Sunday, March 31, 2013

Whoop Whoop!!

We fear death no more for...... 


Friday, March 29, 2013

Death Row Pardon

Saw this movie quote on the Facebook wall of my friend from high school who is now a cop…

I am the police, and I'm here to arrest you. You've broken the law. I did not write the law. I may disagree with the law but I will enforce it. No matter how you plead, cajole, beg or attempt to stir my sympathy. Nothing you do will stop me from placing you in a steel cage with gray bars. If you run away I will chase you. If you fight me I will fight back. If you shoot at me I will shoot back. By law I am unable to walk away. I am a consequence. I am the unpaid bill. I am fate with a badge and a gun. Behind my badge is a heart like yours. I bleed, I think, I love, and yes I can be killed. And although I am but one man, I have thousands of brothers and sisters who are the same as me. They will lay down their lives for me and I them. We stand watch together. The thin-blue-line, protecting the prey from the predators, the good from the bad. We are the police. ~From movie ‘End of Watch’~

I think this is pretty clear. If you break the law and are caught, justice will be served often via a police officer and your imminent arrest. So aim to be a law-abiding citizen to avoid that.

I used to apply this same train of thought to my relationship with God. As long as I am a good person, and obey God’s rules, I will be in right standing with Him and will avoid punishment. That’s the belief I held to. Now let me blow your mind a little bit. The belief that I could achieve right standing with God by my obedience to His rules was never God’s intent for giving His laws. In fact, He already knew that I would fail miserably at keeping them.

Before I illuminate that, let me zoom in on a few of God’s laws. Here’s one:

You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse His name (Exodus 20:7).

Have you ever treated the name of the Lord flippantly as a verbal punctuation mark? Have you ever used God’s name as a swear word? If yes, then you’ve broken God’s law.

Here’s another one:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27,28).

Oh boy. Now God isn’t even allowing us to merely entertain thoughts about breaking His law. Have you ever looked at someone who you are not married to with the desire to have sex? If yes, then you are guilty. You’ve broken God’s law.

Want one more just for fun? You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell (Matthew 5:21-22).

Because God is concerned with our hearts, He even considers certain types of anger as murder.

By now you may be thinking what I am thinking. Wow. God is pretty strict. Even the secret thoughts and attitudes of our heart cannot escape the judgment of God. Yikes. There is a huge gap between God’s standard of holiness and perfection (outlined in His rules) and the reality of how we live. Gulp. And therein lies God’s intent for giving us the law in the first place. It’s the gulping, yikes factor…

The law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are (Romans 3:19-20).

God gave us His laws in order to point out our sin. John Cross, author of ‘Stranger on the Road to Emmaus’ explains it like this:
In many ways, the Ten Commandments are to us as a mirror is to a dirty face. If you are alone, you can’t tell whether or not your face is clean. Someone could point at you and say, “Your face is dirty,” but you could deny it outright and say, “My face isn’t dirty – I don’t see anything!” and you might truly believe that. But if given a mirror, you could see that your face was indeed grimy and you would no longer be able to deny the fact. Your mouth would be silenced. You would realize you were guilty of having a dirty face.
It’s the same way with sin. We did not really know what sin was until God gave us the Law. Just as the mirror exposed the dirt, so the ten rules made us aware of sin.  
The ten commands were not given as a list of rules to keep in order to make us right with God. That wasn’t the Law’s purpose. It would be like trying to rub the dirt off your face with a mirror! Mirrors are designed for reflecting, not cleaning. In fact, there’s a good chance that, in the process of trying to clean yourself with the mirror, you would smudge the glass, thus hampering its ability to give a clear reflection. People who try to be accepted by God by keeping the Ten Commandments usually modify or minimize the commands so that they will not look so bad.
This ‘mirror’ concept is completely foreign to most of us who all our lives have been taught that if we follow the rules we will make the rule givers happy and we will avoid trouble and punishment. This time it’s different. God’s rules have been given to show us that we actually can’t measure up to His perfect standard. You could say in effect, that because of our human nature, these rules are impossible to keep.

Perhaps you are thinking, well that’s not fair! God gave us a bunch of rules to follow, already knowing that we wouldn’t be able to keep them, in order to point out to us that we aren’t as good as we thought we were. That’s bad news. But there’s good news a comin’.

Pointing out our sin wasn’t the only purpose of the law.

The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24).

Meeting God’s standard of righteousness is unattainable by our own human effort because we are rule breakers. Instead of making us feel like good, achieved, obedient people, the law does the opposite – it showcases our yuck and points out our depravity. But God is loving. And kind. And merciful. And compassionate. He does not arrest us and place us in a steel cage with gray bars like a policeman the minute we are caught breaking His law. No, in seeing us in our depravity what does God do? He looks at us through His filter of grace and He decides to bless us with His favor. WHAT?!?!? Yeah, I never saw it coming either. Let me explain. His favor does NOT come by Him covering His eyes from our sin, pretending not to see it, letting it slide while winking at us and telling us not to do it again. That would not be just. For justice to be served in the courts of God, sin must result in punishment. To God, sin is so destructive and offensive and appalling that the punishment He assigns for sin is the death penalty (Romans 6:23). Yet, in His mercy, He has made a way of escape. A death row pardon...

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood (Romans 3:23-25).

Jesus already kept the law perfectly in our place. Since He had no sin to die for Himself, Jesus was able to die for the sin of others (2 Corinthians 5:21). He died in our place. When we believe in Him, we receive His payment for our sin on our behalf. And we also receive His unblemished record...righteousness. It’s as if we never sinned. It’s as if we never, ever broke God’s law. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, we can come into right standing with God, apart from our own ability to ‘be good’.

People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood.

It’s so simple that people stumble over it. It’s hard to believe that we don’t have to earn God’s pardon by our own efforts, by keeping His rules. But if we were able to do this then….

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! (Galatians 2:21)

I will NOT set aside my death row pardon.

God sent His Son to die a hideous, bloody death on a tree to adopt me – a disobedient, ungodly, rebel who didn’t even care to give Him the time of day, let alone regard His majesty and power. God looked down at me, a sinner - who broke all the rules and laws He ever gave - and said, “I love her. I am going to hunt her down with My love.” I was heading down the path of destruction but God, in His mercy, stuck a big, bloody cross in my way and whispered two simple words: Repent and Believe. And that is the message of faith that I proclaim. God is reconciling rebels to Himself through the blood of His Son, not counting men’s sins against them. That message - which unfolds on the pages of my Bible, has since unfolded in my heart and completely changed my life. Jesus proved His love for me while I was sinning in His face. That’s good news. That’s the kind of God I want to give my heart to and trust. And now that I have, I’ll never be the same.

