"We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 1:3

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Monday, November 30, 2009

I got the power!

So, the Wright family picked me up for church yesterday - and their 4 year old son, Jacob is obsessed with Batman - like I can only think of a few times when I haven't seen him in his Batman cape - so cute, he is always talking about his "powers."   When I am getting in the car, and he asks me what powers do I have - and I had to confess that I don't have any super hero powers - and his sister Karli spoke up "but she has her Bible!"   Then the sermon at church was about "The word is Power!" Just had to share.

We haven't had any updates on the visa situation - we are all still praying that it all goes through.  Craziness!   A whole other thing making my life busy right now is making props - I have been making these ones for the "Pantomine" of Alice in Wonderland - I think they turned out pretty well.

I have also been helping with things for the AIS Christmas program - which was this Saturday.  It was great - the kids were precious and the parents were thankful.  It is always fun to see our whole school together - we are such a diverse school - I always think that's how heaven is going to be - everyone all together!

These are some of the preschool angels - aren't they cute?!  One of them is part of a family at our school, who moved here from Birmingham, AL - can you even believe that?! We have been living a few miles apart for the past three years - and now we meet in Ghana. Talk about a small world.

More of the little ones - they were SO cute!  Here are some of the teachers, it's so funny that we are wearing sun dresses at a Christmas program!

Last week, we had field day - and it was so much fun! Each teacher had a team, and each team was a different country - I was Italy - yay!  We began with games like life size battleship, snow ball fights (with paper), blind musical chairs, and sumo wrestling.  Then, there was the craziest relay ever - it began with a huge shoe pile relay - where all the kids throw in their shoes and then have to find them again mixed in with all the other kid's shoes!

Then, we did the sponge, fill the bottle at the end with water relay.

Then, the dizzy bat thing, incredible hulk, other crazy things - it was fun! My team came in 4th place.  It was fun to have a day just to hang out with the kids, and spend time with some that I don't usually get to see.  It was also really neat to see the older kids helping the small ones - good stuff.

Thank you for your prayers - I hope and pray to have good news about the visas soon! I'll be on skype for a little while this afternoon - 9 - 10 am Auburn time - hope to see you!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Not to freak anyone out --

-- but I have a very urgent prayer request.  We found out this morning, that our visa extension papers have been denied, again, for maybe the 3rd time -  we had to rewrite our forms this morning, and if they are not turned in and approved today, our visas in Ghana will be expired.....if our visas expire, we will not be able to travel until the situation is taken car of - sometime - someday - according to Ghana time - in which there is no notion of time.  We joke about meeting places - at a certain time - whether we are meeting 10 o'clock American time or 10 o'clock Ghanaian time.  American meaning right at 10 o'clock - Ghanaian time meaning whenever it happens - but we will begin to think about getting ready to go sometime around 10 o'clock.

The point is - if our visas are not approved today, there is a very serious possibility of us, of me not being able to travel to Israel or home for Christmas. Please pray that our visas go through today, that we will will find favor in the officials processing our paperwork.

It's funny - I was praying about giving up control of my life to God last night - talk about giving it all up to Him - this is so in His hands.  I took my time filling out the form, I practiced, I prayed, we prayed, and I am asking you to pray.

"As for me, I am in your hands, do with me whatever you think is just and right." Jeremiah 26:14

Monday, November 23, 2009


The best time to skype me right now is right after school here - or anytime between 9 and 11 am Central time! I will try to sign on every afternoon! My skype name is lollyjohnston - Hope to see you soon!

Three weeks until Israel!

So, I started reading the Bible from the beginning - Where else would I start my search for information for my trip to the Holy Land?! (And I am getting, like, really excited!!!)  

In my thoughts about prayer, the prayers the people of Israel have stood out to me, mostly because I (and all of us) relate to them so well - trying to follow God, but forgetting about Him every step of the way.  But their prayers asking God to send them out from Egypt stood out to me:

“…the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help.  Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God.  And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.  God saw the people of Israel  - and God knew.” Exodus 2:23-24

I just think it is interesting that it wasn't Moses who prayed to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt - it was the people of Israel.  And God chose/had planned to answer their prayers by appearing to Moses and telling him to go to Pharaoh and bring God’s people out of Egypt.  All Moses could say is “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children out of Israel?” 3:11 Moses did not pray for this task, he actually asked God not to give him the task – but through his eventual obedience, God was able to answer the people of Israel’s prayers and bless both Israel and Moses, and keep His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

My point is, I think that God asks us and leads us, just like He asked Moses to follow Him to or through certain places or situations sometimes seemingly walking into the fire -- sometimes to answer other people’s prayers, sometimes to answer our own prayers but always to bless us, bless all of us through it - we just have to learn to listen.

