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!