Monday, April 21, 2014

Sounds of Silence

It is Easter Monday and the Village is very quiet.  All of the children have gone with their respective churches to celebrate the Risen Savior with a day long fellowship picnic.  They left around eight this morning and will back just in time for supper.  The cottage mothers have taken the children, so it gives the ROS a welcomed day off duty without specific responsibilities.  It has been a most pleasant morning of listening to worship songs, reading the scripture, and catching up on some of the "thousand" little things that we are always putting off.  These quiet days are few and far between ... and wonderful.

We trust each of you had a blessed Easter yesterday and were able to celebrate with family or friends.  Last evening we attempted to skype with Diane's brother and family.  It was during a rain storm here in Ghana, and the sounds of the rain hitting the metal roof drowned out the words, preventing both ends from hearing one another, so we had to just give up on the attempt.  It is amusing how we are reminded what little control we have, even with all of the sophisticated technology man has developed.

Yesterday morning we attended The Redeemed Christian Church of God in Akotoshie.  Randy had the pleasure of sharing the Easter morning message.  The theme was The Power of Resurrection, and the text was Romans 8:1-11.  It was a blessed morning, and the congregation was so gracious and hospitable.  We particularly enjoyed observing the praise and worship time during the service. Ghanaians are very musical, rhythmic, and colorful in dress ... they love to sing and dance before the Lord.  The pastor reminded us that the first time we were with them we were strangers, but this being our third visit, we were "no longer strangers" ... we became a little concerned ... but were then relieved to know he didn't expect us to get up and dance!

The past week in general has been somewhat subdued.  The children started back to school, so they were a little melancholic. We had some activities planned for the four day Easter weekend, but the children were so ill-behaved Friday at lunch, that Susy, the Village Administrator "banished them" to the "silence" of their cottages except for church services for the remainder of the weekend.  The only activity that was allowed was the movie Saturday evening for the Junior High School and Senior High School students.

We had long planned to show to the older children The Passion during Easter season.  For those of you who have seen the movie, you know that it is not for entertainment purposes, but rather for reflective purposes that the movie was made.  It was our desire to use it as a springboard from which to have serious discussions about personal salvation and the implications of Christ's atoning work. As one would expect, there was barely a peep from the audience as it left at the close of the movie.  We followed up with a required Q&A session last evening.  There were many excellent questions about the movie and how it compared and contrasted with what is recorded in the gospel accounts of the Crucifixion.  In general the kids did a good job reflecting, and there may still be unfinished business with some of them.  You can join us in praying as we ask the Lord to complete the good work He has started in many of them.  May they find quiet moments among their busy schedules to "think on these things."

This being our first Easter in Ghana, we wondered how the believers here celebrated.  They do it well!  Everything closes down for Good Friday, and most everyone attends service in the morning. Saturday is treated as a holiday.  Sunday is a filled with celebration services in the church, family dinners, and much singing and dancing.  Monday is also a holiday, and most churches will have day long picnics, either as their own fellowship, or in combination with other churches in their denomination from the surrounding region.  It makes us think of the more simple and primitive days of America's westward expansion, and how the people in small towns and the country made such effort to celebrate community at such times.  (We confess that we are probably romanticizing those days, but it makes our hearts happy.)

We'll end with a couple of cute stories from the kids.  Last week Emma, who is nine years old and only about three feet tall, stopped and asked Mr. Randy if he could play with one of the balls.  After receiving permission, he continued to stand there with a blank look on his face.  Randy told him they were in the barrel on our back steps, and he could choose whichever he wanted.  Emma continued to stand there with an expectant stare.  Finally, Randy asked him what he was waiting for, and Emma replied, "for you to go and get it for me."  Randy said, "Well you can just get it yourself."  Emma explained in all seriousness, "No I can't.  I am afraid that if I reach into the barrel I'll fall in head first, and won't be able to get out ... and no one will be able to hear me scream."  It had never crossed Randy's mind that the bottom of the barrel was so very far from the top ... especially in the eyes of a little one.

