short & sweet

(readers should be advised that the title of this post refers to our trip in October, and not in any way to the length of the post itself.) Hi friends!

This trip to Ghana was amazing. I found myself waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. This was our shortest visit yet, and as such we were concerned about travel logistics and accomplishing everything on our To-Do List, but it all worked out beautifully. For example: it normally takes us about 2 hours to get through customs and the baggage claim at the airport in Accra, and we made it out in less than thirty minutes! Ghana has long been remodeling their international airport, so I don't know if this efficiency was the result of operational changes or just a blessing but we were high-fiving all the way out to the car.

We were most looking forward to seeing Sarah Sr. after her year-long absence. It brought us indescribable joy to be greeted by EIGHT laughing, growing, beautiful girls as we arrived at the Yellow House. It wasn't some majestic, slow-motion reunion where we felt fireworks exploding, but an overwhelming sensation of peace and relief. God has been so, so faithful. It takes my breath away. We still have to navigate messy relationships with family members of all the girls, and potential problems will always loom on the horizon, but for now everything feels right in the world and it is worth celebrating every second of every day.

Another reason motivating this trip is that our 2-year lease on the Yellow House expired this October. Social Welfare has always highlighted the fact that we are renters versus owners as a problem, but until now we haven't felt comfortable pursuing other options. We signed another two-year contract, and are going to use that time to explore the possibility of buying land.

Teddy and I have never bought a house in America, much less a foreign country, but given the completely unpredictable dollar-cedi exchange rate and inflation growth, everyone is telling us that it's worth looking into. On one hand, we would love to own land and customize a building that would better accommodate our eight rapidly-growing girls and staff. Because houses in Ghana are made of concrete, our ability to remodel the Yellow House is severely limited, and we have already poured quite a bit of money into it that we will never see again. Additionally, and what excites our Ghanaian staff and Board the most, is that buying would afford us the option to farm, grow a lot of our own food, and invest in the community by donating the excess. Some of our fellow NGO's have taken these steps and are moving towards becoming self-sustaining as a result.

The main obstacle is financial, and so for now, buying land is something that we're pursuing through prayer, and we would love if you would join us in this. Founding Eight Oaks, building it from the ground up, and watching it become a reality convinced us of this: Prayer is EVERYTHING. Our core donors and the high schoolers donated money, and they gave sacrificially, but they PRAYED this organization into existence. They battled and paved the way in the spiritual realm before we set foot in Ghana. Madie was praying for a Sarah and a Gloria months before we bought our plane tickets. That is insane. It's miraculous. And it's a relief. Because whatever resources we lack, we can always pray.

So yes, we covet your prayers as we embark on this road. We are confident that the Lord will provide an answer.

We had such a sweet time with the girls. They gave us an Ewe lesson, we did some homework (they are learning French now!), we played games and read lots of books. On our last night we had a party in the courtyard with candy and bagged water to celebrate their "anniversary" (they arrived at the Yellow House two years ago this November.) I taught them The Electric Slide, they laughed themselves into hysteria at Uncle Teddy's dance moves, and it was really, really fun.

I cannot overemphasize what a great trip this was, despite it being so short we accomplished so much and didn't experience a single hiccup. I truly believe that our good fortune was a result of so many people praying for us and we are so thankful. We appreciate every one of you more than words could ever express! DSC_0398 Sunset on our way from Accra to Akatsi after we arrived.

DSC_0405 Before school. Sarah Sr. and Gloria were dismayed because they couldn't find their "fancy socks." The struggle is real.

DSC_0418 I think I take a picture like this on every trip: the shoes lined up under the windows.

DSC_0421 This tomato plant has sprouted up through the concrete since our last visit. I love all of the symbolism and meaning here: look at this little seedling that has found a way to thrive in a seemingly unlivable environment! And not only is it growing, but it is producing good food for others to eat. The Lord makes the name "Eight Oaks" more and more applicable every day to our eight girls.

DSC_0465 We spotted these animal headbands on sale for Halloween right before we left and knew that the girls would get a kick out of them.



DSC_0515 Little Sarah thought this picture was hilarious.


DSC_0626 Dina and Regina

DSC_0643 They put all their headbands on Mama's head:) She's such a good sport!

DSC_0651 The Sarahs


DSC_0655 They enjoy coming up with and staging these ridiculous poses for me to capture. There are about a hundred more variations of this posture.

DSC_0424 We missed our mango tree ripening by just a few weeks! Fact: you've not tasted a mango until you've eaten a West African mango. I could eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And I have, on occasion.

DSC_0432 Richlove's reminder hanging in their closet.

DSC_0447 Destiny teaching a lesson about the Ghanaian Flag. They sing a song about it that goes: "Ghana flag, how beautiful you are! You are red, you are green, you are yellow, with black star in the middle."

DSC_0668 Smoked fish for dinner!

DSC_0687 And okra stew!


DSC_0672 I am SO HAPPY that our visit coincided with minor rainy season. We woke up on Tuesday to thunder bellowing and lightning flashing. The girls waited until after the storm passed to walk to school so we had a precious extra hour or so to color together.

DSC_0683 Teddy's sister Emmie (who is 9) is doing a school project about energy efficiency and called me earlier this week to talk about the way Ghanaians use/conserve energy. The main thing I thought of was the way they utilize rainwater. They are very resource-conscious because the power and water are often turned off unexpectedly.

DSC_0691 Lucky

DSC_0694 Gloria

DSC_0708 God's Way. Changing so much with every visit!


DSC_0722 Happy heart.

DSC_0737 Mama Helen.

DSC_0787 Ghana "fries" and "ketchup" ;)



DSC_0762 We praise the Lord for Mercy! I cannot imagine life in Ghana without her.

DSC_0784 She has really perfected the art of the breakfast sandwich and taught me her magical ways on this trip. Ghana bread is delicious as is, but wowza. We had this every morning.

DSC_0788 This was a verse that the girls learned while we were there. Psalm 18:19

DSC_0804 The pictures that the girls take often end up being some of my very favorites, like this one of Sarah!

DSC_0811 This was SO funny. The girls were moving the tubs full of rain water into our huge concrete basin, and God's Way would inevitably start laughing and spill most of it on herself and Dina.

DSC_0815 They were soaked through after about 3 attempts, Dina was constantly yelling "God's Way!!". I laughed until my stomach hurt.




DSC_0849 Richlove takes her schoolwork so seriously! I am so proud of her and what a good student she is.

DSC_0864 She still has a silly side, though.

DSC_0872 It took me a panicked second to realize that Lucky was standing on a ledge in this picture. They will all inevitably eclipse my height but I'M NOT READY FOR IT YET.


IMG_6853 You have to excuse the terrible quality of this photo so I can share this story: this was our last night and the girls performed a special dance that Mercy had taught them. A group of dancers had worn white gloves at church, recently, and, feeling inspired, the girls raided a box of medical gloves that Kate had left behind in one of the cabinets. Ingenious!

Again, we thank everyone for their prayers and well-wishes on this last trip from the bottom of our hearts. Please continue to pray with us for the future of Eight Oaks! We love you all.