Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jake's Ghana Trip Journal ~ Day 7 (videos of library and medical clinic included)

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Today as we rose from our slumber we were filled with excitement of what God might do on this final full day in Asikuma. At the same time it was a little sad knowing this would be our last day here until I get to come back in March. I knew I had to make the most out of today and I was confident that God knew just the plans for the day.

Following breakfast it started like every other day. The construction guys went to the library to complete more of the work, Typhanie and Nick and Britttany went to the clinic to paint all the shelving units that were installed, as well as the frames around the windows and doors. I soon found myself wondering what God had planned for me today. Then I heard four joyful voices as Fredrick, Manche, Asare, and Ali were wrestling with each other at the entrance of the hotel area.

As we started walking towards the clinic to scope out all the progress that was made throughout the week it dawned on me that a great way to show people what we are doing in Africa is to take short videos of the clinic, the library, and the roads of Asikuma. So, with my I-phone and help from the boys we set out to the medical clinic to video all the work at the clinic that has been completed (the videos are at the end of this post). The boys had never seen this feature of the I-phone before (and for that matter any form of video recording) so they were excited to join me and be as goofy as possible just so they could watch themselves on the video. The simple things that we take for granted in the United States can bring so much joy in places like Asikuma, Ghana.

Following our non-professional video coverage of what God is doing at the clinic we decided to head down to the library to do the same thing. As we arrive I hear Chris yelling my name from the top of the roof. I knew he needed something from me and I was just thankful it was not anything to do with construction. It was approaching noon and the construction team had recruited a couple of the local men to help with the finishing of the library. Over the past two trips Chris has done an excellent job of identifying who the most talented and reliable workers are and on any typical day you can find those guys working hand in hand with our construction guys.

However, no matter how hard these guys are willing to work it is still Ghana. Lunch time in Ghana can easily turn into a three hour process of waiting on Ghana time food service, and then the slow methodical eating practices, followed by a quick nap in the chair can really put a damper on construction when daylight ends at 6pm in Asikuma. Chris ordered me to head back to the hotel and have them take the lunch and put it into 15 to go boxes for the workers. Chris knew if we took a break for lunch not much else would get done that day.

So, without hesitation I took the group of boys that were with me and scurried back to the hotel to ask the cooking staff to create 15 to-go lunches. Well, this threw a curveball at the cooking staff which is never good in Ghana. The lunch was supposed to be served at 12:00pm and I think I actually had the to-go boxes in hand at 2:00pm; all the while Chris is texting me to hurry up as he was afraid the Ghana construction crew was going to call it a day at any possible moment.

I was told at least 30 times that lunch was coming that day as I sat and waited and discussed everything under the moon with my posse (also known as Albert, Manche, Ali, Asare, and Fredrick). The crazy part about the Ghana process of time is that it does not bother me at all. I actually wish at times the United States worked more like this. It is so funny at times how God has designed me for Africa. I like Africa time, I like the lack of rules and guidelines, and I like the genuine joy the people live with each day. In the United States we run from place to place all day just to be five minutes early. There are books full of guidelines and rules one must follow for everything someone wants to do or even thinks about doing. And, in general, most people I come across in the course of a day display little joy despite having so much - and all of these things about the U.S. drive me nuts!!!!

Ok now that I have gotten that tangent out of my system back to what God did today. After we had delivered lunch to all the workers I spent the remainder of the day hanging out in the school yard watching the construction guys, talking with the headmaster of the school, and trying to figure out what God wanted us to do next.

I know many of you that follow Christ know that some days it can feel like God is a million miles away. Other days it really feels like He is right there next to you talking to you and opening your eyes to everything He wants to accomplish for His purpose through you. Well, I had one of those days where I could literally feel God’s presence and voice with me in the school yard.

It is so hard to explain but it was like God was telling me to start looking for ways to empower more people within the community. Then it was like He opened my eyes to what the school buildings in Asikuma actually look like. We are closely moving towards having this beautiful looking library connected to an unfinished school building that you would not want lifetime criminals having to stay in - let alone 675 students going to school in. I also noticed that no matter how much progress we were making on the library there was no way we were going to be able to complete the whole project before we left.

