Blessings for GN...


Where to begin…let’s start with GN. 

The last time we had seen GN was in February, earlier this year when left him at the Mother of Mercy Home for Babies.  He was the start of what was still hypothetical, to our now…One Step In Faith 501c3 organization.  He was one of the many proofs; God has a purpose and a plan.  And, we had been carrying this little boy in our hearts, fighting for him from across the sea.  We’ve shared his story, raised funds, and supported him in both basic needs and in medical needs.  Our missionaries on the ground, Dave & Ellen Bartlett, have walked and talked with the family.  They have been there in the waiting, in the travel, in the frustration, in the anxiousness, in the excitement, in the milestones, in the blessings, in it all.  Returning this past September, we were anxious.  There really isn’t another word for it.  We didn’t know what to expect, we didn’t know what we would experience.  We just knew God was calling us to return and we were counting the days until we arrived.  Up until the return, Dave & Ellen had been keeping us updated with pictures and videos whenever possible.  We really had been so blessed by their constant communication and allowing us to feel like we were right there, every step of the way through his surgery, recovery, and reintegration back home.  Nothing was going to prepare us or them for what was unraveling.  Prior to our arrival, Dave & Ellen were in Accra & Kumasi for conferences and the much needed purchase of a vehicle.  If you look at a map, they basically left the north and went to the south.  J  They were gone for a few weeks.  Shortly before their departure, GN had contracted malaria, which they believed was on the mend, since he was released home before they left to Accra.  During their time away, GN’s malaria either didn’t improve or reoccurred (not sure it matters which).  Also during this time, GN’s biological mother returned from Kumasi to her parent’s home (where GN was living) to deliver her baby.  That is right, she was pregnant.  Dave & Ellen only arrived back home in Bolga a couple days or so prior to our arrival in country.  So, we all went to visit the family at the same time (our first time since February, and their first time since their trip south for a few weeks).  In those few short weeks they were away, so much had happened, and his health had decreased so much.  I’m not sure we will ever truly know the family’s intent, the day to day care he was receiving during those weeks, or even the overall cause.  We have several opinions, we have several interpretations.  In the end, it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is the call God places in our hearts, and following through with the direction He gives.  It had come to a point where GN’s family was not really able to provide the level of care he requires.  They are farmers, and require laborious amounts of hours in the fields, working for every morsel on their plates.  GN’s family, like most families in the North (and in several other areas throughout Ghana) has a very bleak belief of value in the life of a disabled child.  Their opinion is not malicious, just based in decades of tradition surrounded by the reality of poverty and survival.  In order to care for a disabled child, of GN’s condition, time and money is taken from the other needs.  In their reality, a self-imposed caste type system is sort of established.  In this case, the new baby, GN’s mother’s new baby, his new sibling, became the priority.  The other healthy children of Grandma, became the priority.  They didn’t abandon GN altogether, but they also didn’t provide the level of care necessary for a child who has undergone brain surgery this year and was continuing to battle malaria, after at least three weeks.  And, they weren’t providing the level of care he had been getting when he was living in the Bartlett’s home, right after integration back into the family’s home, or even shortly before he contracted malaria and the new baby arrived.  During our visit in September, it seemed GN’s external physical capabilities were not much different than when we saw him back in February.  We had seen videos and pictures during the months since his surgery…all revealing improvement.  Dave & Ellen had seen and experienced, albeit slow, but they saw and experienced progress.  Even GN’s doctor had been excited in his improvements, again, slow but still progress.  However, this perfect storm of events leading up to the September visit still happened and his progress had gone backwards.

 

We were all on our knees on this one.  There were many details to be considered, relationship building, live and death of a child, and more importantly what was (and is) God’s desire for this circumstance.  I can’t say we all handled the experience 100% perfectly.  I can’t say we have made the perfect solution.  But, I can say, we all love this boy…we want God’s will for this boy AND his family.  So, after much prayer…advice from dear friends and those who’ve helped along the way in country, the decision was made to propose transferring custody of GN to those we are working with in country.  With the approval of the chief, the head of the family, and GN’s grandfather, GN has been relocated from Bolgatanga to Kumasi.  He is currently living with a friend of Eddie’s, who was with us when we first rescued him back in February.  It has been about a month since he relocated to Kumasi, staying with Eddie/family prior to living with the new caretaker.  And, we all agree he is doing great.  There are many hurdles still before him, but is gaining weight, getting stronger and stronger.  Since his relocation, he is sitting in a chair for his meals (for the first time), using a baby walker (well, he isn’t really “walking” but he is getting exposure to building leg strength), and his is now able to move across the floor on his stomach.  He isn’t full out crawling on his hands/knees, but he is able to do what we would call an army crawl.  Some of the bigger hurdles are sleeping through the night.  GN was never really trained to sleep through the night, so his caretakers are working patiently to help him learn to be awake in the day and sleep at night.  Also, he still is struggling to swallow.  As he grows stronger, he will begin to improve.  Dave & Ellen connected with the doctor to have GN’s medical information forwarded, so he would be able to have a follow-up appointment with a new neuro doctor in Kumasi.  We are still pending these details.  Once this is complete, GN will be assessed and hopefully next steps in his recovery plan can be determined.  Please join us in prayer as we press forward in his care and in his journey.  Also, please keep Dave & Ellen in your prayers as they continue to work with the village where GN is from, balancing this with his absence. 

