Monday, December 9, 2013

A eulogy for Grandma

A LOT has been happening and I really want to get you all up to speed, but my grandmother's passing has been on my mind.  I wanted to share what I wrote for her funeral service...which is happening right as I post this.  

A eulogy for my grandmother, Catherine J. Edmonds
Written by Jennifer Icenogle

I suppose that as her granddaughter my view of her will be biased.  I suppose that though I wasn’t around that much that my perceptions of my grandmother will and can be very different from those who saw her every day.  What I hope to share is what was best in her. Please bear with me as I share my thoughts and remembrances of my grandmother, my grandma.

I remember so many things and much of my early life was spent with my grandmother, at least that is how I remember it.  I realize now that having my own children and listening to how they recount certain events of their lives is quite a bit different to how I recount the same happening.  That doesn’t make one account wrong and one right, or either account false, just different accounts of the same thing.  So, what I remember is spending a lot of time with my Grandpa and Grandma Edmonds while I was young.  It is because of my Grandma that I LOVE chocolate chip cookies. NO ONE made cookies like my grandma.  I mean really, the only cookie worth making is a chocolate chip one. I remember the hours that she spent playing cards with Joe and me.  Go fish, war, old maid…She always had breakfast ready for us when we woke up…a bowl of cereal and juice waiting for us on the small table in her kitchen on Marcy Street.  I remember one time sitting down at the table and telling her that she had put Joe’s spoon on the wrong side of the bowl (I was facing his place setting and didn’t realize that it was correct) she tried to tell me it was on the right side, but I didn’t believe her.  She had me get up and go over to his setting and see that the spoon was indeed on the right side. I also remember sitting on her bed with her and going over the math flash cards that I needed.  I guess what I remember most, was her just taking time with me…time to play and time to teach.  

My grandmother was an amazing housekeeper! She took a lot of pride in her house and her possessions. Everything it seemed was spic and span and perfectly in its place.  I know that it would have been this way right up to when she left it for the last time. When I think of how my house should look or be, the standard I have in my mind is her house.  That’s a mighty tall standard and, honestly, I fall short of it, most times. My grandma would rise early and get her work for the day done before Joe or I would even get up. I remember her letting me help with dishes and using the hand crank egg-beater to make bubbles in the sink.  I wonder now how much “help” I truly was. 

Funny, how I think most of my memories of my grandma revolve around that tiny kitchen on Marcy Street.  From her I got the idea that a woman provided good food for her family, and took care of the house.  Those ideas and ideals seem now to us maybe old fashioned, but that does not make them wrong.  If only more women focused on providing good food for their families and taking care of their homes how much better society would be.  But I’ve digressed.  Memories of roast beef, mashed potatoes and green beans…grandma putting milk in the ketchup bottle to get out that last little bit. J Memories of her making Crazy cake for my grandpa and sometimes she could get the brown sugar frosting on it before he ate it … and sometimes not.

She was my grandma, but growing up in Ottawa and going to McKinley school, I learned that she was “Grandma” to hundreds of others as well.  You see she worked in the kitchen at McKinley elementary school, and everyone called her grandma.  I remember being in Kmart with her and having other kids that we would see call her Grandma.  I shared her with so many others.

When I began to understand the power and importance of our thoughts and that we could change the way we think from being negative to positive I used the memory of my grandma’s kitchen to bring me peace and calm.  It was the memory of a pleasant spring morning. I could see the trees budding out the window over her sink. There was a copper clock to the left of the sink on the cupboard. The kitchen itself would be immaculate. The kitchen would be warm but not overly so, and of course there was the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven.  When I get scared (and yes, we do still get that way don’t we? ... even as we grow older) this is the memory I choose to go back to in my mind to calm myself and evoke peaceful emotions.

And though all of these memories are pleasant and lovely, I think the best thing my grandma was able to do for me was imprint the truth that there is a God, and that there is such a thing as good and bad, right and wrong. Many a night I remember saying the simple prayer…”Now I lay me down to sleep” and then as I grew, the Lord’s Prayer. I remember her showing me a snake that was on the porch and telling me of the Devil.  These things that I am sure seemed like little things then have had a HUGE impact on what I do this very day and where I am now.   Maybe you don’t know that I am a missionary; that I live in Ghana, West Africa; and that I serve the only living and true God.  Her gentle guidance is what led me on my path to seek truth and mainly to seek the truth found in God’s Holy Word. 