One day we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. And I’m telling you, Jesus’ sacrifice is the way that you can have your sins NOT counted against you.  They have already been counted against Him in your place.  But this payment made by Jesus is only effective if one believes.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Jordan's Trip Journal: In Asikuma Part II

March 16th, 2013

Saturday night, 11:15ish. Showered before dinner – well, bucket shower. I actually don't mind those, the cold water after being in the heat all day is pretty nice. Let’s start from the beginning…

So we woke up on time today! Well kinda.. Tate and Bailey had to bang on the door, but we did wake up and were out the door with everybody else today. Breakfast was a no-flavor oatmeal with a bread ball. Not too bad actually. It's no lean pocket and apple either though. After breakfast Jake was staying with an interviewer so he sent us off to buy soccer balls and with specific family donations to be handed out. We were to head to the Godwin school and the school master would know where to take us from there. So we went to the little market, ended up with 4 or 5 soccer balls and Ramon, Iggy, the boy with the arm, and myself led the way to the Godwin school. We get there and that's when we split up. Half the group (most of the girls and then Dustin, just in case) went with Godwin to the houses of the families that the donations were for. The rest of us took the mob of kids that's always with us and headed up to the government school with the balls. Soccer balls are like Klondike bars to these kids. They would do a lot of things for one. On a shortcut through part of the village we added 15 to 20 more to our little group of followers by the time we finally get to the school.

At the school there is actually a full soccer field there with metal goalposts and everything. We just had to get the goats off the field first. Tim thinks that's a great way to keep Jack Trice looking fresh for next season.
Tim also left for the day on a motorcycle headed for the fish farm. After games of what they called "one touch" I took the ball and got them to make teams to play an actual game using the whole field. Of course I was gonna play! That's a lot, lot, lot of running. Seriously, a lot. Tim's clothes that I borrowed and am wearing now were soaked in sweat that had to be wrung out like a towel, and covered in sand and dirt (from the time I biffed it on the ball and fell straight on my butt). Yeah, that was not good. But after a solid hour of that I had to stop. I had sweated out at least twice the water I had taken in, and the water I did have was a drink for me and mouthful for all the kids that needed one after we played. I ended up over on the side and Bailey hit me up with a little thing of bubbles. These kids went crazy for bubbles. Blowing them, popping them, and just watching them. They loved it all. Such a simple thing as bubbles can give them the biggest smiles. Needless to say, bubbles were a hit.
But after that I still had 15ish kids around me and I was fresh out of bubbles.

So I kinda pull my hands up like I just don't wanna have them all hold my hands right now and they all look at me and I just take off. Full stride on this huge soccer field. I dunno where it came from but they took off right after me and were loving it.
After some useless juke moves they caught me and everybody was laughing. Me, them, and everybody watching a swarm of Ghanaian school children chase some white teenager with sunburns and a huge backpack around the field with goats that never seemed to leave. More and more kids seemed to join in every time I took off in the opposite direction, even picking up one boy on the way and hurdling another. The last time I took out my phone and took a video of them all coming after me as I backpedal toward the small goat herd. That was awesome. The kids are awesome. I've said awesome way too many times since we've been here.

After that we went back to the hotel for lunch. Before lunch I had to clean off my legs and grab some fresh drawers and a tshirt. Which was actually the undershirt of Tim's that Amber gave me, and my drawers from the first 5 days that had been airing out all night. Before lunch was ready I asked Alex for the key and passed out for a few minutes. By the time I went out all that was left was rice and the beef strip sauce. No complaints here. After that we kinda sat and talked for a little bit and then Jake sent JJ off for a nap and Leah and Dustin asked me to wake them up if we all left. Alex was in helping little Michael figure out the business side of this little basketball academy he wanted to start. Jake came back out and said the rest of us were going to see a girl that had just tested positive for an HIV test. We were going to break the news to her family so they would know the outcome of the test.

On the way, we pass a huge funeral in the village that we find out is a young mother who died giving birth. Huge celebration though. Everybody dressed up, mostly in black and red as those are the basic mourning colors. Loud music and the most people I had seen in one place all week. We finally find the family's house which is actually pretty nice compared to others. They set up chairs on the front porch so we can all talk and every family member is there. The talks start by explaining who Jake is and what he does with the help of our translator, Wisdom, and one of the family members that happened to be a teacher. The little girl that was tested, Emmefa - maybe 3 years old, walks over and right into Amber’s arms and crawls up onto her lap. Talks continue with what made us all giggle like schoolgirls when the man told us they 'marry inside', meaning that the family marries within itself. Like I'm open to a lot of things but that's straight weird. Anyways, we keep talking about Emmefa and her deaf brother, Yaw, who walks up to the meeting a solid 20 minutes in. The grandmother, who looks to be nearing the age of 80, is sitting in front of me on the other side of Wisdom with her chair up against the house in a line with the rest of the family members. She's the one that's been caring for them since both their parents died. Yaw gets into trouble because he can't do anything productive. He doesn't know how to communicate with anyone. Hard for an 80 year old woman to take care of that plus a baby girl. Talks go back to Emmefa and how she's doing. Eventually the time comes when Wisdom asks Jake if the time is right and is met with a firm yes in response. Wisdom tells the family that Emmefa has tested positive for HIV. The porch is quiet for a few seconds. I look to my right and on the other side of Bailey is this adorable little girl playing with Amber’s big earrings and livestrong bracelet on her wrist. In Ghana it is very common that when someone is found to be HIV positive to be shunned; ignored by anyone and everyone in the community, including family. This is for a 3 year old little girl that would now more than likely grow up an orphan in a place with already awful living conditions. That's awful. It really is sad to think about. The family talks among themselves in a conversation far from English while we sit and wait.

In the meantime the girls have gotten Amber’s livestrong bracelet off her wrist and it actually broke so they tie it back together, smaller, so it fits Emmefa’s little wrist. The family says something to Wisdom and he turns to us. More discussion ensues as the conversation resumes in English. Jake pledges the assistance of Kingdom Cares to cover the medical costs of Emmefa’s HIV drugs and any other treatments needed to care for her, should they accept it.

I look back to the little girl on Amber’s lap. She's sound asleep with her head up against Amber's shoulder. She has no idea that her future and well-being are hanging in the balance of these heavy, serious moments. And she has done nothing to deserve any of it.

Eventually talks of Emmefa settle. The grandmother resurfaces the subject of Yaw and says if it’s possible to send him to boarding school today that she would welcome it. Kingdom Cares will now pay for him to attend a specialized school for the deaf. Emmefa is still dozed off with her new yellow bracelet. Before we leave one of the women come and take her as we shake hands with everyone before we leave. Wow. That was intense.

