Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I know in the United States, health insurance can be a controversial issue. But, for the most part, parents have health insurance for their children. There are government agencies that help to provide insurance if the parents cannot afford it. Most children are able to see a doctor if they get sick.

But, what happens if a parent has to make a choice...does the family get food today? Or do the children get health insurance? That is the question, and sometimes it is a difficult one to answer. Parents know that their children will get sick. They will get malaria. They will get dehydrated. They will get parasites. But, can they really chose not to eat today so that when someone gets sick they will be able to see a doctor and be able to get the needed medicines? Even at the low cost of health insurance, it is a tough choice for parents.

Today, because of the generosity of people in the United States, 109 children were signed up for health insurance. A young girl in western PA told her pastor that she emptied her piggy bank so the sick children could see a doctor and get well. As I sat and talked with the children and played with them, their parents would come up to me and thank me. It was a humbling experience, an emotional one, too. I responded with, "Thank God!" It is because of Him all of this was possible. One hundred nine children is a start, a drop in the bucket in an area where people struggle to feed their families. Hopefully, this will be repeated in January. And, then, too, I will respond with, "It isn't me, it is God. Thank Him." And, thank all of you who have supported this project. God bless you!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Rough Two Weeks

It's been a rough couple of weeks. We have been very short handed at the clinic because of staff being on leave. Plus, the two people posted to out clinic from the district assembly are on strike. I am grateful that one of them has come to help out anyway. May God bless her. And, then there is Razak who has been manning the registration at the OPD and taking vital signs. What would we do if he wasn't flexible?

Since the Gandy's Cove team has left, I haven't felt well. I haven't been sick enough to stay in bed, but I am not feeling well enough to give 100%. I have acquired a cough I can't shake. Then, when I went to Tamale, I found out I had malaria. It wasn't as bad as last year (thank You, Jesus), but, it was still malaria.

Then, I found out that a sixteen year old mother of a one year old boy was raped by someone much older than herself. And,then to find out she is pregnant as a result of the rape. (She is also HIV positive.)

Add to all of that, in Wa, there was an attempted robbery of two Americans at "machete point." They reacted in self defense with the ultimate end that one of the robbers died due to stab wounds inflicted by one of the Americans. I know one of the people involved. That person did not have the knife. So, all the foreign NGO's (non government organizations) pulled out of the Upper West Region except for VSO. They only pulled out of Wa. And, the US State Dept. put a "ban" on any unnecessary travel in the Upper West for American citizens.

A good friend of mine, Lawrence, who lives in Tamale, was here in Lawra for several days. His father was sick and in the hospital. Lawrence made it to Lawra the day before his father died. Now, his extended family has to prepare for a three day funeral with hundreds of people attending, most expecting to be fed for three days. That on top of the cost of a coffin, renting chairs and canopies (the funeral will be at the family house or land. Where do people who live in such a poor area come up for the funds for all of this? 

Another friend has a small boy who was in the hospital for several days. She was asking several people to donate blood for her son.

VSO has called their people back to Wa, but the others are still away. Add to the mixture situations I can't even begin to get into.

In a world with so much sickness, so much death, so much turmoil, so much sadness...how do people survive without the hope of Christ? We NEED to be Christ to them and to speak Christ to them.

Don't worry, I am not going off the deep end. I need a few days to sleep, relax, rest, pray. I need a Sabbath rest that lasts for more than a few hours. Then, I will be strong in the strength of Christ. Now, I need to rest in Him.

Monday, July 16, 2012

God Winks

Do you know that God winks at you? He really does! You can catch Him winking at you everyday! A "God wink" is when God lets you know He is with you, that He is watching over you and taking care of you. It isn't in the "moving mountains" type of stuff or the "throwing lightening down from heaven" type of stuff. It is in those little, everyday occurrences that people would say is "coincidence," but really, it is God.

