Monday, February 27, 2017

2017 NYAC VIM Ghana YAM Mission: Hard Work, New Friends, Amazing Sights

Our NYAC VIM YAM mission team is headed home, now, here are some of their experiences while on their trip, in their own words!

Working, Helping, and Getting the Water Working  By Brooke McDermott 

We got up early today and met in the dining hall for breakfast. Last night a water pipe burst so no one had water, that was bad. The Smith family did devotion today and then we ate breakfast and head out to the worksite. I had the job of helping with the cement, but we were short a shovel so I helped carry the made cement over to the builders in a head pan. Then I helped by bringing water over that they would use to mix the cement.

The first time, the lady that helped us went to put the head pan on my head but I was confused so she just handed it to me. The second time I brought it over on my head, it was a lot of fun. Then all of the girls went to the school to be a part of the Days for Girls program. So we were in a class with all the girls where they learned about feminine things and were provide with things to cope with troubles. We started dancing with them it was so much fun. Then we went back to the worksite for lunch. I blessed the food and then we ate.

After lunch we finished painting and sanding the building we have been working on at the clinic. When I went to take a break and get some water, I started playing with the kids, talking to them and showing them games like Miss Mary Mac. I made a handshake with a little girl. We also taught them to dab. It was so cute and fun. It was hard leaving them they were so sad. Then we got on the bus and went into town to get hats. I was cool walking through the streets. After that we went back to camp and the water was fixed. Hallelujah. We all took showers.

So Many New Friends... By Anna Baker 

This morning our day started out at 5:55 am with a devotion organized by the Smith family. We sang together and listened to beautiful inspirational bible verses. Then I blessed the meal and we had eggs, toast, and oatmeal. After breakfast, Amanda, Brooke, Emmanuella, and I got the days for Girls suitcases from my room and put them on the bus. Then we headed off to the worksite. At the worksite, there were several jobs which needed to be done. There was cement to be mixed to fill the holes in the building, gravel to be spread, dirt to sift into sand, and painting to be done on the building.

This morning I worked on spreading the gravel around in front of the clinic especially in the areas where we had removed the rocks (from a collapsed wall) the day before. The gravel we’re using is really interesting. Here the soil is very rich in iron, so often while digging or just walking around you’ll come across an abnormal rock with chucks of a reddish orange metallic looking substance. It appears that the workers collected the rocks that they found like that while digging, so we can now use them as gravel. After spreading gravel for a while I took a break with Amanda to sit and have some water. There were 2 young girls who were standing a few feet away from us.

They waved at us and I gestured for them to come over and sit with us. They approached smiling with a look of underlying caution. I spent some time trying to communicate with them, but it wasn’t working very well. I took out some paper and a pencil to see if they wanted to draw. I scribbled on the paper and offered them a chance to try, but neither of them wanted to. They, I drew a tree and pointed to the tree in front of us. The girls responded with a word in their language which I took to mean tree. Amanda and I continued to do this for a while, which greatly amused the children.

We all had a lot of fun learning new words in each other’s languages. We had to say goodbye to the girls in order to leave for Days for Girls. The Days for Girls experience was not what I expected. I had expected to be able to be able to be able to help the woman from Days for Girls Ghana, or at least take part in the distribution. After about 2 years working on the days for girls project, what I looked most forward to was seeing their faces when they received the kits. The woman from Days for Girls did a wonderful job working with the girls there, the majority of whom said they use grass when they don’t have access to sanitary pads.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do any of what I had hoped. I was told to merely observe, although the woman from Ghana said she would appreciate my help for a demonstration. Moreover, the rest of the girls on the trip had to go back to the worksite to have lunch. Although some of the chaperones were able to stay I was told I had to return to the worksite as well. So after all the time working on this project, all the time I had dreamed of handing over those kits and all the exhausting travel to get here to Ghana, I couldn’t even be there for the distribution, that was extremely upsetting for me.

