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Friday, February 22, 2013

Home again! 0 comments

Our Team:

Dear friends, family and supporters,

Well, as you all know, we have returned home safely, and we are all thankful to have been reunited with you.   

It's fair to say that this has truly been a rich experience for all of us, and while we are happy to be home again, we are already missing the warm African sun, and our  friends in Asamankese.   

The past week has been a difficult transition for us - not only in us adjusting to the new time zone, but also in re-adjusting to North American culture.    As much as we love the comforts of home, there is also a sense of comfort in accepting things like the fact that the power is off for hours at a time every night, and that's ok.  

From a practical point of view, our time away on this mission was very productive in many ways.   It was wonderful to be able to work on the new school building and to see the children playing and learning in the existing building.    We were able to see the progress there as the footings of the new building were completed and the walls slowly began to rise up out of the ground.    In the existing building, I was also able to help begin some of the electrical work that will continue now that we have left.

Off the job site, we also found out time there to have been productive.   We were able to spend time with the kids of the school and others in the community, and feel so blessed to have been able to get a glimpse of the project as a whole, and of how the Spirit is working in that community.  

I remember reading one morning from Luke chapter 8 - the parable of the sower - about the seed that fell on the good soil, and I remember thinking about how His Majesty's is helping to cultivate the hearts of the children there.    We pray that the Word may be planted in their hearts, that it may take root and grow, and that in time it will bear fruit.

We are planning our reporting service for some time in March, and will post those details as soon as they are available.   In the meantime we ask that you continue to pray for the work that continues there.   Please pray that phase two of that project may continue at a steady pace, and that the building will be completed in His time.

Thanks again for your faithful support and prayers.  They were answered.

John Blaauwendraat

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fan-Dango! 3 comments

Dear Friends,


It is good to be able to get onine again and give you all an update.   As we noted in our last blog post, our internet connection has been unreiable and we have been experiencing almost daily power outages.    However, we are blessed to be able to make a visit to the internet cafe in town here and reconnect with you.

During the last few days we have been working hard to make our final connections with local vendors to have a steady stream of things to sell to use as a long-term fundraiser for His Majesty's. This has been keeping us pretty busy but we are happy to be able to meet people and set up a network.

Yesterday we were able to travel to Accra and visit Global Mama's and a local craft market. It's overwhelming to be a white person here. The vendors swarm us and try selling us everything. It's hard to think straight when we are at the markets no matter how much we try to plan ahead. Luckily we have the majority of that sorted out. Friday we are looking forward to meeting with Partner's Worldwide and spending some relaxing time at the beach before flying home.

The next few days we will be busy at the school. John has started wiring the new building with a local electrician and a fresh load of bricks has arrived at the job site as well. It's hard to juggle our time evenly between planning our new fundraising adventure, and being at the job site and working in the classroom with the kids but it is keeping  us busy.

Doreen and I have been able to plan lessons for the kids every morning this week. It's awesome to get to know all of the kids and see their reactions and excitment while learning and having fun. Even simple things like learning colours and shapes is very exciting.

Over the next few days we will be wrapping up our time here and preparing to go home. Please continue to pray for us as we reflect on the time spent here and all our new thoughts and experiences.

See you all soon!

-Jenn Prins

PS. A Fan Dango, from the title, is like a freezie. We discovered them this weekend and can't get enough! They are fan-tastic!


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Friday, February 8, 2013

Koforidua, Beads, Dedication Ceremony, and More! 4 comments

Mi Waa Waa Chi (Good Morning!)

It's hard to believe that it's already been a week since we boarded the plane for Ghana.  On the one hand time has flown by; but also seems like we've been here forever.  So much has happened!

It has been a few days since our last post, as we have had some struggles with our internet and power.   It’s been very unreliable and at times not available at all.

The things we so take for granted at home are a blessing to have here.   Power, running water, drinking water, air conditioning, even a car and a house.   But I wouldn’t say just a house, because they all have houses… just different.    The people of Ghana are a happy people, and they use their resources wisely the things we consider waste are reused and repurposed in a sense the people here are much better at practicing there three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle.

We traveled yesterday to a bead market in Koforidua (you can google it). Every Wednesday the vendors go to the bead market to sell the beads they have made or acquired – some are from other African countries, (trading beads used in slavery times, Fulani glass beads) some are made from recycled glass, discarded pop bottles etc.  Our goal at the bead market was to make some connections with local vendors to purchase a large quantity of beads, have jewelry made, take it home and sell as a fundraiser for the school, thus supporting the local economy and raising funds for the school at the same time.  We have made a good connection I think and met the vendor again this afternoon.  He came all the way to Asamankese to visit us and we spent the better part of the afternoon with him.  We came away from the meeting very encouraged and hopefully we can establish a long-term relationship with him.

Our hosts wanted to take us to the Boti Falls after the bead market, we were told to take our bathing suits with us.  I was so excited to be able to immerse myself into cool water and get the dirt and grime off.  We finally arrived at the falls after a looonng hot dive, I kept thinking to myself ‘soon I will be cooled off’…. Hmmm it is the dry season… the falls have dried up and there is just a small puddle at the base of the falls! Even though we could not cool down it was still a cool site to see, the falls are 100 feet high!

On our drive home we could feel the temperature cooling down we all started watching the sky thinking it was going to rain.  I was gonna tell our tro-tro driver so we could all run in the rain when it came! For three hours we could see the rain in front of us but we could not catch up to it, it remained just out of our grasp. Shortly after we reached the house the rain blessed us with a cool steady fall.

Our work on the school has been slow but steady; the foundation is going in with the hopes of us being able to lay block on Monday morning.   This afternoon a number of Mary Ashun ’s relatives came from Accra to dedicate the school.  After meeting with them and eating lunch together, we held a short ceremony to sing together and pray for the school, it’s teachers and students, and for the community.

The work in the classroom is a lot different than what we are used to in Canada.  Children come in with various levels of knowledge but they aren’t all familiar with numbers and shapes and names of colors.  The difference in culture is evident in this way because the children are expected to help out with chores at home.  Most families run their own shops and vendor stalls and so time and resources are limited to teach their children these types of fundamentals at home.

So the challenge is clear.  As result the kids are split into two different classes; one focusses more on the basics and the other class is able to learn more in depth.  The teaching style is a lot different.  Because it is poorer country, the teaching style isn’t as advanced as we are used to.  The kids don’t have a lot of toys and colouring tools at home so when they are supplied at school they don’t like to share but that’s typical for most young children.  It is being brought into the classroom slowly but the teachers also have the challenge of learning how to incorporate these tools in their teaching.

It’s a big learning process for kids and teachers alike but we are very hopeful that over time we will be able to introduce more advanced teaching and learning styles for the benefit of both the teachers and the kids.

Tomorrow we will be up bright and early (5:30am!) to head to Kumasi for the weekend.  While we are there we will visit the largest open air market in West Africa as well as several other cultural sites.

We’ll try to update the blog again in the next few days.  However, as we mentioned, we’ve been experiencing problems connecting to the internet, so we’ll do the best we can!

Please continue to keep us in your prayers.

-- Doreen, Jenn, and Dan

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

getting settled 2 comments

Dear friends, family and supporters,

Today is day 3 of our time here in Ghana, and I am happy to report that we are settling in well.   When we arrived here on Saturday afternoon, we were greeted by Amanda - a Redeemer College intern student teacher who is working at His Majesty’s Christian School for the next three months. 

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