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, December 30, 2013

Home...and away again...

It's always hard to process through my comings and goings as I travel through the States on my time away from CORM.  It's a bit of an adventure, seeing so many people and traveling so many places and experiencing as much as I can in my couple of months at home.

My time with my family was beautiful.  We played games.  We ate together over loud conversations.  We laughed and wrestled and enjoyed each other.  There was family drama, which is typical for any family holiday and almost necessary, but that didn't enter in to the fun and joy and love that was so present.

I had amazing times of hanging out with my sisters, especially Brianna (who knew that 16 year olds were so cool?).  I had great conversations with my mom and dad.  Danced and sang and enjoyed time with my family at Andrea and Derek's reception.

It was an amazing two weeks.  Inevitably followed by tears. 

I hate saying goodbye.  Two weeks just wasn't enough time.  I don't know what amount of time would have cut it.

Yet, I'm very excited about heading out to Portland. 

It's this up and down game I play with my emotions, fitting a year into the space of weeks.

And so, I'm off.  In the airport and winging my way to the west coast for time with Joanna and Trevor and the rest of the Suckows.  For time with Kathy and Steve and the Koldings.  I'm excited about what the week will hold.

The adventure continues...


Wednesday, December 18, 2013


The school term has ended and I am sitting in Heathrow, on limited internet, but wanting to share bits of this last week with you.

Last week was our final exams and ending of the term.

Usually this means massive amounts of stress for our teachers, but abundant stress for me.  I get overwhelmed and when I leave for Christmas, I leave behind a mess that Stacy usually has to go behind and pick up.

This year, though it had its moments, I felt free!

Beatrice and Carissa were my heroes and took over all the tests, the printing, the content, the typing.  My biggest responsibility was getting report cards printed up and student bills completed.  Not too shabby.

So, Wednesday, when the report cards are supposed to be turned in, I sat at my desk and signed and then, I actually left EARLY and went home, ready for our Women's Bible Study Christmas party.

What a blessing!  I told Stacy that this was the first time I have not felt overwhelmed going home.  I am in such a good place leaving this year.  And it is because I asked for help and help came.  I need to learn that it's okay to ask for help more often.

On Friday, we gathered to meet as a teaching staff.  We do this each term, reflecting on the things that went well and the ways that we are seeking to improve the next term.  I was so encouraged by the words of the teachers.  I heard about the successes of individual students, the delight that some took in teaching, the ways that they felt challenged during the term. 

But, I was incredibly encouraged when they all began to share how they were so blessed by me this school term.  They spoke of our one-on-ones.  Of learning of their value in Christ.  Of being challenged to be more than they were currently accepting of themselves.  Of feeling as though their prayers were being answered when they came in to pray together.

I was so encouraged by their words. 

It just reminds me of God's great design in placing me in Ghana.  I had an even greater purpose than I even could have identified when I entered the country almost 3 1/2 years ago. 

So looking forward to time at home, entering into a season of rest, and sharing the GOOD that has happened in Ghana this year.  We have some powerful stories to share!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Happy Birthday Stacy

This weekend, we are away celebrating Stacy's birthday. What a treat! 

Let me tell you why I love Stacy:

She is generous.

She is so funny (especially with that left turn at bizarre).

She loves to give love. Her cuddles with our littles are endless!

She is awesome at keeping things running at CORM...I don't know how she keeps up with all she needs to keep up with!

She is thoughtful.

She has amazing ideas.

She is a visionary.

She tells awesome stories about her crazy dreams.

She loves Jesus in a powerful way.

All this to say, Stacy is an amazing woman and I love being her friend. Such a joy to get to partner with her in ministry and life. So, if you get a chance, let her know how amazing and special she is (she really is) this weekend. 

Coming Home

I am going home in just a little over a week. I can't believe it. It's been a year sinceI have been in Colorado. A year since I have seen my mama. A year since I have spent time with (most of) my friends (except for the family and friends who came to visit this year...such a sweet blessing).

This year has faced it's share of challenges, but I am excited to come home because I am in such a different place than where I was a year ago.

I went home last year pretty much burned out. I honestly didn't know how much longer I could continue in ministry. I was just so tired.

But, this year has been good. It has had some really hard seasons, but it has been so good. I have learned about conflict. I have learned about how to manage burnout. I have learned how to communicate better. I have learned how to ask the right questions. I have learned about God's greater vision for me. I feel stretched and grown and excited and good. 

It has been a good year.

And I love that I am walking into time at home in such a different place. 

I need rest, but I will be able to be so much more present and filled this time around.

My time at home is always crazy and this trip is no exception. 

December 16-30--Colorado
December 30-January 6--Portland, OR
January 6-23--Bay Area, CA
January 23-30--Orange County, CA
January 30-February 3--Knoxville, TN
February 3-10--Raleigh, NC

I am looking forward to my fill of quality time, Mexican food, and fun. A little nervous about the weather (just saw -17degrees in Colorado while it was 101 degrees here today), but excited about everything else!

See you soon!

Handing Over

The transition with our new principal, Beatrice, has been good and hard and beautiful and wonderful and challenging.

I have realized that I am a bit of a control freak. I like things to be done in a certain way. I like to just get done the checklist in my mind and not bother others with the details.

I have loved having Beatrice as she is kind and generous and gracious and lovely. God seriously brought her to us. Such a gift. She is wonderful to work alongside. She has taken over things I have neglected...uniforms and parent phone calls and GES.

But, yesterday,we met to discuss my trip home and she told me that I needed to start allowing her to do her job so that I could do what I need to do.

It is hard to hand over this school to someone else, no matter how capable the hands are.

I have so many worries. What if the school changes into something that I don't want it to be? What if I lose the trust of my staff or my students? What if...what if...what if...

So, I have just kept up with all my business and then given Beatrice the jobs I haven't been able to keep up with. But, she was right...that isn't why I hired her. I hired her to be the principal. I hired her to manage the day to day so I could do more discipleship and focus on the instruction in the classroom and I need to get there.

That is why the transition has been hard. I feel like I am having to trust someone with my baby. So hard to do. But, it is also what God has called me to and I know that He brought us a treasure in Beatrice, so I am stepping out in faith and trusting that this is His school, not mine.

Continue to pray for us at Faith Roots as we continue to transition into this new chapter!


I haven't written for a long time. It has been so incredibly busy and writing has not been on any of my lists.

But, can I just say...I love our ever-expanding community here in Ghana.

My first Thanksgiving in Ghana, we were living in Downtown Doryumu. All of us in one house. We took the day off of school and Stacy and our friend Letitia and our staff girls and I cooked and mashed and boiled and peeled and baked all day. John got up early to put the turkey in the oven, which we had moved outside because it was so hot inside, and we woke up to VERY done turkey. Finally, when all the food was done, we ate. And we danced and sang and ate some more. And we laughed and played and ate some more. 

Each year, our Thanksgivings have grown and expanded and it has been a gathering of so many friends from all over the world. And then, we have invited our school friends to join us the following day for fellowship and fun and Thanksgiving. 

This year was no different, though I definitely felt more and more that feeling of "family" that comes with  years and friends and food. 

