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!

Get Involved

Learn More


Thursday, January 10, 2013

SoCal Memories

My time in SoCal is rapidly coming to an end.  I am realizing how fast time really does fly.  I wish I could just stop the hands of time...just freeze these beautiful moments.  I just want to savor them for a little bit longer.  Just one more day...one more hour...

But, it's not possible.

Time does move on.  And with it, the tears that inevitably flow as I will mourn the time that has passed so quickly.  The moments and memories that have been shared.  The conversations.  And yes, the tears. 

It's been so sweet.

This time in SoCal has been filled with laughter.  It has overflowed with babies and little girls and bounce houses and parks.  Late night conversations.  Lots of food.  And friends, so many sweet moments with friends.

I arrived here in SoCal on the 2nd, after a bit of a crazy morning in North Carolina.  (I had lost my driver's license...don't ask.)  Lunch was at Islands, one of my faves, with Corbin, Isabella, Eric, and Yona.  Oh, it was so good to see my friends again.  To just look into Corbin's face.  To smile at Isabella's curls. 

Joanna came in the next day.  And then T, Evan, and Brylie.  And a trip to the Tyrees.  Hang out time with that family and the Matheny's.  Good conversations.  Delicious food.  Laughter and pictures and catching up. 

The next day was park day with the Koldings.  The girls rode a train and horses.  We went to a zoo.  We ooed and awwed over little Corbie.  We laughed at our little ones.  We reminisced about the time before.

It's crazy to think that it was 13 years ago when we first met in college, Hope International University.

Joanna and I shared a class and fast became friends.  She had some wild roommates, so she frequently stayed in my room.  We stayed up late, chatted late into the night, shared classes and dreams and laughter.  She was my best friend that year.  A shoulder to lean on and sometimes to cry on.  And now, 13 years later...well, it doesn't look much different.  We might be older.  Our dreams a little different.  But, we still stayed up late chatting into the night.  She is someone who can make me laugh harder than most.  She is honest.  She is beautiful.  I just treasure her friendship.

Yona was loud and confident, knowing exactly what she wanted to accomplish during her time in college.  Ever the achiever, she was also the life of the party, enjoying life and what was given to her.  Our first year together, we went on a roadtrip through Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and back to California.  That trip cemented our friendship.  Yona's boldness is always something I desired for my own life.  A beautiful example of living life to the fullest.  And now, I see her as a wife and a mom.  Times certainly have changed!  Her children are beautiful.  And to see her look down at her little son with such love, it's precious.  I don't know who I'd be without Yona.

T was quiet the first year I met her.  She was never one to draw attention to herself.  And yet, such a faithful friend.  I didn't know her all that well until after our roadtrip that spring break, but after that, Joanna, T, and I were pretty inseperable.  Her witty sense of humor, her abilty to be quick to laugh, her words of encouragement--and then her faith.  At first so quiet and small...growing and growing and seeing that faith draw others into the love of Jesus too.  Amazing!  We shared a lot of memories those years at Hope.  Some of the best years...and yet, some of the greatest heartache.  But, they shaped us.  And after Hope, we moved in together...the woman who I lived with the longest--probably 7 years of my life was shared with her as a roommate.  And now, to see her be a wife, a mother--to see how far God has brought her and how He has grown her.  She is an amazing example to me and such a faithful friend.

I look at these ladies (and the others that couldn't be around--Katty, Blabey, Abby, JenSin, Venissa, MollyMac, Morgs...and the many others that at one time or another called themselves "Beatniks") and I think to myself--they have helped to mold and shape who I am today.  Their friendship.  Their love.  Their grace.  Their words of truth.  Their encouragement.  They're my sisters, in every way that is truly important.

Coming together now is so much harder.  We live on different coasts, different continents, different States.  Some have kids or jobs with long hours, fiances, missions...it's not easy to get together these days.  But, oh, it's so sweet!

Last Friday after the park, we celebrated Jake's birthday.  Last year, around this time, I was in Portland with Jake and Joanna, celebrating his day.  It was so fun to be here again to celebrate with him.

The next day, the whole crew headed over to Jake's apartment for breakfast and then out to the OC Swap Meet for a time of hanging out.  Jake's apartment was so nice.  Such a pleasure to get a picture into his life like that.  And the girl's loved it.  Brylie and Bella danced their way around his kitchen island at least a hundred times that morning!  That night, Jessica Mahan, a friend from Hope, came and visited.  So fun to get to enjoy those moments with old friends.

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of going to Southlands with the Koldings.  Oh, it was so good. 

I often say that I love our church gatherings in Ghana, to see the kids dance in worship and for them to get a greater understanding of who God is, but it just doesn't speak my heart language.  So being at Southlands felt like my heart language was being spoken...I felt overwhelmed by the Spirit, empowered by the worship, rocked by the message, loved by the arms of my church family.  So sweet.

The Koldings had to return home on Sunday so the rest of the week was with Eric, Yona, Joanna, and the occasional drop in by Jake.  I got to have an amazing lunch with my friend Kim and a night out with my dear friend Cilla. 

This trip has just been feeding my soul.

Everytime it nears the end of the trip and prepares for the next part of the journey, I just say to myself, "I'm not ready yet."

It's just been so sweet.

I know that school is starting up again in Ghana next week.  My prayers are with my staff and especially with Stacy as she gets things ready for them to start up again.  I know that it's not going to be easy without me there.  The staff and students are so used to me around.

But, this is just so sweet.  I am not ready to leave.  I am already writing with tears in my eyes as I have just said goodbye to Joanna and as I think about saying goodbye to Corbin and Bella and Yona and Eric tomorrow.  So hard.

I love how God has called me into service in Ghana, but sometimes the goodbyes here remind me even more of the great sacrifice he has called me to.

Oh, I will miss these loved ones.


  1. You inspire me to deepen my relationships with people. It is so nice that you have gotten to travel and see your loved ones! I will be praying for CORM and I hope you are blessed to the fullest in the rest of your time here.

  2. Oh Autumn, I just read this again with new stories and tales of these people on my mind... I just love it. I love the way you love. And look how far you've come in just 4 months... The Lord is still leading you so strongly!! And He is leading them too, through adoptions and moves and beginnings and ends... So proud of your spirit through it all, even when the pain is deep!!