Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fun Fair

Saturday was a really good day! We had over 30 of our high school and middle school students helping to organize a fun fair for some of the kids from a nearby orphanage and the kids on the street that participate in a bi-weekly Bible kids club. Our students have been really excited about the whole idea for weeks now and it was fun to see everything finally come together. Everyday I have had kids come up to me asking if they could help with the fun fair or asking me for a reminder of when the fun fair was going to take place. I was so happy to see the students getting interested in something that would help someone else! Often times I get discouraged and think that our students will never think of anyone other than themselves. I guess we are all selfish though. It's only by God's loving grace and mercy that we are able to break free from selfishness.

We had the high school students running each station for the fun fair and the middle school students in charge of the groups of kids, leading them to each station. I was happy to see so many of our students really step up and take ownership of their roles! We had one group playing a water relay game, one group playing on the school playground and getting their faces painted, one group working on a craft and coloring, and one group playing in a bouncy castle. All was going so well, until I mentioned that fact! Not a few minutes after that, did the bouncy castle come crashing down with kids panicking and screaming! Luckily, no one was hurt and the kids didn't seem to mind once they were on the ground again. Quick on her feet, Christy came up with a new game for the fourth group and all was well again!

All in all, everyone seemed to really enjoy the day. The kids had a ball and the students took ownership of the event. Today I was asked many times when we were planning our next fun fair. We'll see...
The bouncy castle before it fell over!

Water games. They had to fill a bucket with a leaking cup.

Writing numbers with sidewalk chalk.

Craft time!

The only lion in Ghana!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Middle School Madness and High School Hangouts

It's been a big week at American International School! Well, really Friday was a big day! As a staff, our students are always on our hearts. Lately we have been trying organize activities to build relationships between students and between students and teachers. We have also been trying to organize discipleship groups to help our students grow spiritually. I think God is moving to bring a harvest at our school. We are on the brink of seeing something big that God is doing!

We launched our new discipleship groups for middle and high school students yesterday. It was a lot of fun and I think that we are going to continue to see a lot of students involved. We are combining the two lunch periods on Fridays so that we can have extra time to meet in discipleship groups. We started out with a few crazy games. Then one of the teachers got a student to eat from a can of dog food! She had actually switched the labels from a can of spaghetti to make a point. Just like that student believed a lie, that she was going to eat dog food, many students have been believing lies about what Christianity really is. From this we broke into small groups to discuss what the vision of these discipleship groups is and ask the students if they had any ideas of topics they would like to discuss. This first meeting was kind of a test run to see kids' interest. Then we asked each of them to make a commitment to continue coming to the groups. God is so good! Many students decided they wanted to participate. One person mentioned that students were only coming the first week because it was required, but then no one would return the following weeks. I'm glad we didn't believe that lie Satan was trying plant! I'm excited to see what God will do in the lives of our students through these discipleship groups!

This was just the start of the crazy day! After school a group of teachers and I took 15 middle school students to a mini golf course in the area. We have started planning monthly activities for the middle school students to give them opportunities to have some fun and hang out with their friends. So "Middle School Madness" started with mini golf! I couldn't let them just play mini golf, so to make it interesting I added a few extra rules to follow at certain holes. Crazy things like "putt sitting down" and "shout 'FORE' at the start of each hole" made the day interesting! The students were not excited about my additional rules at first which I found really funny. But they humored me and ended up enjoying themselves in the process! Next month we plan to organize some "Minute to Win It" games.
Christy and a couple 6th graders.

Putting sitting down. The tricky part is that we had to putt uphill!

The boys were WAY more competitive than the girls! They all wanted to beat Josiah (the P.E. teacher)!

After the Middle School Madness, Christy and I joined in the high school craziness! 18 out of the total 28 high school girls participated in a sleep over. Not much sleeping actually took place! Two of the high school teachers planned a picture/video scavenger hunt. They had to do crazy things like put all their clothes on inside out (with underwear on the outside!) and reenact a Bible story and a famous movie scene. Watching the videos and pictures on a projector was hilarious! This was followed by a crazy dance party, several movies, and some toothpaste shenanigans played on those silly enough to fall asleep first! The girls seemed to have a great time and hopefully we can continue to build relationships.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Back to Work

So It's been FOREVER since I've written a blog! I been at home enjoying family and friends for Christmas and now I'm back in Ghana. I've been back for three weeks now and I am definitely back in the swing of things. I am very thankful for my friends here who make it a bit easier to leave my Chicago life. God is good, providing me with everything I need!

