Friday, April 19, 2013

Happy Anniversary

Tomorrow Gary and I celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary.
It's been a blessing to spend these past years with this wonderful man.
He is godly, kind, good natured, and loves to laugh.  And there is never a dull moment!
Not every woman gets to go to exotic places like Ghana for her anniversary.
We have spent a lot of anniversaries traveling, but this is the first time we've attended a Pastors' Conference to celebrate our special day.

Today we shared the joy of about 32 students graduating from the Bible Training Center.  They have been away from their homes and families for almost a year and their excitement was contagious.
Then we jumped in the car and drove for almost 6 hours to get to the Volta region for the Conference that begins tomorrow and a church service Sunday.

The photo shown here was taken at El Cholo, a famous Mexican restaurant in LA.  Gary used to go there in his days at USC.  We have stopped there several times.  It's worth arranging our driving schedule to happen by there at lunch or dinner.  Not always an easy logistical maneuver, but worth the extra planning.

Why a photo from last year? Because today we were to busy to take one and by this evening I didn't want to be reminded of how I looked after the drive.  But this shot was taken while on vacation.  We're relaxed and enjoying ourselves, which is not uncommon in our lives.

It makes me think of the old hymn, Day by Day.  There is a line that says ,
He whose love is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best.
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

So this year our anniversary will be more toil than rest, but there is still great peace in it.
We'll be in a hot African church, not on the Beach or Golf course.
But I'll be with the man God gave me 28 years ago and we'll be right in the middle of God's will for our lives.
What more could a girl want?


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Wisdom of Road Signs

I made this my prayer on our recent trip to the Cape Coast area and two evening meetings for a Women's Conference.

Those who travel the roads and highways of Ghana either have a genuine faith in Christ or a persistent denial of their own potential mortality.


Like a kid in the candy store I'm on an iPhoto Sugar High:)

I have no housework or shopping to do.  
We don't go to Movies, or watch TV, so I have discovered all the effects buttons in iPhoto.
I made these images from the photos of the little sayings on cars, trucks, and Roadside businesses.  

Our first stop was Accra and there we had a Saturday Seminar for former students who are now pastoring churches or ministering as evangelists. 
I met about 7 people who minister at the Liberian Refugee Camp.  It doesn't officially exist any longer, but of course that's just on paper.  The people are still there because they have nothing to return to in Liberia.  They are in a political No Man's Land.  People without home or country and not much hope.  

The next time you drive up to your home, please pray for those here and around the world who have no home, no key to a door, no place of belonging.  Many have received Christ, but the extreme hardships of their everyday lives are a tool the enemy uses to discourage them in the infancy of their faith.

Gary and I stayed that night with our good friends Mike and Rose.  
A warm welcome, more food than we can eat, and an air-conditioned room always await us as guests in their home.  They also provide us with a car and their prayers for safety and fruitful labors.  They practice New Testament hospitality and Mike has helped Gary throughout the years in matters both practical and spiritual.

Sunday we drove to Winneba where Gary taught the Sunday 
service and afterwards I spoke to the women while he shared with the men,

We made our way along the coast toward Takoradi.

The coconut palms sway in the warm breeze and boats quietly rest along the sandy beach.  Fishing is a big part of the local economy and it makes for a vibrant Fish Market in Elmina.

It all happens under the whitewashed walls of the 'Slave Castle' built originally by the Portuguese, conquered by the Dutch, and finally used by the British during the colonial era.

It is the 'Auschwitz' of the dark period of slave trading from these shores.

The men do the fishing, but the women run the Fish Market.  
The sound and the smell exceed my descriptive powers!  
It is chaotic, crowded, fascinating, revolting, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
I've been to the Fish Market in Boston, San Francisco, and even in New York City, but none of the boats had Bible names or verses painted on them and they have a lot more ice which I think keeps the aromas in check.

I found this visual reminder that even when things are upside down 
God is King and I can say, Thank U Jesus

In Takoradi we met Pastor Dele and his wife Fola.  
Their church is Horn of Salvation Community Church and they have been there 12 years.  
Our theme in these conferences is A Wise Woman and I am blessed at how open the women are to the word.  Like women the world over they sometimes struggle in their marriages and they are concerned about their children falling away.  The word is full of truth that builds our faith and I pray that these women will persevere in prayer and study.

