Friday January 14
We had a fabulous time in Ghana further developing Kairos 10. We arrived on Friday, January 14 and immediately went bead shopping. We were met by Michael, an immigration officer that escorted us from the plane to Junior and Ruth who were waiting for us with Samuel our driver. Thank you Pastor Odai, Michael, and Samuel for taking such good care of us. We found a new supplier in the Accra region, Tet's Beads. His quality was great and he had some wonderful beads. Patience directed us to Tet who will be very important to our work there and much more convenient and less cost for transportation! He will also make beads to order. This already has me thinking of future projects and color combinations. His shop was small, but the quality was wonderful! David tried to get video of the "factory" It is outside with molds and a small kiln, which reminds me of a pizza oven on the ground. Tet had some crosses, which were still in the molds and not ready for purchase. After our selection, we made arrangements for Patience to return toward the end of the week to pick up some crosses and a couple of special beads we ordered. The girls, Yayo, Vincentia, Gifty, and Believe under P1's (Paula) supervision began making bracelets back at the guest house. Everyone was excited to see us when we arrived. All hugs and smiles. This work continued until the wee hours of the next morning. I think I made it to bed about 2:00 in the morning. It was fun getting to be with the girls again. My new member of the beading team is Gifty. She seems very shy but I think she has talent. She tries to make a living by giving manicures on the streets of Accra. I would think this is difficult since this area is so impoverished. It will be interesting to see how she works with the other team members.
Saturday January 15
We then went on to Cedi Beads and made some purchases there and saw how the beads are made, very educational and VERY time consuming! We went on from there to Teyi where we fed over 500 children and distributed 200 nets for the village. David was not feeling up to par as he was suffering from nausea so picture an image of a 6'-4" rag doll bouncing around in the front seat of the van and you'll get the visual. Still he was able to video the days events. There was a tent set up and the food prepared for the children. They each received chicken and rice and a popsicle to eat. Charlie was asked to speak and Phyllis prayed for the village and blessed the food and the people.
We want to extend a special "Thank you" to Pryor, OK and the Village Shop for selling enough bracelets to send these 200 nets to this village in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Every pregnant woman who came from this village was given a mosquito net. Children under 5 years of age, pregnant women and the elderly are at the highest risk for death due to Malaria. More update tomorrow. Thanks for all your prayers and support. Many people have been blessed and lives saved as a result of your dedication and faithfulness.
Sunday January 16
Sorry about the delay in posting. So many things going on. So Sunday we went to church and both Charlie and David preached at the services. Charlie, Katheryn, Phyllis and David all taught Sunday school as well. I taught a group of 30 year old men and women and the focus of the teaching was James 1:2-6. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt...." When I (Phyllis) was preparing a message, I struggled with what to share. My life is so different than my friends in Ghana. So many, live from day to day not knowing how they are going to feed their family tomorrow. They pray for a job to earn money to give their children the opportunity to go to school so they may have a brighter future. When a family member or friend becomes sick, they depend on divine healing, there is no money for a visit to the hospital or medicine. I decided that the message that I wanted to share with them was the development of Kairos 10 and how we are stepping out together in faith. During the last few months, there is no doubt that God has blessed this ministry, but like every new business there have been a few rough spots, long work days, and frustration that has also gone along with the blessings. As I shared how I have personally struggled with some of these, I saw the class open up and start shaking their heads in agreement. I also saw hope in their eyes. A hope that comes from seeing God bless a ministry and the people it serves. I shared the message that God gives each of us an opportunity to serve, it may be helping a neighbor next door or a Christian brother and sister in another country. The blessing comes when we step out in faith and follow the Lord's call. To tell you the truth, I think this was the message that I needed to hear. It blessed me by encouraging me to continue the work with Kairos 10 and continue to persevere and follow God's leading. At the end of the lesson, I challenged each of them to search and find the ministry that God is asking them to do. After the class finished, some of the class attendants had several questions. One young lady was in her last year of college. She was completing a degree in business with a focus in banking. We had a nice chat and she expressed a desire to use her talents to help others with business development and banking. This is such an important need in a third world country. I pray that she will continue to hear God's call and better her community.
