Known

July 8, 2017 by

Today was the teams last full day in Ghana. So it’s a good time for reflection. Our team leaders asked for each of us to come up with a word and a possible example of why that word was a summary of our trip. I picked known.

The first example I have is of our team. Most of these people were strangers to me a few months ago. Names and faces that I knew I’d be traveling with but didn’t fully know. Now I have a group of new friends that I’ve done life with for this week. I have enjoyed watching old friends reconnect. I’ve seen new friendships form.  And I’ve gotten to know some awesome people who now have a heart for Ghana just like me.

The second example I have is of myself. The joy of walking into a classroom, or stepping off the bus and seeing a smiling face or arms stretched out for a hug. To have children run up and hug me and not let go. There is powerful joy in feeling known and loved by another.

Finally there are the boys we met in an after care facility. These are boys that had been freed from trafficking. As a team we spent time with them to bring some entertainment. So there we were sitting in a circle trying to create music together. What’s better then starting with a name. So each of the boys had a chance to share their name. They laughed at my silly song but joined in. They excitedly wanted to play the drums. They followed directions, created music, and celebrated with each successful completion. Now I can’t remember their names, but I know them. I’ve seen their joy at creating music, I’ve heard their voices, I’ve watched them run and play, and I’ve heard where they have come from and what a bright future they have. These boys are no longer trafficked children, they are cherished young men who are known for how special they will become.

There is power in being known.

Rachel

The Power of a Name

July 4, 2017 by

The experience here in Ghana for me has been strange. In a place where lady ministers are pretty much unheard of, I’ve been a little unsure of my role.  Ive had the amazing opportunity to pray at a church service where Pastor Leo is on staff.  I was unsure of what the reception would be especially with the surprise I encountered when I mentioned my profession.

This morning Pastor Leo met us and brought his lovely wife along.  When she shook my hand she called me Osofo Rebecca. Leo explained that Osofo means pastor. Suddenly my eyes started to water. In one word she had both established our relationship and given me the authority and identity I didn’t know I was struggling to find.

I’ve been thinking so much about names since I’ve been here. To the Ghanians names mean much more than in the states. They say much both about who you are and to whom you belong.

Today we visited a house filled with boys rescued from slavery on Lake Volta. It began when a boy in their community was taken and people who cared went to search for a boy by his name. By what seemed like chance, they heard of the whereabouts of a boy with his name. As they searched the beach, the friend thought he heard his name. Against impossible odds, He was found because of a name!

Names are powerful. They have the power to heal and to destroy. To deliver or condemn. The have the power to change everything. Think about the time when Jesus called your name. When He called you child, daughter, beloved. It was a moment unlike any other. You knew after that, nothing would be the same. And when you called His name, Saviour, Healer, Father no name has ever tasted sweeter.

After Jesus’ resurrection, the Marys were walking from the tomb and asked the gardener where Jesus was. They stayed and talked with him and looked into his eyes but didn’t recognize him. It wasn’t until Jesus called her name that she saw who He really was.

Think about that for a minute. They didn’t know who He was till He called her name.

There’s power in a name.

Osofo Becca

Our first Day!

July 1, 2017 by

Well we can officially say our first day in Ghana is in the books. And it was a blessing!

One blessing started before we even arrived. I got to travel with my new friend Tracy. We are just getting to know each other as we prepared for this trip. My joy was watching and hearing her tell the flight attendants or people near her why we are here. How she shared about IJM, and problems that are being addresses here. Her excitement for loving on each of the people we will meet just touched my heart so deeply. God was and is working in conversations. How awesome is that.

I was also blessed today by an amazing church service with our friend Pastor Leo and his church group. We entered during a power prayer service. We stand hand in hand with our brothers and sisters and pray. The Bishop lead us in praying using Ezekiel 21:27 which begins “I will overcome.” What a powerful prayer, we can overcome anything we face because of the power in Christ in us. For us to stand together and claim His victory in each area we struggle with, wow.  A beginning of restoration at the beginning of our journey. God truly has an awesome plan.

