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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Friday, May 17, 2013

A Moment in Time

I came to Ghana in July 2010, almost three years ago.  (I can't believe it has been three years!!)  DK and Abigail had only been rescued the month before and WOW!  Abigail was incredibly challenging.  She struggled deeply not knowing the language and her strong will (which kept her alive in some very dangerous situations) made it difficult to lead and guide her.  At times, she would be overwhelmed with whatever was going on in her heart and her head and would sit outside for hours at a time, singing and crying, walls built up around her so that you couldn't even access her at all.  It was so very painful to witness.

At the time, I was enthralled with the little ones of City of Refuge.  Edwin and Portia were my daily sidekicks, climbing all over me, wanting me to be with them every waking minute of the day.  Most of you know my never-ending tales of Portia and Edwin and the time that I spent caring for Edwin was one of the toughest, but one of the most beautiful seasons of my life.

Abigail and DK both saw that time with the little ones and there were times when they would climb on my back or Johnbull's back, just like the little babies that were used to being backed all over the Freedom Center, for a little human touch.  It was hard sometimes to have the kids all over me and since Abigail and DK were so big, there were times when I almost tipped over when they started climbing on me. 

But, there was one day that I will never forget.  In fact, tears are filling my eyes right now thinking of it.  There was one day when the kids were all playing outside.  Portia and Edwin kept running up to me, lifting their arms up high and saying, "Carry me!".  So, I'd carry them around a bit and then set them down to play with the kids again.  And then Abigail came up to me, with arms lifted high and in her halting English said, "Carry me!".  I thought she was joking, so I kind of laughed it off and kept playing,  But, when she said it again, her eyes pleading, I picked her up and she wrapped her long legs around my waist, her arms around my neck, and rested her head on my shoulder, cuddling into that place that the little babies love.  And I stroked her back.  I whispered prayers of comfort and peace and healing into her ear.  I sang over her.  I rocked her back and forth.  I stroked her hair, as I would have Portia or Edwin.  When my back got tired from carrying her, I brought her inside and we sat on the couch, her head in my lap as I stroked her hair, her forehead, her arms. 

From that moment on, the times when she would cry inconsolably, singing songs off by herself...they slowed...and eventually, they stopped.  What Abigail needed, most of all, was love.  She needed to be carried.  She needed to be soothed like a small child.  She was 11 years old, but what she needed most was the love that a mother has for her newborn child.  The love that looks at their baby with wonder and grace.  The love that can't bare to parted.  A love that says, "I am not going anywhere."  That moment, that day, began the healing process for Abigail...one that has been incredibly difficult and challenging and filled with ups and downs, but also one that is beautiful and restorative.

There was a moment like that just the other day.  Many of you have heard the story of our little Florence.  You can read more about her: here.  Anyway, the day before John and Stacy left, we had a massive dance party at the house to spend time together as a family. At the end of the party, as per usual, we were starting a water fight and the kids took off racing towards the house, ending the party with a lot of laughter.  When I looked at our courtyard, Florence was still sitting in a chair, her head down, tears flowing down her face.  Rapheal helped translate my questions, asking what was wrong. 

Apparently, one of the songs reminded her of the family she used to live with.  As the memories flooded back, she was drawn to tears, missing the people that took care of her (even if she was enslaved).  So, I picked her up and we started our walk back to the house.

Unlike Abigail, who curled into me, Florence sat up straight in my arms, refusing the comfort that was there.  But, I still carried her home, wanting her to understand that she is loved and understood.  I carried her, praying into her ear, speaking over her God's promises for who she is, trusting that even if she didn't completely understand me, her spirit did.  And when we went inside, she sat on my lap and for the briefest second, she leaned into me as I kissed her head and prayed for her.  And that was enough.  Just a moment in time.

But a moment like that, guard down, heart open...it changes everything.

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