New OSIF Child - Sara...

Last week escaped faster than I could keep up.  I am here now.  Better late than never, right?!!  I’m here with the promised update on our newest sweet OSIF child!  I promise, you’ll be so glad you hung on, waiting patiently for me to get out my keyboard to click out the update.  Okay, now…I wouldn’t be myself…if I didn’t give a little background first.  Oh, come on…you knew that was gonna happen!  Don’t act surprised.  I’m a novelist, as if a few months break from blogging was gonna change that fact.  LOL!~

Okay some key background points. 
Dave and Ellen Bartlett

Spring of 2013, Dave and Ellen moved to Northern Ghana as cross cultural workers.  When you are a new missionary on the ground, immersing yourself in culture is JOB 1.  You are discouraged from beginning ministry, working in ministry, helping in ministry, etc. in the first year.  (Although their sending agency was well aware of their involvement with One Step In Faith, it is preferred to have no daily involvement with ministries.)  Why you ask?  Among many reasons, you are instead encouraged, to BEGIN relationships, BUILD relationships, and GROW relationships with nationals in the area God has called you.  A part of beginning these steps in the area you are joining God, you NEED to learn the culture and language as best and as soon as possible.  This means, meeting and getting to know Ghanaians.  Ha!  Imagine that!  So, in preparation for their arrival, Dave/Ellen, their support team, their family, and their friends began to pray for God to reveal these people. 

And, as God always does, He showed up.  Early on, Dave and Ellen were introduced to a beautiful Ghanaian couple, David and Ursela, who would become their cultural and language teachers.  Oh, but this couple would soon become so much more.  They are confidants, pastors, friends, they are brothers and sisters in Christ.  They laugh together, pray together, and comfort together when this place they call home sometimes feels so unfamiliar.  Life in another country is not simple, life away from home is not easy, and life away from all those you love so dearly – your home country family and friends – is sometimes more than a heart can bear.  To have people, nationals of the country God calls you, help to comfort in those areas is a gift.  So, speaking on behalf of Dave and Ellen, I hope I am not speaking out of turn when I say – I believe David and Ursela are a gift.

David and Ursela
David and Ursela have been in ministry for quite some time, having moved back from the southern portion of Ghana, back to their hometown of Bolgtanga (Northern Ghana), as in-country evangelists/missionaries.  Their ministry has several facets, most of which are helping wherever God leads.  (Well, that is what God calls us all to do – right?)  They live 100% on faith and trust the Lord will provide.  One day, in obedience, they took in an abandoned infant child who was HIV+, Jerry.  His mother had recently died of AIDS, and his father was in denial that the child was his.  His position was, there was no way he had HIV, therefore Jerry had to be another man’s child, even though (1) he hadn’t been tested for HIV and (2) the boy has striking physical similarities.  Sheesh! Jesus, help when we as human beings have little patience and understanding with these situations.  It was not easy, but David and Ursela are raising Jerry as their own.  He is thriving by the way, quite the spirited little boy!  Super fun!! 
Jerry has a sister
Well, time has passed and Jerry is such an active toddler, loving life and loving Jesus.  Actually, I wish I had a camera when we were there this past September.  We were praying over dinner, and I opened my eyes.  OK, YES…I opened my eyes.  You know, I actually enjoy watching children while we pray.  And, I think God understands and doesn’t take any offense…promise!  LOL!  Anyway, I was watching Jerry, this little toddler pray over his food.  David and Ursela teach Jesus in their home, they worship and live & breathe as Jesus followers/disciple makers.  This little boy had his eyes closed (yeah, his were closed) and his hands stretched out over his food as they prayed.  SO SWEET!!  I get images of that sometimes when we pray, and it always brings a smile to my face.  Well, he is doing
amazing, getting great medical care for his HIV, and as I said, time has passed.  

