Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Day 24: That's SO Great...

As we travel home, we thought a reflection back on the trip would be most fitting for our last blog...these three questions were asked of each team member: 

  1. What was your defining moment for Ghana 2013?
  2. What was your favorite and/or least favorite part of the trip?
  3. What have you learned about yourself as a leader?

Caren Sims, SN
I think my favorite and defining moment was when we went to the rural villages and provided care for people that never really get much attention or health care. I enjoyed the rush of the stations we have set up and also enjoyed just being immersed in to culture of the village.
I really also enjoyed Kumasi and bonding with Zerwa. She was so sweet and latched on to me immediately which made me feel special.
I feel like God really poured into my heart and soul on this trip how much he loved me and how much he wants to forgive me. Without sounding selfish this trip really did a lot for my soul as well as for the people of Ghana.
As a leader, I learned that I need to work more on my compassion towards team members and on encouraging a verbalizing when they do good things. I also learned that I need to pull in focus faster because I tend to be more relaxed and friendly when leadership roles may be needed more at that moment.

Vanessa Davila, SN
My favorite part of the trip was connecting with people. I fell in love with the people of Ghana. They will all be engraved on my heart. This trip only confirmed to me that I am called to be a missionary to Africa.
Defining moment: I loved my time serving as part of the counseling/ ministry team at Akporman. My defining moment was praying and encouraging a women who felt alone, ashamed, and rejected. She had turned to alcohol to fill the void and help her cope with her hardships. As she opened up, I was able to minister and encourage her. I told her of God’s love and grace. There is no shame or condemnation in Christ. He loved her and wanted to heal her brokenness. He wanted to restore her. It was an honor to have this special encounter.

Kayla Keiser, SN
My most favorite part of our trip was going to the House of Grace in Kumasi. My little girl Afia was so cute and sweet. The best moment there was to see her reaction as Ms. Poore walked through the front door with new shoes for all of the girls. Afia took both hands, covered her mouth in amazement and then quickly ran over to get her new shoes.  Just being there to see that reaction at that moment was one of the best experiences I have ever had!
I have learned that as a leader I need to improve on being more forward with delegating different tasks to my group members or whoever I will be leader over in the future. I have a compassionate heart and sometimes tend to be too nice and not stern enough with my words or leadership skills.

Chelsea Lairson, SN
One of my favorite parts of this trip was the rural clinics, especially the one on the island of Ada. I loved being with the people in their village and bringing medical care to where they were at.
I cannot pick just one moment as my defining moment but i cannot forget one of the first days in the hospital and helping a mom deliver her baby. There is something so miraculous that hits me when I see a new life taking their first breath and being in Africa in a small room with just a few others brought it to a whole new reality.
On this trip I saw how important balance is in leadership and how that balance needs constant adjusting. I need to bring it up in this area but doing good in this other one, and for the next situation I need to counterbalance.

Katelyn Anderson, SN
First I cannot believe it is already over. This time with my sisters has flown by so fast. I am grateful for every opportunity I have had in Africa but especially I am grateful for the ladies that came along side me. I could not have asked for a best group of women to go to Ghana with. This whole trip was a clinical for our leadership course and as a leader I have grown more on this trip then in any of my other leadership roles. Living for three weeks with 12 women can be trying but as a leader I learned to respect the personalities around me. God made us all different so that we could work together to accomplish tasks. And we accomplished many tasks in Ghana! I always used to say “guys (men, boys) are much easier to be friends with because there is no drama” but after spending three weeks constantly in the fellowship of women I proudly say there is nothing like having a girl-friend as close to you as a sister. 

Janice Burkybile, SN:
Favorite part of the trip: There are many things great and small; from seeing life spring forth into the lifeless newborn to leading people to Christ on Valentine’s Day. The one thing that stands out was getting to see some seeds planted, watering some that have already been sewn, and then harvesting in God’s perfect timing. I was truly humbled to be small part of God’s big plan and walk in each of these parts. I met three Muslims and God wanted me to see and show His love for them. Prior to this trip, I have had no contact or experiences with Muslims (not intentionally). One of them accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior! I am so thankful for meeting Samira (presently a Muslim). She has touched my heart as she found the courage to go to the island of Ada and face her fear of the water with us and she made each of my team members a bracelet; such a courageous and precious person. I hope to join up with her in heaven one day. I have learned a lot about myself as a leader and gained confidence I did not know I had.

