Saturday, October 29, 2011

Travel Expenses

Post written by JD (she is just... much more eloquent than I am)

"You're all done! That is so great!"

I've heard this quite a few times in the last few weeks, understandably. Yes, God has fully provided for the school construction. The funds have been raised through tremendous support from all over the globe. Although there were administrative costs to raising the funds, we covered them, and the full $30,000 has been provided.

And yes, it is indeed great -- we rejoice in that with you, all who have supported...

... but we can not rest.

The estimates arrived yesterday from Touch A Life Foundation for the in-country travel expenses.

They estimate that we will need roughly $1200 per person for our transportation, lodging and meals. Transportation may very well be the most expensive cost, as it takes all day to travel to/from the Lake Volta area.

It's more than we anticipated.

This is above and beyond what we've already paid for visitor visas, vaccinations etc, and does not include the cost of the Compassion visits. Those costs are covered by the sponsor so as not to take away financially from Compassion's ministry, which I applaud and appreciate.

There are four of us going.... Debra, Tia, myself, and my 13 year old son Joshua.
Together, we have a little more than $2500 for travel costs.

That leaves a seemingly impossible $2300+ to raise in less than a week.

May I confess? While I had sun stand still faith that we would raise the funds for the school, yesterday, I struggled with the faith that the remaining $2300 will be raised in time. All I could do yesterday afternoon when we received the estimate was think of the 2 photo sessions I'm doing this weekend, the fundraiser at church on Sunday morning, and ask myself "Will that be anywhere near enough?"

I know... I know GOD alone is enough, and that work of my hands can not provide as well as He can, and that we simply must trust -- it IS as simple as that... but in those moments yesterday, I had to borrow from Debra and Tia's faith to find peace.

I'm still learning, growing right along with you.

This morning, my strength is renewed, my faith refreshed.

I do understand that we didn't know how God would provide for the school in such a short amount of time, after all, we were still at 12% in mid-September. And yet He did, in ways only He could.

We're back in that boat.

We don't know how He will provide for the travel expenses in such a short amount of time. We don't need to know in order to know that He can -- we know He can.

We just need to trust that He will and rest in Him as we do what we can to rest in preparation for our time in Ghana.

It's as simple as that.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A smidge more fundraising

We leave in a week! Woot :) I am putting out a call for my friends and family to make a donation if you haven't yet and would like to. I am still raising money for my in country travel expenses (as are my friends) and we need YOUR help to get there. Wealthy, I am not! Blessed with awesome family and friends, well I got that one down :) You can make a donation on the right using the paypal button or you can contact me to make a donation. This money will be used for transportation, food and lodging while we are in Ghana. Thanks for your all your prayers and support. Keep them coming!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Achieving Potential

One thing that slavery does a good job of is... taking away a persons potential. Especially if it robs them of their childhood! Being bound to someone and not allowed to explore your talents and skills is one of the awful consequences of trafficking. Being exposed to violence, extreme poverty, and cruel work environments is enough to break a persons spirit, no doubt about it. It is taking something away from a person that they should be allowed to experience. You are taking a way a person's potential by owning them and forcing them to work. 

I was thinking about this today when I saw a video of a 9 year old boy singing on a talent show. His name is Jotta A (Jotta Ah) and he is brilliant and beautiful and vibrant and using his voice to bring joy to people and glory to God. 
Oh my goodness, isn't he the most beautiful little boy? Love his curls :P This is a child being allowed to reach his potential! Whether he was singing in this competition or not, his love for music and performance is being encouraged and his skills bettered. 

How can children develop their passions being sold onto a lake and forced to work 16 hr days with little food and no childhood? Yep, I understand you will say to me but there are some who have. For everyone one you show me who has, I will show you 500 who haven't. Because study after study shows that people need to be loved and nurtured and taught compassion and respect to have those capacities as adults. They need to be exposed to various experiences to find their talents and potential. They need education. These are basic rights we are talking about being stripped from people. From peoples children, from communities future Potential leaders, teachers, and doctors. How can we, as a world society, continue to let this happen? If we want peace, if we want to end poverty and hunger, if we want people to have a legitimate chance in life... we have to fight trafficking. If we have compassion in our hearts and can even minimally identify God's love for humanity... we have to uncover trafficking for what it is: SLAVERY!

Please find a way to do your part in fighting modern day slavery. There area  million and 4 ways to get involved! The only wrong choice is to act like it doesn't happen since it doesn't affect you personally and daily. 

Please consider finding an organization that you believe in and supporting it any way that you can. Teach your children and loved ones about poverty, slavery and human suffering. Get them involved in projects with you. The world will become a better place because of it.