Our friends came early and we peeled and chopped and cooked and boiled and baked. And thanks to the many sweet, sweet friends that sent goodies with Kristin and Victor and Pastor Judy when they came in October, we had apple pie and pumpkin pie and cheesecake and cherry delight and turkey and ham and rolls and green bean casserole and sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes and salad and...we had Thanksgiving. Over 50 people came to share in the goodies and the company and the fun.

And the next day was our school celebration and more friends came and our students shared what they were thankful for and our cadets marched and our choir sang and I was filled with such immense gratitude...

What began with just a dream...just a drawing on a napkin so many years ago...is now living and breathing. There is life and movement and laughter and grace.  I saw just why God has called me here. And my only response is gratitude. 

As I watched over 300 people served their Thanksgiving lunch meal, I was blown away.

Gratitude...that is all we have to give when we live our lives in places of seeing the impossible become reality.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Lately, I have been overwhelmed...

I am leaving here in just three short weeks to head home for a little time with family and friends.  Here is what I know:

1) I have so much to do before I go to prep for Beatrice for when I am gone.

2) Christmas prep is a lot of work.

3) Planning for my trip home can be a bit overwhelming with things going on almost every day.

BUT, here is what I know:

1) I am thankful that Beatrice is here and knows how to run things at the school.

2) With Christmas comes the opportunity to bless and receive blessing. 

3) I get to live life with some of my favorite people back home for two months.

So, today, I am standing in thanksgiving...

Choosing thanksgiving...

Sometimes, that is challenging choice.  It's easier to get stressed.  It's easier to complain about the busyness of life.  But, that isn't the best choice.

Thankful.  OH, I am so thankful! 

God is good.

From the top of the world...

Yesterday, I had my weekly meeting with John and Stacy.  We sometimes have a tendency to get off into tangents that make our meetings run a bit long, but I loved yesterday's tangent!

We started talking about how much we have seen God do in the past three years.  We spoke with wonder...eyes open to the miracles that regularly happen in our midst. 

We walked through our new apartment building, my little future home, currently being held up with bamboo sticks while they finish the decking for the second floor.  We dreamt of where the furniture would be, the things that would be possible there, the cozy feeling of one's own home. 

And then, we walked up to the second floor of the new apartments...the walls yet to be built.  From there, it almost felt like we were on top of the world.  We could see our whole campus from the top of the building and we spoke of how we have seen things happen.

Money leaving our account each month to help run things here...but no dent in our savings.

Buildings being built without an explanation of where we were able to get all the money for the supplies. 

Children strolling along these red roads, free and happy and healthy.

Staff multiplied beyond what we have expected (from a staff of 5 to now almost 50).

From the top of that building, we hugged each other, seeing how this labor of love continues to expand.  A vision that we couldn't have even imagined on our own.

All we can say is...God is good.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Boys are gross

This weekend, we had a much needed closet clean-out for our kids.  If you know anything about little boys and the things they collect in their pockets...think about that...times 30.  All I can say is, boys are gross!

Case in point...

Here is Gabriel.  I asked him to take out all of his clean clothes and bring them to me to sort through what fit him and what didn't fit him.  He opened his doors and I found that all of his clothes (whether clean or dirty) had been piled at the bottom of his cupboard along with books and his Bible, his test papers, boxes he had found in the trash, flash cards, his toothbrush, dirty underwear and socks, and his uniform.


He filled a garbage can to the top with trash from his cupboard.

Washed his clothes (whether they were "clean" or dirty).

And reorganized his cupboard.


But, let me tell you...

As much "stuff" as they had in their cupboards, it felt refreshing to clean it out.  And the rewards were immediate when we saw all of the boys on Sunday...

Clothes that didn't fit had been packed away for the next group to come through. 

Clothes from the older boys were handed down to our younger ones (who are growing like weeds).

And when our church service started, I saw all our boys in their "new" dress shirts and pants that actually fit (and didn't look 3 inches to short on their ankles).

Yes, closet clean-out day was disgusting and took, well, pretty much all day.  But, it made me happy to see out kids smiling at their clean, new piles of clothes, growing and happy boys.


We love our sponsors!

Many of our school children are offered the chance of a free or reduced cost of education because of so many who are willing to share what they have with the ones we love on here.

Recently, I was able to deliver letters and t-shirts to a few students who are sponsored by my church's summer day camp program, Swim and Gym. Can you believe that the children raise enough each summer to cover the cost of education for three of our students here at Faith Roots? What an amazing gift and what a way to teach children all the way on the other side of the globe the value of giving.

Sponsors, thanks for being a blessing to us here.

For more information on sponsorships, go to www.faithrootsinternational.org.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In the Midst

It has been a busy season.  And I have felt the time stretch from my last post.  Knowing that I needed to write, but unsure of the words to share what has been going on here.

We have had several groups travel through, and even now, our YGAP friends are with us.  We look forward, each year, to the visit with YGAP, the new ideas that are offered, the encouragement of seeing familiar faces, the re-visioning that inevitably happens.

This year, our dear friend Tom (check him out here) came out for what seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime.  We were hoping to see the release of children we have been negotiating for close to three years. 

But, instead, what we found was a messy story with no easy answers.  In the end, the children remained as we found them, living with parents (whom we had been told were deceased). 

It was frustrating and confusing and there are so many questions that have been left unanswered, or at least without a really good answer.

Why wasn't the truth given to us from the beginning?

Why are some NGO's paying for the release of children when it just intensifies the cycle of trafficking in communities?

How do we get to the bottom of each story without so much time and waiting in between?

But, I have realized that with the issue of trafficking...there are no black and white, clear-cut answers.  It is a trade based on deceit and greed.  It is messy.  It is confusing.  Sometimes, it feels rather hopeless.

But, here is what I know.  In the midst of the unknown, there is hope.

Our Robert went with the team this time, his first time back since he moved to CORM in 2009.  And there is hope for the future in the life of that boy.  He loved on the kids, poured into the lives of those who he saw there, and was a blessing to his family. 

Our kids, they are the hope for the future.  So, even if we aren't able to reach them all, I know that the ones that will be chosen to come, they hold in their grasp such beauty and the hope for the restoration of God's people to Himself.

And so, in that, I cling to hope knowing that God has called us to be a voice for the voiceless...and it will continue to be so for so many more children in the future. 


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Participating in the God-Story

I love it when groups come through...however hectic it may be at times...it is a reminder of how far God has brought us and the miracle that we truly live in in this place.

Yesterday, in our staff meeting, we read through Romans 4.  I loved this piece of it out of the Message:

"So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, or first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things?  If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he would certainly have taken credit for it.  But the story we are given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story.  What we read in Scripture is, 'Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point.  He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.'"
Romans 4:1-3, The Message

I love that.  We are entering into a God-story. 

If God had told Abraham that him and Sarah would have a baby at the ripe old age of...well...35...Abraham could have taken full credit for it.  Even perhaps at 45.  But, no.  God doesn't work like that.  He prefers that the glory remains with him.  So, he waited.  And he waited.  And then, when God knew that it could never have been credited to Abraham, he gave him the promise that he had been waiting for--a son. 

