Ghana trip

Ghana Trip (part 1)

I have been trying to find the right words to answer the questions that people keep asking about how our trip was. I think I haven’t really processed it all yet and it is so much to try to sum up into a quick answer! We loved it so much! Ghanaians are wonderful welcoming people who are so fun to be around because they are WAY more expressive than North Americans.

Paul and Anna

Ghanaians are wonderful welcoming people who are so fun to be around because they are WAY more expressive than North Americans. While we were there we taught our hostess, Anna, and her sister Millicent how to make pizza, when we told her we would teach her she danced around the house smiling and cheering. It’s wonderful. (the pizza turned out really good too) We could not have dreamed of better hosts than Paul, Anna and Millicent! We adore them and miss them so much now that we are away. Anna and Millicent are fabulous cooks and spoiled us so much! All three of them are so fun to be around, so silly and hilarious and just all around wonderful.

Millicent

The classes were great, Caleb loved teaching with Pete and Paul and I enjoyed hanging out with some of the kids what came along with their moms. Lesley and I were able to lead a small group during the second module which was on our Position in Christ. We had about 15 women in our group and really enjoyed getting to know them. We would have loved to have a lot more time with them and are looking forward to seeing them again on a future trip.

Caleb teaching in Ghana

We were able to go to a local school and teach during chapels on Wednesday mornings which was awesome. Caleb and I taught the little guys (K – grade 6ish). The younger kids don’t speak very much English yet so we had the help of a translator which was actually really fun because he was a very high energy and expressive translator who copied all the mannerisms I used when I told my story. Caleb taught the first week and I took the second one, I taught the story of Elijah with the prophets of Baal – my  favorite Bible story. (That story always goes over really well with kids.) It is pretty cool that they still have prayer, singing and Bible classes in public schools there! It seems like such a foreign thing coming from a country like Canada or the US.

We were able to spend two days with Priscilla, a very cool lady who fosters 8 children (2 have been adopted by her and her husband now, 6 are still foster kids) in Accra. These children all have special needs and some of them are fairly severe. Priscilla is so full of faith and love she practically radiates it. It was so wonderful getting to know her a bit, I would have loved to spend a lot more time with her and hope to do so next time. On top of her job being mommy and daddy to 8 little kids, Priscilla and William teach Bible classes in the nearby slums, one of the few unchurched places. They are praying about planting a church there soon. There are ways to support their ministry with children and with this church plant if you are interested….

Priscilla Pete, William and the kids Lesley

Just today we saw that the adoptions for two of these little children have gone through and they will be heading over to the US to their new families. Please pray for William and Priscilla and the children as they all say goodbye, this is always very hard but also something to praise God for! If you want to know more about their ministries you can look them up on facebook, twitter or online West Africa Mercy Ministries.

If you haven’t seen the first video from our trip you can do so here and subscribe to my youtube channel to see the next one when it comes out. I will write more and post more videos soon.

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A day in London

A day in London!

One very cool treat at the end of our trip was a cancelled flight that led to about 30 hours in London. We got a hotel, rested, showered and toured London. It was a crazy day with 8 hours of walking fast all over and we loved every minute of it. (although I limped back into the hotel like an idiot while Caleb and Lesley laughed at me.)

If you haven’t seen this already, here is a taste of our amazing day in this beautiful city:

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The tale of badly misconstrued measurements

It was a hot hazy day in Ghana, just as every other day had been while we were there. Harmattan was in full swing. We had been there for a few days already and I was starting to think about looking for a dress for Aurora. She had made it very clear that she wanted an African dress and some jewelry. The home we were staying at was just down a short dirt road (subdivision seems like the wrong word….) with a few houses on it a 1-2 minute walk from one of the main roads, we had to walk it every day to go to the market or get to the church where we were teaching in the evenings. We noticed that there was a seamstress right there and decided to stop in and get a quote from her, and pick out a style before heading into the market to find the right fabric.

I know a little about sewing having grown up with a seamstress for a mom (she will freak when she sees me call her that but it is true) so I knew that I would need her waist measurement and the height from nape of neck to floor. Armed with these measurements (via text to my mom) I head across the street with Lesley, Anna and Millicent ready to do business. The problem is that although Ghana is technically an English country, it really isn’t. In the city most people speak a little bit of English, you need to speak slowly (our accents….) and not use big words and you should be ok but the further you get from the city the less English they speak. In Nsawam most people speak a tiny bit at least and the people who came to the teaching spoke enough to understand and communicate quite well as long as we were careful to speak slowly and clearly. Well, this seamstress spoke none. Ok, I can handle this, I have Anna and Millicent, they are both Ghanian and speak Twi as their first language. So they rattle off with her and I just stand there like an idiot trying to be useful.

