Monday, February 26, 2007

Sidelines

“I will say go away from Me, I do not know you!” Matt 25:41

During my time in Ghana, I wrote some of the encouraging things I have seen over the past days of Samaritan's Purse distribution. We were able to complete the task of delivering the Shoe Boxes to over 15,000 children as well as the message of the "Greatest Gift" of Christ to all who gathered around to hear. There were many MORE thousands who heard the great love of God and the sacrifice He made on their (and our) behalf.
Throughout our week long distribution there have been many unforgettable and amazing sites. Thousands of children gathered on schoolyards, under mango trees and found at the end of very long rutted, rocky and rugged roads. I have tried to describe the surprise, the delight, the joy that overwhelmed them as they opened their Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes and curiously tried to figure out some of the strange contents enclosed. Since “Play Dough” now comes in vibrant colors and odors such as strawberry, grape and lime – it is a bit of an education process to convince them it is for “shaping” and not for “eating”.

But not every surrounding site was joyful. At every location of our distribution there were hundreds of “other” children. School children in lower grades, some in tattered hand-me-down uniforms from their older brothers and sisters, most shoeless, and many with tears - as they began to understand there was nothing for them. And then there were the village children. They came in from the fields and their chores of carrying water or firewood for their families, and watched. The facilitators of the school constantly had to push them back away from the children in queues and tell them "this is NOT FOR YOU". Their parents seated on the “sidelines” watching as sometimes literally thousands of boxes where placed into the hands of the lucky ones in line.

Towards the end of each distribution as the queues grew shorter, the cartons emptying – the villagers would move towards us, saying “Something for us?” Often times the women would fight the school teachers for the empty cartons. To what use they would be put to I wouldn’t even venture to guess, perhaps new flooring for their huts or less kindling they would have to gather for the next fire? I’m not sure, but arguments always followed, emptiness.

In the recently aired Oprah Winfrey Show (http://www.oprah.com/ February 9th "The Boy Oprah Couldn't Forget"), her correspondent Lisa Ling visited Ghana and focused on the hardship of child enslavement in the fishing industry in the Volta region. Even though many children will be affected by the generosity this show produced, and perhaps they will be returned to their village, the issue remains much larger than one money or influence or information can solve. As we drove down the rural roads with the MP (it would be like riding behind one of our own Senators) I had to wonder how in the world can a politician think they can solve problems so great? No roads, no clean water, no health care, no economic base, nothing to base political promises on.

The need will always outweigh the supply. There simply is NOT enough, no matter what is brought, no matter where. There will always be those sitting on the sidelines of the “supply” wondering “why?” The more I see, sometimes I feel I understand more the teachings of Christ on “the poor you will always have with you.” “He saw the crowds and His heart was moved with compassion, for they were like sheep without a shepherd.” I grieve and realize I understand less and less. The “why” of so much wealth, access, information, opportunity poured out on some parts (and people) and for others…

no shoe box to celebrate and marvel over
no healthcare
no clean water
no education
no Word written in their language
no one to bring them the Good News
no love
no promise
no life?

There are all types of "sidelines". Those small children, wondering why, watching without hope - left out. The villagers whose lives consist of a survival mentality; if they have enough firewood, water, and one meager meal for the day, sit watching while the children who are getting "educated" receive something while they and theirs do not. The teachers, who work very hard to educate - but many without the basic resource of a blackboard, chalk, or paper to work with.

And then there are our own sidelines. It is often said regarding "mission work" some go, and some send - but my friends there are many who sit on the "sidelines" doing neither. Watching, listening, sometimes hearing the "plight" and the "problems" and then....

back to work on Monday, life and living.

I pray you are doing ALL you can to "get in the game" whether you go - whether you send - don't sit on the sidelines while thousands of men, women and children around the world must wonder "why"?

We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, and while it is generally interpreted as a group cheering us on to the finish line of the race set before us, they are also witnesses against those who sit on the sidelines of faith without works, in a land of plenty.

Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.” The master was furious. “That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most.” Matthew 25: 24-28

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Of Problems, Polio, and Politicians

“The poor you will always have with you” John 12:8

“God bless our homeland Ghana”

We were sure to hear it one last time on our way out of town and back to Tema. The Honorable explained the purpose of our last distribution during our last evening together. Before he became the Member of Parliament, he was the Chief Executive for the district. One of the jobs falling under his authority was immunization of the children against polio. He was made aware of a certain sect in a small village where no medical treatment (including childhood immunizations) was allowed to be given to the people. Even when they fell ill, or broke bones or had simple sicknesses easily treated by medical care available to them. The Honorable went on to say an old man had received miraculous healing, and based upon this experience he started a church relying solely on their prayers of faith for healing. It is not unique to rural villages in Africa. It also happens in America and is brought up in the news and in the courts on the withholding of treatment from children.

After pleading with the pastor and the village elders, the Honorable was refused. He warned them the children would be immunized one way or another. A plan was devised, the Honorable attended the church and at the end of the service, police had surrounded the building to prevent anyone from leaving, while doctors and medical personnel wretched the children from the arms of their hysterical parents and inoculated them against the life-threatening disease of polio.

Women were flailing on the floor, screaming for the help of Jesus, cursing those who were doing such a deed against the firmness of their faith. Honorable asked them, “Why do you shout down curses, when I have saved your children you would have let die because of your teachings?”
The even happened eight years ago, and he had not returned to face their wrath or offer restitution or forgiveness until now.

“And all this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to Him… and He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation” 2 Cor 5:18

The prospect of going to this village to do his political repairing made me anxious, nervous and not without a fair bit of irritation. After a week of political “stumping”, hand shaking, promises and excuses for “why” all the boxes were not there was “our” fault because he had tried, but…

For all his niceties and smiles, my cynicism was beginning to whisper “He is a politician. It is his job to make you feel at ease. He has his agenda.” But God reminded me, I am already working for someone who has an “agenda”. It is God’s agenda to reconcile men to each other leading to reconciliation to Himself. The “politician” used the only thing that will work in any format of promises made and broken. The “Gift” of Christ – He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

But God was using him (and us) to be part of the healing. After much apologetic phrasing and humility came forth from the nationals, the “ice” (even in the heat) broke. The elders, teachers and even the pastor began smiling and laughing.

One of the children began ringing the village bell to summon the others from the field. They began running to us, wondering what could bring forth such a strange crowd and meeting under the mango tree. As they stood patiently in line, I showed the “Rainbow Bag” trick – explaining the diversity of the gifts inside the box, but they all contain one invisible gift – the love of God that inspired the child that packed the box. Then I pulled out the 30 foot scarf, and said “God’s love reaches all the way around the world.” Their mouths drop and gasps of amazement fill the crowd. Oh, that we could truly be amazed like that each day how far how wide how deep, that our love for Him would be rooted enough to comprehend how great… (Eph 3:18)

As the exclamations of surprise and joy began when the boxes were opened I was reminded of the verse in 1 Peter 4:8 “… love covers a multitude of sins…”

I praise Him for covering my own, of cynicism, doubt and irritation of being “used” by a politician for a specific party “agenda”. I have submitted, I am already being used, not by any earthly politician but by a heavenly King.

“And let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap a harvest if we faint not,. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men.” Gal 6:9


Friday, February 23, 2007

Honorable (Of Stump and Circumstance)


“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ.” 2 Cor 5:20

It has been an interesting week in the company of a politician. It’s easy to forget his position, as he dines with us, makes jokes, takes delight in the young girl on our team, always referring to her as his daughter and being sure she has enough to eat and drink and if she feels okay. However, the reminder of his status comes as he travels around HO with his entourage (the press, and camera man to film his activities). Among the nationals he is always addressed as “Honorable.”

By the end of the week, we have practically memorized the Ghana national anthem and pledge of allegiance. He has asked the school children at each and every stop to sing and recite. He has made a speech as well. Explaining his responsibility to his constituents, and bringing Samaritan’s Purse to the area is directly his doing (through APF Ministries as well). The experience definitely confirmed, I don’t ever (not that my past would allow) want to run for any kind of political office. Too much to be “fixed” with too many promises prone to be broken once the campaign “trail” is finished.

