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, July 29, 2012

Discouragement's Cure: Prayer and Laughter

This past week was incredibly discouraging for me.  In fact, I found myself, for the first time since moving here, sincerely considering the possibility that maybe I'm just not supposed to be here in Ghana...maybe it was time for me to return back to the States.

Thursday, our last day of school, we celebrated with a school program, lots of games, and fun, and time with the kids.  It was such a fun day.

As it neared the end of the day, the teacher's started packing up their classrooms and I played with little Calvin (one of the babies that frequents our house as his single mom has worked at our school this past year) in my office.  After all the students and teachers left, I packed up my bag, and got ready to lock the office.  I glanced around at my disaster of an office and realized that my computer wasn't in my bag.  Thinking nothing of it...that maybe I had just left it at home, I packed everything else up and headed home.

But, arriving home, I found my room empty.  No computer.  So, it was back to the school I went.  No computer.  So, back home.  And on and on that little journey happened...three trips back and forth from home to school and no computer.  Finally, I realized that at some point during our busy day at school, my computer was taken from my office.  Computer, power cord...both gone...along with all of the files for next year...months of work.  My only consolation was that my old computer had crashed in December and my uncle was able to put all of my documents from that computer on an external, so while I did lose most of my documents from the past six months, I did have at least a copy of work from the past two years. 

When I headed home, needing to create some contracts for our teacher's meetings the next day (which had already been done on my own computer, but now had to be completely redone on a new computer), I hunted around for one of our school computers that volunteers have been using for various different school projects the past couple of weeks.  To my disappointment, I realized that that computer has been missing for the past week as well.  TWO COMPUTERS...gone...not just my work, but hours and hours of work completed by volunteers to help me with different projects at the school, all gone.

So, I started my contracts from scratch on Thursday night and was up until almost midnight trying to get them done.  Then, up early to cook breakfast for our staff (who weren't too happy about our pancake and egg breakfast--they would have preferred banku for breakfast...sorry, that one is just not going to happen!) to show them appreciation for the past year of work.  It was a nice breakfast, but I dreaded the staff meetings that came next.

John and Stacy had to take off early, so they were only able to be at the school for a little bit for staff meetings.  I had been stressing these meetings for weeks on end, knowing that we were releasing three staff members from our Faith Roots staff.  I have spent weeks and weeks praying over these decisions, knowing it was best for our school, but so hard for me to confront teachers in this way, knowing that my decision would change the path of their life.

Last year, as I was teaching and leading our small home school, I had to let go of two teachers and it was a horrible experience.  In fact, there was such deep repercussions from one of those terminations, that the relationship continues to be a place of hurt for us in our ministry.  I was so concerned that these meetings would have similar repercussions.

But, as we met with the teachers, it wasn't received as I expected, but they accepted it with very little feedback.  It was the remaining teachers that struggled with those decisions, angry and oddly quiet.  As I walked through next years contracts with the remaining teachers, I was really challenged by the perceived impact I had on the teachers this past year. 

I spent a lot of time in teacher development this year and as I discussed with each teacher the ways that I saw them develop in their skills and encourage their leadership in the classroom, it seemed that not even our most successful classroom teachers understood the reasons behind my instruction of the teachers.  Instead, they were grateful to Mr. Francis for his support.  I kept having to tell myself that ultimately, this school has NOTHING to do with me.  It isn't about their opinion of me.  It isn't about whether they understood why I was asking them to do it a certain way or not.  This is God's school.  And it is about HIS CHILDREN.  Yet, it is so hard to pour into these teachers and receive no understanding as to why I asked them to do the things I have asked them to do.

At the end of all the meetings, I went home drained and empty.  I holed up in my room discouraged from the week.  I knew that the enemy was attacking my mind with lies, but it was so hard to believe the truth.  So hard to believe that I made any difference this year.  It was just so hard.  So, I wallowed.  And I zoned out...watching episodes of one of my favorite TV series to take my mind off of it all.

And then, I got a call from one of my new-found friends, Robin Beebe.  She encouraged me and prayed for me and some of those lies slipped away.

And then, Stacy came home and reminded me of truth...that our kids have made so much progress this year...some coming in not even knowing the English language and leaving this year reading and writing!

And yesterday, awwwww, yesterday just brought such peace to my heart. 

We had a day out at the mall yesterday and it was just what I needed.  We relaxed.  We chatted.  Rosemary and I went out to a movie (Snow White and the Huntsman, which was pretty good...different than what I expected, but good!).  And then, when we got home, we spent the night playing a game of Beans, telling stories, and laughing, laughing, laughing.  It was freeing.  And it was just what I needed.

I still don't know if I'm quite ready to get back into school mode (though I don't really have a choice as I'm have interviews this week and meetings with some parents), but I'm feeling better.

So, while I'm still not sure how to start from scratch on some things for next year, I'm at least feeling like it's possible.  Discouragement didn't win.  And I'm grateful for friends who offered prayer and laughter as a cure to what ailed me this week. 


  1. Sorry you were feeling so low. You have a difficult job. Hiring and firing is very difficult. I hope you will be feeling better soon.

    1. Thank you C Family for your love and support. Keep up the prayers...we need them over here!!!

  2. Hi Autumn,
    So glad you turned the negative into something positive! I was wondering, if I were to send you a couple of flash drives, would you get them? Or would they "get lost" in the mail? I have experienced losing important and time consuming documents and it is heart breaking! If mailing isn't an option, could I donate money specifically for their purchase? I don't want this to ever happen to you again! My email address is: Bforgiveness@msn.com
    Keep smiling and God bless and keep you! Valerie

    1. Hey Valerie,
      Thank you so much for your encouragement. I'll be emailing you soon.
      Blessings to you!!!