The first week I got back, we had Spiritual Emphasis Week at school. The middle school and high school kids were packed into buses and taken to a local church where two men from the States encouraged and challenged them to follow after God. Mick and Rick have such a passion for youth and even though their southern style was a bit different from what our kids would describe as "cool," they were still able to make an impact. The last day was amazing because they had a "Say So" session. (Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!) The kids were given the opportunity to tell about what God is doing in their lives, how they are struggling, or what they are learning. I was amazed at my own doubt as we started the morning. I was sure that the kids didn't get much from the week. I was positive we would just sit there and stare at each other without saying a word. How could I doubt God so easily? God is amazing and his Word is powerful and active! The kids came up the microphones in droves. What a blessing to be able to hear how God is changing lives! Now as we are a couple weeks out from Spiritual Emphasis Week, I am challenged to continue to pray for my students. As the feelings dissipate, I pray the commitment remains!

We are starting discipleship groups at lunch on Fridays with the middle school and high school students. Hopefully this will be a great way for the students to go deeper in their faith. Many of them have a basic idea of Christianity, but few truly live it out. And even fewer have any idea in how to challenge their walk. Pray the kids will be open to participating in these groups. Kids not in the groups will have study hall and I just hope and pray they see a higher need for discipleship than study hall!

Last week we had our annual International Day. I love this day because it's different from the norm and we get to see all the students out of their red, green, and yellow AIS polo shirts! The students are supposed to wear traditional clothing from their home countries. Every year I am disappointed with the fact that Americans have nothing good to wear! The Koreans and Japanese look beautiful and delicate. The colors of the Ghanaian fabric are bright and bold. The Americans...wear jeans. Not quite as exciting as the other countries! This year was pretty fun though because one of the teachers/parents ordered Captain America shirts for all the American teachers. I also had Captain America shield that I had found over Christmas break! The kids loved it! I had so many elementary kids come up to me asking to see my shield, which was fun since I never really interact with the little ones! The day was full of presentations from different countries. I was so excited that I didn't have to come up with a presentation this year! The high school kids got extra credit for a class if they participated and presented. The kids did a really good job! I was impressed and I learned quite a bit! After the presentations the parents come and everyone shares a meal together. People bring food from their countries and it's fun being able to try some new things. I rarely get much food though since us teachers eat last and by that point most of the food is gone, but it's still a fun day just the same! I'm always in awe of God's creativity when I see how many differences there are in the people around the world. All these differences and God is still the God of us all. We are still so very alike. We all enjoy community, we find beauty in our cultures, and we need a Savior.

Friday, December 2, 2011


So this week I have been really busy with "the panto."

Every year the International Players put on a "pantomime" which is a weird British thing. It's a play that has to do with fairy tale characters and the lead guy is always played by a girl and there is a "dame" who is a guy dressed as a girl. There is a lot of silliness and audience participation is expected. You know, booing at the villain and cheering on the heroes. That kind of thing. Maybe joining in a dance or song too. They say they like actors of all ages, but really it's mostly kids. They were looking for more adults so I decided to try out and finally fulfill my dream of being on stage! :) Ever since high school (after trying out every year for the musical and not getting in) I have been wanting to be part of a production. My dream is finally being fulfilled!

I got in, but I'm only in the chorus/circus. So I don't have any lines or anything. Just a few dances and I'm a back ground character so I just have to react to what's be said by the main cast. Even though it's only a bit part, I was probably way OVER excited when I found out I had a part! It was really fun because a few of my students were also chorus members and I was able to give them the good news that they got a part while we were at school (since I could check my email at school and they couldn't)! I nearly cried when I saw how excited they were. Jumping up and down and screaming was involved!

The other chorus members are all pretty much the younger siblings of those with main parts in the panto. So I pretty much spend all my time hanging with 10 to 12 year olds. I feel a bit ridiculous, but it's still fun. Since several of my students are in it, I've really enjoyed being able to do something outside of school with them.

