2015 in Review
The girls in 2015, from left to right.Top Row: Gloria, Dina, Sarah Sr., Sarah Jr. Bottom Row: Richlove, Lucky, Regina, God's Way
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We hope this letter finds you well and that what we share will encourage you as 2015 comes to a close. This has been an amazing year for Eight Oaks and we thank you--our family--for your faithful, prayerful, financial support. The Lord has surely blessed us more than we could have imagined (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Overview of 2015:
•This December marks the one-year anniversary of the Loftins leaving Ghana, which means that the Yellow House has officially shifted to being a Ghanaian-run facility. We confess that we were nervous about the execution of this, but we are so proud of our staff who facilitated this transition: it has been smooth sailing and we give thanks!
• Sarah Sr. has returned to the Yellow House after a 429-day absence. Most of you remember that she was removed from our custody in June of last year. We were incredibly discouraged, but God is faithful! Destiny set out on a trip to meet with Sarah's family on August 10th of this year, and at 6:02 a.m. on August 17th we received the following text: "Hello Ted, how are you doing? Hope all is well and I am good too. The good news is that I'm in Akatsi with Sarah. The girls were so so excited and can't hide their joy". Words cannot express our delight that all eight of our girls are home again, safe and sound. Sarah has handled this change beautifully, our relationship with her mother continues to be repaired, and we are overwhelmed with peace and gratefulness. Thank you to each person that prayed for Sarah, her family, her safety, and her swift return. We truly believe that this was the result of Divine intervention.
• In November we celebrated two years of freedom for our girls, our "little oaks," and they are flourishing! They are growing, laughing, and learning every day. We praise God for their progress and feel so privileged to watch them encounter their Savior and take ownership of their faith. All eight are doing very well in school, especially when you consider the complete absence of formal education on the Lake. They started another year on September 1st and everyone earned excellent marks during the first semester. We continue to pray that they will thrive academically and use their education as means of empowerment.
• We have made enormous strides with the Department of Social Welfare in Ghana. Eighteen months ago our relationship with the local office and our case representative was tense and frustrating for all involved. We hired Destiny and he pushed us to work with the system instead of fighting against it. This has relieved loads of pressure and accomplished so much: we have become a "model home" for the region and are frequently visited by other organizations. Our paperwork was a mess and Destiny has organized and categorized everything down to the last receipt. Amongst all of this, he single-handedly managed Sarah's return. He is able to navigate situations so much more skillfully than we ever could, simply because he is Ghanaian and innately understands the culture. We are not exaggerating when we say that our entire staff: Bernard, Celestine, Mercy, and Helen included, were provided by the Lord. We thank God for them every day. Their importance cannot be overemphasized.
Goals for the Future:
• Finish the Foundation: God has taught us so much about finances and monetary sustenance: about balancing practicality and faith, and we have made tremendous progress over the last year towards becoming fully funded. All told, The Yellow House (which includes all Ghanaian expenses: staff salaries, food, school fees, etc.) requires about $2,800 per month, and we are currently $500/month (or $6,000 per year) short of that number. We are continually praying for and establishing a solid support system so that we can move forward with other projects, such as...
• Investing in the Community: We have been paying the school fees for 4 local children for over a year now, and this has been a huge catalyst for changing our relationship with Social Welfare. Much work is still to be done in Ghana on Lake Volta and in Akatsi. Destiny has started laying the groundwork for a literacy program for impoverished families that would take place on Saturdays and provide a hot meal to all who attend. If you would like to donate to this program, we are hoping to accumulate 100 new or gently-used children's books (email firstname.lastname@example.org for details).
• Putting Down Roots: We started renting the Yellow House in October 2013, and just renewed our lease that will end in October 2017. To truly serve the community of Akatsi, we need space to expand and grow. Our goal is to purchase land next summer where we could begin farming and building a new facility. We expect the land to be priced around $7,500, and our hope is to provide local jobs for people in need, reduce our own food expenses, and donate excess to those in need. A few nonprofits in Ghana have adopted this strategy and are well on their way to becoming self-sufficient! We have never bought a house or land in America, much less Africa, and frankly this feels like the blind leading blind. However, after much prayer, we are convinced that this is a direction we should move in. We covet your prayers and partnership as we survey this new territory.
We hope that this letter has illustrated the whirlwind that was 2015 and all that we hope for in 2016. Donations can be made online through our website or via mail: our address is P.O. Box 8366, Wichita, KS 67208. Scanning and editing this document, I realize that I keep repeating some variation of "we are so thankful," but truly, we are so thankful. We count ourselves exceptionally fortunate to have this opportunity: to intimately witness God at work through this organization. His love is mystical and powerful and moves mountains. We hope that you will continue to intercede for Eight Oaks as we end this year and begin another, and that you will pray over Dina, God's Way, Lucky, Sarah Sr., Richlove, Regina, Sarah Jr., and Gloria as they continue to grow. We pray every day, as in the beginning, before we knew them, that they will take the Gospel and illuminate the country of Ghana with truth and justice, and that they will become "Oaks of Righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor" (Isaiah 61:3).
We thank you again for partnering with us, and ask God's blessing on each of your lives. -Teddy & Ellie Kriwiel (Founders)