I am very thankful that Grandma asked me to do her eulogy.  I am thankful that I got to share much of these things with her quite a few years ago.  I am thankful for the truth found in God’s word. Here is some of that truth that I have been thinking about  “… the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. It is better to got to a house of mourning that to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for when a face is sad a heart may be happy. The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, while the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.”  (Ecclesiastes 7:1-4) What wise King Solomon is trying to communicate to us in this passage is that mourning is good because it is then that we contemplate our eternities.  You see, when someone dies we are forced to think of these things and we, the living, take it to heart.  Most of the time we can distract ourselves with the busyness of our lives and not think about death.  It is why we are often in the house of pleasure as those verses speak of, so we don’t have to think about death and the judgment and consequences of the choices we make. Later in the same book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon says, “Remember Him [God] before the silver cord is broken”, that silver cord is your life.  God wants you to remember Him before you die.  And a few verses after this the Bible tells us why He wants us to remember Him… “He [God] will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”  He wants us to remember that He is who He is… and not who we may think Him to be… He wants us to love and obey Him.  Please… please take this time to consider your eternity, because I know that my Grandma would want you to consider it now, as she herself sees things now, from the other side of death’s face.  Nothing is more important than what takes place when we die - when we enter eternity. 
Thank you.

Now, if you have stuck with me to the end...way to go!!  There is really only one more thing i'd like to add, and that is if you have any questions about your eternity...i'd love to discuss that with you.  Please contact me.   My love to all!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

One Year!

Hello Everyone!!

Ok, so i looked when the last time i had posted was...which was way too long ago! We started getting ready for school, and well here we are now.  :-) So, this is hopefully going to get you all caught up.

WE HAVE BEEN BACK FOR A WHOLE YEAR!!! Praise be to our God!  We are SO thankful to be here and SO blessed by the saints here in Sunyani.  It is kinda hard to believe that it has been a whole year.  Is it me or do the years get shorter as you get older?!  Now that we are back in school, it seems the time is just flying, yet once again. It is finally seeming like we are settled in and things are feeling like "home" again.

Ok, so to get everyone back up to speed...let's see. Back in August...Montana and Corban were able to participate in a kids' camp in Kumasi.  They came back with lots of stories of all the fun times they had.    Very glad and thankful they could be a part of it.  They loved it!

We also got a puppy the end of July. We don't really know what we are doing with a dog....we bought a book online...watched some dog whisperer episodes on youtube.  Hahahaha!! We should be good to go, right??  The reality of it is we are learning as we go...going back and reading the book some...and just trying to use good ol' plain common sense.

We added another member to our family the beginning of September. His name is Stephen Karikari.  His mother used to live with us and was a student in the Christian school here until she became pregnant with him. At which time, she came to live with us on a more permanent basis. We have know him since he was born, literally.  Stephen was born in our van and "caught" by me on the way to the hospital.  :-)  He was able to attend our  mini-camp that we had with Jonny and Jenny Reijgers and Tyson Jacobs back at the beginning of July.  Since then he has wanted to come and stay with us.  His mother agreed, and now he is living with us and attending the Christian school once again.

Much of August was spent getting ready for school to start.  We placed a pace order to South Africa, and were really contemplating how to pick up the thing as they used to send it airfreight and we would have to go to the airport and pick it up in Accra.  Things have changed, and pleasantly so!  We were a little shocked at how much shipping was, but then we found out that they would airmail it directly to Sunyani!  WOO HOO!! All we had to do was go pick it up at the post office.  Praise God!  The extra cost for shipping totally made up for the trip that was going to have to be made if shipped the way it used to be done before.  Now, you may be wondering, or not, about the pace order...since we use the same paces over and over.  There were missing paces/scorekeys...or pages from paces missing that needed replaced. Also, Steve had been doing Saxon math here before we left in 2006...the decision was made to move to Math paces...we needed all the paces that Montana was going to be in for this year. And, of course, all the learning to read paces that i would need for this year.   All that has been a GREAT start to the school year!! Overall, the kids' spoken English has greatly improved as well as reading and comprehension.  We also went to an "official" school uniform this year.  There had kind of been an "unofficial" uniform of white shirts/tops with black pants/skirts.  This simple act of getting a uniform has really brought some cohesion to the school among the students and i think they feel like this is a "real" school.  You must try and understand, the Sunyani school is very small (we have 14 students) and it is VERY different than all the other schools.  So, I think, in the students minds, getting uniforms made it more like a "real" school.  :-) Hey! Whatever works! :-) Also, i think getting things like real star charts (instead of photocopies) to record their progress on tests...real goal cards (again instead of photocopies) are all making things more official in their eyes. And guess what?!  They are performing WAY better!!  They are really working at understanding what they are doing instead of just memorizing answers to pass tests.

