Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My Perspective, Part 1

Anna has let everyone know about our experience in pretty great detail in the two weeks that we have been back. Admittedly, I have been fairly absent in the retelling of the story. Over the next week, or maybe few weeks, you will read my observations of what surely was an experience that has changed the way we see the world.

The idea of going to Africa, at least in my mind, is romanticized quite a lot. I belong to a group of friends that read lots of books about people who go far off and do great things. Maybe they just do mundane things. It's the fact that they are done in exotic places make them seem great. So for me, there was always this struggle between going to Ghana for the right reasons, and going to Ghana for the adventurous travel writer reasons.

While preparing for the trip there was this "Is this really happening" kind of vibe. We had spent so much time in prayer for what we were about to see. The second we sat down on the plane though, the reality started to sink in.

I don't know if it was the cramped airplane, or the massive amount of time in the air, or the anxiety of landing in an unfamiliar place that kept me awake. Probably a combination of all three. When we finally landed in the capital city of Accra, I was like Secretariat behind the gate at Churchill Downs. Absolutely wired. Ready to go and do whatever it was we were about to do.

After passing through customs, we set out in a new city of 2 million people. At night. It would be a while before we actually started the "ministry" portion of our trip. That night was just to get our bearings a little bit.

Went to bed at a missionary guest house in the middle of the city. Ate turkey sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies, drank cokes, and talked to white Americans. Except for the surroundings and the jet lag, nothing seemed new. Something was different though. I wasn't going to be able to share a bedroom with my wife. Instead I shared it with Robbyn, who is a great guy. However, Robbyn makes loud noises in his sleep. With some earplugs from his always thinking ahead wife, I was able to drown out his disturbing moans and snores.

The next day we wake up early to get on the road to Bole. Bole is in the Northern Region of Ghana, which is about a 10 hour bus ride from Accra. So the next day we spent riding in a van. A 15 passenger van in Ghana is a little bit more cramped, and much more fun than one here. We meet Bishop Otto Brown; who oversees the churches in the Northern Region, and Simpson, our incredible driver. Simpson once told us that he only knew of two others with his namesake, both American. There was that guy who killed his wife. Then there was the cartoon character. Simpson is a much bigger fan of the latter rather than the former. Me too.

Simpson makes Jeff Gordon look like my 97 year old grandmother. The guy barely misses motorcycles and goats, all while driving 120 km/hr. It's only about 75, but seems much worse than that. There are a few things I notice on the drive up.

-Obruni is what they call us. It's the term for white people. I can't tell if it's derogatory or a term of endearment. When we stop at a crossroads, everyone is trying to sell to the obrunis. I even see one guy holding up a rat and a dog by the tail. Presumably for eating? I hear Obruni a lot at first, then it's as if the term disappears from their vocabulary. Once they get to know your names, there aren't any generic terms for you anymore.

-I can drive from Tupelo to Memphis and go 45 minutes without seeing someone. You can't top a hill or turn a corner without seeing someone on the side of the road in Ghana. It's smaller than the size of Texas but has about 30 million people in it.

-The last 2 hours of the journey are on a dirt road in the middle of the dark. Bishop and Simpson are both a little anxious because they have said that people could try and rob us if we break down. The threat of a tire blowing out is a very real possibility. It feels like we are driving on top of a xylophone.

We finally make it to what will be our home for the next 8 days, the Cocoa Research Institute. After about 30 travel hours, we are here. It's hot, it's dry, and we can't hardly contain our excitement. Now, we have to sleep. Tomorrow, the journey just begins.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Beautiful People

Each day we went to a different village to do Bible Clubs. We went to Bole, Tinga, Bala, and Guniyiri. While each village had similarities, they also each had their own personalities.

Bole- We went to Methodist Junior Secondary School (JSS) and were overwhelmed with the number of kids. Things did not really go as planned. We had to be flexible because of the number of kids. We had them make name tags, sing songs, teach us songs, act out the story of Zacchaeus, and color. We were told after we left that most of the children were Muslim. Many of the Muslim elders came to the Methodist pastor and asked "why would white people come all this way to spend time with our kids." The pastor told them that it was out of our Father's love for us. They could not wrap their minds around this type of love. The pastor really feels like God is preparing many of the young people to turn to God from their Muslim beliefs . We are praying that they would be given the strength to step out--which is really hard when being Muslim influences so much of their culture.

Lesson learned from day one: We must remember that God is the one leading this team. We must not rely on ourselves but on Him.

Guniyiri- As a team, we had prayed that God would lead us. The day before we relied on ourselves more than God. This day, we let Him lead us. INCREDIBLE. Most could not speak English but it is amazing how you can build relationships even when you can't speak the same language. We went out into homes and spent time with the people of this village. This village does not have a school so The Orchard is really praying about how we can help in this matter.

