Wednesday, April 25, 2012

To Whom Much is Given

Matthew 25:31-46

"When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.'

"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'

"Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'

"Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'

"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'

"Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."

There will come a day when I stand before God and I will give an account for the way I personally loved the overlooked or ignored. I cannot hand this responsibility off to church leaders or to our government. Jesus commands my personal involvement. When I picture these moments I see Jesus talking to me in the here and now. I see Him look me in the eyes and say…

“Janel, I blessed your womb and you got to feel the joyous miracle of bringing a life into this world. Two little lives that hold your genes. You get to look at them and see your own deep brown eyes, your awkwardly skinny legs and lanky frame, you get to watch them play and you see how I blessed them with the very gifts and talents that I gave you and Jake. You get to pass on your legacy, your family line. You watch their personality unfold and get the luxury of saying “You get that from your dad!” You see that the very gift of pregnancy in itself is just that….a gift. You get to see that life is precious, that I designed each and every heart beat for a purpose. Won’t you show My other children that they aren’t left in the dust? That their life is full of purpose too?”

“Janel, many of my children live behind concrete walls and fences, beds stacked high, and their caretakers come and go. Yes they’re getting food. Yes they’re getting care from adults. Yes they have toys that have been donated to their home that they can play with. Yes they’re off the streets. But they lack one thing. A mommy and daddy. They lack the healing, the confidence, the love that only comes by having a true family. Dear Janel, I let you be a mommy. It was my power that blessed your womb and gave you that glorious name. Won’t you please be a mommy to my children who day after day wake up without this deep need being met? Don’t worry that your insufficient. Don’t worry about the details. Yes, you are weak, but My power will sustain you. I will pick out the children I have designed for your family, and I will lead you to them. Will you take this step of faith and trust Me? Will you care for My children?”

“Dear Janel, remember, you are living in a fallen world destroyed by sin. Many of my children are being abused and neglected. I’ve designed them to know Me as Savior, Redeemer, Refuge. But no one has told them about Me yet. They have deep needs. On the surface their needs start off as physical. Their empty bellies need food. Their bodies are diseased and infested because of the water they drink. They have no money to go to school. Deeper still, they need to know My truths. They need to know the hope of heaven, and how they can get there. If you reach out to them, I will let My light shine through you so that they will see Me. Won’t you be my hands and feet?”

“Janel, I give you and your family 3 meals a day. You sit at a king-sized table and dine on the choicest of foods. On holidays I give you the means to have fellowship over dishes filled to the brim and platters stacked high. But many of my children have acquired a taste for mush and rodents because that is all they can afford. Even more of my children don’t know when their next meal will be. Won’t you please feed my sheep?”

“Janel, I’ve given you a husband who provides for you and is your strength. He’s a leader in your home, he doesn’t treat you poorly, or neglect his family. Many of My daughters have been left by their husbands. They struggle day to day, trying to do it all yet falling short when the sun goes down. Their children suffer and My daughter’s die on the inside because they haven’t the means or the tools or the know-how to provide. Won’t you come alongside of them? Won’t you empower them? Won’t you sit and listen to their story, and tell them about hope everlasting?”

“Janel, when your children are sick you can hop in your car and see a well-educated doctor within a matter of 5 minutes. You even have preventative care so that your children don’t get sick. Many of My children become sick simply because of the surroundings of their environment. Even the smallest of sicknesses can become fatal because they have no money to get medicine, no money for bus fare to the hospital. They are helpless. I will give you opportunities to help them. Are you listening when I pull on your heart to act?”

“Janel, I gave you the means to build a house with wood, and beautiful tile, and cushiony carpeting, and warm insulated walls. Many of My children build with sticks, mud, and scraps. Their houses don’t keep out the bugs, the sickness, the disease. Their roof leaks, their floors are dirty. Their surroundings smell of urine and feces. Some of my children have no home at all. I gave you a house with many bedrooms. Won’t you open your door to them?”

This I know, I will have no excuse on that day. So much I have been given and not to hoard to myself, not to indulge, not even to save and build up so I can have an easy life someday, not to hide away my children - my family - my things - my money because I need to save to get more, better, bigger. No. I hear Him say OPEN your arms, OPEN your doors, OPEN your hearts. And when you do, there you will find Me.