On the walk back Jake starts to lighten everyone up a bit and eventually we get to our hotel. Snacks are distributed from the Van Loo room and we go out into the 'lobby' to talk more about what we just experienced. Amber explains how she felt such a connection with Emmefa when as her family discussed her future, she fell asleep in Amber’s arms. Then she gets to the bracelet. Her best friend, diagnosed with cancer, had ovaries removed and preserved so she and her husband could still have kids.  Livestrong paid for the whole thing so all their friends bought and wore the bracelets. She tells about how her friend was the one person outside of Tim that helped bring her to the faith she has. She hadn't taken it off for anything. Not weddings when the bride would ask, nothing. She'd worn that bracelet for 6 years straight. Her friend had passed away from the disease. She's choked up with her words. Bailey is on a chair in the corner crying silently. It's hard not to in a situation like that. Amber had just given something that meant the world to her to a little baby girl who’s life and future were treading in the waters of uncertainty.

We all walk back outside to the cabana and just kinda hangout for awhile. I even manage to fall asleep for a little while. Not without plenty of pictures taken, one of which is probably posted onto the wall of a Ghanaian man’s Facebook page. After this we went and watched a neighboring town vs. Asikuma soccer match where I ended up in the junior game off to the side. Playing barefoot I'm pretty sure I broke my right big toe, but I did score two goals to lead my team to a 3-1 victory. If I had cell service I'm sure Manchester United and FC Barcelona would be blowing up my phone. At least if they didn't see me step on the ball and fall on my butt and kick the ball into my own face earlier. I should probably stick with basketball. After the game we went and saw a piece of land given to Kingdom to do with it what they may. Jake talked of a children's center. Alex and I have our own business proposals. On the way back I picked up a couple handmade machetes from a guy. One for my best friend Alex and one for myself of course. Every teenage boy needs a machete. Not gonna lie, these things are tight. Useless back home, but tight none the less. From there it was back in the cabana with dinner and talks about every subject imaginable. I bribed a lady into doing some of my laundry since my bags aren't here and I'm still in Tim's clothes. I gave away my children's Bible and learned all about the fish farm business. Proved my point of seniors dating freshmen is creepy. But I guess it worked out pretty good for Tim and Amber. Long and successful. Another day in Africa. I really do need to go to bed now that it's 1:30. Miss everybody back home and hope everything is all good.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Jordan's Trip Journal: In Asikuma

March 15th, 2013

Alright so I'm lying in bed, it’s Friday night, well Saturday night a little after 12:30am. Wow it's been a crazy day….

So me and my roommate, Alex, woke up a little after 11am today - 3 hours after the predetermined leaving time. Yeah I know, mom wouldn't be proud about that one. But it was my first real sleep in 4 days. I had slept maybe 3 hours in those first 4 days. Yeah. I’m sure the people I sat next to on those last couple flights probably thought I was out of my mind. But anyways, woke up, didn't really have to get dressed because, well, I've been wearing the same clothes for 5 days now. But it does make me feel a little better that the kids are too. But I feel a lot worse about that too. Like I met two kids yesterday, Ignatus and Ramon, and they had the same stuff on today. I bought a soccer ball for their team while we were walking today, 7 cedis, roughly $3. They're my two little guys, plus one I'll talk about that I met later in the day. They love holding your hand. When we got here yesterday and first walked around the village there were probably 20 kids that walked and followed us around. I was just walking around - still in shock that I was in Africa and trying to take things in - when I felt something on my hand. At first I thought somebody was trying to get into my pocket. 100 percent wrong assumption. It was them wanting to touch and hold my hand as we walked. Just imagine a 6 foot white dude holding hands with these 3 foot Ghanaian kids. Probably one of the best feelings ever.
Alright where was I? Oh yeah, so we had just woken up 3 hours behind schedule and half asleep walk outside. Alex and I kinda talk half asleep on where to go because everyone is gone. So me being the adventurer, I take the lead and head in the general direction that I had seen the school. I knew one of the things on the agenda for today was to go to the schools and the medical clinic. So here we are, 2 skinny white dudes walking on the side of the road, in a village, in Ghana, in Africa. So we walk about a half mile before a girl in a school uniform stops us and asks if we're with Jake. Then we had to ask her if she could actually help us find him. So she took us to Godwin International School, which is the one that is sponsored by Kingdom. So we talked with what I think was the principal for a little while and they actually bring out chairs, 10 times nicer than what the kids are sitting in, so that we can sit in the shade. We had this discussion at dinner with Leah and Dustin about how they treat us like royalty, like the chair thing, and they won't let the street children be in there when we eat, and just a lot of little things like that. It actually makes you feel good and awful at the same time. Who doesn't wanna be treated like a king? But at the same time, who wants to sit there and eat a plate of food while 30 kids that haven't eaten all day watch you eat a full plate of food for your second meal of the day? That's what makes you feel bad, like not sick bad but like guilty bad. It's a terrible feeling. But that's what it takes to truly understand.

Back to the events of the day. So we talked to the kids and teachers and I even ended up playing a sort of soccer/volleyball game with some of the kids while Alex did a one-two-three-Ghana! cheer over by the tree. So finally somebody calls the principal and tells us to go back to the hotel to meet the group. Turns out we were at the only school they didn't visit today. Oh well, us two had a great time and learned a lot from one of the teachers. The same girl brought us back to the group that was out in the little cabana in front of the hotel, on the way asking if Jake was the president of the United States (which we did see the Ghana president drive past after lunch). So for lunch we had some kind of pizza thing that I really have no idea what was on it. Some kind of meat and some sort of vegetables. Yes, I ate vegetables. I ate that thing so fast and didn't care how it tasted or what was on it I was so hungry. So we eat and explain to the other members of the group what happened, where we've been, and what we've been up to. So after we ate we were sitting and talking when a taxi pulls up. Jake quietly says something to us and walks out there. Out of the back seat comes the nurse, then I look in and it's a lady with a baby. But the baby…Wow…

Makafui, 7 months old - baby in Asikuma suffering with hydrocephalus in addition to Rubyato posted about earlier.

From what I remember it's called hydrocephalus, or water on the brain. Basically like a huge tumor of water that grows bigger and bigger. This little baby was so bad that I don't think she could blink. And that could all be solved with one surgery and she would pretty much be just fine. That's another one of the saddest things. You see a kid or a baby with something that could easily be solved in America. Like not even thought of. And these kids lose their lives from it. But I'll go on. So after talking with the mom, the nurse, us, and Dustin (who it turns out, had an uncle with the same thing and after surgery was able to lead a normal life), Jake gives the nurse 3000 cedis (so around $1600) and another 40 cedis to the cab driver to take them to the hospital when it’s time for the surgery. Wow. Right there, the events that had just taken place just saved someone's life. That was another one of the best feelings ever.