Tinga- We were greeted by the chief of Tinga. What an experience! So many rituals and formalities. He was very welcoming. We then went and spent time with the people of the village. I noticed here how the kids are ready to learn- spiritually and academically. We really want our partnerships with these villages to be relational and not based on money.

Bala- The people were so inviting! They had prepared many songs and dances for us. We spent much of the day singing, dancing and praising. Many times during the day we would close our eyes and just listen to them raising up their bodies and voices to God. Beautiful people!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Bumpy Road

After first arriving in Accra, Ghana, we spent the night at the Baptist Guest House. The next morning we began the long drive to North Ghana. We were way behind schedule and our driver, Simpson, warned us that it was not safe to travel at night but... we were going to continue driving anyway. We prayed that God would protect us and He did just that. This was the first time that I felt uneasy about my surroundings. We were piled into a van, luggage loaded high on top, and the roads were now dirt..and filled with potholes. As we came to each village, there were military checkpoints. At first, I was a little nervous, but then it became fun. I remember as we drove, windows down, wind in our faces, closing my eyes and just taking in the sounds and smells. This was the first time that I knew I would love it there. When we arrived safely Bishop said a prayer of thanks. I began to think of Simpson as the God figure-- I completely trusted him to get us there safely but not just safe--but to really enjoy the ride. Simpson had traveled the roads so he knew every bend, hole or turn. Even though there might be speedbumps, dirt roads, and potholes, it was completely worth the trip. Just as a life with Jesus is. The adventure and unknown maybe sometimes scary but...it is always worth it. And I am beginning to really enjoy the adventure of completely surrendering it all to Him.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


The morning of April 7th I woke to find myself very anxious. I decided to work out since we would be on a plane for 16 hours, so I used that time to pray. I asked God to give me a peace about the trip. In my head, I knew that I shouldn't feel this way. The entire trip had been orchestrated by God and it was only for two weeks. But, my heart felt differently.

Russ and I checked the mail before we left and in the mail we got the peace that we needed. Compassion had sent us an updated picture of Frank and a sweet letter from him. This letter had been postmarked months ago but for some reason, it didn't arrive until the day that we were leaving. Getting the letter and picture in the mail was the same as if God had audibly said "Fear not, I go before you. Now experience the peace that only I can give." We experienced his peace the entire 2 weeks we were in Ghana.

Philippians 4:6-7

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."


Friday, April 18, 2008

need more sleep

We are home! We just arrived in Tupelo. We left Ghana Thursday night and it has been a long journey. We stopped in Amsterdam this morning. We got to see a little of the city and visit Anne Frank's house. We had an incredible time and can't wait to share more about it with you! We learned many things but one is the power of prayer. It was unbelievable to actually be able to feel that people were praying. We got to meet so many people, meet Frank, and see the beautiful country. Here are a few pics. We will post more over the next couple of weeks. For now, we are going to get some rest!

Anna with the kids

Canoeing down the Volta River looking for Hippos (the river with Ghana on one side and Burkina Faso on the other). We did see 6 Hippos!

Russ playing an instrument for their dance

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Love, love, love

Russ and I want to thank you for the prayers! We are doing great....and can't wait to share with you our stories and experiences. We are in Cape Coast spending a few days with the team. We fly into Memphis Friday night! We are filled with joy for all the people that we have gotten to spend time with here in Ghana. But, we can't wait to see you all! Here are a few prayer requests:

Robbyn's rash- that it would heal and not spread
Team time - that we would have a great time of sharing and reflecting
Safety traveling
Time spent with Frank and his family on Thursday!!!

we love you all!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Prayer List (and we are here)!

Hey everyone! We are here! The flight was great -- not as long as we thought. We can totally feel your prayers so please keep praying! We love you!

Ghana Daily Prayer
Monday, April 7 Our flight leaves at 7:20 pm. Please pray for safety and for the people of Ghana that we will encounter.

Tuesday, April 8 Pray for a safe arrival in Accra- that we would have bodily strength when we arrive. Also, pray for the things that God would show us as we arrive. Pray for Jackson Hawkins.

Wednesday, April 9 Pray for safe travel on the road as we travel to northern Ghana. Pray for the ease of any nervousness that we may have. Pray for Joel Hawkins.

Thursday, April 10 Pray for the teachers in northern Ghana. Pray for the discussions/ideas that we will have with them. Also, pray for Margaret Buell.

Friday, April 11 Pray for the relationships that we are forming with the kids at the Bible Club- that they will hear and remember how much God loves them. Pray for Robbyn Abedi.