I thought about this and remembered a situation that we just talked about with the group that traveled though.  It happened only a couple years ago, and now, as I look back, I see the God-story at work.

When we began building here at the children's village, we spent a lot of time praying for our electricity to be brought in.  John and Stacy met with the head of the ECG company in Accra several times, trying to get it approved to bring electricity into our village through the military camp.  The problem was the cost...they told us that it would cost close to $30,000USD to bring the power in from the roadside, through the military camp, into our camp.  We were going to have to pay for the labor, the poles, the transformer, everything.  It was something we didn't have and we didn't know what we were going to do.

In the meantime, we all moved into the children's village, with no electricity, trusting that God would bring it when it was time.

John and Stacy went back to the States and wouldn't you know it, they had the money raised quite easily.  We all thanked God for the willingness of God's people to invest in the projects we had going on here.

But, when John and Stacy arrived back in Ghana, to their surprise, the power poles were already being installed all the way to our land and we hadn't paid a single cent.

When they were away, the head of the ECG company was fired and someone new came in.  The new director found a request from the military to put in a new transformer to lighten the load on their current one, and our request was attached to it.  It was approved and the government money was allocated to bring the poles in.  We only had to pay a small fee to put the poles in our own compound.

Being a part of the God-story, he knew that we would take the glory of bringing in the electricity if we had come back with the full amount of money and paid for it ourselves.  But, because he saw that, he removed any doubt that it was about us and did it all himself. 

I love that. 

And I love being a part of God's story.  I love when I can give credit where credit is due!

My Baby Boy

When I first moved to Ghana, I fell in love with a little boy.  Edwin.  He had just turned a year old.  Pigeon-toed little fellow with big wide eyes and long, curled lashes.  He was a beautiful baby boy and I carted him around all the time (despite being warned that I was "spoiling" him). 

When we moved to Doryumu, Edwin moved in with me.  I was excited for the chance to get to mother him a bit and spend even more time with him.  Boy, was I in for an adventure.

Let's just say that Edwin struggled with sleep.  Which meant I struggled with sleep.  Long bouts of crying in the night, lots of rocking, lots of talking and praying, lots of night with very little sleep.  I would be up half the night and then have to go to the school to teach in the morning. 

There were times when I would be up in the middle of the night and would call my mom or a friend for a little visit, knowing that it was in the evening there and perfect time for a long-conversation, while I waited for my baby boy to go back to sleep.

After 8 months, Edwin was moved in to Mama Theresia and Daddy Joe's room as I was leaving for the States for a little visit home.  When I came back, he had fully adjusted there and had been sleeping through the night.  And it was time to move on.

Edwin always had a piece of my heart, but I knew that the season had ended.  God moved and changed and showed me so many things during my time with him.  One thing that he showed me was that parenting is HARD.  And I thought of the single mom's that I know, raising their little ones on their own.  I realized how much they sacrificed for the love of their kids...and I honored them even more for that.

Edwin is in school now and I watch this gangly little boy in our preschool class as he learns his ABC's and runs and plays with his friends...I'm amazed at how much he has grown.

Last week, he had a rough day at school.  He was in the office three times during the day for various problems, and finally, he came at nap time because he was running around his classroom instead of laying down to sleep.

So, I pulled him onto my lap and talked to him about his behavior and he began to lean back into my arms, snuggling into my chest.  It brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of that season.  Now, his legs hung long over my lap as I rocked him back and forth and hummed a little song in his ears.  I stroked his forehead and thanked God for those sweet moments in the middle of the night just a couple years ago.  Even in the frustration, I see now the trust that was built, the hope that he has, the confidence and security.  Now, he is such a tall, gangly little 4 year old boy, full of mischief and whimsy, and I reveled in that sweet moment...him asleep on my lap, cuddling in, and realized, yet again, what a privilege it is to serve the least of these.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Purple People

Today, as I looked out over our CORM family (that has grown so incredibly much since my first arrival in 2010), I had this moment of reminiscing.

When I was in Kenya back in 2004, one of the pastors that I met at the time talked about heaven in a very real way.  When he spoke about heaven, tears filled his eyes, rolled down his cheeks, as he spoke about the way life would be there.  The people he would see.  The love he would experience.  The worship he would live in.  And he said that his heart cried out for that...as if he was homesick for heaven.

He referred to all believers as "purple people".  And then he would laugh, a big-belly laugh.  He said that in heaven, color wouldn't matter, so why not just start to see us all as one color--one language--one kingdom...now.

Tonight, I had that little glimpse.  That glimpse of heaven that Pastor Timothy spoke about in Kenya. 

I looked out over our family here at CORM.  A team of 12 volunteers from Vegas here...our 35 kids...some kids from the community...our staff...John and Stacy...Mama Theresia and Daddy Joe...the Aglers...Janet...our friend Nicole...

I just had a moment where it felt like heaven.  And it made me hungry for more moments like that.  Where we aren't separated by color or differences...but we are dancing together...a bit crazily at times, and laughing and loving each other in the midst of the craziness.

I want to hold on to more moments like that.  I want to rest in the fact that we are all one color in God's eyes.  I want more kingdom moments.

I want to dwell in the fact that age, color, country of origin, language...none of it matters...when you're purple.

Lord, open my eyes to see more of your heaven on earth.

Your Purple Daugher

Day 8

So, I made it through a FULL WEEK of early morning workouts.  Today dawned as Day 8.  I think I sweat more today than any of the days before...but I didn't do any of my Biggest Loser workouts.  Instead, I cleaned...and moved stuff...and swept...and danced.

Yep, today was preparation day for my principal to arrive on Monday.  Beatrice Okyere is coming to join our staff as Principal of Faith Roots and I am excited and nervous.  It is going to be an interesting transition. 

Yesterday, Stacy sat down with me and we talked through the roles that I currently play at the school and the things that I want to hold on to through this transition and the places that I want (or maybe even need) to let go of.  It was good to think through that because I am not very good at that sort of thing.  I have a hard time with the full vision.  As much as I am a planner, I am also very much a task-oriented, in front of me type person.  I get overwhelmed when I begin to see the whole picture.

So, we scoped it out.

And I'm excited.  As much as I am nervous, I'm also excited.  This will be a transition for me...and change is never easy...and this school is a bit of my baby, so how do I let go of something that, in so many ways, is my heart?  But, that's what ministry is all about right?  Equipping...training...raising up leaders...and that means that if people are called here and equipped, I have to learn to let go.

It'll be a process for all of us.

Anyway, I've gotten off-topic.  Let's just say that I sweat a WHOLE BUNCH today as I was cleaning and moving things around and getting things together for the big transition.

So, by the time I got home (almost 4:00 pm), I took a shower and a little snooze and then...


Sometimes, I am too tired to get pumped up for dance party fun (which happens at CORM once every three months).  But today, I was ready.  I danced and sweat and sang and it was awesome and fun and hot and amazing.

We celebrated birthdays.  We prayed for the kiddos.  And we danced.  And danced some more.  Some with funny costumes and glasses and dance moves.  Some serious and refusing to even move a leg.  But in the end, when it was time to lay it all down...we all had a blast!