 

Hugs to you all…soon, an update on Baby Y, Brother A, Isaac & Ama.
 

Reflection


Have you ever heard the expression, good things come to those who wait?  I was thinking of how and what to post, in my return to blogging for One Step In Faith, and this is the expression that instantly came to mind.  So much has happened in the last few months, so many amazing details.  As I was marveling on how blessed I feel to have been included in this journey by God, it brought me into a reflection of the last decade of our lives together.  You know the saying; “it goes by in a flash”.  It really doesn’t feel that way when you are there in the depths of tragedy, heartache, loss, anger, and all that trickles from a time of hurting.  But, when you are reflecting on the past, regardless of actual time passed, it seems like it was just yesterday and yet forever ago all in the same moment.  Do you know what I mean?  Anyway, here I was reflecting on our lives throughout the years…and because it was still October, I began to reflect on the significance of October in our family.  If you know me at all, you know…October has some amazing meaning.  It is a month which provides an annual reminder of great love and loss.  Eleven years ago Troy and I shared in the birth of two beautiful children, Taylor and Violet.  Taylor is an incredible little man, for whom we are most certainly better parents for having been blessed to have him in our lives.  That isn’t just a line, I really mean it.  He has a heart no words could really describe.  He has a heart to teach, and he teaches me daily about forgiveness, kindness, serving, and being there for his siblings – no matter what.  We are so blessed to have him.  And then, there is our sweet little Violet.  Violet’s tiny life slipped away from this world into the arms of Jesus after an hour and half with us.  We have been open from the beginning, Violet was the original star thrower.  Her life, regardless of how short, gave us our life.  God used her precious little life to set us onto a course of more blessing than I would ever know or desire to ask.  You know, it didn’t really occur to me, until I was having this moment of reflection…TIMING.  This takes me back to my original statement of good things come to those who wait.  A group of friends joined us on a trip to Ghana this past February.  In order to raise funds, we did countless fundraisers.  It was a fundraiser we were planning that took a hypothetical idea of starting a non-profit to officially launching One Step In Faith.  As it turned out, One Step In Faith hit the public October 2012 - 10 years after losing Violet (and 10 years of life with Taylor, of course).  I don’t know, maybe I’m just too sentimental, but hum…10 years.  That seems amazing, how round and perfect that number is.  And, the same month.  It wasn’t planned to be tied to their birth/her death, it just was. 

Today, reflecting back, I can’t tell you how blessed we feel to have been included in this little segment of God’s work in the world.  If you are wondering, where is God taking me on this journey…why am I going through all these experiences (the good, bad, and the ugly)…be patient and remember to always take time to reflect.  Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act.  Psalms 37:7.  We spent a lot of time seeking peace for what we had gone through, and in the end…giving God complete control and following where He leads because we trusted He wants what is best for us, we have had the most peace and joy than ever before in our lives.  Hey, life isn’t a piece of cake.  But, it isn’t empty or sour.  It is full and sweet, even in the hard times.  Reflect…it helps to be reminded of where you were, where you are and how God brought you through.  If you are struggling with where is God…ask Him…give control to Him.  You won’t regret it!

 

So…what’s up with One Step in Faith and our kids…I’ll post something in a bit.  A new posting about each child.  Amazing things…hopefully you will be saying, good things come to those who wait…(feeling blessed by hearing the good news updates).

We are home safe...so much to pray about...

Good Morning everyone!
We arrived home safe and sound yesterday.  We have a lot to share and much more to pray about.  I did not have an opportunity to blog or access the internet long enough to blog or email in any way while we were gone.  For those who were waiting to see an update - to see our property - to see the babies - I'm so sorry!  Our trip was filled with SUPER long days and traveling, traveling, and more traveling.  [insert tired smile].  But, I have a lot to share.  I will post some pictures and a full update later tonight. 

I am sorry, this is not a teaser.  I just wanted to let everyone who has been praying for safe travels to know we are home...everyone is safe.  For those who don't know, I work for Sprint.  The first week of every month is filled with review and reconciliation of spend against our capital funded projects related to our company owned stores.  So, needless to say - today is Friday so I have my work cut out for me today. Big hugs to you all...and more to come later today!


Heading to Ghana...a little later than our plan...right on time for God's


Hello to all our prayer warriors, friends and family.  So, we did not completely make the trip yesterday.  We made it to Raleigh, but our flight from Raleigh to JFK was cancelled.  Actually, JFK was at a ground stop until 9p-ish due to thunderstorms and potential flooding in JFK vicinity.  But, we were not able to find any flights out of Raleigh, and so we stayed the night, and have started over fresh today.  Now, it is human nature to be anxious about these types of schedule impacts or frustrated about how the schedule and time will be affected, but we really wanted to leave this all to God.  We really needed to turn it over to Him, and trust He has a reason for everything, nothing goes to waste.  We had a lot of encouragement, keeping us focused on this, not worrying about how the work and schedule will be impacted by the day delay. 

