February 2013 Update
Kurt & Barb Mathews (1990)
As I said in my letter on Tuesday night, God did amazing things on our trip - allowing us to check more luggage than we thought with no concern for them being overweight and then the fact that we sailed right through customs in Ghana with no problems was astounding to us. We know you were praying and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Above is a picture of Sarah and Noah at the security check in London. Really, the whole trip went well. Most of us had some rest on the first flight and our layover in London was not long at all. By the end of the second flight, we were dragging somewhat, but were grateful to be back home in Ghana. We sang Ghana's national anthem when the plane landed, which delighted several other passengers around us.
We hit the ground running once we got back to Ho on Wednesday afternoon. We were only at the Bible college campus for a short time before we made the decision to go ahead and go out to HASU to greet Pastor George and our neighbors there. They received us warmly and were surprised to see us come out on our first day back. The kids got to see a few of their friends that evening, but not all. Then Thursday was a really busy day as we drove all around Ho greeting people, then we went out to Kodzobi to greet our chief, friend, advisor, and church leader Togbe Emmanuel (whom some of you met when he came to the States on our last furlough). Everyone received us with open arms, commenting on how we were gone for too long. In the afternoon we went back out to HASU and had a good talk with Pastor George to explain why we were staying in Ho for now. We shared with him briefly about our last several months in PA and some of the things that God showed us about our family and ourselves. We also shared about how we are praying about where God wants us to serve now that we are back. Pastor understood us well and prayed for us heartily that God would give us wisdom in deciding. We also shared with him that we need and want his and the other church leaders' advice in moving forward with the work here.
On Friday we worked on getting our phones connected and getting settled in a bit into the two houses on the Bible college property. As it is now, Kurt and I and the three younger children are all staying with the Junges in their house and Sarah is staying with Vicki in her house. The houses are only a stone's throw away, but far enough that it's giving me my exercise walking back and forth to get the one thing that I need that happens to be at the other house. :-) Okay, I just went outside to take a picture so you can see the distance from Vicki's to the Junges.
The Junge's house is the white one you see in the distance and I took this from Vicki's front steps. We trudge through the bush to go the short way over there and we take the road around the left to go the long way. It's certainly not an ideal situation to be spread out between two houses, but we are thankful for the provision of a place to stay while we wait on the Lord to direct us somewhere else. Keep praying. As of right now, the meeting with our national partners is scheduled for the end of March, but we're not sure we should wait that long before we find a place to settle down. Pray for wisdom.
Yesterday was another very busy day, but fun. The ladies (Carla, Vicki, Cindy and I) all went shopping around Ho in the morning. Cindy is a sweet Ghanaian girl with an American brain. :-) She found the Junges one Sunday as God led her to attend church at Grace Baptist here in Ho several years ago and she has been like family to all of our team ever since.
This is Cindy with Leah and Moriah. Anyway, while we ladies were all shopping in the market and all over Ho, Kurt and the kids (including our "son" Mawuli) all went out to HASU again. They retrieved our boxes of school books which I need to tackle tomorrow so that we can get back on track with our school work soon. They didn't stay out there long though because unfortunately, Kurt came down with the same sickness that Sarah had before we left the States. Fevers, aches, pains, coughing and sneezing are some of the symptoms that are troubling him. In the midst of all of the business, Kurt has done his best to rest more often than he usually does (which is rare). Please pray that he will get over this virus soon as we have much to do.
This morning was a highlight for all of us as we attended the church services at HASU Baptist Church. Well, since I've already typed too much, I'll let the pictures tell today's story.
Until Next Week,
Barb, for the Mathews' clan
February 10 Update
I have been sitting here for the last five minutes, trying to decide what I want to tell you all about this past week. But, to be honest, I can hardly think because I think my brain has been fried by the heat. I know you just can't imagine how hot it is because you all are most likely freezing to death and covered with snow. I wish I could put a picture in this email that would show you the heat. But what do I take a picture of - the sweat rolling down our backs, the sun shining in the sky, the brown grass that is so dry that it burns in mere seconds . . .? Really, the heat has hit me hard this week and just drains the energy out of me each day. Please pray that I will readjust soon. It doesn't seem to bother the kids as much and Kurt never complains about anything, but I bet he's hot too. He's certainly been resting in the middle of the day more often. But I believe that he's over the flu or whatever had attacked him last week and earlier this week. Thanks for praying for him.