Jennifer Cordon, SN:
It is hard to sum up one favorite moment because there were many. I loved going to the academy and receiving hugs and overwhelming love from the kids. Despite them not knowing me, they swarmed me with hugs. My favorite part was my interaction with the children. They were so pure and they reflected the face of God. I had a glimpse of heaven on earth whenever I played and sang with the kids.
My defining moment was when they honored us as a group our last Sunday. This meant a lot to me because even though I felt like we didn’t do a lot, they made sure we knew that we made a difference. I know that we will all have another moment like this when we meet Jesus. He will welcome us and hopefully say well done my good and faithful servant. Last Sunday was another glimpse of Heaven.
I have learned as a leader that I am very good at being flexible with my members. This flexibility can be a weakness at times because every member wants something different out of the group. I need to practice my assertiveness without coming across as too bossy and just finding the balance between flexibility and defining the boundaries. Overall, I got good feedback and kind compliments from my classmates.   

Kayli Koger, SN:
It's hard to say a favorite time, because the whole trip really changed my view about leadership, teamwork and my Christian walk. But, if I had to define a favorite it would probably be Kumasi. Spending time with my little girl Paulina and learning about her changed my view on life. I felt so connected with her even though we had so little time to spend together. I know this little girl will forever be in my life - through prayer, mail correspondence and in my heart. I will cherish this time for the rest of my life!
The first day we put on our whites and headed to our assigned location. I was standing outside the eye clinic as Ms. Poore was fixing my hat and she said with a choked up voice - God has a special call on your life. I have known this in my heart all along, but it was just then that it clicked. The way she spoke to me was like God telling me and asking me to trust in Him.
I learned that I am a capable leader. That I lead with servanthood in mind. I never had the confidence in myself to lead, but something about this trip gave it to me. I also learned that confidence in myself is a huge part of being a leader. I have to trust myself in order to lead the ones counting on me.
Ghana defined a lot of aspects within myself - this time will always live in my heart!

Lina Potafiy, SN:
Choosing a favorite part of this trip is like choosing a favorite child - it's impossible! However, one of my many favorite parts of this trip was scrubbing in for a C-section. That was not something I expected to be doing on this trip, but I was so thankful that I got a chance to be a part of it! There were many, many great moments throughout the trip that have shaped me and redefined me. A defining moment for me was when I met John at the beach on Tuesday. I knew it was an encounter God was looking forward to. I saw more of God's heart and his love for people, and the rest of the trip was spent in light of what I've learned that day.

Abby Randall, SN:
I don’t think I had a “defining moment” in Ghana. For me it was a million little things. Everything from praying for a patient to presenting new shoes to the girls at House of Grace helped me realize why I came on the trip. One moment I won’t forget is when a Muslim who worked at the hospital gave every member of the team a bracelet. For me this bracelet has become a constant reminder to pray for her and all the wonderful people I met in Ghana.

We want to say thank you to our amazing professors, Ms Poore and Dr Catts, for honoring God in following His call on their lives - if it were not for them we would never have had the experiences we did. THANK YOU!

The people and experiences God placed in the path of this trip with will forever remain in our hearts.
Team Ghana together for the last time on this trip, but forever remain together as sisters in Christ. 

Day 23: A Time to Say Goodbye

I (Katelyn)  laid in bed for a good ten minutes starring up at the ceiling and thinking this is the last time I will see the sun come through those windows. Today was the day that we leave Ghana. I have mixed feeling about leaving this beautiful country, I’m happy to see all my family at home but I am going to miss the friends we have made in Ghana.