So, even if I didn't do my official workout, I'd say it still counts. 

Feeling good, and sore, but mostly, just good.  Now, I need to remember to remind myself of that when I'm up at 5:30 tomorrow for my next workout!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


I am reading this book called "Seven" by Jen Hatmaker. If you have never heard of her, you should check out her blog at www.jenhatmaker.com. I love her honest and witty view of life.

I posted a picture of starting this book on my Instagram a few weeks back and a couple people commented about wanting to know my thoughts on the book while living here in Ghana.

Well, let me start with this...

The book is labeled "an experimental mutiny against excess". The book has certainly widened my eyes to the level of excess that has been reached in the States...and in me.

As I have been praying through some of the things that I have read in this book, there have been times when I have felt saddened by the "needs" we seem to believe we must have. I see real need everyday here in Ghana. I have seen children malnourished. I have seen when a child's best dress is ripped and torn, but she still feels beautiful when she twirls in it. I have seen one-roomed mud houses that house six. And I have seen that in the midst of such physical poverty, there is, at times, such rich faith.

Yet, in America, we have so much, never satisfied with "enough", and yet we are somehow satisfied with a shallow faith, moved by any breeze that comes along.

I don't want to come across judging the differences between these two countries as bad and good. There are surely good things and bad things in both countries and cultures. 

So I will make this about me.  When I asked God what He wanted me to give up as a response to Jen's call to mutiny against the excess in our lives...

He said, "All".

Excuses ran through my head, doing battle against the call to sacrifice. But, I am continually drawn back to this very place.

Some might think that it was especially brave to pick up my life and move to Ghana. But, the call to sacrifice my life for Christ is an everyday process. It is painful and hard and the selfishness inside of me pleads for my own space, my own stuff, my own life...

As I read Matthew 8:18-22, I know that the cost of following Christ is a hard one. It's not meant to be easy. But, that doesn't mean that the sacrifice isn't worth it.

Giving all of me, not holding part back...that is not easy and it's daily and it is something that I would need to do here in Ghana just like I would need to do if I were living in the States. 

It seems like a constant reminder...I must keep being reminded because I am so quick to forget...that this life isn't about me.  It is about His Kingdom and it is for His glory. Period.

So it comes down to this here:

"I don't want to consume the redemption Jesus made possible then spurn the methods by which he achieved it. Jesus' kingdom continues in the same manner it was launched; through humility, subversion, love, sacrifice; through calling empty religion to reform and living like we believe the meek will indeed inherit the earth. We cannot carry the gospel to the poor and lowly while emulating the practices of the rich and powerful. We've been invited into a story that begins with humility and ends with glory; never the other way around. Lets align ourselves correctly, sharing in the humble ministry of Jesus, knowing one day we will feast at His table in splendor."
-Jen Hatmaker, "Seven", p. 68

So, what I have...all that I have...I need to be prepared to walk away from for the sake of Christ, not just possessions, but time and space and food and love. For the sake of those he has called me to in this time and in this place, I need to live in a place of surrender.

How does that tangibly work out? I am not sure yet, but I am willing to figure it out.

What is He calling you to give up?

Saturday, October 26, 2013


My dear friend, Robin, has talked to me so many times about how hard it is to say goodbye to the many visitors, volunteers, and friends that wander through Ghana each year. She fully feels each goodbye, mourning their going with tears and deep emotion. A beautiful expression of God's work in those relationships.

My very pat answer about goodbyes had something to do with it getting easier with time.

But, I realized this week...it doesn't get easier with time. It can be very hard. And I am not very good at saying goodbye. And I wish I knew how to deal with saying goodbye a little easier.

Today, I reflected on my goodbyes this year.

Leaving the States and family and friends.

Kathy. And Emily.

And how I said goodbye to my family when they came to visit. 

And Victor and Kristin this week.

And the common theme with them all was withdrawal. 

The past week, I pulled away from conversation and time alone with my friends because it was time to put up the walls again and let them go well.

The same thing with each of these goodbyes. I feel somehow safer if I withdraw. I am able to protect my heart. Deny anymore vulnerable interactions, because they are leaving and I am staying.

I am frustrated by my relational withdrawal. But, I haven't figured out how to change that.

I realized today that as much as I love people and intimate relationships...the change of those relationships is something I just don't deal with well. I don't like showing emotion in public. I don't like that rawness on display. That brings fear...I don't know why...but it's there.

But, I also don't like seeing this in me. Seeing the withdrawal and the walls and the closed door to deeper relationship.

And I am praying that God would break down the walls...even if it brings fear.

And I am praying that I would able to experience the emotions of goodbye so I could be fully present during the time when people are visiting.

And that I can be more like Robin, experiencing all parts of life with a full and open heart, even if that means that I might experience more pain. It is only with pain that you also can experience the full extent of joy.

Time to Change

Since I was a little girl, I struggled with my weight. From 8 years old on up, it has been something I have battled and struggled with physically...emotionally...spiritually even.

My weight has always been this identifier for me. I have struggled with my understanding my worth and  value because of the way I looked.

And then in 2004, God began to work something in me that changed my perception of me and of Him and of my worth.

That year, I lost 50 pounds. I don't know how. I would say God did it.

But, the battle didn't end at my spiritual transformation.

I have gone through years of changing my diet, seasons of heavy exercise, losing weight, gaining weight...

Feels like a never-ending journey for me.

Yesterday, a friend of mine posted that she had officially lost 100 lbs. it took eight years and was a fight all the way through, but she looks amazing.

She posted something that challenged me so deeply. She said, "Eight years ago, I decided I wanted to live in the body that was created for me and not the one I created for myself."

I have mulled that over and over since I read that. And it is right on point.

The way I have lived has idolized laziness and gluttony and greed and it is fully apparent in my body. And it is not what I was created for. And it makes me sad.

Today, I was reading Jen Hatmaker's book "Seven" that we always find the time for things we want to do, but make excuses for not having enough time for the things we need to do.

I have made so many excuses for not taking care of myself. And I will probably even look at this blogpost tomorrow and hate that I put this out there for all the world to see, but this is about my life and journey and adventures is Ghana...and this is part of my journey here.

I have six weeks until I head back home. And six weeks is enough time to figure some of these things out.

To honor the body that was created for me.

To make time for the things I need to do.

Will you pray that I would honor God in this next six weeks with my health?

Inflation and Its Effects on the Poorest of the Poor

This year in Ghana, our inflation rate has soared.  In July, inflation rates ranged throughout the country at its lowest around 11% and in some areas closer to 20%.  In comparison, inflation rates in the States have held steady this year around 1.3%.

The price of fuel (gasoline/petrol) has raised 5 times this year (almost $7 per gallon). 

The price of propane has raised 100% this year (from 20GHC to 45GHC).  Since we cook with propane (and prepare almost 300 meals every school day), this has made cooking a much more expensive part of our budget.

These prices increase the price of everything else, especially food.  A bag of rice was about 100GHC ($50) just a few months ago, and now it is over 125GHC ($60+).  When we go through 6 bags of rice every other week or so (including the school feedings), this is an incredible amount of money flowing through our hands.