A couple of days ago, Atta Kwasi turned six years old.  Diane went over to his cottage to wish him Happy Birthday.  Mr. Francis, our cadet leader, was there at the time. He suggested that Atta Kwasi show Madam Diane what he could do.  He dropped to the ground and proceeded to pump out fifty pushups.  Diane was impressed, especially considering that at that rate he should be able to do 500 - 600 by the time he is our age!

The other night some of the children performed their original version of The Prodigal Son as a parting gift to a couple of mini-missionaries who were leaving.  Little Kwame, about the cutest four year old that we have ever met, climbed up beside Mr. Randy and cuddle in close.  After a few minutes Kwame asked, "Mr. Randy, where is your hat?"  Randy explained that he had left it in the house.  "Next time you need to bring it with you, so your head can be protected from the sun at all times."  Obviously the children have listened to Randy's explanation of why he wears a hat outdoors.  It reminds us that there are always little ears listening, even when we least expect it ... and that is both our challenge and our hope!

Have a great week. In your daily busyness, might you experience some sounds of silence and find yourself refreshed.              

Sunday, April 13, 2014

"Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."

It is Palm Sunday.  The children have gathered early.  They will be walking to Adjen- Kotoku, carrying palm branches and singing praise songs.  When they arrive at church, the fellowship of believers will continue the procession through the village, celebrating the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem.  It is a very exciting day for Christians in Ghana.

Yesterday, Mr. Wisdom cut palm branches from trees in our Rafiki Village.  Last evening and early this morning the Mamas and children worked diligently to fashion weaved palms into headbands, crosses, and flower-decorated fans.  This morning the children dressed in their finest clothes.  But, the most wonderful thing to see was how the nationals took what simple things they had and fashioned them into something beautiful.  And when they added their sweet voices singing words of praise, it was an almost transcendent experience.  We so appreciate the simplicities of life here, and that people know how to mark the moment.  This morning we are filled with joy!

The week has gone well.  We have finished GAMES.  Team Zambia was the overall winner.  This was exciting as the team was made up of the youngest children participating in GAMES, and their team leader was Mary (who is mentally challenged).  How wonderful that on more than one occasion David has slain Goliath!

The children are finishing their two week break from school.  We have played many games, watched many movies, competed in a football match, written sponsor letters, worked on crafts, and done much cleaning.  Tomorrow it is back to the routine of school.  There may be a little sadness tonight, but the past two weeks have been packed with fun! 

Diane's biggest day this week was Wednesday when she left around eight in the morning to go to Mokola.  Mokola is a quintessential African market in Accra.  There are blocks and blocks of street vendors, hundreds of small kiosks (here that means tiny rooms packed full of things for sale), a few shops, a mixture of sounds and smells, thousands of people ... and a very hot sun!  She returned to Rafiki around seven in the evening, so it was a very long day; but productive.  She was able to buy four outfits for the kids who will be celebrating their birthdays this month, and around seventy pair of church shoes for the kids.  One should remember that we don't have access to traditional shoe stores here, so this meant that Diane had to haggle with many street vendors throughout Mokola to find that many shoes.  What an exhausting day; but, you all should be proud of Diane ... she is discovering confident boldness buried in that sweet spirit of hers.  Randy plans on Diane becoming a sales broker in international commodities upon the completion of our mission stint.  :)

Yesterday Randy was joined by two of the fifth grade students as he cleaned his classroom and moved around computers to be ready for school tomorrow.  It was really a delightful time as he discussed with Maa Bea and Ray their ideas about the significance of the crucifixion and resurrection.  (Randy was actually doing prep work for his Easter sermon that he will be sharing in Akotoshie next week.)  Sometimes great truths can be expressed so simply ... out of the mouths of children.  Randy encourages all of you to listen to kids every now and then, they are pretty sharp.  After their theological seminar, they returned to our house for "cubes in water" and a game of Pass the Pigs.  Some days just don't get any better than that.  Just in case you are wondering, Randy finished the game with zero points; so obviously it is not necessary for him to win to enjoy himself, although he remains competitive. :) 

We must close for now, as it is time to go pick up the children from church.  "Coming in the name of the Lord ... " takes many forms. Keep your eyes open for opportunities this week.  Hosanna!          