This morning we left to go to the hospital for the last devotions with the staff. I am happy this is our last devotions because on Fridays the whole hospital gathers in the lobby/ greeting area to worship and listen to devotions together. This morning they thanked us for our time spent at Manna Mission.  We thanked them for impacting our lives and careers and challenged the crows that we overcome by the word of our testimony. We sang our song in in twre to close out the devotions and then a line of hospital staff came to wish us farewell. They poured to us to shake our hands, hug us, and wipe our tears. Dr. Catts reminded us that this goodbye wasn’t forever, that one day in heaven we would all feast together the Americans with burgers and pizza and the Ghanians with foo foo and banku.

A few of us went back into the wards to say a special goodbye to the staff and patients.  Kayli, Caren, and me went to see the mommy who delivered twin boys a few days ago. The smaller one I nicknamed “peanut” he is so cute! We all thanked matron for allowing us to follow the nurses at Manna mission and presented her with the new “pediatric burns” manual. Then we all (unfortunately) had to get our fingers pricked to check for malaria. Thankfully no one got malaria! After all the hospital goodbyes we headed back to the house for one of the last meals in Ghana. Ma Grace has been a huge blessing to all of us and we all are sad to leave her great cooking!

Group B saying their last goodbyes to Matron
Group A saying their last goodbyes and presenting their teaching manuals to Matron
Group B saying their goodbyes and presenting their teaching manuals to Headmistress
Poor Vanessa getting her finger poked!
Ghana Faith Team saying our goodbyes to Ma Dina and Ma Grace
Janice has befriended a nursing aid in the eye clinic and to our surprise she made us all bracelets. The colors of the bracelets match each person perfectly. And of course Ms. Poore’s was pink!
It was time for our last devotions while in Ghana, Chelsea shared and minded us of the vision for this trip. At the end we did something special… over 6 months ago we all exchanged names in secret to pray for another team member. Now 6 months later we are going to reveal who we prayed for and wash their feet. By the end there were no dry eyes. This was the best way to end this journey with 
prayers and words of encouragement coming from someone who has prayed for 6 months over you.

Janice and me went back to our room which is the coolest room in the house and soon all the team we in our room to share in the cool. Even the 3 medical students from Virginia joined us. All to soon it was time to pack the van and head to the airport. Even up until the last moments people were coming to the mission house to say their goodbyes. Children came from the academy to see Jen and she gave them dresses, skirts, shoes, and toothbrushes donated by our team.

We all loaded into the van and waved goodbye to the Mission house and Manna mission. One at the airport things turned a little hectic… bags were switched around, lines were long, and tons of people. But we all made it through customs and 2 security checks, and pat downs at our gate. We took our seats on the plane and settled in but we did not move to take off. All of a sudden overhead an announcement by the flight attendant said “If you are a doctor please identify yourself to the flight attendant now”.  5 people stood up and gathered around a seat 15 rows in front of us. Later we found out that a 6 year old was hard to wake up even with stimulation. The doctors concluded that he was not fit to travel and the boy was taken to a hospital for treatment. This delayed our journey about an hour but we were soon to be on our way! A ten hour flight can be exhausting but we all dozed off dreaming about waking up in America!!

Me (Katelyn) and Janice ready to head home
Katelyn Anderson

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 22: Eternally Minded

Today is the day the Lord has made and we shall rejoice and be glad even though it seemed to be the hardest day to get up. It felt as though a mac truck came through the mission house. Many were sprawled and asleep on the couches as we wait for our ride to the village of Akporman. Regardless, the team is ever so excited for today’s rural clinical to the village of Akporman. This is where Dr. Seth Ablorh grew up.  His uncle is the chief of which was the first to come through for prayer with Vanessa and I (Janice).