We are now in our 8th week of the first quarter.  We will be taking a week break at the end of the quarter. This is something that Mr. Boateng and Mr. Anthony started in our absence, and everyone seems to like it.  Hey! I'm not going to complain! :-)  I mean, really, twist my arm to take a break?!  If you must...but make sure it's my left arm. LOL!!  I would really like to fill some of that time with video chatting...i already have a time or two set up... please let us know if you would like to "see" us, any of us. :-)

So, yeah, it's taken about a year to get back in the swing of things. A lot of that has just been my getting organized so that there can be less stress about things at home and can focus more on the outward things, school, studies, etc...I made a month long menu for our main meal of the day, supper (right now it has a two week cycle in it...but that still counts!).  I also have a week long schedule for breakfasts and lunches.  This alone has been HUGE in reducing stress! I mean coming home from school, i am usually pretty tired, but then to have to think about cooking lunch...and then supper was tough.  I also have been working on a chore chart(we like to call them social responsibilities).  It seems working WITH the kids instead of just having them do their stuff has been way more productive...whodathunkit?!  :-) and that time does lend itself to more opportunities to share and talk with them.  All of these together are really helping.  I know, i know...if only i had done that sooner.  It's done now, and I'm lovin' it!

One last amazing thing over the last year...we haven't gotten malaria. Not one of us.  People around us are getting it, Stephen Karikari who is now living with us, had it when he first came to live with us because he had been out in a village for a month prior.  How can this be? Very simply, we have been taking Shaklee supplements. Mainly just Nutriferon and Vitalea (multivitamin).   Now this doesn't mean that we don't get sick with a cold or something, but we rarely do, and it is very shortlived.  Imagine what Shaklee could do for you.  If you would like to try Shaklee, please email or facebook message me.  I'd love to get you started on a journey of health.  If it's working for us here where disease is rampant, it can work for you too.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


I know, I know random right?  It is something that i have been thinking about for a good long while, like a year or more, now.  i have been contemplating sharing my thoughts about forgiveness for  a while now, too, and have just decided to do it.  :-)

Well, how important is forgiveness. It's way more important than i first thought.  I mean of course i knew it was important.  But i didn't realize it was also conditional.  Let that sink in, i had to. Yep, conditional.  In both written accounts of the Lord's prayer (Jesus' reply to the disciples wanting to be taught how to pray) Matthew 6:9-15 and Luke 11:1-4  as we ask for forgiveness from God, we are also supposed to forgive others.  Now, maybe you already know this, as sometimes i am a little slow to catch on to some things.  I have been using the ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) method of prayer for a loooong time. It hasn't, until the last year, occurred to me that i should also be praying about forgiving others.  I found this fascinating.  I started looking for more verses on forgiveness.  You know what i found?  More of the same!  But before i get ahead of myself.  Let's look at Mark 11:25,26 "And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions. [But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions."]   These verses hit me hard right between the eyes... and like i said, maybe you already know and understand these principles, but i am SO AMAZED at God's word and it's ability to be new and enlightening no matter how many times I may go through it.  Did you see the power in those verses in Mark?!  Our forgiveness is conditional.  If we want forgiveness from the Sovereign of the Universe, we(as mere men, i mean, really, who are we?) must forgive our fellow man.  That seems like it should be a no brainer, but it can also be a tough order.  What about those ones who haven't asked for forgiveness, what about those who don't know they need forgiveness, or those who know and don't want our forgiveness?  Well... we are responsible to forgive or we will not be forgiven.

Let's look at some more verses that have really driven it home for me.  Hopefully, I can lay this out in at least an understandable manner.  First, let me lay this down. We receive forgiveness of our own sins when we repent and are immersed into Christ (Acts 2:38).  That is really the starting point for all forgiveness.  You will not be able to forgive another until you understand how Christ has forgiven you.  Colossians 3:13 "bearing with one another and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you." Ephesians 4:32 "And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."  See we forgive others because God has forgiven us.  I've given this some serious thought.  What is it that anyone could do to me to hurt me in whatever fashion that would be worse than what my sins did to the Saviour of all mankind?  Again, who am I that I can hold a grudge and/or withhold forgiveness toward any man? You see God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We didn't ask Him first for forgiveness, He first laid down His life so that we could have forgiveness.  What a great example!  In the gospel of Luke, when Jesus is hanging on the cross, He says, "Father, forgive them {he was talking about the soldiers} for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:34  Like woah!  Jesus is in extreme pain and agony and His thoughts are for forgiveness for these men who are casting lots for His clothes, who crucified Him, who scorned and mocked Him.