Saturday, April 12 Pray that God’s strength will be present even when we are weak (physically, spiritually, and emotionally). Pray for the water project trainings that will take place throughout northern Ghana. Pray for Anna Polsgrove.

Sunday, April 13 Pray for the churches in Bole and Bale. Pray that God would be praised in both services. Pray for the healings of the people in the hospital that we will visit. Also, pray for Russ Polsgrove.

Monday, April 14 Pray for the relationships that are being form with the people of Ghana. Pray that if there is any other way God would want to use us in Ghana that we would hear Him speak. Pray for the way God is speaking to us personally. Pray for Mark Gunner.

Tuesday, April 15 Pray for the Bishop of the Methodist Conference in Ghana. Pray that God would give him the strength and resources he needs to lead the people of Ghana to Christ. Pray for the ways that we can help him. Also, pray for Melissa Gunner. Pray for her as she gives her testimony to a group of women.

Wednesday, April 16 Pray for the team as we spend a day hanging out with one another. Pray for our conversations and for our families that are not with us. Pray for the changes that each team member will need to make when they get home.

Thursday, April 17 Pray for Frank Donkar and family (the Polsgrove’s child sponsored through Compassion International). Pray that the time they get to spend with one another will be a time of praising God for His goodness. Pray for safety on the flight back to Mississippi.

Friday, April 18 Pray for a safe arrival in Memphis (plane lands at 4:55 pm). Pray for the team’s emersion back into the states. Pray for Margaret Buell as she is left in Ghana. Praise God for His loving hand on all our lives.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


We are so excited! We leave Memphis tomorrow night at 7:20 pm. I cannot express how thankful we are for friends and family that have supported us through this. You all have given more to us than you will ever know. We are packed but just have to weigh our suitcases. Hopefully, they will both be under 50 pounds. Continue to pray until we get back to Memphis on April 18th. We love you all!

Saturday, April 5, 2008


For those of you that know me (Anna) you wouldn't expect anything else. I ALWAYS wait until the last minute to do things. But, even when I try to do things early, I still find myself in a sea of craziness before actually getting it done. So, here is a picture of what we have gotten together for our trip that we leave for in 48 hours.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


I really cannot describe this feeling that I am having right now. I just left work at the girl's home and told them bye and that I love them. They asked when they would see me again so I looked at the calendar. It was then that I realized that I would not be back at work until April 21st. CRAZY!!!

Ladies and gentleman- I just realized that on Monday we will be going to Africa. I am in shock and I haven't even gotten on the plane.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Trust Me

Abraham's story of faith in the book of Genesis is one that has been fascinating for me. I recently read through it again and one things surprised me. Although Abraham was highly regarded as a bastion of obedience to God, there were times when he was guarded when it came to trusting that God was going to take care of him.

When Abraham entered into Egypt, he pretended that his wife was his sister. He was scared that someone would steal his wife, all his possessions, and even kill him. God promised Abraham that he would be a father of many nations, but he and Sarah both got anxious and tried to rush it by allowing Abraham to father a child with her servant.

It was reluctant obedience at times. It was a faith that sometimes took matters into his own hands. And although that is sin, that is the boat I find myself in most of the time. I believe what God says in theory, but in practice I'm too guarded to let him really take control.

When Anna and I finally just said to each other, "That's it, we're going to Ghana," it was like lighting a match in the middle of a dry forest. Before we knew it, momentum started building, and now we find ourselves five days from getting on a plane headed for the other side of the world.

God's message to us has always been just to trust him. I cannot tell you how glad I am that we did. Thank you all so much for helping make this possible. Thanks for your prayers. Thanks for your love.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

questions and excitement

You wait your entire life to do something and you are down to the moment of actually doing it ....and then the thoughts start rolling in. What am I doing, this is crazy, did God actually call me to do this, what if something happens, what if I don't learn anything from this, what am I even going for. With our departure date fast approaching, these are the thoughts that seem to hold of my mind. But, when I get really still, sink down in my brown chair with my Bible, and listen.. I hear the one true voice-- the only voice that matters. I hear things such as I have called you to go for two weeks, I go before you, just follow me, trust me, enjoy the excitement, this is the type of life required if you seek me- one full of adventure, be courageous, I will supply all of your needs.

So, 6 days from now we will be on a plane to Ghana. We are so thankful for the support that everyone has given us. We are blessed to have loving parents and families that tell us to go if that is what God is calling us to do. I know that they could have easily said "we don't want you to do this." While we would still follow what God has for us it is so much sweeter going with the support of our family and friends.

God has worked out every single aspect of this trip so far and He will continue to do so. But, I know that there will be tough times during this trip. My prayer now is that we will praise Him in those moments as much as we are praising Him now.

Here is a video from The Orchard's first trip to Ghana last summer. Watch and get a taste of where we will be.