Mighty Mighty Ministry

ImageGod is doing big BIG things over here in Ghana! I hardly know where to begin! We have so many projects in the making, so many opportunities to minister, and so much fun to be had! I want to share with you some of the adventures we have coming up so that you can be joining us in prayer and encouragement, and feel connected with what’s going on over here.

 

Image 1. Full Spectrum Home Education

It has been a highly debated topic in our house- to home school or not to home school, that is the question. I was offered a job teaching English at a local school and had the thought to enroll the kids in the same school. Makes sense, right? That was the plan until I weighed the pro’s and con’s more carefully, and on paper. The amount of money I’d be earning minus the expense of two kids enrolled in school just doesn’t appease me. For the amount we would be paying to send them to school we could give them top of the line education at home, and I’d get to spend more time with them, have more control over their progress, and have the opportunity to teach them in other ways- math baking, beach science, etc. So we prayed on it! Then we got an offer to have another child join our home schooling program, should we decide to start it. This child’s parents are struggling to pay their current tuition and allowing them to home school with us would help them financially and allow their child to stay in school. I knew immediately this was the right thing to do and thought about other parents in the same situation who could really be blessed by a home school in their area offered at a lower tuition rate, plus my main reason for public school for my own children was the interaction with other kids. It’s a win/win!

 

Image 2. Dance Ministry

Full Spectrum dance classes are preparing to take off the first Saturday of September! We are offering free classes in ballet, jazz, hip hop/tumble, and praise dance to local children who have never had such an opportunity. The response we have received just in talking to these children is astounding! When we ask the little girls if they would like to learn ballet they literally jump for joy and scream and hug each other! That alone is all the motivation I need to keep on keeping on! The little boys here are thrilled that someone is willing to take time to show them how to break dance, do back flips, and teach them American hip hop. It’s my honor. We also have been blessed to have an opportunity to work with an amazing group of girls in Prampram who are highly gifted in the area of dance ministry. I was able to teach them for a little while at the youth camp in Keta and I saw immediately their talent, determination, and passion.  In addition to free classes and our work in Prampram we have also had a lot of help from family here with publicizing our program to those in the area who have the funds to pay for classes. We are looking at renting a beautiful dance space in a gym that has fans, mirrors, and bathrooms! Please keep us in prayer for full funding to rent this facility and that our classes here would be fruitful.

 

Image 3. Missions & Missionaries

I am so completely filled with joy that so many of my wonderful friends and family are coming here to minister alongside us! We have teams and individuals, missionaries and volunteers willing to brave the long flight and mosquitoes to come all the way to Ghana. 2014 will surely be a year filled with smiles, love, friendships, and ministry. We are also planning to do some mission work ourselves! We have a trip planned in December for Dzemini and some trips planned next year for villages in need of the gospel, pray, and provision. We have been making wonderful connections with other pastors in Ghana and we are honored to be used in any way we can be. We are also preparing for future mission trips to Uganda, Mozambique, Tanzania, Sweden, Spain, and the US. Want to come? We’d love to have you!

 

 

Image 4. Study Abroad Program

We are developing a study abroad program for dance! It is still in the baby stages, not much more than a concept, but we have a great team working on the requirements and curriculum and expect to see some progress during the next year. We are planning to partner with a community college in California and branch out from there. Please keep us in prayers as we embark on this adventure!

 

Image 5. Stars & Stripes Restaurant

Another of our future plans that is being put into motion is a restaurant called Stars & Stripes. It is a combination of Ghanaian and American cuisines and we hope it will bring nations together. We are Christ centered and have many ministry aspects that will be implicated- before opening each day we hope to offer free breakfast to local children, we plan on donating left over food to those in need, and we would like to offer free meals to homeless/orphans in some of our other locations. We encourage prayer within our walls and pray to be a beacon of light through what God has freely given us- food!

 

Image We have so many amazing things going on, it would take pages and pages to list them all! We have bible studies, prayer meetings, outreaches, and conferences in the works! We are branching out in many different areas and aspects! God is doing incredible works here and the only thing left to say is thank You Lord for bringing us here to be used!

 

Remember- you are too blessed to be stressed and too anointed to be disappointed!

Check out our facebook pages for Full Spectrum Community Ministries and Stars & Stripes! If you feel lead to offer funding for our ministry here please contact me.

 

 

Sky rockets in flight….

