Each Monday I will be posting Jake's Thought for the Week which he sends out with his weekly annoucements to all the parents of the players in his All Iowa Attack program.
Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed- Proverbs 16:3
As many of you already know my family has a new member living with us now. He stands about 6’5 weighing around 160lbs and is 18 years old. If that is not quite enough he is from Ghana, Africa and his name is Nana Yaw Sapponamoah and JJ (our youngest son) may be the only one who can pronounce his name properly. :) I know I have pretty much given up on pronouncing it correctly and have shortened it to just Yaw (like Yao Ming)!
It has been an incredible experience since he arrived with his Mother on Tuesday. His Mother will be here until Thursday when she will head back to Ghana while Yaw will stay with us for at least 6 months and probably for the next year and half as we work on attaining him a student visa.
The best part of the story is how God has had his hand in all of it. Many times it is difficult to always trust that if we give our plans to the Lord that they will truly succeed. Often we believe that we have the best ideas and must have all of the control in every situation, but as God demonstrated in this situation he knows what is best for all of us and will ultimately work everything out in his time.
The story of how God led Yaw to the Sullivan family: On the third day of my trip to Ghana, Africa in February the Right to Dream Academy had set up a 17U basketball game in Accra with the hope of giving me an idea where these young men were in regards to athletic ability and basketball skills. As I watched the game you could see the extreme athletic ability each player possessed, but all of them were very raw in regards to their basketball skill.
However, one young man really stood out from the rest and I began asking questions of the local people about who this kid was and most informed me this individual was one of the better players in Ghana. They also told me he had just received a 5 year multiple visa to the United States a few months back with the hope of coming to the United States to grow as a basketball player and to receive a better education.
It is important to understand that five year multiple visas are very rare especially from a third world country. He was fortunate enough that the US Embassy in Ghana provided him one since his Mom was a foreign exchange student in the United States in 1979.
Following the 17U game in Ghana I approached Yaw and gave him my card and told him that if there was anything I could do to help to let me know, and that my wife and I would love to host him in the United States during the spring and summer and we could see what doors would be opened at that point in time.
When I gave him my card I realistically never thought I would hear back from him. As we were traveling back to the United States from Ghana I had noticed that I had two missed phone calls from an African number. In my mind I thought that it was kind of strange and I just ignored it. When we arrived in Chicago I had yet another missed call from Africa and my curiousity got the best of me and I decided to call the number back. I imagine that call probably cost me a lot of money but my curiousity just took over. To my surprise when the person on the other end picked up it was Yaw and he proceeded to tell me he would be here by the middle of March. You can say I was a little surprised but I knew God was up to something so I told him that when I arrived back in Iowa I would write him an acceptance letter into the Attack Academy so he could be accepted into the United States, and from there the rest is history and we now have a 6’5 Ghanaian living at our house.
We excitedly greeted him and his mother at the airport last Tuesday and have found out many wonderful things about them, but none more exciting than the story of how God had worked to provide Yaw this opportunity.
The short version of his story is that the previous August prior to me coming to Ghana he had the opportunity to come to the United States and visit the foreign exchange family his mother stayed with in 1979 in Goldsboro, North Carolina. He arrived in North Carolina with the hope that he would be able to come to the United States like his Mother did in 1979. However, upon his arrival he found out that the school his Mother had the opportunity to attend in 1979 had become run down with crime and poverty and it would not be a positive opportunity for him. So, they decided to try option B which was to get accepted into a private school in the Goldsboro area, but the school board decided to not admit him, so he was left to return to the Ghana, Africa very discouraged and disappointed.
His Mom continuously told him just to pray and God would open up the door of opportunity. He and his Mom did just that for the next five months and that door was opened. It was not opened without a little push from his Mom though. On the morning of the 17U game that I attended in Ghana he did not want to attend thinking it would not be productive and instead wanted to go to a different location and play with some friends of his. His Mom convinced him to attend the game scheduled by the Right to Dream Academy as this might just be the door that God has opened.
From that point on the rest is history and now he is here in Iowa and we are working hard to get his student visa in order to open up some academic opportunities. God has used a game such as basketball to open up the door for this young man and it just goes to remind us that when we commit our plans to the Lord they will surely succeed.