So, last night, after checking into our room, we headed to find a restaurant.  We were staying at a hotel located behind a “Buckhead” type shopping center, where we were certain we’d find a delicious meal.  We all agreed to walk, as it was   As we were walking back, we decided to stop in the Staples store to pick-up some things and ended up meeting a mother and daughter, who were absolutely amazing.  In overhearing Troy talk about buying pencils and I’m not sure what else, the mother asked about purchasing some for us to take with us.  Before it was all done, they had donated pencils, markers, highlighters, etc.  Amazing!  We headed back to the room, so touched by what this woman had done, not even knowing us personally.  Troy had given her one of our business cards, and so we were hopeful they would look us up on the internet and join you and us in prayer.  So, back to the room we headed.  When we arrived, we received a call from the front desk letting us know two ladies were waiting for us in the lobby.  We came down, and sure enough, there they were.  They just felt a prompting to buy notebooks for the kids, and bought more supplies.  In the conversation, I asked if Troy had explained what it is we do, and she said no.  I just heard you were working with kids and I knew it was in Africa.  In amazement, this absolutely amazing woman and her daughter were following God’s prompting, not even knowing exactly what it was about.  Seriously wonderful encounter.  Of course we shared a brief snip-it, and encouraged them to look up on the internet to learn more.  Before they left, the mom shared she would talk to her Sunday School class about praying for us.  (We were so blessed…sweet mom/daughter, thank you for reminding us how God works – and He is always working.  If you read this blog update, please email us…we’d love to get your contact info as well. Onestepinfaith@gmail.com)  Karen, I shared with her about how we are always looking for prayer teams.  We don’t know exactly where God is leading, but we know He is on the move, and yesterday…we truly were blessed to be a part of it.

Today, as we were validating arrangements and checking on return situation, we ended up having flight changes on our departure out of Accra.  The flight is now not Sept 2nd out of Accra, but Sept 4th.  I have to tell you, I was originally stressing – oh gosh – our children…Lord, who will be able to take care of the children.  Suzanne (Troy’s sister) and her fiancé are taking care of them thru Monday, and Cody is watching them until we were supposed to be back Tuesday.  However, the Lord covered us through this too!  Todd (Troy’s brother) and his wife Pypre are picking up Isabella, and so she will get to hang out with her cousin Maryna for the extra time.  And, Kevin & DiDi, our great friends and board members will keep the boys.  They will seriously love staying with them.  So, the babies, they are in good hands the whole time we are gone…God is good!  So, the next worry hits – oh gosh – work!  I will be gone during my part in the month end close process.  OH NO!  I made my first call to my friend/co-worker to discuss options and ask for huge favors to have her pull detail and email me to prepare while I’m in Ghana.  LOL!  During this time on the phone, she talked me off that ledge too!  Casie, you are off a day, it is all good.  WHAT?  Really?!  Turns out, we will be home just in perfect time for me to access and perform my work...right on schedule.  Again, God is good!  So, it is not ideal to be delayed, not ideal to extend our trip timeline last minute, and not ideal to be last minute period in these international arrangements.  But, GOD is ALWAYS on time, and we trust Him completely, so...I guess from that perspective, we were not delayed and our trip was not extended!  Hugs to you all...please keep praying...and we'll try to keep the updates going.  Our nephew and Communications director is probably going to be helping make some posts during this time, so...thank you in advance Cody!   

Well, I’ll have to type more later.  They are calling us to board now.  Love to you all…
 

Heading to Ghana...Wednesday


Hello dear friends,

I am so sorry for the long delay in the update.  It has been such a busy time, but I did want to provide a little update.  GN was released from the hospital.  They were able to provide him with medication treatments for the malaria.  I am uncertain at this point about the unknown infection, but hope to learn more about his overall condition up close and personal very soon!  I did learn from the updates from Dave and Ellen, GN is no longer keeping his hands in a fist formation.  Up until now, he only kept his fingers wrapped in a fist.  His hands are now relaxed!  Another milestone! Praise Jesus!

So, if I have failed to blog this, we are leaving to Ghana in a couple days.  We are super excited to be back in what our heart has been feeling as a second home.  We may not physically live in Ghana ½ of our life, but somehow the love we carry has taken on ½ of our hearts.  For those who have gone, I am certain you know what I mean.  But, I have to tell you, departing our family is not easy for me.  Unless you live in my home, you might not know what has been sort of a secret I keep.  As time nears for each trip to Ghana, you might assume the excitement and busyness of my life represents the fullness of how I feel, each time.  However, if you live in my home, you would see a completely different picture.  You would see a woman regretting every hour she works, every minute she has to spend packing or cleaning the house to be ready for those who will be here while we are gone.   I have several nights of tears, crying myself to sleep, in secret.  All of this usually, like clockwork the week or two before we go.  It is because I miss my family.  I MISS my children, even before we board the plane.  I do try to be strong for everyone, pushing through as I always do.  And, I do really good showing everyone I am doing really well, UNTIL…the last days when holding up a good front comes  tumbling down.  Tonight was the tumble.  J  No fret, I am not a basket case.  Hee! Hee!  I know it is only a week.  And, I know there are so many people who travel with work, as I have done a small bit with Sprint.  Yet, traveling the thousands of miles to Africa seems to carry the weight of the distance in my soul.  Thank goodness I am blessed to have phones, texting, and email to communicate.  I am sure the Lord would carry me through if we didn't, but glad to have them if even for short and quick check-in calls.  Tonight, as I was preparing to send a quick blog update I felt led to share all of this.  And, I felt led to share something I was reminded of by the Lord from our devotion this past Sunday, to call upon His name to give comfort.  Oh, Jesus my great comforter.  I have called upon your name to draw my center back to you…and as promised there you are gently drawing me back in.  And, as He always promises, peace descends and I can focus on the blessing God has on the other side of these days.  I can focus on all the Lord is doing and has done over these last years.  It is only for a short while we will be apart, and we will be together again, with everyone safe and sound.  So, if you think to pray about our travels…pray for Mommy and pray for the babies left home (okay, they are not babies…but I still refer to them as my babies, they don’t seem to mind.  I think they actually like it, or they love me enough to indulge me.  J) As I tell my children and Troy, I am strong.  I can handle a lot.  Don't worry, I'll be okay.  But, in secret (wink, wink), I'm not so strong.  I am really not strong at all.  It is only because of Jesus that I am able to do any of this we are called to do.  But, hey, you can keep a secret, right?  ;)

