I encourage you to watch the video I posted (click on or post the link in your url) in Unforgettable Moments in Ghana (Part 1). That blog describes the first half-ish of the video and now I will continue to give more details about the unforgettable moments in Ghana.

Salvation: This is a picture of myself, a man, and Kristina. We went to his house (He lives literally on the same street as the Orphanage) and prayed with him. People told us his wife was saved, but he wasn't and that he hadn't been to church in a very long time. So, we went and used the evange-cube to share the story of Jesus with him and he was so full of joy to receive the gift of salvation that God offered him through us. We prayed with him afterwards and gave him a Talking Bible. It was really neat. Every time I walked past his house and he was outside, he'd wave and still be full of joy. Sometimes I'd even hear his Talking Bible playing.

Eating at Doctor's house: I will never forget when we ate at Doctor's house. He invited us all over and as part of their culture they bless you with a meal. That is what we had- some sort of usual side dish (fufu, banku, or kenke) and a VERY spicy soup with a fish that still had eyes on it. Yup, that's right. Thankfully, Jay sat next to me and was kind enough to help me out. I did the best I could  but quickly became "full". I am SO sensitive to spicy foods and do not like fish, so this clearly was a challenge. I was so blessed to have Jay's help.

Additions to the team: Next is a group photo of the team plus some additions. Becka is in there and some women who work and or live at the house. Grace is also in this photo and she is the 19 year old girl who lives there and was very helpful to our team.

Zangu: This is a town Becka and I went to a few times. It is pretty much a Muslim community. We went to a woman's house who wanted her son to be cared for at the Orphanage. It was raining and Becka didn't quite understand what the woman was saying, so we all huddled under the shelter and spent time with the kids. These kids had never seen white people before, and would rub your skin and then rub their skin, thinking their skin would get lighter. And they wouldn't stop touching you and as you can see were so full of joy.

Alvaro: Alvaro is an amazing drink they have there made by Guinness, but non-alcoholic. It is a fruity soda type thing and there were three flavors- pear, passion fruit, and pineapple. SO good.

Bofruit: Bofruit was introduced to be after the team left by another volunteer. It is an amazing ball of dough, sorta like a doughnut. After I tasted them, I was on the hunt for them everywhere I went, but the best ones! And, this is a photo of me paying the girl who is carrying bofruit on her head. They come to your tro-tro's (vans) when you are traveling and you stop at a market area.

Fanmilk: Fanmilk is also amazing. Frozen vanilla yogurt in a bag for only about fifty cents. I also got some almost daily, every chance I had. You bite the corner of the bag and eat it that way.

Market: Going to the market was interesting. It always smelled, no matter what. Market days were crazy. There were so many people in a small amount of space. But, the market is what is so cultural about Ghana that somehow I'd still find myself walking to and from the market whenever I felt like going out and doing something.

Prampram: Prampram was unforgettable because it was the day that I became very homesick. Prampram is a town in Ghana near Accra, the capital city, about four hours away from Kpando, where I lived. Grace and I traveled there to visit people I had made connections with. My friends Beau and Andria attend a church in Escondido where they know Tara and John Eissen, who started Promise Land Ranch School in Prampram, Ghana. So, I met Tara before I left for Ghana (they live in the states) and then met up with her contacts in Ghana who live there. We stayed at a beautiful hotel near by and spent the day at the school with the children. Here are a few pictures from that. We only stayed one day because I was so homesick and needed to get back to my Home away from Home, the Orphanage. This was only a few days after the team left to head back to the states.

Class One: Class one at Anglican School is where I spent most of my time when I went to school. (It is the poorest of the poor public Anglican (Catholic) school. The teacher was always there and on time. She worked hard and never caned the children. She was so nice. I was drawn to her for some reason and even her class. I can't even remember how it happened, but I ended up helping her, encouraging her, and spending time with her class. I didn't offer much more than a couple hours a day and it wasn't even daily that I was in there, but I did what I could. I did spend a lot of time preparing something to teach her how to help her students practice writing. Regardless of what I did, I know the Lord's plan for me if anything on this trip was to bless her. On my last day there, she gave me a wood carving that was a statue. She told me the statue means love. LOVE is what God kept telling me I was to do/offer or whatever when I asked him about my purpose in Ghana. It was so rewarding helping out in class one and I'm thankful to know I made a small difference in their classroom and this teacher's life. I taught them a days of the week song and months of the year song, too. I literally just made them up because I couldn't remember them and they sang them every day!