Members of Parliament here in Ghana are not just on the other side of the world or political spectrum than their American counterparts. There are no 20 million dollar bankrolls to fund their campaigning efforts, no private jets or cars, or much else that can be compared, perhaps there are some kinds of lobbyists, they seem to be multiplying everywhere?

These lawmakers and government sustainers are dealing with the basic human needs, clean water, education, and health care. They are representing a human population forgotten and unseen by the West, living in mud huts, carrying babies on their back with 20 pounds of water on their heads and walking three miles to their home, where they build fires, slaughter an occasional chicken and live with one of the lowest life expectancies on earth.

The funny similarity, however, is that the “Honorable’s” car is recognized in the villages. As we would pass through on the rutted, rugged dirt roads, he had his window rolled down, waving at his “constituents. Women who were selling roadside wares, would jump up, applaud and run after the car waving like they had seen Elvis!

His message to the teachers and to the children was one of positive encouragement. “Stay in school”. He did not make John Kerry’s mistake by adding “or you will wind up stuck in Iraq”, because all these people had to do was look around and see they are already stuck in a war. A war to survive one more day. They are not fighting with bullets, but with education. Their terrorists and enemies are not extremists or suicide bombers. What kills them DAILY, is poverty, lack, AIDS, and the blindness and “ignorant bliss” of the West to their plight.

It has been an honor, to walk with eyes open to help serve the need, to share the love, and to be an “Ambassador” working with a Member of Parliament, the “Honorable” Retired Captain George Nfojoh.

“see a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings…” Prov 22:29

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Unexpected

"do not forget to entertain strangers" Hebrews 13:2

A person can only be so prepared.

Part of the preparation to accomplish a distribution this size in so few days requires cooperation from many authorities in different branches of government. But before your mind starts picturing school officials in "district offices" or politicians in leather wing back chairs with assistants scurrying around fax and copy machines, computers and cell phones (there are very few of all of the above) remember - this is Africa.

The students at the schools scattered across the region arrive to the location after walking several miles. The day of the distribution, for some the trek adds several more miles to their morning journey to school. It is no wonder the amount of absentees, or the teachers attempts to try and have children who have received their box, to stand in for one of their missing counterparts.

The HO district we were covering with this years Samaritan's Purse distribution has 28,000 registered school children. Originally, the SP organization assured the receiving ministry facilitators they would receive all 28,000 boxes. But... arrangements were in place, promises made and expectations high. Two weeks before the distribution things changed - only half the boxes would be allotted to the region. Hope was dashed and irritation and anger took its place.

Whenever we arrived at a specified location, the teachers had gathered under shade trees, maintaining the order of their anxious students with three-foot long switches. Lists that had been compiled and turned in two weeks ago were being substituted with new lists, more names and negotiations. Apart from the struggle to get all their students a gift box - they begin to seek their own "distribution." Over and over we heard "but where is something for me? Why don't you bring something for the teachers?" Where the need is so great, when a person sees "supply" it is hard not to "demand" and ask, "why not me?"

To increase the efficiency of our time, day and speed of distributing the boxes, once the truck was offloaded with the supplied numbers of cartons (based on the first list), our organizer (Pastor O) took his team along with the van on to the next stop. This was effective and fast but was not without its own set of newly created problems.

At one site we came to the end of the line - all the boy's boxes were handed out with no problems, but our dwindling line of girls had come down to one. P looked in the carton and it was EMPTY! Out of the 500 children we were intending to serve, we had 499 boxes. The young Junior High girl stood there, "The Greatest Gift" book in hand and looked at us blankly.

The leadership made the decision she would get in our van and go to the next distribution site to collect the one box. She got in a van filled with strangers, a mix of nationals and foreigners, and through her nerves tried to remain posed and calm. She had no idea where we were taking her, when or how she would get back to her school - or really if the box she was promised would be worth the trouble.

