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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Sunday, September 18, 2011

What REALLY matters!

This week has been EXTREMELY busy and hectic week and our internet has been down for the majority of the week, so I've not been able to get out any updates on life out here in Doryumu. So, I wanted to just give you a few snapshots from the week to give you a clue as to the craziness of it all.

First of all, we started this week with immense numbers of people coming to register their students. We quickly filled up our class rosters and had an overflow of about 45 people on a waiting list. Everyday, we were turning away eager parents waiting for their child to be registered at our school.

We also started this week with a new teacher. Madam Rita interviewed over the weekend and came and joined our staff on Monday. I was so impressed with her classroom demeanor and so happy that we were able to hire her! She was an absolute gift!

Tuesday, we had Edgar Seah's parents come and visit us. Edgar came and spent some time with us earlier this year (May and June) and we loved having him with us. He came up with some great ideas for our organization and we're excited to have him partner with us in the future! His parents are the the Semester at Sea voyage this semester as life-long learners. It was so fun to get to spend time with them and see where Edgar came from!

Wednesday, John and Stacy led John and Shirley Seah to Cape Coast, so I was on my own out at the school. It was fun to get the chance to drive around a bit (well, by around means, from our house to the school!). The day went by quickly and when we got home, I took the boys into town to get the corn ground. They were so happy that they didn't have to carry the corn themselves. And it was fun to hang out with them in town. After John and Stacy's trip to Cape Coast, they stopped by the airport to pick up Pastor Judy (their pastor from Souix Falls) and their friend Mark. She came into town for the dedication. I tried to stay up to say hello, but no such luck. I was too tired and hit the hay early!

On Thursday and Friday, we had groups from Semester at Sea come through. This is a regular occurance, once a semester, but this year, there were so many that signed up to come and visit, that they had to be split into two days. It was amazing to have the students come through, to get to cast the vision for what we are doing here at City of Refuge and to feel such pride as we walked the halls of Faith Roots to show that students are already learning and things are happening here! The Thursday group got quite a bit of play time with the kiddos and the kids LOVED it! I had to go and round up several classrooms because they didn't want to come in from their break time. Too funny! After about 2:00, the SAS students left to go do a feeding in Doryum. They made enough food to bless 100 of our students and the kids were so excited to have a meal to take home. The Friday group was different from Thursday's group. It was kind of funny that two groups could look so different. Friday's group was very interested in what we are doing as an organization and asked a lot of great questions! They had to leave pretty early in the day as they were doing a feed in Tema New Town, but we got to spend a lot of time just talking about our projects out at the Children's Village.

John Seah tutoring a FRIA student in Math.

Thursday was also challenging for me though. With the hectic-ness of the groups coming through, sick kids, school fees, lunch duty, and all that jazz, I neglected to lock one of the office doors and 165 GHc got stolen out of the office. I was so frustrated with myself. And poor Mr. Francis, my office administrator and right hand man, was beside himself that it had either been stolen or misplaced. We looked and looked and looked for it, but to no avail! John said that it was a lesson learned and I was glad that I had taken the majority of the school fees out of it a couple days before. But then, when I got home, John and Stacy had a surprise for me...they had bought me a new phone! And it's a NICE ONE! It's like an iphone, but just a different brand. Wow! I felt so undeserving after I had lost that money, but John and Stacy were so kind and reassuring about the whole situation. And the phone will be great to have out at the school so that I can keep the internet world updated on our work there!

Listening to the program at our Grand Opening Celebration on Saturday.

All week long, our teachers were working on our Saturday program with our students. I was so proud of them! The teachers worked hard everyday with our kids and some of them even came to the house to work at night. They were wonderful! And when Saturday came, their work paid off! The program, though it started on Africa time (an hour late), was beautiful! The students did their part remarkably well! And I was so proud of them and of the hard work that our teachers put into them! Apostle Judy led an amazing tribute to the school and dedicated to the Lord with some pretty amazing words! And John and Stacy honored me with a special gift, a desk plaque with my name and Faith Roots Int'l Academy engraved. What an honor! And then, Saturday after the celebration, John took us girls (the staff girls, Stacy, Pastor, and myself) to Accra to have a spa day. We all got manicures and pedicures and it was WONDERFUL! What a treat!
Apostle Judy officially opens the school!

Our school's dedication plaque...forever written in stone!

Today, Sunday, we had the opportunity to have Pastor Judy speak to us at our morning worship gathering. It was such a sweet time together as she talked about the key to life being "Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God and all other things will be added unto you". It was a such a great wrap up to such a busy week! I feel like it kind of centered things for me. So often, I get caught up in the stress of everything, but really if I continue to seek HIM FIRST, then all these other things that I'm always worried about will come about! Pastor Judy talked about a car accident that left her in the hospital for months and practically without a face. But, she remembers a day when she told the Lord, "It doesn't matter what I look like, you come first and I will never stop speaking your name!". After that day, a miracle happened for her. What was supposed to involve several reconstructive surgeries, her own skin GREW BACK on her face and left her unscarred! It was an amazing story and just a reminder that we are all here as a miracle in process. If we place God first, all other things will fall into place. It's the same with me and it's the same with Faith Roots. What a refreshing to have her here!

So, this next week, I'm putting aside the stress of last week and focusing on what really matters. God first...and everything else will come! Problems with staff...not an issue when God is in charge. Student problems...not an issue when God is in charge. School budget...nope. Sleep deprivation...nope. God is leading this thing and I've got to trust that he's got it under control or nothing else will matter. It's all about KINGDOM work being done here!

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