Sunday, April 19, 2015

Blessings Abound--Travel Day and Ghana Day 1

It's been a few years since I religiously journaled during my trips to Ghana.  I assume this trip might be the same, and yet I definitely want to at least start off right by writing about the many good things the Lord has done in the last few days.

For me, there is always a sense that I won't finish packing in time.  It starts about two weeks before I leave and continues until my bags are checked!  This trip was no exception, as we had ten checked bags plus 4 carry-ons to pack.  In addition, we were packing our four children for 2 weeks away.  Yikes!  So I'm a stress-ball 10 days out.  At the same time my husband is (literally) whistling a tune with no worries with less than a week to go. =-) 

In the end, we packed about 650 pounds of donations--primarily books for schools, toothbrushes and toothpaste for school children/orphans/sponsor children, and shoes/clothing for kids in need.  Praise GOD!!  That goes to show what His children can do in just a short amount of time.  We were so blessed with individuals and organizations that gave generously!

As we drove to the airport I prayed over our trip a loud.  Thanks to (again) His generous children I had no worry about the extra baggage cost.  Friends gave $800 of the $950 we expected to pay!!  I prayed that there would be no issue in getting all of these bags onto the plane; that there would be ROOM for this luggage.  I said, "Lord, we don't even ask that you make these fees go away because that is simply more than we could ever hope for.  We only pray that these bags get on the plane."

But friends!  Friends!  God is God.  And He is SO GOOD and SO POWERFUL that He not only covered most of the fees through you....and got those bags on the plane (minus one small handful of books)... but He also provided us with a gate agent that, for whatever reason, only charged us ONE $200 extra bag fee!  One!  And he apologized about having to do that (the system wouldn't allow him to waive another bag)!  THAT is how big our God is! 

The trip over could have been difficult.  We were sandwiched between two babies that could have cried the entire flight.  But no.  Not a peep from either one for 10.5 hours.  The people in front of us didn't even recline their chairs!  The Lord surely gave a bit of traveling mercy to Eric on his first long flight in a very long time (poor guy, sandwiched between two fat ladies the whole time)!  As we rode, at one point I was laying my head on him and it occurred to me that I was living my dream at that moment.  I've made the trip to Ghana well over 20 times.  And it never fails that as I sit alone on the plane I see a loving couple holding hands, or laying their heads on each other.  I always day dream of being that woman that has her husband next to her on the flight. On the way over, I was finally that woman!  Finally, he is here with me.  He can know this place in my heart that is reserved for Ghana.  And I can lay my head on him, my rock.

For the first time ever (for me) we landed in Accra during the day.  This doesn't seem significant but it is, because getting Eric, who has very low vision at nighttime, off of the plane and onto the bus then into the airport in the dark would have been very scary and stressful.  Instead, bright morning air greeted us and we were off on the first bus.  God knew--I didn't ever think to consider that, but He knew!

Our hotel is new to us, in a new to us location.  That's always a bit scary and off-putting at first.  The location is a bit off the beaten path, a far cry from the busy convenience of my normal hotel.  The facilities look a bit run down at first.  And yet, the people are very kind.  It's very quiet here (no blaring horns all night, and no loud music).  We are exceedingly close to Maranatha Power Ministries Church (Bishop Patrick Odai), that our church partners with for missions.  In fact, the manager of this hotel is related to Bishop Odai!  What the room lacks in fanciness, it more than gains back in intangibles that I was absolutely giddy about earlier this afternoon!  Here is a list:

  • There is a strong overhead light!  Good lighting in Ghana hotel rooms is hard to come by.  Any coincidence that when I have Eric with me, who NEEDS good lighting, we have a hotel that actually has light bulbs in lights?!  Overhead bright light; a lamp (that works!), TWO lights in the bathroom.  Lights!
  • A coat rack.  So super excited that I can hang wet things or a jacket or whatever on this little rack.  There are also towel hooks, and other hooks throughout the room and bathroom.  So rare here!
  • Our wardrobe isn't just a wooden box.  It has drawers!  I can actually put away clothes if I want to!
  • HANGERS.  Can I say it again?  HANGERS!  Oh yes friends.  When I do my laundry, I can hang it on hangers to dry....on my coat rack!  Are you jealous yet?  Ha!  Oh wow, I am giddy about the hangers!
  • The toilet flushes!  Like, it really flushes. 
  • Water Pressure!  So I am used to taking either bucket bathes in Ghana, or having a shower that is seriously not more than a trickle.  We actually had to only have the water on partially in this shower because the pressure is THAT strong!
  • H.O.T.  W.A.T.E.R.  Oh yes my friends.  We are living high on the hog here at Marinette Hotel in Nungua!  I don't see any hot water tank.  There is nothing to turn on 20 minutes before we get in the shower.  And yet, as I started my cold shower I felt this tinge of warm.  Just for giggles I turned the adjustor to see what would happen.  What happen was I almost scalded myself!  This is HOT water.  Do you KNOW how this transforms life here?  I could actually take a morning shower if I wanted to (rather than only night, when I'm hot and sweaty and can handle a cold shower better).  We can leave the bathroom door open and allow it to be air conditioned with the rest of the room (rather than keeping it hot and muggy to make cold showers more endurable).  Wow. 
I don't know of another hotel with these intangibles for only 85 cedis a night (around $25).  The Lord gives, and gives, and gives.

We did eventually leave the safe and cool confines of our hotel to visit my brother, Daddy Paul and his wife Lawrencia.  It's always so wonderful to sit with them and talk.  For me, this is coming to my second home.  I can't imagine what it might be for Eric at this point.  He's got a bit of time to figure it out! 