We all tried to engage her in conversation, "What is your name? How old are you? What grade are you in?" She answered in a voice barely above a whisper. The nationals were yelling at her to speak louder, "Talk to these people, they want to know you!" The conversation finally died down and we left her alone to her anxiety. I wondered what was going through her thoughts. This was probably not her first car ride - but I can guarantee it was the first one with air-conditioning!

We finally arrived at the next distribution site, and she stood patiently holding the box she had traveled so far to receive. When we headed back toward her village and the place where she could make her own way home, gift finally in hand, I offered her a bottle of water for the journey. She was reluctant, but again at the insistence of the other nationals she shyly took it, thanked us and turned to walk away.

She left us with a story to tell. Perhaps it would go something like this: One day foreigners came to her village, they did interesting things and brought many gifts. She was the last in line for her class and though she was disappointed at first - they took her with them so she could get one of these "boxes." When she left their bewildering presence, they also gave her some water for her long walk home."

As we watched her walk down the road, we prayed she also accepted the Living Water we shared that day.

"For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in My name..." Mark 9:41

Just Do It!

"Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything IN the One who makes me who I am..." Philippians 4:13

By the time we arrived for breakfast, our day had grown from five distributions to eight! Our mouths dropped (and not to put the food in) and we wondered HOW in HO?! But verse after reassuring verse kept coming to my mind. "With God nothing is impossible." The Philippians verse "Christ who strengthens me." This is distirbution not a "job" you can have input on or quit. We are servants.

I once heard a pastor say the difference between a person who "serves" God and a "servant" is the person who "serves" God, can choose where they want to serve - a "servant" goes and does what his Master says.

So ....

Off we go in HO!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Of Sun, Sand, and Sweat

“Blessed be your name, when the sun’s shining down on me, when the world’s all as it should be, blessed be Your name.”

By the time I was finally able to pull off my bright yellow “Croc” shoes, I couldn’t decide if there was more dirt on my feet or in my lungs. I hoped it was on the outside, while fearing the dust 10,000 feet kicked up in the hours of the day was settling somewhere in my respiratory system.

The morning started early, and we were warned it would be a long day. Our one “big” (1500) distribution turned out to be BIGGER and take longer. Then our one “small” distribution (300) turned out to be four spread out across the HO area, with over 300 each.

Load up, unload, set up, stir up (hearts that is), line up, mark up, pass out (the boxes) and start over back down the next road.




Unusual for the season, last night it rained! The weather cooled by about ten degrees and we were able to find some semblance of shade at most of the locations where the school children had gathered. Today, HO was not that hot. Praise God!

In the movie “Blood Diamond”, there is an exchange between two of the characters resulting in confrontation. One assured the other he was leaving Africa; the other laughed and said “the red dirt of Africa is in your blood, you will never leave.” The movie’s protagonist dies clutching the dirt, it slips through his fingers mingled with the blood pouring from his fatal wound.

As I walked, worked and breathed among the Africans – the scripted words echoed in my soul. Africa DOES get in your blood. I suppose one way or the other. Africa should be in our blood, one way or the other.

We are reminded often in the Word we are ONE body in Christ. “If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, AND in the healing!” (1 Corinthians 12:26) Paul, explains the concept of one body just before he tells us the “better way” of love.

As we travel from location to location, down the market places, through the humanity, the poverty, the need, we see a world our “fallen” or “broken” Christian catchphrases can’t begin to describe. This is not “Africa” hurting, or suffering, or dying. This is YOU and ME, members of His body, dying, suffering and hurting for failing our brothers and sisters in Africa.

“You are Christ’s body. That’s who you are! You must never forget this. ONLY AS YOU ACCEPT YOUR PART OF THAT BODY DOES YOUR “PART” MEAN ANYTHING!” 1 Corinthians 12:24-27

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Imagine

A popular Christian song that crossed over into pop play lists, begins "I can Only Imagine". But the truth of the matter that is taught to us in the Old Testament (Isaiah 64:4) and repeated in 1 Corinthians 2:9 is that we can't imagine!