Although I understand that the chaperones are trying to keep all the kids together. After that, we went back to the worksite. We painted the building until about 2:30 pm. Then we got the back into the bus and left. One of the better things that happened today was that we stopped to buy hats made out of grass by some craftsman. They were sold in the Tamale market, a bustling place full of great variety of stands. Then we came back to where we are staying and by some sort of miracle the majority of our showers were working.
Once we were all clean, we spent some time talking on the porch and others played baseball (using a stick they found as a bat). Now it’s around dinner time (most likely chicken and rice), so I’ll go. Hoping all’s well back home,

Kids So Glad to See Us! By Kiarra Davenport 

Every day I wake up early, but today was different. I was so tired from yesterday’s work and heat, that it caused me to sleep in late. Our usual time to wake up is at 4:30 am but I woke up at 5:20. WOW! That’s pretty late. Luckily Ms Gail didn’t notice me sneak into the cafĂ©. This morning we had the same breakfast: eggs, toast, and pineapple. After I ate I took my daily malaria pill. Now its time for the 40 minute bus rise to the construction site. It’s hot as hot can be. There wer little children outside playing hand games. They’re so happy and humble. I wish I was like that.

Slowly the YAMs are starting to work off their sleepiness. I used sand paper to clean the walls of the building. That was relaxing. I painted the doors, shoveled rocks into barrel and I crushed bigger rocks for fun. I felt like I accomplished so much this morning. Now its time for lunch. We had beef, sauce, and our favorite …Rice! It was really good but it’s sad to eat or waste food in front of the poor families . After lunch, it was time for the YAMs to visit a school and work with the kids. As we pulled up in the bus, the kids excitedly ran to the windows to wave to us. That made my day. I’ve never seen children so happy to participate in a after school program with foreigners.

My group to work with was 2nd grade consisted of John, Wodley, Arielle and myself. Our group was amazing. The kids loved us. They sang their school song to us and we taught the Itsy, Bitsy Spider. The kids were so excited about that song. Then we drew and colored a dashiki-like shirt and a shoe. The kids asked me to write the word “shirt” on their drawing because it was in script. They really like my handwriting. Sadly it was time to leave these lovely, beautiful and amazing children. I took a picture with them and their drawings. I was upset to say goodbye but it was time for a new adventure.

I Can Deal with It... By Jacob Lee 

Today we were up at 5:15. The breakfast was the same toast, omelet, and oatmeal. We drove to the airport. Everyone was sleeping on the bus. When we got there, there was good wifi at one area and none at the rest of the airport. We finally got on the plane at 10:45 and left at 11:00. The plane had a lot of turbulence and I couldn’t sleep.

Once we got off at 11:51 we drove to the mall where we ate lunch. All the kids got burgers. The lunch was very expensive. After that we drove to the shops on the streets. Everyone got gifts for family and themselves. I got a bag and a bracelet for myself. The rest are for my family. After that we got to our new hotel. It wasn’t that nice, but I can deal with it. We had dinner and went to bed.

The Roads and Markets of Ghana By Jonathan Logan 

After leaving Tamale we made our way back to Accra. It was a moment filled with so much gratitude and thanks for being able to immerse myself in the beautiful struggle. A moment of remembrance for every child, worker, elder, adult who we had the opportunity to connect with. The day was filled with visiting the mall, shopping at the market and a 3 hour drive to Winneba. With the owners, buying was very intense since we were trying to set up deals and price cuts.

The highlight of my evening was the ride to Winneba. The congestion amongst the streets mixed with the fast paced selling of goods and the commotion on the side streets came together as a portrait of the struggle. The faces and bodies dripping of sweat showed signs of a strenuous day. The make shift stands and bonfires provided the darkness a simple form of calm just being in the midst of the daily lives of so many individuals is festered a greater sense of appreciation for everything that is back home.

Discovering a Sense of Identity By Emmanuella Sayi 

Today our day began at 7:30 am and we took off into a day we hoped would be filled with good times and memories to last a lifetime. Our first destination …Elmina Castle. Before arriving I didn’t know what to expect but had high hopes that my life would forever be changed for the best. In school we learn about the slave trade, Triangular trade route, Atlantic Pacific trade route and many other trade routes in which commodities and natural resources are exchanged.

We learn all of these things but yet one question never asked is are we retaining the information given to us? Does it make us question our identity? Do we strive to discover who we are? Truthfully many, including myself would tell you, no. We move from day to day without a sense of identity. Many slaves held in this castle were stripped of their identities and became no one and yet we find it hard for us to want to know who we are, which can easily be attained if we search hard enough. At the Elmina castle I saw firsthand the remnants of my people though not physically with my own two eyes I saw the anguish of a race as their forgotten sound ever present and notable in each crevice and marble laid out in the castle.

