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.