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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.