“AN AFRICAN BLESSING”
by Kristine Voznaja
A little about myself.
Somebody who loves to travel and dares to throw herself into the unknown, enjoys an international atmosphere of people, gets a kick out of creating paintings and compositions, as well as taking pictures and writing. I was born to serve and to share, and my heart rejoices doing all of what I do – for the Lord. My whole being burns with desire to serve Him in any way I possibly can; be it in daily life or on special missions, it is an honour for me to be an instrument for our amazing God.
I originally come from (Riga) Latvia, but am currently living and working in the UK. The piece you are about to read is a mixture of my personal reflections about our mission trip to Ghana. I would call it a game of words, emotions and feelings. I hope you enjoy it as it communicates some of the wonderful adventures we experienced during our time in this beautiful country.
Ghana, oh, Ghana! What a magical country of colour, music, and dance. A country with such a clear and firm voice of compassion and exceptional faith. True love and open hearts of Ghanaians touched me profoundly. I witnessed God’s miraculous Spirit everywhere we went. One touch, one smile, one blessing – all it takes to make a significant change in our lives.
And we are there. The ‘place’ you can call ‘home’ forever and will always keep in your heart. The ‘place’ you will never want to leave again and carry with you all the time. This moment transforms you forever, and from that very moment you are never the same.
Our team consisted of five people – Charles Sackitey Narh (founder and president of Help Is On the Way Ministries; Ghana/CA, USA), minister Lewis M Gordon (2nd Baptist Church; CA/USA), a preschool teacher Shorikka Harris (CA/USA), intercultural and public relations student Jameson Harris, (CA/USA) and me.
The main purpose of our mission trip in March 2012 (further ‘the mission’) was sharing the Gospel. We participated in two incredible revivals in Tema with Tema Joint Church/Youth and Young Adult Ministry and New Hope Resurrection Power Ministry. The first revival concentrated on how God can turn our problems into possibilities (Genesis 45:1-7), and the second revival focussed on the perception that whatever we go through - it is only for our good (Romans 8:28). God’s presence was extremely strong throughout both of these revival meetings.
As some of you may probably know, the purpose of any revival is to make you see things in a new light, from a different angle, and to give you a boost to make the necessary changes in your life for the better. Trust me; it absolutely did it for me. I am charged with God’s Word and ready to apply it in my life. My spirit is on fire, but I know I have to keep on working to nourish it, so it never stops burning. It definitely is an extraordinary experience and blessing to take part in revivals.
As a team, we also made a trip to Tokuranu village to evaluate the progress and maintenance of the water project, and made a few visits to SOS Children’s Village (http://www.sos-childrensvillages.org/Pages/default.aspx) and Marfo Children Care Foundation (http://www.marfochildrencare.org/, further ‘Marfo Children’s Home’), both in Tema, to spend time with children in educational and extra-curricular activities.
The water project is running very well; smoothly in fact. Villagers are happy to have easy access to water on a daily basis and are very grateful for such progress. As a result, people don't suffer from exhaustion, diseases or animal attacks that would usually occur while fetching the water from further away. Children are able to go to school, while parents are able to focus on work. The quality of life is getting better and better. Witnessing that felt terrific.
Visits to SOS Children's Village and Marfo Children’s Home were special too. SOS Children's Village in Tema has a Nursery School, Primary and Secondary School, and other branches. Our team specifically visited SOS Children's Village Nursery School (http://www.soschildrensvillages.org.uk/about-our-charity/projects/ghana-cv-tema). Basically, we engaged in all regular classroom activities children would have, such as drawing, singing,
learning (letters, numbers, etc), and playing outdoors. At Marfo Children’s Home we spent some time with the children, although our help was more practical by providing school supplies, clothes, toys, and some treats.
My main task on this mission was to serve as a photographer. It gave me an opportunity to observe the surroundings in great detail and granted me an access to places I would not have been permitted otherwise. Having a camera was like having an invisible pass. The pass I was proud ‘to wear’ and use for a greater good. I really couldn't have asked for more. Sharing the picture taking process with local people, especially children, allowed me to build a very tight bond with them. As a result, that bond enabled me to express God’s love and Word in a unique way.
I believe that the photography process makes you think deeply. By recording the journey of our team, I reflected a lot on the way we live; how we eat, drink, dress, act, study and work. It seems that very often we tend to forget that we have more than enough; that we are rich beyond our imagination. We have a constant access to clean water and healthy food, high quality clothes, comfortable housing, and, most of all, the priceless resource of freely accessible education. This reminds me how we have to be thankful for what we have and share it with others when we can. I only knew I was going to Ghana four months before the actual trip. I did not know what I was
getting into. All I knew was that God gave me various signs showing that I have to go and that my purpose on this mission will be revealed in due time. Of course, like any other human being travelling somewhere new, I had certain expectations. All of us have different ones, but we all have them. I am a very energetic person and in a constant need of action. Therefore, I was expecting the mission to be ‘on the go’. In Ghana, though, things happen at a different, more easy pace. It took me some time getting used to, but it was necessary to do so. Everywhere you travel, you have to accept the way the local culture is. Learning and accepting traditions is vital. What I understood is that you cannot go on these kinds of missions with certain expectations. To be honest, it is better to travel without any. This way, you will get the most of the trip and all experiences, and you will avoid unnecessary frustrations.
Coming on this mission has been one of the biggest blessings this year so far. God’s influence on me was massive. I know now that I have let the fear of failure and uncertainty control my life too much. I recognized this problem and had to let it go. God has blessed me with certain talents that I should use in order to glorify Him and share His Word with others. Like one of my Ghanaian friends said, “What we are – is God’s gift to us. What we become – is our gift to God.” Every day I pray for God to give me strength and wisdom to utilize my gifts. I have and will strive for the best in what I do and use it as a tool to serve Him. I have understood that I should not hide
my gifts, but share them with the world.
Be ready to receive whatever comes your way. Work on your heart and allow God to polish it constantly. By doing so, you will feel stronger and happier in Christ than ever. Never stop praying. I have witnessed the power of prayer every single day in Ghana and my life, and can tell you that if you really follow God and His Word – things will happen in your life. Good things. Great things. Be among people who love God and seek Him with all of their hearts. Count your blessings and bless others. Never seize to worship God and learn His Word.
Being a creative person, this mission has helped me realize my potential and how I can develop my gifts even further, and given me ideas on how I can serve creatively in the nearest future. I am inspired to paint, to write, to worship (sing and dance), to travel, to study, and to dream. I urge you to dream, take risks, and challenge yourself daily. Live your life to the full, with no regrets.
Africa is a dreamland. A continent of wonders.
I hope that God will lead me back to Ghana once again.
Again, again, and again.
Please view pictures of the trip here: