January-Part III

Mom and I have been back in the States for over a week now. It's about twelve degrees in Kansas, so I'm keeping warm with these pictures and memories from our trip. Teddy and I have been working on our taxes recently, and as usual, I'm reminded of and humbled by all of the people who have given so generously to Eight Oaks. The girls are doing so well. I confess that we spend so much time on the administrative aspect--trips to the bank, expenses spreadsheets, Western Union transfers--it's easy to forget the purpose behind everything...or to think that what's needed, what's important is more money or resources. These visits to Ghana are partly for practical reasons: to check in with the staff, go over financials, monitor the progress of the house, meet with social welfare...but also, we need to see the girls. To hear them laugh. To watch them read books by themselves. To see the way they love each other. To listen to them sing "Jesus Loves Me" at night before bed. Their redemption has not come from our 501C3 paperwork or our tax-exempt status or our bank statements, but from God and his Church--from the love that you and so many other people have poured into their lives. That love has manifested itself in financial support, in hours and hours of prayer, in everything from free envelopes to blankets and bubbles.

We are so thankful and honored to be a part of this big, weird family with all of you. We're so thankful for our Savior and that we don't serve a government, but a holy King.

And we're thankful for the girls:)

DSC_0950 Gloria cleaning out the rain pot in the courtyard (we're utilizing it because it's dry season and running water is completely hit-or-miss). DSC_1053 Regina, sprinkled with cassava DSC_1055 Mom & Gloria reading DSC_1060 Sarah showing her picture DSC_1095 On this particular day, the girls picked flowers on their way home from school! DSC_1100 God's Way (and a smile that could light up NYC during a power outage!) DSC_1106 I really love their room...how they organize their clothes and cubbies DSC_1110 and how they so carefully arrange their treasured possessions on their pillows:) DSC_1115 Richlove DSC_1117 A successful afternoon!! DSC_1126

DSC_1128 Mom and Lucky (one of the girls took this one, which is why Mom's head is cut off) DSC_1139 One of my very favorites! (Left to right: Regina, Dina, Sarah, Lucky, God's Way, Richlove, Gloria) DSC_1154 God's Way drew the Yellow House! I took this one home with me. Love those eight little people in the windows. DSC_1169 The girls kept a watchful eye on our water bottles, and whenever they were empty there was a brief scuffle, and a race to the kitchen to fill them up with "pure water" bags. DSC_1171 Mom, Sarah, Gloria, and Richlove DSC_1192 Dina likes to make a point of frowning in pictures and laughing at my reaction--so anytime I get a smile on camera I high-five the person nearest to me. DSC_1229 What can I say about Mercy? What a blessing she is. Words fail me. DSC_1167 God's Way relaxing and flipping through Mom's magazine;) DSC_1183 I LOVE how they love each other. My heart explodes! DSC_1224 My two mamas. Mercy and Helen are, perhaps, the only two people on the planet who are as servant-hearted as my mother. This trip was a Clash of the Titans: lots of arguing about who would clean the dishes, etc. DSC_1207 Little beauties in their Friday uniforms. DSC_1220 Thank you, THANK YOU again to everyone that prayed for and helped with this trip. My only regret is that I didn't get a picture with my Mom (save one lone shot in the airport).

AND Ghana has advanced to the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations! Their next game is on the 5th. Details are here if you'd like to stay in the loop--go Black Stars!