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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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Humans of New York and How It Made Me Homesick

Have you ever checked out that website Humans of New York? If you haven't, you can check it out here.  I love following them on Facebook, just seeing these brief glimpses into the lives of the many who live and work in that huge city.  Sometimes, you get to witness moments of brokenness that have haunted a life.  Other times, you witness the joy of love.  Or the disappointment of broken dreams.  Or the happiness of a life well-lived. 

Yesterday, I saw this lady:
Who said this:

"What's been your greatest accomplishment?"
"Keeping in touch with distant friends and relatives."
"Why is that important?"
"It's important to always have people who remember you at various stages of your life. It's especially important as you get older, because there are less of those people around. And they remind you who you are."

And that was it.  I was homesick.  I was homesick for those people that remind me who I am.  The ones who send me pictures of their babies or their new shoes or the latest family drama.  The ones who dig in deep and ask the hard questions and honor you with your words and create space to challenge and love you well.

So, that beautiful old face reminded me of these beautiful faces, faces that I know so well, faces that mean so much to me because they have witnessed so much of my life and I have witnessed so much of theirs. 

Gotta start with my Jenni-girl because she LIVES in NY, so why wouldn't a picture of a random NY'er make me think of this girl.  Love her.  Encouraged and challenged by her.  Miss her hours of deep conversations and the way that she makes me laugh.  Do not miss neck snuggles.

And Katie--the girl who makes me laugh so hard, encourages me by walking right by my side through the challenges, awesome with kids, loves purely and wholly. 

And these two, Bristol and Cameron, generous and giving, loving fully in such amazing ways, fun and full of laughter and adventure...these two capture my heart.

And Lauren, I think she makes me laugh harder than anyone I have ever met.  She also challenges me.  I love her heart.  I love singing silly songs with her about spiders for hours.  I love just BEING with her.

Sarah is all things sweet and beautiful.  She is an encourager.  She is selfless and lovely and giving and I love our friendship.  She is just all kinds of awesomeness.

And all these people!  They are my family.  I could write a paragraph about each one...
Evan--friend, encourager, soulful, great depth, teacher, father, full of humor
Christina--beautiful, rich friendship, chocolate-lover, wise, heart for issues of social justice, mother
Eric--hard-working, loving, encouraging, loves to dig into those theological issues, father
Yona--fun and funny, so friendly, welcoming, good listener, loyal, honest, mother, gets me caught up on all things America
Joanna--so funny, dedicated and hard working, self-disciplined, wise, loyal, honest, so many midnight convos
Isaiah--ear hugs, wisdom, makes me laugh til I cry, engaging, great depth, father, expects "real" in relationship
Katty--she makes me laugh, is so wise, gracious, hospitable, mother, encouraging, challenges me
Jake--encouraging, teacher, introvert but knows that his presence is wanted to engages, hospitable, funny

And this girl, my Blabey, who missed our retreat where the above pic was taken, but this girl is full of light and life and love and loyalty.

And of course my family, who supports and encourages me and keeps me grounded. 


I am not me without them.  And without the many more that support and love and encourage me.  Today, I miss you.  You are such a part of my heart and I'm praying for you today.

All my love.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Interrupted, Post 4

"Ignorant interventions are absolutely a contributing factor to cycles of oppression....We don't get to opt out of living on mission because we may not be appreciated. We're not allowed to neglect the oppressed because we have reservations about their discernment. We cannot deny love because it might be disposed or misunderstood. We can't withhold social relief because were not convinced it will be perfectly managed. We can't project our advantaged perspective onto struggling people and expect results only available to the privileged. Must we be wise? Absolutely. But doing nothing is an blatant sin of ommission. Turning a blind eye to the bottom on the grounds of 'unworthiness' is the antithesis to Jesus' entire mission. How dare we? Most of us know nothing, nothing of the struggles of the poor. We erroneously think ourselves superior, and it is a wonder God would use us at all to minister to His beloved." Interrupted, Jen Hatmaker

It's true that once you see the face of the poor, you can't close your eyes to it any more. But, finding the best way to help, the kind of help that doesn't hurt, that's the hard part. It requires relationship. It requires investment, true and lasting partnership into the lives of the needy. It requires you to get to the root of all issues, to move past the deceit, to the true heart. That's hard. And it's gritty. And it's disappointing at times.

But, it is our call.

It is our responsibility.