After that we got donations for certain families from the people that had gotten their luggage, which at this point I am still without. God bless Tim and Amber for giving me the clothes I have on now. Like really, after my bucket shower, fresh, clean clothes I felt like the best thing ever. After passing out donations we came back by the hotel to grab some for another family. So I'm sitting there on the side of the road sweating twice as much water as I've drank and tired of naming NBA players with JJ, when a little boy sits down next to me and just smiles. I smile back and ask his name and go to shake his hand and that's when I noticed it. His arm, left one, was fused together and was smaller and twisted and basically useless. After that he tells me about his dad, killed. I ask Jake to take a look and he says there's nowhere in Ghana that could fix something like that. I go back to the kid to say something to him. How do you tell a 5 year old with a useless arm that lives on half a meal a day with one parent and a slain father and has one set of clothes that there isn't anything you can do for him? It's rough. To look into the eyes of this little boy and tell him that I was sorry and that I didn't know what to do, that was probably the closest I've been to tears in a long time. I didn't know what else to say. I felt helpless in this place where they treated me like royalty. You try to see his side and it's just impossible to put yourself in his sandals and see it through his eyes on how he lives each day.

After that we delivered some more donations to some pretty cute kids. 

Walking back after that, Ramon kind of tugs at my hand so I bend way over and he says something about a ball. So I ask again what he's saying. He wants to know if I'll get a ball so his soccer team has one. There, hanging in a little net, at a little shack, on the side of the road is a bright, red soccer ball.
I hand Ramon and his friends 5 cedis and they run over and come back saying the lady wants 7 cedis. So I go over, give her 20 and get my 13 back and it was like Christmas morning with the look on these kids’ faces. They immediately take the air out. Which even after asking why many times, I still dunno why. But they took it out and then blew it all the way back up by mouth when we got back to the hotel! That's impressive! So we hungout and played some soccer-keep-away game for awhile and threw an American football around a little bit.
Then dinner came and I was one of the last ones into the little cabana that we eat in. There were probably 10 kids grabbing me every which way trying to get me to take them in with me to eat because the security guy with a big stick would hit them if they went in otherwise. I eventually had to go in by myself. Fish, chicken, and rice and noodles with some spicy salsa is the menu for tonight. Same as last but it's good and filling and just fine with me. So I eat what is on my plate and have my big box of juice. Then you look outside and here's these kids peeking around that haven't eaten all day. That's when I go up again, get as much food as will fit on the plate, but this one won’t make it back to the table. As soon as the security guy is looking the other way Bailey makes eye contact with me and I know I'm good to go. I slip out the back entrance to the cabana and crouch down and signal over to the kids. I've never seen so much food gone so quickly. Food that would've taken me 45 minutes to eat was gone in 15 seconds all amongst 20ish kids. That's when that good feeling comes back. Yeah it's amazing. I go back to the table and talk with Bailey and Leah and Dustin some more. Once everybody's pretty much done Bailey grabs some of Justice's meat and more little scraps and what not. Once again I wait for the look from Bailey and slip out the side. The kids have been sent outside the gate by the security so I go over to the side fence, about chest height on me. The kids see me and come running once again. This fence will not stop them. This fence with poles in the ground is now at 45 degrees facing towards the cabana where they've all pushed it in. I hear the security guy shout something and see his flashlight and back to the cabana I quickly and quietly go. This sequence happens one or two more times. Finally once everyone is done and the food is gone they let the kids in. Tate is outside reading a children's bible to 10-15 kids while one of the older ones translates it to the native language that is called Ewe, pronounced like ewwwy.

Inside I'm talking to Bailey and Justice and some kids, and then Amber mentions something about a children's Bible story book. She then brings it out to me and while I'm flipping through the pages a little boy tugs on my plain white, dirt stained, sweaty tshirt. He wants me to read it to him. So we sit down against the side ledge of the cabana and I start reading the Bible stories. Daniel and the lion’s den, Jonah and the giant fish, and the birth of Jesus. Great book, especially for kids. I finished reading because the kids needed to go home soon because it was late and mosquitos and what not. Which at this point I have still not taken my malaria meds for the week. So hopefully I'm still here for you to read this. But one of the boys leans in and whispers something that I have him repeat. He hasn't eaten in two days. Wow. Another time when you don't know what to do or say. Luckily I found a bag of little crackers from the plane in my pocket that I'd taken out of my bag. Like a thanksgiving feast to this kid. Bailey bought them bags of water (yes, bags) and when she gave back the cedi I tried to give her for them I hand it to Iggy and just tell him to keep it safe. The kids head home for the night. Not long after we sit and talk and a few play cards while I make pretend NCAA brackets with JJ. Hah, so that's my day.

Alex is asleep now, it's 2:09AM Saturday morning. I called home earlier tonight. I miss everybody back home. But God has me here for a reason. And when you can make a difference in someone's life it is amazing. That's the main reason I wanted to come on this trip and it is absolutely incredible. I'm gonna try and be on time tomorrow morning so it's bed time for me.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Jordan's Trip Journal: The Travel Fiasco

In the next few days I’ll be sharing a couple of excerpts from the trip journal of Jordan who was on our team that just got back from Ghana. Jordan is a player in Jake’s Kingdom Hoops program and is a junior at Ankeny High School. I hope you enjoy his humor, observations, and touching thoughts as much as I have in reading through his writings! I thought I’d start sharing from the beginning of the trip with their travel nightmare…Jordan’s play-by-play will give you a detailed glimpse of how it all went down….

March 11-12-13, 2013

Des Moines: So dad agrees to come home from work and pick me up for the airport at 10:30am Monday morning. After getting my last bit of packing done that morning I was set to go. 2 suitcases, 49.5 pounds each, plus my Nike backpack. Little did I know I wouldn't see those suitcases until a few hours before I was set to come back home.

But 10:45am rolls around and the snow is still going steady, no sight of my notoriously untimely father. A phone call to his office assures he's on the way. 10:52am when he pulls in. I tell Nilly to be good while I'm gone as I go out the door; we throw the bags in the back, and we're off. This journey of however many thousands of miles begins. At the airport I meet everybody that's going with. Thank goodness there's somebody my age - Bailey Nichol is a 16 year old junior from Knoxville with a brother that plays for Kingdom. Her dad tells me to look out for her before both our dads head back to work.