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. ~Luke 12:48~

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekend in Pictures

This is Jake’s busiest time of year now with tournaments on the weekends as the next few weeks are what is called the ‘live period’. This is what his high school kids have worked hard for all year long – they now get the opportunity to play in front of college coaches and earn their way into a scholarship!

For 8 years now our family has traveled alongside Jake and his teams and made the weekend tournaments a family affair. Our kids of course LOVE getting to travel to different places, and especially enjoy the part of getting to stay in hotels. :) JJ and Justice are quite popular among the high school players and are treated just as if they were the players’ little brothers. Jayla has her own fun in the stands hanging out with the players’ younger siblings and making many trips to the concession stand for her beloved popcorn! Most of all, we soak up the family time together that we work so hard to get to all week!

Some pictures from this weekend at the NY2LA Spring Extravaganza tournament in Hopkins, MN….

See any college coaches that you know?

Imagine the pressure of playing with all those coaches lined up about 2 feet from you along the baseline with a potential scholarship offer hanging in the balance!

Jake’s says, “You’ve got to love that pressure and let it ignite you so much that when you step on the court you are ready to rip someone’s head off!” Yikes! :)

Jayla with her friend Javaria (who has two older brothers in Jake’s program) – now you can see what I mean about the creativity that goes into styling hair that I take notice of at these tournaments!

Thanks to I actually know how to do this style (Wa-hooo!) – these are called box braids, but I won't be able to do these until our girls' hair gets longer. Javaria’s mom let me pick her brain about their styling and hair care routine for her girls and tracked me down later on to give me her phone number in case I have any questions along the way. :) So nice and helpful!

Jayla soaks up all of daddy’s attention in between games!

And I was able to sneak in taking this video on my phone without Jayla knowing. She was in a FULL conversation with her baby doll - I have yet to be able to catch this on camera until now. Hard to hear exactly what she is saying, but you can sure read her face! She always reminds me of the little girl, Bonnie, on the movie Toy Story 3! :)

Coaching is intense!

But all the hard work was worth it - 17U Platinum Bracket (the TOP bracket play) CHAMPIONS!!!!!!!!

Friday, April 20, 2012


One of the pieces of our adoption that has been different this time around is that we are adopting GIRLS, which means I have a new adventure in learning how to ‘do’ their hair. With Justice up to this point we have just kept it short. About once a month we take him to the barber shop in Des Moines for a fresh cut and ‘line up’. Justice is content to mix up the designs etched into his hair, and get paint every once in a while. All the barbers (who are older black men) always comment on how much they LOVE his hair color, and I know that it really helps to give him confidence that it is cool to be black and have red hair! Anyways, at this point Justice’s hair is pretty low maintenance and his cuts are only $15 plus a tip.

However, things are going to be much, much, much different with our girls’ hair, and honestly, at the beginning of our current adoption journey this invoked FEAR in my heart. We are around a lot of Africans on the weekends at basketball tournaments, so I have seen the tremendous amount of creativity, style and work that goes into their hair (not only the women and girls but the boys and men too). In fact, for the past 6 months I have been studying hair at these tournaments (forget the basketball games)! I’ve taken note on the different ways to part the hair into sections, admired the endless styles of puffs & braids & twists, figured out the difference between natural hair & extensions & wigs, noticed who has relaxed their hair and who hasn’t, pondered how on earth they get the beads on the ends of the hair to stay, and also come across a few styles that I just can’t figure out how they were put in. (Let me tell you, the bleachers give a prime perspective for studying hair!). In being around the African families that Jake has in his Kingdom Hoops program it’s been easy to see how much pride they take in caring for and styling their hair. It is definitely a very important part of their culture, and I understand why. They cannot just roll out of bed, pull a brush through their hair, leave it ‘down’, and call it good to go like I can with mine. Because of the texture and curl of their hair, it requires so much more care, attention, and maintenance. My wake-up call to this came when we had C-baby staying with us last summer. She didn't come with any hair products so on morning 1 I tried putting in some of Jayla's spray gel for curls on her hair and it just looked awful. I could not get the frizz under control and it wasn't even close to looking pretty. Soon her dad came around and grabbed our Johnson's baby (skin) LOTION and smothered her hair in it. All her curls turned smooth and under control and her 'free' style looked perfect. That's when I discovered that this was no ordinary hair care! In knowing all of this, I was starting to get all stressed out thinking of the pressure I will have of making sure that I maintain this aspect of our Ghana girls’ identity. I just don’t want their new momma to let them down!