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The joys of traveling by air with two children are short lived if you are traveling alone and your children refuse to sleep on the plane(s). From San Francisco to London is 10 hours, give or take, however our flight ended up being 10.5 hours because we had to circle the airport a few times due to a delayed flight in our terminal. Those extra 30 minutes were excruciating! Nothing I brought to occupy them during the flight did much for long term entertainment. Crayons were soon dumped onto the floor, coloring book pages torn apart, books too boring to be read, stickers covered every area of our seats except the paper they were meant for, dolls were tucked into their beds on the lap tray and could no longer be played with because they were sleeping (how I envied those sleeping dolls!) the vtech games were not interesting enough to entertain either child longer than 10 minutes at a time, and the laptop battery was soon drained. The movie selection was interesting enough for Julian, and after Harry Potter and The Hobbit the hours seemed to fly by for him. Nehjza, on the other hand, was much more difficult to appease. Their selection of children’s movies could really use some advising from children. The Croods somehow skipped halfway through every time she tried watching, Holes was too much of a real life movie for her, and she has seen Ratatouille too many times to care to watch it again. She was left with Amazing World of Gumball and Regular Show, which she likes, but not when it is the same few episodes on repeat…… Image

Don’t let Julian fool you. He’s faking. Image

Nothing like crossing the Atlantic to make sure you really trust God.

Perks about British Airlines? The attendants are all very cheery and have adorable accents, the bathrooms are actually decently sized, and the food isn’t inedible. The pilots are also very humorous. The announcement during takeoff was that we can rest assured, he doesn’t want to die any more than we do. Hilarious. 🙂

We arrived safe and sound in London, however the kids were extremely tired and it showed in every single action. They walked dragging their feet with eyes half closed, they tried to sleep standing up waiting in lines, Nehjza tried falling asleep while using the bathroom, Julian wanted to fall asleep while eating his lunch. I had to buy ibuprofen as soon as we landed. Not only did I not sleep on the flight, but as you can imagine I had a very hard time sleeping the night before as well. All I can say is thank you Lord for pain killers, without which I may have left Heathrow without children. Now we come to the fun part of our trip. How we missed our flight-

1. Tired kids walk slowly, while crying tears block their vision

2. Heathrow airport is big and naturally everything we needed was placed at opposite ends

3. I have two arms and four carry on bags too heavy for the children

4. My phone didn’t update to the proper time and was an hour behind

5. I didn’t sleep more than 2 hours in 48 hours

Am I making excuses? Possibly. I could’ve drugged the kids to make sure they slept, I could’ve opted for the 17 hour layover in London vs. the 2 hour, I could’ve double checked the time instead of assuming my phone had the correct time under the world clock time stating current London time, we could’ve skipped eating and changing the kids clothes, we could’ve skipped buying postcards for family.. all of those things could’ve helped I’m sure. But I didn’t do any of those. Silly me. Image

Then came the fun part, in case you thought missing the flight was the fun part. There are some incredibly rude people in London. I don’t want to say all of them, because there were a few good apples, but for the most part British people are RUDE! I asked someone working there for the proper time and was told to go buy a watch if I couldn’t figure it out. When we finally got to the gate and realized we had just missed the flight (the plane was still there, but it was too late for us) the man at the gate was an absolute jerk. I understand, the flight was delayed because they were waiting for us, your airline was charged for the delay, and you really don’t want to have to look up the next flight for us, but you’re getting paid to do your job. So just do it, please. He was insistent that we would be charged a fee of 30,000₤ for delaying the flight (obviously, that is ludicrous) as well as being required to buy new tickets from London to Accra for the three of us. We went back to flight connections and explained our situation to the woman at the counter, the kids went to sit down in a nearby chair and immediately fell asleep, but because I bought the tickets through asaptickets.com there was nothing she could do directly so she had to call them. Of course the woman she needed to talk to was out for the day 🙂 The attendant on the phone tried to help as much as she could, but for some reason neither the airline computer nor the computer for asaptickets would calculate how much our tickets would end up costing. They were able to find out that the fee to change our reservations would be a total of $625.00, not what I wanted to shell out, but still something I had in cash, God provided so who am I to complain? I handed over the money with a few tears, that money was something I had planned on putting into ministry and other things. The woman was taking a while to get our tickets printed out and had a strange look on her face. Finally, she looked at me and asked “Do you believe in God?” I laughed and told her I’m moving to Ghana as a missionary, evangelist, and pastor’s wife. God is my life. She smiled and said she had been praying that if she wasn’t supposed to charge me for the tickets that the payment wouldn’t process in the computer, and sure enough it didn’t. She tried 3 times and it wouldn’t process. She said she has never experienced that, the computer always accepts payments, but that day it wouldn’t. So she gave my money back, upgraded our tickets, and gave us the name of a good hotel close by that we could stay in since our flight was the next day. I had been praying “God, you brought us this far, You can’t possibly abandon us here in London. Help us figure this out, please.” The moment she asked me if I believe in God I knew that the Lord had heard me and that brought me so much peace, knowing that I was still on the right track. We headed through the immigration line and got to the hotel just in time to save Nehjza from a massive tired meltdown.