How do we forgive?  Let's look... Matthew 18:21-35.  The apostle Peter asks the Lord how often shall he forgive his brother if he (the brother) sins against him?  And Peter, I'm sure, thinks he's being quite generous and says "seven times?" Jesus' reply was no, not seven times but seventy times seven!  And then Jesus gives a parable to drive the point home.  The first slave that owed ten thousand talents (some crazy amount in the tens of millions), that's us.  That is what we "owe" God for  the sin we committed against Him.  That second slave, the one that owed a hundred denarii (a denarii was a day's wage) that's the person who has done anything against us.  What is that which the second slave owed in comparison to the first slave?  A drop in the bucket really.  But the story gets better...the master finds out what the first slave did to the second slave (threw him in prison because he couldn't pay) and his master is ANGRY! Oh, I forgot to mention that the master of both slaves is God.  And then we get the crowning jewel, the moral to the story in verse 35, "so shall my heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart" How important is that we forgive each other? Pretty important, i think. And He puts another qualifier on must be from our heart. It must be genuine. It must be sincere.

Two more passages that don't talk about forgiveness directly, but have impacted my thinking on forgiveness are 1 Peter 4:8 "Above all keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins." Seems like it's covered because there is some forgiveness going on.  And Romans 12:19-21.  God doesn't want us to be like Jonah, and desire the downfall of our enemies, instead we are to feed them when they're hungry and give them drink. We are not to overcome good with evil (unforgiveness), but evil with good(forgiveness).  What has any person done to us that we should withhold forgiveness?  There are many more verses and places that either directly or indirectly talk about forgiveness.  How about the self righteous Pharisee and the lowly tax-gather? The stories of Jonah, King David, and all those that Jesus forgave and healed, give us more insight into what forgiveness is and what it means.  I don't know about you, but this has had a profound impact on my prayer life.  Now, not only do i ask forgiveness for myself, but i also pray and forgive others.  Why? Because that's how God wants me to pray.  I love that He keeps bringing things to me to think and meditate over.  My prayer is that this has at least done that for you. Let's excel still more!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


So, i am sitting here curled up in my pink fuzzy blanket and purple footies on because, yes, i am chilled. Betcha didn't think it would get that cool here five degrees north from the equator.  It seems like the rainy season weather that has evaded us has come. we can only pray that the rain that has also evaded us will come as well, or i fear that food prices will soar this coming dry season.  But all that aside... with the current happenings I have been thinking on a few things and i had a really great prayer time this morning. So...I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you.  :-) Remember, I am trying to write more :-)

Now, while trying to get this second paragraph started... I've had several things happen.  One little five year old came to me in her "new" clothes covered in mango stains, to which she was promptly told to change and bring them to me so that i could treat them and get them washed as soon as possible.  Mrs. Boateng and Lucy showed up to give Indie a birthday cream bars, YUM!  Montana said that the chocolate must be American or British because it didn't taste like Ghana chocolate.  :-)

Having my youngest child turn 5 yesterday, was a bit of a reality check for me.  Soon she will learn to read and the school  years will fly by.  Getting ahead of myself you say? I don't think so.  It is times like these that make me stop and assess where we are and where we should be.  i need moments like this to help me focus further out so that i can make the most of where i am right now. Don't you?

I have been thinking about pain, too.  physical pain and emotional pain.  the physical pain has come from my ketttlebell workouts.  When i started them. There was a LOT of pain.  soreness, inability to just move freely without thinking how AM i going to reach down and pick up what i just dropped?! You see i know that if i kept up with the workouts that eventually the soreness would get less, and things would actually start to feel good when i worked out.  I didn't want that pain to be for nothing.  I didn't want the pain  i inflicted upon myself to stop me from continuing on to a greater good.  If i rested too long or waited for the pain to go away completely then the very next time i picked up my kettlebell, I would face that soreness, that pain, again.  So what about the emotional pain? I feel the same way.  I don't want the pain we feel being separated from the ones we know and love to be for naught.   i want to make sure that there is a greater good being accomplished that gives God glory and makes Him smile.  