It is our privilege.

Sometimes, I find this work incredibly challenging. Sometimes, I feel taken advantage of. And I feel like I have to fight on behalf of these families, fight for the vision we see as possible for these people, because sometimes, they would rather just live in the place where they receive a handout without any of the responsibility attached. And sometimes, that makes me feel jaded and frustrated and angry.

But, the truth of the matter is, I don't understand what it is like to be poor. I may not have a lot of money, but I am so rich in so many ways. I have never wondered where my next meal would come from or fear the death of a child because I couldn't afford medicine. I have always, always had enough.

So, all I can do is walk in wonder that God would use me at all to minister to His beloved.

Monday, July 28, 2014


Kathy served with us for about 9 months last academic year. She started up our resource program at Faith Roots, loved on our kids, and helped fill in so many gaps for me when I was overwhelmed and burnt out. I love this girl.

And she came back this summer for three weeks. She spent time working with our beloved Gaga, helping me with just about everything when I was stressed beyond belief and unsure of how it was all going to get done, and loving on our kids.

Unfortunately, a good portion of her time with us, I was either sick or stressed beyond belief and was a different version of myself...a not so fun version.

But, let me tell you, I am blessed by her friendship. She was here at CORM, in 2013, when I went through some very heavy burn out. I wondered if I was going to be able to make it here in the long run. And this girl walked beside me. Our one-on-ones would last for hours, encouraging each other, talking through the things God was teaching and growing in. She got to see me walk out the other side of burn out in 2014. She got to see God begin to speak and move in our staff. And she got to be a part of me beginning to dream again, to actually walk more in my giftedness as help was found and resources began to grow.

One particular day from her last months of teaching with us last year was burned into my memory. Our staff was struggling working together as a team, standing very divided. I felt God leading us to a time of prayer together, to pray for those that we were struggling to work with, to ask for forgiveness and to bless and encourage each other. And when I prayed for Kathy, instantly, I felt the love of the Father so purely poured down on her that I couldn't hold back the tears and began to weep, explaining to her what God had spoken to me. It made me almost weak in the knees with the overwhelming love coursing into her. Such a powerful moment. And then, I moved on to pray for someone else, the feeling gone for the moment. Later, I came home to a note from her that I still hold onto and read when I have forgotten those sweet moments of God's movement and how God has actually created me to operate, in pastoral and prophetic care of these people that He has put in front of me.

Today was Kathy's last day here. I hate saying goodbye to friends. It's saying goodbye to moments where I can be 100% stressed to the max and still completely accepted and understood (I think I might have scared off a few of the other volunteers in my craziness the last days of school). It's saying goodbye to convos that mean so much while I lay incapacitated in my bed with malaria. It's saying goodbye to the laughter that comes with ease as we watch a movie together and chat as if we haven't missed any time at all.

The thing with Kathy is that her heart is now forever divided, as it is with anyone who has spent any length of time serving abroad. She has to be home to work and live her day to day life, but her heart has a home in Ghana, so part of her will always be with us here. And that means that goodbyes are not forever. I will see her again when I go visit in the States. She will return here to visit her kiddos. And the texts will come as regular check-ins. 

Kathy, you will be missed. You will be missed because you loved so well. Thank you!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Interrupted, Post 3

Jen quotes Jeffery Sachs, the author of The End of Poverty:

"If economic development is a ladder with higher rungs representing steps up the path to economic well-being, there are roughly one billion people around the world, one sixth of humanity, who [are] . . . too ill, hungry, or destitute even to get a foot on the first rung of the developmental ladder. These people are the “poorest of the poor,” or the “extreme poor” of the planet.[6] "

Jen continues: "This bottom layer of destitution will never be alleviated without intervention. The majority of the extreme poor are caught in a poverty trap, unable to escape from deprivation because of disease, physical isolation, climate stress, environmental degradation, and poverty itself. Lifesaving solutions exist, and most are inexpensive and available—but these families and their governments lack the financial means to obtain them."

Living here in Ghana, and starting our Impact One Family Assistance Program, we see this on a daily basis. We see the families that struggle to even make it meal to meal, sometimes missing out on meal after meal because they just didn't have enough.  They are not able to meet medical needs that, if taken care of, would enable them to get healthy enough to work and in turn care for the needs of their family. We see others survive on their income, but cannot save for the future.  We see other families who are making it and their children will be able to rise out of poverty because of the hard work of their parents.