I chose a pattern and told the seamstress Aurora’s age and start to give the two measurements that I have…. Now my second problem starts. I am not good with details. This is a slight understatement. I really do try but it seems the harder I try the worse it gets. So I start giving measements to the seamstress’s assistant using the numbers and signing with my trusty hostesses there to help if needed.

“Ok. Waist – 43 inches.”

They look at me with confusion, then start rattling off to Anna again. “How old did you say she is?”

“Oh she is 7 but she is very tall so she is more like 8 in her size.”

They continue to look at me with confusion but not wanting to show how horrified they are at my ginormous offspring they calmly write it down. Waist 43 inches.

“Ok, Height – 26 inches…wait a minute….”

Luckily I realized my mistake, giggled about it and tried to explain. Ok no problem. She gave me the amount of yardage I would need and sent me on my way.

Next stop, slightly down the road there was a tailor, I would stop in quickly and ask about a boy’s shirt for Gideon. Since Gideon is a tiny little guy I didn’t bother getting measurements, he is a bit smaller than most African 4-year-olds I hung out with so this would be easy. For some reason it wasn’t. Usually even for an adult outfit this tailor just needs to see a picture of someone and can make an outfit to fit them perfectly. (seriously….skill!) I told the tailor (who spoke even less English than the seamstress, and being a man seemed to understand my signing less than the seamstress had) his age, that he is small and even showed a video of Gideon to him so he would see what he looks like. Nope, I need measurements

“Nope, I need measurements.” he told Anna, but did tell me how much fabric I would need.

We headed off to the market, chose our fabrics and brought them back later in the day. By this time I had gotten a text back from my mom with Gideon’s waist measurement and the length that the shirt should be.

“Waist – 22 inches, length – 14 inches”

“What about his shoulders?”

“Oh, I will have to ask and come back.”

My mom had already sent this measurement, but my dislexia and attention to details flared up here again. She had used numbers to write the other two measurements but had written out “five and a half” for the length of one shoulder so I didn’t notice it. (me with details….).

The next day (time difference…) I get this response:

That’s 11″, it would have been double the other one

Ok, head back to the tailor and tell him, I could do this one alone it would be easy, I wouldn’t need a translator. Caleb went with me.

“Shoulders 24 inches.”

He writes it down and doesn’t even look at me funny.

I leave feeling accomplished.

Several hours later as we are all sitting quietly studying for the evening class I start thinking over what I told him.

“Oh crap. Did I really say that?”

I check the text from my mom. Shoulders are 11 inches, the double it was from the “five and a half” in the first text. Did I say 11? I think I said 24. Where did I get that number from?!

“Hey Caleb, did I tell the guy that Gideon’s shoulder are 11 inches or 24 inches?” I called from the other room.

“I think you said 24.”

I burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter, woke up Lesley and disturbed the guys who are diligently studying. I came stumbling out of the room sobbing, doubled over and attempted to explain what I had done. I say the “double it” and doubled the 11 – except even that doesn’t really make sense because 24 isn’t the double of 11……

I began to picture what this shirt would look like. What this child would look like.

Shoulders: 26″ wide

Waist: 22″ around

Length: 14″

More fits of laughter. Oh dear. “I need to go fix this!”

Then I remembered what I had done with Aurora’s measurements and laughed even harder picturing these two freak of nature children standing side by side. Mr. Football shoulders and Miss Beachball. Oh dear. I am such an idiot!

Thankfully when I stopped in with Paul (our host) he was able to explain the extent of my stupidity and the tailor had already figured out a plan.

It was pretty hard to walk past either place afterwards though without fits of laughter.

Moral of the story: I cannot be trusted with details or measurements.

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The tale of the chicken taxi

It was always very dark when we left the training sessions and headed back home. Paul had made it clear that it was safe for us to walk TO the church for sessions (just before 5pm) but walking home was not safe. It wasn’t likely that we would get robbed or hurt walking home all together, but it was very possibly that a ruffian might follow us to find out where we were staying and rob us in the night. Safety is something we are always aware of, we don’t want to put our host family in any extra danger and we don’t want to lose anything valuable, especially our passports.

As we had done every night, we walked to the road, Anna hailed a couple taxis and all the ladies piled in and started for home while the men waited for the second taxi to follow.

The taxi Anna flagged seemed like it might be trouble (it had stalled 2 times just turning around to get us and had no tail lights) but most cars here have issues so we hopped on in and started for home.

I need to pause here to mention that Anna had spent about four hours removing her awesome weave, walking down to the road side “salon” getting her hair washed, moisturized and redone with big curlers that had to sit for many hours before being taken out. It was a long process for her and had taken most of the day.

Ok, back to the story.

The speed bumps here are insane, even going as slowly as possible most cars scrape as they go over, so our driver decided to go a different way which included a fairly steep hill (We are in the middle of some small mountains here.) but avoided all but one speed bump.