All of us - crashed - struggling to wake up, while waiting for the van.
Vanessa and Janice praying with the chief of Akporman

Katelyn and I assigned our teams to various stations of the temporary outreach clinic. Together, with the Manna Mission Hospital team we all set up the stations to get ready for the clients. Abby and Caren performed breast exams. Vanessa and I joined with Ghanaian pastors for translation counseled and prayed with the patients. Lina and Chelsea worked with Prosper in the lab screening patients for malaria and blood sugar levels by finger sticks. Kayli and Katelyn served in the pharmacy. Jennifer and Kayla assessed vital signs. Three medical students from University of Virginia (Laura, Laura, & Jennifer) were able to join all of us today making it flow better in the physician station by increasing the number of physicians from one to four.

Jennifer and Kayla at the vitals station

Kayli and Katelyn at the pharmacy station

At ORU we believe in the Whole Person Theory and that nursing is a ministry in itself. This leads us to see value in each individual and to help them promote, restore, and maintain physically, mentally, and spiritually. We are a three part being and each person is unique.

Today brought it home for me spiritually, not only with the patients but within our team. There were so many spiritual needs and not one of the patients walked away without prayer and agreement. Even they see the need for prayer. It was simply beautiful how each of our girls served in different capacities providing services that as a team fulfilled the Whole Person Theory. But, as each of us served differently, we served alike by the Spirit of God with demonstration of God’s love and compassion. Another beauty was the joining of the two teams that operate thousands of miles apart from one another and again by the same Spirit of God; the Ghanaian and ORU teams. Pastors David, Isaac, and Frances translated for us when needed with the patients. Pastor Isaac and I were humbled as we lead two people to the Lord today. One patient was very ill with possible TB and the other was a Muslim woman who claimed she believed Jesus helped her recover from a stroke some time back, but still practiced Islam. She also had recently lost her husband due to an illness. I shared with her how God does not like mixed worship. I actively listened to her and shared the love of Jesus. It was getting late and the clinic appeared to be closing up and she had not seen the doctor yet. We sent her on without praying further. I did not want her to miss her opportunity for healthcare that we were all there to offer. I sat wondering about her soul. It was a little bit later she came over to me asking me to pray with her because she wanted Jesus as her Lord and Savior! She wanted to know that she knows if she were to die she would be going to heaven. I am certain of her genuineness because she could have just left after she received her services, but she wanted to confirm her salvation with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Prior to this trip I have had no experiences with Muslims. Upon arrival in Ghana, my first patient was Muslim and wanted me to pray for him. The Lord gave me a friend who is presently Muslim to just walk in the love of God (not Allah) with. Then just today, Valentine’s Day, He brought a Muslim ready for harvest . This demonstrated to me how some sew seed, some water, and some reap. Another observation was the unity within our team and between us and the Manna Mission team. All of this was definitely predestined by the Spirit of God banded together as brothers and sisters in Christ. The cultural collision was beautiful and divine. As this trip is drawing near to a close, the importance of whole person care is resounding loud and clear and the need to be eternally minded.

A fitting back window on our way home today
Much Love, 
Janice Burkybile, SN

Day 21: You Can Take the Girl Out of Oklahoma...

Hey everyone, Katelyn here.

We all woke up to the impending doom that today we had to say goodbye. In the house we rose to Janice and Ma Comfort in the kitchen preparing breakfast, Janice was positioned on a small stool on the kitchen floor, cutting mango and looking like a natural “African Mama” – which soon was to become her nickname.

Cutting mangos like a pro
Coffee in hand, our group packed up our belongings and formed a small pile in the front room. Then all to soon it was time to take the small path behind the house to House of Grace to see our girls. In this short time together we have all become so attached to Pastor Sammy, Ma Comfort, and 10 beautiful little girls. And just like when we arrived two days ago the girls greeted us with a sign that read “Goodbye ORU, We Love You”. And then the tears started to flow.
Each girl at the House of Grace has a unique story of how she came to live in Kumasi. As I look at my little girl, Esther, I can’t believe how much I already care for her.

Katelyn and Esther
We all line up for pictures, each of my teammates paired with their House of Grace girl. And when all the pictures were taken we each kneel down next to our individual girl and pour into her some last words like: “God has such a plan for your life, You are so beautiful, You’re smart, keep up the good work at school, I will miss you, and you will change your world.”

After I prayed with Esther, we all walked hand in hand to the school. Last hugs and last tears finally came and then all the ORU team headed back to the house while the House of Grace girls went to school.

Saying our last goodbyes while walking the girls to school
The last hour in Kumasi was spent consuming Ma Comfort’s homemade banana bread, which is one of my favorite foods in Ghana. Our goodbye to Pastor Sammy and Ma Comfort was quick with desires to stay longer next time.
We set our on the road again with Wisdom our trusty driver and Deborah riding shotgun. As we pulled out of the compound all the school children waved and ran after the van. Kumasi is a beautiful city with plenty or greenery and welcoming people.

Our drive back to Accra has plenty for the eyes to see: mountains and hills, people flood the streets selling goods from baskets on top of their heads, and buses and cars line the streets. Driving in Africa is a completely different experience than any other country I have been to. Yes, they drive on the right hand side of the road but sometimes there is no road, only red dirt. And I have learned that you can take the girl out of Oklahoma but that girl can’s escape potholes no matter where she goes.

Driving in one van with 14 people, 4 large suit cases, and each person having various individual items takes strategic planning. A quick shout out to my back row sisters – Lina, Abby, Chelsea, Vanessa, and Jen for taking the speed bumps and roads to new heights. Four hours later we were back in Accra. We all sat down for lunch and told Ma Grace how much we missed her but no one missed her cooking more than Caren. It was like coming home.
Me (Katelyn), Caren, Kayli, Kayla, and Janice all went up to the hospital to check on the twins that were born earlier today and use the internet. The cutest twin boys were placed in matching blue hats and blankets provided by Ms. Poore’s mom and Aunt Virginia.

Back at the house we ate a quick dinner then were on the road again to meet one of our Ghanaian friend’s brother and father. At the house of our friend’s brother we talked to him about health care in Ghana and the need to train nurses that will stay in Ghana. We all listened intently and learned about how the health care industry operates in Ghana. Our friend’s father is 87 years old and has been ill for quite some time. We all gathered around his bedside to pray and thank God for his long life. Many wonderful things about this trip happen outside of specific nursing clinical time and this was one of those moments. I was very honored to be welcomed into a Ghanaian’s home whom we had never met before.
Today ends as many days in Ghana do, with devotions lead by one of my sisters, followed by the reading of blogs, and an endless line for showering. Many times we joke about what we will miss about Ghana when we are back in the USA like “the power going out everyday”, but all joking aside I will miss these days when I’m laughing in a van and praying at bedside with my sisters. 

Katelyn Anderson

Day 20: Just let them touch you...

This morning began about 4am for me with the sounds of Ma Comfort in the kitchen scratching up 8 loaves of Ghanaian banana bread for breakfast. I joined her around 530 for a cup of coffee and to bag the loaves to keep them from drying out. She and I plan to meet up in the morning to learn how to make her special and delicious bread and the tricks of scoring mangos.

Janice with Ma Comfort - Banana bread muffins in the background.

Pastor Sammy shared a little more with us about the school. Trinity Foundation is a private Christian school PK-4. He said the families cannot afford the monthly tuition fees so they pay 1 cedi daily. For those who do not know that computes out to around 50 cents depending on the fluctuating exchange rate of Ghana. “Just let them touch you” were the words spoken by Pastor Sammy. He said each of these children will remember meeting us for the rest of their lives and encouraged us to let them stroke our skin, hair, and face because they are curious of what we “feel” like. That explains all of the caressing I received yesterday. A funny story shared by Pastor Sammy when he was a small Ghanaian boy was that he had believed white people switched their eyes out with cat eyes at night. His parents sent him to live with a British couple for education and he was eager to see if that were true. Of course after four years, he found he had been previously deceived.