As we contemplated moving back to Ghana, we considered our kids quite a bit, and talked with them about moving.  Especially Montana, as she was the oldest.  She was the one begging me to stay back in March 2012. Corban had the toughest time getting used to it.  A little surprising, but not too much , as he places a lot of value on his friends.  That quickly changed when we got here and there were the Boateng boys to play with all right around the same ages as our kids.  Jachin has been right on board being here all along. Indie has been my biggest surprise.  She was all for coming here. and she is still OK with it, but the biggest "homesickness " comes from her. She misses so many of her friends and asks when she will get to see them again. enter the emotional pain.   now doubled since i am feeling the pain my daughter feels.  Why does it hurt more like that when it's your kids experiencing it?  makes me wonder, does God feel that way when he sees us hurting?

So where are we?  Well, right now i have two boys who unselfishly spent almost all they earned doing some extra yard work on their little sister's birthday gifts.  i have three kiddos sitting down and happily doing extra math work over their summertime break.  i have one five year old who keeps getting back up on her bike and peddling as often as i tell her so that she can master bike riding.  i have good kids.  i want them to be better.  I want them to have great attitudes in all things, i want them to be thankful in all things, and above all I want them to see how God is at work in their lives.  i have some stepping up to do to get them there, to get me there.  isn't that what Christianity is all about? excelling still more?! Let's press on!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Grind...well...mostly

I have been asked when i would write again on my blog.  so that got me thinking.  when was the last time i posted.  Well, it has been almost two months.  ok, so i definitely need to get better about writing. I mostly feel, like something big or important needs to happen so that i can post it, but the last two months have been pretty much just keeping our noses to the grindstone...except that is for our beach trip. :-)

But first, our daily grind, because I mean really isn't that what life is made of?  We finished our school year on the 20th of June and had our awards night on the 21st.  This was a HUGE accomplishment.  The students made such progress all of them!  I looked though at what my own kids did and initially thought, wow, they need to do more. But then I was reminded, ever so logically and gently by my husband, that they missed out on the entire first quarter of school. AND not only that, but they also made the transition from actually writing in their PACEs (school work) to copy things out in exercise books (notebooks).  It was a little slow going at first for them, and struggles with attitudes abounded because it really is so much MORE work (I'll get to that more in a minute).  But, they persevered and we gave them no opportunity for pity.  And so, with all that in mind, they came out doing very well.  Very well, indeed.  Montana and Corban tied for the most 100s in their learning center.  Jachin got the most PACEs for his learning center and he also got the Principle's Award (academic achievement award that takes into account number of PACEs, PACE average, and academic balance).   Soooo, back to things being more difficult to do school work in exercise books.  In order to keep the costs of running a school here as low as possible, we do reuse materials.  For the students, this means that the work they would normally do in a PACE gets copied into their exercise books.  That doesn't sound too bad does it? :-)  Well...the next time kids are in school, pick up a PACE and check it out.  Where many kids in America just have to underline or circle... our kids(the kids in Sunyani and elsewhere in Ghana) are writing out the answers even whole sentences. This takes more time.  It requires more diligence, because we take off points on checkups, self tests, and tests for misspellings or things incorrectly copied. Is it fair?  That really isn't the question.  Life isn't fair.   We have to take the challenges we are faced with and do the best we can....and surprisingly, pleasantly so, these kids are rising to meet these challenges and persevering and conquering!  So, as you can see, school takes up a large part of our daily grind.  There is more I could tell you, but alas, who wants to read a book on blog page?!

We all really enjoyed our trip to the beach.  :-)  Our kids wanted to spend all day every day down at the water either in the water, hunting up shells, or playing in the sand.  Who could refuse them?!  That IS why we were there.  It was a really relaxing time.  I love the beach.  Who wouldn't?  So glad that I didn't grow up around I totally think I would have become a bohemian.  :-)  My kids came home with shells, sand, and sea water (so that their friends here in Sunyani could taste it lol!).

Once back to Sunyani, we dug in our heels to finish out the last half of the last quarter.  You know, I always look forward to school starting, but i also look forward to the end of the year.  Sometimes those last few weeks are hard because you want so much to just be done.  BUT, I want them to be done well and finished up strong.  The last quarter of school I was especially working on improving the primary learning center's English.  I often wondered through the process how much progress i was making with them.  Right in that last week of school, when we were finishing up the PACEs the kids were in, I got a few glimpses that there was indeed progress.  God is SO good.  I am SO thankful for His loving kindness and amazed that He allows us, sometimes, to see the impact we are making.  One student's comprehension finally had caught up with her reading level.  Another student totally aced all of his spelling words.  And another, was catching on to the entire system of how to do the PACEs.  I am really excited for next year!!  They are going to really kick things out!