Deborah: This little girl was in Becka's class and on the last day she said to me. Is this your last day? I will miss you. It was the sweetest thing and really meant a lot to me. Again, when you feel like you aren't making a difference, you see that one child recognizes something in you and that you meant something to them. It was sweet.

Dorcas: This girl goes to the special school. It is a beautiful secluded place that is for students with special needs. Her name is Dorcas, and I was so excited when I found that out because that same morning I met her, I was reading in the book of Acts about a girl named Dorcas. It was as if God was encouraging me to read my Bible because I wouldn't have known about Dorcas in the Bible had I not read it and meeting this girl wouldn't have been as meaningful.

Waterfall and Monkey Sanctuary: The waterfall was absolutely gorgeous. I was able to go twice and it was so beautiful! The first time I went was with the team and it was raining basically the entire hike there so I decided to go in the water with the girls. It was humid out so it felt nice anyways. We walked backwards together and yelled PEACE and almost made it to the other side of the waterfall. Grace and I were scared so we all came back and some of the other girls went back again to be successful at going under the waterfall. The monkey sanctuary was another beautiful treck through the rain forest to visit monkeys who would eat bananas straight from your hand.

Meet Me There: Meet Me There is a beautiful resort I went to with the other volunteers from the Orphanage. It was quite a few changing of transportation and a long ride there but we made it to the coast and stayed at this place for the weekend. It was on a lagoon but the beach was just across the lagoon. I sat under those palm trees on the lounge chair most of the weekend, reading my book, Bible, and journaling.

Dora's Family: I met a woman at church (Vista Assembly of God) before I left for Ghana who was born and raised in Ghana. In fact, she still has family there. She contacted them and gave me their contact information. Becka, Grace, and I spent a day with them. They were so kind to us and spoiled us. They live in Accra, the capital city so we got to eat Pizza and Ice Cream at the Accra Mall and then they took us to Chinese food the next day after their nephew's memorial service. They let us stay at their beautiful home and served us plenty of food and made us feel very welcome. Thank you, Dora!!

Ryvanz-Mia Orphanage: This is the place I lived for three weeks after the team left. There are 26 kids living there total, I think. I connected strongly with some of them as you can see in the pictures. It was harder for me to connect with the older kids, just like it is here.

The first picture is George. He is the little boy I saw in a previous volunteer's video on you-tube that I thought was absolutely adorable. We connected but didn't bond as well as some of the other kids. He's still such a cutie though as you can see.

Grace is amazing. She is so sweet. She helped me so much with so many things- language barriers, walking to and from town, traveling places, etc. She always put me first- carried my stuff for me (even though she teased me) and was such a good friend to me while I was in Ghana. I miss her a lot.

Mama Florence and I really connected. It's interesting because she couldn't speak English and I barely spoke Ewe, but we'd always shake hands and smile at each other for a good length of time. I believe this was my way of showing her God's love through me. She'd ask me How are you in EWE (Airway), the language they speak, and I would always guess my response because there were two ways to ask how are you and two ways to respond. I never knew what was correct, but we'd always laugh if I was wrong or smile if I was correct. It was a fun little game :) haha The next are a couple other Mama's at the house who lived there or helped cook and care for the children. I also connected well with Juliet and wish if I could turn back time I'd talk more personally with her. She speaks English and was a sweet woman. She was always sick with something though and I never offered or prayed for her on the spot, I always prayed in my head though. Another thing I wish I could go back in time and fix. Bummer! But, she was so sweet and just like Mama Florence, Juliet and I would spend more time together, just sitting next to each other and smiling. When I left on my last day, Juliet ducked her head to see me in the taxi, and that is what triggered me to cry. We had a strong connection. She is in the lime green shirt.

Christabel is in the other green shirt and she sowed the two dresses I am wearing in some of the pictures (blue and purple) I picked out the fabric and she measured me and made them.