At our homestudy appointment last fall our case worker mentioned this momma [who lives about 15 minutes from us] who had adopted from Haiti and had learned how to style her daughter’s hair - and was really good at it! I remember thinking how awesome that was, but I thought surely I could never do that! Around December of last year I had decided in my mind that I would just need to find a hair salon in Des Moines that could do styles for African girl’s hair. I had heard it was extremely expensive to go this route, but I really didn’t think there was any other choice since I didn’t grow up in this culture knowing how to do this hair type, and I honestly figured it would be too difficult to learn. Seriously, I never even learned to do the ‘normal’ girl hair things in high school. I never french braided anyone’s hair (except for Barbies when I was little), I never learned how to create prom or homecoming updo’s, heck, I had never even curled anyone else’s hair with a curling iron other than my own! So even the basic ‘white girl hair’ styles were not even in my tool box! Therefore, deciding on the salon option was my way of bringing in some control to the situation and coming up with a plan so that my heart would be less anxious.

Then, something happened. Right after Christmas a new adoptive momma from my church started posting pictures on facebook of styles that she had begun trying on her African daughter’s hair. Here is one of the first styles that she did….

Every couple of weeks she was posting new styles – so here was another momma in my path that was learning to do her daughter’s hair herself! No salon! The wheels in my mind started turning and I thought okay, maybe she can teach me! When I commented on one of the photos and that I needed some hair lessons, she led me to this website: She said she had learned everything off of the video tutorials and step by step instructions on the website over the past weeks.

So, I started cruising around the website and noticed that there was an entire section for ‘beginners’ just like me! In just 5 minutes of skimming and scanning I learned all sorts of things that I never knew – like one style actually stays in the hair for an average of 4 weeks, and at night they wear sleep caps so that the styles don’t get ruined during tossing and turning on the pillow, and usually only conditioner is used to wash the hair in between styles – not shampoo! I made a mental note that I needed to carve out time to study this website, take notes, and try to sort through all the information over the next few months. But in the mean time, I needed to do something about this giant FEAR I had of even attempting to think that I could do this myself [really it was a fear of failure – I am one of ‘those’ people who usually don’t try something if there is a high percentage that I could fail at it!]. So I scheduled a hair session with this momma and her daughter. For this session I watched as momma Stephanie put yarn extensions in her daughter, Nora’s, hair. I learned that this is a great style for little girls who are patiently waiting for their short fro’s to grow out – but who really want long hair in the mean time! Even if you will never get the opportunity to style ‘kinky-curly’ hair, you HAVE to watch this video tutorial below! Seriously, this is just the neatest thing! Yarn extensions are actually just that – a package of yarn that you buy at Walmart:

Then you literally section off the hair piece by piece and integrate the yarn into the natural strands of hair. I am telling you, when you see the finished style in person you would never know it was yarn – it just blends right in. Check this video out (it won’t let me embed the video on here so you have to click on the you tube link)!

How cool is that?!?! Here is a finished picture of the yarn extensions all in…

And click here for the link to the step by step tutorial all written out with pictures.

Sitting in on a hair session with Stephanie and Nora was honestly the first step that God used in giving me the courage to feel like, “ok, I can do this!”….not because it looked easy, but just getting to watch another mom who had figured this out and could be a support system and teacher for me really took my fear down a notch.

After my first hair session I had thought I would start studying the website and trying to memorize the different how to’s. But then I wised up and decided instead to print off the posts….and now I have a big ‘ol binder with step-by-step instructions for some different styles right at my fingertips. So far I have only looked into the beginner styles. The website has some pretty fancy and creative styles that are definitely for more advanced learners. But here is maybe the best part – like I said above, I had never learned to french braid. Every time I have tried to do even a simple french braid on Jayla’s hair I haven’t been able to get it tight enough, and it’s not worth leaving in. But on the website I came across a technique called a flat rope twist. It has a similar look as a corn row (mini french braid), however you are only dealing with two strands of hair instead of three. In my opinion, ANYONE could do these! Earlier this week I watched the video tutorial which I have posted below. Then I grabbed Jayla’s life-size princess doll with a head full of fake hair and tried it out, and I could do it! HOO-RAH! I also realized that it was an entirely different ball-game from just watching to actually doing. I wanted to get some more practice in and get the technique etched in my brain. With a bribe of Dairy Queen ice cream and some movie time, I found a willing subject!