According to Pastor Sammy, a man went to a Fetish god (through some form of a witch doctor or local fetish priest) and paid him to charm the mother of his children into marrying him because she had declined his marriage proposals. The father promised the children to the spirit in exchange. She was charmed by the spirit into marriage. The mother started to attend Trinity Foundation Church sometime after. The spirit came spiritually to take the children many times and every time there was a white shiny man with a sword drawn protecting the children as professed by the father to a pastor while very ill in the hospital. He said the spirit was angry and said he was going to take his life because the man tricked him. Not soon after the man had died. Presently, the mother and her children attend Trinity Foundation Church and the son attends Trinity Foundation School and his sister is in high school now. It is amazing to see God Almighty protect and reign in power over darkness.

Shortly after breakfast, the Ghana Faith Team dispersed to the school to witness their daily morning assembly. The sounds of the 2 male and 1 female drummers accompanying the marching students with swinging arms as they dismissed one class at a time to their classroom left me awestruck. Abby went to class 4 and ended up being the teacher for the day because there was not one today. God always amazes me to see how He works things out ahead and with whom. Abby did such a great job. She taught on subjects and predicates, religion, and math. With her creative juices flowing (as usual) she taught the subject and predicate lesson with “The Tale of Mr. Morton” by School House Rock. This girl knows a song for everything! For the Bible lesson she led her students outside to sit under a shade tree and talked on the Good Samaritan because it was too hot in the classroom.

Abby with some of the girls form her class

I was in class 2 which is the classroom that my Esther 1 (House of Grace girl) is in. I sang songs with them, graded math for Miss Esther (teacher), and spoke into the children to always trust God and to never quit—always try and try again as some do struggle. One thing I observed today in this class was the difference I seen in the House of Grace girls from the rest of the class. Overall, I see great potential in each student present, but the House of Grace girls appeared to be more alert, better dressed in appearance, and have a leadership style of their own. It is evident that in a year’s time and sometimes less for some of the newer girls that God is restoring their lives through the House of Grace staff and school.

Janice with her girl Esther and one of her friends

We stayed in the school until noon. We ate fried plantains among other things for lunch and then rested until 230pm. We then went to the girls’ house behind the mission house to help them with homework and do their physical assessments. Some of the girls have opened up right away but some are still blossoming. Kate’s Esther 2 smiled at her today! It may not sound like much to some but this is a big deal. These girls have hard life stories and a smile means trust and excitement between them. Later this evening, after supper, we went to paint and make bracelets with the girls, compliments of Mrs. Butay and Ms. Shipley. The girls really enjoyed this time as did we. Just prior to this, we were going to have to present them with their special church dress and other apparel by flashlight as the power went out. This appears to be common all across Ghana and you never know when or how long. It’s always a surprise! Indeed, to our amazement the power came on just as we began giving gifts. First, I want to give a big shout out to all of the wonderful givers who donated every piece of garment, coloring books, and crayons, socks and undergarments, etc. The girls were so excited for everything and because of the blessing of our time and your giving their countenance changed. Each girl’s eyes lit up as they put on their dresses and twirled. It was so amazing how headbands matched dresses they presently had on and with the dresses that were given. Each girl’s outfits and apparel seemed to match up even though they were not purchased by the same person. My Esther smiled and said “Wow!” over her five pairs of socks. Each girl got a church dress, three interchangeable outfits, seven underwear (they call them “pants”), five pairs of socks, and a backpack with a headband and bracelet inside. It was like Christmas in February and it was such a special time with them. We wish we could have had a little more time with them.  We retired to the house around 815pm for devotion and to hear of how the African (Pastor Sammy) and the American (Dr. Mark Rutland) met. It has been an honor to meet such a man and woman of God as Pastor Sammy and Ma Comfort and to be a part of God’s big plan for these girls. God is so good all of the time! Letting them touch us on the outside as encouraged by Pastor Sammy deeply touched us on the inside.

Performing the girl's physical assessments

Having a blast with the donated silly putty! They had so much fun!

