Gone to Ghana

Another trip to Ghana has come and gone. Three visitors accompanied us to The Yellow House on this visit. Caleb and Clare are students at JBU now, but were two of the high school students that were with Eight Oaks in the beginning, circa 2012 (you can read a post Clare wrote back-in-the-day here). Beth is Teddy's cousin (my cousin-in-law) getting a master's degree in child life and writing her thesis on how certain therapy/coping methods translate across cultures.

People always shape the dynamic and outcome of these trips, so we were curious how this visit would shake out. It was exciting and wonderful--full of surprises and interesting conversations.

The highlights: -Church service on Sunday -Visits to the tailor and seamstress, and new outfits -New backpacks for the girls filled with crayons and markers and paper and bubbles! -Meeting Richlove's mom and her little brother, Foster -Watching the girls "pound fufu" with the PlayDough Beth brought -Reading books with the girls by flashlight when the power went out -Fried yams, as always -Scheming with Mercy and the girls to plan a birthday celebration for Caleb (he turned 20 on June 2nd, the day we left Ghana!). We sang "happy birthday" and enjoyed FanIce together. -Bernard's many jokes. Laughter is truly a language that spans cultures. -Visiting Keta, Jeremiah, and Fort Prinzenstein -Watching Mercy navigate the Akatsi market like a boss -Mangos! -Eating at The Honeysuckle in Accra for our last meal in Ghana (pizza and Alvaro #ftw) -Excellent health. So proud of everyone for drinking and heeding my hydration recommendations:)

I always find conveying everthing that happened and all that we feel upon returning to the States so difficult in this format. For a change this time around, I tried a more detailed approach and it ended up being about 6,000 words and three pages long. As supportive as you all are, I'm not sure anyone would want to wade through my ramblings for THAT long. So I'll stick to pictures, for now. Fair warning: there are a LOT.

DSCF0386 The gang before we left Wichita, blissfully unaware of the travel woes we were about to face. Our 3 hour layover in London turned into an 8 hour layover. So instead of arriving in Ghana around 6:00pm, we got there around 2:00am. And one of our bags was MIA. We finally laid our heads down to rest after 4:00am, and got up three hours later. However, even in this God was faithful. All of our luggage held items that were very important and critical to the trip, EXCEPT the one that didn't make it, which had books and some clothes for Mercy. If you want to discover the character of a person, travel internationally with them. These three were troopers.

DSCF0398 Some of you might remember a Facebook post right before we left about Richlove's little brother, Foster, who needed immediate surgery to remove a tumor. Destiny had brought Foster and Richlove's mom to Accra for the operation, and their visit coincided with our arrival. So we got to meet them! If you gave to this cause, THANK YOU--you know who you are--and if you would like to donate, we are still raising money to cover the costs (about $3,500).

*People often ask me why Ghanaians look "sad" in pictures. They're not sad (I'd argue that they're happier than Americans), they just don't smile sometimes for the camera. Think about how weird the duck-face-selfie phenomenon would seem to someone that was unaccustomed to our ways.

DSCF0401 Isn't he so cute?! He was still suffering from a bit of soreness when we met him, but him and his mother have since returned to Yeji and he's continued to recover.

DSCF0417 Chaco Nation.

DSCF0426 Sarah Jr.

DSCF0430 ...who is, more and more, becoming the "class clown."

DSCF0434 Lucky. Our girls are beautiful, but truly their outward appearance pales in comparison to their sweet hearts, their intelligent minds, and their inner strength.

DSCF0446 The Yellow House is a well-run ship. Everyone pulls their own weight and helps with chores, like doing the dishes.

DSCF0476 The traditional "shoes under the window" photo that I wind up taking every trip. This was on a Sunday, so the shoes are dressier than usual:)

DSCF0503 Richlove

DSCF0504 Dina! Mercy calls Dina "the man of the house." Got a rat in your room? No worries--send in Dina with a stick and she will eradicate the problem.

DSCF0516 Sarah Sr. This June, two years ago, she was removed from our care at the Yellow House, and this August we will celebrate the one-year anniversary of her second homecoming. I praise the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness every time I see her smile.

DSCF0517 God's Way

DSCF0520 Richlove

DSCF0522 Selecting fabric from Mercy's friend. Such beautiful prints!

DSCF0533 This is THE QUINTESSENTIAL Rosemary picture. She is always so shy in the beginning.

DSCF0676 But it doesn't last long;)


DSCF0682 Beth brought beach balls to play with! This was a rousing game of keep-away.