We spent  our second night there at The Coconut Grove.  The pool is surrounded by groves of Coconut palms and the pounding surf.  The food was great and I said 

as I enjoyed 3 croissants with butter and jam at breakfast.

Have you ever heard of the Marathon des Sables?  
It's a 6 day race across the Sahara Desert.  
Getting home from Accra is a little like participating in that race.  
Parts of the roads are just large swathes of dirt deeply rutted by the huge trucks enormously overloaded with goods.

My husband has some experience racing and has MAD DRIVING SKILLS, but the rest of the pack is just crazy.

This is the highway portion and below is one of the 5 large dirt sections where the cars and trucks literally drive with no regard for oncoming traffic.  Their only concern is finding the smoothest section of road!

Mini pyramids of gravel and dirt lent a surreal feeling to the journey's end. 

Teaching repeatedly these last weeks about marriage and parenting has reminded me how important it is that as wives and mothers we each take the time to maintain our walk with Christ.  The stakes are high and a little neglect goes a long way toward eroding relationships and doing damage.  The opportunities of today will only come once with your children.  

Remember Deuteronomy 6 and the command to teach your children diligently, along with the advice about when and where to do it.
Have you begun to disciple your kids?  Are you teaching them the basic doctrines of the faith?
If not now, when?

Every wise woman builds her house.  
Strap on that tool belt & put up the Woman Working Sign.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Africa: Ancient Ways, Global Influences, and 'A WISE WOMAN'

I loved the juxtaposition of these two shops.  
Ancient Ways and the Cell Phone store dwelling side by side in perfect harmony when their roots are centuries apart.

We just completed our first Women's Conference here in Ghana in the city of Koforidua.
For all the differences in our lives and cultures, there are more things we women share in common than you might think.

Our theme was 'A Wise Woman' from Proverbs 14:1.
Every wise woman builds her house:  but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.  

Our topics included:

  • Cultivating a rich spiritual life through God's word and prayer
  • God's model for a wife in her marriage
  • Window of Opportunity:  Raising godly children
  • Getting ahead of God:  A Cautionary Tale from the life of Sarah
  • Lessons from 2 Women named Mary
  • And of course, The Proverbs 31 Woman

We committed ourselves afresh to putting 
GOD FIRST in our lives.

During our question and answer time it became apparent that some of the Ghanaian cultural traditions can work to undermine marriage.  Of course, Satan takes advantage of this in Christian marriage and it results in a foundational lack of oneness between a wife and her husband.


And His truth sets us free from cultural tradition, the lies of the enemy, and our own selfish inclinations.

Will you keep these women of Koforidua in your prayers?
Ask that the Lord work this truth into their lives and not let the enemy discourage them with the cost of discipleship or the time it may take to yield fruit.  

Some of the women at the  Koforidua Women's Conference

Teaching on marriage reminded me again how easy it is to slip into an 'each for his/her own' attitude.

At its core marriage is a UNION.  
It's more than a partnership.  
The WHOLE is vastly greater than the sum of its parts.

Do you know a couple that exemplify this?
Gary and I have friends that do and they are always uplifting company.

He is loving, appreciative, and willing to clear the dinner dishes.
She is loving, kindly generous in word and deed, and lets him know she thinks he's awesome in every way.

Want to know one of their secrets?

Jesus asked, "Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do the things I say?"
Our friends honor Jesus as Lord.  And they reap the benefits of a loving marriage that is a wonderful picture of Christ and his bride, the Church.

I remember years ago reading Nancy Missler's book, Why Should I Be the First to Change?

That question came up several times among the women at the Conference.

It reminds me of what I used to say when my sister and I were facing discipline after some squabble:  Do Carrie first!

I wanted her to receive correction first.
My motive was that if my Dad spanked her first, her sad tear-stained face would lessen his earnestness and soften my spanking.

In marriage we want God to work on our partner first.  
After all, they must be far more in need of it than we ourselves.

Who is most at fault is always the wrong question.

The Holy Spirit talks to me about my own sin.
Satan talks to me about my husband's sin.

Consider the source takes on a whole new meaning doesn't it?

Does your marriage need a little maintenance?
Are you in need of repairs?

You might have to get out the maintenance manual and go through the checklist.