Though their bones are a part of this earth, their story will never be forgotten because their story has and will continue to shape mine. Through this experience, I’ve taken to heart the notion of knowing your roots because without a steady foundation, the structure we built upon a rocky foundation cannot withstand the pressure of time. Also along my journey today, I met many friends today at the high school we attended after a very emotional rollercoaster that I felt all the YAMs encountered today. At the high school we had an amazing time. We danced the Azonto with Ghana kids and were able to ask thought provoking questions. In finality, I would just like to express how amazing these few days have been and hope for the best tomorrow.

A Big Reality Check By Justine Saunders 

Today we woke up at 5:00 am and made it to breakfast by 6:00am. After breakfast we went on our way to Elmina Castle. Something I was very excited and grateful to be a part of. Once at the castle it was a very emotional experience to be able to actually stand in the place where many of our ancestors possible passed through. It was kind of a reality check of me because as a people we came so far and we take so much for granted especially how we treat each other with many derogatory terms that we have taken from those days and made it part of our common language. After such an enlightening and emotional morning.

We headed over to Elmina Beach Resort Hotel where we relaxed and unwound by beach with a beautiful lunch spread and we just spent the afternoon enjoying each other’s company. Then to end our day outside we went to a high school and played basketball, volleyball and danced with the high school kids. Then we got to ask them questions and they got to ask us questions, but we really connected when we got up on stage to dance together. Then we end the night around the table with a very intense conversation about the many things we saw at Elmina and the high school. To officially end the night we had sad/glad time, which put a smile on everyone’s face.

A Home Away from Home By Ava Patino 

Well then. I guess this is goodbye. Goodbye to this red notebook, and the writing in it. And to the blue pen black pen debate and to really awesome things. Mostly goodbye to Ghana. That’s what this blog is about, right? Because its our last day here and then we’ll be gone and who knows when we’re coming back. So here we go. We went to church this morning, and I wore one of my new dresses I bought at the market. It’s yellow and blue, and has a ruffle at the top.

The Church, as we walked up the road, was tiled mosaic and looked cheerful. On the inside, the people were too so it seemed fitting. And goodness that church. The people were singing and dancing, and the songs ran from one to another, an orchestra of joy and praise; at being alive and being together and being under God I suppose. Even without being able to understand most of what was said it was infectious. And then we went home. We changed into our swimsuits; and got on the bus to go to the beach.

On our way, we eagerly raced a rainstorm and silently begged it leave us be for a little while longer. Then we swam, and drank bitter coconut milk, at least I, not for the taste but for the very notion that I was drinking coconut, on a beach in Ghana. And then we swam some more. After being conned out of pineapple by sneaky adults we once again returned home. Home. It’s funny I’ve used that to describe this place at least twice in this blog, and its been entirely coincidental.

 But really that’s what this trip, and these people have created for me. A home. A place where things may be a little crazy and slightly dysfunctional, but a place also where I truly belong. So goodbye Ghana, but you couldn’t pay me a zillion cidies to say goodbye to my home and for that I am forever grateful.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

2017 NYAC VIM Ghana YAM Mission: Kids Worshiping and Serving Half a World Away

Children's Sunday in Ghana by Michael Hullstrung

We started off the day a little late. We were supposed to get up and be in the cafeteria by 8:30, but by the time everyone got up and ready for breakfast, it was closer to 9. After breakfast we headed out to church. Church was very fun, everyone sung and danced. The service was very lively and it caused many laughs. This Sunday was Children’s Sunday in the Ghana United Methodist Church, so the children did all the reading and even the sermon. After service, we went outside and started talking with locals for a short time. Some of them even asked us to take pictures with them. It was like we were famous. We went back to our home base where we sleep and we began to sort, and count all of our mission supplies that were to be donated to Ghana.