"No one's ever seen or heard anything like this. Never so much as imagined anything quite like it - what God has arranged for those who love Him."


On the second day of our Samaritan's Purse distribution that verse resonated in my soul as I stood before over 2500 school children. Everywhere, every side, every which way I could look were faces staring in wonderment, waiting, and watching - but they were probably also beginning to exercise their imaginations! They stood gathered under the shade trees of the schoolyard and watched while some of their peers off-loaded the huge Operation Christmas child cartons from the truck.



As the older schoolboys hoisted the parcels on top of their heads it was obvious they were heavy. But do you think the children could picture the "shoe boxes" of all shapes and sizes inside? Of course not! Do you think they could grasp the diversity of each one? Some plastic, some small, some large, some wrapped with brightly colored Christmas paper, some prepared with the carefully drawn sketches of the child that filled the box back home. In one word NO!


Sometimes I think our imagination gets influenced by our own 21st century view of grandeur. When we think what great think God could prepare for us in heaven we equate it to mansions we have seen driving down the "ritzy" part of town. You know, the ones with big manicured lawns, more rooms than people, and a whole staff to take care of the menial household and gardening tasks we won't have time for as we sing hallelujahs. In heaven, we assume we'll have wings (or something) so Mercedes, Hummers and Rolls Royces need not crowd out the more important imaginations like - chocolate without calories.

Oh the sufferings of a fallen world

Oh the cynicism of western "more means better" and "he who dies with the most toys..."

still dies

As the 2500 children held out their two hands to receive their box, the air around us grows excited! You can hear those who were first in line begin to open their boxes and the shouts, the laughter, the claps of enthusiasm roll back up to us like peals of delighted thunder.We're bending over cartons, marking books (to ensure one box per child) twisting, turning, and saying "God Bless You" as fast as we can. Our sweat drips together with the Africans, and our smiles are equally as big as we hand them their box. They cannot imagine!


There is one more group that would really have a hard time imagining the picture of a distribution site. That is the hands that prepare the boxes. As I look at the hand drawn pictures of an American child being held up by and African 10,000 miles away - my imagination begins to grow more heaven like.When the girls pull out their hair clips, brightly colored purses, a red feather boa, donned with great joy and laughter, I sense the Father saying "Boy, have I got a surprise waiting for you!"

Much of the mystery, joy, and delight of the "Christmas Child" has been stolen in America by a man in a red suit with a white beard, uttering "Ho, Ho, Ho" I can say with confidence here - IN HO - the joy, the mystery, the delight of the "greatest gift" is multiplied thousands and thousands of times each day.

I am proud to be in the "Operation"!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Multitudes

“Great multitudes were gathered together” Matt 13:2

No matter how many times I stand before a crowd of eager African children, the site still takes my breath away! Thousands of upturned faces, straining to see over those in front of them, edging ever closer and closer until a veritable shoving match ensues and then those closest to the front start to trip and fall, and out come the switches of the teachers trying to contain the crowd and the unruliness.

Our first morning started out bumpy, due to late trucks and difficult load ups. But when we arrived the crowds were waiting. It is hot here in HO, and with the added dust in the air kicked up by 8,000 moving feet – well… it quickly makes for unbearable, bearable only through Christ who continues to strengthen us all. The longer the program takes the more the word spreads through the town and more village children and parents show up.

“Madame, where is my box?”. The multitudes showed up for Jesus. The Word tells us He was moved with compassion for they were like “sheep without a shepherd.” (Mark 6:34) Even then, Jesus knew many would walk away from His presence “without a shepherd.” He knew healing, full bellies, wisdom and promises wouldn’t change their hearts. We are offering not only a small physical token, but a greater gift of His love to these, we are laboring to serve.