Remember to:

I'll end on the same note where I began.  
Here's the sign just inside the church where we held the Conference.

It takes us back to Calvary where our redemption was purchased, 
then reminds us to turn off our cell phones:)

Just for fun here at two more classic shots.  
No great blazing colorful sky, no exotic wildlife, but just the oh so out of place and context signs and business names that I have come to love here in Ghana.

Shots I missed:
The Kingdom and the Power Fast Stop

Remember the Christian women of Koforidua in your prayers.

That God's word would bear fruit in their lives and bring them joy and peace.
That the Lord would open the eyes and hearts of unbelieving husbands to bring them to salvation and maturity in Christ.
Wisdom for these women as they impart the truth to their children.  Pray for a new generation of believers who are strong in the word of God from their youth and dedicated to being 'workmen of God who can rightly handle the word of truth'.
Make these women like Dorcas who ministered to others.
Increase their love and knit their hearts one to another in prayer and fellowship.
Inspire them to reach out in their neighborhoods and with their extended families to share the good news.
May God do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think in them and in us.

Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
. . .a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.
. . .Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.
Proverbs 31:11-12, 30-31 NLT

In His great love,

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Jesus Never Fails

 This morning we left very early to drive to Kumasi to meet with Pastors and former graduates of the Training Center.  Kumasi has a population of about 2 million and I think they were all on the road today.  

The very heart of the city is a vibrant daily market called Kejetia. It is the largest open air market in West Africa.  At one time this city was the capital of the rich and powerful Ashanti kingdom.  

Almost half of the residents are Muslims.  Some of the pastors are having real success with evangelism and told us the converts are drawn to the grace, love, and hope found in Jesus Christ.

Slogan's abound on cars and the small roadside shacks that function as mini-marts and tiny Fast Food counters.
Two of today's favorites were so blocked by traffic I couldn't get a photo, but the first was a mini-mart called "Every Day is a Gift from God" and the second was "God the Redeemer and King Fast Food Bar"

 Awesome, right? 

So here are a few more for your consideration: 

Just threw that in to see if you were paying attention!
I got really bored on the 3 hour drive there this AM and snapping photos helped pass the time.  This one won't make the permanent album, so right now is your only opportunity to see it :)

But the one at the top of this post is my favorite.   Jesus never fails.

Today in Kumasi we were surrounded by masses of people who need to know Jesus.  

They need everything he came to give.  
Forgiveness of sins, and a new life in Him, access to God, and the indwelling Holy Spirit, a life purpose worth pursuing, and the grace, peace, and love of God for this present life along with the sure and certain hope of of the resurrection to eternal life.
They need wisdom for their trials and contentment in their circumstances. 
They need answers to their prayers and provision for their daily bread.
They need instruction in sound doctrine and faithful shepherds to guide the way.
They need a loving church family and the chance to grow to maturity in Jesus.

They need Jesus.  

Jesus never fails.

Our lives can be like that big old bus.  
On full tilt and ready to fall over from the load, but Jesus never fails.

If you're in a great place then please use your "extra prayer time" to pray for the pastor's and congregations in Kumasi.  
Ask that they have wisdom in the ministry and fruitful labor in the gospel.  Ask that the people grow in their walk with God.

If you feel like that bus is a picture of your life, then remember to cast your burden upon Him, because He cares for you.

Remind yourself of Psalm 91:1-2 & 15-16
He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress:  my God; in Him will I trust.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him:  I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him, and honor him.  
With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation.

Jesus Never Fails

Pray for Kumasi,


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Breaking Up Fallow Ground

Yesterday I noticed a young man working to clear the ground near this ant hill.  This evening I saw him again and asked if he was planning on growing vegetables.  When he said yes I asked why he choose to do it so near the ant hill.  He said he thinks this might be very fertile ground because of the ant hill.

The whole episode reminded me of the exhortation in Hosea 10:12 to "break up your fallow ground".  I wondered just how much real estate in my life is currently fallow.

I'm usually inept at accurate self evaluation, but I know the Lord can see the landscape of my life with clarity and He is an expert in cultivation and fruitfulness.

So here in Pepease, where I am removed from my 'normal' life, I'm taking the opportunity to ask God for a frank evaluation and recommendation.  

As I write this I can hear the students singing what has become my favorite new worship song.  The chorus is "do something new in my life, something new in my life O Lord.  