This past weekend was full of God winks. I had traveled to Tamale with a friend on Thursday. When we arrived, Janette was not feeling well at all. I was starting to feel "green at the gills."So, we greeted Nancy & Bob and went to our separate beds! My Cipro was almost finished, so Bob went out and bought us each our own package for the morning. (God wink.) When morning did arrive, Janette wasn't any better and I was worse. So, we went to the lab to get pricked. We both had malaria! So, Dr. Mom and Dr. Dad took us to buy meds and sent us back to bed. (God wink.) (Of course, we had to stop at the craft shops on the way. And, I found EXACTLY what I was looking for to give someone back in the US...God wink!) Lawrence had bought us return tickets to Wa for Saturday. I stayed in Tamale and he traveled with Janet to Lawra. His father was in the hospital and Lawrence wanted to visit him. So, the ticket didn't go to waste. (God wink.) Lawrence spent time with his father, talked with him, prayed with him several times. His father died early Sunday morning. (BIG God wink.) I spent the day drinking tea, taking meds and napping...and buying pork chops! (God wink.) Sunday morning, before we went to church we were talking about how disconnected the pastor preaches. When we arrived at church, there was a guest speaker with an EXCELLENT sermon! (God wink.) Bob was able to purchase a ticket for me to travel home without him knowing somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody who could get me a ticket. (God wink.) And, when I arrived in Wa, I ran into Sarah and Pegi who took my large bag in their car for me. They didn't have room for me, but they had room for my bag! (God wink.) And, when I arrived at the tro tro station with a new friend, there were only two tickets left for Lawra, so the both of us could get on the tro and not have to wait. (God wink.)

The whole weekend was filled with these little glimpses of God watching over me and providing for me, just what I needed, when I needed it. Thank You, Jesus!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Transformation: Tinekpier Kuuyan to Elijah

In previous posts I talked about mt time with the team from Gandy's Cove, AL. Our last medical clinic was in Lawra where in two hours we saw 70 patients. One of them was Tinekpier Kuuyan. He came because he had some wounds on his left knee. Tinekpier saw Karen, a registered nurse. After she did her medical consultation with him, she asked Tinekpier, "Do you know Jesus?" He responded, "No, but I would like to." So, Karen spoke with him and prayed with him. Then, the translator spoke with him.

I cleaned his wounds and noticed the juju on his leg. So, I called one of the translators over. He was a little ball of Holy Ghost fire! He talked with Tinekpier, asking him why he had so much juju on him, more than ten bracelets, several rings, stuff around his neck and even around his leg. He believed if he wore the juju around his leg, the spirits would heal him.

Tinekpier had agreed to take the juju off. The bracelets were removed with people surrounding him in prayer, praying in Jesus' name. The leg juju was removed as well as the juju around his neck. Tinekpier was taking a huge step. He chose to trust Jesus instead of the spirits connected with the juju. Later, we found out that Tinekpier was a juju/traditional priest, so this was a VERY big step for him. After all the juju was removed, we praised God for a new name written in the Book of Life.

Tinekpier had some concerns. What would he do when he went back home? What would "they" say? We all assumed he was talking about his family members, when if fact he was not worried about them - they were all Christians! He was worried about what the spirits would say. So, we went home with him.

When we arrived at his room, there was plenty of juju around. All kinds of things to wear to ward off spirits. There were things in his room on the wall, in the floor, on the roof. A big pile was collected and burned. Jesus is stronger than any juju!

Tinekpier is a skinny man. He hardly ever ate because he would have to ask the spirits if the food was safe to eat. Most of the time, the spirits told him it was poisoned, so he would not eat and he would believe that people were trying to kill him. He also hardly ever slept because the spirits would visit him at night. But, even in the midst of all of this, there was a cross...Jesus was preparing Tinekpier for this day!

While the juju was burning, we talked with Tinekpier about going to church, praying, studying the Bible. His concern was going to church with his hair the way it was. He wanted it shaved off. So, one of the guys cut his hair, shaved his head and shaved off his beard. It was amazing to witness the love of Christ that this person had for Tinekpier.

Now that Tinekpier was a new man, a new creation in God's sight & in ours, he needed a christian name. Elijah was "born!" Elijah..."My God is the LORD!" How fitting!

