Saturday, July 24, 2010

Like Father, Like Daughter

There is something unspeakably wonderful about sharing experiences with those you love.  For several years now my parents have been hearing about the VOH and the children whom I have grown to love so deeply.  My mother had the opportunity to visit last fall, and my dad just spent the last two weeks with me.  I have settled into my role and the community since my mom's visit, so it was a great time for dad to come.  I knew that he would grow to love the community here as I do.  He quickly won their hearts. Everyone kept saying how much I "resemble" my father.  One of the teachers even went so far as to say that I should have been a man.  Thank you for that.  But, I was honored that the house parents commented on our similar work ethic and character.  It was so fun to listen to them sing his praises after he the various classes he taught. 

He doesn't sit still real well.  I wonder where I learned that from?  He kept telling me he did not come to sleep and that he wanted to serve in any way possible.  So, he helped in doing review games with my social studies classes, read with my reading groups, played kickball in p.e., taught primary devotion each afternoon, helped with reading program, taught a parenting class, fixed broken library chairs, preached a sermon, played with kids, and everything else in between.  He discovered just how insufficient words are to describe the experiences of the heart here in Ghana.  I am so thankful for who he is, and the way that he serves.  I am so blessed by he and mom's support of my work here and their examples of faith.  I know sometimes they have a hard time with me being far away, but I told them it's all their fault.  They taught me to love Jesus.  And I'm thankful they did.  I think he left thoroughly exhausted, but with a full heart.  I wish you could all come visit.  This children, this place would capture your heart.

Friday, July 9, 2010

One Step at a Time

I have written several times about my dear and devoted Ebenezer.  There are moments when my heart hurts I just love him so much, and moments when I want to cry with exasperation over him.  There are times I am so frustrated by his behavior and disrespect because I want better for him, and know that he knows better.  There are also days when I am overwhelmed with his ability to love and learn.  For many months I have been counseling him on his behavior, and monitoring his progress.  He is constantly at my side, so I spend a lot of time with him each day.  He is preciously loyal.  There are days when I get discouraged that we are back sliding and that his anger is overcoming him.  Not too many days ago I had to physically restrain him from entering a house where he was trying to beat up a couple of girls that had been teasing him.  But today I praise God for baby steps.  I praise God for a heart that desires change.  Transformation takes time.  But it is beautiful to see small steps forward. 

Of his own initiative today, Ebenezer gave me a prayer he wanted me to type for him so that could read it every morning.  I almost cried as I read his words.  I will share with you just one part of it:

God please help me to be respectful to my parents and the people around me.  God bless me and guide me to forgive my brothers and sisters.  God please help me to stop becoming angry easily.  Thank you God for what you are doing for me and my family.  Father bless my family and bless the Village of Hope.  Thank you for the food that you have been giving me.  Thank you for the water you have been giving me.  I love you God and I know that you will help me to be a good boy.  Thank you God for sending your only son to die for me.  Thank you for listening to my prayer.

I praise God that it is in his heart to overcome his anger and disobedience.  I love that his is thankful for having clean water to drink and food to eat each day, as so many here do not.  God please answer his prayer.  Today and everyday.


Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  John 13:34

I have decided that life is a lot more simple than we often make it.  God created us with such love and desires that we share it with each other.  Everyone.  Period.  Whether we think they deserve it or not. Whether they love us or not.  Whether they treat us well or not.  We have got to stop talking about it, reading about it, and do it.  If there is one thing I am learning from the ministry here it is how to love more fully, more deeply, more sacrifically.  Don't just love when it feels good. Love when it hurts.  Love when it is uncomfortable, awkard, dirty, costly.  I challenge you to just love with all you have got, and then some.  And see if God won't fill your heart.  Today my heart feels like it could bust with love for these kids.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Matthew 10:42 And if anyone gives even a even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.

It is not often that I share with you the background stories of our children here. I sometimes forget that these boistrous, joyful, passionate, children have such tragic stories. Their histories are incredibly powerful, so today I would like to share with you the story of a sweet young lady named Nkugami. Her story speaks for itself about the importance of this ministry, and the redemptive beauty of God's love. I am continually amazed at her maturity, selflessness, and joyful heart. She spends much of her time caring for a young girl named Christie who has physical and mental challenges. She never complains that she misses out on activites and leisure time to care for Christie. It is precious to watch Nkugami love and care for her. My heart just swells when I see the two of them together. Here is her story in her own words:

My name is Nkugami Takpando from Yendi, in the northern region of Ghana. I am 14 years old and in grade 6.
This is why I came to the Village of Hope:
One afternoon, my mother called me and this is what she said to me, “Nkugami, very soon you will leave here for another place. Promise me that you will be a good girl.” Just after she said that she laid down on the bed and died. My father went out to buy a coffin to burry my mother. My father returned with the coffin, and put it in a room. When he was asked to go and bring the coffin from the room, looking at the coffin alone in the room, he also fell and died instantly.
Life became hard. I was like chaff that the wind blows anywhere it wants. Besides my parents death, there were several other deaths in my family sequentially. The only hope was my grandmother who moved me from my town to a distant land with the fear that I may also die.
I was five years then, I had to work on people’s farms for daily bread. Hope was lost, no future for me. I was always weeping and mourning. No education, clothing, and shelter was VERY hard. My health matter was horrible because there was no proper food and proper balanced diet. As a result, I almost died of sickness. I couldn’t read or write.
One day the Village of Hope came to my aid. My mourning turned into dancing and laughter. Now I can write and read. Village of Hope has given me everything- including shelter, education, health, clothing, etc. My vision is to become a trained teacher to help others who may have happened to go through such problems. God help me. Amen.