Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I mean that from the bottom of my heart!  We have so much to be thankful for.  I think of the times when I’ve been abroad on Thanksgiving and even when there’s not been one thing I recognize….not a turkey to be seen or even the celebrations I’ve been used to here in the States I have still felt that presence of God and the prayers of those that know and love me.  I realize that this is the essence of what it’s all about above and beyond the food and all the trimmings…beyond what’s on the TV I find that as usual God is what makes thankfulness possible and this is a wonderful day to reflect on that fact.  I’m very grateful to have a God purpose in my life.  I’m a person that needs to have a cause that’s higher than me and God in His graciousness has given me just that.  Tomorrow we will begin very early with concerts designed to sing about what God has done and is doing.  Some say they hate Christmas…they say it’s all about commercialism but me?  I believe Christmas is like Thanksgiving…it’s what you make it.  I believe in involving God in it all and loving it all.  Nobody needs more hate in the world.  We’ll sing about how God loves us all the way up to Christmas and how wonderful that it won’t be all about commercialism for us.  I think of the time I was in India on Christmas…it wasn’t about gifts it was about church and family…same when I was in the Philippines…it taught me a lot about what matters and helped me understand what my mom has always tried to do on these holidays and throughout the year.  God bless those that don’t let these holidays just be a day that doesn’t reflect what goes on throughout the rest of the year.


I have to admit that the difficult weather has made me miss the tropical weather in Ghana very much but more I miss the people.  They are so beautiful, and so anointed.  Like us I think they don’t really know just how blessed they are.  I see it everywhere when I’m there because I’m not used to it.  The ocean isn’t in our backyard you see  The waves don’t crash on our doorstep here.  Is that why it’s so beautiful to me?  Even the impossibly red earth stands in contrast to what I’m used tobut is it that which strikes a chord so deep in my heart?  Is it the exotic seas with fishermen so foreign to these eyes of mine?  Is it the contrast of coastline and ocean and the endless struggle of the tide that touches me?  You see, I don’t think so, I think these new things let me see what I’ve got right next to me that’s so valuable.  I turn and see my wife talking to two Filipinos…I’ve never seen Filipinos in Ghana before though they may have been there before.  Not everything in life necessarily looks palatable at first glance but if you dare to try it and see that though different it might actually be something that God is using to bless you then you might be pleasantly surprised by something that you would have possibly walked right past before!  Looking up again I saw the wonderful ocean as not something out there but something that I am a part of too.  The beauty of this place couldn’t be witnessed if someone wasn’t there to appreciate it after all.  The truth is life is so much in need of people to see the beauty in it.  Life itself is wasted on those that don’t recognize the beauty of what God is doing even in difficult situationsor maybe beauty is even more when seen through the eyes of faith in a difficult situation.  After all what would waves be without the resistance of a shore to crash against?  You, dear friends have been the lighthouse beyond the cleft in the rock that God provides.  I am so thankful for those that have been a light shining in the darkness for me because it has been the imagine of what God has always been to me.  Now as we eat whatever bounty is provided today.  I pray that we walk away not just seeing the frills of something nobody truly appreciatesbut Lord please let us know that every day we are given is a day to be thankful for because it’s by His grace that we stand and breathe another breath.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Day with Joseph

My dear African brother Joseph (a.k.a. the Black Eagle) is a very busy man.  He is a man of vision and one of the most powerful men I’ve ever met.  Yet he has always been very gracious to me.  This grace has now extended to my family and that has been a very wonderful thing to witness.  I didn’t have an easy time getting pictures of things as I’d like on this trip.  We are extremely busy when we are there and often when we have time off I just feel like it takes a lot of energy to start running around and taking pictures.  People are also not always friendly to the idea of having their picture taken so you have to be careful when and where you take photos.  One day my brother decided to take just Lovely, I and the kids out to the beach and to lunch.  This was a rare and exquisite treat!  The beaches usually have a wonderful breeze that cools the otherwise sweltering day however as you can see from the mist here the humidity remains high.  This day on the beach I witness a couple of Africans swimming in the water…there’s something about this scene that just feels right to me.  There are many houses and shacks along the beachso we kept our eyes open for fishermen who might sell their catch to us.  It was days like this that I envied my children’s half Asian blood the most…I have to be careful in the sun while they just tan beautifully.  Both my daughter Danielle and my son Mike enjoyed the water that day so muchand looking at this beach can you blame them?  I saw only one lone boat lying on the beach with some scattered refusein fact outside of a lone beach combing dog there was pretty much nobody else around.  I looked down the beach and wondered if the distant structure was the castle I had visited so many years beforebut later found out it was a place where the president of Ghana goes on occasion.  Joseph is always so good to the kids, and he really loves GabbyHe never fails to bring them something when he came to visit us in the house were were staying.  He’s really good to Danielle as well.  You may be wondering why I don’t have another picture of Mike…well, someone had to get very wet and had and sand in places we don’t want to mention so he was cleaning himself up LOL!  Here’s a shot of Joseph and I.  Finally we found a fisherman selling sea snails (which Lovely in particular really loves) but Gabby just felt they were “cute”.  I don’t think that the fisherman would have let us take his picture unless we were buying his wares…we bought them all.  Sadly our cooking experiment didn’t work out very well and they tasted mostly of sand even though we did all we could to clean them…better luck next time.  Later on we had the best lunch ever with some classic Ghanaian foods present.  Joseph was so much fun to hang out with.  They had some Karaoke playing old songs and Joseph danced with the kids…I’ll share video later…you’d have to see it to believe it!  Some say ministry can only happen behind the pulpit or in the church.  I say the world is a congregation and our lives are the pulpit.  Times between meetings felt very rich and a part of all that we did in various churches.  It didn’t matter if we were preaching, teaching, laying hands on people or chasing lizards on the compound during our day off…it was all ministry, all unforgettable and all a blessing!  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Tree of Life