Mama Esi started the Orphanage. We didn't connect strongly unfortunately, but she always asked me to say the prayer when we had a celebration dinner. It was cute. It is her house that I lived at and she works hard to care for all the children she has taken in.

Sister Maybel is the one who made me the little pencil pouch. She works upstairs at the house sewing with many woman and we had a stronger connection, too. She has a precious daughter and I bought some stuff that she sewed at the house. She waited a very long time for me to get home the day before I left to say bye to me. I was out longer than anticipated with Becka.

Then there's laundry, which was very challenging. I don't think I ever really knew what I was doing.You put a bar of soap and your clothes in a large bowl and scrubbed your clothes with the soap and then did some hand movement that apparently washed the clothes. I didn't really ever get it, or when I did, it didn't feel like I was doing anything. I basically ended up rubbing my clothes together a lot with soap for a while then putting them into another large bowl with just water for them to be rinsed out. After one rinse "cycle" you have to rinse them again to ensure the soap is completely out. Lastly, you'd ring you your clothes and place them in a small bucket which would then go to the clothes line to hang up your clothes to dry. I remember the first day I did laundry after the team left (when I was in dire need of it) it rained A LOT and I had to wear the same clothes for a few days. I know, totally gross, but fit right in actually. ;) And, the first day I did laundry, kids that used to live at the Orphanage were visiting and helped me! The second day thankfully it was sunny and when I was almost finished, these three adorable girls decided to help me finish. (Cicilia, Ackuluy, and Mirabel)

Love is the little boy who I let crawl into my lap often and I just held him. He was so stinkin' cute, as you can see.

Aka Chief: This boy was calling himself a chief in this outfit. I found it hilarious and unforgettable :)

Mauwli is the trouble kid who just needs love. He is always getting in trouble and needs the most attention but lacks respect. He was challenging to handle, but moments like these were cherishable.

Martin is Grace's brother. He always helped at the house and he lived at the Lodge that our team stayed at for the two weeks they were there. (walking distance to orphanage) Martin washed my shoes along with another person's and is so kind. This day, we both happened to be wearing our YOUME shirts (He got his from Jay) and it was also unforgettable because I kept calling in Anthony, which is another older boy who helped a lot at the house. (I felt so bad!)

A-kway-lay (Not sure spelling, but that's how you pronounce it) is my favorite. I know you aren't supposed to have favorites, but I couldn't help it. She would fall asleep on you any day or just be held. But she was also miss independent and love to do her own style of jump rope or play by herself. She is so tiny but so cute. I kept joking with her about going in my suitcase and coming home with me and she was totally for it. lol I wish I could have kept her! She has a twin brother, Oko, so I would have had to bring them both home...and another thing they each did daily was throw a tantrum.

Kwami- He was my little boyfriend. Always gave me a big hug when I got home from being out or when he got home from school. He was a little creeper as Becka called, but I thought he was adorable. When the kids were allowed upstairs at the beginning, he'd just sit in my room on the chair waiting for me to see him. lol He also always showed up randomly in pictures (as you can see him in my laundry one). I miss him a lot.

Celebration dinner was a huge feast. The kids normally eat dinner inside. At a celebration dinner, for someone's birthday,when the team left, when people helped out, when I left, etc is when we'd have a feast outside and it was a big party. The kids get to eat chicken and fried and or joloff (Spanish) rice, which is a special occasion. It cost about $100 to provide plenty of food for everyone. But, it was my favorite thing to do. I love people and spending time with them, so for my last night at the Orphanage, I paid for this party celebration and the women spent all day cooking for this night.

Little Ones: The little ones were my favorite. There is Oko, Prince, and Akwaylay.

Silas: Silas is another one of my favorites. He wasn't the youngest but he was young and adorable.

Emmanuel: He was also a difficult one who didn't listen to me much and I didn't know what to do. On the last day, somehow I managed to capture him smiling :) He lied to me and I joked with him calling a deceiver.

Everyone is in the last picture with me, and of course my little Akwaylay is closest to me :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Unforgettable Moments in Ghana (Part 1)

I've been home for just over two weeks now and I've finally been able to put together a video with my most memorable/unforgettable moments from when I lived in Ghana this summer for five weeks. Click on the link below and you can view it at your leisure.  :) However, I'd like to share in detail with you why I chose the select few (yes, this is only a few, believe it or not, I took over 1,000 photos plus my team gave me some) and the meaning behind the unforgettable moments.

