Jul 29, 2010

A Few Pictures

Katie and Emma

Back:  Karli, Colton, Caleb, Joseph
Front:  Katie, Paige, Camille

The Girls - on our way to church

Joseph at Ankaase Library - usually he's playing chase with the children

Colton and Friend
Chris, Beverly and Martin with the triplets at Anfaani

Jul 24, 2010

Wed-Fri, July 22-24

When we arrived in Ankaase on Tuesday night, we were introduced to house mom, Maggie.  She is an extraordinary woman who manages the mission house when teams come here to stay.  Also, there were 2 American college interns here named David and Libby, who left on Friday for the US.  The house is surrounded by a concrete wall and there's a security guard at the gate 24 hours a days.  This is a very common thing in Ghana.

On Wednesday morning, Cheryl and Colton went with David and the local Methodist pastor to the nearby large village of Kumasi to do some grocery shopping since the pantry was empty.  This was quite an adventure because we had to go to the local Ghanaian market and try and purchase everything for all of our meals for 1 1/2 weeks.  Shopping in a Ghanaian market is quite different from shopping at Tom Thumb.  First of all, the milk was not kept refrigerated.  It was in a box on the shelf with the juice.  How strange.  Also, one did not go up and down the aisle with a buggy because of congestion.  The buggy was parked at the end of the aisle and if you were lucky, it would still be there when you came back with your items.  Fruits and vegetables had to be purchased from local street vendors.  We were so glad to find fresh pineapple, bananas, plantain, oranges and watermelon!  We had to go inside the local "farmer's market" to get our vegetables so our driver's mother went with us to help get the best price.  I think the local "farmer's market" is a fascinating place, but I could surely do without the hunks of raw meat sitting out.

While Cheryl and Colton were at the market, the rest of the team went to the library and entertained about 300 children with Bible stories and songs.  The library is an amazing place.  The town of Ankaase is so blessed to have it here, but they do not yet understand its value to their community.  That will take some time, but by God's grace, it will happen.

On Thursday and Friday, the team would have breakfast and devotions and then head to the library to process books sent by US donors.  In the afternoons, we would do Bible stories and school lessons with the children.

Being in Ankaase has been very different than anything else this team has done.  Everything here moves at a much slower pace and our evenings are free.  It has been a wonderful and much needed time of rest for all of us.

We will be here until next Thursday and then we go back to Tamale until Aug 5.  A small team from Visiting Orphans will join us on July 30.  We are looking forward to meeting them and showing them around.

Jul 23, 2010

Tuesday, July 20 - Team Departures

Early this morning, 12 of our team members boarded a small plane in Tamale and headed back to Accra to begin their journey home.  It was very difficult to say good-bye to them and there were lots of tears and hugs.  They went straight from airport in Accra to a village on the outskirts of town called Agbogbloshie.  This is a village of more than 25,000 Dagomba who have settled into what the locals called "Sodom and Gomorrah".  It is a dump, with raw sewer in the streets and houses made of sheet metal and cardboard.  This is the village where Pastor Mohammed pastored a church for many years before relocating to the Northern Region.  This is also the village where Cheryl Read and Richard Newman first served in Ghana.  The village is adjacent to a local market, where the Dagomba come to sell their vegetables (mostly yam and shea butter).

In the middle of this madness is a small band of believers who meet in a concrete structure called All Souls Baptist Church.  Some  of them even sleep in the church, on long wooden benches.  Together they struggle to survive in an almost impossible situation.  The teams go there to encourage and strengthen them, but in the end, it is usually the Americans who are encouraged when they see such joy in the midst of such poverty and suffering.  After visiting Agbogbloshie, the team spent a couple of hours at the market, where they were sure to spend the last of their pocket money on beads and machetes.

The remaining 8 team members decided to depart this day for a village near Kumasi, called Ankaase, where they were going to work with school children in a local library. We decided it would be too sad and lonely to be without our other team members at the guesthouse in Tamale.

A few hours into the trip, we were stopped at a road block by Ghanaian State Police, who showed our driver a radar gun (really?  a radar gun?) and told him he was speeding.  They insisted that he turn over his license, but our driver told them that he had left Tamale without it.  They made him get out of the car and follow them to the back of the vehicle.  In all honestly, I was a little frightenend.  Here was one American woman with 7 college students and a bag full of money, sitting on the side of the road, with our driver on the verge of being arrested.  Everything turned out fine though, when our driver paid the man 5 GHc as a bribe, and we went on our way.