A couple of weeks ago, the government announced that they had approved an electricity and water price increase.  The water and electricity companies had asked for a 166% increase on tariffs, but that was denied.  Instead, they came to an agreement of a 70% raise in electricity and water tariffs.  70%.  Let me just give you an example of how that effects us here with 7 buildings (and more in progress) in which we have to provide daily electricity to.  On Sunday, we bought 200 GHC (that's $100USD) work of electricity credit for our volunteer house, Omorefe house, and guest house.  We use fans throughout the day, but no air conditioning, lights only in the evening, and we conserve as much as possible.  Our electricity went out today.  6 days.  $100USD worth of electricity (which used to last 2+ weeks) lasted only 6 days.  This has made us question whether the government approved 70% increase is actually closer to the proposed 166% increase. 

For us, it has, and will continue, to create some challenges.  BUT, we will make it work, because God has called us here and we know that He will provide for these children.

But, I think about our staff and the people of our village.  How does this effect them?

A common salary here in Ghana is anywhere from 70GHC a month to 200 GHC (This is $35USD-$100 per month).  This is for a person with a high-school level education.  University graduates can earn from 600GHC-1,200GHC ($300USD-$600USD) per month at entry level positions. 

In Doryumu, the families and children have regular access to electricity.  It is a little bit more developed than some of its neighboring communities.  Now, with these new tariffs and with the increases in gas and propane, I wonder if hard-working parents are going to have to choose between food for their family and electricity for their homes. 

In Shai Hills, the other community that we serve, there is very little access to electricity.  People have been fighting to bring light into their community, but knowing the work available to people and the education level of most in that community, even if electricity and running water were made available to homes, they probably wouldn't be able to afford it.

The richest of the rich are making decisions that are impacting the poorest of the poor in this country.  They desire development and have even made mention of working towards a "first-world country" by 2020, yet take the legs out from underneath the majority of the population.  They bring in roads and access to education and then make it impossible to afford.

It is frustrating and brings up a righteous anger inside of me.

I see families every day who struggle to make ends meet. They work from sunup to sundown and at the end of the day cannot afford the things that so many of us take advantage of.  And it is not for lack of trying, but because of government inflation.

I don't know what the answer is to a problem like this.

We can provide help to families when it comes to sponsoring the education of students who attend our school and have a need.  But, that doesn't solve the problem.

All I know is that before too long, Ghana's own people won't be able to live in their own country.  That is...wrong.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Mothers Heart

Today, we met with a parent about the possibility of changing her daughter from full time inclusion to part time and doing more resource support for the next 6 weeks to determine if she would be able to learn to read.

She is 18 years old. She can't read. And this year, we had to retain her in sixth grade knowing that if we moved her forward, she would only continue to get farther and farther behind. Sixth grade. Zero literacy. She was heartbroken and cried for an entire week. And I look at her and I want to cry too. She has lost her drive to learn.

When Stanley and I met with the mom, she faced the reality of her daughters future realistically, but the blame was placed solely on the shoulders of her daughter. For twenty minutes, she went on and on about how difficult her daughter is...how she disrespects her in the house...how she has given up on her learning...

And so I asked the question, "What do you see in your daughter that is good?"

Another twenty minutes passed with another diatribe on the negative traits of her daughter. Not one positive word. Not one single example. Nothing.

And so, I spoke what I saw. Her gentle spirit. Her quiet leadership. Her passion for fashion. Her love for her siblings.

And then I asked again, "What do YOU see in your daughter that is good?"

And she still couldn't.

So, Stanley asked me to give a vision for what I thought her daughter could do in the future. So, I did my best to set a future before her mom...to set forth a world of possibilities for what she could be capable of doing...

And when I looked up, I saw tears streaming down the mom's face.

She talked about how she never had the opportunity for school. She had struggled and suffered and sacrificed so many things in her life. And I saw in those tears the hurt that she for felt for not having those opportunities herself. And I understood that the negative things she saw in her daughter...they were really the things she saw in herself.

And then she said that she was ready to do what it took to give her daughter a chance. Speaking into her future. Encouraging the possibilities. Provide the opportunity.

I am praying that she doesn't give up. Her daughter needs hope. And I can try to give it to her. And Stanley and her teachers can speak into her life. But, she needs to see the hope of Christ...the hope for her life...through her mom. She needs to be believed in. 

So, we prayed for her mom before she left and all we can do is trust that that sweet moment perhaps will bring some change for this mom and her daughter...and that God will heal and mend and repair relationship...and that hope will restored.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I have always been big on intentional community. I love relational people who understand the impact that this concept can have wherever God calls you.

My church back home, Peninsula Covenant Church, is a powerful advocate for open, honest, generous and Spirit-filled community. 

And I have been blessed and encouraged by that this week.

My friends Victor and Kristin are visiting me here in Ghana and besides just the time I get soaking in my love language (quality time) with them, I was also extremely blessed by the flood of community-living reminders...

-food for our Thanksgiving dinner
-cards from so many friends and loved ones
-gifts for me, the Aglers, teachers
-chocolate (so much chocolate...it's gotta be a love language o something)
-letters and gifts from sponsors and volunteers

Feel so blessed and encouraged by the way God continues to show me His love through His people.

Reflections on Ministry

Last night, we had an outreach in Doryumu and it brought up some big reflections for me regarding ministry and Jesus and life here in Ghana. 

We showed the Jesus Film in Adangme. And I loved it. I didn't understand the language, but I understood the heart. 

It is strange how your heart can sometimes be given fresh eyes for something it has known to be true for so long.

I watched as Jesus began his ministry and God reminded me that Jesus was 30 years old when he started ministry. He died when he was 33 years old. He changed the world in three years. Not just the world then, but the world for all time.

I know that to be true, but for some reason, my heart saw it with fresh eyes last night...as I watched Jesus raise people from the dead, heal the sick, feed the hungry, set captives free, cleanse the broken...as I sat with people in a different world from the one I grew up in, a different language, a different culture, battling the some of the same issues that Jesus battled 2,000 years ago...I realized, yet again, that Jesus is alive and well in me. 

I am 31 years old now. I have been here for three years. And for some reason, my age and at this point in my ministry (and, yes, even my singleness) brought up feelings of kinship to the story of Christ. I have seen the sick healed, the hungry fed, the captives set free, and the broken made clean...I am the same age He was while he ministered on earth...and perhaps there is the hope that despite my weaknesses (and in His strength)...lives have been changed.

All because: Jesus is alive and well...in me. What a privilege! What an honor! What a joy! 

I know that my little place in Ghana will not change the world as we know it...but I do know that the world has been changed for our 35 little rescues...that for the students that attend our school each day, their world is changed...and perhaps if these ones get it...if they come to understand that Jesus can be made alive and well in THEM...well, perhaps we CAN see the world change.

All I know is that, as I reflected on the sacrifice of Jesus, the beauty of his life, I am beyond grateful.

And I am in awe that He has the power to change lives today. 

And that He can use me to see that happen.