Team Ghana: Strong. Amazing. Family. The first photo is of my incredible team...minus two members who were already on the other side in Ghana for one week. My team consisted of Jay, Denise, Nathan, Barbara, Kristina, Kristal, Brianna, Me, Gayelee, and Morgan. Jay and Denise are married and very strong in the Lord. Nathan went on the last trip to Africa with me to Mozambique and acts as another father to me as well as my Redbull buddy. Barbara was the eldest on the team, 69 years old, but you wouldn't know it by looking at her, and this was the first mission trip she ever went on. (She heard Danielle and I speak at theMovement women's dinner and decided to go after that!)  Kristina is a Kindergarten teacher in Carlsbad, who is going to school at Bethel Church in Redding this fall (School of the Supernatural). Kristal is a girl who loves the Lord, her son, and playing worship music. Brianna is my dear friend from high school that the Lord reconnected me with last year and has been such a blessing to me. She is a student at SDSU studying child development. Me, well, I hope if you're reading this you know But, I'd classify myself as a woman after God's own heart, nicknamed Davida, who is now a California Credentialed Teacher. Gayelee is the pastor of Cross Connection Outreach (the organization I've been to Africa with twice now) and is a very strong woman of God with a powerful spirit that is contagious. And Morgan, last but not least, Gayelee's sweet daughter who just graduated from high school and will be going off to college soon to pursue a career in musical theater...she has a phenomenal voice. Strong. Ever since the beginning, during our team meetings, I knew this team was going to be strong, and that is the word God kept putting on my heart. Amazing. Someone else on the team had the word amazing for our team and now I can understand why! Family. You become family when you are on a Mission Trip because you spend two weeks straight all the time with the same people. We all used our strengths to build each other up and it was incredible to see the Lord work through and in each of us. I definitely consider them all family now and look forward to being lifelong friends with each of them.

Airport Delay: The second picture is of two of the many African people we met at the Airport in New York during the time that we arrived and missed our flight, while waiting for Delta to book us a hotel room that was available. We needed a hotel room because our next flight to Ghana wasn't until Sunday evening. (We arrived in NY on Friday very late evening) See previous blog for more details titled Just the Beginning... where I highlight delayed with a purpose.

Walking on Holy Ground: Before leaving for Ghana, a woman had given Brianna and I a word from the Lord about walking on holy ground. Somehow, amidst my 20 something journals, I can't find the exact word she gave us. However, I do remember this woman said "To my missionary daughters, the ground you will be walking on is holy ground." And, I thought it was so neat how at the very first Bible Distribution, we had to take off our shoes/sandals and walk barefoot. I wanted to do that anyways, but God gave us the opportunity to and it was neat to see this word play out and be able to experience what life is like walking in Africa without shoes as that is part of their culture.

Bible Distributions: Each Bible Distribution is different. It is different because each church that we go to is different. Some are outside and some are inside. Some are big, some are small. Some are REALLY big. (Last day) The first distribution we did was unforgettable because the people in the church greeted us with the lovely song and it is Mama's church (the women that owns the Orphanage), she is the one who walked past the camera and said "You are Welcome". I know it happened quickly so it's hard to see/hear her. It is also a church that we learned what works and what doesn't work with teaching the kids. One thing that they enjoyed was a song Kristal prepared titled Freedom. The chorus is what they were singing in the second video.