Elijah has had one experience with the old spirits...the first night, they came into his room, felt his head and his hair was gone! The spirits knew that Tinekpier was gone and Elijah was here. Elijah has been eating everything offered to him and has begun farming. He attends church, Bible study, morning prayer. He was baptized, too! He is hungry for God! He says that he knows that he has to do these things because if he doesn't, the spirits will return and he doesn't want to return to that life.

There was a series of things that happened to bring about this change. The Holy Spirit was working overtime! And, praise God that Karen asked the question, "Do you know Jesus?" Maybe we should listen to the Holy Spirit's more often and open our mouths to ask, "Do you know Jesus?" 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

SNAP (Special Needs Awareness Program)

In the Lawra area, there seems to be a lot of "malformed" or disabled children. There are several reasons for this...poor nutrition during pregnancy, self medicating during pregnancy, no or poor prenatal care, alcohol/drug abuse during pregnancy.

There are those who have challenges because of an accident that may have left them with a handicap, or maybe health care wasn't received when the child had a serious illness. (You have to understand that medical care is a lot different here in Ghana, especially in the north where facilities that have the ability to do even simple things such as x-rays are few and far between. Therefore, if a child is seriously ill, there is a good possibility that the family cannot reach the proper health facility in a timely manner. Transportation is always an issue as well as cost of transport, food, etc.) Serious challenges may be the result of a very high fever.

As a result of the "communication workshop" that was such a great success, an executive committee was formed to plan our next steps. How do we reach these children, many of them not being welcome at school. There are not special needs schools in the Lawra area, and teachers assistants and therapeutic staff support are unheard of here. So, a child may spend years in the same class or grade in school because they don't have the ability to learn like their peers. They always fail the exam to proceed to the next grade.

SNAP was born late in May 2012...Special Needs Awareness Program. It is an enrichment program for children with special needs in the Lawra District and their families focusing on health, education and socialization. SNAP meets the first Wednesday of each month. 

We begin each meeting with breakfast for those attending. It is a simple one, porridge. Many of the people coming to the SNAP meetings are from villages and travel a distance. Plus, the poverty level is extremely high, so this is just one small way we can help.

Those who attended the July 2012 program were able to have free health screening for their children...

including having a vision test! The parents received free HIV screening, too.

There is plenty of time for the children to just hang out and be kids...playing with blocks, puzzles, and having books read to them.

Another part of July's meeting was a sign up for the children's health insurance at no cost to the parents. It is a program being offered through The Mission Society, through a special account for the Lawra Integrated Health Project.

Each meeting has a speaker geared towards helping the parents cope with their special needs child, or it may address a health concern, safety issues or to teach a skill to the parents (basic sewing is on the agenda for an upcoming meeting). A simple lunch is provided. And, youth from the local schools volunteer to help; they are part of the Lawra Youngsters Association.

We hope that the community would come to a point where they see these children as worthwhile, as gifts and not as a curse. We hope that some day there will be an educational facility in the area to help the special needs children receive an education, learn a skill...to give meaning to their lives. We hope that parents and the community will see these children as unique, unrepeatable miracles of God. May God give their parents wisdom and grace as they lead their children through life!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Biintenge, not Botswana

Gandy Cove's second medical clinic was held in Biintenge, not in Botswana as one member of our team thought! (Love you, Carol!!!) We set up in the Methodist church and started our day with praise and worship and dancing. We do what we do to glorify the Lord and that is just what we did - we gave glory to His name.

When everyone was ready, the Out Patient registration began. Everybody chipped in doing whatever was need. This village was smaller than Wioso and far removed from any large "city" and there was a lack of local health care. So, we saw a lot of skin infections, ring worm and of course, malaria.

So many people came to be seen by the doctor or nurse. The line never seemed to get any smaller, even at the end of the day when the door was closed. People found their way in one way or another.

The reason we were there was to share the love of Christ and the good news of His salvation. So, prayer was a part of each person's "treatment."

Even the Chief was told about salvation and people prayed for him.

Each village we visited had its own personality, its own focus. Biintenge seemed to have a lot of children wearing juju, necklaces or waistbeads or bracelets with leather, wood or metal on them. They are used so that the child would be able to have a good nights sleep or to protect the child from getting ill or any number of things. This juju is NOT from God, it is from the evil one. You can easily see the juju around this child's neck.