Children Running the Church! by Wodley Bruny

Instructions were to be in the cafeteria strictly at 8:30 a.m. But without our phones most people woke up late causing a late start in our day. Once we ate breakfast, we were able to get in the van and head to the church. It was Children’s Sunday, which takes place every 10 th Sunday. This is when the children practically run the church service. We watched from our seats on the side as all the children in the church happily participated in the service. Afterwards we went back to the compound for lunch. After lunch we were able to change into more comfortable clothes so that we could sort through the medical supplies that we all brought to donate. After sorting and taking count, we had a short break before dinner at 6. Everyone was happy to see we had something other than rice for dinner. Once that was done, we reflected on our day and had sad/glad tiime.Which we ended our day with.

What do I do with a baby? by Tim Bosco

Today started out waking up at 5:00 am, followed by the coldest, quickest shower I have ever taken. Before breakfast, which started at 6:00, was eaten my family led the group in devotion. After breakfast, we headed on the bus and drove to the worksite. Once at the worksite, a clinic run by the Methodist Church, we loaded off bags of supplies and waited for further instruction. While we waited, the small group of women waiting slowly grew to be more and more. Women clad in bright colors, some carrying babies, others baskets, all began to trek to the clinic. While at the clinic, we worked to clear away rocks, rotting wood, and other garbage in front of the nurses’ quarters that were being updated. We also worked to dig holes to put posts into. This was the worst because the ground was full of large rocks. After lunch, we visited a village near the clinic. The people here lived in compounds, which are mud huts connected to each other by a wall where a whole family would live. The people we met were very welcoming to us, and small children followed us around wherever we went. One woman even handed me a baby. After leaving the village we returned to where we are staying.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

2017 NYAC VIM Ghana YAM Mission: Through the Air, to the Ground

The NYAC Youth Ambassadors in Mission are already putting hands to work and hearts to God at their Ghana mission site, below are some of their initial journal entries.

Do Not Be Afraid, by Ava Patino

“I’m on my way to the airport.”
“Dude, send pictures”
Picture taken out car window. Caption: The glorious eastside on our way to JFK
“I meant of Ghana...”

Stop. Wait for the light. Find yourself in a car in Queens. Knowing nothing. Stop. Feel your mom’s leg press against yours. Feel wind blowing in your face. Taste ginger, sugar coated. See the international airport terminal. Breath, process the fact that you aren’t in the wrong place. (Again.)

Get yellow tape. Tape it so that it is visible and easily identifiable. Throw out an old bag and consolidate the medical supplies. When you check your bags, chuckle at the fact that your two are blue suitcases. Find this an odd coincidence of the universe. Find this satisfying. Say Goodbye, Hug. I love you. Cling a little then go. Don’t look back. Don’t think about looking back…until you do. Feel your heart. Just feel it.

“I’m so nervous.”
“But it is not the time to be nervous anymore.”

Be endlessly amused by the moving walk ways. Wonder who and why thought that there should be such a thing. Eat cookies. Do not know the origin of these cookies. Hope that the baker reads the blog post and knows how immensely you enjoyed them.

Get on the plane. Marvel at the wonders of modern technology that allow you to have TV in your seat. Not at the selection of ‘entertainment options’. Marvel anyway. Unpack. Shoves off, blanket on. Vow to watch Ghostbusters. Eat dinner. Pay too much for wifi. Do not finish Ghostbusters. Whisper a secret, get one in return. Hold a hand during turbulence. Breath. At a half hour to landing chew gum and thank a friend, profusely.



(I am here, I am here, I am here, I am here, I am here, I am here)

Wait. Wait for the bus, for the line, for the food and cold water. Wait for someone to bring out cards. Wait to say ‘peanut butter’ with a smirk. Wait for your pictures to upload to Instagram. Then wait again. The plane is small. It has one aisle. On one side there are two chairs together and on the other one, only one.


Film takeoff, take comfort in a small glass heart from home and dragon who breathes only fictional fire.



Relax. Enjoy the Quiet, enjoy the pie. Take pictures aplenty and breath.

You are here.

It hits you in this moment.

I am here.

Start the decent and do not be afraid.

You are here.

Do not be afraid.

Are We Really Getting on...THAT Plane?? By Imani Hall

We all met at the airport to leave for Ghana at 1:30 the latest. We had some complications but we made it pass security. We had a long walk from security to our gate. After our long walk we sat and waited to board. The flight was so long but I slept for most of it. After we got off the plane we all slowly bonded by talking about the things we did on the plane, like watch movies, sleep, eat, not sleep. Then we got our suitcases and went to eat. We were so surprised on how good and familiar the food was. Then we talked until it was time to leave for our next flight to Tamale. While we waited to board there was wifi, so we got to talk to family and friends until it was time to leave.

