Monday, December 31, 2012

A Year of Blessings, A Year of Growth

It would probably be safe to say that a lot of people are looking back at 2012, reviewing what took place in their lives these past twelve months. I am, too. It is good to look back and see where we have been and look forward to where we are going.
What I consider to be highlights of 2012 are vastly different from what Facebook says. As I look past over this year, these thoughts come to mind:
I celebrated my first year in Ghana, where I live, where I work and where I play. I thank God for the Ghanaian friends I have made. It has been a blessing to hang out together, share food and just enjoy each other's company. They have been there for me in good times and in bad. It has been a privilege to share in some of their deepest joys and sorrows over the last year. SNAP (Special Needs Awareness Program) was born in 2012. It is an avenue of ministering to the least of the least in this culture. God has amazing plans for SNAP in 2013! God has blessed me with the opportunity to share His word in some of the villages around Lawra. This, too, will expand in 2013. I wonder what God has in mind. In June, an amazing group of people came from Alabama to work in the villages of the Upper West. These people have become like family to me, especially my sister, Ama. I look forward to seeing them again. I thank God for the children at the Lawra Methodist Orphan and Vulnerable Children's Centre. It is an honor to be "Mama Sue" to them, to be a part of their lives, to watch them grow in body, mind and spirit. And, in 2012, I came to know, at least a little bit, the village of Kasalgri, where I will be working during the upcoming year. I pray that I may shine God's light in a dark world.
The year brought sadness, too. My dear friend and neighbor died this past year. I wasn't able to attend her funeral. I know we will meet again on "the other side." I have seen children die of preventable diseases. I have seen unauthorized use of money, and mismanagement in many areas. I have seen people lie and cheat and argue...I have seen that people (including me) need the Lord. More now than ever! I, along with many, many others, have experienced malaria. Sickness is rampant in my area.
Don't let me end here, though. CHIPs, Childrens Health Insurance Program, is providing health care for the children in the Lawra area. Funds have been raised for water filters for Kasalgri. The word has been sent out about what is happening in my area of Ghana. And, people have responded most graciously. Many, many children and adults will benefit because of their generosity. I have been able to visit family and friends. I've taken a class that has challenged me in more ways than one. Plus, there were trainings, too. Lots of travel took place in 2012. God provided me with transportation, a place to stay and took care of all the details! And, it has all been good.
God has blessed me so much in 2012. It was a year of trust and watching God work. A year of growth in my spiritual life and in my personal life. I am not the person I was a year ago. Praise God! Good-Bye 2012, Hello 2013!

Monday, December 24, 2012

I'll Be Home for Christmas

When I realized I would be in the United States to celebrate Christmas, I was so excited. I called my sister and said, "You know that song, I'll be Home for Christmas ? Pretend I am singing it to you."We were both pretty excited. But, now, I miss my home in Ghana. I miss my kids. So, this is for them...

I'll be home for Christmas.
You can count on me.
Please have snow and mistletoe,
And presents on the tree.
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams,

I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams.
There won't be snow. There won't be mistletoe. There won't be a Christmas tree. There won't be presents. But, there will be love of family and friends, celebrating Christ's birth. Merry Christmas to my "family" in Ghana. I miss you. I will be there with my dreams!

Hope for the Future

Last Thursday, my close friend, Cathy, received her Master's Degree from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. (Cathy is one of those very creative geek types. I wish I could do even a fraction of what she can do.) There were hundreds of people receiving their diplomas, each had earned a Bachelor, Master or Doctorate Degree. And, I sat there and thought about all the opportunities that lay in the future for these men and women. The possibilities are endless. They all have such hope for their futures.
I couldn't help but think of the people I know in Ghana, people who struggle to receive even a secondary education. It is costly for them. Many families cannot afford it. Then, on to a post secondary is hard for most people, it is hard for everyone I know. It seems as if people who live in my area, if they want further education, go to school on weekends, working during the week. That way, they can support their family while pursuing an education. Only 5% of Ghana's population has a post secondary education. Again, in my area, most people can look forward to farming the rest of their lives, trying to eek out a living by selling whatever they might have extra. Possibilities for the future? Not for many. Hope for a better life? Not much. Opportunities for a job? Nope. They just aren't available.
I am so happy for Cathy. Excited about her future. But, my heart breaks for those in Lawra who struggle just to feed their families. Cathy is sharing in the work of God in Ghana and in other places in the world, providing some hope for those who are hopeless about their future. What about you?

Monday, December 17, 2012


Waiting...Ugh! I really don't like to wait. In Ghana, my whole life seems to be waiting. I once facilitated a Sunday School teacher training. It was SUPPOSED to start at 9 am. Two people were there. By 11 am there were twelve. When I travel, I walk to the tro tro station and wait. The tro tro won't leave until it is full (except for the 7 am one.) I sometimes wait 15 minutes. Most times, though, I wait more than an hour. When taking the bus to Tamale, I am always told the reporting time is 4:30 in the morning. The bus rarely leaves before 6:00! Banking can be difficult. When inside the bank, I join the queue. Hopefully, I won't be in a hurry! The plumber says he will arrive at 7:00 in the morning. He arrives closer to 8:00. Even on March 8, Independence Day, when the programs are to start at 9:00 am, I have waited hours for the festivities to begin because the Chief has not yet arrived. Then, there is always waiting for the internet to connect or the electricity to come back on. It seems that after awhile, I've gotten used to waiting in Ghana.
Now, to the present day...I am in the USA. I have been with my beloved family and friends. I have seen doctors and dentists. I have traveled, visiting all four time zones. And, I have waited. This time, it is a different kind of wait. Waiting to go through security at the airport. Waiting for a movie to start. Waiting in line at the store. Waiting for church to begin. Waiting for my name to be called at the doctor's office. Waiting to see my sister again.
There is one kind of waiting I am having a terrible time dealing with. It is waiting to return to Ghana. And, that return timing is not easy to nail down. My return depends on the healing of my jaw/gums/mouth from a dental implant. Then, after I am discharged from that dental specialist (ideally 10 weeks after the implant), I have to go to my dentist to have a crown made and place in my mouth (About three weeks of more waiting.) What if things don't go by the "ideal" timeline? When do I return home? I miss my own bed. I miss having coffee or tea with God on the veranda. I miss my friends. I miss my kids.
There is a reason I am here other than dental work. What it is, I don't know. God does. Maybe He is teaching me patience. Maybe He is protecting me from something or preparing me for something. All I know is waiting is hard to do.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

