Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Where to I begin?  I think today was the most emotionally exhausting day of my life.  It was a good day, now that all is said and done.  We were supposed to get up this morning and have everything ready to be picked up by John at 9:00 to head to the village.  When we walked down to the corner we found that our lady that makes the round bread donut things wasn’t there today.  I knew that we had many hours of driving and no place to stop and get food.  I bought some Kanke for the kids and a pineapple for Dad and I.  My Dad and I watched them eat the Kanke and fish while we ate a very delicious pineapple.  At about 10:30 John called us and told us that he was going to be a little late. (I just laughed and figured it was Ghana time.)  Then at 1:00 we get another call and he was saying that he was out front.  So we got a very late start to our day. (Which now that the day is over I feel that the late start was a blessing.)  We piled into John’s SUV (a KIA something) and drove 3 ½ hours to the village where Delight and Courage are from.  Turning off the Highway and driving down the quiet red clay road was very surreal.

  As we started to see muds huts on the side of the road and once in a while see a line of children carrying buckets of water back to their homes.  I still don’t know how to explain the feeling I had inside of me.  I was sick to my stomach, I keep looking at Delight and she had a sparkle in her eye and was excited to see her friends.  Courage was very serious and didn’t even smile.  I didn’t have any idea what to expect.  Soon we approached the village where there were a dozen or so huts built very close to each other.  We pulled up to the first house in the village.  As I looked around I noticed that everything was very, very tidy, cleanly swept, and very put together. (This is not what I expected).  There was no bad smell that I had smelt in the city.  There were neat piles of wood everywhere.  I could see that most houses had a small neatly built fire burning.  The first person to walk up to the car was a familiar face.  It was Irene (John’s Wife, she came up last Saturday.)  I got out and gave her a big hug.  Following her was a very beautiful woman who introduced herself as Grace.  She was wearing a gorgeous Ghanaian dress with all the yellow, red and orange colors.  Me being my friendly self just gave her a hug and didn’t say anything and watched as she went up to John Black and have him a big hug.  She appeared older to me but talked in a very sweet (Almost whisper) voice. 

 I then noticed Delight running across the way to the next house.  I quietly followed her with my camera.  I felt like everything was moving in slow motion. I almost felt like I was going to pass out any second.  Delight immediately embraced and very cute younger lady who had on nice jeans, and a white ladies golf shirt.  She was very attractive.  She almost looked like someone I would have seen back in America.  As I walked up to them Delight introduced her as Benidicta.  I knew that was her mother’s name.  As I walked up to her I gave her a hug, she was nice and gave me a nice hug back.  That was it, and then she turned around to lead the group to a nice mango tree where she had about ten chairs gathered around into a circle.  I watched her and Delight grab what looked like a wooden couch with pads on it.  They set it in the front and center of the circle of chairs for my father and me to sit at.  She motioned for me and my dad to sit.  We both sat down and after about twenty seconds I heard a crash and I fell right through the thin plywood bottom of the couch.  I was so embarrassed, but it kind of broke the ice.  They grabbed a heavier plastic chair and brought it to me.

John Black came and sat down where I was sitting and sat carefully to miss the gaping hole I made.  John asked me if I had anything I wanted to say to Delight’s mother.  I didn’t know what to say.  I hadn’t rehearsed it.  I don’t even remember what I said but I’m sure it was lame.  I really didn’t feel much of a connection with her because I watched how hard Delight would try to please her and didn’t really get any response back from her.  She was very friendly and polite but didn’t really want to make eye contact with me.  Since I couldn’t think of anything wonderful to say, I grabbed a picture I had printed off before I left the house which was one of Jenny and I with Courage and Delight the day we went to court.  I handed it to Delight and she gave it to Benidicta.  She did look at it and made a nice smile.  Then Delight pulled the locket out of her bag that I brought her to give to her mother.  It was a circle that said, “I am a child of God.”  And when you open it up, on the left side was a small picture of us at court (the same one we just gave her) and on the other side was a great picture of Delight from the last trip.  She looked at it for a few moments and said thank you and then put it into her pocket.  I looked over a John and asked him where Courage’s mother lived.  He pointed to the pretty lady named “Grace” that I had hugged right when I got out of the car.  I knew she was dying of cancer, so that explains why she whispered and sounded so fragile.  I immediately got up and walked back to her.  I watched her the whole way as I walked to her.  She didn’t take her eyes off me either as I walked her way.  When I approached her I said, “Grace?”  She nodded and had tears in her eyes.  I slowly wrapped both arms around her and just held her.  A few seconds later I notice that John Black had followed me over there.  He told her in Ewe that I was Kakeli’s father. She nodded again.  She knew exactly who I was.  With my arms still around her, I pulled back so I could see her and said, “I love your son.” (and John translated it.)  I then said, “God bless you.”  My eyes now were starting to water up.  I looked her right in the eyes very closely and said that I will take good care of him and that I promise her that he will always know Jesus.   John then translated that and she whispered, “me low” which I know means “I love you” in Ewe.  This was a very short conversation but we said much.  We then walked back to the group and she followed us.  I can tell that the pretty dress she had on was put on for this occasion. 