A huge part of God leading me to Africa was a random trip to Publix in Crestline one afternoon – I’ll never forget it – because I had no reason to go, but I just felt like I should go.  I ran into a friend from Auburn University who was living in Birmingham and over small talk, she told me about she and her husband moving to Africa the next year, she to do slum mission and he to teach.  I said that I had always wanted to go to Africa – and she said there was an art job still open – and she facebook messaged me the link that night – I filled out the online application for NICS (like I had done for several other overseas teaching organizations and the peace corps) that night, and forgot about it.  I wasn't reminded until I was back in Auburn for Gilmer's funeral, and Brother Charles asked me when I was going to teach overseas?  This was days after I had found out that my job was "shaky" for the next year, and days before I learned about my living situation for the next year falling through.  So, I contacted NICS to see where my application was, and was hired to teach in Africa days later.  It's so amazing to look back and see how God moved in my life, and in affect, in the lives of those around me!

 “And we know that for those who love God ALL things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Thursday, November 19, 2009

In the beginning...

Yesterday afternoon at the orphanage, I read the kids the story of creation, and asked them to draw each part as I read.  While they didn't seem to be listening, they did some nice drawings.  It's so interesting to think about how these kids see life.  They loved hearing the story, and drawing it - it's amazing how excited the kids get when they are simply given plain white paper and old crayons.

Heavy on my heart right now, are the numerous people in need here in Ghana, who live everyday in poverty and filth and hopelessness, and my friend Erin dealing with physical illness.   I can’t help but ask God why He allows such injustices? And every time in my life I have asked such questions – God sends me to Job, who “was blameless and up right, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” 1:1

When God has allows Job's life and physical wellbeing to be violently taken from him, Job and his friends try to justify the actions of the Lord, and Job defends himself by reminding God of his righteousness. “...In the days when God watched over me, when His lamp shone upon my head, and by His light I walked though darkness, as I was in my prime when the friendship of God was upon my tent, When The Almightly was yet with me..” 29:2-5

We are so quick to say to God – Why me? Why her? Why them? I don’t deserve this, she doesn’t deserve that, they don’t deserve this and Job definitely didn’t deserve to loose his family, health, and prosperity.  Job cries out to God in defense of the life he has led, and God rips into Job’s spirit, my spirit, your spirit with these verses:

“Then the Lord answers Job out of the whirlwind and said:”

(I hear God say this like Mufasa on the Lion King – angry at Simba, echoing and surrounding)

“Who is this that darkens counsel with words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you and you make it known to me.

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements – surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for Joy... Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place…”

God is bigger than anything we could ever imagine, and He loves us more than we can comprehend.  We just have to learn to trust Him.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Is it a bird?!

Is it a plane?!

Is it Superman?!

Nope.  It's bats.  Gross.

I don't believe that I have seen a single bird since I have been here - if ever there is anything flying - its a bat.  These are the bats that stay in these certain fruit trees on the way downtown.  However; the people believe that the bats stay there because this is a sight where one of the tribal leaders was buried and they believe the grave is cursed.  They really believe that.  It is so interesting how another culture's spiritual sense is so different.  It's so sad to live in a place so full of LIFE - I love all the colors, all the people, the culture is so alive, even the culture of religion is very alive - but Christianity is not.  These folks can REALLY talk the talk, but do not walk the walk.  Infused with "christianity" here, is ancestor worship and joo joo practices.  Because they are all intertwined, the people have a hard time discerning the TRUTH.  Here are some crazy amazing coffins, yes, coffins made by the Ga tribe, to celebrate their ancestors.

What kind of coffin would you want?

The funerals last for weeks and months sometimes here.  People hire "mourners" to visit grave sites.  They believe the more money and time and mourning they give to their ancestors, the better their afterlife will be.

Anyhoo - Sunday, the AIS PTO had a fashion show fund raiser to build a library at the school.  Several of the moms are designers and had really cool stuff modeled.  There were also student models - who were super cute:

This is Sophie Korrum, who I have been living with, and one of the designer's daughters in matching dresses!  Here is the MC of the night, our actress mother, Akosua Busia, in her fabulous Ghanaian attire!

They raised over 1,000 cides for the library - so it was a success!

Just for fun - I documented the first gecko in my new bedroom! - That's right - I  moved! And the new house is glorious! (except we don't have internet yet, thus the lack of blog post this week, and skype conversations, with I REALLY miss - we're working on it!)