Ok, so here are some ideas I have been tossing around.  As you can see I changed the name of the blog. I did that so that because I didn't want to feel like I needed to have something big or amazing happen for me to write.  I am going to work toward one time a week. Now I don't know how long it'll take me to get there.  Right now, you're probably all thinking that one time a month would be improvement. LOL!!  I want to talk about our faith, our family, strength, and fun.  Not necessarily in that order or any order.  I definitely want to include some Shaklee stuff, because...I do.  :-)  I have had a very few ask me what it's like here.  One person asked me about what kind of food is available here.  I hope to do a blog on that soon.  Do you have any ideas or questions about life here?  Let me know.  It'll give more to write about.  Hope you all have a great weekend!  God bless!

Sunday, April 21, 2013



ok, I have to confess that i had this idea pretty much since the last time i posted something, but thought to be fair I should wait a while before posting again.  Soooo, wait a while i have done, probably too much of a while.  :-)  So this post is going to be random things that i have wanted to share. There will be no rhyme or reason, just randomness.  :-)

The first thing is SHOES.  Hmmm, kinda a strange topic.  Since we have been in Ghana, we have had no vehicle of any sort.  Oh sure, we take taxis to town, but then walk all over town until we want to head home and then get another taxi to take us out our direction.  And, of course, any time we have travelled to Kumasi we have taken a bus.  Needless to say we have done a LOT of walking.  We walk half a mile to school and a half a mile back. It only take about 10-12 minutes, 15 if we're feeling a bit slow.  If we want to take a taxi to town, we have to walk out to the main road, again, a half a mile, to catch a taxi.  We then pay a little more than 25cents for taxi fare for each person.  Not bad, really.  Walk all around town to do our business or shopping and then pay a little more than $2.50 for a taxi to take us directly back to our house, or just pay the 25 cents and walk that half a mile home.  So, in case you're wondering what this all has to do with shoes....our shoes are wearing out much faster than I am used to with all the walking we are doing. Corban has gone through three pairs of flip flops and a pair of sandals alone.  Granted he is probably the roughest on the shoes, but like...WOW!  Just within the last few weeks we bought bicycles for the kids and me. I am hoping that saves on the shoes a bit.  :-)

The next thing is WATER.  Our water is city water, and at best it is on sporadically.  We get all excited when it comes on because we actually get to take showers instead of bucket baths.  We get to do laundry!  We get to wash our hands with running water all by ourselves and not have to ask for someone to pour water for you to wash them!  We get to fill the water filter directly from the tap and not have to buy water to filter! I mean, c'mon isn't this what you all get excited about?!! ;-) Thankfully we do have well from which to get water when we need it, and often we do.  It is entirely human powered.  We have no pump for it, no nice little pully thing to make the puling up of a five gallon bucket any easier, just sheer brute strength, usually supplied by my amazing husband, Steve.  You realize it's the simple things in life that you enjoy when you think the electricity is on, the water is on, the clothes are clean, and the dishes are washed.  Life is good!

The next thing is BATS.  We live about a mile away as the crow flies(or rather in this case as the bat flies) from a HUGE bat cave, but it's not a cave, it's just trees.  During the day, from my front porch you can see where all these bats hang out. LOL!  That was punny!  :-D the tress look black and they are..from the bats.  They are ruining the trees on which they hang and i wonder what will happen as they continue to multiply.  Around dusk every evening the make their nightly pilgrimage to where I do not know.  But they fly, and it is literally in the thousands, right over our house. Last Friday night, before the water came on and while the electricity was off, Steve and the boys were getting water from the well.  A little bat made it"s way into our house unbeknownst to us until we were sitting around watching a movie in the dark.  Jachin saw it first.  Steve knocked at least unconscious if not dead and took it outside.  It was quite the bit of excitement, and just added so nicely to this section that i had already planned on writing more than a month ago.

The next thing is SHAKLEE.  I am so very thankful for the Shaklee supplements we have had during our time here.  We haven't had all that I would have liked, but we have had the most important one and that is Nutriferon.  This is the supplement that I stocked up heavily on because it was to be our malaria prophylaxis.  It has been working!  Not one of us has had malaria yet, and it is beginning to get the attention of those we work with here in Sunyani.  Mr. Anthony wants to know more.  :-)  Nutriferon is one of those amazing supplements that actually works to build and keep your own immune system strong.  You can google to find out more, but let me tell you, if you are interested in getting some let me know.  All of Shaklee's product are guaranteed to work 100% or your money back.  I would really like to be able to make a little money again with Shaklee so that we can afford the supplements that keep us healthy and able to do the work here.  I would love to introduce to you Shaklee and get you headed on a pathway of health.  :-)

The last thing is MY BLOG.  I am a bit blog illiterate.  Would somebody be willing to tell me how to post pictures on this thing, or how to get a link to Shaklee website on here?  I suppose if I took the next three to six hours I could figure it out myself, but...alas, i have neither the time or the patience.  I need help.  Thanks a head of time!