Rachel

Our Team

June 26, 2017 by

Hello everyone it’s finally here the week our team leaves. Thank you for your support so far. We cherish your prayers as we head out.

Our team members are: Ken, Tim, Luke, Haleigh, Ian, Trevor, Shawn, Brian, Sybil, Becca, Nadia, Bettina, Tracy, Rachel, Grace, Jes, and Barbara.

You can follow our journey here, on Facebook, and at #ehncGO

Day 2

July 5, 2016 by

We started this day out with some breakfast and then organized our items for the day. We then piled in the bus and prepared for a fun day of giving to Brilliant Academy!! We stored our bins with the needed supplies and squeezed 17 people into our 13 passenger van before heading out to the school.

Once we got there the excitement permeated the air and the smiles on the children’s faces were contagious. You couldn’t help but smile and wave back. The kids were so happy to see it I couldn’t help but be happy even though I was still half asleep.

We began our time with the kids with taking pictures that the kids were so excited about. We took out a phone or camera and they were so happy to take group photos so they could look at them and see what they look like. It was amazing seeing how happy they were about something many take for granted.

After pictures we settled down in a circle with the kids surrounding us and introductions were made.

Next we performed a skit for the kids following the book You Are Mine. We taught the kids that it is not the stuff you have that makes you important, but whose you are. We all belong to Jesus!!!

Following the skit we helped the kids make their own boxes. We also gave them balloons to represent the balls from the skit. The rest of the day was spent playing “futball”(soccer) with the kids and conversation.

Finally, just before we left the kids all sang a few songs. These included a very warm happy birthday to Rachel, who spent her birthday loving on these kids and being an inspiration. Then we ended in prayer before heading our.

My personal favorite part of this trip was that even though I didn’t interact as much with the kids as everyone else they still wanted me to stop and chat when we were heading out. They were thankful to me as well and it warmed my heart to know that my small part there made an impact just as everyone else’s bigger roles.

All in all it has been a wonderful trip so far and I am excited to see what more is to come.

Written by Crystal Orman

Day One

July 5, 2016 by

It’s amazing to see God’s hand in all the places we have been. To see what once was thought to be this insurmountable journey, unfold through the faithful followers answering as humble servants. We are his hands and feets. We are all called to serve in one area or another. It’s a great reminder that  with God all things are possible.

Written by Missie Sanderson

The Video

October 29, 2014 by

So I have never been good with words. I have been to Ghana 6 times and have had so many wonderful learning and growing experiences. So when someone says “how was your trip?” I struggle with what to say. How do you express the joy, the love, the learning, the God moments, and the work into words? I know some who can do it, but that is not a gift that I have. Often I say it was amazing and share some moments, but leave wondering did that really capture everything?

Needless to say I was beyond excited last spring when I was told Elisha, a photo journalist, would be traveling with on the July 2014 trip. She was tasked with putting our trip into a video to share with our church. That would be an overwhelming task to be sure. Finally, I thought there would be a great way to share what I always thought and felt about the trips, and I was not mistaken. Sunday October 12th the video was shared at church and it has touched my heart and began me thinking once more. So with Elisha’s permission I would like to share this video with you.

You can view this video at http://youtu.be/YXLmRde5iL0

As a final note I want to say Thank you!
Thank you Elisha for capturing the heart of our trip!
Thank you to the team for being open and willing to serve and experience God with us.
Thank you to the supporters, you made this trip happen.
Thank you to the prayer warriors, you made this trip happen.
Thank you to anyone who has ever been involved in missions, you made a difference to so many in more ways than you can know.

This Is Where I Should Be

July 2, 2014 by

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (1809-1894) was an American poet, physician, author and professor from the Boston area. Having made an indelible impact on the literary world of the 19th century, Holmes was a member of the Fireside Poets and was noted by his peers, the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, as one of the best writers of his day. Holmes had a lot to say on many topics including many controversial things in the medical field in both his writing and during speaking engagements. One of the most famous of all of Mr. Holmes inputs on the world around him had to do with the definition of the word home. Holmes defined home quite simply when he stated, ” Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts”. And though I know there are more than a few different ways to interpret this quote, I find myself leaning into these words the past few days, focusing on their simplicity and truth….reminding myself, that “home” doesn’t have to be a place, “home” is a feeling.