So, what’s going on during our trip to Ghana this time?  We depart to Ghana Wednesday via Raleigh and JFK (ah…connecting flights).  We will arrive in Accra Thursday afternoon around 1pm (9am EST), and then we will depart on a 4p flight from Accra to Kumasi (1230p EST).  That sounds long, but we were planning to drive from Accra to Kumasi, because there were no flights late enough for us to flight out after arriving in country.  Thank you Eddie for continuing to check and monitor the options! 

The one concern we do have, although not serious, is the number of totes we are bringing.  We think we are only allowed 20KG of checked baggage per person.  For those Westerners, that is about 44lbs.  We have 5 totes of things to bring (mostly gifts from loving people missing Dave and Ellen), each weighing 50lbs (that’s about 22.6KG each).  LOL!  There are only 3 of us flying, so we are overweight by just under 120lbs.  We did find out today, we would be charged 2GH/KILO over.  So, we are estimating about $50-$60 overage.  Fingers crossed.  You know, in the US, if we had an extra tote to check…$200-$250 something like that – PER EACH additional checked bag.  So, $50-$60 isn’t so bad. 

Thursday evening we will be tired and so we’ll recoup and spend time with Eddie, Regina and the children.  Those who know Eddie, are you jealous?  Don’t be, we’ll take pictures…give love from you all and bring lots of love home to spread around from them!

Our time will really begin Friday.  We will meet with both Bismark and the Chief of Aninkroma regarding the donation of land and becoming a part of the community of Aninkroma.  I have no idea of what to expect, but I should probably pack some packages of tissue.  Hum…yeah, didn’t buy any this time, and better pick some up.  I am certain we will be shedding a lot of tears.  It just feels like the Lord is on the cusp of something HUGE.  I am hopeful we will have an opportunity to go to Aninkroma Friday, but leaving these plans to Eddie who is working hard to coordinate all the necessary details with the Chief and Bismark’s busy schedules.  But, I’ll at least bring it up…we will want to get as much Isaac and Ama time in as possible!!!

Saturday, early, early day.  We will depart, driving, to Bolga.  We will be in Regina’s car.  Whoo Hoo!  We’ll be in Bolga in the afternoon and head over to visit GN and his family, as well as Baby Y and his family.  We have packed a few things to take them, to honor them for the difficult path they have persevered through to keep and care for their child.  So many would say why would you need to do that?  Honor them for keeping their own child?  This may not be the blog entry for an explanation, so be on the lookout for a future response to those likely questions out there.  I’ll share how the visit goes and the whys together.  And, one of the big highlights besides seeing our beautiful children is seeing Dave and Ellen Bartlett!  Yay!!!  We are sooooo…excited!  We’ll take lots of pictures, and bring back lots of love from them too!

Sunday we will finish visiting Mama Laadi, Ben/Rachel, GN, Baby Y, family and friends in Bolga and then head back to Kumasi. 

Monday before flying out at 3pm to Accra we will spend the morning and afternoon with Isaac, Ama, and the village of Aninkroma.  Our flight from Accra to USA isn’t until 10pm, so at this point we are not quite sure what our plans are.  We are trying to see about visiting with Charity’s husband, but Monday is a work day and we are not sure if he will be able to meet up with us or not.  God knows the plans he has for us on Monday, so we are leaving that day to him for now. 

We will be back in ATL Tuesday around 11am, and hopefully at home by 1pm at the latest.  It will be a whirlwind trip, but we know there are huge blessings waiting for us all.  Please join us in prayer for the time to be what God desires, plans and we hear and listen as He directs us.

Much love to you all, we are so thankful for your prayers!  Please keep them coming!  I will try to blog while I am in country, but have no idea with our schedule if I will be able to send many updates or not.  I might try to get someone from our board to post some updates for us.  We’ll have to see how that goes. 

Pray, Pray, Pray for GN...


I know I owe a new update on what has been transpiring in the land of spirit babies...

God is working great and mightily! We know and believe He has called us all into this work He is doing - each and every one of us. There is no coincidence you know us and know about these babies. God doesn't waste anything, including your time. I will send an update...soon, I promise!  But, in the meantime, will you join us in prayer? Please!

