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The Ochs Family - January 2018

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Another trip in the books, oh and what a trip is was. I wish there was enough time to share with you every single day and detail of our trip. God was so faithful! Time after time as we had challenges and set-backs, the Lord provided team bonding and opportunities to trust Him. It started with several delayed flights and arriving in country with absolutely no luggage. The next day we received 18 bins, only three of which were bags with clothes in it. The other 15 were bins we needed for the outreach, containing baseball and signing material. It was quite the experience everyone sharing clothes and washing laundry together in the evenings! 

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We had an amazing turnout of people for the Deaf outreach, many of whom we met last year. We had around 75 Deaf people come, about 25 who knew sign language and the rest who did not. Our team teaching ASL did an amazing job, and went well equipped with flash cards and games to help communicate. Mom taught using Seamless, which does a broad overview of the entire Bible. For many of these people, this was the first time they heard some of these stories. Probably one of my favorite parts of the whole trip was a Deaf man accepting Christ on the last day! I cannot even put into words how awesome an experience it was to interpret as Dad led this man to Christ.  

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The Baseball Outreach was a huge hit! The youth in the community loved playing baseball, and by the third day were completely playing on their own without help from the American boys. Chase, Chandler, and James did an amazing job walking the kids through the basic steps of baseball and then gradually explain more and more of the game as the kids understood. Definitely one of the highlights of the outreach was the several special needs kids that stuck around after the Deaf outreach. With a little help, several of the special needs kids were able to hit the ball and run the bases. Talk about seeing a smile that lights up your world.  

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The rest of our trip was filled with visiting orphanages, taking the team to the market, and several other cultural experiences in country. On Christmas Day we had the joy and honor of serving alongside Meaningful Life International ("MLI"), a Ghanaian run ministry. Those who have been following our story since living in Ghana know serving alongside MLI on Christmas Day has been one of our favorite memories and experiences. It is an exhausting day filled with laughter, sweat, and a continual pouring out of one's self. We walk around the community, inviting them to come participate in our celebration before starting the day. Bounce houses, face paint, and sweet treats draw the kids in. Later we participate in games, including sack races, musical chairs, and the Tug of Peace. The American's were proud to defend their title for the second year in a row! We end the day with handing out rice and chicken for every person who attended. We celebrate the day without ever seeing a Christmas tree or lights or even presents. Yet, we know that this is probably the best way we could celebrate the birth of Jesus. I hope you and your family took time on Christmas Day, wherever you were, to remember the real reason for the day. 

From the team:
  "My favorite part was being able to teach and share the gospel with the Deaf."
 --Bev Ochs

 "My favorite part of Ghana was in Jasikan when I was able to watch all the older guys of the church lead the younger children to play baseball. And with baseball express who Jesus is, and why these kids should come to church and learn about him."
 --James Philips

"I wish I had something poetic to say but my favorite part of Ghana was the people we met. People that were really committed to following and giving all that they had to the Lord, even their families and their sleep. I loved meeting the pastors that were humble, and passionate about the gospel. They not only inspired me, they put me to shame, because they gave all of their energy, all of their life, all that they had physically, and spiritually to pray to evangelize, to preach and to disciple people that God had put before them. I felt so privileged to see the fruit of their hard work as we were 'working' alongside them, simply by showing up."
 --JoAnn Johnston

"The three outreaches that we participated in [Deaf, baseball, and Christmas] were definitely the highlight of my trip. There were a couple kids that came to the deaf outreach that had special needs and we helped them participate in the baseball outreach. That was a picture of joy! Two little boys in particular hit the ball all by themselves, and oh my goodness it was precious. They were jumping up and down with the biggest smile on their face. But something that really impacted me was the caretaker for one of the boys was there watching, and when he saw the special needs boy hit the ball he started crying. In Ghana it is rare for kids with special needs to be loved on or even acknowledged. I'm glad his caretaker was there, and I pray that he knows without a shadow of a doubt that the little boy he cares for is loved by the High King of Heaven!"
 --Maddie Ochs

"My favorite part of the trip was for sure seeing the Lord show us His faithfulness in everything. From giving us exactly what we needed to what we sometimes even wanted.When we finally decided to sit back and put aside our own agendas and let the Lord take over, we often see that He was moving all along and it's very humbling. Another part I loved was the Deaf outreach/baseball outreach. Being a part of that really was stretching but in a  good way. I loved being used by God to impact those people in Jasikan. It's such a beautiful thing when you see two totally different worlds coming together to participate in both sign language and baseball, and I'm so grateful I was able to watch all of it unfold."
 --Miranda Viscardis

The last part of the trip everyone except Mom & Dad got their hair braided. It was definitely an attention grabber as people saw nine American's with braided hair, especially the three guys! Thank you for all your prayers! Love,

                                             The Ochs