Because honestly a child should never look like this:
We all KNOW this and now we all need to act on it. The worlds children are our children and our future. 

If you can spare a few bucks, we are still collecting money for in country travel expenses for our trip to Ghana. Every little bit helps us to get to Ghana and help the children we meet.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

$30,000 and beyond

Today we officially reached 100% of the fund raising for the school in Ghana. JD had the honor of accepting the finish line crossing donation this morning. Here are her words:

I just arrived home from going to the Glen Falls school here in Saint John... one of the poorest schools in our city... where the children, led by their awesome teacher (a woman from my church), pledged to raise 1% of our goal. When someone from the community heard about their initiative, they offered to match whatever they raised up to $300 (also 1%).

As you know, we were currently at 98%...

Were. Past tense.

The Glen Falls school kids were honored and thrilled to help us reach across the finish line this morning... we are now officially at 100%!!!

We still need a few more donations to cover our in-country travel expenses, but are confident that God will continue to provide as He will finish what he has begun.

Posted by Tia. Can you tell I am tired today?! Ha, can't even write my own posts anymore :P

Praising God for what He has done and what is yet to be done!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Not My Life Trailer

Over 50% of trafficked people are children. This documentary is aiming to bring awareness to the world about modern day slavery. We call it trafficking but that is a euphemism to make us not feel the impact. It is slavery and it is wrong. Be a part of the solution!

This documentary features Lake Volta and Brother George Achibra and the work being done on the Lake to rescue children.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Article online

The News-Gazette article is now online if you want to read it. Thanks Meg for giving me the opportunity to spread word about what we are doing to the community! You did a great job representing the information I gave to you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

School Fund and thanks

Hey all you lovely people!
I just wanted to point out that we are quite nearly to the $30,000 mark which will completely fund the building of a new school at The Village of Life! Check out the thermometer on the right to see just how close we are. God is good! Blowing our minds all the time and surprising me in amazing ways :)

I encourage you to donate if you can because every dollar donated is being matched by a donor at Touch a Life foundation! And every penny above and beyond the fundraising goal will still go to The Village of Life to help provide them with anything they may need right now.

I removed the chip in button BUT you can donate to my travel expenses account. Just make sure that you indicate if you would like the funds to go to my travel expenses or to the School fund and I will distribute the money properly.

That being said... our whole team is still fundraising for in country travel expenses and for me, medical expenses that my insurance won't cover (yay malaria meds and vaccinations).

Lastly I want to thank EVERYONE who has participated in any way in this trip. Donors of money and items for the auction, prayer warriors, mojo senders, children donating their soccer balls and spare change. This whole experience has taught me so much about the good in humanity. And I am very blessed to be part of it all. So from Tia, JD, Joshua and me... Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Prayer request

Hey Friends,
I just wanted to ask you all to pray for George Achirba Sr and his family today and in the coming days/weeks. His wife, Hanna, passed away.

For those of you who don't know who George is... he is the guy who we are going to visit in Ghana who runs The Village of Life and rescues children off of Lake Volta. In Ghana funerals are a huge deal with the celebration lasting days. I pray that Hanna's celebration of her life will touch the hearts of those who participate and that George and his family will be comforted.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sun Stand Still- Big News

Post as written by JD about some very exciting and big news!

It was a promise in past tense from the beginning.

Early in 2011, of the three organizations we had considered serving in Ghana, the first seemed only interested in what service projects we could commit to, and our offering seemed only to inconvenience them. We felt no peace and as such, could not make this commitment to them.
The second was ready to welcome us as we were, knowing our hands were empty, but our hearts were His, ready to offer of ourselves. We appreciated that they would accept whatever we were able to offer in terms of support, but we felt no peace.
Then, on a Saturday afternoon back in March, I called George Achibra Sr. at PACODEP, and there it was... overwhelming peace.

It was clear that Mr. Achibra was warm and welcoming, and that he would appreciate anything the Lord could offer through us, even if it was simply our time. Without pressure, it would have been all too easy to commit to coming empty handed, simply to serve with our time, but our hearts had already been poured out and broken for these children -- we were already committed to doing whatever it took. We knew. We knew this was what we were meant to do.
Partway through the conversation, I heard myself asking him what his team's biggest needs were, and that’s when I first heard that they were at max capacity for classroom space. I asked how much it would cost to fulfill that need, and he said $30,000.
I clearly remember saying “Then, that is what we will do."
When I hung up the phone, it wasn’t lost on me that the thought of raising $800 for another organization that I didn’t feel peace about felt like something I couldn’t commit to, but that I had just committed to raising the equivalent of the mortgage on our family’s first home without any hesitation... and with little to offer of my own except for faith and obedience.
It felt like the most natural thing in the world.

