Thankful day twenty four

Today I am ever so thankful for my job.

I am thankful for the time and opportunities to sit with children and listen to them read, carefully sounding out each sound.

I am thankful for the time to sit and ask them questions about the text and encourage them to think a bit harder, delve a bit deeper into it.

I am thankful for those precious moments when their faces light up, they look at me with a smile and realize, “I CAN do it!”

Thankful day twenty three

Today I am thankful for the cool rain and breeze after six sweltering weeks of scorching sunshine. (Yes, the rain does always knock our power out or in the case of today makes it low, fluctuating current all day.). Today there was not even a need for the generator or AC – just open the windows and let the cool breeze in! Amazing!! It was wonderful and restful.

And I didn’t feel the least bit bad about sending the kids outside to play. I chuckled to myself as I watched them run by the window with felled palm fronds in their hands chasing each other!

Film Focus Group

We had a great visit to a source community today where Leo and I ran a screening of a ten minute IJM film and a focus group to discuss.

Many thanks to our wonderful participants who gave their honest and insightful feedback.

You can watch the film here.

We are seeking to learn what kind of impression this film (intended for an American audience) would make in a source community (an area where children are often trafficked from). We would like to know if it is possible to make some adjustments so we can utilize it in prevention work.

It was filmed at Lake Volta last year. I got to help with pre-filming location scouting and finding locals to participate, so it is really fun to see it come full circle.

So far the reception was extremely positive, but we will need to repeat in other contexts.

What are your thoughts on the film? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Thankful day twenty two

Today I am thankful for our family walk around The University of Ghana 🇬🇭 .

I am thankful for streetlights and sidewalks,

For places for the kids to run and explore,

For beautiful plants and landscaping,

For the quiet and the big trees.

It was literally a breath of fresh air!

Bridges and Surprises

Most of the time our Outreach and Engagement Team functions independently of our case-work teams.  The case-work folks are investigating child-trafficking crimes, collecting evidence, building a case, and caring for victims.  Our team is usually mobilizing the community at large to demand change.  There are occasions though where we have the joy of serving the case-work teams in some bridge-building capacity.  In a previous blog I mentioned the relationship with the new aftercare partner that will take in some of our clients that need long-term care.  Last week we worked to build a bridge with a Christian eye clinic that has now offered to provide free eye care to our clients, and not only to those we rescue, but also to the other children in the homes where they live and to their care-givers!  Meanwhile, we are also beginning to support our investigators in building bridges to the community.  It feels good to be able to provide some tangible support to these teams that I admire so much.

We’ve also had some great surprises recently.  Yesterday, the surprise was accidentally being a guest of honor for a surprise birthday party of a well-known pastor I just met in the hallway 30 seconds earlier!  First, let me back up.  Last year, the pastor of the church where my family and I attend recommended we meet with the assistant chaplain at a university.  It was quite a distance from our office and out of the way of our usual circuits so we never made it out there, but on the way back from another bridge-building endeavor in a source community (where kids are often trafficked from), we decided to stop by, arranging via WhatsApp a few hours before.  We arrived at the school, found the chaplaincy office deserted.  We eventually found the man we were there to meet who promptly introduced us to the chaplain and informed us it was the chaplain’s birthday.  I joked that we should sing to him and the asst. chaplain said, “sure, but let’s do it in here.”  He then walked us into a room PACKED with people who started singing “Happy Birthday” to the chaplain, to his surprise (and ours). 

 

I was ushered to a seat, introduced to the group and given honorary roles in the party like praying for the chaplain and helping him ceremonially cut the birthday cake!  I just smiled through it all and chuckled to myself about all the surprises this job has brought to me.  I don’t know if I’ve shared this before but it is a tradition here to cut birthday cakes like how a bride and groom do at a wedding.   Several people all put their hands together on the knife.  It is especially awkward when it is just two people!  I have some great photos like this at IJM birthday celebrations.  But I digress.  After the party, we had a great meeting with both the chaplain and the assistant chaplain where we explained our work with IJM, learned about theirs and discussed ways we might partner together in the future. 

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Central University

One more thing, remember those eye clinic meetings?  Well those ended up bearing much fruit not just for eye-care.  The executive director has many close relationships with chiefs, pastor, and community leaders in a new region we hope to become more active in but have little contacts.  He has invited us to come to a conference next week where he will introduce us to a whole host of great contacts up there. 

This work is full of surprises.  You never know what’s behind a door you’re about to enter.  You never know what will happen in a meeting or how one friendship might turn into five.  Whatever happens, you just pray and roll with it.

Thankful day twenty one

Today I am thankful for the hair salon and Antoinette who cuts my hair! (Hair salons abound here but generally they braid hair and plait in extensions.) I totally thought I was going to need to grow my hair long (ugh with the heat) and wait on hair cuts until I returned for visits to the States. But I am so thankful for Antoinette and the great job she does! It’s amazing what a little thing like finding a hair salon does to make a place home!

Abby posing with me and the finished product! 🙂

I’m also REALLY thankful for some improvement in Matt’s back pain. He was able to go to work today and take me out on a lunch date! Hurray!!