In preparing to come to visit Ghana these past few months, I have been extremely convinced, through prayer and circumstance, that this is where I should be and what God has intended for me this summer. However, I couldn’t shake this anxious feeling, this feeling that I would be leaving home behind. Realistically I could remember feeling this way time and time again when I have left Ghana or the US to the opposite of destinations, but it has never hit so hard until this journey. Perhaps it is because I feel like I am going to miss so much that is going on this summer in the states, or the fact that I feel like I am abandoning ship at work; it could even be that I just am tired of living a very nomadic lifestyle. I’m not really sure 100% what was causing this sinking feeling in my gut that made me want to just run away and hide from God’s calling, but it has been haunting me for weeks.

Upon arrival I quickly found myself comfortable, no longer feeling so foreign in this foreign place; however not yet feeling like I was settled. We went to the Volta School for the Deaf on Sunday, followed by a trip to Wli where we sang, danced and enjoyed the waterfall and it was good. However, when we got back to the hotel I still found myself longing for that peace of knowing for certain that this is where I needed to be, at least right now. Monday, that all would change.

Our first stop Monday was once again Volta School for the Deaf. I could tell immediately the feel of the day would be different. As we pulled down the driveway I could feel the routine and the familiarity. We met with Diddy and I felt comfortable sitting in her office. As Rachel and I walked our friends back to KG to observe the classes and my friends who I taught with came out and gave me huge hugs of welcome, I was refilled with joy. Rachel and I quickly sat down with Diddy to discuss our partnership and in the relaxing feeling of that room I started to settle, despite the anticipation of our announcement. As we shared with Diddy the funding we were able to help her with in order to start a chicken coop for the school and we all burst into tears, I felt as though I could hear God saying “see…it’s starting”. As we played with the children in the courtyard and my sweet Pauline came up to me time and time again, trying to pull me aside in order to have a talk, I found comfort in being able to say to her, I would be here all summer and that we would spend quality time together, get a real conversation in and talk about life. I found peace knowing that I didn’t have to try and rush through an encounter with her but that I could find some real time to engage in her life again as I have before.

As we travelled back to the hotel I felt content knowing that I hadn’t had to simply say a quick hello and started looking forward to what the afternoon would bring. That afternoon we went to the Gbi Special School for the Intellectually Disabled. I had mixed feelings as we pulled down the drive since I had had such a mixed experiences there. Once we made our formal greetings and were able to bring in our small donations of books and healthcare supplies, I felt joy as I could see the anticipatory looks my friends kept giving me. When Brooke leaned in and asked, “can we go play with them”, I knew we had made the right decision in coming. As I told them they could go out and visit with the children, I was overcome with emotion. To stand back and watch these children being loved on so genuinely was breathtaking. Daily when I worked at this school I felt so torn apart, as though I couldn’t myself give each of them enough love. I wished I could duplicate my person and embrace them all just much as they needed. As I looked around and saw this happening through the arms and smiles of my friends I could do nothing else but praise God and join in the effort which now was invigorating rather than exhausting. It was a beautiful thing to see my American friends join me in loving these children who are pretty much outcasts in their society. Watching them love these children, despite their differences, so instantaneously reminded me of God’s love for all of His children, and how we are all made in His image, worthy of equal love. I left there knowing those children’s life’s had been changed, they were blessed and happy and that they felt God’s love for them come beaming through the arms of Cathy, Karen, Brian, Sonny, Hong, Rich, Brooke, Rachel, Elisha, Ken, Kenny and even Samuel. In this moment God granted me with another, deep breath in and a sense of peace in this place.