Tia recalls that before our very first donation, I felt as though we had reached 100% already. It was as though God's promise was in past tense, that this "had already come to pass, Amen", as Ato Sam would express it. It was, and is, the only way I could see it. A promise fulfilled.

Still, there was excitement as He provided our first percent, then, our second. I was all too aware that to the world, it seemed like nothing, a glass mostly empty. I saw the glass through Him, and saw only that it had the potential to overflow.Does He only give us a little bit of love, a little bit of grace, a little bit of mercy, a little bit of forgiveness? His gifts are abundant, overflowing, beyond measure. Why should this be any different if God is steadfast in all ways?
Don’t get me wrong, $30,000 is the same size mountain to me as it is to you. The only way I could look at that mountain and not pee my pants was by putting Him firmly between myself and that mountain, and seeing the mountain through Him.I’m happy to report that for once, my pants stayed dry, thankyouverymuch -- He had done so much more than this time and time again, this was a small mountain to Him who created the universe and to Whom all belonged.
All I needed to know was that God was bigger. It was really that simple.
Over time, the percentage raised seemed to creep up slowly, even though the days left until our trip were passing by at what seemed to be a much quicker pace. Still, with each percent, I felt as though He was jumping up and down on my bed, giggling like a little child with irresistible enthusiasmAlthough I knew that not everyone saw Him jumping up and down on their beds and that many only saw time running out, all I needed to know that God created time, and He was in control of it. It was really that simple.

He had already provided 12% when the journalist interviewed me for a local paper, and although the article excluded all reference to God and faith, when she asked if I thought we could do this, with only 52 days left, I shared the story of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem in 52 days, stone by stone, day by day, God having provided the material, the people, the vision. It should have seemed impossible to Nehemiah and his team, but all they needed to know was that God had chosen them to build these walls and protect Jerusalem -- they simply had to focus on doing the part God had set in front of them -- God would provide.
It all comes down to focus and faith. It’s really that simple.

Within a week, the total raised had reached 46%**. A few more who had doubted from the beginning began to wonder if this was possible after all.

I honestly don’t know what was more important to me – seeing the school built, or seeing people’s faith built. It seemed as though these were both such important parts of this journey. What I loved about this project from the beginning was that if we had miserably failed, we would have looked like fools, but if we reached our goal, the only explanation for it would have been God and God alone.
At the risk of sounding ridiculous, I feel like part of Nehemiah’s team, sitting in front of a dusty war torn wall, repairing a small portion of it stone by stone, day by day, only focused on what I've been given to do, no matter how small it seems or how insignificant it may feel, and all of a sudden, I look up, and I see walls where there were none, walls rising up all around me, with teams of people gathered by Him to put in their stones one by one. Each their part in this. These are their walls too, their Jerusalem.
Although these walls aren't protecting the city of Jerusalem, they are no less important to Him, as they are protecting the lives of His children, the least of these who have become the most of these to us.
As excited as I am, there is no sense of surprise. He promised, in past tense. It's that simple.

As I reflected upon the 46% He provided, nearing the halfway mark with less than 40 days to go at the time, I knew God wasn’t done yet. He had never asked us if we could do this, He only asked us if we trusted that He could, and would. The answer was “Yes” – no hesitation, no doubt. I kept telling everyone who would listen “Wait and see what He will do, part of the blessing is in seeing how He chooses to fulfill His promise! Every portion of this journey is like unwrapping a mysterious gift! He's not done yet...”
On Sept 29th, an organization that we had been trying to contact since April without success responded to a simple request from Debra asking for assistance on the logistics of shipping a box or two of books to Ghana for the Village Of Life. It was then that we learned that they hadn't received any of our previous communications, and hadn't been aware of our projectWhen they realized what we were working on, they not only offered to help with the travel logistics and planning,they shared that all funds raised by the 17th of October would be provided with a matching grant.

In essence, being at 46%, this means that we simply have another 4% of funds to raise in order for the school to be built. Our 50% will be stretched to completion through this amazing blessing.
$1200 left.

The material for the blocks is being poured into moulds as we speak, Joshua's ticket has been booked, the packing and accommodation planning is under way, fundraising is taking place for travel expenses, the Compassion visit logistics are ironed out, the visitor visa applications are under way, thank you notes are being written and mailed, our hearts continue to be prepared and broken... and He is in this, in all of this. This is His.

