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!

Get Involved

Learn More


Monday, September 29, 2014

The Tide Keeps Rolling In

I have felt overwhelmed lately.

Overwhelmed by my workload.

Overwhelmed emotionally by so many things going on with staff here and friends and family back home.

Overwhelmed by my need to rest, yet the need to "get it all done" as well.

I sense this great tide that keeps rolling in...

God is expanding us in amazingly powerful ways.

But, expansion is hard.

I mean, waves are so fun to watch, to play and splash in, to ride upon.

But, the problem with waves...they keep on coming.  Sometimes, you get bowled over, and it's hard to right yourself.

The waves happening right now are so good, so sweet.

But, I, at times, am feeling shaken by them. 

I feel like I am at the brink of getting bowled over and tossed by these powerful waves.

So, I run to the truth.

I run to the place that plants my feet firmly.

And in the midst of this tired place, I sense a deeper rooting.  As if I am becoming like a mighty oak planted right along the shore.  The waves crash upon it.  It's leaves are shaken.  The weaker branches are even cast off in the roar of the mighty waves.

But, I am not toppled.

And as the tide continues to roll in, I know there will come a day when I turn and look back at this season of expansion and I will see the fruit.

Right now, I mostly just feel the waves.

And am trusting the roots.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I Can't Fix Them

I feel like Stacy has told me about five times this week, "Autumn, you can't fix their problems."

But, that's exactly what I want to do.

There have been several things that have popped up this week, situations that are brought to my attention through a hard conversation or a hurried note or even a worried look. 

For those of you who know me well...and those of you who have taken a spiritual gifts test...I am a mercy.  Mercy's are heart-people.  They feel the hurts and struggles and worries of those they interact with.  It has taken me a long time to sense when those hurts and struggles and worries are becoming a burden to me.  If I am not careful, I can take them on myself and they feel so heavy and hard.  I long to fix the problem.  To have the perfect answer.  To make everything alright.  To bring peace to the conflict.

But, Stacy is right.

In my need to fix the problem, I take away the one and only solution.  Full-surrender to Christ.

My advice and my comforts and my words takes away the opportunity for those struggling to engage with the Lord...the only one who actually could fix the problems, heal the hurts, wipe the tears.

But, oh, it is so hard for me to release. 

This morning, I spent so much time simply laying prostrate before the Lord, crying out for these ones who have been so heavily on my heart.

But, the answer was the same.  Just as their answer would be SURRENDER...mine is also surrender.

It's not easy.  In fact, it is almost defeating it feels so hard.  I want what is best for them.

But, maybe my best is not the best.

And so, I surrender.

I have to.  Because I can't fix them.

I can encourage and support them and lead them back to the truth when the questions come.  But I can't fix these situations.  I can't fix the problems.  I can't fix the sin issues in their lives.

That only comes in relationship with Jesus Christ.

And so, I surrender.

Again and again.

And I pray that as God hears my cry, that He will do the work.  He will do the fixing.  He will do the growing and the maturing and the stretching.

And so, I surrender.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hanging curtains

My mom left yesterday. It was such a beautiful time with her. Long conversations. Times of laughter. Honesty. Just hearing her heart.  She got to witness all that God has done here in the two years since she last came. It was sweet, sweet time.

I tried to remember the last time that we had a whole week to ourselves before. I can't even remember a time since I was just a child.

It was like a little treasure, poured out just for us to take and hold onto and call sacred.

Life carried on as usual. I had school, so there were times when my mom had time to herself. She worked with Impact One to do a training on foster parenting, a program we would love to see get moving in this area. She also worked a little each day, when we had power, on sewing curtains for my apartment. 

It was supposed to be a water week, but for some reason, we had extremely irregular electricity and water the entire week.  Ute it seemed part of the adventure.

And Saturday, my friends here in Ghana came to visit her. I watched as we ate pizza at a super long table, the kids running around, dancing and laughing. I watched as everyone came over to explore my new apartment after Uncle Odion spent the day hanging things up on the walls. I felt the gaps...missing our beloved Beebe's and Och's...but in that moment, as I talked and laughed with friends, my mom getting to know those that are in my community here, it felt like home, perhaps in a way it hadn't felt like before.

Yesterday, Sunday, we worshipped together in the morning, the kids and staff dancing with such joy. And after I led our usual worship time, Aaron asked if he could lead us in worship and the Spirit of God fell on us in such a sweet and powerful way as he spoke the truth out over us, as every voice cried out to our Great God. And we didn't want that moment to end. Because God's presence was so thick. And because Aaron was so anointed.

At the end of the service, everyone gathered around my mom, arms reaching out to touch her, Edwin on her hip, voices being raised up in prayer. Her third trip here and she is SO loved by our kids, by our staff. I was blessed simply because she has blessed them.