I pray that this finds you all seeking first God's kingdom and His righteousness.  Please continue to pray as we try and figure out what kind of work God would have Steve do to provide for us here.  We love you all, and miss you too!  But even better than that, God loves you even more!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

School and a trip

Hello!  I bet you all couldn't tell that I have been working in school...and that the weather has turned very hot. :-) Needless to say it makes for one very worn out Jenn.   So, I have been thinking about what to write and have been wanting to write about the school for a while now. So, I will start with that.

My kids, as you all know started school the Monday after we arrived in Sunyani.  I however did not get fully involved in school until December.  there were many reasons for this,and I am glad to be working again and doing what I love.  yes, I love working in school. I especially love working in school here in Ghana. it is incredibly difficult and hard, but also immensely rewarding.  I'll get to more of that in just a bit.

First the kids.  There are now 16 kids in school.  That does include my four year old Indie. We have enrolled her in the Speaking English program. LOL!!  Since i am in school everyday, Indie needs a place to be.  AND it is actually good for her as she is learning verb tenses andvocabulary that wil be needed for the Learning to Read program. The pace work (school work) is good for her to, dot to dots, coloring by number, drawing missing parts to things has all been very good for her.  It has been good for the other students to actually have an English speaker in the class as well.  Indie got a kick on the day they were learning toothbrush.  Th is difficult to pronounce since it is a consonant blend that is not in the local languages here. The kids all said toot brush which illicited many giggles from my little Indie. :-)   Montana and Corban are in the older learning center, and Jachin in the younger learning center.  There are 9 students altogether in those two learning centters.  The age ranges are from 6 years old to 12.  My kids are getting the hang of doing their school work in "exercise books" or notebooks as we might call them.  We have only one copy of each PACE and so they are recycled through each kid.  It has really helped cut costs since we don't have to get new paces for every kid for every subject.  This does mean that pacework is a bit slower.  Imagine having to write everything out instead of underlining, circling, or just anwsering. Math is the biggest time consumer.  They have to write out all the problems and then answer them. I really appreciate my kids, a lot, as this has been the biggest change for them as regards school, and they are just rolling with it.  It was difficult at first, but now it is normal, and hey it's really what everyone else has to do, too.  :-)

Back to the immensely rewarding part.  :-)  Here is what I love...helping kids learn how to think and how to learn.  I took a kid who only completed one pace in the first quarter to completing 11 in the second!! And took the same student who couldn't add or subtract without manipulatives, to being able to go through a flash card deck and get every single one of them right the first time. It still brings tears of joy as i remember it.  :-)  you know why? Because there was a struggle.  I had to fight (not physically, but mentally) to tear down those giants of I CAN'T, and help him, make him see that he CAN. That i tell you, that is what learning is all about.  I see his smile and the light that has come on in his eyes because he is beginning to understand, truly understand, what it is that he is learning.  That is what I love.  It is where my passion is.  I have parents who come and thank me, to which I respond, "it is my pleasure" and it truly is my pleasure.  Loving kids whom i have not born and engaging their brains to read and think and grow.  And I think to myself, this is why God made me.

Why did God make you? Do you know that God made you? He formed your inward parts while yet in your mother's womb.  You were wonderfully made, and you are known by the One who created  you.  He created you for a purpose.  i praise and thank God for every day i get to be here,  for bringing us back to Ghana. I am so very thankful for His plan and purpose for me, for Steve, and for our family.

I would like to ask you to pray for us.  We will be making a trip to Togo next week as we need to leave the country so that we can re-enter the country and get our passports stamped for another two month stay. Steve has been working tirelessly on finding work here.  He has applied for several development jobs here. A couple that sound pretty good, and we are not really sure if we will get to stay in Sunyani  with any of them.  Please pray our travels are uneventful and that we will find the work that the Lord wants Steve to be doing.

