Monday, May 28, 2012

Fare thee well

The time has come for us to depart Accra.  Our plane leaves on Friday night and we arrive in Grand Rapids on Saturday afternoon. It's a busy time of trying to finish up some work (that I wish I had a few more months for), packing, cleaning, shutting off bills, getting the dog neutered so that someone will take them, Noah's graduation, awards ceremony, and graduation party, and other crazy details.

And of course, the saying goodbyes.  This is somewhat complicated as I will continue to be working with Hopeline Institute, and will be back in September and December for visits, but it is a goodbye of sorts in terms of my living here.

On Thursday, I had a scheduled meeting with Fanny, the Executive Director of Hopeline, to wrap up a number of details that we still had to attend to, but suddenly after about 20 minutes, she wanted us to go down to the training center to pick up some materials.  I went along and Fanny was talking non-stop the whole time (I later realized is was so that I couldn't interject any questions).  When we pulled up there were a number of cars and I asked if there was a training or meeting going on, not knowing at all that they had a surprise party planned for me!  It was an overwhelming experience with many, many kind words spoken.  As I reflected on my time in Ghana, I have to admit, that I do it with a sense of regret, as I know that I was not at my best for most of my time here.  So, if anything good came out of it, all praise goes to God and to the people who took the little I had to give and ran with it.  Here are some pictures from that time together and some of my treasured friends and colleagues.
Everyone getting a good laugh at my complete surprise.
The Hopeline Staff performed a dance to the song, "Thank You" by Ray Boltz, with the words, "Thank you for giving to the Lord, I am a life that was changed."  If you know the song, you know it is very touching and tears flowed the entire time for me.  To have such dear friends and colleagues perform it, picturing them in Heaven, made it even sweeter. 
They gathered around to send me out with prayer, with my dear friend, Rev. Philip Tutu, leading the prayer time.
We gathered for another picture on the steps of the training center, where six batches of Marketplace Ministers have gathered for pictures over the last two years, and Lord willing, many more in the future.
Pastor William Darko, a mushroom and duck farmer, who I am mentoring.  Thankfully he doesn't need my help in duck or mushroom farming (rather he is teaching me about that) but I am privileged to work with him on his financials. 
Over the years, there are some business people that you grow closer to than others, and some take a special place in your heart.  Auntie Selasie (as I call her) is one of those persons and I hope to see her in November at the Partners Worldwide conference in Chicago.
The couple who helped significantly with my stay in Ghana.  They were welcoming, helpful, open, loving, God-fearing, and hard-working:  Dennis and Fanny Atta-Peters.
A picture of our interns, Emily Daher and Kim VandenAkker, who I leave behind, but who are both doing great in Ghana. 
And last but not least, my dear Juliet, Office Manager at Hopeline Institute, whose love and good work will continue to bless many others.  She is the one responsible for the poster in the background.
One thing to note about that poster - I believe the "you" is plural.  The work that I do is not my own.  First I represent Christ and the Church, then Partners Worldwide, and through Partners, so many churches, individuals, friends, and family members.  I could not have been here working without the faithful support of so many of you.  I wish you could have heard the testimonies given as well as witnessed that beautiful song being performed because you all truly share in that.   So, thank you for giving to the Lord - we appreciate you!  [If you don't know this song, please go here to listen.]

[Reminder:  If you are in the Grand Rapids area, please stop in at 2135 Francis Ave SE, next Sunday, June 3 between 2-5 pm, to celebrate Noah's graduation with us.]