While all of this is going through my mind God draws my attention to a Ghanaian construction guy named Sampson who had been working alongside our crew. Sampson had a work ethic and a diligence to his work that I have never seen by a worker in Asikuma. It was like God was telling me to find a way to empower Sampson and God would use him to accomplish great things.

As God was speaking to me I walked over to Sampson and pulled him out of the library where he was plastering the wall. I asked him to look at the entire school building and I asked him if he would be capable of plastering, painting, and finishing all of the school building not just the library. He looked at me and said of course. I asked him how much cement and paint it would take and what it would cost. He gave me a rough number and then I walked away and Sampson went back to work.

I knew what God was challenging me with so I shared my thoughts with Chris. I told him that I was thinking about leaving roughly $750.00 with Sampson to finish the entire school building. I told Chris that if Sampson could get the job done and be faithful with the resources it would open up a real door for us to accomplish even more in Asikuma. This would also give Chris the confidence of helping the community start a particular project and then leaving it in Sampson’s hands to finish.

After it seemed like Chris and I were on the same page we asked for Sampson to join us at dinner and that we would like to meet with him. Following dinner that evening Chris and I along with Nana (chief of the village) sat with Sampson and I explained the guidelines of our plans. We handed him 1,000.00 cedis which is equivalent to about $750.00 and told him he was fully responsible to finish the school building and library. He could use the money to buy supplies, hire staff, and other items that he may need to finish the project. The more efficient he could be with the money would ultimately mean more profit for Sampson for his time. We also let him know that if he was faithful with this project that this is something we could do again for future projects in Asikuma.

I am pretty sure Sampson left tonight thinking that he had won the lottery. We are excited to see his work and we will be receiving weekly updates of the progress that he is making.

Another really cool story from this last day in Asikuma is with a boy named Richard. As I was spending the afternoon at the library I realized that there was a 13 or 14 year old boy that was incredibly enthused by the whole construction process. He was hanging out trying to find any way possible that he could help. All of a sudden the cement guys ran out of water for the mixing of cement and without hesitation, without ever being asked, this boy was on it. The water well is about ½ mile from the school yard where we were working, but he could of cared less. He grabbed the wheel barrow with four gigantic water jugs and off he went. About 30 minutes later he returned with water so they could continue mixing the cement. You could tell how proud he was to be able to help out as he had a grin on his face from ear to ear.

As I witnessed all of this I walked up to him and asked him his name and he said, “Richard.” I told him that I really appreciated his help and then slid 10 cedis into his hand and told him that was for helping out. He literally could not stop telling me thank you as he probably said it 30 times in the next 10 minutes and it all came from such an absolutely pure heart.

Of course God was working again because Richard was not like every other kid. He was blind in one of his eyes. I asked him what happened and he told me his older brother got mad at him and stabbed him in the eye with a knife and that he could not see out of the eye. God was telling me to help the boy and was ensuring me that something could be done for his eye, so I told Richard to come eat dinner with us that evening and I would introduce him to Nana and see what we could do for him.

Nana took a liking to Richard right away and was willing to find a way to help. I agreed that Janel and I would donate the money for him to get to an eye doctor for an evaluation to see what could be done. If something could be done to save his eye we would do everything in our power to find a way to raise the money to have his vision restored.

Nana is working on getting Richard to a nearby eye clinic for that evaluation and we hope to have an update in the weeks to come.

God was working today. I just love these days. I love it when God seems so close. I love when God asks us to do something and then waits for obedience. I love not knowing how the story will end for Sampson or Richard or some of the other people he has called us to help. It is fun to have to rely on God. It is fun when the wisdom of the world can be stripped away and the power of God is all that matters.

Today was a great day and I thank God for the ways He showed up today and the way He constantly lets me know that He has definitely called us to this journey. Our job is to simply take step by step in obedience and faith.


Jake’s hope was that he could transport you to Asikuma and give you a good visual/walk through of all that has been accomplished! Thank you for your support of our projects – to God be the glory!

Library/additional classroom built onto governmental school:

Medical clinic:

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