“God’s bright glory has risen for you. The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, all the people sunk in deep darkness. But God rises on you. His sunrise glory breaks over you. Nations will come to your light; kings to your sunburst brightness. Look up! Look around! Watch as they gather…” Isaiah 60:1-4


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Set for Life (and Death)

We would certainly all have to agree a lot of money can buy a lot of things. Listening to a recent sermon, the figure 86,400 was thrown out as a dollar amount deposited into your personal account each and every day. The catch (there is always a catch), the bank officer alerts you to is that each day the figure is zeroed out (the proverbial bad news) but each day that exact same amount is re-deposited for your choice of dispersal.

The Pastor’s analogy was thought provoking and true in a sense. He went on to say, each day we are given an 86,400 amount (of seconds) into the “account” of our day. I think I could live pretty well on $86,400 a day. After all, the figure would be $31,536,000 per year – some would call that being “set for life”.

Over the next five days, our team of two local missionaries, 3 travelers and 10 African nationals will have an opportunity to see 15,000 children. All this talk of numbers enticed and stimulated my seldom used math skills (what DO we do with those). First the number works out to about 1000 children for each person, over the course of 5 days 200 children per day – per person, certainly a manageable number. But when you take the seconds, 28,800 seconds (per 8 hour day x 5 – 144,000) and divide that by 15,000 you come up with 9.6 seconds per child! My math skill comes at the aid of a calculator. But the division does not calculate the way God does – of that I am sure. In the coming 144,000 seconds, I want to make certain I do not forget His timing and calculation ability. He is not giving us 9.6 seconds per child – but an opportunity to share eternity (incalculable) seconds with Him (and with them).

“Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with His promise…” 2 Peter 3:19

Tomorrow, the promise arrives for the school children of HO. We know we are “set for life”, we pray to communicate His life and love well in the “account” we have been given.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The O.C. and OC

I missed the final show of the Fox TV series The O.C. But before you condemn my choice of viewing vacuous entertainment, the show did keep me current on “cool” alternative music, and gave me something culturally relevant (so to speak) to speak with young people I encounter from time to time in my work. I guess not enough old people trying to be cool, or young people who finally figured out The O.C. (Orange County) wasn’t that cool, watched so alas the show and its characters are fading into the California sunset where the tans are real but the body parts are mostly fake.

One O.C. down, but there is an OC that has remained a constant and consistent influence for Christians for close to 100 years. The OC I now refer to is Oswald Chambers, noted scholar and teacher whose posthumously published devotion (My Utmost for His Highest) remains one of the most beloved devotions of all time. His teaching ended in 1918 when he died at the age of 42 in Egypt of appendicitis. In the providence and provision of the Lord, his wife had faithfully and carefully been attending all his lectures and transcribing them verbatim. His wisdom was then preserved, and able to influence generations to come - especially those in the mission field. When World War broke out, Chambers already a noted pastor and theologian in England, felt called to teach those chaplains going into the foreign mission field following the troops to change and save, the world.

His words influence me everyday in the field and out of the field. Many of his teachings speak on the suffering of the world and the unpopular war men and women of his time were facing.

“There is nothing new under the sun” Ecc 1:9

Oswald Chambers offers timeless wisdom. There will always be suffering too big, in spite of our best efforts, to alleviate. There will always be politics to disagree with, and situation that enrage passions on both sides of the proverbial fence. But the God we serve both at home and abroad, is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (Heb 13:8)

I remain passionate about His answer.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Familiar

Perhaps it is because A and P (the in country missionaries I work with) are from Texas and their “accent” resonates with me, that when I step off the plane in Ghana, and hear their “welcome back” at the airport it immediately puts me at ease. OR it could be the fact it is my sixth visit to this part of the world to participate in the Samaritan’s Purse Shoe Box distribution, which puts me at peace.

The bedroom at their home in Tema I stay in when I visit, is referred to as “Charlynn’s room” even when I am not there. When we arrive, I can quickly unpack and feel right at “home”, right back in their home. When old friends meet, there is so much daily life to get caught up on, we stayed up late (well past 10:00) even though jet lag and was dragging me (and my eyelids) down quickly.