Ibis Hotel ImageImageThe desk area pulls down into another bed, I think I’ll use this concept for our office/guest room at home.

Despite being a bit expensive compared to the States (95₤ per night) the hotel was nice, clean, the staff was friendly and helpful, and the restaurant was open 24 hours and had really good pizza for a decent price. They also had cheap voltage adapters in the vending machine. Nehjza fell asleep immediately, but Julian insisted he wasn’t tired so we ordered pizza and watched some awful shows on British television. I can see why their humor is so dry after watching their tv shows. Thank God we were only there one night and we had free wifi. I took the longest, hottest bath in a giant, deep bath and was just so thankful for God’s goodness and favor in our lives and that we had been given an opportunity to rest for the night. We all slept, but the sun rises in London insanely early. The sun rose at 4:30am, So we were up at around 5. We decided the best thing to do would be to go to the airport early (I reset the London time on my world clock and made sure it was correct) and to just wait patiently. We ate bangers & mash for breakfast and it was decent but not something I’d like to eat regularly. The kids played for an hour in their play place. We bought a few books and legos to keep occupied, and thankfully we had bought a deck of cards from SFO that kept us occupied for nearly two hours. We got to our gate early and were the second ones on the plane, what a relief! It was nice having two well rested children not complaining or crying, and so excited to be on the plane home that they kept themselves occupied. They both slept for a few hours, and I was blessed double measure with two windows in our seat instead of one. I’m sure I was bothering a few people by keeping one of the shades up the whole flight while everyone else had theirs shut, but God’s creation is too magnificent to not observe. I can only imagine how amazing God’s view is if the view from 36,000ft is that incredible. ImageSo long London! 

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Flying over the Sahara was beautiful. It’s neat seeing the wind patterns in the sand from so high up. My only disappointment on this flight was that the sun set on the other side of the plane so I only got to see the bits and pieces from the other passengers windows. Still, some is better than none 🙂 

After 6 hours, some restful sleep, and another viewing of Les Miserables we finally landed. At home 🙂 In Ghana 🙂 We had made it to Africa 🙂

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The journey continues…………. stay tuned, stay blessed!

 

Waka waka.. Nike… Solo lo hacen… Just do it!

It’s almost hard to know where to start with the retelling of such an amazing journey…..

It began long before the travel aspect with a whisper from God saying “Just do it!” From that day on I knew, without a doubt, I was moving to Ghana. When God tells you to do something always be prepared for the negative, for discouragement, for disbelief, but don’t let that blind you from the positivity, the encouragement, the hope, and the prayers people have for you and your mission. The hardest thing for people to accept is that I was, and remain, confident that this is the best decision for us.

You’re moving your children to Africa?
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The stereotypes and stigma about Africa are so narrow minded and ignorant. Yes, parts of Africa are poor, undeveloped, and disease and famine are rampant… But Africa is HUGE! It’s not fair, or accurate, to imagine all of Africa as mud huts, sand, burning sun, starving children, diseased inhabitants, and lions and zebra.

We have a mall, a two story KFC, Chinese food, nice cars, hospitals, schools, air conditioning, wifi, and Game, essentially Walmart.
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The adventure of getting here wasn’t difficult on it’s own… but add my two children to that equation and you will be buying ibuprofen in London immediately.

We stayed in Berkeley for a few days before leaving so we could spend some time with my brother and his daughter, which proved to be well worth it. Cousin time is priceless! We are already missing Uncle Will & Aoki!

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We had a surprise visit from my dad as well, although I didn’t manage to get any pictures of us together. He has always hated photos.

I hadn’t been nervous or anxious at all….. until the cab was packed and we were heading to the airport. Of course they fell asleep in the cab, so they didn’t need to sleep on the plane.

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Hotel checkout was at 11, and naturally our flight didn’t leave until 4:55, so we got to spend a whole lot of time in SFO. Hooray!

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A whole… lot… of… time……

When we finally boarded the plane and actually left the ground I couldn’t help but cry a little. Not a lot. Not a scene. But up until that point it hadn’t hit me that we were really MOVING to Africa. When we lifted off the ground the gravity of the whole thing hit me all at once. After less than 30 seconds of tears and some strange looks from the guy next to us I was back to normal. The realization of just how big a decision this was really sunk in and I was filled with the greatest amount of pure joy and awe at how amazing and incredible God is for creating such a future for this little family.