We were all scared to get on the very small plane. When we landed we got on a bus and couldn’t help but look beautiful Tamale. We were shocked at the poverty of the villages.By the time we got to the compound we were so tired. When the girls got to our room we decided that we all didn’t want to be alone tonight, so we all slept in one room. We spent the whole night talking about what we liked and disliked and just about life until we all went to sleep.

Friday, February 17, 2017

2017 NYAC VIM Ghana YAM Mission: “Why have you Forgotten Us?”

Rev. Joseph Ewoodzie
A reflection on my visit to Methodist Dorcas Clinic.
“Why have you Forgotten Us?”

I met Bishop Nathan Samwini of the Northern Ghana Diocese, Methodist Church, Ghana on Thursday November 10, 2016 at his office in Tamale.  The two items we discussed were a) the hosting of YAM 2017 in February 2017; and b) the state of the Methodist Dorcas Clinic.
Bishop Samwini is a “northerner,” the first elected bishop, native to the Northern region and serving the Northern Diocese.  His enthusiasm, passion, and determination to serve and transform the lives of his people is remarkable.

After he welcomed me with a bottle of cold water, his next question to me was; “Why have you forgotten us?”  This was a very difficult question.

Bishop Samwini was referring to the uncompleted medical facility that provides hope and healing to seven remote villages in his Diocese.  The Methodist Dorcas Clinic ministry that stands in need of critical renovation and improvement.  Our last visit to this project was in 2013.  Bishop was glad to hear that the YAM 2017 will be in ministry at the Methodist Dorcas Clinic.

The clinic provides a very important medical need to over 2,000 inhabitants of 7 communities scattered in the hinterlands.  Most of them walk an average of 2.5 miles to and from the Methodist Dorcas clinic for their basic health needs including pre-natal and pregnancy care.

During my visit to the clinic this morning (Friday, Nov 11, 2016), I observed the nurse attending to the medical needs of women and children.  A grandmother brought Wumpini, a 4 year old girl to the clinic for care.  The nurse told me that Wumpini has a high temperature and so she will receive paracetamol to reduce her temp.  I couldn’t interact verbally with Wumpini due to a language barrier, but we had a moment of silence together.  Her gaze was very intense. I wondered if she wanted to ask me the same question Bishop Samwini asked, “Why have you forgotten us.”

The Methodist Dorcas clinic is not just a medical facility, it is a HEALING place; a refuge for weary, a shelter for fatigued, and a place where the most vulnerable and the marginalized receive solace and comfort.

This place provides a unique opportunity for Global Health ministry.  Here is a place where “our promise to our children” could be fulfilled. Let’s Imagine Abundant Health with Wumpini the 4 year old girl, and not forget them.

The Bishop, the leaders of the Diocese and the Chief and elders of the community are preparing to host the YAM 2017 team.  The YAMs will have the opportunity to help with the renovations and also interact with the local school children. Logistics such has housing, meals and transportation have already been secured.

This “Place is a gift, and as a gift it reflects back to us the beauty without ourselves and in our own life and work.” (The Soul of Place, Michael Jones.)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

2017 NYAC VIM YAM Ghana Mission: Getting Ready to Bring Hope!

This Friday, February 17th, seventeen youth and four adults leave for the annual Youth Ambassadors Mission (YAM) mission trip. Destination: Ghana! Each Fall, local congregations from the New York Annual Conference are invited to recommend a youth to participate in the next YAM journey.  Since 2005, over 200 youth have worked in Antigua, Bolivia, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Ghana.

This year the youth will participate in the construction of a nurses' quarters near the Dorcas clinic, which was built earlier by NYAC volunteer mission teams.  They will assist in after school activities, coordinate a vacation Bible school, and distribute Days for Girls kits, which provide reusable feminine hygiene supplies that can last a girl for years, and help to keep her in school.  Many of the kits have been assembled by church volunteers and members from NYAC congregations, and other United Methodist congregations.

The group will blog about their trip here, at Please share the joy and wonder of this mission trip with others, and pray for their success!