Anyway, our first performance was yesterday. It went really well. Two more, tonight and tomorrow. They put a promo on YouTube so if you want to see kind of what it's about you can look it up.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Another Day Off School...

So we had a day off school last Monday, so of course Christy and I asked ourselves where we were going! We finally decided on traveling to a waterfall that wasn't too far from the city. We dragged Josiah (the PE teacher) along with us. The three of us had no idea where we were actually going but a friend's husband (Gideon) was driving that direction back to his hometown for the day so he gave us a lift and helped us find the right tro-tro to get us to the waterfall. We started off fairly early expecting to be at the waterfall in a couple hours. We had no trouble getting to Sominya, Gideon's hometown. It took us a little longer than I thought, but that's normal. This is Ghana! Sominya was a larger town than I expected. It was fun to see a new place. Gideon introduced us to his mother and an area chief. We also saw where Liz (Gideon's wife) started her organization Overflowing Hearts. She works with the children of the area, sharing Bible stories and helping with basic education skills. I love being able to see new areas where God is working. So after seeing the town a little, Gideon took us to the tro-tro stop. While we waited for the tro-tro to fill up, the driver started a conversation with us. He wanted to talk to Christy at first and then he had me sit next to him. After a marriage proposal, we finally were able to get in the van. The driver wanted me to sit in the front seat next to him, but I found my way to the back! What happened next was one of the funniest parts of the day! A boy about a year and a half old was crying and I thought he might be kind of afraid of us. I tried to talk to him and his mom stood him up near me. I picked him up. And that's how I traveled two hours on the tro-tro! His mom sat near the front and seemed to have no concerns with me holding her son the whole trip! Every so often I looked back to the backseat at Christy and Josiah and Christy and I would burst out laughing. Only here would a mother willing give her child to a complete stranger! The boy fell asleep for quite some time which was amazing because the road was TERRIBLE. When he finally woke up we took a picture of him. He almost threw the camera when we tried to show him the picture! Then his mom took a picture on her phone (which the boy also tried to throw) and set it as her background. For years to come I will be known as that white lady her son sat on for hours! We finally made it to a junction where the driver put us on another tro-tro taking us to the waterfall. We finally got there, got a guide, and took a hike up to a rock. It was fun and beautiful and so nice being in God's creation and out of the city. And oh my, do I need to start working out again! I am so out of shape! But I did make it, maybe not with quite the spring in my step as Christy (Miss "I work out all the time") or Josiah (Mr. "PE") did. Then we walked down to the waterfall which was beautiful! Then we had a lunch of peanut butter pitas and apples. After that we started walking out to catch a tro-tro back to Gideon's town. We walked, and walked, and walked, and walked! We walked for about an hour and fifteen minutes without getting a tro-tro. Finally we started wondering if we were going the right way. At least we were able to entertain all the village kids we saw along the way! Josiah said it might rain and sure enough, it began to rain. We mildly cursed Josiah until we realized it was a blessing since it didn't rain very much, but hid the sun for a little while, giving us a break from the scorching heat! Christy started praying we would have clarity about our direction. We met up with some men walking and they told us that we were in fact going the wrong way! Then they walked with us until we finally found a tro-tro. We got on a tro-tro heading the wrong direction, but they said it was just going to the next village and turning around to head to Sominya. After several hours we finally made it back to Gideon's town. His mom made us dinner which was really nice! We took the food "to go" and headed back to the city. For being not very far away from the waterfall, we ended up traveling for probably over 7 hours! It's a good thing we are flexible! This blog is insanely long, so I'll stop here and just give you a few pictures!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

To Togo...Here We Go!

So we had a day off from school because it was the end of the quarter. We should have been using the time to finalize grades and prepare for parent/teacher conferences. But what did we do instead? Traveled to another country for the day!

