Lewis Goes to Ghana
We did it! We survived a trip across the Atlantic with a 12-month old in tow. I cannot overemphasize how grateful we are for the prayers that surrounded us on this journey. Every single person on the planet knows that babies are germ magnets, and I truly believe that nothing short of divine intervention kept all three of us perfectly healthy through 32 hours of flying and five days in Ghana.
This post is titled as such because if you asked the girls, staff, etc. about our trip, they would talk exclusively about Lewis. If you pressed them, they might admit that, oh yeah, Auntie and Uncle were around, too.
When we arrived in Akatsi, the girls were at school, but Mama and Mercy came running as soon as they heard the gate open. They grabbed Lewis from my arms and ran inside, slamming the door behind them, without so much as saying “hello” to Ted or me. We just looked at each other and laughed. It was the perfect indicator for how the rest of the week was going to unfold.
The girls are growing into such amazing young women. You know how startling it is to see someone after a long absence? The differences are striking, but you acclimate to the new normal. That definitely happened this trip: I was initially thunderstruck by everyone’s growth and maturation, but quickly adjusted to new heights and deeper voices. In the course of preparing for this blog, I was looking through some old pictures and realized anew how dramatically they’ve changed.
I read a book recently that referenced the Japanese term “mono no aware,” which is roughly translated to mean “bittersweetness inherent in ephemeral beauty.” I don’t believe there is an English equivalent for this phrase, which is a real shame because I know the feeling well.
My favorite thing to do at The Yellow House is sit on a stool in the courtyard and just be. To listen to the girls and Mama speaking Ewe as they prepare dinner, sweep, or do dishes. To hear their jokes and laughter and the noises of the Yellow House, smell onions cooking in oil, and feel the African sun on my back. I was concerned, prior to this trip, about the quality of time I’d be able to spend with the girls and the staff, but since there were 10 eager babysitters around, I didn’t need to worry. I had plenty of opportunities to soak everything in and participate in full conversations. I kept thinking about that phrase, “mono no aware,” as I watched the girls. Part of me wanted to have my camera every second, kept thinking that if I could take enough pictures or record enough footage it would prevent these moments from slipping too quickly into the past and delay the girls from growing, changing too quickly. But the wiser part of me knows that the best thing to do—and really the only thing to do—is surrender to the change and, instead of wasting time trying to preserve life in its current state, be fully present, grateful, and aware of what’s going on.
I still took a LOT of pictures, though:)
Most of you probably heard about Enagbe, a three-year old who was temporarily placed with us this spring. Her adoption was finalized in early May and she’s now with her new family! We are so happy that social welfare placed her with us, that we were able to be a home for her in a transitory period, and that this story has a happy ending. We are hopeful that we can continue to partner with social welfare on cases like this one!
Speaking of Social Welfare, Destiny has taken a new job in Akatsi! We always knew that Eight Oaks would not be his final destination, and he has been open with Ted and me about wanting study abroad for his master’s degree since we first hired him, back in June of 2014.
I remember sitting with both of them in front room of the Yellow House, and Ted saying to Destiny, “I am going to be very honest with you: I do not see the need for a full-time social welfare officer, and I am hiring you mainly to appease the local office. If you want to gain my trust, you have to do one thing: get Sarah Sr. back.” Destiny was faithful to that charge, and more than just bringing Sarah back to the Yellow House, he established a line of communication with her birth mother and built a relationship founded on trust with her family. We are so, so grateful that the Lord brought him to us when we most needed him, and we are excited for him as he pursues his next calling in life.
We have a temporary social welfare officer who is checking in on the house periodically, and Celestine has taken up a lot of the paperwork in Destiny’s absence. Every time we go through a transition, we are amazed all over again by our staff and the fact that they handle these changes with such grace and ease.
We will continue to support the triplets and Collins, so if you give specifically to either of those ministries, rest assured that they will continue.
I cry every time we leave Ghana. Not just because it’s sad to say goodbye, but because I feel so full, so proud of the girls and our staff, so blessed to know them. This time, as I was squeezing everyone for a final hug, Lucky wiped my tears and said, “Auntie. It’s okay. We are okay. We’ll see you soon, yes?”. Wise girl, my brave, sweet, tender Lucky.
Yes. Yes, they’re doing well, and it’s okay to say goodbye. We’ll see them soon. Things will keep changing; but those changes are good ones. The girls will keep growing, and we’ll keep needing to renovate the house and buy new furniture. Like the garden, what was once barren is springing forth with life. Green things, good things, are reclaiming places that have been ravaged by the famine, illness, violence. I’ve seen Ghanaian children play soccer on the foundations of slave forts built in the 1600’s, and I’ve tasted tomatoes that have grown through the cracks in concrete. The girls were baptized in the same waters that carried their ancestors across the sea during the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
This is the Good News: Jesus doesn’t just rescue us from our destitution; He completes our restoration. He tears down the walls of corruption and builds palaces in their places; He shines light in dark places and invites life to spring up from desolation.
I’m so blessed to be a witness and recipient of this Grace. I feel it wash over me every time I sit in the courtyard and watch the girls prepare dinner, hear Mama’s gentle voice and the wind moving through the palm trees. I feel the weight of it when I look out over the ocean and see the crumbling walls of the slave forts that housed thousands of Africans on their way to unspeakable horrors in the Americas.
Best, and strangest, of all…we aren’t just witnesses to this grace. We get to be a part of it. We can be a part of the redemption of creation.
Jesus saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.
I see new life. Beauty in the change.
And eight girls, who are leading the way for all of us. Into light, into life, into the Kingdom.