love, sacrifice, and coconuts
If you have walked with us down this path for very long, you know that we have not had the best relationship with social welfare. Details aside, it has been a journey in patience and humility. We have learned a lot. To summarize, the village where the Yellow House is located is a long, long way from the island where our girls were living on Lake Volta. We did not consider how the local social welfare office would feel about us bringing these children to Akatsi: a village already suffering from poverty and lack of child advocacy. They weren’t against our work on Lake Volta, by any means, but they wanted us to invest more in our immediate environment. Destiny, our social-welfare officer, entered the picture in the midst of this tension (almost a year ago). After many long, challenging conversations, we agreed to allocate a very small sum for Destiny to divide up in the community as he saw fit, hoping that this gesture would appease our local welfare department.
My initial response when someone asks for money is “Sorry, but no,” because we’re still living month-to-month in many ways. I was/am wanting to put as much effort as possible into securing the financial future of the seven girls at the Yellow House, and bringing Sarah Sr. home. I was so extremely annoyed when we were asked to stretch ourselves even more thinly, financially speaking...but God seems to get a kick out of setting a match to my perfectly crafted Excel spreadsheets and watching them go down in metaphorical flames. I've been pretty selfish and lazy the last few months, so the time was ripe for a humble-pie feast on this last trip to Ghana.
Destiny had been wanting Teddy and me to meet the families that Eight Oaks is "sponsoring" for awhile, so we loaded up in a tro-tro with Mama Celestine, Bernard, Darren, and Blake and took a little road trip.
(All of the pictures in this post were taken by Darren)
What a happy kid! He has a physical ailment that prevents him from standing up straight or walking very fast, but this is the definition of joy in all circumstances. We’ve been paying his school fees—which amounts to an embarrassingly small amount in the US, but his parents were so thankful. They ordered the neighbor kids to climb some palm trees and sent us home with dozens of fresh coconuts as a token of their gratitude.
We loaded back up in the car and journeyed to visit the triplets.
This is a family with eight kids that includes TWO SETS of multiples: triplets followed by twins. We have been sending the three girls to school. Their names are Juliet, Juliana, and Justine, and they greeted us all with curtsies and shy smiles.
We are often asked "What's next?" and we never know how to respond, because we've often felt a little overwhelmed. BUT...on this trip we felt a clear nudge and, for the first time in awhile, an urge to do more. We are praying through the logistics and the details, but we want to start investing in and loving on Akatsi in a more permanent way. Embarrassing as it is, I needed to be reminded on this trip that God is not finished with our Eight. He didn’t orchestrate their rescue and then say, “Glad that’s over with.” He is exploding with love and urgency for the rest of his children and for some reason, He allows us to witness this goodness unfolding.
We could describe, in painful detail, everything about the families we met and their current living situations. But it is not our desire to guilt anyone into doing anything. Guilt is so nasty and paralyzing. And really, guilt isn't necessary, because something “clicks” when you learn the story behind the face—when you actually shake someone’s hand and walk through his or her home. I went from bitterly dispensing thirty to forty dollars a month to being strongly convicted that Eight Oaks could and should do more for these kids and for our global community.
The economic side is still a bit of a mystery, but here is a lesson I've had to learn the hard way: money does nothing. Financial security is empty if you don't have an army of saints working and praying in the spiritual realm. I've seen the Lord orchestrate miracles through donations, but it's not because of the dollar sign, it's because of the heart behind the giving. We are not requesting money (yet :) ) but asking that you'd add a few more names to your already lengthy prayer list. As you pray over Dina, Lucky, God’s Way, Sarah Sr., Richlove, Regina, Sarah Jr., and Gloria, please include Collins, Juliet, Juliana, and Justine.
I desperately wish that we could have brought a coconut home for everyone that has prayed and labored and given to Eight Oaks, because as a result of your generosity, we’ve been able to meet these inspiring people and our faith has been strengthened immensely. Teddy and I have the outstanding opportunity to interact with everyone face-to-face and hear the girls reciting Bible verses and watch them transform before our very eyes. So many individuals have given so much with the understanding that they might never meet anyone from Ghana on this side of Heaven. That is a remarkable sacrifice and we are humbled, grateful, and motivated by it.
How amazing to be a part of a Kingdom not built with bricks and mortar, but love, sacrifice, and coconuts. What a beautiful Kingdom it will be. I’m ready for it to get here.