Thursday, October 10, 2013


Can I just run away from this whole conversation? I hate this topic. But, yet, almost everyday, I am faced with conflict. It's almost as if God knew my fear of conflict, and threw me down in the middle of it to grow me.

And it's interesting because as I have grown in my ability to handle conflict, it seems like now, I am able to disciple others in how to handle conflict in a Biblical, God-honoring way.

But, it took me awhile to get there.

You see, for me, conflict was a thing of fear because it is somehow related to people's perceptions of me. As a people-pleaser (something I am continuing to be challenged in), conflict often meant that others were displeased with me. As a highly relational person, conflict meant that I may have damaged a relationship with a friend or colleague. Afraid that anger would be the result of every conflict, it was easier to not say anything and to just live in a place of discomfort or frustration, because, maybe that would avoid all the negative things that would come with conflict.

But, I am learning that those were misconceptions. I am learning about God's heart for restoration. And I am learning that conflict can deepen relationship rather than damage it, if it is done in a God-honoring way.

The summer of 2006, I was invited to help lead a small group of summer ministry project interns at my church, Peninsula Covenant Church. That was a tough, tough summer. I loved leading and working with the interns, and I loved the time spent with the other leaders. But, I was in a tough place that summer. I was working through some of the consequences of some of the choices I had made in my life, was beginning to understand the true Fatherhood of God (not the distorted view that I had), and I was planning and speaking at a women's conference. It was a hot summer. It was a hard summer. And at the end of the summer, I had this enormous falling out with the woman I had been living with. She spoke some things to me that echoed my darkest fears about myself and hurt me deeply. There was nothing I could do or say in defense, but to apologize and leave. I left that summer extremely defeated and walked into a very challenging season of my life. After that summer, I told God that I would  never move back to the Bay Area. All the things spoken into me at the end, defined that place for me and I thought I would never be welcomed back.

I have learned, you never say never to God.

Two years later, when I was looking for a teaching position, the only open positions I could find were in the Bay. And wouldn't you know it, I was back where I said I would never go.

But, here is the thing. I came back with some pretty heavy anxiety. I left defeated and I returned defeated. Around every corner, I assumed I would run into this woman and that, for some reason, she would have more to add to the conversation we had finished two years before. It held me captive. 

So, I prayed that God would release me from that anxiety. But, God is a God of redemption. He is a God of restoration. And He is a God of relationship. And so, he didn't just free me from this relationship, he asked me to ask for forgiveness. To apologize, whether I thought I was wrong or not, and to release her to Him.

I had to track her down. To be honest, I had deleted all of her information...her phone number, her email...gone. So, I looked her up, and I called, nervous and fearing the worst. But, there was no answer. So, I tracked down her address and I wrote her a letter. I apologized for the hurt that I had caused and I told her of my own bitterness towards her. I asked for her forgiveness. And I told her that she freely had mine. I told her that if she wanted a friendship with me, I would be grateful, but if she chose not to, I would understand. And I sent that letter on. 

I have never heard from her since the day I last saw her in her living room that summer of 2006. But, I am completely free. The anxiety from that conflict held me captive, but God restored my heart and showed me what true forgiveness looks like. And in that place of humble forgiveness, I saw God's heart for me. 

And through that, I learned that God's heart for conflict is always resolution...it is always growth...it is always redemption. And even if that relationship was lost, I know God was honored in my relationship with Him through the conflict, because I walked it out in obedience. And isn't that what He desires from us anyway? To be honored in all we do. Even the hard things. Or maybe especially in the hard things.

Moving here to Ghana, I never would have thought that this would be something that God would be continuing to use to mold and shape me. But, conflict is CONSTANT in this culture. The smallest thing offends someone and suddenly conflict is there...usually in a very visual and loud and often unhealthy way...and it has to be dealt with. And conflict has been present the times when I have heard or been witness to some inappropriate action of a teacher or student and have had to confront and deal with the consequences of those confrontations.

At times, it has been an extremely painful process, losing good staff in a miscommunication or in having to confront false motives. Other times, it has been so redemptive and I have seen people changed and grown and God move to redeem relationships.

But, oh, it is hard.

And I am not sure that conflict ever gets easy. But, that doesn't mean that it isn't good.

Today, in my staff one on ones, three of my conversations dealt with conflict. Conflict in marriage, conflict in friendship, and conflict with authority. Interesting. And it was good and I am excited to see God grow and pull out those moments of gold from the dross. And I hope that they will also see God's ultimate plan for conflict...resolution, restoration, and relationship. And when it is done in a healthy way, it honors God.

A Day In My Shoes

I have the incredible privilege to lead and guide our school here in Doryumu. Many times, my days are filled with discipline and fielding teacher worries and managing schedules and balancing time and dealing with drama and it can be an endless draining cycle. But, I like to take moments out of my days to visit classrooms, see how things are going, get to know my teachers and see progress.
Today, I popped into classrooms and am excited to share what I am seeing:
 Katie working on her assignments for French class.

Rosemary working on government homework.
Kassidy reading a new novel.

Emmanuel, in Kindergarten, working on practicing his letter "L".

Teachers in KG1B working with students in small groups.

Our littles (preschool for threes) singing and dancing to songs and poems.

Our first grade teacher teaching on verbs and allowing the students to show some action words in front of the class.

Using hand signs to answer questions in our second grade class.

Learning new vocabulary in primary 4.

ELD class with Madame Janet accessing all parts of English Acquisition: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Telling stories with his class, Sir Jacob got his whole class involved.

Discussing various comprehension strategies with our 7th grade class.

Assisting students who missed class, Sir Justice takes his time to re explain a concept.

And then after-school, the adventure continued. Our teachers took turns presenting ideas they got during their trip to American International School last week.
Madame Jennifer explained all the new ways to do calendar with the students.

Sir Justice dissected a chicken wing in an effort to demonstrate science concepts of bones, muscles, skin, ligaments, etc.

Madame Janet discussed IEP's and ways that we can further differentiate for special learned in our school.

Sir Jacob talked about projects and pictures as a method of assessment.

And then...to see our peer mediators start training and practicing skills of mediation...so sweet!
Pastor Cayle coaching some ideas for a dramatization.

Sir Stanley discussing the tree of mediation.

Looking forward to seeing this program up and running!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Challenge of Rest

I finished that book by Wayne Cordiero...such a good, practical read on preventing and battling and healing from burnout. I would highly recommend it to anyone in full-time ministry.

I have definitely faced my battles here with burnout. I am an introvert by nature and need time to myself, but there have been seasons where there was no rest in sight. We all live on the same compound and, at times, it can feel like it is a bit of a fishbowl. Surrounded by beauty, but hard to escape.

This year, I have been attempting to find a better balance with rest and work and kids and life and communicating back home. It has been really hard. I haven't figured it out yet. But I am working on it.

The challenge with rest is that, when you do find moments of rest, they can feel a bit like stolen moments, which make you feel guilty. 

I have the constant "I should" mantra running through my head.

I should go play with the kids.

I should go help someone with homework.

I should go spend time with our volunteers.

I should get that done for school tomorrow.

A never-ending stream of "I should."

But, I am learning that the "I should"'s aren't necessarily the voice of truth.