One of these families has been part of the CORM heart for the past three years, the mother riddled by disease, widowed and taken advantage of, taking care of her 4 children and 2 grandchildren. They are in a place where they cannot even seem to get their foot on the bottom rung. 

A week ago, when meeting with the mother about family matters, one look in her eyes told her whole story.  You could feel the hopelessness.

We met with her boys, who attend our school, and in our conversation, they struggled to even maintain eye contact, let alone have enough confidence to express themselves.

And there is no help. The oldest children, adults with families of their own, are struggling themselves and find it difficult to come and help. Family of her deceased husband have taken advantage of her and her situation, in more ways than one.

While we struggle to maintain the boundaries of our new program, wanting to help people learn to help themselves (you know the age-old adage...teach a man to fish), we also see some cases where there is simply no strength left to pick themselves up and start to climb.

And so we pray. And we seek God. And we find the little ways we can serve while we begin to dream bigger things with this family.

We find mentors for the boys.

We provide breakfast at our house before school starts.

We get them on health insurance and help them know where to start to answer some of the health questions.

We provide after school tutoring.

And maybe someday soon, some of the strength she used to have will return.

And maybe when she sees the love, some of the hope she used to have will begin to shine once again in her eyes.

And maybe, sometime down the road, we will stand with a woman and her children, healthy and happy and able to provide for themselves.

And even if all these dreams don't come to pass, and the real fact of the matter is that they may not if the mother remains so sick, we will still be walking beside them. Because they are part of CORM's heart. And they are part of God's heart. 

And God's heart is for this...to care for the orphaned and widowed, the vulnerable, the down trodden, the hopeless, the broken. God's heart is simply to be there when it is hard and uncomfortable and when the answers aren't easy.

For us here in Ghana, poverty is out in the open and very visible. You cannot escape it.  You cannot turn a blind eye. I see it everyday in the faces of my students, in the homes they run to after school, in the worry on their mother's faces when they come to pay school fees.

You can hide from it in the Western world. But, the truth of the matter is, it still exists. Poverty, in it's truest and darkest form, is alive and well.

When you see that the leading cause of death in Ghana for those 5 and under is malaria, a virus which can be easily treated by medicines costing around $10 or prevented with a net that costs around the same amount, you have to know that poverty is really the leading cause of death. 

And Jen is right, the answers are inexpensive and available, but when you have to choose to feed a family of 7 or treat one child with a temperature, the answers aren't so clear cut anymore.

So, the challenge is, what do we do with this? The problem of poverty is huge and overwhelming and how can we even make a drop in the bucket?

There are people already doing the work. Open your heart. Be willing to step out of your comfortable places, and begin to open your eyes to ways you can partner with the millions working to elleviate poverty around the world. Step into the problem. 

Research ways to partner in ministries both locally and globally, because really, it's a worldwide issue, and if it is an issue the whole world faces, that means it's an issue that unites us together.

If you are interested in partnering with City of Refuge Ministries and our Impact One program, check out our website at www.cityofrefugeoutreach.com.

If you are interested in Jen's story of how God inturruped her life, check out her website at www.jenhatmaker.com.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Interrupted, Post 2

This week has been busy and I haven't had a lot of spare time, but I did read a few chapters of my new book, Interrupted, by Jen Hatmaker.

Really, she is all things funny and real.  I just love her. I feel like we could just sit down over cups of coffee and share together our life stories and the way God moves and challenges us past anything comfortable, into His own heart. I feel like we could laugh together and cry together, because we share the same heart for His kingdom and His kids.

As I read about her comfortable spaces and the way God began to move and challenge her out of that place, I felt like she was sharing my story. Details different, perhaps, but heart the same.

In 2004, I spent a month serving in Kenya with Adventures in Missions. That trip opened my eyes to the real needs of the world, the real heart of he Lord, and the real love that come with touching and holding and encouraging and speaking into the lives of the "least of these". I prayed that God would bring me back to Kenya, but felt like my answer was "wait".

The summer of 2005, I spent at an internship at Peninsula Covenant Church in the San Fracisco Bay Area. It was an amazing summer creating so many places of freedom and so many life-long friends. God moved and spoke and changed in powerful, healing ways.

And I was invited back on the leadership team of the internship the next summer, 2006. That summer was one of the hardest of my life. And I told God that I never wanted to return to that place, like physically never wanted to return to the Bay. I held so many hurt places because of the hard that was that summer.