My girls had gathered together several things that they thought she might like. Jasmine was very excited to see her gifts. She threw the back pack over her shoulders and wouldn't take it off. This time I had a chance to meet Jasmine's mother, Angela, her older brother is Greg-Promise Newman. They were a nice family. I did not meet her mother last time because she was working. She seemed very dedicated to her family and had well behaved children. Jasmine is now my little buddy, I wish each of you could see her in person. She is even more beautiful than her pictures and so full of life! After church, we went back to the Shiloh House and focused on production. This also allowed David time to rest and start to recover and none of the bead shops were open to continue buying beads. We continued the work until 1:30 am the following morning. I want you to know that when the girls are given a large quanity of bracelets to make, they are very dedicated about getting it done. They are all very hard workers and Gifty was fitting right in. She is a cute, tiny little girl with a big smile. I like her.
Monday January 17
I had scheduled a trip to Kumasi for today but after re-evaluating the schedule we decided to stay in Accra and buy some of the beads we needed there. I was really looking forward to going to Kumasi. It is more in the central part of Ghana and the city is very different. The Kumasi area in very famous for Kente cloth, gold, and old African trading beads. Last time I was there, I bought some beautiful antique beads. I was looking forward to sharing this experience with David, Katheryn and Charlie, but it will have to be another time.
We got up early Monday morning and went to the Accra Shopping Center to buy beads. ( I must say there are perks to this ministry project........ I get to shop a lot!!) Patience was beginning to feel better after starting her medication for malaria and Yayo began feeling bad due to having malaria. Kairos 10 was experiencing first hand the effect malaria has on a business. It just so happens that these two ladies are my most efficient beaders. Malaria makes people feel very lethargic. Both ladies had a low grade fever, cold sweats off and on through out the day and no appeitite. It's like trying to work when you have the flu. This is another issue when addressing poverty issues in Ghana. When you can't keep the workforce healthy it severely impacts production. With high unemployment in the country people are thankful to even have a job. It is my experience, that the women will work as hard as they can to keep their jobs. For Patience and Yayo, Kairos 10 was able to provide medicine for their malaria and nets for their workers. So many in Ghana go without treatment and function the best they can.
Today we had to address the gift bag issue. We went to a local shop and Charlie was on the hunt for fabric (keep in mind that Charlie is red-green color-blind!!!) but he was intently seeking the right fabric. When we stopped, in order to get to the shop, we had to step over the sewage troughs that parallel the road on each side. Crossing over on old boards and hoping that they don't give way. Kairos has a new seamstress, Cecilia. Cecilia and Katheryn both assisted Charlie with the fabric selection. They got some great fabric and Cecilia was off to start production. We have had so many people comment that the African gift bag adds a nice touch to the gift. I am glad we have the ability to offer it. It provides more jobs to women in Ghana and smiles on the faces of many American men who do not have to worry about gift wrapping a gift for their wives, haha.
After our fabric purchase we set off to the center of Accra at the "shopping center". We parked in the lot that was jammed with a hundred cars, all in the size of a lot that would normally park 50 cars in the U.S. Surprisingly, none were on top of each other! We then made our way to the shopping. Along the parking lot and in the market, we saw the young girls Patience had told us about. These are young girls ages 10-15 that come into Accra from the bush villages looking for a better life but find that they cannot support themselves and turn to prostitution or become victims of sex-trafficking to survive. Patience has a heart for these girls and hopes that through her involvement with Kairos 10, she will be able to reach out to these girls and teach them a skill making jewelry and share the love of Christ and minister to them to get them off the street and become self-supporting. Isn't that a beautiful vision? I would ask that everyone following the Kairos story would support us in prayer. We are not sure what the long term plans for Kairos 10 looks like, but we want to be open to the directions that God takes us.