Saturday, April 5, 2014

"It's Lonely at the Top" ... and Other Musings from Adjen-Kotoku

It is amazing that time is relative.  We have now been back in Ghana for three weeks, and it feels as though we never left.  There were so many things happening that we really haven't had time to think about our experience of returning to a place that is now so familiar.

School is out for a couple of weeks between terms.  We are in the middle of GAMES (a five day schedule filled with games, art, music, enrichment, and sport activities).  The children are even now extremely excited as Mr. Rob and Madam Libby, previous ROS missionaries with Rafiki, are coming in this afternoon for a two week mini-mission stay.  They had previously served in Ghana for four years, so this is a really sweet time for the children.

We have had GAMES activities each morning, afternoon sessions in which the cottage mamas have been sharing traditional Ghanaian story-telling and native crafts such as pottery and broom making, mid afternoon (when it is too hot to do anything else) showings of nature films, and evenings of watching movies and eating popcorn. Obviously this is out of the ordinary for us, but the children are on break, and we know that idle hands lead to mischief, so we try to fill the days with pleasurable and educational experiences.  We have just completed day three of GAMES and will finish the whole program Tuesday evening with awards and other special recognitions for the children.

Three times a year we have the children write letters to their sponsors.  This is no small undertaking as we have 118 children in Rafiki Ghana, and the number of sponsors per child can be as many as six.  Thankfully Libby will be coordinating this and we hope to have them completed by next Friday.  It is a tender moment when children tell us that they have written their sponsors letters, but have not received any letters in return during the year.  This reminds us of how important the relational aspect of sponsoring a child is, and how the smallest things can make the biggest difference.  Of course, the perspective is much different when one is the child waiting.  The African culture is one that values relationships much more than productivity, so the children are doubly sensitive.

Diane has spent the lion's share of the past week writing sponsor reports for each of the children.  This involves a summary page for each child, including updates on health, academics, spiritual development, and anecdotal accounts of what each has been up to during the past four months.  She hopes to complete this task tomorrow, and get back to her usual routine next week.

Randy has been enjoying the break as RICE follows the same schedule as the Rafiki schools, and he has been out of the classroom.  This has allowed him to spend most of the days this week with the children.  Do you remember the days of the "dance card"?  Then you'll understand when we say Mr. Randy's "sit next to you card" is full for the remainder of the break.

Diane often remarks, "It is lonely at the top."  This translates into "Nobody likes you when you are in charge and have to be the one who disciplines everybody."  But this afternoon, during the nature film, she was seen stroking the temple of a little boy's head as it rested in her lap.  Maybe it isn't as lonely as she sometimes imagines.

Now that you know what we have been up to, we will share a couple of the thoughts we have been carrying around in our pockets (we certainly don't claim they are original): Children are too often entertained, and too seldom engaged.  This was evidenced by our showing of Disney's Jungle Book.  Although a classic and one of our favorites, it seemed to be too slow moving to hold the attention of all the children.  We heard the word "boring" several times.  It is difficult to imagine that these children in the Rafiki Village in Ghana have been exposed to enough of first world culture that they actually find themselves disinterested unless it is action packed, high volume, fast paced, supersaturated non-stop sensory stimulation.  In our well intentioned efforts to give them a taste of being a kid in America, we have not done them any favors.  (Don't even get me started about Santa Claus and what we have done with Christmas.)

The second thing that has been heavy on our hearts is the idea of the value of a day.  Coming to Africa we brought with us a willingness to do whatever is needed.  The response to needs has taken many forms, some of which have been efficient and others not.  Some have been a good match with our gifting and passion, others not.  Most often we struggle with the disparity between what we feel competent to do, and what we are asked to do.  On occasion we realize that some of our tasks are so menial that anyone in the world could do them.  Then we are reminded of some of the great truths we have learned during our lives: It is more often the willing rather than the qualified that God uses.  It is not about us, but about the revelation of God's glory.  It is for a time such as this that God has us where we are.  It is by faith we walk, not by sight ... without faith it is impossible to please God.  We measure the success of a day's work in terms of obedience.  