Well, don't ever give ultimatums to God. And never say never. 

In 2007, the only teaching job I could find brought me right back to the Bay, teaching in a low income community called East Palo Alto. God moved and changed me in that place. And he redeemed the broken places in me that had left me not wanting to ever return. There, He taught me about serving the poor in the States.  He taught me about living in the place where I was doing ministry (and my classroom was pure ministry). He taught me about teaching kids with very little family support, or language abilities, or hope.

And through my years at PCC, he taught me about living and serving in a Godly, vulnerable, and passionate community, that cares about the things God cares about.

Through my time there, I began to learn more and more about human trafficking. God led me to Isaiah 61 for years. It became my hearts cry to see the slave freed, those in bondage set free, the widows and orphaned cared for, the sorrow of His people turned to joy and dancing.

And when I felt God calling me to Ghana...I wavered. 

I doubted.

I pursued it, but I wondered when and for how long and what God would do with me.

I made every effort to set myself up for the minimum God might require of me, thinking He would just bring me right back to EPA, the place that had moved and captured my heart.

And then came His voice, in January 2010, almost audibly heard...Trust and Obey.

For me, coming to Ghana wasn't an issue of wanting or not wanting, of sacrificing or giving up (at least, not at first). 

It was an issue of obedience.

And so, I called John and Stacy about a week before their big move to Ghana (the one where they moved everything, including their three kids, one only 5 months old), and told them one year.

God changed everything after that first step of obedience.

And 4 years later, I am still here. It looks so different than when I first came. Everything is different, really.

But, our God is never changing. And His heart is always...always...wanting the best for us. He holds the bigger vision in His hands. I couldn't have handled it then. But, I can handle the pieces that I can see now.

And so, while the details with Jen's call to the Interrupted life were different, the heart is the same.

She said in her book that God wasn't calling her to more of the same...He was calling her to His true church.

I love that.

His true church is not found in a building. It is found in you and I, using all that we have been gifted with, to love on His people (not just the ones found in our comfort zone, but all His kids). I got to do that in EPA and at PCC, but I love how God has called me to be His hands and feet to these ones here in Ghana.

They have changed me.

Read more from Jen on her blog: www.jenhatmaker.com!

Reflections on the Past School Year

Yesterday was our last day of school. I was honestly very grateful to see the end of this school year. It has had its moments of really tough this year and some bright and shining moments too. This past week was filled with quite a few of those really tough moments and felt like my stress level couldn't get much higher. So, yes, I am very happy to see this year end and to begin to dream new dreams for the next academic year.

As I reflected on some of those moments today (between the rare moments of rest I was able to capture in today's drama), I thought of a few of these school moments to share with the many of you who have walked alongside me in my 4th year in Ghana.

Really Tough

The stress of getting our school registered with Ghana Education Service

Completely switching over our curriculum

Seeing our older lowest performing students face the disappointment of changing their dreams and making goals to something more realistic and attainable (never want to be the one to crush dreams)

Bad test scores and GES expectations that don't make sense

Dealing with false rumors being spread by staff

Drama with teachers

Suspensions and lots and lots of student interventions

Drama with parents

BECE preparation

Issues with inappropriate discipline by teachers happening in the school

Seeing people make choices that will change their life simply because they truly don't understand Gods love

Inflation causing prices to almost triple


Bright and Shining

Completed third wing

Opening the 3's class...they are just so so so cute

Seeing God move in some of our teachers lives

One on ones with teachers and students

Receiving our GES registration

Madame Beatrice coming

Professor John


Student of the Month

Co-op classes (which includes the Aglers, Beebe's, Ochs, and Aubrey Claire)

Josi and Sarah

Bridge to Literacy (with Janet)



Some life giving conversations with some of our kids

Gradual change in some teachers classrooms like with Sir Wisdom and Madame Jennifer

New bulletin boards bringing color to the school

Murals by my sister, Andrea, a friend from Las Vegas, and YGAP

Learning from the book "The 3 Signs of a Miserable Job" and "Leading on Empty"

Impact One, the Family Assistance Program, Child Champions, and CHE

All in all, a very blessed year. 

Thank you for walking with us, with me, this past academic year. Looking forward to beginning to dream again for next year.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

To the Point of Breaking

It wasn't until I lived full time with children that I realized what my real breaking point was.

