Monday, October 18, 2010

Seeing Through New Eyes

I returned on Friday from a ten day whirl-wind trip to the US where I spent countless hours in conference, meetings, conversations, and trainings surrounding the work of Partners Worldwide.  It was a very blessed time with opportunities to watch networks form before my eyes, lightbulbs go off with new ideas, and intense dialogue regarding the work that we are doing.  I was especially pleased to see how strong the West Africa team is and how they got to know each other and develop relationships with each other.  I am blessed to work with such gifted and committed people.
I had the opportunity to travel to the United States with both Fanny Atta-Peters from Ghana and Allen Gweh from Liberia.  For both of them, this was their first trip to the United States and it was good to see Grand Rapids through their eyes.  Places that are so familiar to me look somehow different when you imagine seeing them for the first time.  On my way back to Ghana, I traveled with Laura Carpenter, the Director of Diversity and Worship at Madison Square Church.  While Laura has been to Liberia and Senegal, this is her first trip to Ghana so I also have a chance to see Ghana through her eyes as well.  Pictures can't portray the experiences we shared together but they may be able to show you a little.  Enjoy!
Our venue for the conference.  Grand Rapids is beautiful, especially in the fall.
A trip to the US has to include trying out a Big Mac and fries from McDonalds.  Here we were able to enjoy this at John Ball Park Zoo before going to enjoy the animals.
On Friday night, Robert and Kathryn Shane (and baby Eli) had us over for a West African team dinner.  In the back row, from left to right, is Derek Hoogland (intern in Liberia), Saidou Ba (Senegal), Jeremiah Yongo (Nigeria), Rick Slager (working in Agriculture throughout West Africa), Allen Gweh (Liberia), Robert Shane (NA team leader for Liberia).  In the front row, Mrs. Yers Truly, Fanny Atta-Peters (Ghana), Bonita (friend of Saidou), Marietta Yongo (Nigeria).
Tina Oh (on the left) has agreed to be an intern in Ghana with Hopeline Institute!  We are so happy to have her join us in February 2011.  Welcome, Tina!
After both Allen and Fanny have so graciously welcomed me to their churches in their respective countries, I was very happy to take them to Madison Square Church and introduce them to my church family.

Brett Pfister (left) is a new intern for Liberia who will be moving there in January, 2011.  Derek Hoogland will be returning for an additional six months of internship in November.  We thank God for both of them and ask for your prayers.
Art Prize was in Grand Rapids, which was a pretty amazing collection of art from many places in the world.  It made for a great time to walk around Grand Rapids.  In this picture, Allen is listening to and "feeling" the music in this interesting piece.  Both Allen and Fanny thought this piece should win first place (it made the top 75:-).
This beautiful tree was in front of my sister Janette's house.  My kids have not seen a fall since 2004 and while I hesitated to take such a picture because it would make them miss it even more, this tree was too beautiful to pass up!
Laura Carpenter joins our family (and Jack sneaks in the picture) and will spend a couple weeks with us exploring Ghana before going to Liberia.  Her objective is to pave the way for groups coming from our church beginning next year who will learn about African culture and heritage focusing on African-Americans making the trip.