My day started out leaving my house just before 5am. I walked down the street to "Christian Center" which is the name of the "tro-tro stop" in our area. A tro-tro is an old van with 12 to 15 seats or so. It is the cheapest way to travel in Ghana. We found a tro-tro heading for the Accra station where we would be able to catch another tro-tro to the border between Ghana and Togo. After asking many people for the location of the proper tro-tro and a scolding from a driver I didn't greet properly before I asked for directions, we made it to a tro-tro to the town of Aflou. The we proceeded to wait for an hour and a half until our tro-tro filled up. There are no schedules, tro-tros just come and go as they fill up with travelers. Don't be in a hurry to get anywhere in Ghana! Two other teachers and I (Christy and Josiah) were finally on our way to getting one more stamp in our passports! After 4 hours of sitting in an old van, we finally made it to the boarder town. We passed the time with good conversation and MANY laughs! Mentioning every so often that we must be getting closer because we were seeing more motorcycles (a common way to travel around in Togo).

If you imagine immigration in the US, that is nothing like the picture before us at the border. Some police around, but no real tough security. We walked through a passageway feeling like cattle where we were not so warmly greeted by Togolese immigration personnel. Christy tried to be friendly and remembering as much French as possible, tried to communicate in their own language. We were told that the laws have changed and we were supposed to obtain a visa for Togo at the embassy in Accra. We panicked a little considering we traveled 4 hours to get Togo only to be told we had to return to Accra. Christy kept trying to communicate in French and I stupidly kept trying to interrupt in English. The man kept saying we had to pay a lot of money but he refused to tell us how much money! We assumed he was trying to get a bribe so we tried to haggle a smaller price and that did not make him very happy at all! Finally after quite some time and a painfully slow process of watching the man stamp passports and write information down and walking across the street and back to get another signature, we were finally welcomed into Togo!

Once we finally made it through, we looked at each other and wondered what we were actually going to do in Togo! So we walked along the beach near all the vendors selling bread and fish just like in Ghana. After walking for 20 minutes or so we decided to go swimming! There was no one in the water, but as soon as we started swimming, so did several others! White people sure draw in crowds. Several boys swam alongside us and several men talked with us on the beach as we rested from the rough waves. The water was amazing! The undertow was VERY strong. It was quite the workout trying to stay above water!

After a while, we decided that it was about time to head back to Ghana. A fun adventure! The only spoiler to the day was that my camera and phone were stolen right as we were packing up to leave the beach. It was startling how fast it happened. So alas, I have no pictures to share with you of the adventure. At least my passport wasn't stolen! Praise God!

Getting back into Ghana was a snap and it was nice to greet the friendly faces of Ghana once again! Then God blessed us again with an almost full tro-tro so we wouldn't have to wait for hours for it to fill up again! Josiah, Christy, and I took the last three seats! Soaked, sandy, and sunburned, we started our journey home to Accra. There were MANY police check points on the way back. They were always interested in saying a word or two to the Oburoni (white people). At one point, we all had to get out and show our passports. Then the tro-tro started going up the road and we thought we had been left behind! We started running after the tro-tro trying to get their attention when we found out the tro-tro was just moving up the road to wait for all the passengers. The ladies on the tro-tro had quite a laugh when they saw that we thought we were being left behind! Back on the tro-tro we ate some bread and prayed for safe travels back to the city.

Quite the adventure! No better way to spend a day off school!

Saturday, October 1, 2011


So often in Ghana I see children or women walking down the street carrying water. Just another normal day in Ghana. People always walking to fetch water. I never really thought about it much. How difficult it must be to do this day in and day out. How time consuming this chore must be. I go back to my house and turn on the tap without even thinking how lucky I am. Then about once or twice a year, for some reason we run out of water. The pipes aren't flowing and our tank runs dry. All of a sudden, CRISIS!!! I can't do laundry...I can't do the dishes (oh wait, I don't cook so I don't really have that many dishes to do!)...I can't wash my face...Brushing my teeth is now a chore...another "shower" using a bottle of water?!...My toilet won't flush!...I forget how important water is and how I take it for granted when I have it. We often lose power here in Ghana, but that is nothing compared to losing water. Hopefully I can remember the next time we don't have power that at lease we still have water, even if the pressure is low because our pump won't be able to turn on!

The other day I was reminded about the importance of praise. How I need to be intentional in offering praise to God in all things. Even in the little things, I should be thanking God for working in my life. I find myself being selfish WAY too often. If I focus on praising God for who He is and what He has done, then my focus won't be on me quite as often. My prayer is that my focus would switch to Him more frequently...