Well, even in the heat, we have to live and work. So, what have we been doing this week?
BACK TO SCHOOL
Kurt went out to HASU last weekend and got all of our boxes of school books so that I could go through them and pick out what I needed to begin schooling the children again. If you recall, we put Leah and Moriah in the public school system in PA because all of their school books for this year were here in Ghana. So, I had to get those books out of storage and look through them and decide where to pick up from here to finish off this school year. That was my big job for Monday.
Once that was accomplished, I wrote out all of the kids' lesson plans for them to begin their school work on Tuesday morning. They were so thrilled to start school again! NOT! But, we are so thankful that God has provided the books and materials that we need to educate our children and prepare them for their own future ministries. Needless to say, school kept the kids and I busy each morning this week.
We all need assessment every so often, not just in our school work, but in life - that's part of what our extended time in America was for. Now that we are back in Ghana, we are continuing with assessing our situation to see what God has for us next. For now, God has shown us that we need to stay in Ho with the other missionaries to work on building our relationships with them and to fervently pray about where He would have us live and serve for this term. Meanwhile, our house that we built last term in HASU is in need of major repair and we need wisdom in knowing what to do with it.
There are cracks like these in each room. We don't really fully understand why the house seems to be falling apart, but this often happens to houses that are built near the Adaklu mountain. Please pray as we assess the situation, for wisdom. We want to use God's money wisely and we don't know what we will do with the house if and when God moves us to another place too. So, we have been going out to the village several days to collect some things that we need here in Ho and to greet our friends and neighbors there.
Loading up our truck with things from our house is causing confusion and questions to come from those who see us. We tell them that we need to make some repairs to the house and we are praying about where God would have us serve. So, they know that we may not return. It's hard to see their sad faces and disappointing looks and it tugs at my heart, but we need to be sensitive to God's leading and go where He wants us to go. Please keep praying.
To end on a positive note, I want to tell you about two little fur balls of joy that came here from Togo, our neighboring country. Our teammate, Ben Ward, still goes over to Togo on a regular basis and he traveled there last weekend to attend a friend's wedding. When he returned, it was with these two little surprises riding in a box on his motorcycle.
To be honest, I wasn't exactly thrilled to have two bunnies to take care of when we don't even have a place to call our own, but they have proven to be a great distraction for the kids - especially Leah and Moriah. Along with Noah, they get up early every morning to walk over to Vicki's house where the rabbits are being kept on her back porch to clean up any messes they made and to get them water and food (using a machete to cut down the grass they munch on). They just love these little bunnies! As a matter of fact, I often find Moriah holding the small one like a baby and singing songs to him. He just lays on his back and closes his eyes and soaks up the attention. It's quite a sight! I'm thankful for these small things that God provides to help us all adjust to the changes we are going through. Thank-you, God!
Barb, for the Mathews' clan
February 24 Update
There are people suffering with physical, emotional, and spiritual needs all around us. We encounter them every day, but we can't meet all of their needs. Of course, the physical needs are the most obvious, but the emotional and spiritual needs that we recognize make us cry out to God for even more wisdom in how to help. Since we returned, our youngest child, Moriah, has been hurting for her best friend from HASU, Yayra, because it is obvious that Yayra is not eating well. She has little energy to play when we go out to the village to visit. She says that she is hungry. The first time we saw her, Sarah gave her a loaf of bread from the capital city (a very appropriate thing to do when you return from a big trip). The next time we went out to HASU, Yayra told the kids that her grandmother took the bread from her and ate it all in front of her without offering her any to eat. Now, we don't know the validity of this story, but it is obvious that she is suffering. Yayra's family house is the closest house to ours in HASU, but she was sent away from her mother and step father because the family doesn't have enough money to care for all four of their children (two from previous relationships and two of theirs together). Because Yayra is from a previous relationship, she was sent away. Her sister was sent to a different place. Can you imagine how this little girl (maybe nine years old) is suffering emotionally? Moriah's answer is for us to invite her to live with us. "But we don't even have our own place to live yet," I say. "That doesn't matter," she says. "I will give her my bed and I will sleep on the floor." She had lots of other answers to this dilemma, but she thinks like a child with few responsibilities and worries. How do I explain things to my precious child with a tender heart?