(Yes, I am sitting on a chair on our bed. Our bedroom has no floor space and the living room was taken.)

I set out to somewhat copy this diagonal parting pattern:

And here is a video tutorial of the flat rope twist which is the technique that I used for each row:

Honestly, I started off thinking that I was only going to be able to practice a few rows on Jayla, because I wasn’t sure how she would deal with the pulling/twisting of her hair since she isn’t used to it. But, surprisingly she sat still and cooperated quite easily for me! After the first few rows I decided to keep going and see if she would sit long enough for me to do the whole style – and she did! It took us about 2.5 hours (with a lunch break in the middle), a few tears on the tiny rows next to her ears, and a couple of runs around the house to stretch our legs and then we were done – just in time for nap time!

Some definite room for improvement, but not too shabby for my first go-round! With each row I got better and better, and taught myself little tips along the way:

-Wetting the sections of hair with a spray bottle first made it much easier to work with because it gave the hair some grip and kept the twists tighter

-I needed to tightly secure down the other parts of hair that I wasn’t working with at the moment, otherwise little pieces would get integrated into the rows and my parts would get all messed up

-I needed to map out the diagonal part lines better beforehand. I sort of eyeballed the pattern that I wanted because I didn't think she was going to sit there long enough for me to do the whole style anyways. The parts didn’t turn out quite as crisp as it could have if I would have taken more time to map it out using clips at the beginning. I also had wanted to do skinnier sections/rows which could have been planned better during the parting.

-I need to grow out my pinky nail! It definitely would have come in handy as a sort of straight edged comb when adding the hair as I went down the row.

Even though I have a long ways to go, getting to practice this gave me some much-needed confidence, and seeing the finished product actually made me EXCITED to get started on this new hair adventure! I know executing these styles will be much different with the tight, curly texture of our Ghana girl’s hair, but if I can at least train my hands and mind on the styling techniques now, then I think I will be less overwhelmed and stressed about it when they are actually here! I am already less anxious knowing that I have a plan and an idea of what caring for their hair will entail!

I feel like this whole hair thing is another way in which God is showing me that He will EQUIP me IN EVERY WAY for the BIG things and even the LITTLE things so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, I may abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

From the Mouths of My Loves

JJ ~ “Mommy, sometimes after I make a basket I can’t stop smiling.”

Justice ~ “Do people really wrestle alligators? Is that real or fake?”

Jayla ~ “How much longer do we have to wait? A couple of whiles?”

JJ ~ “God can do anything! He could make it 5:00 right now if he wanted to!”

Justice ~ Heading to his eye doctor appointment: “Why can’t they just make a shot that you get in your eyes so that you never go blind?”

JJ ~ “Last night I had a dream that my front tooth was wiggly. Jayla what did you dream about?”
Jayla ~ “Ghosts, pirates, and bubble gum!!!!!!!”

Justice ~ At prayer request time one evening: “I want to thank God for giving me a better life.”

Me ~ “Alright, let's get dressed for church.”
Jayla ~ “Is Max going to be at church today?”
Me ~ “Yes I’m sure he will be.”
Jayla ~ “Ok, I’ll go to church then.”

Me ~ “Guess what JJ? You go to school on Friday to practice for Kindergarten!”
JJ ~ “But I don’t know how to do Math yet!!!!”
Me ~ “It’s ok, that’s what school is for – they will teach you how.”
JJ ~ “Oh, so school is like basketball practice?”

Justice ~ “Mommy, you see how in the United States when people turn old their hair turns white? Is my hair going to turn white like that?”

Jayla ~ “My hair is getting longer and longer and soon it will be just like my mommy’s.”
JJ ~ “Well, I’m getting some hair under my arm pits.”
Jayla ~ “My daddy has hair under his arm pits.”