The flight into Denver was pretty uneventful, but getting off I kinda messed up the whole 'look after Bailey' thing. As the whole group headed to grab bags to switch airlines she was in the back of the plane and hadn't gotten off yet. My bad. But Tim and Amber went back and got her. I was good about it the rest of the time though. Even talked one guy out of trying to propose to her. Yeah, like marriage proposal. But then again I did almost sell her for a bowl at another point (will explain later). She's sitting next to me (as I write now on our way back home) so she must've forgiven me for that. Back to that day though. We had to grab luggage in Denver and check it again. That would be the last time I saw my bags for 7 days. I grabbed the new Sports Illustrated, some trail mix, and a couple cheeseburgers as my last things from North America and headed to the gate. Some lady blew chunks in line to board. Just another reason to dislike Panda Express. We got on and my seat was right up front next to an older Scandinavian couple that put on their little slippers when we got on. Bailey came and got me since there were seats together back there. The guy she was supposed to sit next to said the middle seat was saved...for his hat. It is as absurd as you're thinking. But we ended up in row 50something where the lady in front of me put her seat all the way back into my knees 15 minutes into the flight and put it up when we touched down in Europe. A 10-hour red eye flight. I popped a couple sleeping pills and figured it was bedtime. My body had other ideas. Didn't sleep a wink the whole flight. Bailey slept off and on. I watched movies and some episodes of Burn Notice to pass the time as my knees were crunched into my chest by this random woman in front of me. We came into Frankfurt just after 8 that morning. Let the fun begin.

After finally finding a place to eat something the snow began to fall. We didn't think too much of it since our flight wasn't for another 6 hours. And the snow kept coming. Flights started getting delayed and it was a full on whiteout blizzard by 10am. We found a big open seating area where Tim, Alex, and I finally got about an hour or two of sleep laying across the seats. I woke up with some really attractive lines across my face and a left shoulder that felt like it had just been thrown out. But it was well worth that little bit of shut eye. After a little more time there talking we decided to head up to where our gate was.

About an hour into being up there with the snow still going strong, our flight got moved back for the first time - an hour or so. It was understandable with the weather and didn't really bother us. The Ghanaian men sitting in between us and the desk had a different opinion. This was not acceptable for them and they were very vocal with their opinions. As they argued amongst themselves, we played everything from ‘mafia’ (where JJ and Justice became notorious for peeking) to ‘how can we beat up Jordan’. The latter ended with me soaked in water by Justice. That would be my first shower in Germany. The flight kept getting delayed an hour and then another 45 minutes and they eventually gave us vouchers good for 10€ worth of food and drinks, plus a huge stack of free bottled water, and some little snacks. I would eventually grab another 45 minutes of sleep to add to my losing total. More delays and excuses - from an icy plane to a flight turning back to Switzerland. The Ghanaian men from earlier had finally had enough. They yelled enough at each other and at the guy and gal at the desk to have the German police called in and the head of security to settle things.

About 7:30pm they finally come over the loud speaker and confirm our worst fears. The flight to Accra had been cancelled. So what do we do now? That was a good question. None of us had German visas to leave the airport and we would have to go to customer service to figure out another way to get to Africa. After finally figuring out where customer service was we saw the signs and it didn't seem too bad. That was at least until we turned the corner and saw the line that never seemed to come to an end. We walked to the back, probably 300 people in front of us. It was gonna be awhile. A few of us sat down and not long out, JJ was out cold. An hour passed and we had moved maybe 25 feet. Another hour, another 10 yards. They bring in huge stocks of bottled water and boxes of granola bars for all of us waiting. After our 3rd hour we had moved our first 100 feet, with another 150 to go. It was gonna be a long night. It was 11ish when a little cart pulled up with stacks of sandwiches and noodle things that sent the crowd into a feeding frenzy. One of the big Ghanaian men grabbed a stack of 50 and headed back to his clan’s spot in line. Everyone else looked like hungry koi in a little pond being fed for the first time in days. By now a man had passed out to our left and had medics at his side while others took pictures and videos of the line. Lufthansa was doing what they could but people were getting antsy.

After 3 hours in line we had finally made it to the spot where you start into the snaked line to get to a counter. An hour later we had moved somewhere close to 10 feet. The next hour goes by with maybe 5 yards of movement, but at least we were within 20 people of the front. We had now been in line for 5 hours and it was 1:06am when one of the managers came out to make an announcement. Lufthansa was sending its workers home and they would be back to help people at 6am. Haha, this was not going to end well. Immediately everyone is yelling in disbelief that they would do this to paying customers. We yelled at the girls behind the counter. An enraged Indian man went off on the manager followed by a Norwegian woman. Everybody was getting in their shots. There was maybe an hour of work left and everybody was good to go. The 50 people that hadn't been helped weren't going to let this happen. The head of security made his second appearance trying to calm the angry crowd. I loudly gave my suggestions to the brunette behind the computer. While at the same time a Turkish girl wasn't going to let her less than decent English keep her from yelling in the back about the lack of care for customers. The manager said that if we wanted to sleep there they would have another shift at 6am. The large Ghanaian men on the other side of the split snaked line were ready to choke out the little German man in front of them. Protests could be heard in every language. I assume most of them swear words. After it all the workers grabbed their things and headed out the back exit. Probably a smart move with an angry mob on the other side of the door. I grabbed the blanket that had been tucked away in the bottom of my black Nike backpack and laid it down right up against the first counter. That's where I would stay for the night. Everyone else began to follow suit. With no one left to yell at, this would be our protest. To my surprise no security would ever come to be sure that we would behave ourselves with all the computers and working stations as our new headboards. Within 10 minutes everyone had their space carved out with blankets and bodies everywhere that trash wasn't.
Pictures and videos of the tired crowd making beds underneath the signs of the company supposed to be helping them were surely all over social media (and even made world news as we found out later). I began to search for an outlet to charge my phone. Behind the desks we found 4 of them and used each one. People from all corners of the globe were all piled on the floor with backpacks and empty bottles. If you didn't know any better you'd think a giant frat party had gone down in the Frankfurt airport. Bailey and I watch ‘More Than a Game’ and she's asleep by the end. I'm still up with my music and making sure all our bags stay away from anybody with sticky fingers while the rest of the group gets a couple hours of sleep. The Turkish girl is the only other one awake, in the corner typing away on her laptop.

Around 3:30am sharp a big Ghanaian man comes in for a chair and with its terrible screech across the floor manages to wake up just about everybody. Some fall back asleep and the rest of us sit up and begin to wait again. My new waiting spot would be sitting on top of the service counter and eventually in the desk chair with my feet up on the counter. Tim and Alex join in the neighboring chairs. As the time gets closer to opening, more and more people begin to line up that had slept other places in the huge airport. Everybody that had spent the night on the tile floor of the Lufthansa's customer service area was now claiming their spots back in line. About a quarter to six the first workers of the morning shift begin to roll in. Two older women that hadn't been there all night think they're gonna just grab the first spot. That wasn't flying with the people in line or the manager that was there. We eventually got helped and were printed off papers to get on a flight to Amsterdam and then Accra. The papers would just be used to get boarding passes at the gate.