Much love,
Janice Burkybile, SN

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Day 19: The Road Ahead Will Be Treacherous

4:00am came way too early! We all wanted to just hit the snooze button on our alarms and go back to sleep, but the day ahead would be one of our most memorable adventures on this trip. We all loaded up on the van around 5:00am and were headed from Accra to Kumasi where we would stay two nights and three days at the House of Grace. For those of you who don’t know what this special place is, it is a home that Dr. Mark Rutland, the current president of ORU, started about a year ago on the same compound as the Trinity Foundation School. Founded about 6 years ago, the Trinity school that provides education to approximately 225 children from preschool to fourth grade. The House of Grace is a girl’s home for Ghanian girls whose families are either deceased or are no longer able to care for them. Currently there are ten girls residing in the home.  The neat thing about this is that there are ten of us girls who traveled half way across the world to present one of these ten girls with multiple gifts that God has provided for them in various ways.

Our drive from Accra to Kumasi was about four hours long and it was a treacherous journey to say the least.  Bumpy roads that went on for miles, our heads bouncing off of our pillows with each bump, lack of sleep and having to go through three different police traffic stops along the way doesn’t even begin to describe how the day started off. We did however happen to stop at a red traffic light where we bought fried plantain chips through our van window…talk about a much needed and delicious treat! These chips are so much better than our potato chips back in America…much healthier too!

Our beloved plantain chips!

We arrived at the House of Grace around 10:00am on Monday morning and as soon as we got off of the van the children came running. It was such a wonderful greeting as the children were waving to us, hugging us and even got in a circle to sings songs of worship with all of us. We may have been distracting them just a little bit from their schoolwork but they were so accepting of us and so adorable that we couldn’t help not to play with them and ask them their names.

Singing songs with all of the little ones!

The children then went back to their classrooms and each of us went to go pick out the rooms that we would sleep in for the next two nights. The house we stayed in is Pastor Sammy and his wife Comfort’s home. Once again, I am in awe of how loving and accepting the Ghanian people are of us. Pastor Sammy and Comfort have made all of us feel so at home here. Comfort made us delicious Ghanian food and homemade cookies just about every meal, and Pastor Sami told us some great stories about his life and how he met Dr. Rutland. These two people truly are a gift from God to us.

Chelsea sitting in on one of the school classes.
After we settled in to our rooms, we all decided to lie down and take a much needed nap due to our lack of sleep from waking up so early. Some of us napped longer than others but once we were all awake we felt very rested. After our naps we decided to go meet each of our girls at the House of Grace, and as we walked through the front door we saw all ten girls standing in front of us with three different signs that they had made welcoming us to their home. It was such a heartwarming experience and one moment that I will never forget. We played with the girls for a few more minutes then headed back to the house where Comfort had made us a delicious Ghanain dinner along with juicy mango and pineapple.

Upon finishing dinner we gathered things to take over to the girls that had been donated specifically for our trip to Kumasi. Some of these donated items were from 2012 Alumni Matt and Rachel Ortiz who had come on the Africa trip last year. They graciously donated ten backpacks with all sorts of goodies inside for each girl to have as her own. Other items that we brought over for the girls included coloring books, crayons and a pair of shoes.  Each girl’s face lit up that evening as we kept showering them with gifts. It was like Christmas in February! It’s moments like these that make me want to stop and take a minute to thank God for the opportunities He has given me throughout my life and for providing me with a wonderful and supportive family. For these girls the road has been treacherous but thanks to the House of Grace, they can now look ahead to the future.

The girls with their new blankets and goodies from inside their backpacks!

The girls with their new backpacks donated by Matthew and Rachel Ortiz! The girls lit up when they got them!

These shoes were bought with money donated to our team...the girls were so excited!
We played with our girls until it was time for them to go get ready for bed. None of them wanted us to leave but we told them that we would come back over the next day as soon as they got out of school. Their efforts to try and get us to stay were so persistent but we had to let them go so that they could be up bright and early the next morning on time for school.

Coloring with our girls.
Just as God has plans for all of our lives, He also has specific plans for these adorable little girl’s, and He will richly bless them in their walk with Him. Dr. Rutland’s House of Grace slogan states that they are “Saving Little Girls for Big Destinies,” and through those big destinies, each one of these girls will one day go out and change their world.

Kayla J. Keiser