So there we were all sitting and watching each other when Irene walked up with a big wooden platter full of plates, bowls and containers of Pepe (A super hot sauce similar to sirachi made from peppers).  I looked at my Dad and we both knew what was coming.  We both immediately tried to think of what in the world could we say to get out of this, but shortly realized that it was a very special offering so we needed to accept it.  She brought out four balls of Banko, and spooned about a half a cup of Pepe on the corner of the plate and then poured about six pieces of the dried fish we have seen all week on the street from the venders.  I asked Irene who made it for us and she looked back at Benidicta and she smiled back at us.  I told my dad to be hungry and make it count.  As I tried to remember all the Ghanaian manners I have learned about food, I reached a crossed the table to the water bowl and dipped my right hand in.  Washed it around and then reached for the ball of Banko.  I pinched off a little ball and started roll it up like I had seen Delight so many times before.  I dipped it into the Pepe and took a bite.  Surprisingly enough it had a very delicious flavor.  The texture of the Banko was very difficult to take but I just practiced mind over matter.  I looked over at my dad and he was struggling as well but managed to say, Mmmm this is good.  I was very proud of him.  Then we both reached out for a piece of fish.  They were just chopped into two inch pieces, Head, belly and tail.  I knew the head was not what I wanted; and the belly hadn’t been cleaned before cooking, so I thought the tail was the safest bet.  I pinched a little piece with my right hand and a little meat pulled off.  I dipped it into the pepe and put it into my mouth.  It tasted exactly like kippered snacks.  I tried to just imagine that Dad and I were out in the boat fishing and he opened a can of Kippered snacks.  I love those so this wasn’t hard to at all.  I kept taking bites back and forth from the Banko to the fish and back again.  We ate all the fish, and about half the Banko and I could tell she was pleased.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  I dipped my right hand into the water and then reached for the bar of soap they put on the table and then she handed us a clean white towel to dry our hands.  Then I sat back from the meal in my plastic chair and smiled and tried to capture the moment so I could talk about it in years to come to the kids.  Then I noticed about thirty kids all gathered around the tree, most of them shirtless, and in just their underwear.  Some had torn shirts on and one boy had a button down shirt that was about five sizes too big.  They were all staring at me with those big beautiful brown eyes.  It was almost like they were looking right through me.  I was so humbled and felt sick to my stomach again. Not from the food I just ate, but because of the guilt I was feeling about the attitude I had while I ate it.  These kids would have loved to even be able to lick the plate when I finished.  I felt so unappreciative and very unworthy of their generosity.  Wow, that was a blow to my emotions right there.  We quickly finished our conversation. (Which was mostly just smiling a crossed the circle) and John said that we needed to walk over to Mighty and Agbesi’s house.  I have some pictures to deliver them from the Oswalds so John wanted me to get the pictures to them. Because of our late departure, John needed to start back home because of the long drive back that we needed to make. I looked around for Courage and found that he was standing behind me.  I told him to come around and sit on my lap.  He was all of a sudden being very quiet and told me “No!”  I figured out that he had been hiding back there very close to me the whole time.  I told him that it was ok if he stayed behind me.  A few minutes later, I notice he walked around the corner and grabbed a branch.  He was standing there looking at the ground and pulling of the leaved and throwing them on the ground.  I knew that was very difficult for him. I walked over to him and asked him to come back and take a picture with Delight and their Mothers and her Grandmother.  He didn’t want to go but he grabbed my hand and stayed very close to me.  John Black used my camera and took a bunch of pictures of me and the families. 