GN has been admitted to a clinic near his village. He is currently being treated for malaria and an undetermined infection.
 

What is malaria?
Malaria is a common but deadly infection in hot, tropical areas of the world.   Malaria is caused by a parasite known as PLASMODIUM, injected into the blood by the bite of a female mosquito.

This is an illustration of a mosquito.  It is a tiny insect, which can cause big trouble.  The colors used here are only suggestive.

Some facts?
  • approximately 300-500 MILLION people are affected worldwide each year.
  • approximately 2 MILLION of these die each year. (90% are in Africa = 1.8 MILLION people)
  • approximately 85% of these are children under the age of 5.  (1.5 MILLION children)
  • This means, in Africa, as each minute passes…3 children die of malaria.
  • Malaria is both treatable & preventable.  If properly treated, a patient can expect complete recovery. 
Because of GN’s medical history and age, we want to cover him with as much prayer as possible.  The enemy has not let up.  Let us continue to press into God – never ceasing - continuing to believe there are great things in store for this little boy’s life and story...knowing our God is stronger and can accomplish ANYTHING!  He is in the miracle business.  Thank you for standing alongside us in faith!
 

What's Next?...

Posting #3:  What’s next?...

Yep, that’s right, OSIF has a new “spirit child”.  Baby Y is 6 months old.  Baby Y was deemed a spirit child and came to OSIF’s attention recently through the relationship building Dave & Ellen have done with GN’s village and through Mama Laadi.  He has attributes originally leading them to believe he may have Down syndrome.  (Although, we have learned, Down syndrome in Africans is very rare.)  Baby Y is from the same village as GN.  Unfortunately, his family is under a different family unit and therefore, different elders.  The father, although educated has washed his hands of his wife and child, because she is unwilling to “throw him away”.  The father has already taken another wife from within the same family unit, and has stayed living in this family unit community.  This means, within their community, Mom is abandoned to care for Baby Y on her own, watching as her husband takes on a new wife and they live right there in her community.  We are not quite sure of the risk level, just yet.  But, preliminary assessment has left Dave and Ellen with the sense they are not in “danger”, however this will be constantly monitored. 

When Mom learned of GN’s story, it inspired hope, where hope had been lost.  Oh, and this family is Muslim.  (It is really unusual to be Muslim and follow indigenous beliefs…but, they are/have/do.)  The current status…Baby Y has seen the neurosurgeon (GN’s doctor), however unlike GN; his prognosis is not nearly as positive.  Baby Y has a genetic disorder where he only has half of a brain.  Needless to say, Mom was devastated!   When Dave & Ellen shared the news, I instantly was reminded - this young boy has a purpose.  I felt the whisper of the Lord telling me – to share words of comfort, letting her know God does carry us through.  Even in the dark times, even in the moments when we have lost hope, God has a plan and it is not always what we expect.  But, today, we stand up tall knowing the extreme loss and grief of losing our daughter Violet was not for nothing.  And, so Baby Y’s Mom has a beautiful boy to love and hold.  I don’t underestimate the trials of having to care for him through his life with this major medical issue, or the grief of losing hope in his quality of life.  However, Jesus heals, Jesus makes us all whole – even if in these bodies we can’t see or feel it. You can’t say he doesn’t have a purpose any more than we can say Violet’s short life didn’t, we know she did…and so we of course pray for healing and miracles but we also pray for God to reveal Baby Y’s purpose. 
 
Dave & Ellen have gone to visit mom and Baby Y since their return from the neurosurgeon.  They were overjoyed to see, despite the grief, both Mom and Baby Y were smiling and laughing.  We don’t have an idea what will come next for this young baby boy, but we are standing in agreement the Lord has a plan and we are ready to help and participate for what is to come.  A couple things to add to Baby Y’s story…he has an older brother, 10 years old; we’ll call him Brother A.  Brother A has Hepatitis B.  Dave & Ellen are working with an American doctor friend who used to be a missionary in Ghana to obtain accurate testing, to validate his condition.  Once validated, steps can be taken to start rebuilding his strength.  This young boy was #1 in his school class, and has now slipped down to #3.  He is slowly declining, with increasing weakness.  Determining the official cause and best treatment is crucial.  As Dave & Ellen continue to plow relationships with parents of these children, it is becoming clear they are a packaged deal – the family, the village.  J!!!  Besides Brother A’s medical needs, Mom needs to find a way to support her family.  Dave & Ellen are working options, as she is a skilled weaver and has capability of providing income with some initial help.    Although OSIF may not be the funding mechanism for all needs in a family and village, we certainly will be praying and seeking relationships with other organizations that can help along the way.  We are ready; we are ready to stand in the gap Lord.  We have taken on Baby Y without a committed sponsor, believing God will provide.  We just knew this baby from the same village as GN deserved the opportunity to be redeemed.  We couldn’t turn our backs on his life.  We couldn’t turn from what we have already seen.  His life has value, and he deserves to have the opportunity to live and not be labeled “spirit child” with the risk and dangers associated with those labels.
Here is where we are…
We are currently supporting two children in Aninkroma, Isaac & Ama (these two are not related, they are from separate families).  We provide their support for their education & basic needs (deodorant, toothbrushes, socks, shoes, clothes, school supplies, tuition to public school, etc.).  Their family provides shelter (home) and food. 
We have GN and Baby Y, spirit children.  We provide recurring support for GN, $100/mo to cover his diapers, special food needs as he continues to improve, as well as various other necessities.  In addition, we provide recurring medications, $60/mo for each (GN and Baby Y).  The neurosurgeon has placed Baby Y on the same medication as GN to help try and “wake” his brain.  The prayer and hope is this medication will begin to improve his condition and quality of life, more to come as he progresses. 