 

 

To be continued……. this adventure is just beginning 🙂

It’s only a cake walk til you drop your cake……

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It isn’t always easy to follow God. It’s as simple as that.

When I first felt called to Ghana last year there was so much excitement in my heart, and so much anticipation, that I skipped over how devastated I would feel leaving so much behind. It’s not the material things I will miss, things come and go, and I’ve never had a whole lot so I appreciate things as they come. It’s the relationships I’m leaving behind that devastate me. My students have become such an important part of my life and it breaks my heart to hurt them by leaving. Primarily, the kids I minister to and teach downtown.

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These kids are so in need of love and guidance, mercy and grace, forgiveness and tolerance. It has been my honor to bring the love of God to them. It hasn’t always been easy, but that’s what made it so worthwhile. The growth I’ve seen in them since last August is beyond measurable, and it makes me so proud of them! And proud of myself for not giving up on them. After the first night with these kids last year I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue on with them. The racial border was seemingly so wide, the depth of hurt they had experienced seemed so much bigger than any void I could fill, but then God reminded me I’m never alone and when I go where He sends, He comes with me. I chose to work with the older girls, thinking I was taking the easier road, and was so wrong! It took three weeks to get past the derogatory racial remarks, but I stuck with them. God kept telling me not to give up on them because they are worthy of the effort, they are worthy of the example, and I am worthy of being their leader. There were fights, there were tears, there were tantrums, but we made it through! Somehow I earned their respect, and I am blown away by it. These girls went from hating me on sight, to giving me their addresses and phone numbers begging me to keep in contact. That is what makes this walk of faith so hard. Knowing I am breaking a few hearts in leaving, but setting my own heart free. Knowing I am leaving some of them feeling abandoned, but abandoning my own desires to follow God’s calling on my life. It is never easy to follow what God has set before you, but just like anything else, we take it one step at a time. Through laughter, through tears, through joy, and through anger, we just keep on taking steps where He leads.

 

Be blessed, and be a blessing ❤

Freedom of speech is only for America

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Value your freedom of speech while you can, when you travel that “right” goes out the door. It’s not that you can’t say what you want, it’s that you will be seen as offensive, disrespectful, and insolent when you use certain words or phrases.

I have not even departed yet and I have learned a few key phrases to avoid-

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AVOID, AVOID, AVOID! Do not, under any circumstance, whether true or not, use this word or phrase when speaking with someone in, or from, Ghana. It is incredibly offensive and they will not always tell you when you have offended them. Just because they don’t tell you that doesn’t mean they aren’t telling other people. You will quickly find yourself short on friends, associates, conversation, and respect. Also avoid saying “that doesn’t make sense.” Instead, say “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand.” or you may say “Can you explain the reasoning or purpose?” You may also say “That doesn’t seem rational to me, can you explain what you mean?” Whatever you say, do NOT say “That makes no sense.” You might catch a beating. Seriously.

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Avoid using any form of this word. Foolishness, foolish, fool, etc. It is another one of those highly offensive words because it dictates that the person you are saying it to is an idiot and lacks intelligence, common sense, or sense at all. If you think something falls into the category of foolishness it is best to keep it to yourself, or if you dare you may use the word silly. Silly doesn’t appear to be an offensive word because there is an aspect of humor to it.

 

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Stupid.This word is offensive in basically every culture because it states that the person is not smart or intelligent. Many times it is offensive because it is true, this doesn’t matter because it isn’t proper to call attention to another person’s faults or shortcomings. If you feel this word applies, you may use its opposite form and say “Well now that doesn’t seem very smart.” It’s not always about what you mean, it’s about how you say it.

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When you use profanity you appear to be the foolish one, lacking sense. You come across as having no self control, no intelligence for grammar, and no respect for others or yourself. The only swear word I have heard used is the word ass, and that is used in context of a butt or donkey. A person is not an ass, they have an ass.

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Talking too much, too often, and about every one and every thing is also not polite. It is referred to as “okro mouth” and is not respected or respectful. There is a difference between casual conversation, sharing stories, communicating, and okro mouth. Okro mouth is essentially gossip. No one enjoys a gossiper but a gossip.

 

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Regardless of what is acceptable socially, culturally, politically, or otherwise we should always remember that we are in this world, not of it, and our language should consistently be a reflection of that truth. Even when you are in a culture that deems it acceptable to swear like a sailor or talk about everyone else, you should consider this scripture and apply it to all that comes out of your mouth.

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Too blessed to stress, too anointed to be disappointed!

Packing, preparing, panicking.