I am just going to guess that y'all might not realize that geckos in the house are a really good thing - because they eat mosquitoes!    Have a happy Wednesday! God Bless!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Please join me in prayer for my friend Erin.  She is facing her cancer with confidence and peace that can only come from Christ.  She is still recovering from the surgery to remove the tumors.  The cancer has spread from her lymph nodes to the surrounding tissue.  On top of that, her treatments have been postponed because of a staph infection.  She is now scheduled to begin chemo on November 17 and receive it every 21 days there after.  She is also starting radiation on her mouth and neck next Tuesday, and will receive it everyday for 6 weeks.  Let's all pray that she will take all her fears and anxieties to God. Let's pray for peace in her heart, and healing in her body.

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; 
I have called you by name, you are mine.  
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; 
when you walk through the fire  you shall not be burned, 
and the flame shall not consume you.  
For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."  
Isaiah 43:1-3

 "Do not be anxious about anything, 
but in everything by prayer and supplication 
with thanksgiving 
let your requests be made known to God.  
And the PEACE of God, 
which surpasses all understanding 
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." 
Philippians 4:6-7

Here is Erin and her husband Matt, a picture from her caringbridge site.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

War Eagle!

So, I had to pull my bike over this morning to "snap" this guy!

He, of course, had no idea what his shirt meant, or that it was even a school.  I asked him to say "War Eagle" and put his hand up - ha!

A big business here is the "Obroni Way Woo" store.  This literally means "dead white people's clothes." So, next time you drop of clothes at the thrift store, realize that whatever isn't sold in the US is shipped to Africa and sold for pennies.   The people here wear whatever - they have no idea what the shirts say or mean.  The guard next door wears a shirt at least once a week that has a turkey and says "Gobble" on the front and says "Happy Turkey Day 199-" on the back.  He had no idea what Thanksgiving was.  I explained it to him, and have asked him to be sure to wear it on November 25 - we'll see if he remembers!

We are "moving"!! I have moved almost all of my things to the pink house - and I think that we will spend the night there tomorrow! Just so that you can see how great the house is, I took some pictures from inside the razor wire.  We have a great front porch!

We even have a little grass!!!

Here's the living room - we are in the process of moving - so please excuse the mess!

Dining room:


Here is the window from my bedroom:

One of the hardest things about being here is not having the freedom and independence that I am used to having in the states.  If you notice, here, we live and work behind walls and gates.  We live in houses and work in a school where the windows are covered with bars.  And this does keep us safe and helps me feel safe - but it is very restricting.  Beyond that - Accra is a huge city with little vegetation and there are buildings and people everywhere.

At home, I could find "peace" sitting on my Dad's back porch, or going on a run in Birmingham, anywhere I could be outside and look at grass or water - any place with free and open space.  I write this to say that I am so thankful to be able to see trees outside my window.  After being here for a while - I don't even see the bars on the windows and the razor wire around the wall.  It gives me great peace to be able to see trees from my room.  I am really learning that peace is not where you are or how you feel or even how comfortable you are.  I can find and bring peace everywhere I go.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the World gives do I give to you." 
John 14:27

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. " Philippians 4:7

Monday, November 9, 2009

Morning Journey to School

So...I thought I should document my journey to school, while I am still riding my bike in the morning, hopefully only a few more days, but we'll see! Here is my bike - I got a great deal because it is like totally kid-sized!

Here is the guard, Jacob, letting me out.

This is where my journey begins - right outside the Korum's gate.

Here is the paved portion of my journey.

Here are some of the school children that I pass each morning and afternoon - who yell "Obroni!" as I pass.  Some days this is very welcome and I say "Eta Zaine" or "aftanoon" in my best Ghanaian accent, to which they all die laughing.  Some days I do not enjoy this part, and wish I was able to blend in better here - its like being in a constant parade - we just stick out wherever we are.  (Notice the dude in the background "mowing the lawn" ... with a machete!)

Here is where the paved portion ends.

This is how I feel riding on the bumpy dirt roads - obviously, I was trying to take a picture and bounced into a hole.

This is me riding past the pink house - where I will hopefully move this week, which is located directly next to the school - amazing.

So, that is my morning journey, I hope you all enjoyed it! Have a blessed Monday!

"Everyday I will bless your name forever and ever.  Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised." Psalm 145:2

Sunday, November 8, 2009

We had a nice dinner friday night with the Brombaugh's who were in from NICS to visit us this week!  They are amazing and it was so nice to have encouraging and loving people out to help out and just give everyone some fresh energy!  This is my first Ghanaian skirt that I have had made - I think it turned out really well!

