Preparing for Ghana

Six times, I have prepared for a trip to Ghana.  I’ve anticipated each trip differently.  Sometimes I’ve been very excited about going, like that one time where we thought we’d sell everything to move there.  Other times I’ve worried about it because the responsibilities seemed great.  I can remember a particular tumultuous time in my family’s life and a trip to Ghana felt like the very wrong thing to do at the time. But the ticket had been booked and I had to go.  I remember bawling as I walked through customs.  The agents and officers were very concerned for me and I was whisked through every line with an accompanying pat on the back.  I highly recommend this tactic for ease of travel.

I’m now preparing for my “final trip,” as in the last time I will go to Ghana for the purpose of doing business.  If and when I go again, after this trip, it will be for the mission… although ONE DAY I will go just to spend time with my lovely friends there.  Just visiting with them seems like an exorbitant luxury.

This time, it’s not my business, it’s the business of the new owners of Big Village, the fair-trade business I started by accident when we moved back to Canada. I’m actually allowing myself to get excited about this trip!  I get to introduce them to this beautiful place, these welcoming people.  I get to tell them to ignore the Travel Report because there is no context given for the warmth and friendliness of the place that I’ve known for over six years now.

The new owners of Big Village have done some amazing things already with the business.  They’ve already gained a couple fantastic contracts and are making new partnerships all the time.  I spent some time with them the other day and got so excited about their plans and developments, I had to tell John-Mark all about it as soon as I got home.

“They are doing so, so, so well!” I said.

“Do you wish it was you?” he asked. Jerk.

“Not at all!”

What a great peace I have about it, to know that I could be so very happy for them and their success and not want even a smidge of it.

Not only that, but I had suspected God was pulling me deeper into ministry.  I didn’t know how to say that any other way.  I wrote about it when I sent out that final newsletter to my customers back in the fall.  I imagine that many didn’t understand because I couldn’t articulate exactly what that would look like, where it would be, or how that sentiment would pay the bills.  Mostly it was J-M asking me about that last one.

I prematurely told my friends, don’t worry, I’ll ease off on the use of “Ghana” a little now. I won’t add to the end of all your stories, “Well in Ghana…”  It is so annoying.  I know.  I can’t stop.

But then as J-M talked to me about the ongoing mission partnership with our church.  There is such a great forward momentum happening in Ghana, with new ministerial candidates approved, churches joining in and growing, the land purchase and construction for the women’s college… and yet not a lot of news getting out over here.  There is a lot of work to be done, as much as there is work in Ghana.

Well, hello! My passion is blabbing, either by mouth or by keyboard.  I already talk about Ghana ad nauseum.  I already know and love the people on both sides of the ocean who are committed to this project.   I can do this!

I’d stepped away from the Ghana project for a time – not in heart, but in task – because I needed to.  I was feeling a little burnt out by it all.  So I made up my mind after an intense debrief with good counsellors who said it was OK to let go.  Rob Corey stepped in just in time and had the exact skills and energy necessary to take this partnership to the place where it is now.

Since then – for 2+ years – I’ve been a big cheerleader, especially for J-M, who saw his job morph into the position of Pastor of Missions.  He now co-leads with Rob on the project and they have a great planning team.  But as I mentioned, it’s growing!  It’s growing in a way that needs full-time support.  I find myself with some time on my hands, a desire to spread the word, and the ability to do it.  With Rob and J-M at the helm and a great team besides.  All I need to do is write words?  All I need to do is tell people about it?  No brainer!

Now as I pack my bags for Ghana (that I’m getting really good at), I find myself again thinking of new possibilities, ways to communicate, pictures to take, questions to ask, stories to tell.  And still I feel the pull deeper.


We are currently developing a website (launching June 3) for the Ghana-Canada partnership, Arise Ghana.  (In the meantime, check it out on Facebook.)

One of my self-appointed tasks is to track down photos from old teams and projects to help us have a good memory of the project and how far we’ve come along.  This is also distracting me from packing because I discover pictures that move me to tears.  I see the friendships that have been formed on both sides.  I see the way people connect at a deep level because of the shared love of Jesus.  I see us ministering to each other.  I’m not saying that there hasn’t been bumps in the road, but there are many, many moments of celebration.

When I was going through the photos of our time living there, I was asking J-M which ones I should put on the public site?  He said only those that are ministry related.  That helps me not at all.

See, I think this counts…


Pastor Charles praying for the future Women’s Business College (2007).

…and so does this.


Mallory and Sophia find a unique way to cool off in the Ghanaian sun.

1/2 Hour Piano Practice

Sophia is at piano practice as I write.  I’ve got half an hour to kill.  I’ve decided not to go inside, but to wait out in the car today.  It helps that it’s gorgeous outside. We’ve had temperatures that make global warming seem less like a hoax and all of us a little more afraid of the end of the world, but my goodness, we’ll enjoy every minute of the end of the world while we can.  Yes, I’m in my car, on my laptop.  But my windows are rolled all the way down. Continue reading

According to Sophia

Dear Sophia,

I’ve had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with you over the last few days because you have pneumonia. The only thing cool about having pneumonia is the look of shock people give you when you tell them.  However, the shock is minimal as this is a common diagnosis these days.  Those bugs are getting stronger… But forget about the bugs, you just need to get stronger.

You’ve been spending your days doing these three things: staring, drawing in your journal, and sleeping. You made the unfortunate, though honourable, commitment to give up TV for lent.  Now that you find yourself with an ideal excuse to zone out in front of the boob tube (I only said that because it would make you giggle), you remain faithful to your promise.  No TV till Easter.