Monday, April 16, 2012

Trip Highlights: Natalie

After each of our trips I like to give our tripsters the opportunity to write out some thoughts on what impacted them the most during their time in Ghana. I enjoy hearing about the trip from their perspective, and seeing what transpired in their hearts as they were exposed to the culture and people - some for the first time. Although oftentimes it is extremely hard to put the experience into words - especially if you don't like to write - I have always believed that writing helps to process and digest the emotions and feelings of what was experienced. So far this trip I've had one taker - hopefully a few more of these will float in over the next days because I love reading them! In Natalie's words....

Natalie ~ Senior at Iowa State University, majoring in Early Childhood Education

There are so many things that I just… don’t know how to say. I thought I knew what to expect going to Africa, but of course I quickly found out that I didn’t and it was all so beautiful and joyful and hard and heartbreaking and overwhelming and… so much more. First of all, I am just still so humbled that I was able to go. I feel so, incredibly blessed to have been able to see and be a small part of our Father’s heart. That’s really one of the greatest blessings I could ever ask for or receive, to be part of what God is doing and the people that He loves so much.

Before going I thought I knew what poverty was… I thought I knew what to expect. But I didn’t know, because I had never seen beautiful children push each other and fight to get water. I mean, they almost knocked me down when I was trying to give them water. And I didn’t know what it would be like to hold a child in my arms – a child that is so skinny that even though she’s four she looks like, maybe, two years old. Or to see a child so hungry and tired that nothing I can do can make him smile… and all I can do is hold him in my arms and wish that there was more redemption here.

But there were also so many beautiful things. I mean, every single day there was a person, an event, a reminder, something that points to God’s infinite faithfulness and redemption. Every day there was something – the baby that was saved from death, Albert’s fervor for the word of God, Kofi’s passion for orphans, all the times when a child would sit and read story after story after story from my Bible with ten more kids piled around us listening. (This might have just become my very favorite thing in the world to do.)

One of my very favorite moments was the night in Kwahu when I all of a sudden realized (in the midst of blowing bubbles) that we were getting in the van and leaving… with all the kids from the orphanage… to go have a meal with them. A banquet for orphans. We went to the restaurant and I looked down the long table and saw the joy on the faces of these dozens of kids, and I watched them dance – I don’t know if I have ever seen anything more beautiful. It was one of those moments when you literally feel the heart of God rejoicing.

One of the most striking things I have seen so far from all this is a very deep longing to see God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven. This deep longing to see more of Christ’s redemption come to the lives of physically and emotionally hungry children and orphans in Asikuma and Kwahu and Larteh… and more of God’s kingdom to come to the materialism and sometimes relational poverty we have here… and spiritual poverty in so many places. Just to understand this longing and God’s heart more is such an undeserved blessing, and I am so, so humbled and thankful that I could have and learn a small part in that. I am honestly still struggling with what I have seen of how this… pursuing God’s kingdom… is going to be hard and costly and inconvenient but He is also worth it and I’m am so thankful that I was able to go to Ghana and gain a better understanding and vision of that (and a longing to go back)! :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tilapia Farm

Our Ghana team ‘regulars’ have also started a new adventure into fish farming! This will be a for-profit business endeavor in which a handful of our regular trip attenders have all chipped in and will share various percentages of the profit. The owner of the hotel that we stay at in Asikuma provided the land for our fish farm which we have named: 2 FISH 5 LOAVES. :) The land sits on the Lake Volta which is about a 20 minute car ride from Asikuma. Once you get to the water entry it is then a 10 minute boat ride to reach the land where our farm will be.

Loading the tools onto the boat and getting ready to set sail (the guy in the striped shirt off to the right is New Life - the owner of the hotel we stay at)…

Approaching the land…

Here is the view once you are standing on our 2 acres of fish farm land, looking back out to the lake.

Beautiful scenery at dusk…

This trip Chris and Dan spent each day out at the fish farm site constructing the storage units which will hold fish food, nets, and supplies.

Day 2:

Chris fell in love with this little guy named Prince who lives about 200 feet from our fish farm land in a little grouping of mud huts called Klager Village.

Always lots of curious onlookers…

Day 3:

Day 4:

Day 5:

So lots of progress over the week! As you could see from the pictures, once again we’ve been able to employ a lot of the locals to help with the construction aspects. We will also be hiring a handful of locals as full-time employees as the farm gets up and running. The storage units built during this trip will also house the security guard for the site as well as our site manager.