So now it's 5:18 in the morning and I should be sleeping.  We covet your prayers for the rest of this trip.  Specifically:
  • Eric's health!  It's a challenge being Type I Diabetic with low vision in the U.S..  It is a big hurdle here!  Finding his supplies when he needs them....knowing when to take food or when to take insulin when your body feels hot and tired all the time...navigating uneven roads, dark hallways, SUPER dark night times and restaurants...and that was just his first day!  [Did I mention he is my hero?]
  • Time Management.  There is more to do and more people to see than our time allows.  Difficult decisions will have to be made that will leave someone feeling less important or less loved.  Please pray for forgiveness and understanding between all parties when that happens.
  • Transportation:  Traveling to Bolga (12-14 hours) with friends is a long drive on roads that can be difficult.  But even the seemingly small stuff like finding a taxi can feel big when it's in front of you!
  • Communication:  This always seems to be the thorn in my side in Ghana.  We are blessed with WIFI at this hotel, so I can actually communicate when we are at our room.  But so far, despite my best laid plans, no way to call home.  Please pray that we get the kinks worked out so that our family can call us and we can call friends and family when we need.
God is good ALL the time!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Apologies to Commentors!

I think an apology is in order for some of you who have commented over the past few years and may not have seen your comment be posted on my blog.  I apologize for that!  I just went to approve a comment today and saw that there were a few dozen comments going back a few years, that were never approved by me.  Mama D's Dozen, you get a personal apology!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Full Time Life

Seems like I start every blog post by mentioning how I never blog anymore, so I'll save us the time and not talk about it.  It is what it is.  =-)
A few days ago I was having an incredibly difficult time with life, and posted a sulky few sentences on facebook.  This incited lots of beautifully kind messages from my beautifully kind friends, along with recommendations for books and other readings.  My friends said to me exactly the kinds of things I would say to them in their moments of weakness.  To read the comments left on that post, you'd think that I had led a life similar to Mother Teresa!  And how could that not make me feel better?  It did.  The thing is, it those words didn't fix the problems I'm dealing with.
Writing is cheaper than therapy, so you're invited to my therapy session...


Ball #1:  Being a wife to my husband and a mom to four beautiful children is a full time job.  So over-said.  And so true.  Quality time with each child; and the husband.  Cooking.  Cleaning.  Taking hubby to/from work.  Taking kids to/from everything.  Shopping for groceries and toiletries--doing forget to make them the cheapest available AND organic (not)! Home maintenance.  Haircuts.  Making sure nobody stinks.  Laundry (which should be a 4-letter word)!  The list goes on and on.  It never ends because when you get to the end of it you simply start at the beginning again.
Ball #2:  Homeschooling.  Homeschooling X 4.  Homeschooling special needs kids.  Homeschooling 4 on a budget of less than $200 per kid per year.  I know some moms have this homeschooling lots of children thing down pat, but I don't.  It was a lot easier when my littles where little; when my bigs were the only kids I really had to worry about.  Now I've got 4 kids in "real" grades, with real academic goals.  Three of four have real, verifiable academic differences that make their education much more complicated (at least for this mama).  And the budget.  Planning carefully for the next year takes up any "down time" the summer may otherwise promise.  Homeschooling.  Takes.  Time.
Ball #3:  The non-profit.  Sometimes I feel like I'd spend less time on this "job" if I were running a medium to large size non-profit rather than a small non-profit.  Then, I'm assuming, there would be a larger array of people on the team to call upon when there is a need within the organization.  And then, I assume, all positions may not actually be volunteer.  As it is, there are a very small number of very sweet volunteers that typically have full time jobs #1 and #2 above (or an actual traditional job!), and are therefore unable to always be there when a need arises.  The buck stops with me.  There is no limit to the number of hours I could spend on Eban Project each day.  When jobs #1 or #2 might otherwise be "light" on occasion, the time is quickly gulped up by the work the Lord has put in front of me in Ghana.
The 4th Ball:  It's this extra job that put me over the edge the other day.  Finances were too tight.  Something had to be done.  So Eric and I decided that we should both look for other ways we could contribute to the household income.  I could see the reason in this decision, and was in favor of this decision.  Then, I began to feel the crushing pressure in my chest!  As I delved more deeply into what would be required for me to build an online presence in order to do some freelance writing work, I realized it would be another fulltime job just preparing to hopefully add another fulltime job!  C.R.U.S.H.I.N.G.  P.R.E.S.S.U.R.E. 
The thing is, I love all of my jobs.  Well, parts of them anyway!  Each of them is fulfilling to me, in a different way.  After a day of being the best mom and wife I can be, I feel so very contented inside.  "This is what you've always wanted to do Anita.  And God has allowed you to do it."  After a day where we've rocked out our homeschooling goals, I feel accomplished.  "You have done right by your children today Anita.  Your sacrifice has allowed them to receive an education they wouldn't have received in the public school system."  After a day working on Eban Project stuff, I feel whole.  My calling to be an international missionary has been somehow fulfilled (albeit untraditionally).  I can feel the Lord's blessing, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  In ALL of these things, my goal is to faithfully serve those that the Lord has put in front of me to serve.  That makes it all the more painful when it becomes impossible to accomplish all of these things.
Maybe I am the odd duck.  Maybe most other moms really can be a mom/wife fulltime and add homeschooling, volunteering, and other things as well without any of it suffering.  But I'm not other moms.  I've carried so much guilt throughout the years when people have said, "How do you do it all?" and inside I'm thinking, "I don't.  I can't.  Something is always going undone."
I can survive.  I have learned to juggle life's duties so that most of the time nothing falls to the ground. Nothing totally falls, but I'm always on the edge of chaos.  I think this must be why the prospect of adding another thing (the side work) caused me to breakdown.  It would be adding another ball.  Juggling three balls is different from juggling four balls.  And really, I so love the idea of not juggling at all.  Is that even possible?