Ursela received a communication Jerry’s older sister (5 years old) needed to be tested for HIV.  Ursela helped the family, by taking her to the clinic to be tested, and Praise Jesus…she is negative.  YAY! 
However, despite this great news, her family no longer wanted to keep her.  Her father had left her some time ago with  relatives in their village.  As we have shared so many times, life is extremely difficult in Northern Ghana.  So many people are going without food on a regular basis.  So many have so little.  When there isn’t enough, the concept of survival becomes a reality, where food and needs are met within the family by priority.  In this particular family, they do not have enough for their immediate family, and so this little girl becomes a lower priority.  It sounds evil and cruel, through our Western eyes.  It does.  BUT, through their lens, living through their own strength (as opposed to the strength of Christ), they mostly just see survival.  This means on days when their family would have small amounts of food, this little girl would have none. 

This was not an easy decision to make.  It was clear, as Ursela was holding this young girl in her arms, she needed someone to love her.  However, David and Ursela were struggling to provide for their own biological children, Jerry, as well as themselves.  With all the financial strife in the North, they have no stable income from their mission work, as I said earlier…this couple lives by faith.  However, they do not live in their own strength, and so they lifted these concerns up to God.  They lifted up this little girl.  In obedience to God’s prompting, Dave and Ellen came to One Step In Faith with this little girl’s story. 

Saying yes, when you don’t see how…
At our board meeting, we were discussing considerable financial concerns with our existing children.  We know there are fundraisers to be planned and sponsors to be raised, and were reviewing ideas and options to start addressing the soon-to-be serious financial situation.  After reviewing the current sponsor and financial bank balances, anticipated year end risks, we all agreed to lift this up to the Lord and press forward with our approved plans.  Next agenda topic, Dave & Ellen, understanding the financial situation with the existing children, obeyed the prompting of the Lord and brought up the situation with Jerry’s older sister.  They shared the background, details of her story and asked for us to pray and consider her support through OSIF.  Oh, it would be so easy to say – well, DUH?  We are out of money, why are you bringing us another child to support – we can’t afford the ones we have.  But, you see, we just don’t operate like that.  We know if God wants us involved, God will make a way.  And, we know there is food and water when we need it, a roof over our heads, entertainment when we seek it, and love in our homes.  So, we prayed.  But, to be honest, it was INSTANT…God guided us instantly to take her on. 

I would like to introduce you to Sara.  Oh my goodness, isn’t she just so cute!  Just want to bottle her up and carry her around with you all day long.  This picture was taken of her attending church!  Sara will grow up knowing she is loved by a family, by community, and most importantly by God.  Sara will grow up with her biological brother!  And, Sara will have an opportunity for education.  These are pictures of her getting ready for her first day at school.  She began a pre-kindergarten type class.  So excited for all God is going to do in and through Sara.  Please pray for David and Ursela, as they raise up these sweet children.  Please pray for Sara, that God would continue to cover her and reveal to her Himself.  Please pray for provisions, as we are still in need of financial support. 

Prayer Partners…

Prayer is a huge part of the support we provide to these children.  Frankly, we believe it is the most important part of the support.  It is our hearts desire to have a team of two or more people, willing to come together on a regular basis to pray in unison for one of One Step In Faith supported children.  And, then, when they are not together, for them to pray individually on a daily basis.  It is heart’s desire, to have the family (including the child, if they are old enough to understand…some of our kids are infants) of the supported child to in partnership, pray for the prayer team.  Sara needs a prayer team.  Would you seek your heart?  Does God call you to become a prayer team leader?  If so, please contact me at for more information. 

Thank you and as always…hugs to you all!!!

Stay tuned for an update on another OSIF child later in the week...

Catching up...

Hey guys!  It's been...what MONTHS!  Right?!!  Although it has been a long time since I have been able to get back to the blog, I promise you, One Step In Faith has been pretty busy.  Special thanks to Dave and Ellen Bartlett in Northern Ghana and Eddie Nsafoa in Southern Ghana for helping to take care of our kiddos over these past months.  There have been so many changes over these past months, I am struggling on where to I will start with an update on each child!  

First, let me entice you a little.  Monthly, beginning in April, we will begin a new series called the Star Child.  Each month we will post a special blog update to celebrate one of our kiddos.  Through these postings, you will have an opportunity to learn a little about them and their story.  Be on the lookout, you won’t want to miss it!