Our way was supposed to take 4 hours, but 9 hours later, we were still trying to find our way to Ankaase in the dark.  Not fun and a little stressful.  If you've been to Africa, you know that when it gets dark, it is very dark as there are no street lights and many villages do not have electricity.  Also, we were traveling on dirt roads.

We finally located the Gongwer house and unloaded our luggage.  What a pleasant surprise to find a huge, three bedroom home with all the conveniences of home waiting for us!  This place was like a bed and breakfast!  For the first time in 20 days, we had hot water.  Hot water!!!

After a good night's rest, we woke to find ourselves in a tropical paradise.  We were in the home of American missionaries who have now moved to Accra.  The weather here is so mild that we have to use blankets at nights for warmth!  Who knew?  And we have hot water!!  We also have a wonderful house mom named Maggie who loves Jesus and loves to cook for "Obrunis" (white people).  And to top it off, there's a porch swing.

And did I mention that we also have HOT WATER??!!??

Jul 22, 2010

Monday, July 19

Today was the last day in Tamale for 12 of the 20 team members.  They spent the morning at the local cultural center (market) and then went to visit a private orphan home called Hands of Mercy.  Several of the team members had been serving at Hands of Mercy during the last two weeks.

Taylor and Stephanie have such a heart for the orphans here and they both spent their day holding babies at Anfaani Children's Home.  Anfaani houses orphans from birth to age 2.   This is the orphan home that IHH helps sponsor.  Currently, there are 3 children who need to be sponsored.  Two are newborn twin boys.  In this culture, sometimes twins are seen as evil and are outcast from the village.  Contact http://www.hopeheritage.org/ if you are interested in sponsorship.

Pastor Mohammed and Elisha joined us for dinner and we had a wonderful time of sharing and a few sad good-byes. 

It was heartwarming to hear how lives (American and Ghanaian) have been touched during the last few weeks.

We thank God for the opportunity to serve Him in this way and we continually pray that He is glorified in everything we do.

Please continue to pray for those who are returning to the States as they begin to process everything they experienced and as they begin to seek God's plan for what He would have them do with all of this.  This can be extremely overwhelming, especially for the first timers.

Also, some of you might to begin praying about joining one of our teams next year.  The mission is always the same:  go tell people about Jesus

Sunday - The Commissioning

On Sunday, the team had the privilege of attending the formal commissioning service for the new church building in Sankpem village, a small remote mud-hut village in the Northern Region.  The village is predominantly Muslim.  The Christians there have been meeting under a tree for several years. 

Upon arrival, Chris and Cheryl were taken to meet the Muslim Chief, something that is considered customary in this culture.  After Cheryl cut the ribbon and everyone got settled in the new church building (a one room structure), we began to sing.  Shortly after that, we began to hear very loud, rhythmic drumming.  Boy, we were surprised when the Chief and his elders walked in, followed by the village drummer, who was announcing his arrival.  The church leaders rushed to get a bench, which they placed right at the front.  The team was sitting in the "choir" section, so we were facing one another.
After that, we began to hear more drumming and in came the cultural dancers.  Wow!  I cannot even describe that experience.  I hope to post a video when we get home, so be sure and check back.

There was a guest preacher and lots of singing and dancing.  The team had great fun joining the circle of dancers and most of them have decided that our churches back in the states could learn a lot from African worship.

Even though we had a lot of fun at the commissioning, the significance of what was happening was not lost.  The church members have been praying for a church for many years and so have we.  We thank God for his provision for Sankpem Church.

When Cheryl unveiled the plaque that was attached to the outside of the building, it read

"Hope Mission Church".

That pretty much says it all.

P.S.  And as a thank you gift, we received a live goat as a gift from the Chief of the village.  A. LIVE.GOAT.

Jul 17, 2010

A few team pics

Jul 16, 2010

The Witch Camp

On Thursday, we were taken by our friends from World Vision to visit a Witch Camp.  The 35 old women who live there have been ostracized because they were accused of being witches.

This was a defining moment for the team as we were told by them that our visit added value to their lives.  They sang songs for us and spoke blessings over us.

When we asked what their greatest need was, the answer was simply, "Food."