Once in the shopping center, we stopped at Adom Precious Beads and Cynthia helped us with the crystal beads we needed. The "shopping center" is not what you might envision. It is a collection of buildings and alleys and walkways of hundreds of vendors of virtually anything you might want. Patience took us through these winding alleys and upstairs into dark outdoor hallways and balconies to find the beads we were looking for. Thank God she was with us because we may have never found our way out of that place!!!! Katheryn, Phyllis and Patience began looking through strings and baskets of beads to find the right ones. They found the Ashanti striped beads at Auntie Lizzie's beads. We bought every string they had. (a new bracelet model was fashioned with these beads...... to be announced later) On the way out, we found the clay beads from the north that are so hard to find. I was excited to get these because I had never seen them in Accra before. I could only get them in Kumasi, God provided. We then were on the hunt for the string used in the making of the bags for the bracelets. There is no concept of Wal-Mart in Accra. If you want electrical, you go to the area where the electrical vendors are, plumbing? the plumbing area. We went to the cord and string area. Thank goodness we found the string. One thing I noticed when working my way through the shopping maze, was that the women were carrying everything. Men would walk in front of a woman with nothing in their hands, while women were carrying plates or stacks of boxes on their heads with their arms full of sacks and a child strapped to her back. Patience commented when she saw how kind David and Charlie were, who not only paid for our purchases but carried most of them for us. I didn't tell her how many hours Katheryn and I had spent training them.... just kidding. We are very thankful for our wonderful husbands who are not only thoughtful godly men, but also share our vision for the Kairos 10 ministry. We then made our way back to the van. Once we found our driver, Samuel, we loaded up in the van but because it was surrounded by other cars, it was not clear how we would get out of the parking lot exit on the opposite side of the lot!!! Thankfully, we had Samuel who's usual occupation is transportation. In what I consider a miraculous feat, Samuel drove us out of that lot, BACKWARDS, with a little assistance from the lot manager. Needless to say, I was immensely impressed.
We then went to the Accra Market to find purses with the flour sack lining and beads. We were specifically looking for the purple and white Lauren beads but there were none to be found. David ran across a couple of old friends from our previous trips.
On our first trip to this market in 2008, me met 2 young men in wheelchairs selling their wares. One is named Abu and the other Abraham. I have seen them each time we have visited the market on past trips. We greeted each other and they insisted on helping us with what we needed to find. Before long, we had all the bags we needed and found some beads as well. Abu told Phyllis and Katheryn that the U.S. provided funding for their housing across the street and these men built a school for the disabled in the back of the market where these men teach their skill so others who are disabled would not have to be dependent upon charity and be able to earn their living. He commented that though they were handicapped and could not move as fast as the other healthy young men and women working in the market, God provided enough business for them each day to provide for their needs. As we said our goodbyes, as we always have, we prayed for Abu and Abraham and for the blessing they are in our lives and for God to continue to go before them and bless their lives.
We then drove back to the Shiloh House to work with the beaders and towards our goal of 500 bracelets.
We were having medical mission the following day in Noka at the Medical Clinic built by Peniel/Trinity Church in Brentwood, England this past summer and worked organizing medications and supplies for the following day. We were going to get to bed by midnight and we told the beaders to go home and to come back in the morning but only Believe went home to see her children. The others stayed and had been up until 1:30 or 2:00 am working each night so we thought this would give them a break. Much to our surprise no one wanted to leave so they spent the night. Not only was it much more convenient for them to stay but it was nice treat for them to stay at the Shiloh Guest House. During this time we could see the camaraderie develop between the team members. We got to know each of them more personally and they shared some of their personal challenges and also some of their dreams for the future. We are immeasurably thankful for God's guidance to Pastor Odai in putting such a wonderful, hard-working, dedicated team together and blessing this ministry that He has so graciously called us to.
Tusday January 17
Tuesday, we left for Noka and the medical mission. We arrived about 9 am and no one had arrived at the clinic. This medical mission had not been announced previously like in the past because we initially had not anticipated doing medical mission on this trip. This did not stop the village residents from attending. Pastor Gibson made sure the villagers knew of the medical mission. We prepared the rooms in the clinic and organized the flow of patients. There were benches to sit outside on the porch, benches inside for waiting. Phyllis set up the lab in one room, I examined patients in another and Katheryn established the pharmacy in yet another room and intake was in the main room of the clinic. Samuel, Pastor Gibson, Momma Valerie Odai all interpreted for us. Charlie helped with patient flow, handing out nets and prayed with the patients. Slowly the activity increased and soon there were patients waiting on the porch, in the waiting area and around the clinic. Working in the new clinic was wonderful! The patient flow was so much better, it was quiet enough that we could easily examine the patients and the distribution of medications and nets from the pharmacy was fabulous. Katheryn had a new pharmacy technician also, Pastor Gibson. He did a magnificent job!! We all had a wonderful experience there and served approximately 150 patients. About 80 mosquito nets were distributed. Each family with children received a mosquito net! We finally finished the clinic at about 4 pm.