This week Yayra's step father was very sick and could barely walk. Kurt went out to the village to check on the cement work at our house. While he was there, he went over to the neighbor's house to greet them (another very important cultural thing to do). When he entered their room (because Victor was not well enough to be outside), Victor was writhing and crying out in pain. It was obvious to Kurt that Victor needed to go to the hospital in town. We know that they don't have money, so if we offer to take someone to the hospital, we are also committing to pay their bills and buy any medicines that they need. Kurt did just that. It turned out that Victor had a very serious infection and needed strong medicine from an IV to heal. Probably he had been suffering with this for several days and would have continued suffering and might even have died if Kurt had not stepped in and done something to help. Victor is supposed to be released from the hospital on Monday. Here is a photo of Victor's family from when we lived next to them. Yayra is the little girl on the far left and her sister is on her mom's lap. They've had two children since then and things have changed. Please pray for wisdom for us. There are many stories like these that we encounter regularly.
VOLTA CHILDREN'S HOME
Today we went about an hour and a half away to visit the children's home in Ve Deme. In the past we have called this an orphanage, but to be accurate, it's not really an orphanage because they do not adopt the children out to families. The children come to Mr. and Mrs. Annabi when one or more parents dies and the extended family cannot care for them. Then the Annabis take these children in and care for their needs until they are grown. They have a school there as well. The kids who come out of this school generally tend to do very well in high school because they work hard to give the kids a good education. Right now they have about forty children living at the home. Mr. Annabi is an amazing man who can speak more than eight languages. He also leads a church in their school building on Sundays. When we arrived today, he was talking with the church about how they can show love to their enemies. I love how the people interacted in the church. During church the orphans sang special music. It was so sweet! I love to listen to them sing! Then they gave us a nice meal and we all sat around and talked under the shade tree. During that time, we discovered that the Annabis want to renew the children's health insurance for the year and it's due next week. So the Lord prompted us to give them the money they needed to do this (it's only about $2 per child for a year - amazing!). They were so thankful and it gives us such joy to be able to help. Thank you all for your generosity to us so that we can share with others. We also learned that it costs about ten dollars per week per child to feed these kids. Plus they have clothing expenses and teachers to pay for the school and the list goes on and on. There are so many needs. Please keep praying for us that we will have wisdom to know who to help and when.
Until next week,
Barb, for the Mathews
2/27 Corrections on last letter
• I made a mistake in my letter on Sunday because Kurt had told me it was 10 cedis to feed each orphan per week and I thought he was talking about dollars. So, really it is about $5 per week per child to feed the children since the exchange is about 2 cedis per dollar. Kurt also gave me some more details about the orphans and the Volta Home that he thought you all might like to know.
• It costs $50 a year per primary student and $70 a year for the JSS students to attend the school there. The orphans don't pay that fee because the school is really part of the Volta Home and it's for them. They also give discounts to some of the local kids because the land was given to them by the community. So, they are not getting a lot in school fees from the students.
• They are only paying their teachers about $30 a month to teach, when they should be making a lot more than that and they want to pay them more. I think that the public school teachers make at least 200 ghana cedis a month (that's at least $100). So, that's a huge difference. The Annabi's would really like to pay the teachers more, but they just can't afford it.
Thank you all for praying and for your encouraging letters. I've already heard back from several of you that you are praying for Moriah's friend, Yayra, and also for the Volta Home children. Moriah did have an opportunity to spend some special time with Yayra yesterday as Sarah offered to take her out to the village and then to bring Yayra back into town for a little shopping. Sarah told me today that she thinks that Yayra probably has malaria as her skin was very hot to the touch yesterday. It's amazing that she even wanted to come shopping in town yesterday, but she probably never gets to do special things like that, so that explains it a bit. Please keep praying.
Barb, for the Mathews
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