Does it really matter that one spends an hour playing with children when there are so many other things one is qualified to do?  We think so.  And so did Jesus ... who was the only one qualified to save the world. 

                   

Sunday, March 23, 2014

"It keeps getting sweeter and sweeter ..."

To the faithful who have consistently followed our blog, we send our renewed greetings from Ghana.  As you know we have not published a blog for the past four weeks and we want to let you know why.

We have just returned home from an unplanned trip to the United States.  Praise God for His faithfulness and provident care.  Randy was having some medical and dental issues that needed to be explored and addressed.  By God's grace all of the investigation was able to be completed and no pathology was found.  He was able to receive the dental care he needed.  Now we are back to Rafiki without the distraction of concerns about health.

While in the United States, working around the schedule of appointments and procedures, we were able to connect with some of our friends and family. What made it really fun was the fact that we were able to surprise some of them by simply showing up at their homes and school (Hey, G-Baby!!).  Their reactions were priceless to us - shock, befuddlement, tears, lightheadedness :), and joy. After these reactions we did use wisdom and let our moms in on the surprise, as they both have heart problems.   It was a wonderful time of refreshing and catching up with many we love. Oh the joy of sitting long at a friend's table!  If you were among those with whom we connected, thanks for making that happen.  If we missed you this time, we will definitely make it a point to see you on our next visit.

We were able to stop over at Rafiki headquarters for a few days before our flight back to Africa.  This provided some rest and opportunities for each of us to meet with our supervisors and the leadership of the organization.  Randy was able to share his desire to return to the elementary, junior high, and senior high classrooms. This is what he has found to be most fulfilling and the greatest opportunity to impact the lives of the children here.  It was made clear that he had been assigned as dean of the Rafiki Institute of Classical Christian Education and that his main priority is the adult education program.  Please join us as we pray that God will give Randy a peace that is beyond his own understanding and a passion for RICE that supersedes his other interests and desires.  If indeed God has called, He will be faithful to provide, and Randy will experience contentment in any circumstance.

The plans for RICE are extraordinary though.  Next month we will start our second class of RICE 1 with an estimated enrollment of 18, even as the first class completes its work and becomes certified to teach in or open a new pre-primary school.  RICE will eventually expand to include five levels, with graduates of the government approved program qualified to open and operate their own private K-12 classical Christian school.  We will be breaking ground on the new building for the Advanced Learning Institute later this spring. At full enrollment we will have 108 students.  By the time the first class graduates, we should be an accredited teachers' college offering bachelor degrees in Classical Christian Education.  The Ghanaian Ministry of Education is very excited to work with Rafiki to bring this opportunity to the people of Ghana.  This is a huge task, but we serve an incredible God.    

Upon our return to Ghana, we hit the ground running as we had our usual responsibilities to assume, there was catching up to do, and the Home Office team from Florida headquarters arrived for its semi-annual inspection and evaluation.  There were long days and short nights.  We were thankful for the weekend to arrive and be able to reorganize and rest.

The team noted great improvements in the overall spirit of the village, the attitudes and behaviors of the children, the school and teachers, the physical plant, and the progress of the programs in which we are involved.  We were reminded that it often takes fresh eyes to see the progress that is being made, and that those in the midst of the battle often lose objectivity.  The team was wonderfully encouraging, and we felt refreshed, inspired and challenged anew by their visit. They are so good at this aspect of their job that as Diane puts it, "life, as we know it, seems to be suspended for those days of their visit, and when they leave,one once again feels alone and inadequate." But we soon remember that we do not stand in our emotions, and we praise God for both His abounding presence and supply.  We also praise God that He is continuing His good work here, and that we are experiencing transformation.

Diane has been given additional responsibilities.  She is to work with Mr. Menta, our national assistant village director, to oversee the transition of our graduates from their residence here in Rafiki to their enrollment and attendance at university.  This includes researching schools, assisting in application, making arrangements for room and board, and assuring that everything gets done in a timely manner.  We jokingly say that she will have first hand experience in "pushing the kids out of the nest."  That is the universal goal of every parent, isn't it?  To do it well is the challenge. 

