Sunday, September 26, 2010

Boti Falls

Saturday we loaded up the van with 15 kids and 5 adults and headed off to Boti Falls, a waterfall a few hours away (give or take a few). :) It was by far the best excursion since I've been here (excluding the 7 hours in the car!).... the landscape was beautiful and the kids were absolutely fabulous! The hike we took to Umbrella Rock was no joke and the kids were such troopers! It started out pretty flat, but turned quite steep-- as in straight up bouldering for a couple of stretches. We crossed a little stream, saw a cave, and after some more bouldering, finally made it to Umbrella Rock. Probably about 3/4 of the kids climbed the ladder to the top...I even conquered my fear of ladders and made it up there myself...what a gorgeous view from the top!
Then, we hiked down to the waterfall. There are 2 beautiful waterfalls and a wonderful mist that cooled us down from our big hike! The kids had fun wading in the water and just taking in the breath-taking beauty!
Amanda, Tawnee, and I with Bequin

The troopers!

A beautiful rainbow was across the waterfall!

Tawnee & I

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What We'll do for French Toast!

For any of you who loathe grocery shopping, let me bring you a little encouragement! :) Yesterday morning about 8:20 I said french toast sounded good for breakfast. Tawnee and I quickly realized we didn't have any bread and would need it over the next couple of days, so we'd just run and get some quick (ha!) and then make our french toast. Well, by the time I took a quick shower and we tried to figure out which vehicle we could take, it was quickly 9:40.

The store we were going to is less than 2 miles away, but when we got there they were sold out of bread, eggs, and all the other items that we wanted and are always there. So, in order to go to a gas station fairly close by, you have to drive about 1 to 1.5 miles to turn around and get on the other side of the highway. So, we did that-- in hopes of getting some bread...sold out! We were out of options so we decided to head home, when voila...we saw someone selling bread on the side of the road! Whoo hoo! Well, at this point we remembered that we hadn't found eggs yet, so we decided to head a mile and a half down the road the other way toward Kotoku. We asked someone there where we could find eggs, so he agreed to help us find some. So, we cross the railroad tracks and end up walking through the town onto some dirt path that finally led back to what was actually this man's house! ...and his wife sold us some eggs! Ahhh...mission accomplished!

All this time I was really building up an appetite for this french toast. Well... by the time we got home it was 11:30!!! So, breakfast became "brunch" just at noon! Nothing here is ever quick!!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Spit it out, buddy!

We met a little boy in the pool today named Albert and he was quite high maintenance, but a cute little guy…6 years old. He was very talkative and inquisitive, so we started asking him questions in return, and asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He quickly responded, “I want to be a rich man.” Wow! Not what any of us were expecting! So after some laughter, we asked him if that would make him happy and he said “yes”, so we asked how being rich would make him happy. Here’s a little 6 year old just swinging around in the water “ummm”-ing and “hmmm”-ing away trying to think of a response, so Tawnee jokingly said, “Spit it out, buddy….spit it out!”, and Albert turned away and spit into the pool! Haha….so funny!

1 John 2:17 says, “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” And I’m convinced that we are on earth for such a short time that in the grand scheme of things, money, fame, and prestige don’t matter…the only thing that matters is bringing glory to God. I hope Albert agrees when he “grows up”!

A "Swimming Lesson"

Today was pool day for the older boys and it was sooo much fun! Because the big van is "in the shop", we were only to take the oldest 15 boys and the others will go at a later date. It was probably better this way, because we were able to spend more time with the ones there. Sometimes the older boys are harder to relate to...there are a few that come around a lot, but many of them seem to be in their "own little world" and sometimes it's difficult to get more than a glimpse into that world. However, in some mysterious way, the water in the pool seems to break down those barriers and allow them to just be kids, have fun, laugh, and play together. was such a great day! Beach balls were flying, piggy back rides were given, kids were launched, and smiles were in abundance! :)

I just loved watching their faces light up as they played in the water. One boy in particular will literally run from us whenever we see him around the home, but today he was asking for piggy back rides. It made me so happy whenever he would ask, because he never talks to me or comes around, and the fact that he was asking for help just made me smile.

It reminded me of how God must feel with us sometimes. I think we often adapt a "I can do it myself" type of attitude, and then there are moments where we are at the end of our rope and we realize that we really can't do it on our own. We are dependent upon God to receive any type of true and lasting joy, peace, hope, and the list goes on...