Leper Colony:

When Becka and I returned to the Leper colony after the team went home, something neat happened that made me smile really big and laugh at the same time. We wanted to follow up and see how everything is going. So, upon arrival we were walking up and I heard some Christian music playing. There were other Missionaries there! I was SO excited, in fact, I was far too excited that suddenly I slipped and ate it...right in the mud! I had mud all over me, on my legs, skirt, shirt, hands, bag. It was ridiculous how dirty I got and how that happened. (It rained the day before) So, we get there, and this girl runs up and gives me a great big hug from behind. It was the sweetest thing ever. And, guess who it was? My friend from before, who helped Kristina and I. She saw how muddy I was and walked me to her house and began washing my feet and legs. She then got a skirt from her house and we exchanged clothes so that she could wash my skirt. (In Ghana, they are so hospitable, and they are so thoughtful. It was so kind of her to go to all this trouble for me!) So, there I am, with this girl, in her skirt. She kept mine and I kept hers and I told her "Now you can think of me when you wear it." I told her I will get her skirt back to her, and she said, "No, now you can think of me when you wear it." It was really cute. And, by the time we walked back to where the people were gathered, the Christian people were literally all in their van, driving away. Sad day. But, worth it ;) And, when we walked back to the street, the girl walked us until we got into our taxi (That is also Ghana culture, to walk people out) and we stopped where I slipped. The best part about it, there was a completely dry place to walk right down the middle, and I obviously wasn't paying attention because you can clearly see my markage from slipping. I think I was so distracted by the Christian music and meeting other Missionaries that I wasn't watching where I was walking. :) haha

Sweet Monica: I remember meeting this sweet girl somewhere, but I couldn't remember where. I saw her at Anglican School and knew I saw her before. I actually remembered her name was Monica and having met her previously but just not sure where. She never really spoke so I couldn't figure out where I met her. She'd just give me cute little grins when I'd tell her I remember her and try to ask about different places we may have met. Eventually, I remembered it was at Culture Day, our first day in Ghana as a team. That is where all the schools come together and compete in plays and different things at this big park. Sweet Monica ended up being in Class One, the class I spent most of my time with and I continued to see her at Anglican school when I went with Becka. I remember noticing a small scar on her face one day. Later on, it became as big as the second picture of Sweet Monica. Becka saw it and knew we needed to get her to the Hospital. The class one teacher took us to Monica's house, where she lives with her grandparents, cousins, and older siblings. The teacher explained to the grandparents that we were going to take her to the hospital. Her brother, that is only a few years older than her, came with us. (Keep in mind, this happened around noon, and Becka and I left her class without a teacher and with homework) We took Sweet Monica to the hospital that Becka knows the Doctor of, St. Patrick's. In going there, we passed the other hospital in which we saw her two older sisters, who are nurses. Apparently they didn't seem to care that their sister's face looked this way. So sad. We went to the Doctor after the nurse at St. Patrick's saw her and he gave her treatment to use for one week. The Doctor ended up paying for her treatment. It was very kind of him. And, the last picture of Sweet Monica is the way her face looked after the treatment! :)

Bible Distribution: As I stated above, each Bible Distribution is very different. This one, I'll never forget the joy this woman had as you can see as she laughs in the photo. She let me hold her precious daughter. This is the same woman I joked with when she said she liked my skirt...I told her "I'll trade you my skirt for your daughter" Shortly after I learned from Becka that you don't joke about those types of things because they may take you seriously. The picture of me with the children is when I was teaching them what a "High-Five" is. It was fun to teach them something so simple that we do so often here in the states and they have never seen out there.

Africa Hair: I decided to get my hair done with a friend from the team. I got my hair twisted and she got her hair braided. I didn't put a photo of us both in here, but you can see the process of twisting and the finished product. We sat for a total of four hours, two hours per person, I think. Or maybe it was four hours each. I can't remember, but it took a really long time! They added hair to our hair to make it long. Then, a day or two later, you return and they burn the bottom edges of the hair (it's not actually your real hair they burn because it's at a length further than your own hair) and then cut it to make it look nice. It was fun to have my hair like this, and very easy. I didn't have to wash it. But, it was heavy and it began falling out because I got it wet when I wasn't supposed to. Eventually, some of the kids and Becka helped me untwist them and I definitely felt much lighter and my hair was much less, and I shed like crazy. It was worth it though! :)