Saturday, several of us went to a bizarre at the British High Commission.  It is getting really hot here - and we were all in need of some rest Saturday afternoon!

We saw Barbara Kalb.  She is the music teacher at school - and we share an office and hangout all day.  She and her husband have been missionaries in Ghana for 29 years this past week.  He teaches at Ghana Christian Bible College.  She is wonderful and full of great advice on anything and everything here and in life!

We got some Christmas presents and some beautiful batik fabric to make some Christmas presents with!  So fun! We also saw these amazing kids performing some tribal dancing.  It was really cool.  I video taped a few seconds - but I have been trying to upload it to my blog now for over 24 hours - so I will try again later!

Today, I taught Sunday school a the international church - our lesson was on playtime in the Bible - focusing on God using David's ability to play the harp as a young boy to help King Saul.  The dad I live with preached this morning on arguing for Christ.  He spoke about how Christians are ultimately called to be people who bring peace, but there is a time and a place to stand up for what is right - prayerfully and thoughtfully.

"Remind them of these things, and charge them before God, not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers."  2 Timothy 2:14

It brought scripture to mind that I was reading earlier this week from James, that had really convicted me.

"What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder.  You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.  You do not have, because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." James 4:1-3

Whenever we seem to be upset at someone or a situation - this is a good reminder to take a step back and look at what is really going on in our own hearts and minds.  Only when we give to Christ the things we are really dealing with, can we be at peace with ourselves and with each other.  All we have to do is ask.

I'll try to put the video up later! Glad Auburn won! War Eagle!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

For church today, we visited a children's ministry on the beach.  It was, as always,  so nice to get outside of the city!  The ministry was founded by a Parisian woman, as a place to get kids of the streets in Accra.  The kids are found in an area of town called Osu.  She has a place there that provides street children the opportunity for a bath and a meal.  The children who show real commitment to getting off the street and making a better life for themselves, are invited to live in the community we visited today.  The kids live, attend school, and attend church on the grounds there. The whole place was so nice - the classrooms were really nice and they had a computer lab and were building a library.  The kids were amazing, this was my guide around the facility.  She is a fifteen year old from the Eastern Region.

She was very sweet and well spoken.  The rules at the facility are tough on the kids, they really have to prove their dedication to working for a better life - but it is working and the kids are remarkable.

We had church under this straw hut, right out of view of the beach.  Church was great - they spoke about treating all people equally, and looking past the outside of people.  Just like God did, when choosing David as King:

"For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."  - 1 Samuel 16:7b

It is so interesting how some things that are hard lessons for Americans, are just as hard, or sometimes harder for Africans.  While in America, we may judge each other for what brand shoes or watch or sunglasses we are wearing - here people are judged and divided by which tribe they are from and which language they speak.  The tribal divisions here are deeply rooted, and easily seen.  Many tribes here "brand" their children's faces with scars of a certain number on a certain place on their cheeks.  It is hard for the Ghanaians to see past these reminders of differences.  Today was a good reminder to work at looking past all of our differences, and learning to see each other, first, as brothers and sisters in Christ.

The worship here was an amazing expression of joy.  Africans know how to show their joy and praise the Lord.  I had never noticed before today, that Ghanaian churches divide up songs as either "praise" or "worship."  It is just the tone that changes in the songs.  We always put praise and worship together in church, and in effect, in our minds and hearts - interesting culture note!

So, Friday at school was "character day." They don't do "Halloween" here - in a culture where witchcraft and such are real things and a real part of the culture - it's not acceptable for the Ghanaians or us to participate in.  Anyways - since I am a nerd - I dressed up as the Mona Lisa - educational and fun!

(Where's Waldo, Queen Esther, teacher from Wayside Stories, i pod, Socrates, me (Mona Lisa), and a "Ghanaian"

Such a weird picture! I was trying to smile weird like she does!

  Almost all of the Pre-K and Kindergarten boys were spider man - and precious.

We had two Michael Jackson's - and thus a "dance off."  Which was great - they moon walked and everything!

Saturday, we woke up and went to the market to look for fabric.  I got some great fabric with butterflies on it for bedding in my new room (that I am going to just tell you I am not moving into this week  - and maybe I'll be surprised!)  On the way home - I experienced my first "tro-tro" ride.  

This is the common transportation for most Ghanaian people - I am not a clean freak in any sense - but I have not been looking forward to this.  But - It was just fine - we got home safe and that's what matters! It only cost 35 pesewas - which is like 20 cents - as compared to a 5 cide ($3) taxi ride - so we saved money.

Hope you all had a good weekend and a blessed Sunday! I heard about the exciting Auburn game! War Eagle!