January 2015

Hello and happy Sunday! (and while I'm at it, happy *belated* New Year!) I (Ellie) got back home last night and have been recovering today with lots of coffee. I had originally planned on publishing several posts while I was in Ghana, but since the power was frequently out and the Internet was uncooperative, I was unable to do much besides send an occasional email. This turned out to be a good thing because I spent that time with the girls and staff and my Mom instead, but I do have lots to share so I'll probably do a few posts throughout this week.

This visit was very monumental for me, primarily because it was my first time traveling to Ghana without Teddy. Let me take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge how much he was missed (not just by me, but by EVERYONE, who immediately asked "Where is Uncle?!"), and how much I appreciate all of the effort that goes into planning trips such as this one, and how much work he does behind-the-scenes on an hourly basis. AND while I was gone he vacuumed the house and cleaned the bathrooms. He wins the award for best husband.

Secondly, I brought my mother along! I've wanted her to visit Ghana ever since my first trip, because I knew she would love and embrace the culture. She isn't very technologically savvy (when we are talking about something and everyone pulls out their smartphones to Google the answer, Mom runs into the other room and consults her full set of encyclopedias), but her life is full of goodness and joy. She hates texting, loves to garden, and engages in real, meaningful contact with individuals. In this social-media age, we are constantly connected with others but still capable of being entirely wrapped up in our own little worlds ostaa viagra. My Mom doesn't have a Facebook, but she knows all of her neighbors and their life stories (she usually receives multiple Mother's Day cards from people we aren't even remotely related to.) She is, at heart, much more similar to a Ghanaian than an American, and most of all she's an amazing Christian. People often ask how/why we started Eight Oaks, and it's a long story, but the truth of the matter is that the people who are primarily responsible are Mike, Diane, Grant, and Carol. Our parents raised us, challenged us, supported us, and planted the seeds that bear fruit today. So sharing this experience with my Mom was nothing short of amazing.

I could talk about this for pages and pages, but I'll get into what everyone REALLY wants to hear about, which is the girls! Truly, I don't even know where to begin. They have changed so much since I saw them in June. Gloria lost her two front teeth, Lucky advanced TWO grades in school, their health continues to improve, and each one has sprouted up a few inches in the last 6 months. Pictures below, because my words don't do it justice:

DSC_0851 Gloria, Regina, Lucky, and God's Way peeking out the kitchen window (or, in Gloria's case...growling?) DSC_0854 We added a new clothesline since my last visit. It's in the courtyard and now there's room for EVERYONE'S laundry! DSC_0859 Regina's normal response when I point the camera in her direction (those hands are hiding a toothy grin) DSC_0863 Lucky teaching Mom a dance DSC_0882 For some reason I got a coupon for a free 16X20 print from Shutterfly, so I ordered a picture of the girls. When I hung it on the wall there was an impromptu, passionate dance celebration. DSC_0907 Sarah Sr.'s absence is still felt in the house and heavy on our hearts. The girls continue to pray for her every night. One of the very first things they did was point her out in this picture. Dina leaned forward (so far that her nose smudged the glass) and said, "hello, Sarah! We love you!" DSC_0886 They got new dresses for Christmas this year (it's sort of a Ghanaian custom, in the same way that we buy a special outfit for Easter Sunday). They were totally vogue-ing for this shot DSC_0894 We spent many happy afternoons coloring DSC_0898 Look at them doing word puzzles ALL BY THEMSELVES!!! I am astounded by and so, so proud of their progress in school. (And please don't be like Teddy, who completely missed the point and immediately pointed out that SNEEZE is missing an E.) DSC_0899 Mom and little Sarah DSC_0923 Another milestone: I started, very briefly, teaching them how to use my camera. This is a portrait of Dina's feet... DSC_0929 Little Sarah took this one! DSC_0939 Annnnd God's Way captured this gem, which makes me laugh out loud every time I see it.

Thank you so much to everyone who prayed for us during this trip. Our health was excellent, our travels were smooth, and we had a spectacular time. More pictures are coming soon!