Pastor Anthony's Village: We taught the children in Pastor Anthony's village how to play Red Light, Green Light. That is a picture of all of us running during the game. The loved it! Thankfully, God provided us with their teacher who did an awesome job translating and engaging in it all with us. Pastor Anthony is an incredible man of God who lives in a village far out in the bush. While some of us were entertaining the children, the rest of the team distributed the Talking Bibles and offered prayer. Almost all the people raised their hands for prayer and joined hands in a huge circle around a big tree. I walked over and began helping the team pray for people. That is the next photo. This man was HEALED of his BLINDNESS. No joke, it was amazing. I saw it happen and prayed for it. I couldn't even believe it myself. haha I have always wanted to see a miracle like this happen before my eyes, and I knew God could perform them, so it was such a blessing to really be able to partake in it. Kristina and I prayed for this man three times. The third time, I felt something different, and Kristina had me pray for him. I think that something different was this thing called FAITH. So, when his sight was restored, I was so blown away. I asked him three times, literally, each time stepping backwards a couple steps, asking him to tell me how many fingers I was holding up, and each time he answered correctly. I literally did a victory dance after that, jumping up and down with my hands raised, full of joy.

Church: I had a vision before I went to Ghana of myself dancing freely in a church, without a care in this world. It came true in this church called Breakthrough. It was when we did a Bible Distribution and the worship was so upbeat and fun, all the kids were dancing. The scripture on the building resonated with me and my vision came true that day. It was so fun! I sweat a lot (it was SO hot that day) but it was so worth it. Then we spent some time with the children there and I met a little girl who had matching hair as me.

Adorable kids: Next I posted a picture of these adorable children I interacted with at another Bible Distribution. Check out the kid's underwear and butt crack hanging out and the other precious child.

E-Cube: We practiced doing the E-Cube at home during our meetings before we left for Ghana. Now I was using it in Ghana. The E-Cube is an evangelical tool that tells the story of Jesus and how to become saved on a rubex cube type thing.

Anglican School with the Team: The video of "Jesus Loves Me" is absolutely adorable. I like to call it Jesus Loves Me, Africa style. That day was quite interesting. We went to the school Becka teaches at to entertain the students and help give the teachers strategies for teaching. Becka warned us about them being a tough crowd, so I honestly was intimidated. But, the opposite actually ended up happening. She joked saying that they weren't Anglican kids that day. So, there were MANY of them, as you can see. And, Pastor Gayelee pulled me aside while they were singing. She told me I was going to tell the children why we are here and talk about David and Goliath briefly before we do the skit. I began to cry and she asked why I was crying and I told her I'm so happy I can't believe this is really happening. lol I pulled myself together, said a prayer, and got up there and spoke. It stretched me but was worth it.

Soviet: Oh, the town of Soviet is really unforgettable. Check out those hundreds of people, mostly children, who joined us inside a church. (The picture with tons of kids inside a church with pink walls) It was two churches combined. All of us were doing the best we could to entertain these massive amounts of people, and they sang some songs with us so that was pretty good. All of a sudden, Pastor Gayelee came back and said "We've got to get out of here, guys. Let's go now. Come on, we're all getting in the van now" We were clueless but followed orders of the team leader, and it all happened pretty quickly. She told us to begin praying over this town and the church. Thankfully, Becka has made quite a few connections in Ghana, so we went to a man named Uncle Kofi's house. He welcomed us into his home and gave us soda and cookies. (Another cultural thing to do, give food and drinks to people you have over at your house, or give a "love offering" to them when they bless you) *Keep in mind, this is a town that apparently Satan didn't want the Bibles to be distributed in. We planned to go to Soviet the day that we were delayed at the Airport, so couldn't go then. Then we planned to go another time but something else got in the way ( I can't remember what) Finally we were able to go to this town and look what happened as a result. Thankfully, Gayelee used discernment and was able to hear from the Lord about this whole situation. She stressed the purpose of the Talking Bibles to Uncle Kofi. (To get in the hands of people who can't read or can't see so that they can hear the Word of God in their native language)  He sent for people to come to his house that he knew fell into this category. We completed the Bible Distribution. It was more intimate and personal this way. I remember praying for this woman and teaching her how to use her Talking Bible. It actually ended up turning out very nicely. Becka and I returned to Soviet to follow up with this man and to visit an unused building for Pastor Anthony's potential Orphanage and the children were so cute! They remembered my name and the songs we taught them. That's the video of them singing "No more shackles, no more chains, no more shackles, I am free" and me with all of them. (A few kids from hundreds remembered all this...that's what it's all about!)