After that we headed to Happy Kids and following the short trip down the road that felt like a million years, I felt God’s plan come into place, I was home. As we got within eyeshot of the boarding house, first just one child noticed me and then another. They jumped for joy and ran into the yard announcing my coming. Wisdom flew up on his bike, stopping right next to me with a big hug and a beautiful welcome. As I rounded the corner into the courtyard I was greeted by jumping hugs and screaming children! Soon the children were chanting my name. After our initial overwhelming welcome everyone settled in and a peace came over the whole place. The children were polite and welcoming to their guests and warmed up to everyone quickly. As they sat quietly coloring and I took a moment to catch up with Elizabeth, she commented on how happy she was I would be spending the month with her and the children. In that moment I knew that following God’s call was (obviously) the right move to make. The peace of the environment led to a peace in my spirit, loosening any and all anxieties that were holding onto my heart. In that moment I realized that God had led me home.

Not home to the place where I had grown up, or home where my family is, not my usual dwelling place, or the place where I have spent the most time, but home to the place where love surrounded me. The realization that home wasn’t a specific place hit me hard. My home doesn’t have to be a house, or with specific people. Rather my home is where I am loved and where I can love. It doesn’t matter where I am, or where I go, as long as love is present I am home. As Holmes said, ” our feet may leave, but not our hearts”; thus regardless of where I am, NY or Ghana or Kenya or anywhere in the world, home will never leave my heart if there is love. The even cooler thing?…wherever God is, love is and wherever love is, God is. For God is love and in the spirit of Holmes simple words, God is home. So wherever He sends me, and wherever I go, I am home, for He is forever present.

/Jes Sudol

Shine Bright

July 1, 2014 by

I saw him from across the small courtyard. He was huddled with a few other small Ghana’n children who were all meticulously coloring their recently received treasures. I walked over and sat down on the bench next to him.

Do you know who that is? I asked. He shook his head no sheepishly.

I pointed to the Monsters Inc. character the boy was coloring. “His name is Mike.”

“Mike” he whispered softly.

“Mike” He announced a little louder. The boy looked up at me and smiled.

“What is your name?” I asked.

“Bright.” He said quietly.

I leaned in and introduced myself quietly.

Bright was new to Happy Kids orphanage. It was my first time at the orphanage. I think we were both a bit nervous.

He held his little coloring book up to show me his work.

“I love your coloring. You do good work” I affirmed him.

Bright smiled.

For what was just a few moments, Bright and I colored. I taught him how to thumb wrestle. We fist pounded several times. We laughed.

As we were getting ready to leave, Pastor Samuel gathered all of us to pray. In the middle of the prayer, a little hand softly grabbed mine and held it tightly. It was Bright.

He felt safe. And so did I.

Shine Bright.

/Brian Howe

Volta School for the Deaf

June 30, 2014 by

Today was a day that I was really looking forward to. As some of you know I have fallen in love with then Volta School for the Deaf. On my last trip Jes and I talked with the Head Mistress Diddy (pronounced DeeDee) about how we might partner with them. After praying and talking we decided we would collect funds to work on a project with them. So for three month the Deaf ministry in Nazarene church has held bread sales to raise the funds needed. It was a huge success and I traveled here with enough funds to complete a project and start our partnership. This morning Jes and I sat down to talk with Diddy again. She shared that a group from Accra provided the school with a bread oven to feed the children. Then she shared that Deeper Life Church in Hohoe repaired their wells. Those are both amazing blessings. So we asked her of her other concerns. She said that the government only gave them 1/10 of the funds they we’re suppose to give so she is concerned with the children’s health and lack of protein. Her wish is to build a small chicken coop to be sure that they will be able to maintain it. With a chicken coop the students would learn how to raise them and get much needed protein from eggs. It was with so much joy in my heart that we were able to give her all the funds she would need to build a coop and start this project. She looked at me first with shock, then her eyes filled with tears. Jes and myself also began to cry tears of joy and blessings. I could feel the overwhelming joy, relief, comfort, and love that this small offering brought to this women of passion and grace. Again and again she said ‘God bless you’. So it is with a happy heart, and joyful tears I say to all those you helped and prayed ‘God Bless you’ again and again. Please continue to pray for Diddy as she leads with wisdom and love, and pray for all the students as the grow in strength and knowledge under her loving care.
Thank you,
Rachel
(Rachel Mosher)