We miss you all.  Our love to all.  God's blessings to you all.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Our house and a tree house

Happy New Year!  Wow the last month has just flown!  so, here I am as I hope to catch you all up to speed.  :-)

We started December still in the two rooms at the school house and moved into the house we're renting on Steve's birthday.  it was a little crazy, but we managed to move in and cook a birthday dinner.  Steve wanted fried chicken and mashed potatoes.  I did pretty well with the masked potatoes but the fried chicken.... well it need to cook more.  Hey! not that i don't know how to cook it, mind you, i ended up buying chicken godzilla and could barely fit three legs in my frying pan (a large one at that!).  And for dessert, ice cream cake.  Ok, that really was the best part! :-)  When you only have a two burner stove top you begin to get creative.  i tried my hand at pitas today, hoping to add that to my repertoire of stove top cooking, but alas it was not to be. I couldn't get the silly things to puff up so that you could actually stuff them afterwards, but i have digressed haven't I?

back to December.  Moving in has been so good!  The boys have their own bedroom, the girls have their own bedroom, Nancy has her own bedroom, and we have ours. WOO HOO!  And we have two bathrooms, which makes for faster bath times.  The water here is not as good as it was at the school/church building.  We are not on the main water supply like the school building is.  So, the water tends to be more off than on here. So, when the water comes on, there is a rush of excitement to get the washer going and take a "real" shower instead of bucket baths, and fill the water barrels that we now have in the house.  We have a water barrel in the kitchen and one in the kids' bathroom area. We have yet to get one for our bathroom, but we will.  Just waiting for our favorite discount store to get restocked so we can buy one.  :-)  Oh, yes, we do have a well. but it is really like the jack and jill kind of well without the convenience of the handy dandy pully to help pull up the bucket.  we have a nylon rope and the equivalent of a five pound bucket at the end of it which Steve pulls up approximately 42 feet to fill the buckets that Corban brings into the house to fill the water barrels when their empty.  it does seem to happen that as soon as the barrels get filled that our water comes on. C'est la vie!

Soon after we moved in the Harmattan came.  The Harmattan is when trade winds blow over the Sahara. It gets very dry and dusty during this time, but the HUGE benefit is that it cools way down at night.  Way down into the low 60s!  It was even supposed to get down in the upper 50s, but it either didn't happen or we weren't here when it did.  We had to switch our 5 speed ceiling fan from the highest 5 down to 2, just so we wouldn't get too cool.  :-) Indie has been wearing her long john jammies.  Another great thing about the dry season is that our clothes dry super fast on the clothesline, sometimes within the time that it takes to do another load (water permitting).

Corban and Jachin and even Montana some have been working on a treehouse in an avocado tree in the yard.  Jachin is out in it most days, and i figure by the time he's ten, it will be a full blown house as he keeps making improvements on it daily.  He's currently working on a telephone for it.  Maybe we will put a swing in a different avocado tree too. So, of the trees in my yard, I have three avocado trees, a lemon tree, an orange tree, a mango tree, a moringa tree, and 6-8 palm trees (the palm fruit kind), and a papaya tree.  Avocados are on the trees now, maybe we will have some ripe very soon.  The mango tree is blossoming so hoping by march we have some of those.  we have already taken three big bunches of palm fruit off of two trees.  We made soup with some and gave the rest away as we don't have a way to keep it. We have a very sizable yard, which has been so great!  The kids have been running around and playing quite a bit. this is especially nice because when you live in a walled compound you could feel a bit closed in, but the yard helps tremendously. We even played a game of family football last night. it was quite hilarious! :-D

Our porch has become the best place to hang out. I am there right now as I type. :-)  We eat out here, skype out here, do our Bible reading and prayer time out here.  It is really great having it screened in so that we can just hang out here at anytime.  In the mornings, it is really nice to come out here with a hot cup of coffee while it is still pretty cool and enjoy the coolness.  And it's probably about the only time, when drinking a hot cup of anything sounds appealing.

We started our new year off with a meeting out at the treehouse.  We talked about what kind of things we'd like to accomplish this year.  Mainly we talked about Bible reading plans.  Steve and I are going to read the Old Testament once and the New Testament three times this year.  Montana is going to read the whole Bible, Corban is going to read about half of the Old and all of the New Testament, Jachin is going to read the New Testament, and Indie is going to have a story read to her each day from her beginner Bible.  We're also going to be working on memorizing Psalm 119 (we may take more than a year to do that, though, as the kids still have their school memory work too).

Now you know a little bit about our new place.  I have a couple of things I'd like to ask.  The very first being is that we would love to host you!  Who would like to come for a visit???? :-)  We have lots of space now, and would love to see some of you while you get to visit the Saints and work here.  The second thing is that we are all missing many of you.  Would you consider emailing, facebook messaging, or skyping with us?  My kids especially would love to hear from or "see" some of their friends.  My kids would love to skype! Please message me so that we can set up a time to do that.  Since we are several hours ahead of you, if we could set up an appointment I think we can make it happen that way.
We sure do love you all!