Friday, May 24, 2013

Ghana Updates

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).

Over the past few years our journey with the people of Ghana has produced a consistent theme….a mix of beautiful-awful moments. One day we can be rejoicing over a prisoner freed from darkness, only to the next day be weeping over a life affected by oppression, wickedness, and apathy. That theme holds true within the updates I want to share with you today….


In March 2012 I introduced you to ‘baby in the bush’ (read his full story HERE)….a newborn infant who was abandoned in Asikuma - but by God’s grace - eventually made it onto the adoption track with his older brother. We’ve tracked along their adoption journey over the past year (you can read those posts HERE and HERE). At the beginning of last month, on April 3rd, their adoption journey culminated and the boys made it HOME to the U.S. (Michigan) and are now enjoying new life with their forever family!!!!!!!!!  WHOOOOP WHOOOOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I also grabbed a few of their momma’s status updates from Facebook since the boys have come home….just to give you a sweet little glimpse of how they are doing…..

April 13th: Two big moments tonight... Fynn told me "I love you" for the first time. And he learned his whole name. If you ask his name now, he says "Fynn Agama Ishmael". We will work on that long last name later... the girls don't even know that yet.

April 14th: Another great comment today...I told Fynn it was a puppy's tail. He said, "No it is the buttocks". Alright, how does a 3 year old with three languages know the word buttocks? LOL Other Ghana-isms we like - his clothes: a shirt is a dress, his underwear are pants, his pants are trousers, diapers are bumpers, shoes are slippers, sunglasses are specs.

May 16th: The kids are "sailing to the moon" in a cardboard box that some other kids are ripping up. Everyone is happy, so nothing else matters.

May 21st: One thing I love about kids is how they make you approach life differently. We went to the store to buy milk and produce. The kids were awesome at the store, and it was a nice evening, so I figured... hey, lets stop at the park. There is a lake at the park, and we all ended up swimming in our non-swimming clothes. Never in a million years would the evening have gone this way without kids. Kids are a lot of work... but what they add to your lives is immense.


A few days later after baby in the bush’s homecoming, on April 8th, we received the following update from Wisdom, regarding Dotse. [Wisdom is our in-country staff member who lives in Asikuma and keeps tabs on those who Kingdom Cares International has sponsored]:
Today, Dotse, the boy whose medical bill you sponsored for his arm to get well, came to me with his arm swollen. He said it all started about three weeks ago and it is paining him hard. I wonder, for three good weeks he never told me anything even though we meet each other regularly. Jake, I know you cannot meet the needs of everybody in Asikuma but those that can be handled should not be over looked. I believe the God of Israel will open doors for you and supply you your needs so that other’s needs too can also be met through you.
Keep the fire burning,  

Gulp. This one was hard to swallow and felt like quite a setback. It was 8 months ago (after months of getting the run-around from various hospitals) that Jake was finally able to secure surgery for Dotse to repair his compound fracture that he’d been living with for over a year. But from this update, it was clear that something had gone wrong during these past few months of recovery. We were able to get Dotse an appointment with FOCOS Orthapedic Hospital (who performed his initial surgery) quite quickly, and just a few days later we received this next update from Wisdom:
April 12th
Hi Jake,
By the Lord's doing yesterday we arrived home safely even though it was late. We got to the hospital exactly 12 noon and left there 6:20pm and got home around 10:15pm that is because we could not get car earlier.
Dotse's arm needs immediate attention said the doctor after he examined the arm and the x-ray. He said there is a dead bone in the arm that needs to be taken off and if we are ready they have to start working on him now. They will prepare the bill and mail it to me. I learnt approximately $5,000.00 can cover. I will forward the bill to you when they send it. The doctor also prescribed some drugs that he needs to be taking before the surgery. I was unable to pay for all the recommended drugs because I lack funds. I only need GH¢100.00p to buy the rest of the drugs for him. I do not think the amount you are sending ($300.00) will be able to cover all the expenses made. I attached the soft copies of the pictures, receipts and doctor's report.
Greetings to JJ, Justice, your wife, Alex, Tate and everyone,
So, the swelling is being caused by a piece of the bone that died after the repair and resetting of Dotse’s arm last surgery, and another surgery is in order to remove the dead bone. We will be able to schedule the surgery once we have the funds in order.


