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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Monday, January 30, 2012

Adventures of 30

I'm sitting here in the London airport. I keep thinking to myself, "What am I doing?".

I was talking to my mom the other day and just talking about life. I've always been a bit timid. Not much of an adventurer. I don't like confrontation. I don't like situations with a bunch of new people. And yet, here I am...headed to Australia...by myself. Life keeps throwing me these confusing turns of events!

If I had had it my way, my life would have looked a lot different about now. I know that when I was younger, I dreamed of getting married, having a family, teaching in the States--some easy school that would make my family life easy too. And yet, nothing happened like that...and I like it! I can't imagine if I had been married earlier and had kids. Wow! So many things wouldn't have been possible for me to be called into.

My mom told me that when she told her dad, my grandfather whom I called Poppy, that I wanted to be a teacher, he told her that I would have to teach at a Christian school my whole life because I was too timid to do anything outside of my comfort zone.

And my first teaching job was teaching in EPA, an inner-city school. My second teaching job was starting a school in Ghana, West Africa. Yeah, I'm so glad that I'm not in control of my own destiny. I've had so many adventures simply by following where God wanted me to go instead of following plans of my own.

And here I am, traveling off by myself to Australia to meet up with friends of the ministry for a photo exhibition. My friend, Christy Lynch is coming in on the 6th and we'll be touring around a bit too for my birthday. So fun!

It's crazy sometimes to think about where I would have been and now where I am. I still am kinda scared of adventures, but God keeps calling me into them, so I keep going. It's kinda fun, even if there is a little anxiety behind it all.

Awww, the adventures of 30!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Back to School and hearing Stephen's Story

I had my first day back at school today and caught up with Mr. Francis about his break during the holidays. It was kinda a catch up day, but I heard a lot of amazing stories about Mr. Francis' trips to family homes during our Christmas break.

One of the stories that I heard was that of Stephen. Stephen is one of the oldest students in our school, but incredibly bright and full of promise. Stephen came to us at the end of the first term and told us that his family was not around and he wouldn't be able to pay school fees. Because of that, we decided to make it a point to visit his home during the Christmas holiday. So, Mr. Francis went to see where he was living. He said that he kinda armed himself, ready to give the parents some tough love about being responsible, but when he saw the conditions of Stephen's situation, he almost began to cry.

Stephen lives in a one room, crumbling mud hut. Some of the walls are not even complete. There isn't much food. There isn't much hope. The mother had left Stephen at the house for the past five months while she tried to go find work. She had just given birth to a baby and needed to find a way to support her family. So, she went away. Stephen fended for himself for FIVE WHOLE MONTHS. Occasionally an uncle would find work and would be able to provide him with lunch fees. And we, not knowing the full situation, didn't know the gravity of what was going on with him at home.

Stephen's mom arrived back home shortly before Christmas. She told Mr. Francis that she has been ill since she left our area to look for work. She depended on the kindness of strangers to get her well enough to move back home. Mr. Francis fears the worst...HIV or another debilitating disease. He said she looked so lean and the baby wasn't well either, probably not being fed enough.

It broke my heart in so many ways...but I also feel hope for Stephen. He came to us and we have the opportunity to perhaps help this family in a way that they never thought possible. We can offer his family what we have and we can show them the love of Christ in a way that they may not have ever experienced before.

So, I'm reaching out...we need to find a sponsor for Stephen. It's a $50 per month commitment for Stephen's school fees, book fees, lunch fees, transportation, after school program, uniform, and various other ways that we can support him and his family. If you read this, would you prayerfully consider offering HOPE to Stephen and his family?

You can contact me at autumn@cityofrefugeoutreach.com or our sponsorship director, Kristin Miller, at sponsorships@cityofrefugeoutreach.com for more information about sponsorships.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mixed Emotions

Mixed emotions always come the night before leaving for Ghana. This is my 4th trip to Ghana, and my last trip to the States for a year. This trip has been amazing! Awesome quality time with some of my favorite people in the world.

And yet, leaving always brings strange emotions...excitement for the adventure ahead...expectation in seeing my kids again...and sadness in leaving behind my friends and family...the connection that you feel with just being with ones who know you WELL.

I'm honestly a little scared of what is ahead of me in this next season. I think that I'm going to be challenged in new ways, but I also sense a season of rooting myself in Ghana. And that frightens me a little bit. For so long, I have been able to avoid burnout with the six-month window of time that I stay in Ghana before a short return to the States for some much needed R and R. A year is a lot longer. And there's no telling what it might hold.

But there is also the excitement of not knowing...of possibilities...of coming into "new imaginings" and seeing come to life. I pray this year will just be one of great filling. I pray for new friendships and opportunities...and freedom. I pray for the one above all. For freedom...in all possible ways...I want this year to be a year where freedom reigns.

So, I guess my fears about this upcoming years aren't unfounded, but in the midst of all the possibilities, they seem...small.

Tomorrow, I'll leave once more to Ghana to be embraced on the other side with my family there knowing full well that I am loved and supported here. Mixed emotions, yes. But, ready? Yes.

When I was first called to Ghana in January 2009, God told me to "Trust and Obey". So I will continue to do that. In obedience, I will walk forward in what he has in store for me in Ghana and I will trust in his full provision, grace, love, faithfulness, and peace for the days ahead.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Filling Up

This past week, we had a prayer meeting in San Mateo with one of my friends, Mark Weber. As he was praying for me, he told me that he was reminded of the story of the widow in the Old Testament whom Elijah asked to go and get jars to fill with oil. The widow went out to find as many jars as she could trusting that God would multiply her little oil just as Elijah had said.He prayed that I would be filled like that woman with her jars...that I wouldn't ever run empty, but trust that the Holy Spirit will be continually (and miraculously) filling me up.

So, that's my prayer for this season. I'm praying that God would teach me what it means to be FILLED through connecting myself to vine...that my fruit would be even greater because of what God is doing in and through me.

Whirlwind Tour

I feel like I'm just coming back from a whirlwind tour of the West Coast. I have had an AMAZING time with friends and supporters, very little sleep, lots of encouragement and laughter, and it's just been a wonderful couple of weeks.

I spent New Years with my friends in Portland, Oregon. For years, my friend Joanna's family has hosted a New Years party that is worth traveling thousands of miles to come to. Our friends Jake, T, and Evan all came up for the big celebration. It was so much fun! I laughed so much with them and just languished in time with friends.

After time in Portland, I headed down to NorCal for time with all my EPA, Menlo Park, RWC, and Bay area friends. It was an amazing time. I spent time with friends, got to tell the story of Faith Roots and City of Refuge several times over, had late night laugh sessions with the Ivy House girls, got to hang out with John and Stacy and the PCC Young Adults serving in the Tenderloin in San Francisco, headed over to the East Bay for some quality time with the Roberts and Koldings, hit up my old school (Brentwood), and most of all, just got to spend time with some of my favorite people. I am leaving there so encouraged and filled up and knowing I am loved.

What a blessing this season has been.

Am sitting in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport on my way to Raleigh to see my sister and friends, Kat and Isaiah.

This trip has been amazing and I am thankful for this time with these people. It has filled me up for the season ahead...