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, March 24, 2014

Impact ONE

We have been dreaming here.  And we are excited!  Restructuring current projects, stepping into new ones, and seeing our ministries expand into the "new".

About a month ago, we sat down with our friend Sarah, and started to talk about restructuring our child sponsorship program.  We saw how these child sponsorships actually enabled families to become dependent on our support, rather than help them to be able to provide more adequately for their families.  How do we do that? 

We came up with a model that would partner with families for a time frame, help them through a goal-setting, and then walk beside them to help them reach their goals, providing wisdom and guidance, not just financial assistance.  So, this would reframe how we interact with families and children, requiring a higher level of accountability for families and more intentional follow-through on our side.  And it would reframe how we communicate with sponsors around the world as well.  They would become only short-term (hopefully) sponsors of students, while we equip families with what they need to be sustainable.

After creating that, it just seemed to take on a life of its own.  Impact ONE idea kept flowing out...how could we impact ONE child, ONE family, and ONE community? 

And out of that came our mentorship program...and our first orientation was this past weekend.  University students from the University of Ghana Legon, students discipled through program called Campus Crusade for Christ, came out to be partnered with our kids and build relationships that pour into their lives.  It was a picture of God's heart this Saturday, when we saw them spending time getting to know their kids. 

We keep dreaming and we are seeing our dreams grow...it's a beautiful thing.  So, be on the watch for ways that YOU might be able to take part in our new Impact ONE program.
The mentors get to know each other in the library.

Theresa and her new mentor smile and laugh together!

Mary talked about her mentor, Brighter, who shared her heart with Mary about knowing God's heart and out of that, choosing a future for herself.

Our new mentors and their mentees


Friday, March 14, 2014

Blessed by Babies

I don't have any children of my own, but I am certainly blessed by babies.

This morning, I heard the news that our dear friends, the Millers, gave birth to their little guy, Jude.  I went to visit them when I was home and it was a priveledge to spend time with my Portia-girl (adopted from here at CORM about a year ago) and to get to be a part of their family for a few days.  And now that the little man is here, I am so excited to get to meet him one day.

And about a month ago, my friends, who were awaiting their little one via adoption, was finally given their precious baby boy, Ezekiel Jackson Whelpley.  Years of prayers had been poured into that little fellow and he made me an "unofficial" aunty once more.  What a joy!

And I think back through the years...seeing Brylie and Nasiah born.  Getting to be in the delivery room via Skype for Isabella's arrival.  Hearing the news of my little nephew Kayden.  And the many kids that I am aunty to here. 

Yes, even from thousands of miles away, I am blessed.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Being Equipped

Saturday, I sat in awe of the possibilities ahead of us.  I felt like God was answering prayers we have been praying for years.

A group of Ghanaian young adults came out to celebrate the anniversary of their radio station, Truth for Life, which began one year ago today.  I watched as these young adults gave their testimony, shared their gifts and talents, and toured our property, seeing all that God has given us in the short time that we have begun our building projects. 

Another group of students from the University of Ghana came to visit us at the same time, students interested in partnering with us to create a mentorship program for our kids.  These students are rooted and excited about what is happening on our campus, excited to be a part of God's greater plan for our kids.

And with them came a young man who works at a news station here in Ghana, TV3 news.  When he heard of the project our kids are working on, building a home for a woman who lives with her sisters and children in a small tin dwelling here in Shai Hills, he told the kids how he was humbled by God's love shown through our children.  And then he talked to them about all that he could do to help get their project out there, to raise the funds, to share the vision of CORM. 

And I walked away from Saturday's experiences excited and encouraged. 

I talked to my mom this weekend, discussing with her all these things, and talking about the current needs of our teenagers (I can't believe we have teenagers...can't we keep them little kids forever??).  And she told me that in previous years, even though we were praying for staff who had an understanding of God's love for them, were rooted in the truth, and were ready to pour out as disciples of Christ, we didn't need them yet.  And here we stand, on the cusp of something new, a place we have never been before with our kids (teenager-dom), and God sends what we need, just when we need it.

All we can do is stand in worship before our Father-God who sees all, knows all, and desires the best for His kids.  God always equips where we have a need.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Being a Non-Citizen

In 2009, Ghana made this law that all foreigners would be required to get their Non-Citizen Identity Card. It was a frustrating measure as it didn't make sense to us who spend so much money to stay here as legal residents.

Every year, we have to renew our work permit, renew our residents permit, making several trips to immigration and lots of prep and money goes into this whole process.

And when the new law was created and then enforced last year, we were frustrated with the amount required to pay into this simple card on a yearly basis.

Not once had I ever been asked to see my card. Why couldn't they just add it to the drivers license that we also had to get to drive in country (even when some had the international drivers license)? 

It's frustrating to keep up with the constant requirements placed on foreigners living I another country.

Today, Stacy and Johnbull went in to work on my residents permit for this year. And what did they require...the one card I have never been asked for...my non-citizen card, was safely in my wallet and not with them in Accra. This led to lots of scanning and working to figure out how to get them a copy of this card in Accra, juggling bad internet connections, weird scanners, and iPad app downloads.

Needless to say, it finally made it to the hands of the immigration officer, but it made me think how much we take for granted by the ease and freedom and accessibility to living in the US as a citizen there. It gives me eyes to see the struggle of those who aren't citizens and live in the States, working towards a green card or citizenship there. It's just not that easy. 

And I am reminded of the times in scripture that tell us we ARE foreigners traveling in this world...we are aliens waiting to be taken home.  But, we are given free and equal access to the grace and love of our Father. What a gift! 

So, even now, when we live by such challenging rules in a foreign land, when it seems like we are taken advantage of, I can trust the loving hand of God my Father, trusting that I am walking towards His kingdom in the midst of this earthly kingdom. I will look at this card as a badge of honor, reminding myself that I am moving towards my heavenly home.

Father, may it be so.