Sunday, June 23, 2013


It is Wednesday morning. The temperature is only 86 degrees Fahrenheit. I am riding my bicycle to Zinka, a village close to me. I am not quite there yet, but I am wondering,"Why didn't I ride my moto?" Then I remember that I need the exercise. The top part of my dress is already soaked in sweat. As I approach Zinka, I see a small urchin with only her underclothes on, covered in dirt from head to toe. It is Priscilla. I wave and keep pedaling because if I stop, I will have to walk my bicycle the rest of the way.
Priscilla is 7 or 8 years old. Her older sister is not quite sure of Priscilla's age. And, Priscilla has Downs Syndrome. She does not go to school because she won't sit still and will run away. There is no support staff for children like Priscilla. So, twice a week, I go to her house to do some basic things with her. Sometimes she is outside of the family compound when I arrive and we have "class" outside. Then, I have to be prepared to have at least six other children and four adults joining us. The children have skipped school to farm and the adults have not gone out to work the farm yet.
The last two times that I visited Priscilla, we met inside the family compound, with her older sister helping us. What a difference! Priscilla was much better behaved, her focus increased and we were able to accomplish a LOT of work.
She loves to string beads and do sewing cards.  Her brother, Kareem likes to string beads and "fish."
When we finish, we pray, and I am ready to leave, Priscilla gives me a hug so big it seems like I will never be able to get out of the grasp of her arms. She walks out to my bicycle with me, carrying my heavy basket of toys. Then, she climbs up on my bicycle. She wants to go home with me and cries when she is not allowed. But, I tell her I will "go and come" and she is happy again.
Priscilla's station in life may not change because I am there with her, but she will. I pray that God will use me in her make a difference...for Him!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Culture Check

Two weeks ago, a woman came to the Kalsagri church with her grand-daughter, Naamal. She said that this wasn't her church. But, could we please help her grand-daughter? Naamal's parents don't want her because of the growth in her mouth. So, they sent her to Kasalgri to live with "Maakum" (Grandmother). Maakum is old. She can't do much for the girl. She said that others said they would help, but no one has. So, I took her picture, sent out a few emails. She might have a Burkitt’s lymphoma tumor, I don't know. But, what we did find out is that she has to go to the local hospital to get a referral to the Wa hospital. Then, at the Wa hospital, she has to get a referral to a teaching hospital in Kumasi. This would be a great hardship for the family.
Since I didn't know the girl's surname, guardian name, birthdate, age, etc., we went to visit the grandmother today. After we greeted her, we asked all kinds of questions about Naamal. The grandmother did not know the child's surname or the father's surname. She did not know the age of the child. We were told that Naamal was not born this way. This growth/tumor has been growing for three years. She was taken to the local hospital by her Maakum. The doctor wanted to give her a referral. But, Maakum told the doctor to wait until Naamal's father came back from down south. Someone did eventually get a hold of the father. He refused to come. There is an uncle who lives at the family house. But, he cannot speak. So, when asked who would take responsibility for Naamal, if we could take to to the various doctors, the answer was there is no one locally. We tried to call both the mother and the father. Neither one answered their phone. So, our hands are tied as we wait and continue trying to call the parents.
I couldn't help but think that this would never happen in America. I wonder what will become of Naamal. Will she ever see a specialist? Or will she die before she gets the chance? Lord, give me wisdom!

Sunday, June 9, 2013


A mother wakes up in the middle of the night and cries. She wonders, "Why did God give me a child like this?" There is no place for a special needs child in this culture. Parents are urged to take their children to the Fetish priest for a "mercy killing." Yet, this same mother, who cried at night a year ago, now says, "When I came to SNAP, I found out that I wasn't alone.That there are other children like mine. SNAP helps me know what to do with my child."
June 6, 2013, was the first anniversary of SNAP, our Special Needs Awareness Program. We will celebrate on July 3, so that one of our founding members, Sarah Gardner, could be here for the festivities. An activity that we had for the parents was to trace the hand of their child and write something that they appreciated about their child on each finger. And, if  they could not think of something, they were to write their hopes/dreams for their child. Now, most of these people can't read or write, so, others wrote the words the parents said. Parents who were full of despair a year ago now write: 
"My child has a nice smile. He is very interested. He knows how to read. I THANK GOD He made him for me. He makes me happy."
Another parent writes about their child, "He thanks God. He is always happy. I am HAPPY that God made him. He will get a blessing. I am happy to come here to SNAP."

Still another parent writes, "She tries hard. She is happy. She is a good sister. She is helpful. She is beautiful."
I thank God for SNAP. A year ago, these parents had no hope. Who knows if some of these children would have survived if the parent did not attend SNAP. SNAP give them encouragement, praise, education, health screenings, and the knowledge that their child is a unique, unrepeatable miracle of God! Celebrate our first year with us!  And, thank God for the lives of these lovely children.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Friend of the Poor

On the African plains a young mother weeps for her hungry child,
She prays he'll survive.
With tear-filled eyes she looks up to heaven and calls Your name,
She pours out her pain.

You know her name and You hear her cries.

Friend of the poor, help me through the night;
Help me in the fight, come to my rescue.
Friend of the poor, take these skin and bones,
Make this heart a home, come to my rescue,
Friend of the poor.
~ Friend of the Poor by Andy Park
This is a picture of Vikpenidie and his mother, Yaa. They live in one of the sub villages of Kalsagri. His mother came to us last Sunday after service saying that Vikpenidie was too small, there is no breast milk. So, Rashid, the Nutrition Officer at the Lawra Methodist Clinic went to the village to see them. He encouraged Yaa to come to the clinic the next day. He would show her how to mix a special formula that would help Vikpenidie gain weight. On Monday, when they came, the baby was weighed. He is six weeks old and only 2.6 kg.! (That's 5.72 lbs. to my American friends/family.) Vikpenidie has Marasmus, a "dry" type of malnutrition. His skin is falling off his body because he is wasting away. He has sores all over his little body. Rashid gave Yaa a zinc oxide creme for the baby's body. He showed her how to make the special formula and how to feed it to Vikpenidie. Rashid also encouraged Yaa to stay at the Children's Centre for a week, just so she could get into the rhythm of making the formula and feeding Vikpenidie eight times a day. Monday and Tuesday she refused to stay. By the middle of the week, she still refused, but has promised - and kept her promise - to come every day to stay and learn how to prepare the special formula her baby needs. She came and learned and fed him, many times a day! She wants to see her baby survive. She wants him to grow strong. It will take time for Vikpenidie to gain weight, to be a healthy baby. But, with God, all things are possible! Rashid is a good nutritionist. He will do his best to make sure Yaa leaves with all the information she needs.
Please, pray for this small child to survive, and, not only survive, but live a life that will reflect the Father's joy, grace, love and mercy. And pray that when he is strong and older, he will glorify God because he has survived!