I'm ready for something new.
How about you?

Yesterday we took photos of the students with us on the Ebenezer Stone just behind the Training Center.  Many of them will finish their second session in just a few weeks and return to their homes and villages to put into practice what they have learned here.

I have a whole new group of girl friends too.  They affectionately call me Mommy, but after Bible study we talk about clothes, hair, children (with the ones who are mothers) and boys (with the ones who are single).  So, other than going for Starbuck's and pedicures it's pretty much just like at home.  They have big plans to teach me how to tie up my hair in a scarf and just forget the whole hair styling ritual. They say it's that or corn rows.

This is an African Oreo.  
Gary and I invented it this evening 
after dinner.

I remembered the McVites Rich Tea 'biscuits' from our first trip here.  
Gary goes to sleep before most toddlers, and I read and eat a few of these little yummy biscuits with my decaf Earl Grey tea
which I brought from home.
The secret is the little super sweet bananas.


A young girl who boarded with us at Heathrow (London) had this bag, but I could never get a clear shot of it.  As we got off the shuttle and entered the terminal in Accra, she was in the diplomatic passport line right next to our line.  I knew I'd never get another chance outside the airport, so I snapped it as she paused to stash her passport in her backpack.

Now I know how the Paparazzi feel when they finally
 get a shot they've been stalking all day!

Tomorrow we'll teach here at the Training Center in the morning and then go on to the Academy for a session with the whole school.  

You can't imagine how delightful it is to hear the kids worship.  They have several drummers and 3 or 4 students who lead the songs.  I'm sorry to report that the clapping makes me feel inadequate.  One little girl kept trying to help me, but she got the giggles and finally gave up.  
In my defense, we never had drums or lessons in rhythmic clapping in primary school.
I think Anderson Union Elementary School had their priorities all wrong.

You should come here.  
Seriously, you should come.  
You gotta see this thing God is doing here.


Monday, April 1, 2013

The Joy of Salvation

Do you see the joy on these faces?  
This photo comes from Rich Chaffin or Jim Gallagher (sorry I don't know who took it).  It was taken on an Outreach to the northern region of Ghana.  The JPG caption reads, "Ladies Who Got Saved".

One thing I do know:  they were not the only ones filled with joy that day.
Rich, Jim, and the team were rejoicing and the angels in heaven as well.

Do you remember the joy of your early moments and days of salvation?  
Africa can be a difficult place to live.  Many African nations experience almost constant civil war and violence.  Other regions have limited resources and the people suffer hunger and illness.

For women and children the challenges are multiplied.  Cultural traditions leave them vulnerable to abuse and unprotected by law.
Our friends in Ghana report that things are rapidly changing for the better here.  
My hope and prayer is that God will continue to work salvation and the resulting righteousness that follows in this nation and the neighboring countries.  Civil freedoms, capable government, and economic development may bring greater stability and safety, but they can't compare with the joy of salvation, the peace it engenders, or the hope that it promises.

I'm thankful for the many freedoms and protections I have as an American, but I am exceedingly grateful that my citizenship is in heaven, from whence I await my Savior.
I'm also thankful that these women and children will be there as well!

Spoiled American woman that I am, I was wondering if there might be anyplace nearby to get a pedicure. 
We drove through Pepeasi on Easter Sunday afternoon (HE IS RISEN!) an came upon this.
Gary suggested Corn Roll to help me cope with the humidity's success at undermining my coiffure.
Here is the Village Chief.  
His house was the center of a lot of activity over the 4 day holiday.  
Literally everybody and their chickens were there.
 I must confess, I covet his umbrella.  Both of them!
And here are our neighbors.  
They came over in the afternoon for a bite to eat.
In the interest of fairness I am 
posting a picture of a morning sky.  
The evening sky has already
 been featured in a previous post. 
This week we will each teach a morning session here at the Training Center and then share with the staff and students at the Calvary Chapel Academy in Pepeasi.
Saturday we travel to Kumasi for Gary to teach and next week I will conduct a 3 day Women's Seminar in Koforidua. 

Please remember Ghana in your prayers.  Pastor Donne tells us there are not many Bible teaching churches, but many hungry hearts who gladly receive the message of salvation with joy.

Peace & grace to you from Ghana,