DSCF0687 I include this out-of-focus shot because it makes me laugh so hard. That expression on Lucky's face--the pained one--is screaming laughter at Uncle Teddy's attempts at dancing Ghanaian, specifically the Abacha move. Gets 'em every time.

DSCF0691 In exchange, Caleb taught everyone The Chicken Dance.

DSCF0714 Mercy dancing.

DSCF0737 Mama watching

DSCF0819 Before school. I LOVE this picture.

DSCF0827 TA students have donated an item to Eight Oaks at their junior/senior prom the last two years (in 2015 they gave us the PUGG soccer goals). This year was BACKPACKS, which would have been thrilling in and of themselves, but my coworker Jackie purchased eight sets of pencils, crayons, coloring pads, bubbles, and markers to fill each bag with. You have never heard such screaming! We encouraged the girls to give their old backpacks to someone less fortunate at school...but to be honest I'm not sure they needed this suggestion. They love to share with others. It has been a joy to watch them extend to others the same generosity that has been extended to them.


DSCF0960 "Bye-bye!"


DSCF0842 It's no secret that I really hate chickens, but Caleb asked that I capture at least one picture to share with his girlfriend, Amber.

DSCF0859 A neighbor on our way to meet the tailor.

DSCF0866 At the seamstress' shop. I think that Mercy could have found a career in fashion design. She's a bit of a clothes horse and loved the opportunity to select designs and fabrics for everyone.


DSCF0873 Spotted: a child falling asleep while his mom talks the day away. It's happened to all of us.


DSCF0884 Mama

DSCF0895 Akatsi has one of the biggest markets in the Volta Region. It's pretty intense, and Teddy and I would never dream of going without our Market Sensei (Mercy).




DSCF0923 There were watermelons GALORE on this trip. I've never seen anything like it: the crop was apparently really good this year.

DSCF0924 Another baby, another chatty mama:)

DSCF0927 Goofs.

DSCF0936 Fried yams and roasted groundnuts (aka, peanuts). The BEST Ghanaian snack.

DSCF0940 God's Way

DSCF0945 Mercy, working hard, per usual. I think that people must assume I'm exaggerating about her, but I can't. She is AMAZING: the heartbeat of the home.


DSCF0955 Uncle Teddy with a hat made for him by Richlove

DSCF0958 Walking at dusk.

DSCF0971 Bernard's house in the early morning. We have had many meetings under that mango tree.

DSCF0983 On Tuesday (I think--the days all blur together) we took a day trip to Keta.

DSCF0998 Fishermen on the beach.

DSCF1008 A swimmer.

DSCF1049 We also visited the slave fort, Fort Prinzenstein, which is always a sobering experience but so important.


DSCF1051 Jeremiah (and the whole Father's House family) is such a blessing to us. Someone, I can't remember who, maybe Caleb? Asked him, after we'd toured the slave fort and were standing in its shadow, how he can remain optimistic--how he can have hope--given the history of the place and the legacy of slavery that still affects Ghana today. He answered very simply, "Jesus. Jesus is our hope."

DSCF1070 And then it was back to the Yellow House.

DSCF1077 For Simon Says with Uncle Teddy!

DSCF1086 This is an Ewe picture book that the girls LOVE to ask us to read to them. Our dictation is terrible and they think it is hilarious when we try to sound out the words.

DSCF1091 Sarah Jr. and Regina coloring.

DSCF1160 Play dough creations!

DSCF1164 Regina

DSCF1177 But first, let me take a selfie.


DSCF1183 Displaying the girls' artwork.

DSCF1184 Our second visit to the seamstress for final alterations.

DSCF1190 Coconuts: a gift from Bernard.

DSCF1195 With Dodje. Ghanaians are so patient with us Yavus and our inability to weild a machete.

DSCF1207 See above comments regarding Mercy + fashion.

DSCF1213 And OH she is so loved by these girls.

DSCF1225 Dear Crayola--if you are ever looking for a clientele base to test and evaluate products, I don't think there is a more qualified group than those living at The Yellow House. Coloring all day, every day. Can't stop, won't stop.


DSCF1265 Beth added such valuable insight to our conversations about the girls and how best to equip them to deal with their pasts in a positive way. It was a true gift to have her along on this trip.

DSCF1272 After the meeting with our Ghanaian Board of Directors. The man in the front center is a pastor from another village and oof--I wish you all could have heard the prayer he led. Powerful.

DSCF1279 In our new outfits, with our image consultant:)

DSCF1289 A last prayer on the morning we left.


We thank you, as always, for your prayers and well-wishes that covered us on this journey. It is exhausting and stressful at times, but we feel protection and grace because of the army of saints that rally around us. We, along with the girls and staff, are so grateful to be a part of this global family.