When juju was seen, someone talked with the parent about the power of the Lord God Almighty versus the power of Satan. Prayers were said and the juju was removed from the child. I pray that the parents will not revert back to their old ways, but will continue to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

After we left Biintenge, we prayed for those who had the juju. And, the juju that was removed was burned. We do not put our trust in stone or wood or leather or metal, but we put our trust in the Lord God Almighty.

I pray that the people of Biintenge will continue to grow in faith and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ so that they can tell their own people the mighty works God has done for them. To God be the glory!


Each day with the Gandy's Cove team was different than all the other days. Each seemed to have it's own focus, even though three days were clinics, they were all different.

The first medical clinic was in Wioso, about an hour or so away from Kumasi. We set up the clinic at the Methodist church. As you can see from the pictures, the building of the church is a work in progress. When we arrived, already people were waiting to see the medical professionals. We set up the consulting areas, pharmacy, and OPD. Then, we were ready to begin.

The entire day was not about us, but about the love of Jesus Christ, so we began the clinic with prayer.

Then, we started seeing patients. At the Out Patient Department (OPD), names and symptoms were recorded as well as temperatures and blood pressures. Then, the patient entered the queue to see the doctor or the nurse.

The patient was seen by the medical professional, taking as much time as needed, rechecking vitals when needed, asking questions, prescribing meds and telling about the love of Jesus.

Everyone that came to the clinic received gentle touches from those working...a touch of a shoulder, holding of hands, a pat on the back, just to let them know that we care for them. Prayer was a major part of the day, clients being prayed for individually and as a group.

In the midst of all that was going on, we took a break. Pastor John shared the salvation message to all who were there.

Many people asked Jesus into their heart for the first time. Others recommitted their lives to Him.

As we continued with the clinic, a children's program was held. Games and songs and "holy hanging around time" was part of the agenda. 

Back at the clinic, patients were seen until the medicines that we brought were finished. 

One of the heartbreaks was turning away so many people because we didn't have the medicines to give them.

I pray that the seeds that were sown, the harvest that was reaped would not be in vain. I pray that these people would continue to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ and they would bring others to Him. I pray that God will be glorified!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Barka, Gandy's Cove

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of being a part of a team from Gandy's Cove, AL. They came to Ghana to share the love of God through a medical mission trip. The pastor of their church led the group...he had lived in Ghana with his family for four years and was taking the group to places he had been in the past.

What a blessing this group of eight had been, not only to me, but to the people of the villages where they worked. I was able to see first hand how a team in Ghana can work. I had been a part of several teams in Russia, but doing the same type of thing in Ghana can be a nightmare! First of all, travel for a large group can cause one's hair to go grey and can be very expensive. Eight was the perfect size! Next, sleeping arrangements for a large group, especially when away from the large cities can be a challenge. The size of this group made accommodations reasonable.

The Gandy's Cove group showed me how a medical clinic can, and in many ways, should be run on a day to day basis. All patients were treated with love and dignity. Waiting time was as short as possible, with people working constantly until the medicine ran out. And, the team prayed with and for the patients. Each morning, we prayed for those who would be seen. And, the doctor and nurse, as well as others, prayed for individuals as the Spirit led them. People were so grateful for that! Sometimes, I think they appreciated the prayer more than the meds. Also, clients were touched, a hand on a shoulder, a touch of an arm, holding a hand or a child. Most Ghanaians are not demonstrative when it comes to affection. And, the human touch an be a source of healing. So, we made sure that people were touched on the arm, back, shoulder, head...just to let them know that they were special, not forgotten and that they are loved!

Most of all, I was blessed by being part of God's family who happen to live in Alabama. Life and especially work can be very demanding, with challenges that most Americans can't imagine. So, God used these dear people to put His salve on my spirit, to renew and energize me, to remind me that He is here in the midst of all the turmoil I face and He is watching over me. I have ideas that hopefully can be put into practice at our clinic, ways that can point to Jesus. And, I have a bit more courage to do and say the things that are needed. May God be glorified!

Barka, Gandy's Cove! (Thank You, Gandy's Cove.)