My name is Autumn Buzzell and I live and work in Ghana, West Africa with City of Refuge Ministries. Here, I run our school, Faith Roots International Academy, and get to be a part in rescuing and the healing of children who have been trafficked into the fishing trade, orphaned, abandoned, and those who just need a little extra loving. What an amazing gift this life is!

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

"This feels like Jesus feeding the 5,000!"

The title is a quote from one of our volunteers yesterday as we were preparing meals for our feeding program yesterday, but let me start from the beginning of our busy, busy day!!!

Yesterday, we had 30+ volunteers come to us from Semester at Sea which is a college program on a ship that travels around the world for one semester. They go to classes on the ship and when they get to a port, they get to do different excursions and also do a service project everywhere they go. They docked at Takaradi a few days ago and yesterday their group left at 3:30 in the morning to drive to our place in Tema to work with us. We were expecting them to spend the night with us, so when we got up, we cleaned the rooms at our house (since they wouldn't all fit at the Freedom Center). Then, we headed over to the Freedom Center to get ready for the day there. They came shortly after we arrived, so we got busy preparing breakfast and greeting them all. Our kids were really shy at first, but they warmed up before too long. As soon as the stickers and sports equipment came out, they were ready to play! And of course, they borrowed a few of the student's cameras to snap some pictures!!

After awhile, I took the kids in for our morning meeting while the Semester at Sea kids got some breakfast. A few joined us for some songs and sharing time. Then, the college students took the kids out for some games. By then, they'd really warmed up and had lots of fun!

Eventually, I was recruited into the kitchen by Adaidai and Juanitta and the large group left for a nearby field to lead some games. A group of about 7 were left behind to help in the kitchen and packing up the boxes of food. We got right to work and they were able to work out a system so that the food got put into boxes very quickly. It took a few hours, and lots of bending over the boxes (I don't know how African woman do this all the time to cook and wash--it's painfu!), but we boxes up 1,200 meals of rice, fish, and stew.

By the time we had finished boxing, the group was back from the field and were ready to help load up the meals into the van and car. We formed an assembly line and 3 boxes at a time, sent the meals out to the van. It took awhile, but the van got completely filled with meals. And then, we were ready to head out to Tema New Town.

Unfortunately, it had started to rain and the rain here. . .well, the rain anywhere, just makes things more difficult. We were running behind time and with the rain, the kids were just desperate to get the food and go. But, feeding 1,200 kids rather than 600 is a lot more difficult. There were no lines. As soon as we opened the doors to the van, the kids just began to push forward to get the food. We even had these older boys that were elbowing through to get food. It was crazy. I almost got knocked over a few times by all the pushing. Really chaotic, but overall, a lot of kids were fed and that has to be considered a success.

We were completely soaked by the time that we got loaded back into the vehicles. It just poured while we were handing out food. So, we climbed in wet and had an adventurous ride back to the Freedom Center. Stacy, Robert, and I drove in the little car and the windshield wipers weren't working and the windows were fogging up. It was hard to see and we were praying that we would be able to see if someone crossed the road in front of us. Luckily we made it home on one piece!!

When we got back, Lucy and the rest of the cooks in the kitchen had prepared an amazing jilaf rice and chicken dinner. Yummy! So, we ate together and then, we had some time to chat with the students. John told the story of his life, how he was an unwanted child, and spent many of his nights sleeping outside under the tables in the market, sick and alone as a child in Nigeria. He told how a couple in England had recieved a vision from God of a boy named Johnbull who had been homeless, unschooled, and needed support. A man who had met John met the couple at a conference in England and connected them together. At that time, God had saved John and he was a missionary in Gambia. When they connected with John, they supported him through Bible college and through many years of his life. Through their support, when he was able to go to Bible college, he met Stacy and they were married a year later.

Many people were moved by the story of his life, and began to ask more questions about their mission, about trafficking, about their passions. All in all, I think the students eyes were really opened about many things. First of all, these students, for the most part, were not believers. Many had never experienced the kind of service project that we did yesterday. And many had never heard of the issue of human trafficking. One of the prevailing questions that they had for us was, "What can we do?". I think that if we were able to get some of them thinking first of all that God cares about the orphaned and abandoned (like John and all the kids that they have rescued here) and that they can have a part in making a difference in the world by being an abolitionist, then we have done our job well.

Everyone of the kids wrote in our guest book and most of them wrote something about how their life was changed and impacted by the trip to the Freedom Center. Wow! Many of them said something about their eyes being opened. And one even said that we were a light in a dark place (like I have prayed continually over my own life!). It was pretty powerful for us to hear that their experience had changed thier lives. I am hoping that they won't let it just change them for one day, but that they'll realize that they have a story that they can be living out that is powerful and life-changing--not just changing their own lives, but the lives of others. I think that it when you begin to live your lives for others that you really can change the world!

When they climbed on the bus, exhausted, wet, and inspired, we got the chance to pray for them before they left and my prayer was that the words that they heard would not be forgotten by friends, and parties, and the busyness of school life, but that they would REMEMBER what we said about God, and what we told them about trafficking and how they can be a part. We'll see what the future holds for these new abolitionists!

Keep your eyes open on facebook for new pictures of our adventures yesterday!


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  2. i'm dreaming of bringing my little crew to visit and serve with you!

  3. got teary reading this! wow..wow..wow! are you really living this?!