With Hope

In the words of Steven Curtis Chapman:
This was not how we thought it was supposed to be.
We had so many plans for you, we had so many dreams.
And now you’ve gone away and left us with the memories of your smile.
And nothing we can say and nothing we can do
Can take away the pain, the pain of losing you, but…

 We cry with hope, we say good-bye with hope,
‘Cause we know that our good bye is not the end, oh no.
And we can grieve with hope, ‘cause we believe with hope
(There’s a place by God’s grace)
There’s a place where we’ll see your face again, we’ll see your face again.

And never have I know anything so hard to understand,
And never have I questioned more the wisdom of God’s plan.
But through the cloud of tears, I see the Father’s smile and say well done.
And I imagine you where you most wanted to be,
Seeing all your dreams come true,
‘Cause now your home, and now your free and…

We cry with hope, we say good-bye with hope,
‘Cause we know that our good bye is not the end, oh no.
And we can grieve with hope, ‘cause we believe with hope
(There’s a place by God’s grace)
There’s a place where we’ll see your face again, we’ll see your face again.

 We have this hope as an anchor
‘Cause we believe that everything God promised is true, so…

We cry with hope, we say good-bye with hope,
‘Cause we know that our good bye is not the end, oh no.
And we can grieve with hope, ‘cause we believe with hope
(There’s a place by God’s grace)
There’s a place where we’ll see your face again, we’ll see your face again.

We wait with hope…
And we ache with hope…
We hold on with hope…
We let go with hope…

                                                                  ~With Hope by Steven Curtis Chapman

People Need the Lord

Today the whole country is in shock and grief due to a horrific event yesterday. A lone gunman, only 20 years old, went into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT and opened fire on children, very young children, ages 6 and 7, cutting short 20 of their already short lives. News programs have focused on this for more than the past 24 hours and is still continuing coverage. There are a lot of questions that are still unanswered. Some will be answered, many will not. Parents are grieving. The child they kissed good bye yesterday morning never came home again. Other parents are in tears because their child had been spared and is home safe in loving arms.
Even now, as I write this, the newscaster is talking about how can this be avoided in the future? Mental health issues and gun control seem to be at the forefront. But, I think the answer goes a lot deeper. As years have gone by, as generations have passed on before us, our nation which was founded on Christian principles, has become more and more lenient, accepting of behaviors that even 50 years ago were not acceptable and we have left Christ out of our lives.
I wonder if anyone has done a study of the decline of good, solid Christian lives being actively lived out versus the increase of horrendous crimes. I would bet the result would be amazing. America has been trying to get God out of the schools, the courts, the community (for example - Nativity sets on government property) and even in individual lives. People are bullied because they are Christian. Some people loose their jobs because of their faith in God. Just a few days ago, I heard of a company that said they would choose to close its doors instead of being forced into health insurance for its employees that pays for abortions.
People, we need the Lord. We should be sobbing because of what our world has come to be. We need to pray for our government officials. God has blessed America. He trusted us. And, we blew it. Is it too late to turn to Him? I will. Will you? 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


One of the books I have on my Kindle is Invisible byLorena McCourtney. I can relate with the main character, Ivy Malone, who in this chapter of her life seems to be invisible to many around her. No one really notices when she enters or exits a room. Her age and size is such that guys aren't chasing after her. The wisdom of her years allows her to be silent and watch others without being noticed. For her, it works as she tries to solve murders. But, in other areas of life, it can be difficult.
Have you ever felt invisible? How does it make you feel, deep down? I have felt that way, too. And, I still do. There are areas of my life where I just want to be noticed. I don't want to be in the limelight. I don't want to be on center stage. I just want to be noticed. I want my efforts and accomplishments affirmed. Yet, in many areas, it doesn't happen and most likely never will.
Usually, that's all right with me. Like I said, I don't want to be the center of attention. I don't want to be the one people see. I want them to see Christ in me. So, therein lies the paradox. I want to be affirmed in my accomplishements, to receive a "pat on the back," but, I don't want to be in the center of things. Is that possible? I guess I would rather be invisible than to be in the limelight. But, I also want to know that what I do or what I've done matters. Hmmm....
When it comes to what really matters, I'd choose being invisible so that Christ can be seen in me. And, I guess it shouldn't matter whether or not people acknowledge what I have done/am doing because it isn't me, it's Christ in me. It's that part of me that hasn't died to self that wants the pat on the back.
Lord, forgive me. I am so grateful to You that to You I am not invisible. You see me. You see me when I sit, when I stand, whatever I am doing, You see me. I pray, Lord, that my actions glorify not me, but they would glorify You. May I be an extension of Your hands, feet and an expression of Your love and mercy.In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.