It is our hope to take on more children, like Brother A and others out there waiting.  The truth is there are more.  Since the progress of GN, Mama Laadi has started a list of those with likely neurological issues where the child has been deemed a spirit child or a witch.  The majority on the list suffer from seizures.    Our oldest son has seizures.  Praise God he hasn’t had one in a few years, but it is always on our minds – each time he is playing outside, sweating, and his face turns red…we worry he is overheating and he will have another seizure.  Our son’s seizures are due to his body’s inability to control/maintain temperature.  He is not evil, he is not a witch.  These children on the list who experience seizures are treated as psych patients, and given psychiatric type medications.  The community deems them as threats, evil spirit filled children or witches.  WOW!  They aren’t mentally ill or unstable.  My son is not mentally ill.  They are not evil.  They are not witches.  Oh gosh Lord!  Sigh…the burden of knowing there are more waiting.  The burden, as a mother…how can we not help them all?  But, I am reminded…the face in front of us…one at a time.  To all of you star throwers out there; we’d love to have you join us in making a difference – one by one – we can make a difference together!  Let’s continue with Baby Y…
If you are interested in joining us…please check out our website www.onestepinfaith.org OR http://www.onestepinfaith.org/make-a-difference/give.

Curious what it costs to provide medical support care?

This doesn’t include any surgeries, vitamins, possible food supplements to improve the child’s nutrition or any other unique medical needs.  For example, we are not yet certain of Brother A’s medical needs just yet.  His will be different, as they are not neurological.

Currently our website offers the opportunity to provide one time donations, with information regarding sponsorship.  The sponsorship program we have detailed is for children more like Isaac and Ama.  Kevin (Vice Chair) & I will be providing more detailed sponsorship programs opportunities in the coming weeks.  Until then, if you feel called to join us in the opportunity to help make a difference in the life of a child, in the life of these children, please visit our website and navigate to the GIVE page.  Any and all support is greatly appreciated.  So many nonprofits today tell you, no gift is too great or too small.  I’m here to tell you…every $1, $5, $10, $100 gift is a HUGE blessing!  It is absolutely true – no gift is too great or too small!  If you find yourself called to help support either of these specific boys, or desire to help begin providing support for future children to be added to our programs, please let me know!  onestepinfaith@gmail.com

Thank you!!!
One last thing…
Troy, Ellie (Troy’s mom) and I will be leaving to Ghana in a month.  We have been given land.  Yay!  Typically “give” really means…”I’ll give you land, and you give me….X”  But, that is not the heart of the man supporting us and our desire to (1) become part of the community in Aninkroma (the village where he is from) and (2) have them join us in rescuing and caring for the children we will be led to by God. We have met with friends of ours who used to live in Ghana as missionaries, looking for advice in how to dash (tip, way of showing thanks for the generosity) both the Chief of the village and the person we’ve grown in relationship with who is giving us the land.  You see in Ghana, “giving” land is really unusual, helping other tribes also unusual.  We want to honor them for helping us, joining us, including us…allowing us to be included in their community in order to make a difference in the life of children in Ghana.  Our friends recommended iPADs or iPAD minis as both men are business men.  If you know anyone who has contacts for helping us obtain these at a discount, donation, or otherwise, please let us know as soon as possible.  We are hoping to finalize procuring these soon before our departure to Ghana.  (Remember we are a 501c3 organization, these donations are tax deductible.)

Thank you again!!!


GN Update

Posting #2:  GN Update…

Okay, as I was praying about what to post, the words of redeem & redemption are what continued to come to mind.  The official definition is to make something acceptable or pleasant in spite of its negative qualities or aspects, and to energize giving new strength or vigor.  I absolutely cannot think of better way to describe the journey God has brought us on with GN.  I wanted to share an update, but if you haven’t read about how GN came into our life, please click this below link FIRST.  It is an amazing testimony.  This is more than just a story of his surviving, his healing, his family, our team, One Step In Faith, missionaries shepherding the family, Mama Laadi…his purpose stretches to individuals and families in Ghana who have already learned and been involved with his story AND to individuals and families here in the US who have learned about his story.  It stretches to those who have stopped me and thanked me for sharing the story, for those who took the opportunity to come before the Lord, purposefully on behalf of GN.  It stretches beyond, to those who actually don’t even know GN’s name or story, yet someone who did hear took the opportunity to have a positive impact in their life.  His life, I believe has touched the doctors, nurses, those in the waiting rooms, and so many more.  Word of mouth…such a powerful tool…and God is on the move!

Read through other posts to learn the progression leading to this update.

Oh, by the way, if you didn’t catch in prior postings…GN has been officially reintegrated into his village, his grandparent’s home.  Yep, you read that correctly.  He is home, and by God’s grace he is safe…he is loved…and he is growing strong every day!