After clinic, we went to Kwesi Tengteng where we met with Pastor Paul. Southern Hills Baptist Church Mission Trip in July 2010 was to this village and a water well was provided to this community and medical mission was conducted there then. Through this we have developed a relationship with these people and the villagers were pleased for us to return and happy to receive the nets to protect their famillies. Thanks to the water well, the chief of the village has now become a member of the Maranatha church in Kwesi Tengteng and we were able to go from house to house distributing the nets to each house in the village. We pray this Christian leadership locally will continue to shine the light of Jesus in this community to further eradicate voodoo that is still practiced by some in the area.
This week we saw the dream of Kairos 10 realized. Four hundred mosquito nets were given to women and children in bush villages of Ghana West Africa. All made possible by bracelets purchased in America. More nets have been ordered and will arrive later for other villages. Milt Olsen's class made a contribution to HisNets for additional nets to be used to save more lives in Ghana. Praise God!
We arrived back at the Shiloh house late and the beader's had been hard at work. Many bracelets had been made and they were approaching the goal. Patience decided it was time for a bit of comedy relief and proceeded to perform a stand-up comedy routine imitating each of us. Charlie was giving some shirts to some of the pastors and there was this uncontrollable laughing coming from the room where Phyllis, Katheryn and the beaders were working. Patience started imitating Pastor Odai preaching. Pastor Odai is a very powerful speaker and is excited about sharing the word of God, you can imagine! Then Katheryn asked her to do her Momma Phyllis imitation. She was so funny...... "Oh, Patience those beads are beautiful", " Patience that bracelet is wonderful" and on and on in a soft little voice and as she spoke she also imitated my walk. I think that all African women think we Americans walk like movie stars.......I had to ask myself, " Do I really walk like that?????" And then she made fun of the way I called Yayo. Sometimes I call her Yoyo, Yaya, Yayu..... I can really mess her name up, but she still answers me. If you know me very well you understand that I have difficulty with English pronunciation, can you imagine the issues I have in Ghana with so many tribal languages. The girls tried to teach me a little Twi the last time I was there. I can't remember anything but "Obroni" (white person) because I hear it over and over again when I am in the markets. Patience imitated Katheryn, Charlie and David as well. She had everyone down. A really funny part was when she was talking about Charlie picking out beads the first night we were there. She said she noticed that every time Katheryn picked out something he agreed with her and told her they looked nice. She thought to herself, these American men are really nice guys. Charlie then picked out 3 strands of beads and asked everyone what we thought. We were being nice and encouraging him, Patience obviously was wondering about fashion taste in the US. Two days later she learned that Mr. Charlie was color blind.....she loudly stated that "that explains everything" and rolled her eyes like we were crazy. Katheryn and I were lying on the beds in uncontrollable laughter. After hearing the laughter the boys decided they wanted in on the fun and Patience had to redo her routine. Isn't laughter wonderful? So many times when we have dinner with Charlie and Katheryn, I hear Charlie thank God for laughter. This was one of those many times we thank God for the opportunity to enjoy life and the gift of laughter.
We had all had a full day and with our goal of 500 bracelets quickly approaching we decided to go to bed early. Well at least before midnight. The girls each got ready for bed and I know they were enjoying the nice soft beds at the guest house. Patience commented that sister Paula even prayed in her sleep. I looked over to see Paula lying flat on her back with her hands held in a praying position. We had a little giggle. All kidding aside, I saw the girls stop and pray many times while I was there. One morning Believe missed the opening prayer before work and I saw her stop and quitely pray before she started her bracelet. That evening Giftee got ready for bed and went and knelt by her bed to have quite time with God before she laid down to sleep. Some of them had their Bibles with them. During the breaks or before bed I would see them read the word. I did notice that some Bibles were very small and missing a few pages. Maybe this would make a nice gift when I return to Ghana the next time. After all the girls were in their beds Pastor Odai, Charlie, Katheryn, David and I returned to the room and said a prayer over them. We thanked God for the wonderful women he had brought to Kairos 10. They worked many hours a day with such wonderful spirits with the hope that they would bless a child in the bush with a mosquito net and save a life.