"I could" do so many things with my time. But, if I don't rest, the things that I do choose to spend my time doing are only going to get a piece of me that is tired and weary and the energy of a fully-charged Autumn is worth the rest.

Rest should not be a place of guilt, but one that frees.

After all, it is a mandate that God set forth at the very creation of the earth. So, why do I feel the need to strive to do everything and miss that special gift that God gave us in a day of rest?

So, here are some things I am processing and being challenged by:

1. Wayne talked in his book about figuring out the top 5% of your life and where you desire to spend your time. Once you identify that top 5%, build your days and weeks to make sure that top 5% stays at the top. Here are my top five:
     1. My relationship with God (something I have struggled with maintaining in the busy seasons, so I have pulled out my journal again, found a devotional that I am really enjoying, and spend time in God's Word everyday--even if that means I might be a few minutes late to school.)
     2. My relationship with my friends and family (I love my friends and family and they are constantly on my mind and heart. There are a few relationships I have felt convicted about that I need to pursue more.)
     3. My ministry (this school, these kids, these teachers, John and Stacy, and all our friends and partners here.)
     4. Expressing myself creatively (this is something that I seem to have forgotten in this season and it disappears when I get too busy...I love to write music and sing new songs, but I have felt so tired that it hasn't been an option. I love to do creative things, write, paint a little, scrapbook, take pictures, create...and all these things have almost disappeared from my life. Something that I need to work on because it makes me feel so alive.)
     5. My health (something I do not prioritize and try not to think about but something that God continues to bring back to my mind and heart...I need to take better care of my body...which includes exercise, eating well, and rest.)

2. Wayne also talked about scheduling in your breaks when you start a new monthly calendar. This is the first thing that usually goes, unless it is set and can't be moved from your schedule. My friend Isaiah challenged me with choosing rest on my travels home. They are often so packed, I return to Ghana exhausted. So, I am trying to even choose rest in my trip home, which is hard when I have to choose between rest and relationship.

3. Sleeping in...in front of the clock. This was also something Wayne talked about. Our deepest sleep cycle...the place where our body gets its best rest...is from 11pm-3am at night. Yet, many will go to sleep later and "sleep in" far into the morning, waking up still tired. His suggestion was to go to bed an hour or two earlier than that 11:00pm REM sleep cycle, which allows you to wake up earlier, feeling more rested because you had that deep sleep. The past few weeks, I have struggled with getting to sleep early. This is common for me when I am stressed. Tossing and turning until sleep finally claims me around midnight or one. Frustrating when I know the wake up call will come at 5:30 am. So, I am trying to figure out how to sleep in in front of the clock, gain back some of that rest.

4. Purposeful rest is hard for me. I usually go so long and hard that when I do finally get time to rest, I completely withdraw and hermit myself away for days at a time. Not healthy for relationships and not healthy for my body. I am trying to figure out how to take purposeful days of rest so that this complete withdrawal doesn't happen quite so often.

How do you find rest? What are your challenges with finding purposeful rest in the midst of a busy and striving world?

Thursday, October 3, 2013


I have been challenged by the age-old last words of Jesus on earth:

"Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the age.” Matthew 28: 19-20

Yesterday, during our staff devotions, this question somehow came up (we went from Romans 3 to Matthew 28, but I am not quite sure how it got there). I asked them, "What is the great commission?"

The answers I heard were:

"Go and preach the gospel."

"Go and tell others about Jesus."

"Go and evangelize."

Only ONE said, "Go and make disciples."

So, then we talked about Jesus and we talked about his 12 disciples. We talked about the fact that he had many followers, but only 12 disciples, and even one of those didn't believe in the end. And we talked about what it meant for Jesus to "make disciples" out of these ordinary men.

My teachers said:

"He did miracles."

"He showed them how to pray."

"He taught them."

All true and necessary.

But I am continually challenged by the fact that Jesus...

ate with them.

walked with them.

laughed with them.

played with little children.

withdrew to be alone.

danced at weddings.

Jesus didn't just do the supernatural with these 12...he walked along BESIDE them and lived his life WITH them.

And he taught them how natural the supernatural really is.

And he showed them that when you are tired, you rest and get refilled.

And he taught them that if you believe in the Father and the Son, it changes everything...you set it all aside for the sake of following him.

And I think that disciple-making should look more like BEING the gospel and less like PREACHING AT them.

We talked about what it would look like to reflect Jesus to others by choosing those in our families and lives to pour into...how would that change the face of today's Christian?

Yes, you will still have some choose not to follow...but I know that if each believer understood what it looked like to disciple others...we would be a living, breathing body of Christ that could change the world.

We are responsible for that calling. It wasn't something asked of just the few gathered around Jesus at the time, but it is asked of all faithful followers of Christ.

"Go and make disciples..."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Leading on Empty

I have been reading a book by Wayne Cordeiro, a well-known pastor, author, and speaker. It's title, Leading on Empty, intrigued me, knowing my history of striving far too much for far too long. 

It seems as though God works in me in themes. The day after I started this read, I went with my friends Robin, Dawn, and Beth to go and visit our friend Angie who has just had a baby. Our question on the way there is, "How do you care for yourself to avoid burnout?"

That has been the question I have been asking myself for a long time. How do I do that? How do I sustain here? How can I manage under the load I have been blessed with to have a place and time for filling up?  It is so hard! And yet, as I face my fourth year here in Ghana, it becomes more and more realistic for me...if I don't figure out the answer to this question, I will not be able to continue my ministry here. 

Wayne's book has been a powerful reminder of how much I operate out of a place of emptiness. He talked about reaching his breaking point and visiting a doctor who told him that his levels of serotonin were depleted. When the body runs out of serotonin, it begins to run on adrenaline, fueling the body with a chemical that is only supposed to used in "emergencies". But, we get hooked on the adrenaline.  We don't stop to rest. We don't recognize the weariness. We don't see the warning signs of depression...stress...withdrawal. And then, we are done for. 

Wayne talked about seeing his need to slow down and he decided that one week ought to do it to fix the burnout. He went and spent a week on a silent retreat. The first thing he noticed, removed from media and everything we use to fill our time, was how badly his body began to hurt. The adrenaline had masked his bodies response to weariness and when he began to rest (body, mind, and, soul), his adrenaline levels went down, leaving him in physical pain as he began to realize how far he had worn himself down.

It is bringing up questions with me. What are my daily rhythms of life and do they care for the needs of my body, mind, and soul? Or am I in such a place that my moments of rest only serve as a brief withdrawal and the adrenaline kicks back in?

This morning's Jesus Calling read:
"Worship me only, I am King of kings and The Lord of lords, dwelling in unapproachable Light.  I am taking care of you! I am not only committed to caring for you, but I am absolutely capable of doing so. Rest in me, My weary one, for this is a form of worship.
Though self-flagellation has gone out of style, many of my children drive themselves like racehorses. They whip themselves into action, ignoring how exhausted they are. They forget that I am Sovereign and that My ways are higher than theirs. Underneath their driven service, they may secretly resent me as a harsh taskmaster. Their worship of me is lukewarm,becauseI am no longer their First Love. 
My invitation never changes: 'Come to me, all you who are weary,and I will give you rest.' Worship Me by resting peacefully in My Presence."

