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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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Reflections on Easter

Tomorrow, I will be celebrating my fourth Easter here in Ghana. I have been reminiscing of days of old. What rich memories!

My first year here, we celebrated Easter in Downtown Doryumu. All of us, 19 kids, John, Stacy, Mama Theresia and Daddy Joe, Aunty Lucy, Aunty Lydia, Uncle Nosa, Uncle Atta, Aunty Anas, me...all living together in one house. It was quite a year and I learned so much that year. Edwin lived with me back in those days. I shared a bathroom with John and Stacy without running water. I taught back then, in our little blue school-house with no power, no water, no curriculum...just filling in the gaps. 
And that Easter was filled with the sweetness of children's laughter, their first egg hunt, lots of food (including some gray jello...don't ask), playing games and relaxing with friends. That Easter, one of my closest friends, Katie Majewski, was out here, sharing life with me for 10 days. That year, I saw the resurrection of HOPE through the lives of our kids. Jesus came to bring life and life to the fullest. To me, that was manifested in the freedom of these beautiful children. In their smiles. In their laughter. In their love.
Easter 2011-Abigail and Justice

Easter 2011-Portia and Caleb

Easter 2011-Katie and her bowl of pepper soup (after being a veggie for years...this was a stretch!)

Easter 2011-Little guy, Edwin

Easter 2011-These sweet friends celebrated with us

Easter 2011-the game

The next year had brought such change for us at CORM. Our houses were built and we were moved out to our land. We had no electricity, and didn't know when it would happen. We would run our generator for two hours every night and charge up our phones and computers for the next day. We would sleep in the heat, but I almost preferred it because we had running water, something we hadn't had for a year while we lived in Downtown. Our kids attended school with others, growing from my little blue schoolhouse to 5 classrooms of students, 120 students altogether. Teachers were hired. And I was the principal, a role I felt completely unprepared to fill, but knew I was called into. And instead of sharing my room with Edwin, who went to live with Mama Theresia and Daddy Joe, I shared with the sweet Andrea Elizondo (now Largey). 

Easter brought about such celebration as electricity finally came to the children's village. And we celebrated well! Dancing under the breeze that came with spinning fans. We held our church gathering under those fans that year, dancing with the beat of the drums, singing with excitement. Other friends were with us to celebrate, friends we still see from time to time today. And as I reflect on that year's Easter, I remember the grace, fully granted at the cross, and fully demonstrated in the way that we learned to live together as a family, through the places that felt impossible, made possible only by His grace.
Easter 2012-Our electricity meter was installed and much celebration followed

Easter 2012-Aunty Andrea helped prepare the Easter chicken

Easter 2012-Evelyn ready for the big hunt

Easter 2012-John moved to us only a few months before, his first Easter with us!

Easter 2012-Justice is still walking around in only his diaper!

Easter 2012-Our sweet CORM family (with Edgar, Loise, Josiah, and Andrea), and will forever remember Rosemary and this face throughout the day. Yes, it was quite a day!

The next year, our family looked so different. We had welcomed in 18 new children the summer before and it brought a whole new dynamic to our Children's Village. It was louder and busier. There were so many more tears...so many more fights...so much work to be done. They came in without knowing English, without knowing how to live under the boundaries that automatically come with parents, with little or no schooling. And so, in so many ways, it felt like we were starting from scratch. Our school had grown again, now serving 180 students, along with our dear Beebe family. It was a lot of new. And honestly, that year was hard. My memories of that year were through the lens of burnout. Growth comes with so many challenges and learning how to voice those challenges felt like my struggle. 

But Easter...a sweet break in the chaos. A moment where you just see the Kingdom, just a glimpse of it. Where you see children being children, free to run and play. Where you see the abundance of gifts given to those who love Him, even if they aren't physical, you begin to see the a kingdom come to earth. And it isn't about the color of skin. It isn't about the work or the conflict or the striving. It is about the King. It is about the Church, made possible by the great miracle of his death and resurrection. And it is about reconciliation, because isn't that what the cross was about anyway?
Easter 2013- This girl led the games (We miss our Aunty Emily)

Easter 2013-Hunting together

Easter 2013-Prize table fun

Easter 2013-Stations of the Cross

Easter 2013-The story of Jesus' victory over death

Easter 2013-And this girl explained what foot washing means ( So missed, Aunty Kathy)

Easter 2013-And this...it's what it's all about, right?

And this year, well, I cannot even begin to explain what this year has brought. A few new kids, a lot of change, including the growth of our school from 180 to 230 students and my new role as Director instead of Principal. I think our greatest change is watching our oldest kids begin to step out (and up) in their faith. At our small groups this past week, I was I awe of the presence of the Lord that fell on us in that room. They are hungry for more of Him. 18 year olds laying on their face on the floor, weeping for more of Him. Calling each other out. Walking in boldness. Praying for each other.

Thinking of the year before, I see that the HARD was simply growing pains for the place where we are today.  We see in the spiritual, a great stirring, a tornado of movement in the Spirit. And as the watchmen on the wall for this place, for these kids, we are interceding. And God continues to move. I can't help but grow excited. Tears well up even as I write this. God is moving. We are standing on the precipice of something new and unknown, but, oh, so rich, and so good. And I fully believe that this movement could change this community. It could change this country. It could change this world.

Walking into Easter, all I can do is stand in gratitude, because God is good. So thankful for his Son. Thankful that he defeated the enemy there. Thankful that lives can be changed because of what happened so long ago. And I am trusting that God will move this Easter in such a way that chains will be broken and lives will be healed.

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