Wednesday January 18
By Wednesday morning, we had to finish many things. Charlie and Katheryn had the CR meeting with Pastor Odai. Phyllis worked with the beaders finishing the bracelets, David finished the interviews of the beaders and Katheryn reviewed surveys of Kairos 10 provided by the beaders and met with each one individually. Helen Inbody had met a young man on the ORU basketball team, Christopher Angsomwine, who is from Ghana. She provided us with his parents contact information and we had the privelege of meeting them. They graciously invited us to lunch at a wonderful Chinese restaurant. Christophers family included his father, Roger, who is the Secretary to the Vice President of Ghana, his mother Mrs. Agnes Angsomwine, brothers Roger and Christian. Roger Jr. is a loan officer at a local bank, his wife is a pharmacist. Christian is in networking and information systems and Mrs. Angsomwine is regional director of education in Ghana. I believe God arranged for us to meet as we have many common interests in working to eliminate poverty through education, medical care, creating employment opportunities and microfinance. Mrs. Angsomwine sent back some treats for Christopher like the wonderful mother I know she is and along with those things, her love for her son. They are a wonderful family.
We then returned to the guest house to pack and prepare for the celebratory banquet for all the beaders. Cynthia, who runs the guest house, had also been beading with the girls all week and Charlie had suggested we have a dinner for all the beaders the last night we were there. Cynthia was kind enough to prepare a fabulous meal with chicken, fried rice, fruits and drinks. Before the banquet, some of the ladies put on nice clothes and styled their hair. They were individually announced arriving to the banquet. Before the meal, we each thanked them and expressed our gratefulness for each and every one of them and the heart they have for helping others. Katheryn and Charlie had brought colored watches as gifts. Katheryn made a game of it so they each drew a number and got to pick the color of watch they wanted and each received their paycheck. After the game was finished, they then began to switch the watches among themselves. Sometimes women are the same be it in Africa or America!
Everyone was at dinner including Pastor Odai, Momma Valerie, Debra and Jasmine and her brother Prince. The food and company was priceless. The team could celebrate with reaching a goal of 535 completed bracelets. Each of us were asked to speak. It was an emotional time, but wonderful. I hope each girl saw how much we appreciated her efforts. Patience spoke at the end for the girls. She thanked us for giving them the opportunity to work on the Kairos 10 project, but the most moving part of her speech was directed to Pastor Odai. She praised him for his leadership and commitment to each of them and sharing the love of Jesus with his church and the people in the bush villages. She expressed her thankfulness for being a fortunate person in Ghana who lives in the city and has meat to eat and showed sadness and concern when describing the lack of water and food for the village people. She asked God to bless this project so the mosquito nets could go and save children's lives and ended her speech with saying that she felt in her heart this was not a small thing that God had started, but a big, big one. She prayed that the American's would see the purchase of a bracelet as an offering to support the less fortunate children of the bush villages and save lives by providing mosquito nets. My heart was full of joy! God is so good!
After the banquet we were prepared to say good bye to all the girls before we headed off to our last church service at MPM. I started to tell Yayo good-bye, but with excitement she told me that Pastor Odai had arranged for all of them to go to the airport with us. The girls were excited, Katheryn and I were both wondering how we were going to keep it together.
We went to church service. Charlie and David both spoke, but Katheryn and I just stood and "said" goodbye with a smile and a wave. During the offering we saw many of the beaders come to the front and give their tithe from the pay they had just been given. It was amazing! (Oh, in case you didn't know, they don't pass the offering plate in Ghana. Everyone forms a Conga line and comes to the front of the church, dancing down the isle to give their offering)
We took the small car with Pastor Odai and the girls followed in the van to the airport. As always it was sad to go. It was an emotional good bye. Then we were in the airport and ready for customs. As usual Michael took great care of us and we were through customs in a flash. The flight home seemed to take forever but we finally made it to Atlanta. Every time I return from Ghana, I come home with mixed feelings, but the most powerful one is how thankful I am to be an American. God chose to bless me beyond belief just by my being born in Pryor, Oklahoma. After taking a trip to serve in a third world country you see the world a little differently. When you develop relationships with people of that country you start to FEEL differently. Paul in Ephesians writes, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to one hope when you were called- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of ALL, who is over all and through all and in all." Ephesians 4:3-6.
When I consider the ALL who Paul is taking about I think of the children in Ghana benefiting from a mosquito net, the women of Accra showing the love of Jesus by making bracelets and benefiting by income to help their own families, the love of Pastor Odai and the pure devotion to spread the gospel and the love of Jesus Christ, the team of Kairos 10 who heard a call, the women of America who purchased a special bracelet that gives the gift of life and employes women of Ghana, and the numerous people who hear the story and lift all of us up in prayer.
We are ALL blessed and you are ALL blessings!