Dave and Ellen Bartlett, in country missionaries on our board, took GN for his checkup with the neurosurgeon.  It’s been over a month, and GN is smiling, moving around, holding up his weight, and behaving like a typical baby.  Although he is 21-months old, he is catching up in his development.  He’s more like a 4-month old in development.  Ellen emailed us, “I wish I had taken a picture of the Dr holding him up, smiling at him and playing with him (all part of the exam but joyful nonetheless!).”  The last time I held that little boy (Feb 2013), he was limp, lightweight, and so helpless.  The recent images and video Dave & Ellen sent us have shown REDEEMPTION!  I have withheld images from the blog, in protection of GN.  But, now, we are ready to unveil GN – Before & After (Current).  



The neurosurgeon prescribed a new medication to help “wake” the brain to perform duties it has never done before.  After they returned from the appointment, Dave & Ellen had the new prescription filled, making arrangements to personally deliver it the following day.  They purposely arranged for Mama Laadi to be with them (as the official interpreter J).  Grandma came running to greet them!  They are building a relationship beyond this little boy.  They were welcoming, inviting and full of smiles to have them come again to the village.  Even Grandfather came riding his bicycle up to greet them. 

So much was learned in this visit, to just deliver medication and ensure everyone understood what GN’s progress was from the prior day’s doctor appointment.  (Although Grandma was with them at the appointment, she does not understand enough of the local language in Tamale or English.  So, it was important to bring Mama along to provide her a complete understanding of her grandson’s progress.)  During this time, it was shared the Head of the Family who held the official reintegration meeting had stayed in the home the first two nights GN and Grandma came home.  He truly is a man of his word, a man of honor and integrity.  He kept his promise to protect GN and his grandmother.  Thank you Jesus!  To our delight, Grandfather has been peaceful and welcoming of both GN and Grandma.

Now, for what truly brings joy to our hearts…a surprise testimony.  There was an elder there during this visit, one who was coming to see them for the first time.  He was very eager and very happy to see them.  Thankfully Mama Laadi was there to translate.  As she stood there, listening as he provided what is a monologue of a speech from his heart…Dave & Ellen waited in anticipation of what he could possibly be saying.  Here is the paraphrased testimony of an elder from GN’s family unit:

"I am so thankful for you people.  So very thankful.  We were planning to throw the child away.  We didn't know - we just didn't know.  We have thrown away many children.  We are so sorry.  We didn't know, we just didn't know.  Thank you so much.  We will never do it again."

Dave and Ellen shared with them, Jesus forgives them.  God was the One who wanted them to know the truth, and how absolutely thankful we are all to God that they were willing to open their eyes, see, and listen.  This is the reason they know the truth, the truth that children are not evil, the truth of the medical causes of their problems, and how these can often be helped. 

The elder was so grateful, so sincere, so genuine…I can’t wait to meet them all!!! 


Thank you all for your prayers.  Thank you for your continued encouragement as we have pressed on.  Thank you to those who have supported GN.  Thank you in advance for all those who will come alongside us in these coming days, weeks, months, and years – growing and rescuing more.  Below is AFTER, current images of GN - Redeemed!
 


What’s Next?  Check out the next posting…we have taken on a new baby rescue!

Giving Him all of us...



    It has been 4 weeks since I last updated the blog.  I want to apologize for the delay in getting these updates posted.  So much has happened in our personal lives, with the organization, and in Ghana…we just have struggled to find the time to stop and send an update.  Yet, today I find myself realizing, I just can’t wait another day before getting information and updates posted.  Although these past weeks have been filled with important details and people to care for, we know the enemy will use these important details to distract us from sharing the good news.  That is NOT what we want!  Because there are so many updates, I am breaking them up into 3 different postings.

·         All of me…
·         GN Update
·         What’s next?


Posting #1:  Giving Him all of us
Those that know me well know I’m not an evangelist.  I don’t door knock.  I’m not a bible thumper.  Yep, I actually looked it up.  According to Wikipedia (the internet authority, of course), Bible thumper is a real, published expression to describe those who aggressively impose their religious beliefs.  That would never be how I would describe myself.  Actually, I have never been comfortable with this customary way of reaching people or sharing about Jesus.  I’ve carried a lot of worry over the years because of my lack of comfort in being aggressive.  How many people in my life will have missed in truly knowing the blessing of living their life for Christ, because I didn’t share aggressively enough?  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen Jesus work through me over the years, thankful to have been a part of his plan.  But, in these last years the Lord has revealed through a few people here and there, door knocking, bible thumping is just not how he created me.  He created me to love, share, and TALK (of course!).  He created me to be exactly who I am.  He created Troy to love, share, bring laughter (of course!), and to be exactly who he was created to be.  But, I have to tell you, it really clicked earlier this year when our pastor shared a tidbit of history before his St. Patrick’s Day sermon.  He may have thought he was just warming up the congregation.  You know what I mean, they get us all warmed up in an attempt to ensure we are paying attention and are awake so we can take in the fullness of the message God has given them.  J!  Well, that and because it is likely no fun to preach to a sleeping crowd!  All pastors are different, and some have varying leads…sometimes with humor, but sometimes it is just something interesting, like history. 