Diane knew that upon our return Mr. Randy would be met with excitement and gladness as he is adored by all the children - he is Mr. Randy, you know :).  But being Mrs. Consequence, she knew the children would not have the same outpouring of affection for her return.  But her sweet little boys from cottage 8 (most of whom are stinkers, sweet stinkers:)) asked her if she would be here for Christmas.  She translated that, "we don't want you to go again". Again, her translation only :).          

The most exciting thing that has happened since returning to the Village has been the visitation of salvation!  One of our most difficult children, the centerpiece of many dysfunctional dynamics within the Village, for the first time of which we are aware, sensed a conviction about her behavior and terrible relationships with other children and adults.  She expressed remorse and a desire to be freed from her behavior because she didn't "want to be like that anymore."  This was an open door for the sharing of the Gospel. Only God can know the heart of man, but we believe that she is now a Christian.  Join us in praying for "E" as she experiences the transformation that is possible only through the work of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, an account of a "kiss of grace."  Margaret, a student in RICE 1, was asked by a fellow church member how her course was going.  She answered, in true Ghanaian vernacular, "RICE keeps getting sweeter and sweeter, now they are adding stew."  Praise God for progress ... even if it is "small by small."

Thank you for loving us and caring about what we do here.  May each of you daily experience the sweet, sweet love of Jesus and may there always be someone in your life who wants you home for Christmas.    

Sunday, February 16, 2014

"Are you sleeping ... or waiting to hear from the Lord?"

For the past several weeks the Rafiki Bible Study has been in the book of Acts.  Both of us have greatly enjoyed the study, and are impressed with God's desire and design (from before the beginning of time) for all nations to come to know Him.  It is a privilege for us to be part of God's work here in Africa.

Earlier this week, Randy was discussing with his class how counter-cultural it is in America to confess that we are totally dependent on God and the work of the Spirit to accomplish anything good in our lives.  He was attempting to explain that "The American Dream" has fostered a fierce spirit of independence and the delusion that "we can achieve anything if we work hard enough."  In response, one of the students commented, "Many people think Ghanaians are lazy, but we are just waiting on the Lord."  Later that afternoon during computer session Randy looked around the room at his students ... all of whom were sitting at their desks, breathing heavily, heads bowed, eyes closed ... and he wondered what they were hearing.

Diane is in the process of training a woman who she thinks will be a wonderful cottage mother.  This is an answer to many fervent prayers.  Thank you for sharing that burden with us.

Our small study groups are up and running, and the young people seem to be excited about sharing time with us as we explore what it means to honor God through our living and the choices we make. 

We had a great celebration on Valentine's Day.  Diane has been teaching the Love Languages in her cottage mothers' training time. The special occasion provided an opportunity to actually put into practice what they had been learning.  During Thursday's meeting Diane had the mothers make a special Valentine for each of their children, expressing specific words of encouragement and affirmation.  It was no surprise that some of the mothers had a challenging time - a reflection of both the mothers and their kids! With encouragement they were all able to complete the task ... but there was one lone valentine on which the only thing written was "Happy Valentine's Day."  We need to pray for that kid and his mother.  We decorated the dining hall, plastered the walls with our own valentines - telling the children how much we loved them and why, served Fanice (ice cream) as a special treat after supper, and showed the movie The Love Bug.  We think they all felt "loved on."

Last evening we had four of the high school guys (Randy's small group) over for games and treats.  We played Catch Phrase which has always been a favorite of ours.  That was a funny cross-cultural experience, but the guys were great and had a lot of fun.  During Pass the Pigs, Carlos quoted an old Ghanaian saying which is profoundly true: "When you have nothing, you want some. When you have some, you want more.  When you get more, you want it all."  It is amazing how truth is indeed universal.

Today Randy was walking with some of the young boys after coming back from church.  Martey was sharing some of his thoughts.  He asked, "Mr.  Randy, what is that thing they call you after you're gone?  It starts with an R."  Randy answered, "Randy?" Martey said, "No, it's your ... r... rep ... reputation.  You have a good reputation."  Randy smiled, because of the compliment; and because Martey had learned a lesson one day in class. "Reputations are important things."  They are indeed.  