May I cling to my First Love instead of running to the idol of busyness (sometimes portrayed as "ministry") and find myself again and again in His Rest.

Monday, September 30, 2013


The seasons are changing. I imagine the fall...the autumn...my favorite season of the year (and not just because its my namesake). I grew up in Colorado...a beautiful place in the autumn.

It is crisp. I love that word and everything it means in the context of autumn. The weather is crisp and requires a jacket, the tip of your nose seems to grow pink in the air, your cheeks a bit rosier. The leaves crunch beneath your feet and the fall of harvest fruits and vegetables mean the winter is coming in (but its not quite here yet).

It is colorful. The last of the flowering blooms come out to play before curling up for their winter slumber. The aspen trees in the Colorado mountains turn the hillsides gold and red and orange...a continual season of sunset.

The pumpkins...the hayrides...the cozy feeling of curling up under a blanket...

Oh, I miss that.

The seasons are changing here in Ghana, but its different. August is cool and gentle and quiet. The air is cooler, more refreshing somehow.  But we are moving from rainy season into Hamatan (the dry season). The skies build up with moisture (commonly referred to as "humidity") until you feel like you reside in a perpetual swimming pool of sweat and then...the blessed rains come, a sigh of relief from the sky. And it cools down, for just a moment.

And the comes the dust...when the rains go away, the dust from the Sahara fills our skies and for the next four months, it looks like fog rolling over the hills just beyond us.  The ground dries and and great chasms form in the roads. And the same is true of our skin. Even in the humidity, our skin reacts to the new dry air and heels begin to crack.

At the end of the day, the only thing you can do to relieve yourself in the slightest is to take a nice cold shower before hitting the hay. 

And that is where I am. Debating the cold shower. My bathroom light blew out this morning and I forgot to change the bulb. "Shower in the dark?" I wonder, "or brave the heat of the night."

Going for a dark shower.

What I wouldn't give for a cozy moment right now, with a good book, the crisp air, the falling leaves, the beauty of all that the changing of seasons implies.

Celebrating the Good

Today, we celebrated with our students who had good behavior throughout the whole month. It was fun (and busy)! The students were excited to be honored and get popcorn and treats. 

In my mind, I had worked it all out, how it would go and how the children would respond. Besides the level of NOISE in the celebration, it all went according to plan. Now, I hope we will see a decline in behavior incidents because of our new rewards.

Time will tell.

Dorcas (P2 student of the month) trying her icee.

KG1B student of the month, Peter, tasted all the favors in his icee.

Kassidy (multi-level student of the month), and Mary (P5 student of the month) enjoyed socializing while eating their sweet treat.

Gamali (KG2 student of the month) and William (P1 student of the month) enjoyed theirs!

Mary (P4 student of the month) and Ruth (JHS1 student of the month

Malvin(KG1A student of the month)

Jessica (P3 student of the month)

KG1B students enjoying their popcorn in Character Counts Club today

Want to help support our efforts in encouraging positive behavior in students? We always need small toy items (like those found at orientaltrading.com) to help supplement our student store. 

See what else we are up to and how YOU can be a part of it at:



Saturday, September 28, 2013

Student Council

Yesterday, we had our first student council election at Faith Roots.
Speeches...campaigning...and voting on a ballot.

It was a pretty fun day and excited about this next season of raising up servant leaders!

Valentina giving her speech.

The kids listening in!

Gideon campaigning for Campus Safety Officer

Our voting booths

Monday, September 23, 2013

Because it's been awhile...

It's been awhile since I've posted here.

I go through phases.

Sometimes, my thoughts stay locked up and it's hard to share what is going on.  Other times, they flow freely and this is a place of release.

So, I'll try to free some of these thoughts today.

Life is busy here.  Our school has almost closed registration.  Only a few more open spots in our preschool class for our 3 year olds.  All the other classes are closed out with 20-22 students per class.  Our co-op classes are moving full-swing every Tuesday and Thursday.  This means that on some days of the week, we have almost 250 people (including students and staff) on our campus.  It makes for a busy few days!

I have been pleased with the instruction our teachers have been giving students.  They are trying hard to apply what was taught them during our trainings in August.  It has been so exciting to see math manipulatives brought out, the students sitting in circles for morning meetings, open and honest sharing, and growth in some of our lowest students. 

I have felt encouraged by my conversations with staff in our one-on-ones.  Honest moments of reflection about what God is doing in their lives, the ways that He is leading them forward, and discussion of how they can be challenged. 

But, it seems like one word from someone can bring this all crashing down around my feet.  And I know it's not the truth.  And I know I shouldn't believe the lies that flood in to swallow me up, but they are there, and in the midst of them, sometimes, I forget the truth.

Friday, we had to go to Ghana Education Service to continue our process of registration.  It's a process I have absolutely hated being a part of.  For some reason, the officers at our office feel the need to constantly "put me in my place" and I get defensive and hurt and that just makes matters worse. 

But, that meeting, for some reason, put me into a bit of a tailspin.  I began thinking what I should have done differently with this school.  I began to doubt my reasons for being here.  I began to think that, perhaps, this lady from GES is right.  Perhaps I am doing an injustice to my families here.  Perhaps...perhaps...perhaps...

So, I hung out by myself for awhile this weekend.  Thinking and praying and processing.  I was, and still am, frustrated and hurt and angry.  But, I think that my frustration has switched targets...from GES to the enemy himself.

When I think back over the years of being here, I see places that I could have chosen a different road, but my own arrogance and "American-thinking" took over.  But, I see that grace of my God who cast the vision and will continue to grow it, despite my mistakes.  I see that grace of my God in the completion of our school building, in our school staff, in our students who work so hard to learn despite their lack. 

And when I reflected this weekend, I was brought back to that truth.  God is in control of this place.  He is the vision-maker.  He is the life-giver.  And he will be the one who ultimately grows this place and continues to build the dream and give it life.

And I have to trust that.  Despite what others say.  I have to trust the word of the Lord for this place over any other word.

Sometimes it is hard to walk out when faced with the opposition we seem to be facing, but I will take courage and know that God is FOR us...he is FOR me...He will see this place brought to fruition.

If you think about us here at City of Refuge and Faith Roots International Academy, be praying for the TRUTH to be revealed more and more, especially to those who are in opposition of what they see here. Pray especially for us this Tuesday, September 24th, as members of GES come and visit us at our school.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Over the years, we have had so many volunteers come thru. Usually something along the way impacts their time with us and they are changed. More often than not, it is the relationship that they build with our children.

Well, our biggest heart stealers, Malvin and Joel, have finally joined the ranks at Faith Roots. After arguing with them for what seemed like an entire summer in preparation for them to attend school, they are finally in class and loving it.

And this morning, Malvin and Joel came running to me when they saw me in the hall and gave me a big hug and kiss. Then, led me to their class to show me their desks.

Yep, they sure are heart stealers. 

Am proud of our littles and so happy to see them happily learning.

Here are my ears!

Singing the good morning song with their new friends!