There are few things that make me think of Africa more than the Baobab tree which is often called “the tree of life”I don’t know why it is that I never really seemed to see them before as much as on this trip.  Three times I’ve been to Ghana but this time in particular this marvelous tree stood out to me.  The spectacular thick trunk and smaller branches make it unique from all the other trees I’ve seen during my travels.  Somehow this speaks of ancient maturity to me.  The growth of the trunk seems to take precedence over the branches.  This tree speaks to me of Africa and what it’s done for me.  So many of the changes that have happened in my life since that first trip to Africa in 1989 caused a core growth that was so wide and amazing and other things branched off from this point of incredible change.  These magnificent trees weather the storms and the droughts standing as a beacon of life and strength no matter the season.  Life thrives near the Baobab tree at timeswhile at other times it stands alone.  Ghana has brought to me a strength I don’t even understand fully.  It’s brought water to my thirsty soul and began a journey to the nations of the world that I never dreamed I’d see let alone live in.  Ghana is my baobab tree.


The power of Ghana has been in the men and women of God that live there.  I’ve had the privilege of  knowing some of them.  There’s not a time when I was with them that they didn’t give me something precious and wonderful.  Blessed as it has been to know these people over the years one of the greatest things I saw this year was the next generation rising up to be God’s light in the world.  One such young man is the son of my African brother Joseph.  His name is Julian Baisie.  We were blessed to see him sing in my brother’s church in Accra.  Seeing his heart for God brought me such courage.  What a blessing to know such people as this.  I know the importance of the vision that God has given and I know that the power of this vision is making it plain to the generation to follow so that they may carry on the work of showing just how wonderful God is to the generations to come.  This is why I wouldn’t consider not bringing my family with me.  We’ve trained them for many years to be what they are today.  They are fine missionaries whom I am proud to serve with on the mission field.  Today is Veteran’s Day, I am blessed to say that most of the veterans I know are younger than I am.  Some of them I’ve watched grow from young people to become soldiers but if I may be so bold I put those that have served on missions in the category of vets because they too have put their lives on the line in foreign lands.  I salute you!  You are all heroes to me and trees of life in a dry and weary land.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Out of Africa…

I stand here still in a state of suspension.  It’s not that I’m not home it’s just that I haven’t had enough time to let this whole trip soak in.  Perhaps it will take years to have even the beginning of a clue as to all that it’s done for us all.  Right now I find that I am home and it all is a familiar routine on some levels.  I know what to do, I know the drill but inside I find that I feel like a different person looking out on all that is oh so familiar.  Truthfully I felt the same as I entered Africa again after twenty years since I was there last.  I am mission…I’ve done this before but each trip changes me and leaves me looking out on a world I’ve seen before yet I’m not the same at all. I will attempt to relate some of the things I’ve seen and done and what I believe God is showing me through it all however this may not be the step by step and day by day thing I would have liked.  The pictures may not be in order.  I’ll go through them as they come up and see where it takes us.  For those that have thought of us, prayed for us and supported us:  thank you from the bottom of my heart.  This was a dangerous and difficult trip but something I’d do again in a heartbeat.


Returning after 20 years felt like an immense circle being completed on some levels yet on others it felt like a new beginning.  During our time in Ghana we had little time to breathe and rest but when we did we went out and saw some amazing things.  One such day we found ourselves on a beautiful beach complete with wonderful palms, sand and little beach housesWe live far inland from the ocean here in Montana so you can imagine how those that have seldom if ever seen the ocean felt at this moment.  I loved the look of the ocean through the small window on this beach shack.  The yellow of the shack and the impossible blue of the ocean stunned me and filled us all with a sense of wonder.  We had all become sensitive to the sun at this point since we were taking a medication for malaria that had this side effect but we still loved to be out with a wonderful breeze that eased the shocking heat of the sunRow after row of perfect palms stood watch over our day on the beach.  I will never get tired of the perfect tropical beauty of these trees!  Home was having one of the most beautiful Autumn seasons ever but we at this moment stood in tropical paradise.  Looking to my right I saw endless beach and perfect wavesand to my left was much the same.  Here we could rest our weary heads and soak in the enjoyment of the peace and joy of just being together to see a sight few ever get to see in their livesIt is moments like this where I recognize God pays His servants well.  I stood humbled to have the honor of seeing this beach and the ocean in Africa with my family and those t love so dearly.  Sharing my world with others is a great honor now I do this with you all as well.  Welcome to my world!  We are all pebbles on a celestial beach driven by the waves of God after all.  Waves come and go but inevitably we are all in God’s hands, He is the director of the currents of our livesI go from feeling tossed like a small stone on the beach to being immovable as a large stone No matter what being involved with trips like this can be a lonely experience on some levelsbut sharing here makes me feel that I’m showing our a closer look at who I amand that is a massive blessing:  thank you!  The many coconut trees sometimes drop a coconut early and again the theme of solitude with the potential for growth shows itself I love beaches and the sun but I have to admit that I was thankful for the breeze and the shade from the many palms.  Gabby didn’t quite know what to make of the ocean but she still had a very good timeEveryone looks at the top of a palm tree to witness its beauty but without the roots where would it be?  It seems even the palm trees are fans of soccer…no clever metaphor for thatMy daughter Danielle always sittin’ prettyGabby and her brother Michael decided to show that they were cowboys from Montana in Accra, Ghana, West AFricaLooking back on that glorious beach I recognize that God used our rare days off as much as He used the times we had ministering to churches.  Sharing this moment is a good way to start I believe!  God bless and keep you all!  You all make it so good to share these things!