It was a special time. Delight went into her Grandmother’s hut and I followed her.  We purchased some Gerry (I’m not sure how that is spelled) but it is what Banko is made from.  It is a white powder that you mix with boiling water to make the Banko.  That is what the women do for income is grind this powder and sell it as Gerry. 

I gave her twenty Cedis for the small bag of Gerry and she was grateful.  As we walked to the car, Delight came to me and asked for money for her mother.  It felt awkward but I remembered how I felt after eating the food, so I pulled a fifty cedi out of my wallet and she ran it over to her.  She came back and said that it was nice and she was happy.   As I watched the two kids as we pulled away from the village I could see two different emotions but both were very strong.  Courage was quiet and couldn’t wait to get out of there.  Delight was smiling, and seemed happy but also I could tell that something was bothering her.  Driving home took almost four hours because once we hit Accra there was a lot of traffic and we didn’t get back to the hotel until 9:30 or so.  We were all tired, especially the kids, so I fed them some Kanke and Delight put on her pajamas and slid into bed.  I quickly bathed Courage and then put his pajamas on.  Delight got out of bed and the three of us knelt down at the foot of our bed for our evening family prayer.  I could tell that it wasn’t just that she was tired.  In my prayer I thanked God that he had brought us together as a family.  I asked a blessing over the village so their families could be protected and watched over.  I prayed that Delight and Courage would be able to feel the love their new family has for them and that they would pray and rely on the Lord to help them through this difficult transition.  As I said this, I heard a sniffle from Delight and could tell that she was crying very emotionally.  I finished the prayer, and put my arm around her and asked her why she was crying.  He buried her eyes into the sheet so I couldn’t see her cry.  I told her that it is OK, to feel sad to leave Benidicta.  I told her the story about how; over two years ago God started preparing me for a change in my life.  Little by little he told me that my family was not complete.  I reminded her of the sermon at church yesterday where the pastor talked about how God had a plan for each and every one of them.  I told her that what he said was true.  I continued to tell her that in God’s perfect plan, she and Courage needed to be born here in that village, and that the rest of our family needed to be born in America, but the plan was to bring us together at this time so we could be a forever family.  She was crying so hard at this time, she couldn’t respond but I noticed that Courage had climbed on my back and was lying down and trying to listen very attentively.  I heard him sniffle and I knew that even though he didn’t understand everything I said to her he felt the spirit of what I was saying.  I kissed both of them and tucked them in.  I decided that we didn’t need to talk anymore tonight; these poor kids have been through hell today and have had enough.  I can’t even begin to imagine what they must be feeling.  What I do know is that I believe 100% of what I said to her.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that having them come to our family right now is exactly what God has planned for them and us.  I realize that the next few weeks and months are going to be very difficult but I am grateful for a strong wife that has the capability to handle this.  There is an analogy that we use in business.   The comparison is with the game of basketball.  As a coach you can teach how to dribble, pass, and shoot, but you can’t teach “Tall”.  You are either born with it or you are not.  It is a metaphor of the God given abilities that we have been blessed with.  Jenny as you read this post, I want to tell you that I know God has blessed you as a “Tall” mother. (All 5’2” of you.)  You are very capable, and are ready for the job.  I love you so much and even though I wish you could have been here with me on this trip, I am grateful you decided to stay home and prepare for leg two of this whole transition.  I am very excited to see just what our Heavenly Father has in store for our little family.  (I guess it isn’t that little anymore.) 


  1. Such a day that you cant replace! Wow! I am sure you and dad were happy that you went. So proud of both of you eating the fish! I know that must have taken super powers!!! The Lord has blessed you so much! I am so happy for you! Thank you for skyping me today! I wish that we could have had a better connection. Give the kids a hug and enjoy the time you have left there in Ghana!

  2. Cant wait to see the pictures you said you were going to post....unless they were the 3 that were already in this post....hugs!