After stalling for the 30th time and not wanting to start again, Lesley and I started getting nervous. We didn’t know where we were, ànd knew we shouldn’t walk at night. We were beginning to think we would likely get robbed and I would lose my expensive DSLR and all our money, we were just hoping we would make it home unharmed even if we lost everything.

I sent a text to Pete letting him know that we kept stalling and didn’t know where we were, hoping that Paul could help them find us. The mood in the car was very tense. Did I mention it’s 30C? The fumes were pretty strong too.

Suddenly, the silence was peirced as something large came flying in the window through Anna’s hair straight into the cab driver. There was screaming and flapping and feathers flying everywhere. Finally the cabbie caught a very terrified and parcially plucked bantam chicken. The car erupted in laughter. Even the driver was cracking up. A chicken….flew into the cab….into Anna’s hair….

Apparently a dog was chasing it and the taxi seemed like the safest place to be.

The driver was able to get the car started and we slowly puttered/stalled our way home still laughing hysterically.

We teased the driver alot and waved goodbye to our “chicken taxi!”

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a loss

About a month ago I, along with many others, was the victim of a cyber attack. I was locked out of all of my websites for at least a month and now that they are finally back (thank you so much Zachary – Caleb’s computer genius brother) and most are unharmed, except this site. My site. I’ve lost everything I have written for the last 2 years. All gone.

Excuse while I got cry and make some strong coffee.

Ok. I haven’t actually cried about it yet but it is a pretty big blow. I know, I know, I should have backed up and I certainly will from now on. I guess I just thought that this would never happen.

Word to the wise (and to idiots like me) don’t keep it all just online! Back it up somewhere, multiple places multiple external hard drives and websites.

So now I will go pull myself together, drink that coffee and later on I will share one of my funny stories from Ghana.

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5 Ways to be an Awesome Mom (with minimal effort)

If you are lazy like me, but still want to rock this parenting thing and raise happy healthy children you need some tips for being an awesome mom with minimal effort. Sure, anyone can tell you to bake fantastic treats and do all those things that suspiciously energetic Pinterest moms do, but let’s be honest, that isn’t going to happen. So here are my 5 tips to make you a better (even awesome) mom today while still keeping your sanity and conserving energy.

  1. Laugh at their jokes. I know half the time they are just so so lame and after hearing them 300 times you don’t want to laugh again but go ahead and do it
    They’ll love it and you might find the forced laugh leads to actual feelings of humour
  2. Growl and chase them. If you have sensation kids maybe don’t do this one, but for most kids it brings forth squeals of delight, wide eyes and is fairly funny to watch. You only need to do this for a minute but the excitement continues for a while for them..
  3. Talk like Beaker. This is my go-to tool for addressing Aurora’s whining lately. She fuses and I repeat everything she says in Beaker language. It generally annoys her then makes her laugh. Continue until the fussing stops completely and be sure to interrupt/talk over her while she is still whining.
  4. Set up their car track/a tent/a Thomas village. Sure this one takes a bit more effort, but it should keep them occupied for a while and buy you a bit of peace.
  5. Be super expressive. Saying things like “Beautiful!”, “Awesome job, buddy!”, and “Great work!” Go a long was in boosting your kids moral and therefore making them think you are more awesome.

Bonus: Jump on the trampoline with them. Now I understand this one only works if you actually have a trampoline, and requires more effort but I can actually be quite fun once you get over looking like a fool. If you don’t have a trampoline some great substitutes would be going down a slide several times, playing tag, building a snow fort or leaf pile actually, any type of Fort really basically ups your awesome level to a 10.

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A Good Mom

A Good Mom

” I felt like a good mom yesterday” she said to me today listing off all the fun they had together playing and being silly. She is a working mom, she provides well for her children, she bakes and cooks nice things for them. She loves them well and yet she feels this guilt that we all feel that somehow we are not good enough moms unless we DO all these extra things.

I don’t remember anyone ever telling me that I needed to do certain things to be a “good mom” besides the obvious things like provide for your children, kiss their owies, nurture them, feed them, make sure they are clean and get their rest. No one gave me an extra list of to-dos. For some reason most of us judge ourselves pretty harshly though and think we are bad moms because we fall short of our own expectations.

I know a lot of us blame this on Pinterest and Social Media and it is true that has exasperated the problem, but mom guilt was around long before the internet.

We believe the lie that we are failures. We judge ourselves and in doing so we actually make ourselves less effective as moms.

So moms out there, working moms, single moms, stay at home moms, rich moms, poor moms, moms with only one child and moms with a full house, don’t believe the lie. Hear me shout, you are enough! You are a great mom, if you weren’t you wouldn’t be worrying about it. Do your best and accept grace for all of your failures because just as your own mom wasn’t perfect and her mom wasn’t, you will never be perfect but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a fantastic mom. A good mom. The best mom possible for your children.