So now that you are at the end of this blog and find yourself breathing heavily, with your heads bowed, and your eyes closed... well, we were just wondering ... are you sleeping, or waiting to hear from the Lord?                    

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Signs

"Signs, signs.  Everywhere are signs, blocking out the scenery and breaking my mind.  Do this.  Don't do that. Can't you see the signs?"

The memory of this old song from the 70's came to mind last Sunday.  We were off duty, which means that we should be bothered in our home ONLY if there is some EMERGENCY.  But that Saturday we had heard the familiar "Knock Knock" on our front door at least a dozen times. The next day we decided to put up a sign of our own that read, "Good Sabbath.  Madam Susy is on duty this weekend."  Later in the afternoon we watched one of the junior boys come to the door, read the sign, take it off the screen, and lay it on the ground.  He then stepped over it and knocked boldly on the front door.  We did not answer.  Later we opened the door to see what had happened and there, still on the ground, was our sign.

It is not like we have a whole lot of time for philosophical pondering, but we would have to be pretty obtuse not to catch the spiritual symbolism of that!  How many times does God put signs right in front of us, and we just set them aside and bull ahead with what we think we are to do.  We are still chewing on that one.

Diane should have known Monday would be a challenging day. She went to the bank to withdraw money from an ATM before going into Accra to pick up postal packages, get a hair cut and buy groceries.  The ATM canceled the withdrawal (but still charged our account - another story in itself).  The normal 45 minutes into town stretched into four hours, because of unusually heavy traffic. When she arrived at the post office, it was unfortunately the wrong one. Instead of traveling to the other side of Accra, she turned around and came home empty handed for the day.  Some days are just like that.  She should have read the signs.

Later in the week, Diane went on home visits to check out three potential cottage mothers.  She was very excited about two if them. At the end of the day there was only one who qualified to proceed, fortunately she was the one Diane thought had the greatest potential.  The other two?  Well, one talked more about her salary than about anything else.  The other?  She spoke in tongues.  Both bad signs for applying to Rafiki.

Wednesday afternoon upon Randy's return to his RICE 1 classroom after lunch, he found Angelina stretched out across three chairs. And there was Margaret stretched out on the floor.  Fortunately this was not a sign of lack of interest, but more a sign of the heat and humidity.  See, the climate here is tough even for the nationals.

Now, how about some encouraging signs?

Today Randy received an e-mail from home office inquiring about the progress of RICE (Rafiki Institute of Classical Education) of which he is dean.  They wanted to know how many working computers we had at present and how many we would anticipate needing for the next term which begins April 14th.  Randy explained that he had three students now, eight working computers, and anticipated no need for more computers in April.  The response was something like, "We expect there to be eighteen new students in April, so you'll need at least ten more computers."  We think this is a sign of  high expectations, but Randy is going to take it as an encouragement.            

Last year Randy was able to spend nearly every day with the children of the Village because he taught in the primary, junior, and senior schools.  This term he has been taken out of the schools to supervise the development of RICE.  He very much misses the students, especially the junior and senior high students.  God has been particularly gracious this past week; as not a day went by without one of the students coming up to RICE and checking in with Randy, just to let him know they were missing him.  Perhaps that is a sign that some relational progress was made last year.

The guys study group started this past week.  Randy is using Gene Getz' Measure of a Man to help the guys understand what manhood looks like from the Biblical perspective of Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus.  Eleven guys were invited, but only four chose to attend. Randy thinks this may be a sign of losing the relationships he developed last year because he is no longer with the guys daily, but it could also be a sign that he needs to buck up and trust more in God's sovereignty.  Ah, just when one thinks he's got it.