Today’s update is about YAma.  It has been a difficult year for YAma.  We are still working through the details, however in the meantime we would all appreciate your prayers. 

YAma has been in our lives as our little girl since 2010.  The four of us (Dave/Ellen, Troy/I) sort of adopted (emotionally) Isaac and YAma.  So, when the opportunity finally arrived to offer them both a private school education, they were ECSTATIC
Last year, they began their new journey attending a private Christian boarding school in Kumasi.  This school is VERY close to Eddie’s home, so he is able to frequently check-in on them.  They were the equivalent to 7th grade, Junior High 1st year, when they left their village school.  However, their test scores at the private school placed them in 6th grade, so they were required to repeat one year.  They DID NOT MIND AT ALL!  Are you kidding, the opportunity to have a strong education – they were beyond excited! 

However, it all sounds good on paper!  Transitioning from a village school to a private, Christian school is not easy.  To transition from a village school to a private, Christian boarding school, is just plain DIFFICULT.  In general, some children acclimate and do very well.  The idea of the amazing opportunity it provides for their life allows them to look beyond the sacrifice of being away from home, and focus on the hope for their future.  However, these are human being children.  Not everyone was built to go away to school, not everyone is built to handle children who treat them differently because they are not “city” children, but “village” children.  Even if it is just right down the road, sometimes it just isn’t that easy. 

At first, the only issue mentioned or discussed was academic concerns with YAma’s work.  Actually, most children struggle from the start, even if they were top of their class in the villages.  Academically, they are learning subjects they didn’t have exposure to in the village (example:  French, Drafting, Computer Skills).  And, the private school requires the children to speak English 100%.  Yet, in the village schools, they typically only speak English in English class, and use their native village language the rest of the day.  Do you remember middle school?  Do you remember that middle school is actually the MOST DIFFICULT transitional years for children?  Between children testing boundaries with authority and peers, picking on the weakest link, and doing anything for a laugh to fit in…middle school is just a blast! 
Ghanaian children are not much different.  Life is harder, so middle school survival is a lot tougher. 

Ok, insert YAma who is VERY, VERY timid and shy.  Well, it turns out, her biggest issue is English.  YAma has been afraid of being mocked when she speaks incorrectly.  This creates a chain effect.  If YAma doesn’t understand a topic or has a question, she struggles asking for help.  If she doesn’t ask for help, then she doesn’t perform well.  Asking questions requires speaking out loud in English.  J  

Once we discovered her declining grades were due to insecurity of her language skills, we started her in extra classes, small group tutoring for her struggling classes.  Time passed, her grades came in again, and still not much improvement.  The school and teachers desired for her to succeed.  They wanted to try one more option to help her get over the hump, catch-up and gain some confidence in among her peers.

She was set to begin one-on-one class work, directly working with a teacher, instead of attending regular classes.  She was relieved to not have been removed from school, but given another opportunity to try and succeed.  However, last month we received notification, Ama had removed herself from school.  Something happened, creating a wave of poor decisions.  Eddie has been working with the family and community to help identify the cause and solutions. 

Now, a month past, thankfully we are seeing some progress.  Although we cannot share details, and we are still pending some details and understanding, this is still in transition.  However, we are thankful for progress.  She apologized for her actions and shared a desire to restore what she walked away from, she requested to return to school.  There are obstacles to be worked through, but we are very thankful she is listening to God’s call in her life, by not giving up on school and facing her fears.  

Because there are still consequences of her actions leading up to her walking out of school, there are outstanding items to be resolved.  In addition, she missed about a month of school and was already struggling.  Please…please, pray for her.  She really could use every single one of your prayers!  Please…please pray for her family, Eddie, Headmaster and the teachers as they work through the details to restore and redeem her.  If we all came together, we believe YAma will begin to connect and have true hope and opportunity restored!  We believe she will thrive, and not struggle!  She has taken the first step, she asked. 

Thank you and as always…hugs to you all!!!

Stay tuned for an update on our NEW OSIF child later this week...