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Confessions of a Lazy Mom

Confessions of a Lazy Mom

I have to admit that most of the time I fail miserably at being a mom. Oh I can make it look like I don’t, I can put on a good show when others are around but when it really comes down to it I am nothing like the mom I planned to be. I can’t seem to find the energy to be her.

I don’t scream at my kids, I don’t use words like “shut up” or bad language around them, but i do yell sometimes. I do empty threats that I am just to lazy to follow through with or never intended to follow through with in the first place.

I don’t enjoy cooking most days so if I can get away with it our meals will be quick and easy things. My mom always had great meals (unless she tried a new recipe that was a flop – that happened a few times, usually when we were having company over) but my level of cooking laziness far exceeds hers. My kids aren’t starving by any means but this isn’t what I pictured when I thought about being a mom. I thought I would love cooking and doing their laundry. Who could not love folding up tiny clothes over and over again because they knocked over the pile again or decided it looked like a fun place to jump….

I thought I would read to my kids a lot more than I do. I love to read and always have but when I tried to read books to my kids they ways got bored within minutes or even seconds. That has improved quite a bit now that they are older but most of the time it is still frustrating. I guess, in hindsight, starting them off with that complete works of Aristotle might have been a mistake…..haha I kid, obviously, but that is how they treated even the most exciting books if they don’t have any pictures. I’ve let it burn me out and frustrate me more than it should and instead of persevering I more often opt for what is easier and requires less work. I really need to work on this area…. I must force them to enjoy reading….

I don’t do all that extracurricular crap. Honestly, I get really tired when other moms talk and out skating lessons and swimming lessons and gymnastics and dance class and hockey and soccer and ballet and music lessons and a million other things our children apparently HAVE to learn if they will succeed. My kids play outside and play with lego. They make up their own dance moves, do enough crafts to paper most of the continent and do enough gymnastics on the trampoline that I think they will probably survive.

Sports?! Ain’t nobody got time for dat! Seriously, I have no idea how anyone has time for that. Sure it is cute when they are little but it’s just not gonna happen. Aurora has school-year-long PE every year in her school and gets a taste of all different sports and does intramural games for all of them, that’s good enough. When she’s a teenager she can do more if she wants. When I was a teenager we played floor hockey, basketball or soccer daily but it was always just games we called and if you wanted to play you came. I don’t really see that in Aurora’s future, she may surprise me but it would be a BIG surprise and I am way too lazy to force it.

I don’t do Pinterest crafts with them, I did at one point but now it is basically a once a year or a couple times a year thing….and I don’t do “sensory activities” I mean, my kids bead necklaces and bracelets and paint and stuff like that but I don’t do these specific sensory things that are supposedly so crucial.

Do I feel guilty about it? Ya, sometimes. Probably a lot actually but then I remind myself that my kids are surviving fine, are learning and are doing well so it is probably all ok.

What are your lazy mom confessions?

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byourlove

By Our Love

If you haven’t heard about ISIS and the Syrian refugee crisis (on top of all the millions of refugees there already were from more than just Syria) then you are in the minority. Almost all of us have heard, we all wept over Aylan’s body and the news of so many others who have either perished trying to escape, been caught and sent back to the war zones, or made it to what they thought was safety only to be mistreated in those places. It is heartbreaking and although it is nothing new many of us didn’t really wake up to the problem until recently. We have a chance now to either ignore the problem, pretend it isn’t happening, or be the church, show love and say yes we will obey.

On Wednesday night our church held a meeting for us, the other churches in the area and anyone who was interested in coming to talk about bringing a family over. I have been desperately hoping that we would sponsor at least one family as a church so this was very encouraging. I worried that this would just be more talk when what is really needed now (and was long before this new crisis) is action but left feeling encouraged that this isn’t just talk, it is a plan. It is amounts of money written down on pieces of paper promising how much each person is able to give so we know how many families we can bring over. It was information from someone who has already gone through this whole process and can answer our questions even the ones we didn’t know we had. It was people promising to help teach ESL, to help with all the little things that are necessary to live in a climate like ours.

As I drove home I thought about how God already has a family (or multiple families) chosen for us, He knows what country they will come from and what language they will speak. We can imagine and speculate but He already has them picked out. I thought about how cool it is that I can already be praying not only for the logistics of sponsoring a family but I can pray specifically for the people that we will one day meet. It doesn’t matter to God that I haven’t learned their names yet because HE already knows them.

So as our community embarks on this new adventure that will, I am sure, be difficult and amazing and trying and leave us all changed, will you pray with me for the family God will bring into our lives? Will you pray for us as we prepare to show the love of Christ to a family who has been through unimaginable pain. Will you pray for patience and wisdom and lots of grace for everyone who will be involved in this process. Thanks.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.          (John 13:35)

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