Diane did travel back into Accra on Friday, and had a little better day than earlier in the week.  She made it to the bank, where the ATM again charged a withdrawal to our account without surrendering any cash.  Is this a sign or fraud?  We're working on it. She then made it to the correct post office where she was able to pick up a delightful package sent to us by our dear friends the Volners who were attempting to spoil us for Christmas.  Oh, better late than never! It is a sure sign that we are loved!  We received many mini M&M packs in our gift box and now, two days later, they are gone.  A sure sign we (i.e. Diane) is still undisciplined when it comes to chocolate.

Earlier this week we received an invitation from the children to attend a play they were presenting.  The envelope was addressed to Mr. and Mad. Diane (abbreviation for madam, we hope!).  Or, do you think that is just another sign?

Signing off for now.  We love all of you!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

"Zero Words per Minute ... and Two Hundred Thirty Six Errors"

Randy has completed his second week as Dean of RICE (Rafiki Institute of Classical Education).  We are at the very beginning of developing this program, whereby national men and women are trained to become teachers in or headmasters of institutions that employ Christian classical education technique and curriculum. As is the case with everything at the beginning, we are progressing slowly and discovering and addressing problems as they come up.  The first class consists of three people, each in their sixties, who come on recommendation from the Methodist Church of Ghana.  They are lovely individuals who have great hearts for God and desire to use their remaining years to serve in preschools in order that they might be used to bring children to the Lord.  It is a testimony to their faithful obedience that they would get up early each morning, Monday through Friday, incur the expense in time and money to make the hour or two journey from their home to come to Rafiki and spend seven hours on the computer each day to become certified after the twenty week program is completed.  The courses will eventually expand to two and one half years, and qualify the graduates to participate in classical schools on any level from preschool to senior high school. That is the theory behind the program ... the rubber meets the road when we discover that the students have no computer skills or even basic typing skills ... and we must indeed start from the very beginning.

So, when Randy heard "Zero words per minute ... and two hundred thirty six errors" as Margaret's response to how she did on our BeaconMavis typing skills test earlier this week ... his balloon was just a little deflated. It was a reality check; always something difficult when working under visionaries.  Yet it drew Randy back to standing on the promises of God and trusting in His sovereignty.

Our week has been very busy, and activity has been swirling around us; yet when the dust settles we feel as though there has been little accomplished.  Randy spends his days with his three senior citizens, working through the RICE curriculum with them.  Diane teaches the cottage mothers a couple of times a week for a couple of hours and spends the rest of her time hearing about the insults that are tossed around like hot potatoes among the children.  Several times this week, when we came together after our day's work, we asked ourselves, "Where are we, and how did we get here?"  And we remind ourselves that reality consists not of the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen .. for we are just sojourners on the earth ... passing through on our way to a heavenly rest.  We believe this is what God is teaching us even as He pries the reins out of our hands.  Randy's motto, "I have no expectations, only hope" is ingrained more deeply with each passing day.

That all said, we felt some definite "kisses of grace" this week.  Diane received a wonderful e-mail from a person she has never met, delivering prophetic words of encouragement.  Randy has had some delightful and enlightening conversations with Stephen, one of his RICE students, at early morning devotional time as they have been studying Acts and the power of the Holy Spirit.  (There is definitely a different manifestation of the Spirit here in Africa ... just like in the book of Acts ... than anything we have experienced before in our walk with the Lord.)  We are both excited to be starting weekly small group studies with several of the junior and senior high students.

This weekend we have said goodbye to two delightful mini-missionaries who have been at Rafiki for the past month.  Dr. Dan and Madam Kathy were not only talented and hard workers, but also refreshing for our spirit.  The fellowship was sweet and their stories brought both tears and belly laughs.  Such is the dynamic of the body of Christ.  Tomorrow we welcome Phyllis, a reading specialist from Washington, who will be with us for a month.  It is wonderful to see how God meets the needs of His covenant community by moving around  people and things for divine appointments.

Finally, for all of you back in the States, we understand today is Superbowl Sunday.  We are not great football fans, but we definitely enjoy the tradition of hunkering down on a cold winter's evening for a few hours of rowdy entertainment and handfuls of delicious snacks.  Enjoy it for us!  Might it be a high scoring game, well played, with few mistakes.  And think of us ... we're here in Ghana grinding out small gains and intercepting insults. :)