Emefa is a little 3 year old girl in Asikuma who Kingdom Cares International found to be HIV+ a few months ago. Emefa’s parents are both deceased, and Emefa is being taken care of by her very elderly grandmother. Since the positive test results, KCI has been sponsoring Emefa and has taken up the responsibility to get her to the hospital regularly where she can now receive her HIV drugs for FREE since KCI bought her family health insurance coverage! I wanted to share THE COOLEST email update we received from Wisdom about Emefa’s grandmother on April 28th…..
Hi Jake,
I thank God for using you guys to change the lives of the people in Asikuma, especially that of Emefa's family. As I visit them day in and day out, sharing the word of God with them, finally the Grandmother knows that there is no greater love than what Christ did on the cross. During our Evangelism week which was held at their area, guess what happened? She and some other people gave their lives to Christ and accepted Him as their personal Savior and Lord. That is another win for Christ and a lose for Satan. They need prayers from all of us to hold the faith that has been delivered to them.
Tomorrow is another day Emefa has to go and see the doctor as the drugs given to her is almost finishing. When we come back I will let you know.
God Bless,
Wisdom even captured the moment of Emefa’s grandmother surrendering her life to Christ!!!!!

Emefa’s older brother Yaw is also part of the family’s story. He is deaf and had been getting into mischief around the home due to sheer boredom. KCI pledged a sponsorship for Yaw to go to a deaf school and receive the specialized teaching that he needs. Update from Wisdom…
I also made it to Hohoe to find the school for Yaw. I talked with the administrators about the cost and what we can do. Simple, the school feeding fee and everything is being paid by the Government of Ghana. What we have to pay is P.T.A dues which is less than GH¢ 50.00p. I was also told to come to the school with Yaw next week for the prospectus and also for medical exam. Whatever the prospectus contains (if we have to buy something) I will let you know. The school's academic year was over April 19th.
Good Day,
Pictures of the boarding school that Yaw will attend….

April 30th was Emefa’s doctor check-up to receive more HIV drugs. I just wanted to share the following quick update we received from Wisdom, because I think it really shows his heart for these children. He is such a great in-country staff member for us!!!!!!!!!!
Hi Jake,
I complained about the wounds on Emefa's body to the Doctor and he gave her some drugs to be taking. After two weeks, we should come back for review. I also got her some clothes to keep flies from disturbing her.

[Emefa asleep in Wisdom's arms..]

Just a few days later we received some devastating news about little Rubyato….an infant in Asikuma with hydrocephalus that KCI had sponsored to receive shunt surgery. The money for the surgery was left with our medical clinic staff nurse on our March trip, and she was able to get Ruby through the process that precedes the surgery consisting of CT scans, lab work, and drug therapy. Surgery for Rubyato was scheduled at a hospital in Accra for April 11th. However, this surgery date didn’t ever come to pass as we were informed that doctors at the hospital went on strike (typical occurance in Ghana). Our clinic nurse then sought out surgery at a different hospital for Ruby -‘37 Military Hospital’ - once it was realized that the other hospital was going to pose delays. By the time Ruby was admitted for surgery prep her condition had worsened. Wisdom went to visit Rubyato and her family at the hospital and this was the report we received from him:
May 2nd
Hi Jake,
The doctor declared Rubyato's situation as helpless. The surgery cannot be done because she is on oxygen and can't even breathe well. If she was to be breathing very well then they can send her to the theater. The only thing they can do is to give her supportive treatment. I ask the Doctor could it be because she was not brought there on time? The doctor said no it is not that, she got that from the womb of her mother and lack of balanced diet during pregnancy.
I told the mother to be calm as nothing is too hard for God.
Let us all go to our knees and talk to God even though the doctor declares it as hopeless, remember King Hezekiah' prayer turned things around in his life because of prayer.