Another couple hours of waiting to go and Tim and I start to try and find the gate. On all the television sets it gives the terminal but no gate number. He finally just decides to go to where the last flight from Amsterdam is going out and ask. After somehow going through a passport check and getting a German stamp we finally ended up at gate D21 where the last flight to Amsterdam was just finishing boarding. After 25 minutes or so of sitting up against a pole, our flight begins to board. Jake goes up to talk to the lady who says that she'll print off our boarding passes after everybody that already has them gets through. The point comes when everybody is on and she prints off Alex's first. He starts down the jetway before he turns to wait as Jake checks in himself and his boys. The young British attendant at the boarding gate is very overwhelmed and gets a call from the pilot asking if they are good to go. She explains the situation and that the decision is his. She continues working and gets a call a couple minutes later. He makes the executive decision to go ahead with take off to try and make up time. 8 feet from getting on a plane to England and there it goes. We're sitting there once again wondering what we're going to do now. The girl behind the counter begins apologizing in some other language and the tears start to come. She directs us to the check-in desk for the airline and points us in the right direction. The incredible journey adds another chapter. We find our way out to the right place. Another line, and a long one at that. At this point I just lay down with all the bags and with my backpack as a pillow, grab another 30 minutes of sleep for a grand total of 3 hours in a couple days. I'm awoken by Justice posing for pictures with a foot on my chest like a gladiator.
An interesting call home to mom lets her know that I'm still in Germany and the plan at that point was to fly to Ethiopia that night and onto Ghana in the morning. After waiting 3 hours in line we make it to the front but now we have papers for Dubai. So we finally get boarding passes with Emirates and we are set for a flight to somewhere in the Middle East. I really had no idea what country it was in, my guess was Saudi Arabia. Turns out it's just over the border in India. We had a good dinner of pizza and sodas paid for with the vouchers somewhere upstairs in the airport. A few $12 showers later everyone feels incredible. We get onto the flight for Dubai and are informed our luggage is not onboard at the time of check in. This plane is extremely nice and I even managed to send a few emails home to let Alex and Ashley know I was alive and still not in Ghana, but instead somewhere over Bagdad at that point.

A couple good movies made for another sleepless flight. After finding our way through the Arabic signs of the Dubai airport we sit down at our gate and in the New York Times is a story on the German airport’s failure the day before. The best thing of all was we managed to pick up some wifi. A little contact back home through iMessage and tweets felt wonderful. It's short lived with the boarding of the flight and anxiousness of finally going to Africa. While boarding, I start talking to a couple about why I'm going to Ghana. It turns out they are from Iowa City and the wife says she has about 8 bags of baby clothes she'd love to donate to somewhere like Kingdom Cares to put to good use in Ghana. I finally sleep a couple hours on this flight and with the help of some movies, I make it to touch down in Accra where only about a third of the bags are present. Of course mine are not included. That concludes the crazy story of how I got to Africa this week.

To be continued….

Friday, March 22, 2013

How Your Generous Contributions Were Used: Ghana Trip March 2013

From Jake...

I want to use this particular blog post to thank all of you who contributed so generously to our recent mission trip to Ghana, Africa. The trip did not go exactly as planned due to a major winter storm in Germany that kept us sleeping on the cement floors for 36 hours. Our travels took us from Denver, to Germany, to Dubai, to eventually Ghana 48 hours late. We know God worked this all out for His purposes. We are not exactly sure the reason why, but we know we had just the right amount of time to accomplish what He desired with our time in Ghana.

Below is an outline of how your generous contributions were used. I am truly humbled by your generosity and only through your contributions can we continue to take the gospel to the nations and be the hands and feet of Christ!

Before I outline just what God allowed us to do on this trip I want to touch upon how we determine what needs to meet when we travel to Ghana. During my first couple of years doing mission work in Ghana I was always overwhelmed by the needs. I just could never put my finger on the best way to help. My mind was flooded with thoughts that ultimately became burdens.

During my January 2012 trip I took the time to read the book “Kisses From Katie.” The book is written by a young lady named Katie who gave up her life for the sake of the gospel to serve in Uganda. In her book she writes about the same burdens that troubled me when she first came to Uganda, and how God has revealed exactly what to do by the life of Jesus.  She pointed out that in scripture you will find that Jesus never went out searching for needs, but rather needs were brought to Him. When a need was brought to Him, Jesus would always meet that need. Katie went on to explain that we don’t need to go out searching for the answers since Jesus promised us that the poor will always be among us. However, we do have the responsibility to follow the example of Jesus: when a need is brought to us, we should do everything possible to meet that need.

What follows below are the needs that God allowed Kingdom Cares International to meet on this trip. It was only possible by the generous donations that were made by many of you who read this blog.

~We were able to pay for upcoming surgeries for a 4 month old girl and 7 month old girl who are suffering from hydrocephalus (water on the brain). Without the surgery they will most likely die or in a best case scenario live life with major mental disability. With the surgery both girls should resume fairly normal lives. Each surgery will cost $1,500.
~We were able to continue to pay for the medical care of Graham who is three years old and has a severe heart condition. The Ghana doctors believe it is a hole in his heart. The next step for Graham is to hopefully go the medical visa route to the United States to have his heart repaired. We are praying for God to bring us a doctor who would perform the surgery and donate the expenses as that is the only way we can see Graham being able to get a medical visa. For now we keep helping to meet his daily medical needs.
~An orphan boy named Yaw was brought to our attention about one month ago. Yaw is completely deaf and has no ability to communicate. We were able to pay for him to attend a deaf school in the Volta Region where for the first time he will receive a formal education and will be taught sign language.

~Yaw also has an orphaned sister named Emefa. We met Emefa on our last trip and through the help of our Kingdom Cares medical clinic and a local pastor named Wisdom, it was determined that Emefa was HIV+.  This trip we were able to cover Emefa’s medical expenses for purchasing of the appropriate drugs to care for her HIV. We will see what God has in store next for Emefa….. stay tuned!!!

~We delivered a ton of baby formula, bottles, and a cash donation for the care of a baby who will be born any day to a woman in Asikuma who has breast cancer.  Our medical clinic will assist in dispersing the formula and bottled water to the family once the baby is born.  You can read the mother's initial story and plea for help here.

~When we went to visit this mother with breast cancer we came to her house in the middle of the day and her four young children (ages 2-10) were sitting under a small hut snuggled together. We asked why they were not in school and we were told that they were not able to pay their school fees. Kingdom Cares International paid all of their school fees for the remainder of the year and has pledged to continue to sponsor them in the years to come.

~We donated the remainder of school fees and feeding fees to Godwin International School for the sponsored children that Kingdom Cares International and its partners look out for.
~Kingdom Cares International made a $1,000 donation to CompAfriCare for the rent of a new two bedroom foster home with a full service bathroom and kitchen located in Kwahu. The donation will cover four years of rent and will help two house mothers and six orphaned children have a place to call home.
~We held a party for all the orphans and house mothers that are under the care of CompAfriCare in Kwahu. We rented out a restaurant and every child and house mother received a meal and drinks. Most importantly it was a time to run and play and dance with the children.

