July 19, 2010

Africa, Day 2


Peace.  Serenity.  Relaxation.  Comfort.

It's only my second day but I feel like I know what life in Ghana is.  The clocks here are merely a suggestion, an estimate of time that passes.  It is impossible to not relax here.  This home is so comforting.  Safe.  Calm.  People come and go as they please.  Relaxing on the couch.  Stretching out on the floor.  I could stand at the window forever.  Feeling the cool breeze come in off the ocean.  Watching the waves spray the boulders that line the beach.  Hearing God's whisper in the pounding of the waves: "Peace.  Rest.  Peace.  Peace."
I am overwhelmed with the peace that fills this place.  My entire body feels relaxed and at ease.  My brain gets a much needed break.  I'm letting God take over  I am in no rush.  I am on no agenda.  I am feeling a little guilty for feeling so relaxed on this mission trip, but even as I wrote that I heard God say, "That's why you're here.  To regain your sense of self.  To slow down & be more sensitive to Me."
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The three of us sat together and prayed and worshiped for a while.  It was so peaceful and I could really feel God's presence washing over us.
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The feeding at The Father's House was today.  Because the Tegbi region is so poor, many children come to receive a hot meal.  They also get taught a Bible lesson each Saturday.  
The kids come a few at a time and play soccer or just sit around.  
 When the time came to get ready for the teaching a bunch of the boys jump right in and start moving the benches outside.  They know exactly how to arrange them and they all work together to get it set up.
More and more kids start trickling in, and before we know it we are surrounded by a sea of children.
All at once they head toward the benches.  Without being told, they sit quietly and wait for the lesson to start.  We see a little boy with nothing on but underwear, so we pull him aside.  We have brought clothes from home to clothe children we see in need so Jeremiah goes to get some shorts and a shirt.  The joy that fills up the little boy is evident and it warms my heart.

The praise & worship begins and the children are excited and sing and clap along.  It is so beautiful to listen to, even though I don't understand a word they're saying.  It's heartwarming to see the kids worshiping and having fun.  Doche teaches the lesson outside to the children and adults that are mostly there for the feeding, or that are unable to sit still for a more formal lesson.

Jeremiah takes a group in the building.  This group is eager to learn about the Bible and build on their knowledge of God.
All together, we feed and teach more than 240 children and adults today.  The children were very eager to get their hot meal - boiled beans with palm oil and some ground-up casava root on top.  

It broke my heart when I saw many of them scooping most of their portion into small, black and clear plastic bags, looking around nervously to see who was watching them.  This is a special meal, full of flavor and protein that they want to savor.
When they finish they either take their bowl & spoon to the wash buckets or they washed it themselves before scurrying off to play.  Others wait silently at the kitchen door, seeing if there was enough for them to have more.  
Many of the children that come appear to be under 9 years old.  I see maybe 1/2 a dozen of the young girls carrying babies around.  Feeding them.  Caring for them the way a mother would.

I was surprised, at the end of the feeding, at how little I felt like I did.  I passed out some food, hugged on some of the girls, but other than that we just hung around and played.  I did take a lot of photos.  I feel like God's telling me that is part of my role - to spread the word about these kids with my images.  So much can be done here, it can become overwhelming to think about it all.  But when I see the joy & smile on Doji's face when he plays with Jake , I know we're making an impact.  When the kids light up and giggle when they see themselves on my camera, I know we've brought them joy.
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I love the flow here.  I love the way Jeremiah & Jake can just pick up their guitars & we sing.  I usually.. okay, almost never sing in front of others - at least not loud enough for them to hear me - but it's different here.  There's no pressure to be 'good'.  We're just doing it for fun & to worship God.  Spontaneous worship.  I am absolutely loving it.