The next day, May 2, at 9:38am Iowa time we received word from Wisdom that little Ruby had passed away. It was just an awful feeling. We went through the thoughts of if only we had been there in April to push things along quicker…. But the truth is that this is the reality of trying to get serious medical care accomplished in Ghana from afar. There are so many obstacles. I did however come to tremendous peace as I pictured Ruby being in the arms of Jesus with her suffering finally eased. Oh how she suffered here on this earth. Even if she would have been able to get through the surgery, she would have had a very hard life ahead of her.

1 John 3:17 ~ If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

One of the situations God gave Kingdom Cares International in January was the story of a pregnant mother, stricken with breast cancer, who reached out to KCI for aid in the care of her coming newborn (read the story HERE). A load of people donated formula for this situation that our March team then delivered to our medical clinic. Because of the complexities of the health of the birthmother, our medical clinic had arranged for the mother to give birth at a main hospital in Accra. At the end of March, the mother went into labor, however, her baby passed away during delivery. We were informed that due to the mother’s malnourishment throughout her pregnancy (from the untreated cancer), the baby just wasn’t ‘strong enough’ to make it. This situation was a reminder to us all that in our humanness we are limited. We can gather formula, come up with a labor plan, and put together an after-birth care team. But God is the one who gives life, sustains life, and takes it away. We trust in His Sovereignty that this is what He saw was best for this family, and we pray that He has been a comfort to them in the days after.  Thank you to all of you who turned your compassion into action and donated formula. We have been told by our medical clinic staff that situations like this do come up often where a mother is unable to breastfeed. They are thankful to have the formula supply for future situations that arise.


Another Ghana adoption that has been close to my heart also culminated this past month. I’ve blogged a few times about the adoption journey of our friends Nick and Typhanie Mahlstadt HERE and HERE. On April 15th the Mahlstadt’s got to board an airplane in Ghana with their new son, Ben, and head home to the U.S.! Here they are the day they left Ghana….

And all their kids a few weeks later once home, settled in, and taking their first trip of the season to their local ice cream spot.

You can read more about Nick and Typhanie’s adoption story on their blog. I especially wanted to draw your attention to THIS POST in which Typhanie shared their experience and insights regarding adoption finances.


Just days after the Mahlstadt’s, baby in the bush w/older bro, and Christian’s adoption (who I’ve been updating you on in my past few posts) finished out, there began to be rumblings that Ghana adoptions were going to shut down. Then, last Monday, the following alert was issued by the Department of State – Children’s Issues, about adoptions in Ghana…

The Government of Ghana has temporarily suspended processing of all adoption cases, including intercountry adoptions, pending Ghana's review of its current adoption procedures. The U.S. Embassy in Accra is seeking further clarification of the scope and duration of this temporary suspension by the Government of Ghana and how this suspension may effect pending adoptions. The U.S. Embassy will continue processing adoption cases already approved by Ghanaian authorities.

They did use the word temporary, which is hopeful. But knowing the Ghanaian laidback sense of time, these ‘reviews’ may take awhile which is frustrating for prospective adoptive families to say the least. Many families feel that this is a huge blow to their journeys. This sort of thing is always a possibility with international adoptions as you are held to the mercy of the country’s officials, mindsets, and protocol. Stateside agencies with Ghana programs are now taking a ‘wait and see’ approach as this all plays itself out. Time will tell how the future of adopting from Ghana will play out.


I’ve been rejoicing over the past few weeks in Christian FINALLY getting to come home to his forever family after a long haul of a 2 year adoption journey. Last Sunday my heart was once again eclipsed by the glory of God via this young man.  For a few weeks since his homecoming Christian had been expressing to his new family that he wanted to be baptized.  Through talks of salvation, and conversations in which he opened up about his past, the Litzke's felt that Christian was indeed ready to publicly declare His faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior...


Now that is the fullness of new life. In God’s Kingdom the unwanted become wanted. The prisoners are freed. And beauty rises from the ashes. In this God continues to whisper His anthem over Christian, and all who would throw their lives on His powerful Name...

I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies;
I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved.
In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!”
They’re calling you “God’s living children.” (Romans 9:25-26)

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