This is just like Kobby in the pool....He can do most things on His own, but in order to go to the deep end and experience something new, he has to ask for help. He is dependent on us, and just as it was a joy to help him experience this, I believe it's a joy for God to give us good gifts. In Matthew 7:9-11 Jesus says, "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" God delights in our dependence on Him.

We, too, can choose do things on our own, but if we do this, the results are tragic. We are a sinful people, deserving of death (Romans 6:23), but God in His grace offers us eternal life through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). If we refuse to admit our fallen nature, our inability to be holy on our own, and our need for a Savior we will never truly live the life that God intended for us here on earth, and even more importantly, we will not be given the gift of eternal life and will spend eternity separated from Him.

So, I’m using Kobby in the pool today as a reminder to daily surrender myself to God and admit that I need His help to go through everyday. I can’t do it on my own.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Great Expectations

This morning we had a meeting with all the teachers to find out our teaching positions for the upcoming school year. I don't know why I still expect to know what's going to'd think I'd have learned by now that things never go quite as planned! :) It turns out they are moving to subject teaching this year, instead of having one teacher assigned to every class. Because of this, we will be able to start the JSS (Junior Secondary School) at Haven of Hope this year. The new school building to house the JSS is currently being built and is a huge task, so Naa Naeraoh said, "The chicken coop only has one foul, so we will convert that to the JSS." So, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen...the "7th graders" will be meeting in the chicken coop! :) Never a dull moment here... I love it!

I will be teaching 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade math and hope to also continue doing some acceleration of students who are far behind their grade level-- depending on how it all works into the schedule. All in all, we seem to be off to a good start and I'm really excited to see how the year (or semester) goes. I'm very excited to actually be teaching and really looking forward to pushing the kids to excel in math....I know, I'm a nerd, but I see the importance of an education soooo strongly here in Ghana. It can really make or break the course of their life. I do have to admit, though, that I'm also a little nervous about the teaching part, because classrooms are operated so differently here. I'm hoping the students catch on to the expectations and procedures and classes start up smoothly on Monday. :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pool Par-tay!

Miss Lauren treated all the girls to a pool trip on Friday and what a good time was had by all! I think the pictures will tell the story. :)
Tawiah, Rebecca, Fauzia, and Aisha with the Martha Washingtons... I think the Martha on the left was due for another hair appointment! ;)

Heart-Breaking Inspiration

Today Lauren, Tawnee, Amanda, and I headed into Accra to help out with the street ministry, which Auntie Felicia (ECM's street ministry director) heads up. Many of the kids at Haven of Hope have been "rescued" from living here. Many of these kids lay down to sleep every night on the platform of the train station or on the concrete porches of the buildings in the station. They are not well attended to at all and many are left to fend for themselves from a very young age.
Going there was very heart-breaking, yet inspirational in a way. Let me explain: As soon as I stepped out of the van, I was greeted by a child whom I had never met before, just eager for a hug....for love and affection.

There were probably about 100 kids altogether, and we started out by reading some educational books. The kids gathered around-- eager to listen and learn. Then, they gather all the kids together and sing some songs and have a short lesson (today about the alphabet)-- since some of them don't go to school.
After that we had a little first aid station where the kids could come if they had any cuts, scrapes, boils, etc. that needed some doctoring. This poor little boy I worked on had 18 band-aids by the time I was finished with him. :( What a sweetheart...I can't even imagine. It's difficult for them to keep these clean, as they need to pay 50 pesawas to use the public showers...and yet more to use the soap and sponges. My heart breaks for these kids.

Afterwards they had a Bible story and then fed the kids a meal. We helped serve the food and it's also hard when you run out of food, but still have a line of kids waiting... it seems that as much as you help, it will never be enough.

However, as I said, it was inspiring--Auntie Felicia takes the time to really get to know these kids, love on them, understand their stories, and she just truly loves them and wants the best for them. It's good for me to see this and be reminded that one person really can make a child at a time. There is too much need to look at the big picture... I will aim to love one child at a time and it's my hope and prayer that that will make all the difference for that one child.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Village Bible Study

Tonight we had our second Bible study in the village and I worked with the kids today. We had four of our older girls at Haven of Hope prepare some educational materials and songs to use with the kids while their moms were at the Bible study. We were hoping this would take away the distraction of having literally 40 extra little bodies crowded around the blanket spread on the dirt ground.

All was well for the first hour and 15 minutes as we sang songs, learned colors, shapes, the alphabet, and read stories...and then chaos ensued! Yikes! Please pray that we can think of more ideas to keep the kids actively engaged.

Praise God that there were many new faces at the Bible study tonight and they are so hungry for God's Word. It really is neat to see.