From this point the cages for the fish are being built by a supplier in Ghana. Each of our tripsters who have a share in the fish farm have contributed to buy 78,000 fingerlings (minnows that become tilapia) from a supplier in Ghana. Once the cages are ready they will be installed about 300 feet off-shore. Then each of the cages will be stocked with the fingerling. Right now the target stock date is May 10th. The fingerlings will be dispersed into 7 cages where they will need to be fed 3 times per day by our ‘feeder’ employee. The fish will grow from about 5 grams up to 500 grams. One of our other employees will be a ‘diver’ who will be responsible for clearing the nets from prevalent predators in these waters like this tiger fish that will try to bite through the nets and get themselves some dinner…

(Yikes!) If all goes as planned, we are leaning towards our first fish harvest being in October of this year. The starting of this fish farm is such a reminder to me that God has given us all different talents, gifts, interests and passions here in Ghana. There is certainly something for everyone on our trips! I know the business minds in our group are especially excited to get this new project rolling and see where it ends up….which just might be here…...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Enhancement of Asikuma government-run school

One of our goals before the trip was to raise $12,000 to continue on enhancing the Asikuma Presbyterian Primary School (the government run school) with the main goal being to install electricity in the classrooms. We also had high hopes to integrate a computer center into the library that we had constructed on our previous trips. I had written more details about the enhancement here. Well, by now you won’t be surprised at me telling you that God provided! We received a TON of donations from the families in Jake’s Kingdom Hoops program for this one, as well as some key larger donations from family members, and a steady stream of donations from people who caught word of our efforts through our friends and past tripsters. We actually raised $12,500 and were able to begin getting the labor hired out and started on this trip! Before I show you the interior pictures, here’s a mental reminder of the outside –

Basically there are 3 long separate buildings of back to back classrooms that are part of the school. We have started upgrading one of the long buildings:

Just for you to compare, here’s a look at one of the other buildings that hasn’t been touched yet:

As part of the building upgrade, last August we began constructing on an additional classroom and library to the end of the school building (construction posts can be found here and here). You can see the addition in this picture there at the end of the building on the left:

Now, onto the progress from this most recent trip. Over the week we were in Ghana the electricity started getting wired (we hired local labor to complete this). Here’s an interior picture of the additional classroom we had constructed next to the library. You can see the white electrical outlets running down the walls ….

This red and black wiring hanging from the unfinished ceiling is where the fans will go….

And here is a look at the inside of the library with the wiring started as well. Since we are now able to also incorporate the computer center, we are waiting until after the electricity hook up and ceiling completion to build the shelves and bring in the books. This picture also shows the new desk chairs that were built….

Lighting on exterior of building – a lightbulb will go in that white holder:

Here’s a look at the new window coverings that had started going up on the classrooms. Each of the windows will have this wire mesh installed on the outside to keep bugs out (hard to see in the picture but it actually has smaller mesh within the squares), as well as the shutters that open and close.

All the classrooms in the entire building will be wired with the electricity, have the window coverings, and will also be getting new doors. The guy making us the doors has his shop right along the street in Asikuma. It’s pretty easy to check in on him! :) He had just started working on the door frames when we stopped by on this particular day.

By the last day of our trip the first load of materials to begin finishing off the ceilings had arrived!

Then yesterday we received one of our regular updates from Ken, one of our in-country employees, and got the following pictures of the completed ceilings that were finished after we left! Yay!

Ceiling and fan in library:

And ceiling in additional classroom – the fans are supposed to be installed in the classroom this week:

Whooo hoooo! Lookin' good!

This week Jake also held an informational meeting with the 17 Drake students (education majors) that are coming on our January 2013 trip. They actually had over 55 students sign up for the trip but because of logistics we can only take smaller teams. Jake was PUMPED UP as he told me all the educational tools the Drake students will be incorporating when they teach in the school and assist the teachers in enhancing their curriculum. The Drake students will be focusing on literacy and reading comprehension during their time teaching at the school.

It's so exciting to continue to see the results of our labor on the school, and yet we know that the most exciting part of bringing in the books, computers, and Drake team is yet to come! When we set out to start helping this school, these are the types of resources that the teachers had humbly asked us for - it is so fun to watch this all fall into place one piece at a time!