I mean, I was a teacher for years in the States.  Prior to teaching, I oversaw an after-school program, subbed, was a children's pastor.  I have held so many roles working with children.  I knew it wasn't always easy.  I knew they would push boundaries and push buttons, working to get me to lose my cool.  There were several times as a teacher in an inner-city school in California that I felt my temper rise and had to talk myself down before handling situations, just being pushed to that very limit, that place of such frustration.  And it seems like once kids find that place of frustration in you...wow...that's the button that they want to push every time.

When I moved here to City of Refuge, living full time with kids, I really found where that boundary line of frustration was located.  There were certain times when I was tired or already frustrated at a situation or had little alone time (oh the life of an introvert), that even one instance of disobedience or disrespectful behavior would push me right up to my breaking point.  I would cry.  I would shout.  I could feel my face flush and my anger rising within me.

And I know that I am not alone in my response, not alone in facing that boundary line and feeling like you have been drawn right up to the point of breaking.

Today was one of those days.  I told my friend Kathy that my response to one of our kid's disrespectful behavior towards me brought out a shout that even surprised me.  And I felt frustrated...not just at the little guy's behavior, but at MY OWN, knowing I was as much in the wrong as he was.

So, after cooling down, we sat down and had a long conversation.  There were tears and apologies from both parties.  It required me to humble myself in front of a little 7 year old boy, but it was necessary and needed and hopefully will also teach him was is required for reconciliation and respect in relationship.

How have you been drawn to the point of breaking with a child?  What did you do to reconcile that relationship and also bring correction?  Any advice in handling those little button-pushers who know just where to push to bring you to the point of breaking?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Interrupted, Post 1

So, I love Jen Hatmaker.  If you haven't heard of her or read any of her stuff, check her out at www.jenhatmaker.com.

Recently, I got a free copy of one of her books, the goal being that I should read it and write about it here.

And I'm excited!  I love her wit and her honesty and her heart for the Lord.  I'm challenged and encouraged by it.

So, each week, I'm going to try to post something that I'm learning from her book, Interrupted.  It's always an interesting journey to read a book such as this while living and serving in Ghana.  It feels a little like I'm living two lives.  But, that is my journey. 

So, check back in and find out what God is teaching me through Jen's words and hopefully you'll be challenged too.

If you want to join me on the journey, you can purchase a discounted version of this book here.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lesson Learned

Today was a little piece of madness. Kids falling sick left and right. Fevers. Malaria. Headaches. Throw up and more. Lots of tears. Coaxing kids into eating and taking meds that will help them feel better.

And today I learned so many lessons:

God can heal, even through conversations.

Friends are wonderful...especially when they show up with love in the form of juice and crackers and medication.

Laughter sometimes is the best medicine, especially for little ones who haven't been able to smile all day.

A cold cloth and a loving caress goes a long way.

Sometimes, all you need is a hug and a prayer.

When volunteers and staff prayer walk and pray over each child before going to bed, you have to know you are in the midst of seeing something holy happening.

Praying for complete healing for our kiddos and sick staff. Will you join us in that place too?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bring out the Advocate in Me

There are some things that are absolutely frustrating being an American starting a school in Ghana.  There are things that I don't know if I will ever understand.  And there are things that happen because I am an American starting a school in Ghana that puts us at a distinct disadvantage.

This past week, our teachers went to a training that Ghana Education Service provided to train them on the new curriculum syllabus that Ghana has developed for the upcoming year.  Here is the wrench that has been thrown into our system:

All students from KG (preschool) through Primary 3 (3rd grade), must have their English Language class instruction (as well as other classes, but their ENGLISH CLASS instruction) primarily in the local language. 

How does that make sense?

And how does that work for our population of students? 

While about 70% of our students speak the language of our area, Adangme, the other 30% will be completely lost. 

In our school, each class will be guaranteed a student who speaks Twi.  Or Ewe.  Or Ga.  Or Chimuru.  Or Krache.  Or English Only.  And yet, they are required to sit in classes, where our common language is English, and listen to only Dangme.

We received our district-wide final exams and 70% of the ENGLISH exam was in Dangme. 

I don't get it.

And it makes me frustrated.

And it puts our children, our rescued children, at a distinct disadvantage.

And because we are a new school, we were the last to know. 