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Traveling with children is a unique challenge on it’s own, but moving across the world with two young children to a country very different than our own is generally mind boggling. What do I bring? What do I not bring? What will be available and unavailable in Ghana? Every blog I read about traveling abroad states that less is more and to leave essentially everything behind, but I haven’t read many blogs that feature children so I have my own insight and opinions. 

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Is Lotso a necessary travel companion? According to most blogs he is a leave at home item, but to a child he is a sense of security and familiarity when her world has been turned upside down. Am I thrilled to stuff him into her luggage? Not so much. However, her mental well being is greatly enhanced by this one giant, soft, stuffed Lotso bear. So bring on lots of Lotso. Plus, his belly smells like strawberries, you can’t just leave him home.

ImageThis Care Bear, though? He is staying at Grandma’s house for when we visit!

Julian, on the other hand, is insistent that he needs to bring every Nerf gun, every action figure, his ripstick, every VHS and DVD, every piece of schoolwork since kindergarten, every book including 4 bibles, shoes that are too small, jeans and sweat pants, fur hats, scarves and gloves, sweatshirts and coats, three piece suits, a live frog, board games missing half of their pieces, a year supply of Taki’s, every candy currently sold in the US, and the rolling pin he is convinced he will be able to snap in half one of these days. Image

Since we are moving, not just visiting, there are things I am bringing that I ordinarily wouldn’t bother with- wall art, keepsakes, our personal towels, all of our clothes and shoes, specific dvds that I don’t want to pay to have shipped (Cosby show, Rocket Power, Veggietales) some of the kid’s artwork, toys, carefully chosen books, hair/skincare products not available in Ghana, gifts from other people throughout the years, a few select photo albums, and a suitcase full of other random “homey” items. I don’t want to get to our new home and have nothing to remind us of where we have come from, nothing to comfort us when we are hitting that homesick stage. It is very important to me to bring select pieces of our lives with us to maintain the connection of past and present. We are not starting over, we are continuing. Our home should be a reflection of that while we have that opportunity. We don’t have a whole lot, but what we do have we cherish and want to keep on cherishing 🙂

ImageEach person who moves to a new country will have their own experiences with the things they choose to bring and to leave, but I don’t want to get there and regret leaving something I debated bringing because I was swayed by another person’s experiences. To each their own, and to me more is less.

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Be blessed!

In the beginning…..

“Get out of your country, from your family, and from your father’s house, to a land I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” ~Genesis 12:1-3

 

So Candace departed as the Lord had spoken to her.

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People often ask what made me decide to move my family across the world to a country we have never been, and the answer is so simple, yet so complicated.

God!

When Pastors Doug and Janice came back from Ghana and were showing pictures I knew in my heart I was called to go. I silently and secretly prayed to God and said Lord I want to go, I don’t know how, I don’t know when, and I don’t know who to talk to, but I need to go! Not long after this silent prayer, less than a few days in fact, I was invited by the pastor of the Lord’s Gym in Ghana (who is married to a woman from my church that I have never met) to come teach dance! That night I opened my bible expectantly, and opened to Genesis 12 and heard God speaking to me louder and more clearly than ever in my life. God has a way of arranging things so perfectly! The pastor who had invited me was scheduled to come to the States not long after our original conversation, and I had the opportunity to talk with him and ask my dozens of questions in person. Originally I had planned to go for a summer and accomplish what I was able to in that amount of time. But God had other plans, as He so often does. My 6-8 weeks turned into 6-8 months, and from 6-8 months into 12-18 months, and from 12-18 months into permanency. I kept hearing God say “You’re not called to be a visitor, listen to what I’m saying.” I started to prepare for a move, not just a visit. Anytime God moves there will be opposition, I know this very well, but some of the opposition was from people who I thought were on my team and that was a hard obstacle to get past! There were times I felt betrayed by family in Christ, belittled by some of my own family for stepping out in faith, and disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm and support from some of my friends. But God is always bigger, hallelujah!

There are so many intricate pieces to this puzzle, it’s hard to know where to fit them all in. I came to a place of absolute surrender and abandon of every detail in my life and began to say “Lord, here I am, send me. I’ll go.” Doors started flinging wide and the path was made smooth and clear. Through the pastor in Ghana I was introduced to my future husband, an incredible man of God, a loving father to my children, a strong leader and pastor, and the most patient and understanding partner I could have ever imagined. Our story will be posted in another entry, and it is well worth the lengthy read.

 

To make a long story less long, here we are; suitcases packed, passports in hand, getting ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, chasing after what God has set before us, following His lead, and loving the process.

 

More to come. Stay blessed!