~Donated over 75 basketballs to Hoops Care International's basketball ministry in Cape Coast and to Royalties Basketball Academy (a former Kingdom Hoops Ghana member has branched off and started his own academy and we are completely behind him and helping to empower his vision).
~We were able to sponsor one of our former Kingdom Hoops Ghana players, Obie, to head to Nigeria to play on a semi-professional team in the Lagos, Nigeria area.

~We were able to make a donation to another foster home in Accra, Ghana whose house mother, Comfort, cared for our two adopted daughters Jasara and Jennifer. We also purchased her a digital camera that will help her to start a small photography business.

~Made a $500 cash donation to a local school in Accra, Ghana that is run by one of our in-country staff members, Michael Sarpong.

~And for the finale, God allowed us to provide health insurance to over 1,500 children in Asikuma and surrounding communities.
Thank you all for your continuing support of our ministry!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bracketology 101 according to JJ and Justice

....the boys breaking down my picks....I’m surrounded by basketball crazies! :)

Home from Ghana, Off to Chad

Jake, Justice, and JJ, along with the rest of the team, returned from Ghana earlier this week on late Tuesday afternoon. I encountered more than one set of tear-filled eyes as some of the team members recounted stories to me as we waited in the baggage claim. I’m hoping that some - or all - of the team will be writing up their trip highlights for me so we can all get more of a glimpse into what they experienced. For now I’m letting them catch their breath, sort through their pictures, and allowing their hearts to work through emotions and thoughts. Can’t wait to hear from them!

As I write this Jake is actually flying back to Africa, this time to the country of Chad.
Last year, Jake got connected with Athletes in Action (AIA) and was able to attend their ‘World Coaching Academy’ in Dayton, Ohio. The academy brought in AIA staff from all over the world for a few days of biblical and basketball coaching training. That trip opened the door into Jake being offered this opportunity to go to Chad on behalf of Athletes in Action. AIA was looking for someone who had experience in Africa, who could lead a coach’s academy for their ministry that they hope to grow in Chad. This is a sort of exploratory trip for AIA as they’ve never sent a staff member to Chad before. Of course, Jake’s ears tend to perk up when he hears that word exploratory! He’s always been a man of adventure who finds joy and excitement in paving the way in unknown territory!

In fact it was 4 years and one month ago that Jake boarded his first ever flight to Ghana, Africa. That first sending out was God’s answer to Jake’s plea of longing to be shown that there was more. The daily hum drum of living the Christian life seemed boring to Jake compared to all the other things he had encountered in his life…namely his exhilarating basketball career. He was at a crossroads, and cried out to God, asking Him if there was more to following Him than going through the motions of reading his Bible and trying to apply the truths. God answered by launching us into an adoption, and in the midst, opening up Jake’s eyes (and mine) to a hurting world. A hurting world dependent on and longing for the Christ-follower’s obedience to bring God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. From there we could not imagine the ministry that God had planned. I see this trip to Chad as a continuation of God’s answer to show Jake the high of choosing to follow Him.

AIA does have one in-country staff member in Chad (his name is Marc), so he will be hosting Jake. The purpose of this trip is that Jake will be leading a 4-day coach’s clinic in which he will basically be training the basketball coaches in the country. He will be teaching them drills, walking them through player and team development, and then each evening they will have a discussion table over the various things taught that day. Jake and Marc’s hope is not only that doors would be opened to develop basketball, but that these coaches would open their hearts to the greater teaching that Jake and Marc desire to share: That the coaches would know the Lord loves them and longs to have a relationship with them. That the Lord offers not only forgiveness of sin, but a newness of life. That the coaches would understand they can live their lives with a significant purpose and that this would overflow into the way they coach.

Please join with me in praying to that end for these coaches. Pray also that this clinic would be used to glorify the name of the Lord in the country of Chad. And pray for the Lord’s blessing and favor that as Marc and Jake step out in faith, that they will experience a deep intimacy with the Lord that will overflow into the lives of those they interact with.

Lastly, I did hear from Jake in the middle of the night and en route to Chad his plane had to make an emergency landing on a small island called St. Jean because someone on the plane had a heart attack. The travel stumbling blocks continue! Oh the stories Jake will have to tell after this month….I’m sure it will make for some good blog posts. Please also pray with me for Jake’s protection, that he would not become weary, that his body would hold up through all this travel, that even these travel woes would have meaning and bring opportunities for Jake to share his faith, and that God would push him through to Chad in His perfect timing.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday: Ghana Trip March 2013

Our team has been loving on the orphans in Kwahu today, and in the midst, giving them a little taste of heaven. It’s during these moments when it seems that time stops.

Pain, sadness, and distress fade into the background as the children are engaged in play,
receive one-on-one attention,

and are held and soothed to the point that they fall peacefully asleep.
To top off the day, our team took the children to a local restaurant for some music, dancing, more games, and plates of rich food including what they consider a rare treat – pop to drink! To be able to offer these simple treasures to these children is such a changing experience.

Bellies were satisfied.

Hearts were smiling.
And by it all I know that our team’s American perspective was rocked once again.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday: Ghana Trip March 2013

About a month ago we received this email from our in-country staff member, Wisdom:

I came across this little baby girl and the mother when I decided to take a walk through the villages in Asikuma. I got to a house where I heard a baby crying and her mother too is disturb about the baby's situation. The Mother said Maa Efia's head started growing bigger and bigger after a few weeks when she was born and she has done everything she can to make her feel okay but to no avail. She said the doctor said it is curable but very very expensive and the earlier they do something about it the better, else her head continue to be bigger than imagine and at the same time the baby will be feeling pains. I told her about Kingdom Cares and it was like to her restoration of hope that was totally lost. Please Jake is there anything Kingdom Cares can do to help this little baby girl? My camera is bad but i manage to take a shoot.

Best Regards,
Since then Jake had been working to find a hospital that would treat Maa Efia (also known as Rubyato) in Ghana as well as determining the cost of the care. The diagnosis for Rubyato was hydrocephalus which is the result in her case of untreated meningitis. Through Nurse Betty at our medical clinic in Asikuma, we were able to find out that the surgery costs for her to receive a shunt would be $1500. The teaching hospital in Accra agreed to take her case given Kingdom Cares’ pledge of medical sponsorship.

Jake and the team got to visit 4 month old Rubyato today….

This picture just pains me. There is so much suffering that happens in Ghana simply from not having the ability to receive medical care due to the expense. Rubyato's surgery has now been scheduled for April 11th and she goes in for a CT scan on Monday.  Praise God! 