And so, we weren't given the same curriculum as the other schools.  We just had to hunt down what we could and trust that it would be good enough.

Yet, some district exams today proved that our curriculum wasn't the right one because there was literally on 7 out of the 40 questions that were found in our curriculum.

This brings out the fighter in me.

The advocate.

We want our student's best.  And every step we take is working towards their future.  And yet, it seems like a battle sometimes. 

But, we will work this out.  It's not the first battle we have faced and it certainly won't be the last.  We have to trust that we will figure out something to make this work for our kids.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Down, but never Out!

Wow! This week, I was really knocked down. I was not joking when I asked for prayer. I needed it. We needed it. Still continue to need it!

As I wrote earlier this week, I had a gallbladder attack on Saturday night which left me in pain for several days. And then, Tuesday night, I started to feel achy and my head began to hurt, leaving me to wonder if I had a bout of malaria coming on.

And sure enough, in the middle of our staff meeting on Wednesday, I began to shiver, the fever taking hold. And I was knocked out for the rest of Wednesday, all of Thursday, finally emerging from my cave of a room this morning with just a small lingering headache.

I was seriously so frustrated after being sick for so many days. I felt like all I wanted to do was get comfortable enough to do something, but my body disagreed with everything I wanted to do. I wanted to stand up, but my headache threw my equilibrium out of balance making me feel too dizzy to stand. I wanted to find a comfortable place to lay down, but my back would hurt or my legs would hurt or my hips would hurt, it just completely uncomfortable to lay down. I wanted to sleep it off, but my "sick sleep" was filled with repetitive dreams that left me waking up more tired than before I tried to sleep.

Today, I woke up with only a slight headache, but felt more normal than I have felt in almost a week. And I was so thankful.

Thankful to pray with our CORM staff this morning. 

Thankful to have good and needed conversations with John and Stacy and Stanley at our Directors meeting. 

Thankful to talk and brainstorm and laugh with our principal. 

Thankful to have been able to carry around a very happy and smiley baby Mercy after school. I mean, how can this face NOT make you happy?

Thankful for a little time with Janet and Tami, whom I pretty much missed out on any quality time with them with all this craziness (and they leave tomorrow...ahhhh).

Thankful for time to hug and laugh and chat with kids who I have felt forever distanced from this week.

Thankful to be healthy. And me again.

So, thank you for praying. And continue. I feel like this took a week away for me. A few weeks ago, I lost almost a week to my hospital stay. And we have more people sick over here, kids and staff alike. Pray! 

I may have written this before, but Stacy said a few months ago that God spoke to her that what He has done so big and beautifully and quickly here at the CORM in the natural, He is about to do the same in the supernatural. And when God is working supernaturally in all things big and beautiful and quick, expect the enemy to defend his territory.

So, we are calling out for the faithful followers of Christ to rise up and pray.

We already stand in victory. We know this full well. But the battles will wage, and their individual victories depend on the warriors fighting at the foot of our Great King.

The enemy may have tried to take me down, but I am not out of this fight. I rest in this truth:

More Than Conquerors

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.  Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]

 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31-39, NIV

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

When the War isn't Won by Me

So, several weeks back, as some of you might remember, I was hospitalized overnight for dehydration due to a nasty stomach bug.

And then, Saturday, had a gallbladder attack that really got the best of me.

And yesterday night, after spending time talking with one of my besties via Skype (have I mentioned how much I love having wireless internet access?), I came down with a crazy fever and headache and body aches that were a bit reminiscent of malaria. It took me hours to fall asleep (and many tears).

Today, I was just exhausted. 

But, as I reflect on this and on other issues and miscommunications happening here at CORM these past few days, I am realizing that we are in the midst of an all-out war. The enemy snuck up behind me and his main goal is to cut down, divide, and destroy.

We have seen God move powerfully here at CORM these past six months. God has stirred up some new things and it's been beautiful to watch and be a part of. 

But when God starts to work in powerful ways, you'd better be on the defense, prepared for what might come your way.

I feel like we are there right now.

I feel like I am there right now.

And I feel tired and a bit broken and I need some strong soldiers to rush the throne room of our Father on our behalf.