I can’t help but reflect on some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from all of this. What stands out the most for me is the deeper understanding of why I’m just as excited now as I was when we began, and when we reached one percent, then two percent, and so on. The fact that the numbers changed didn’t make it any more or any less possible – in fact, the numbers changed because God hadn’t changed – He is the same God Joshua trusted in with a perspective of faith when he returned from spying into the Promised Land, and then later, when he asked God for the sun to stand still so that he could finish the battle.
The same God we trusted to provide this school.
The same God who promised it in past tense.
The same God who provided through your prayers, your enthusiasm, your faith, your financial support.

Why do we dare limit the possible with our unbelief?
Why do we try to reduce God until He fits into our limited perspective?
Why do we accept any less than sun stand still faith, when all we need to know is that the God who made the sun stand still for Joshua is the same God we serve today?

It's really that simple.

**(note: the Paypal button only reflects the Paypal total, it does not include funds raised in person or through Interlink)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Welcome Welcome N-G readers!

Just want to welcome all my local peeps reading the News-Gazette today. Thank you so much for taking the time to check out what we will be doing in Ghana this November.

Here is the link that explains the purpose of our trip.
And here are some other popular posts:
Horror Can't be the End
Human Suffering

Again Thank you, thank you for checking this website out. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Think Different and change the world

As a tribute to Steve Jobs, I want to encourage you to "Think Different".

"Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do" -Steve Jobs

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One month countdown has begun!

One month from today I will be in planes and airports all day making my way across the world to Ghana. I will leave one son with my brother and the other at home with Daddy so he doesn't miss school. I will spend more time away from all of them than I ever have before. It will be hard to leave them but I will know that I have friendly faces meeting with me in DC and on the other in in Ghana.

We will get to visit some special children at a few of the Compassion International sites the first few days. Children that my friends sponsor and who are quite literally part of their families. 

It is a wonderful organization and I am looking forward to seeing the ins and outs of how it all works. I will definitely let you know what I learn and share the experiences with you!

Then we will make our way to Kete Krachi where we will meet George and his staff at The Village of Life.
From George Achibras facebook page

Where we will see with our own eyes what exactly child trafficking entails.
From TOL facebook page

And how The Village of Life in partnership with PACODEP and Touch a Life Foundation changes the lives of these children when they are rescued.
From TAL facebook page
I am preparing to help in any way possible but also preparing to be transformed by this experience.

Thank you so much for helping us get this far. We are almost $14000 into our fundraising for the school! (There was a $10,000 donation made to our interlink account that is not accounted for on the chip in tab). We still need your help though! Please make a donation to my travel fund or to the School fund. I still have lots of in country travel expenses to cover and vaccinations and malaria medications. So glad you guys are taking part in this journey with us!

Like Disney World up in here!

You remember that commercial a few years ago with the adorably pudgey faced preschooler and his sister the night before going to Disney? It is one of my favorites. The boy in the commercial makes me smile.
This is me. But it isn't excitement about Disney. I can't sleep because I am so excited to go to Ghana! I am kind of hoping I don't... NOT sleep for 4 weeks! The anticipation is building. The last push for donations is coming upon us. Collecting supplies to pack, getting visas, presents for small, beautiful children, figuring out how to get massive amounts of school supplies, books and curricula over with us. Logistics and footwork to be done yet but we are SO close and I am too excited to sleep. Already. I can not even imagine how stoked I am going to be come the first of November.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Josh Wilson - I Refuse

I Refuse

Sometimes I, I just want to close my eyes

And act like everyone's alright

When I know they're not

This world needs God, but it's easier to stand and watch

I could pray a prayer and just move on

Like nothing's wrong

But I Refuse

I don't want to live like I don't care

I don't want to say another empty prayer

Oh, I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else

To do what God has called me to do myself

I could choose not to move

But I refuse

I can hear the least of these, crying out so desperately

And I know we are the hands and feet of You, oh God

So if You say move, it's time for me to follow through

And do what I was made to do

And show them who You are

I don't want to live like I don't care

I don't want to say another empty prayer

Oh, I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else

To do what God has called me to do myself

I could choose not to move

But I refuse

I refuse to stand and watch the weary and lost cry out for help

I refuse to turn my back and try and act like all is well

I refuse to stay unchanged, to wait another day to die to myself

I refuse to make one more excuse

I don't want to live like I don't care

I don't want to say another empty prayer

Oh, I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else

To do what God has called me to do myself

I could choose not to move

But I refuse

This song has seriously been such an eye opener for me over the past several months. I hope it can encourage you to step out and DO what you feel you are called to do.