There are just no words.....

Jul 15, 2010


Team Update:  Everyone is well and out doing mission work today.  We thank God for His healing power for our team.

Jul 12, 2010


It has been a very busy few days with the team in Tamale. We thank God for the safe arrival back in the US of Team 10.   We thank God for the safe arrival of the FBC Team on Saturday morning. They enjoyed an excursion to Cape Coast and Kakum Rain Forest.  They arrived in Tamale on Sunday and we had an orientation that afternoon.  Their arrival brought a lot of encouragement to a team that has been struggling for a few days with illness, exhaustion, dehydration and mostly just spiritual warfare.   I had to take one team member to the hospital to be tested for malaria, but it was negative, praise God.  Out of 11 students, 8 have had high fever and vomiting.  The good news is that it is a 24 hr virus and everyone is following the same course.  By the grace of God, I have not been sick.  All but one student is well now. I just cannot stress enough our need for prayer.

On Saturday, most of the team was able to go to Kushibo for the Good News Club Annual Congress, where they helped put on a program for about 200 village children.  They taught Bible Stories, sang, and played with the children.  GNC is very much like Awana and this was their annual ceremony.  One little girl came and she had 104.5 fever and an infected wound, so we asked our driver, Fatawu to take her to the hospital, where she was treated for malaria and the infection.  What a blessing to be able to provide this help in such a small way.  The hospital visit and all the meds costs less than $20.  The little girl is going to be okay.

Today (Monday), 15 out of 20 team members have gone to Sankpem village to do hut-to-hut evangelism.  This means that they will join up with a Ghanaian team member (translator) and go to individual huts to tell the story of Jesus.  We call this a panorama, because it gives an overview of the entire Word of God.  This is very effective in introducing Muslims to Christianity.  Please pray for those who will hear.

Tonight we begin 3 nights of a Youth Conference in Tarikpaa village, where we are expecting about 150 youth from surrounding villages.  Martin Jones will speak each evening and then we will break out in small groups where the Americans and Ghanaians will teach on topics such as what our purpose is, what our mission is, etc.  Please pray for this.

Also, it is good for the team to see your comments on the blog.  They are very encouraging and they are getting through!

So far, this has been an incredible trip and I have been so blessed to have the privilege to not only be here, but also to watch as God transforms the lives of the team and also those who come to Christ.  Even though the team has struggled this past week, there's not one team member who wants to go home.  There is something very right about pouring yourself out for the Lord.  There is something very right about giving yourself to help others.  There is something very right about giving it all up for Him.

Jul 9, 2010


My how quickly things can change!

After our brief time at the internet cafe, the team went out to lunch at Swad's, a local fast-food restaurant.  I am chuckling as I type this because "fast food" and Ghana just do not go together.  The team enjoyed chicken sandwiches, french fries, fresh pineapple, steamed veggies and a few other wonderful foods.

On the way back to our guesthouse, three of the team members became ill.  One fainted.  We spent the rest of the afternoon resting and recovering.  I took one team member to the hospital for a malaria test.  Praise God it was negative!  She was severely dehydrated.  I am typing this on Friday afternoon and everyone is better today.  I really think it is just sheer exhaustion and dehydration.  It had nothing to do with the food we ate.

I gave everyone the choice on whether or not to go back out to Yipiliegu village for the crusade Thurs evening.  Everyone wanted to go. (I stayed back with 3 sick team members).  We praise God for the two people who accepted Christ.  One woman in particular walked back and forth and back and forth in front of the bench, with her head and face completely covered by a scarf, trying to make a decision.  Finally, she decided to follow Christ.  The team was so excited to tell us all about it when they returned about 11:30pm.

We could really use your prayers for the health of the team.  Also, another team is traveling here at this very moment and will arrive at 7:40am Sat Ghana time.  This will be a team of 7 adults and one student from FBC Rockwall, TX.  Please pray for their safe journey.

I cannot remember if I wrote an update about the sick woman we prayed for and sent to the hospital from Faandu.  A local pastor took her to the hospital on his motorcycle the following morning and she was treated and released.  The team pitched in and paid for her hospital visit and meds for a cost of about $25 USD.  Amazing, isn't it?

Almost all the team members checked the blog when they were at the internet cafe and they really enjoyed reading your comments.\

Thank you all for your support and prayers. 