So, if you are willing to step into the battle at hand, I would love for you to be praying for us here. Here are some ways you can be praying:

*Health for me and for our kids and staff

*Protection against the lies of the enemy (gossip, miscommunications, etc)

*That those Satan is using to divide, God would move them from the way

*That the Holy Spirit would continue to move and minister and speak truth and that we would have hearts and ears and eyes to feel and hear and see that movement

*Clear ways to give expectations to our staff, volunteers, and interns

*That God would refresh in the places where we are weary, tired, and worn down

Grateful to all of you willing to step into this with us! This battle will only be won at the foot of our Savior!

Monday, July 7, 2014

The 10 things

This past week, I read this blogpost:

The post actually brought me to tears because there was just so much truth in it.

Just as an example...

This weekend, we went to my friend Angie's house to celebrate the 4th of July (yes, on the 5th, because the 4th was a work day for us here). We BBQ'ed and ate and laughed and did fireworks and all things 4th of July (Ghana-style...those fireworks were a bit life threatening and the rain left a muddy road that almost kept us from going at all and our BBQ definitely featured Ghana-style cookout meats and fruit included grilled pineapple and plantain).

Let's just say that I ate my fill.

And then, around 1 in the morning, I decided that all that food wasn't worth the trouble.

You see, back in January, I had some really annoying health issues when I was back in the States.   Since most of our food here in Ghana is fresh and not processed and since we have very limited access to milk products, my body did not react too positively to the food back home and my gallbladder made it very well known. I was in pain for the better part of a week.

One night, when I was speaking at a youth group meeting, I was praying over my body and the pain disappeared. I was so grateful! But, it taught me that my pain was self-caused and I needed to monitor my diet more closely.

Well, by 1 am, after eating all that delicious 4th of July food, another attack came on, keeping me curled up in pain until 7 in the morning before I finally drifted off to sleep. Sunday, I was pretty much incapacitated.

I talked with my mom about it, and, well, that brought more tears as what do you really want when you are sick...someone to comfort you...like your mom. And she told me that the option is available for me to come home and get treatment if the pain continued. But, everything inside of me said that there is no time for this kind of pain or a flight home for treatment. There is only just dealing with it and hoping it will pass in time. And it's frustrating to not have access to proper medical care or to worry about where the money will come from if I do need to fly home for treatment since I have no insurance since I live abroad full-time. 

And I got a letter from my friend that same Sunday which brought on another bought of tears as I just longed to be there, to hear her voice, her stories, to talk and laugh and cry and encourage and challenge. I missed her. And I felt the many miles between us. Because it's true, my heart is now always in two places...two homes. Always longing for one or the other.

And when I thought of that blogpost, I realized there is so much I don't say to protect the people who support me. There is so much that has to just be dealt with because I don't want to worry people or make others feel bad. There was just so much truth in that post.

And yet, I am also eternally grateful for the many that ask the hard questions. That write me long letters like conversations so I don't miss out on a thing. For the ones who want to hear the hard stuff, even if they don't fully understand. For those that encourage me to slow down and take a break. There are so many and I am so blessed.

I don't want to take away from them all that they pour out and in to me. It's so needed and I am so grateful.

But, today, I am just sitting in the truth of that blogpost, missing home and people and faces that I know and know me well, and thinking of the hard that is being a missionary.

Take your time and read through that blogpost and encourage the missionaries you know in your life. It makes such a difference!

Celebrating the Best

Once a month, I get to celebrate with the kids that have done outstanding things in their classrooms throughout the past month...the Students of the Month and our Character Counts Club. This is something that always sneaks up on me, but I love the opportunity to positively interact with our students (especially since most of my interactions are behavior related issues).

Fan ice and bofloats...now that is a special treat!

And this month brought even more celebration with the arrival of this one:

July is looking up!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Celebrating Freedom

 I saw this on our CORM facebook page today:
And I revel in the truth of Mr. Mandela's statement. 
Tonight is the 4th of July and for years and years, I celebrated with fireworks and red, white, and blue and burgers on the grill and so much fresh fruit, fruit that we cannot even find here in Ghana. 
Tonight, I celebrate the 4th of July with all of our kids as we have our usual Friday night movie night (They are watching Mighty Ducks--They are all chanting "quack, quack, quack" even now as I write this).  Watching with them, I recognize that they live in so much freedom that previously was not granted to them.  What a joy to hear their voices over the booming colors that fill the skies in so many places across the US tonight.  And I wouldn't trade this for my years of burgers and strawberries and fireworks (though I do long for those experiences every now and then).
Tonight I am celebrating freedom with those who are truly freed.