There is actually another little girl in the community suffering from the same thing. Her name is Makafur - she is 7 months old and her condition is even worse with her head twice as big as Ruby’s, and large sores on the side of her head where the fluid leaks out. Jake and the team visited her today as well but were unable to get a picture as she was feeding. Kingdom Cares is providing medical sponsorships for both of the girls so $3000 total. $2500 has been raised by one of Jake’s Kingdom Hoops players….she did a fundraiser at her school to raise the money to be given to Kingdom Cares for the surgeries. :)

Emefa was a little girl that our team happened upon last trip who was all alone, lethargic and sick.  She was taken to our medical clinic for care.  It was expected by our medical clinic staff that Emefa was HIV+. Kingdom Cares paid for her testing last trip, and the results came back a few weeks later that she was indeed positive. Emefa was taken to the hospital again today for more blood work in order to determine the right course of drug therapy for the severity of her case. Kingdom Cares International will provide a medical sponsorship for Emefa so she can receive the drug intervention that she needs.

Emefa will need more than drug intervention however. Interestingly, once our team got home after the last trip, we received an email from Wisdom, who had happened upon Emefa’s family not even knowing it. He was drawn to them for a different reason….here was his email:

Hi Jake,

I am very well by the Grace of He who suffered on the Cross of Calvary and He is interceding for me always. Everyone is also fine and we miss you guys. A couple of days ago I met this young boy named Yaw just in front of my house and I noticed he is deaf. I managed to go to his house to find out how his parents and community are handling such a person. They showed me his house and I realized he is staying with the Grandmother whom I guessed will be over 70 years of age. She told me Yaw lost his father when he was just a little boy so his mother was the one caring for him since then. Last year his mother got terribly sick and died too. Yaw is now left to his Grandmother and three of his little sisters. According to the Grandmother of Yaw, Yaw dropped out of school when things were becoming hard for them. Now the responsibilities of caring for these grandchildren is left to her and she herself is not physically strong to do that. I told her of Kingdom Cares and the help you have given to the countless number of people (both adult and children) in Asikuma. She said if God can touch you to help her out, she will be more than happy.

Best regards,

So, we had received that email from Wisdom, and when we saw the picture he sent with it, we realized that Emefa was one of Yaw’s little sisters. So, God had drawn us to this same family in two different instances. Jake and the team got to go and meet Emefa and Yaw’s grandmother today to talk through their situation and see how KCI can assist their family.


Through translation, Jake was able to find out that the family had tried to send Yaw to the government public school, but because of his bad behavior he got kicked out. Public schools in Ghana do not have the resources to care for special needs students, so Yaw likely got bored because he couldn’t hear, and therefore couldn't understand the teachings, and then started acting out. Now Yaw has nothing to do, is still bored, and gets into a lot of mischief around home. The grandmother told our group through a translator, “I’m going to die much sooner than I should because of all the trouble he’s putting us through.” Spoken like a true Grandma. :) Interestingly, one of Yaw’s distant relatives who was in town for a funeral overheard the group talking about the situation today. She mentioned that there is a boarding school for deaf children in the Volta region. This might be the answer for Yaw. Kingdom Cares International could raise the money needed to provide him an educational sponsorship at the school. This would also help Grandma out, as Yaw would actually go and live at the school. And Yaw would get the opportunity to have the education he needs with the personalized resources that he needs.

Please be praying for Emefa - for her long-term care. It is not uncommon in Ghana that once families find out their child is HIV+ for them to abandon them alone - literally to die. They are simply not educated about the disease, and are worried to touch the child and that the child will infect the others in the family. We are waiting to see how God leads this situation. The drug therapy for Emefa will be quite intensive and Grandma is going to need much assistance for that alone to ensure that Emefa takes the right medicine on the right days. I think that the best way to help Emefa right now is for us to be praying that God’s will be done in her life, that He would protect her and give discernment to those making decisions over her.

Our team is holding up well after their long bout of travel and are now getting submersed in the typical Ghanaian experience!
An uplifting thing that our team got to do today was to start dispersing sponsorship packages out to the children in our program. All of these kids (and more) are sponsored by families right here in central Iowa to go to school and have their basic needs met. The families put together little bags of goodies with clothes, shoes, coloring books, toys, picture books, American snacks/candy, Bibles, etc for 'their kids' all the way on the other side of the world! Love it!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

They Made It!

A welcome sight this morning....

Please pray that God would supernaturally stamp out any weariness in their bodies, that He would arm the team with strength, purpose, and fervor, and that He would redeem the time lost from these last two days of travel.

Waiting expectantly to see what and who the Lord will lead the team to this trip!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Travel update

Early this morning the team was issued a new flight itinerary routed to Amsterdam and then onto Accra, Ghana. When they got in line to board the flight to Amsterdam the flight attendant asked them to step aside and board last since their boarding passes had yet to be printed. But once it was their turn to board, the pilot said he couldn't wait any longer and needed to get the flight in the air. The plane took off with our team of 12 standing at the gate - they were the only ones who didn't get to board.

They then went back to wait in the re-ticketing line and have now received their 3rd flight itinerary. They are set to fly out to Dubai this evening and then to Accra from there, giving them an arrival into Ghana at noon tomorrow.

Please, would you pray for our team? Pray that they would not grow weary or discouraged, that all of this would strengthen their character and trust in God, and that they would be delivered from evil.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Stuck in Germany

Funny how things can seem to be going all wrong according to our perspective, but in all actuality – they are going exactly as planned by our Sovereign God!

Upon arriving into Frankfurt, Germany this morning the team found out that their next flight leg into Accra, Ghana was on delay status due to a major snow storm that had come into Frankfurt. So….they waited….

and waited….

and waited….
….to see if things would clear up and they could be on their way. At one point they were told that flights would start taking off again at 5pm, but the problem was that they wouldn’t be allowed to land in Ghana because the plane would be getting in too late and there wouldn’t be enough workers at the Accra airport to handle the flight. Finally, by 2pm Germany time they found out that their flight had been canceled. And this was the line they had to wait in to get new tickets…

5 hours and 13 minutes after waiting in line I received a text from Jake saying the airport staff had just closed the line and they were only 3 people away from the ticket desk. It’s like a movie right? He said they had decided to set up camp and sleep in line so they don’t lose their place once morning comes…

Since God is in charge of snow, I figure He must be up to something, and is orchestrating the timing of the team’s arrival according to His will – not their travel itinerary. Although it seems that they have ‘lost’ a day’s work in Ghana, I know the truth and that is that God is the master over time. He can ordain that this team get as much done in 6 days as they would have in 7 – if not more.

In addition, leave it to God to make this unexpected wait in the airport purposeful. Read this text I received from Jake earlier tonight right after the workers closed the line….

:) Pretty cool.

As this day comes to an end, it seems only fitting to stamp it with this thought running through my head:
God has a plan, and it trumps ours!