The goodbyes last night were tear filled, but I was so extremely grateful for her sacrifice (and my dad's as he had kid stuff all by himself) in coming. How I longed for just one more day, but I also know that she needed to get home to the kids, to my dad.

Today, I spent the majority of the day finishing up the curtains for my apartment, sewing and hanging curtains. Kids were in and out. Ajata helped me clean my windows. And, as I sewed, I just reflected on the beauty of this past week. 

As I hung up my new curtains, lovingly sewn by my mom, I missed her. But, her presence won't be forgotten. It is in each seam now gracing my every window. It is in the flowers she planted outside my door. It is in the kid's faithful call for "Grandma Patti". 

So, tonight, as I look at my new curtains, I am simply...grateful. 

Love you mama! Thank you for coming and investing and loving on all of us here. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

My Mom is Here

Yesterday, my stomach was filled with butterflies as I left school early to pick up my mom from the airport. Ajata and 2 of our National Service ladies joined in the journey through Ashaiman and Tema...traffic for 2+ hours...butterflies knowing my mom had already landed and here I was stuck in traffic. But, I had entertainment and was grateful for Ajata's car time with me.

When we finally arrived at the airport (after my mom had been waiting for an hour), we loaded up right away and took off.

We chatted and laughed all the way back home and my mom is just in awe of all the changes that have taken place here at CORM in two years. Not just in the physical, but the way God is moving spiritually, widening our vision, growing our kids.

And this morning, talking for hours, touring the place, seeing John and Stacy and the kids (they were away for the weekend), playing with the littles, fetching water with our loud talkative girls. 

I am loving having my mama here. Nothing like my mama...

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Can I just say how much I hate creating/changing/correcting school class schedules?

My brain hurts.

And I am sure I have at least two more hours of working on scheduling tomorrow.

That's all I wanted to say.

I just needed to throw that out there into the void of the internet.

I hate making schedules. Love the end result. Hate the process.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Starting Again

Today was the first day of my FIFTH school year here in Ghana. Sometimes, I just sit in wonder at that.

I was reminiscing with Paul and Grace and Valentina over dinner tonight about my first year here. 

Our little blue schoolhouse.

Living together in Downtown Doryumu.

The laughter...the shouting...the fun...the adventure...and yes, even the tears...especially my long sleepless nights with Edwin.

Five years.

Today, I taught English to our junior high students, the very kids I taught so many years ago.

Back then it was basic phonics and reading comprehension.

Today, it was consonant pronunciation. (GES has some interesting topics in their textbooks!)

Sometimes, time doesn't change everything. Ha!

But, oh, to remember...to reflect...oh the change.

And even with 6 teachers out today (yes, on our first day of school), and tears shed by children and teachers alike, and more scheduling than I ever want to do again...

I feel blessed.

Because, there are no words to describe how far we have come. And no words to describe the goodness of the season ahead.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Coming of Age, Post 8

I have been wanting to write this post for almost two weeks. Time has flown and when I sit down to write in the evenings, the words can't adequately express the great meaning and beauty of that day.

Last Sunday was our coming of age ceremony. It was beautiful, a completion of the vision we felt like God had set before us. 

The canteen was decked out to the nines in ribbons and balloons.

The whole place was filled with a level of expectation, a knowing that we were entering into something new...something holy.

The guys came in, dressed in kente handsomely draped over their shoulders, as the chiefs do in this place. Their feet wearing the sandals of the elders, beads around their neck.

The ladies, our beautiful girls, seemed to be floating into the place as they walked into the service. Their heads crowned with tiaras, they stood confident in all their splendor.

Our wild Mary said, "They look like angels.".

And they did.

The service was a place to honor our 12, they journey they passed through during the Coming of Age week. 

It was an honor to have 5 of our chiefs come and witness the celebration. To have Chief Opata speak into their lives the truth of the gospel instead of the traditions of old.

It was an honor to have our friends Dean and Nanama Fiavor present to pour into them on that day, to lead the ceremony in a way that encouraged the body of believers there on that day.

It was an honor to have our friends, the Sieberts, the Harms, the Okanteys, Miriah, our family, our kids and staff, present with us, to bear witness to the day at hand.

We danced. We sang. We celebrated.

And when the initiation service began, we called them all up by name. 













They stood in grace and boldness, that strange dichotomy, as they read out the pledges they had thoughtfully and prayerfully built over the course of the week. Pledges that spoke of their devotion to Christ, their promise to built the love of Christ in their lives, their homes, their future.

And then we, the leadership, were given the sweet honor of anointing them with oil and praying prayers  that come from a place of knowing them so well.

It felt like something broke free in the heavenlies. This service. There was just so much good in it. So much God in it. So much beauty and freedom and change. 

Oh, how I pray that over this community. It makes us dream bigger dreams for the future. That THIS could change Ghana.

Because, this:

They know their worth, their value as children of our Great King. They can stand in full confidence. They can smile at the days to come, because they KNOW.

Amen and amen.