Jul 8, 2010


Today was our third day of VBS in Tarikpaa village school.  We worked with the upper primary students today.  The guys on the team are really having a lot of fun playing futbol with the children.  I've never seen so many happy faces.  Joseph gave piggy back rides all morning and the kids loved it! 

After VBS, we went to see the Maize Farm Project.  Wow.  7 acres of corn that will feed widows and orphans when harvested.  Now, we just need to continue to pray for rain.  When I wasn't looking Katie borrowed the farmer's shotgun and posed for the camera!  I'm telling this because when you see the picture, it will look kinda scary.  LOL

We went to see my friend, Pastor Tia, at the Ghana Bible Society this afternoon, where the children were served a drink called Malta, which is sort of like a non-alcoholic beer.  It is very popular here, but most of us don't like it.  Caleb said he didn't like it but he kept taking sips.  Go figure.  Several team members purchased Dagbani Bibles and without prompting many of them purchased an extra one or two to give to friends in the village who don't have one.  Have I mentioned how much I love this team?  They truly have a heart for God.

In the evening we went to Yipiliegu village for a crusade.  This is a very hard place and no one came forward to receive Christ, which did not surprise Pastor Mohammed.  Several of the young man have become Christians, but never publicly. 

The team is doing well, although a few have had some minor health issues like headaches and stomachaches. Please continue to pray for our health and safety.

We miss you all, but we are having a great time and making wonderful memories.

And one more thing....could someone from the next team bring me some Dr. Pepper?

Jul 7, 2010


The manager at the guesthouse has allowed me to use his personal laptop to get on the internet for a few minutes.  This will be short and sweet and I don't even know if it will post.  The internet is sporadic and slow.

Tuesday was an amazing day.  We did VBS in Tarikpaa school again.  The team did a great job and they even taught them how to sing Waka Waka.

We also visited Widow Salamatu and the two sick children I have written about before.  The boy, Ishawu is walking and he greeted us with a smile but the most wonderful thing was to watch him walk about the mud-hut compound after sitting and lying for 6 years.  A true miracle.  The baby has been sick and I will be talking to the doctor to see about getting her more nutritional supplements.  Our team nurse, Paige, treated some sores on the baby's arms and legs.  This was difficult for all of us, but especially emotional for Paige.  It was the most sobering moment of the entire trip.  It was really quiet in the van on the way back to the guesthouse as we processed how much more difficult it is to see starving children in person than it is on television.

We went back to Faandu for a crusade.  Paige and I were taken to a muc-hut deep in the village to pray for and try and treat a very sick woman.  Paige was wonderful as I watched her not only assess the problem but gently pat the woman and speak soothing words to her even though the woman couldn't understand.  She is going to be a great care-giver to her patients.  After a lot of discussion and convincing, I was able to get the husband to agree to take the woman to the hospital today. I told him that if he would get her there the team would pay for her care. There are many superstitions and at first they refused, saying they were afraid of injections.  We think she has some sort of infection caused by a tooth. I will try and update later.

There were many converts at the crusade and we thank God for them.  Their first church service will be this Sunday and the pastor will continue to disciple the new believers from there.

Everyone is doing well and we thank you for your continued prayers.

Jul 6, 2010


On Monday we conducted our first VBS program in the lower primary school at Tarikpaa village.  The team divided the children into three groups:  Bible storytelling, songs and games.  It was such a blessing to hear the children singing "Da Na Se" a song they learned from Audrey, Elizabeth, Birgitte and other previous team members.  It is a song in another language (Twi) and is similar to our song, Jesus Loves Me.  The team did a great job!  Joseph taught the children how to do "Hook Em Horns".  I looked up and he had about 50 children with their hands in the air.

In the afternoon, we had the incredible privilege to accompany team member Richard Newman to the village of his World Vision sponsored child, Moses.  We met the Chief and then went to the school.  Richard and I were taken into a classroom full of children and Richard was told he had to identify the child.  It really wasn't that hard to identify Moses because he was grinning like a cheshire cat, but trying to cover it.  After introductions and lots of pictures, we all went to Moses' mud hut to meet the parents.  Richard and his grandson Andrew received  beautiful Ghanaian smocks and guinea eggs as gifts.  I (Cheryl) had a run-in with a rather large gecko (lizard, chameleon?) that fell out of the tree and landed in the dirt beside me.  It was funny later....much later.