I’ve even tried to find loopholes for you.”Would you like me to put in a video?  That doesn’t count does it?”

“Don’t tempt me, Mommy!”

And then you take the angel wings off, when all that staring and sleeping gets you down, and you wonder out loud if it would be OK if it you just looked up a show on the computer?  “No!” you stop yourself, “never mind.”

Obviously, you’re doing some thinking while staring because every once in a while you come out with a very deep thought like, “If Beyonce tells her boyfriend, ‘don’t you ever for a second get to thinkin’ you’re irreplaceable,’ she probably shouldn’t be with him.  You should probably only date someone you think is irreplaceable.”  That’s heart-melting contemplation right there.

I remember when you were younger and you’d come up with the things you’d been thinking about, like “What happens when robots eat glass?”  Maybe not as sophisticated, but still deep thoughts for a young one.  Here’s the thing, I didn’t even KNOW robots ate glass!  You’re smart too!

Your name actually means Wisdom.  That was a pleasant surprise when we found out after you were born and named and registered with a Social Insurance Number.  I’m so glad we didn’t find out it meant “ill-fated,” like Desdemona, or “broken-hearted” like Dierdre. (I apologize to all Desdemonas and Dierdres.  Thankfully there’s always the “alternate meaning” option.)

When you were a toddler, I thought that maybe you were given this name because God knew it was what you needed to hear the most.  I was a little worried about your choices in years 2-6.  Those were the years that found you often in the waiting room of the urgent care clinic.  Not because you had pneumonia, but because you’d decided to run down a slide, jump off a high wall, race into traffic.  Oh Lord, this child is going to need Wisdom, I’d pray.

But as you started to develop your mind, I saw that you had it – and a good amount of it.  I also realized that we get the privilege of giving you that blessing every day, every time we speak your name.  Even your nickname, Fifi, also accidental and simply a product of who you are, means God increase.  So every time we call you by name or nickname we actually ask God to increase your wisdom.   My opinion on this is that it matters what we name our children, even if your father and I had no idea at the time.

But you’re not always full of profound thoughts.  You’re a ton of fun too.  Usually you’re the first one to engage in a playful activity.  You still love to jump and hop and dance.  Even though you’re a pre-teen, there’s still toddler in you.  This is why it is so hard to see you just lying there.  So I decided to help you become un-bored by asking your thoughts on a some things, just for the heckuvit.

Here’s what you said:

  • On Joseph Kony. I don’t really know his full story. But by the sounds of things, it seems like he should be executed.  If he makes other people kill other people, then he’s murdering.  But does that mean if he‘s executed the one who executed him is also murdering?
  • On Lucky Charms. They’re way too sugary, but that would never stop me from eating them.
  • On dating. Some people date too young, like that are my age and even younger!  It’s not like they’re going to get married or anything.  People do it just to seem like they’re cool, but they don’t seem like they’re cool at all.
  • On piano lessons. I feel that I shouldn’t quit, even though I get frustrated sometimes, because you guys pay a lot of money.  If I quit it would be a waste of money for all that time I’ve been doing piano lessons so far.  I do want to play piano, but sometimes I think I want to  quit just because I get frustrated.  That reason isn’t good enough.  When I hear Daddy playing it makes me want to play.
  • On her favourite colour, blue. It seems refreshing and happy.
  • On how not be bored when you can’t watch TV.  My favourite thing to do is colour and draw because it inspires me.  I get really excited about making art.  I don’t know how to explain it.
  • On what you want to be when you grow up. Fashion Designer, because it’s fun for me, like what I do in my fashion books. You get to use your imagination and it can be YOUR creation that someone is wearing.
  • On Mallory. I love her so bad.  Sometimes she bugs me, but it’s what a big sister does.
  • On Jesus. Everybody should know him and the love that he gives.
  • On being 11. I love it. I feel like I can still be an old kid and a young kid.
  • On being frustrated. I get frustrated when I’m overwhelmed with things I need to do and I feel I can’t finish any of it when I need to.  If I have a project, but also piano and homework and chores.  I get frustrated with myself. I feel like someone’s definitely going to be mad at me soon.
  • On what might frustrate others about herself. [long pause] Maybe if say something by accident that could offend somebody? Oh I know! If I get distracted when I need to do one of my jobs and they keep asking me and asking me to do my job.  That’s gotta be frustrating.

And now, Sophia, it’s the end of the day. You need to get your sleep after a long day of… sleep.  The antibiotics are kicking in and I’m looking forward to seeing that light come back in your eyes. We’ll see if we can come up with any un-boring things to do tomorrow.

Good night, Sweetie, and may God increase your Wisdom.

Love, Mommy


10 Random Things You Should Know About Sophia, According to Sophia

1. I like matching my jewellery with the shirt that I’m wearing every day, unless today. I’m sick.

2. I like being warm and cozy.

3. I hate the thought of taking a bath or shower, but once I get in I love it.

4. I love the muppets and I like to draw cartoons of them.

5. I don’t like to walk to school.  I have to wear my snow pants and trudge along, but they keep me warm.

6. I don’t like when our feather pillows, the feather sticks out and I put my face on it.

7. I don’t like it when at night, when we’re driving down a hill and a car is coming up and the lights blind me practically.

8. I like to sleep in, but I like to stay up late.

9. I love Hello Kitty.  I’m not sick of her yet.

10. I like doing my hair when it’s long.  Even though right now I can’t because it’s just plain short.