The Ochs Family - February 2019
A Sandy Christmas and Jet Lag New Year!
Plane rides. Church services. Deaf outreaches. Baseball. Laughter. Songs. Youth outreaches. Trotro rides. Kids. Goats. Wheelchairs.
So many things come to mind when we look back over our two weeks in Ghana. There were times when we laughed over jokes and shared experiences. There were also times where our team mourned together. We saw stories of redemption and joy...and stories of tragedy amidst the already dark background.While you personally may not have been there with us, we count you as part of our team. Your prayer, support, and encouragement is invaluable, and we cannot thank you enough.
The moment I met Daniel in 2017, he stole a piece of my heart. At 14, his long limbs hung loosely off his mother's back as she carried him to the church. As she placed him in the plastic lawn chair, my eyes were drawn not to his immobile legs or swollen brain, but to the smile that stretched from ear to ear. Hydrocephalas robbed this sweet boy of his mobility and of his one desire: to return to school.
Upon returning to the US, we began investigating the possibility of getting a Personalized Energy Transportation (P.E.T.) mobile for Daniel. Mobile Mission worked quickly to get us not one, but two P.E.T. mobiles. We learned of another friend in Ghana who knew of an elderly lady who could also use the P.E.T. mobile (pictured below), and so we planned to get both wheelchairs to Ghana. The question was: how do we get them there? Every possibility of shipping the wheelchairs seemed to close just before we were able to investigate them more. So we took advantage of our technology culture and shared Daniel's story on Facebook. God blessed us with a faithful community who stepped up, on these individual's behalf and raised all the money we needed to send both wheelchairs on the plane with us for our trip in December. Upon arrival at the airport, God blessed us with a kind employee who checked the two wheelchairs and a parts bin to Ghana FOR FREE.
The long awaited and anticipated day arrived. The P.E.T. for Daniel, which had been assembled and tested, now sat in the very church where we first met Daniel. He didn't say anything, but I saw Daniel's eyes drifting to the wheelchair with a smile on his face. With his family by his side, Daniel got to sit in the P.E.T. I will never forget the smile on his face as he took those first couple laps around the inside of the church.
His legs, unaccustomed to being folded-in gave way to random tremors. His arms pumped excitedly while he twisted one way then the other, trying to figure out the turning radius. Despite all these things, he was going; moving on his own accord. Circling the church at one point, Daniel stopped in front of his Dad with a big smile and saluted him.
Lord, may I never take for granted the gift of mobility.
Eager to explore the church yard, Daniel asked to go outside. The dirt and sand proved to be more difficult to navigate, but that did not stop him. With a brother on each side, they took off. When Daniel got stuck, his brothers helped him get back on track. My heart melted when the youngest brother noticed Daniel's shaking leg, and pushed his small hand to the muscle to try and stop the spasm.
Daniel's joy in mobility was not his alone. It was shared by his family, the church, and the community at large. Sunday morning, we watched with tears in our eyes as Daniel wheeled himself to the front of the church to lead the offertory line.
Daniel's family shared their story with us...and honestly it has been heavy on my heart since hearing it.
Being excited and heartbroken at the same time sounds odd, but that is probably the most accurate way to describe how I felt as they told us their story.
Just a few years ago, the father had been an idol worshipper who was involved in dealing drugs. To support his habit, he sold two of his children into slavery. They have four children: a girl and three boys. Daniel, being the second born, was preserved from this atrocity because of his hydrocephalus. This was not the case, however, for Daniel's older sister and the third born boy. Two years later, Daniel's father was connected with a Pastor from Palace Chapel (one of our affiliates). He came to dedicate his life to Christ! As he continued being discipled, the father was heartbroken for his children and how he had sold them. So with the help of the church, he began the task of tracking them down.
With joyful hearts they found the boy, Yohannes, and freed him from the tomato farm where he had been working. We shared this celebration of life and freedom with them.
Their next words made my heart burst: they haven't been able to find the sixteen year old daughter. They believe she is in Accra, the capital, which is a six hour drive from their home. My heart hurts for this grieving family and their daughter.
Please join with us in pleading on their behalf for God to open doors, to set the captives free, and that this family may be reunited.
Our time at the HoHoe Deaf School was definitely a highlight amongst the team, even amidst those who did not know sign language. We taught 200 students about core Biblical beliefs, used sports to cross all forms of language boundaries, and built relationship with these sweet kids!
Another highlight of our trip was spending several days in an orphanage in Northern Ghana. We last visited the orphanage as a family in 2015, and man have they grown! It was a sweet time learning more about the children and the local area.
Our connecting flight coming back from Ghana allowed us to have a seven-hour layover in Amsterdam. We were excited to get out and see the city. The architecture was beautiful! Everywhere you looked there were bikes and awesome historical landmarks. In stark contrast to the cities beauty, we mourned the darkness of the Red Light District, which was quiet and empty as we walked the street at 7am.
Thank you again for all your prayers, support, and encouragement. We are blessed to have such a strong support team who is willing to walk alongside of us.
The Ochs - Feeding the Orphans