In the evening we accompanied the members of FBC Shalom to the remote village of Faandu for a crusade.  Pastor Mohammed and others have been working in this village for quite some time and have planted a small church there.  It is a Muslim village.  Rev. Wuni preached and at the end there were 12 adults and about the same number of children who decided to become Christians.  They know very well that this means they will be shunned and even disowned from their families.  That's okay thought, because the Christians there and at Shalom will take them in and disciple them.  They have a new family now and a new home in Heaven one day.

Our team song leader, Jackie Castro, led the team in providing some special music for the crowd.  They did such a great job and even swayed and clapped like Africans while singing!!  So fun .

Kyle has now been appointed Chief Executive Officer of Bug Removal, meaning he has to sit by me and make sure the bugs that climb on me get removed immediately.  He takes his job very seriously.  :-)  Kyle is the youngest on the team and such a delight.  He wakes up singing and smiling and is that way all day.

Everyone is doing well and no one wants to come home yet.  Once they discovered Fan Ice, they were all happy.

Jul 4, 2010


Today was a wonderful day.  We worshipped with our brothers and sisters at Shalom Baptist Church in Tarikpaa.  It was fun to bring new friends to meet old friends.  We especially enjoyed hearing the Shalom choir, who are well known in this area.  They have recorded a cassette and I hope to bring one home.

This afternoon was also wonderful, but very difficult.  First we enjoyed a delicious lunch of chicken and rice.  Then we visited the market for a few minutes where Karli and Kelli received some drumming lessons thanks to one of the Ghanaian vendors.  After that, we went to two orphan homes and that's when it became difficult.  One of the homes was a government home.  When we walked in, about 15 toddlers came running down to hall to greet us.  I think we had a pair of arms for every single child.  There were about half a dozen bed babies and they just cuddled up when we held them.  It was so hard to leave.  We visited another home after that which was privately run.  The children sang 2 beautiful songs.  Again, hard to leave. 

Right now we are in the home of Rev. Isaac Wuni and he was gracious enough to allow me to use his computer.  His sweet wife Grace served us cold bottled drinks.  They were so good!

Today the children also took a little adventure outside the guesthouse compound to get some Fan Ice, the local ice cream.  I'm pretty sure the boy on the vendor bicycyle will camp outside our guesthouse after today.

Everyone is happy and doing well.  This is such a great team.  I wish we could post pictures but the internet is very slow.  In fact, I don't even know if these posts are getting through.

Continue to pray for us.  We will be going into the villages tomorrow and also to visit World Vision.

Jul 3, 2010

Saturday in Tamale

Our 1st day in Tamale, started with a tour of the "city".  Then a visit to Anfaani Children's Home.  They now have eleven children with the addition of two-week-old twin boys.  Tayler got to see "her" Nathan.  Another highlight was watching Bethany play peek-a-boo, and listening to the laughter of the children in her game.

Paul heard of a unique opportunity.  A gathering of various tribes, performing cultural music and dancing.  The team first had to meet with the host chief.  She is a white woman, originally from Port Arthur, Texas.  She and her husband (as he described himself--"the one who carries the Chief's suitcase") split time in Ghana and their home in Louisville, Kentucky.  They were very happy to see the team.

Chicken and Rice for Lunch.
Spaghetti for dinner.

Everyone is well.

All boxes arrived in Accra and are on the way to Tamale on a truck with Pastor Mohammed.
Safe arrival in Tamale

Jul 2, 2010

We're Here!

The team has arrived safely in Accra after a smooth and uneventful flight from Atlanta.  Wow, flying straight here without a layover in London or Germany was wonderful!

We saw the Woodall boys, Jeff Arnold and Jonathan Hughes at the airport and it was nice to see their smiling faces.  We were also greeted by some Ghanaian friends, including Pastor Mohammed, who escorted us to the GILLBT guesthouse.  We just enjoyed our first Ghanaian meal of jolof rice and chicken. Now everyone is watching the Black Stars play in the World Cup.

I wonder if I should go ahead and tell them that we have  4:45am departure for Tamale tomorrow.

Jul 1, 2010

All boarded for the first leg of our flight to Ghana. We're flying with God and Captain Rich.
About to depart with an amazing team. Waka Waka!

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