      Well, March 17, 2013, Pastor Tom chose to share a bit of history with a little humor.  I mean, when you tell people the day they’ve all come to know as the national holiday for green beer, leprechauns, and gold is actually a religious holiday…you have to expect a little snicker here or there.  Although Pastor Tom always has tremendous messages, I can’t recall his message.  I have been so captured since that day with his lead in.  (Pastor Tom, thank you for this particular lead in.  I’m sure you were searching for the perfect one, and even if it was just for me…thank you!) I am not sure if that tidbit had an impact on anyone else, as much as it did for me.  Look, my family has serious Irish blood.  My maiden name is Mulreany for goodness sakes.  Although, if you look closely you’d easily realize our family heritage has been long lost.  I’ve come to realize it really is a shame.  But, I have to tell you, I had no idea St. Patrick’s Day was a religious holiday, and I would suspect none of my family knows or remembers either.  Did you know?  If you didn’t, don’t laugh, seriously.  That Sunday, I came home and looked it up for myself, not because I didn’t trust Pastor Tom, but I found it to be a profound contradiction.  For all those who look forward to the cocktails and beer with their greens and pork, you might find it interesting…so don’t stop reading just yet.  Just a bit of interesting history, up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17.  How about that?  70s, go figure. 

    So, what did Pastor Tom share?  What did I learn?  A British kid who grew up in a wealthy family, with a dad who was a deacon and a grandfather who was a priest was taken captive during a raid.  He was taken by the Irish, back to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16 years old.  Wow, really, a slave?  Yep.  He eventually escaped and upon his return to Britain he studied to be a priest.  Years later, he felt called back to Ireland.  He returned to the scene of the crime.  He didn’t come to rebuke or to bring justice.  He came to share the love of Christ.  He moved in, became a part of the community, and just began to live and share his life with those around him.  He began to pour himself into those around him – just being the person God created him to be, an overflow.  No door knocking.  No Bible thumping.  He was a missionary.  And, through this style of evangelism, before his end days, more than 50 churches were planted and over 20% of the country was converted to Christianity.  That may not seem like a very big number to you – but think about what 20% of a population actually equates to.  And, all this came through the obedience of one man, to go where God called him.  He was called to return to where he was taken captive, taken as a slave.  And, so filled with the spirit of God, he brought the overflow of God’s love…and Pastor Tom’s statement was…St. Patrick was practicing Evangelism by Hospitality.  It was then, it clicked.  This is the only comfortable way we have lived our lives, Troy and I.  We are just ordinary people.  We are definitely NOT pastors or priests. We are just like you.  We live in this worldly world.  We make mistakes.  We fail and fall.  We have good days and bad days.  But, I’d say one of the greatest attributes we have is we are a family of people who love Jesus. 

    We live in this world surrounded by trials and tragedies, and yet we have found more and more blessings even through the trials and tragedies with each passing day.  Now, don’t be fantasized by my words to believe we walk around oblivious to the trials and tragedies.  Some days are harder than others.  Some days we don’t turn to God as we should, and we try to carry on in our own strength.  Yet, God finds us where we are at, and he always carries us through it all.  As I prayed about what to post, I was reminded of this lead in by Pastor Tom and how important it is that I be transparent, honest, and just me when I post updates.  My mom told me the blog posts from this past February trip to Ghana was the most honest and real I’ve ever been.  Funny, I didn’t try to be different.  But, as I find myself growing closer to God, I am finding myself just being the overflow - evangelism by hospitality.  So…the point, the purpose of all that.  I won’t let work, school, life, sadness, pain, fear, tragedy of this world we share be a distraction of the grace, love, blessings and absolute joy God has shown us in the midst of these distractions.  I will make every effort to remember to proclaim all God has done…and not always be distracted by life.  Troy and I are giving God all of ourselves, the best we can.  Thankfully, God has a lot of grace. We need it!  There are stories to be told, there are truths to be spoken…even through my little voice on this blog, in this little organization, in our family, in our friendships, and through all parts of our life.  We are on the brink of something big, and it started with one little boy who was hanging on by a thread for his life…GN.

Miracles...

We have received an update on GN.  I just don't know what to say...thank you Jesus, yeah...that is a good start!
Sometimes emails are intended to be private...but, this one...I have to send just as they wrote it...

Email from Dave/Ellen:
GN is amazing - we are so very thankful that God had you in the right place at the right time aaaaaaannnnnnndddddd that we have the great privilege of being part of his story.
GN is standing with assistance - cooing like crazy - smiling all the time aaaaannnnnndddd today he sucked his bottle !  Oh my!  There are no words -
We love you guys and thank God for you!  There are many more stories waiting to be told!

And, that's not all...
I asked them to find out if GN will always carry the label of spirit child or will it/is it removed?  Since we are reintegrating, we want to know how he is perceived.  This of course is another area of concern.  Here is the response:

I was told that since it is clear that the operation had improved GN, he is not a spirit child. 

Look, there are more hurdles and we are all walking out in faith with each moment, each decision, each second through this whole process.  But, if that isn't a miracle, I just don't know what is...Thank you Jesus!!!

thank you all for faithfully joining us in prayer!  Thank you for being intercessors for GN, his family, Dave, Ellen, One Step In Faith, and all the children to come!  WOW! We are so excited to see where the Lord is leading!

Have a blessed day!