While I was falling asleep, somewhere between the land of unconsciousness and dreams, I felt a sense of disorientation, the “where am I?” come over me. The bed was comfortable, I was (after 36 hours) in a prone position, my pillow from home was over my head (as always to keep me from waking up disoriented) and once again, I was falling asleep about to be about His business.

Seven thousand miles from home, but realizing, whenever and wherever He leads me I AM home. “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.”

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Long Day Into Night Into Day Into Africa

The arrival into Frankfurt was slightly delayed, but even with the delay – it was for the most part just another landing to be followed by another take off and another landing. The time between the two flights was short and by the time I made the first trek down to the wrong gate, caught the train back to the right one, it was close to boarding time. I stopped in the lounge for a drink of water, refreshments and Senator sensibilities, whatever they may prove themselves to be.

I fear I lost my glasses on the last flight all that room to move around also gave me room to drop my drugs, scramble for those and in the process glasses disappeared. I am thanking God, I have an extra pair tucked into my suitcase.

After my “Blood Diamond” breakdown, I am nervous and anxious to see and feel the impact of Africa – the grievous situation the west has ignored or exploited for whatever suites the politics of the day.

Until Friday, I would have thought Ghana was one of the most advanced of the African nations, but as “He” would have it – the Oprah Show was on Ghanaian slave labor in the Volta region. One mother, moved by the story eventually rescued seven children and took them to the Village of Hope. (I thought could it be the same Village of Hope?) When they finally showed the photos and the director – it was one in the same! I was so proud to be part of something and to be known by the children and house parents. God is good all the time!

I would like to take the video tape to them but it is quite a way from Tema and it would be difficult to be sure. I was disappointed “O” did not focus on more of the woman’s work. She really focuses on ministry and hope of God – not hope of O.

We only have one way to address the overwhelming problems facing the world today. It has nothing to do with marketing, communication or publicist. It is a task mankind cannot and will never solve. It will take a King to do the job – and I’ve heard it said – He is on the way.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Turbulence

Texas has had its share of winter this year, although nothing compared to the folks in New York who have been buried under 115 inches of snowfall. Weather forecasters began predicting heavy thunderstorms on the Friday before I was scheduled to leave. O could only pray the bad weather stayed to the east of DFW until LH439 had time to take off at 4:20!

“Monday, Monday, can’t touch that day…” turned out to be a good day to fly. Although by no means was I traveling light. I had my three suitcases (but only one was over the ruled allowance of 50 lbs.), carry on filled with magazines for in-flight entertainment, iPod charged and ready, extra change of clothes, liquids in Ziplocs and a good pair of shoes.

A and P said this could be their last distribution which means it is probably my last as well. Oh well… They are focusing their work on Joni and Friends and the rest they will have to tell me about when I arrive.

Our flight was only briefly delayed at DFW, and the skies around us had cleared (for take-off). The plane was not full at all, so once again I had two seats to give me more options on uncomfortability than usual. There are many Indians on this flight and many of those children. Soon enough my schedule will return me to the land of saffron and curry.

As we climbed higher in altitude, we did hit quite a bit of turbulence as we went through the menacing thunderstorms approaching Dallas. But once we had climbed high enough through the altitude, it was smooth sailing – a good time to relax and settle in for the “long winter nap”.

GHANA - Calendar of Events



FEBRUARY 12
Depart DFW

FEBRUARY 13
Arrive Accra Ghana 2pm (CST)

FEBRUARY 14 - 16
Leadership Training Opportunities

FEBRUARY 16
Remaining US Team arrives

FEBRUARY 17
Prepare and organize the 15,000 Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes we will be delivering in the coming days. Team orientation and distribution plans with African nationals

FEBRUARY 18
WORSHIP Travel to HO REGION in afternoon (3 hours by van - see map just south of Volta)

FEBRUARY 19 - 23
Distribution to over 15,000 Ghanian school children with Samaritan's Purse (see website www.samaritanspurse.org )

FEBRUARY 24
Return travel to Tema (see map just east of capital of ACCRA)

FEBRUARY 25
Worship

FEBRUARY 26
Depart for US at 2pm (CST)

FEBRUARY 27
Return DFW