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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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Strange Revelation

It's been awhile since I have written anything. Life can be so consuming sometimes and it seems every spare moment is given out rather than savored and remembered and written down.

But today, I was exhausted! I felt like I was in a haze throughout the whole day and ended up leaving school early to come home and sleep. I realized, today, that my weekends are this refuge for me. And when they don't allow for any rest, I just cannot engage. I reach a point where my body physically cannot commit to the work anymore, and I need to withdraw. It is necessary and good and Godly. And I need to make it a practice rather than an exception.

But, I have gotten off topic...

I had this interesting experience yesterday, and it was the first time that I had thought to myself that maybe I had changed so much that I wasn't relevant to American culture anymore.

We had a group here this weekend and they were great and worked hard and completed a lot of things we just can never get around to doing. Before they left for Cape Coast yesterday, I met with them to debrief their stay with us. It was an interesting debriefing with lots of sincere questions, and a few very pointed ones. I came away just wondering what the conversations were about before our debriefing and how issues of social justice are being discussed in the western world. 

I have lived here long enough that I frequently feel out of the loop.

When I go home to the States, I feel self-conscious about the way I dress. Do I dress like a missionary? Am I culturally relevant? What about the boots? Do I get some for my two months at home? They certainly aren't relevant here in Ghana.

I feel out of the entertainment loop and have to ask a million questions about the newest musicians and movies and tv shows.

I don't know if I am up on the newest social justice lingo and stats and issues.

And there were moments with this group that I felt like maybe there were things discussed that I didn't have context for anymore because I don't live in the States. That maybe there are expectations of ways to do things in the human trafficking sector that the western world is discussing, and we aren't a part of that conversation anymore.

But, here is the challenge...the western world is not always right.

And that is a hard one to get. We can plan and purpose and have the best of intentions, but they might not be the right answer in this context.

I have learned that the hard way with the school. I have to give value to how things work within the culture, within the country that we live and work in. To trust that my way is not always the best way. And I have to be willing to place my trust in people that may damage my trust in the end, but it's worth the risk to make this place possible for these kids. And sometimes, even when that trust is broken, I have to trust again and again and again for the sake of God's plans and purposes through these people. 

And people in the western world need to understand that there are no great answers to the issue of human trafficking. These issues are complicated and messy, filled with deceit and darkness...all too human. And when you are dealing with human lives, you can't look at the numbers or the money or development...the answer lies in the heart. And the heart is only known by God. So, our answers here at CORM have everything to do with Him, because we truly believe that real change can only come when the heart is changed. It has everything to do with love. Love for the child whose childhood has been stripped away, whose voice has been quieted, whose life has been changed irrevocably. And love for the slave master, who was most likely trafficked himself, a victim of the cycle, a human heart worth valuing.

So, while I sat with them, this team, waiting for their bus, so many questions of my own, I had this strange revelation. I saw Ajata and Jackie and our cooks outside chatting and laughing together in this language that I still don't know.  And they felt more at home to me than anyone else. And I joined them in their laughter and conversation, feeling fully me with our staff...much more me than I felt with the team. I have continued to ponder that feeling throughout today...just wondering if this place is becoming more and more my home than anywhere else, these people more family than any others?

I suppose the need to be culturally relevant to the westerners that travel through here will continue to be something we need to work on and be present in. Something we will need to step up with, to have a voice in this world-wide conversation.

But, my strange revelation has also brought a sense of peace among the many questions. This is where I am supposed to be and there isn't a question in that. In that, I can stand in full confidence...not wondering...not out of the loop...just in the knowing that I am exactly where God wants me for this moment in time.

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