Almost there

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Isaiah 43:5-7

Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
    I will bring your children from the east
    and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
    and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
    and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.

As I have asked that you would keep this project and my move in prayer I want to ask to keep something even more important in prayer. The children’s lives, the children that are now orphans that in a few short days will have a family, home and so much more. They are almost there and they don’t even know it yet, but God does He sees them right now and He is keeping them safe until we get to them. How awesome is God’s faithfulness.

God has called them, in fact He has chosen each one to be apart of this before the foundation of the earth was created. How amazing that He is so mindful of us that He would not leave us as orphans but adopt us into His Holy family. God invented adoption, it was not our idea. He intended for that when we accept Christ we are adopted into God’s family just as these children will be adopted into our hearts and families forever.

They are somewhere out there, with a story of their own, and a bright future ahead. The possibilities are endless for these children once they enter. Their lives are going to forever change, because God has chosen these children out of millions to be apart of this legacy. They are going to be fearless leaders of their generation, I know they will and I cannot wait to meet them. I have felt like I have loved them since I was young and dreamt of building an orphanage. I am just ready to get there, my heart feels so full 🙂 My excitement is building and I am also feeling so emotional about seeing the dream God instilled into my heart come alive. I don’t know many people who get to see their dream come to life and I will be forever grateful for that, it humbles me everyday that God would place this in my heart, I feel honored to have the privilege to know and love these children.

So would you pray for these kids, that God would comfort them right now so when we arrive they feel safe and know that they are home at last, and see him through it all.

A little progress goes along way…

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.

Esphesians 3:20

A dream can go a long way! Here are some pictures to prove that;) Today’s post is going to be a little different, there will be more pictures taking you to the Village of Hope in Ghana where the children will be moving in next week! It has been such a miracle that we were able to construct this large project in just 2 years! God is faithful… so without further adieu here are some pictures…

(If you missed how this all began read part one and part two . )

Here is the entrance to the property!

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These sweet children are our neighbors! They always run out to greet us and love exploring the land whenever we go!

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The land had a lot going on… hills, corn fields a lot of trees, so we had to clear it to start the foundation for the buildings.

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Getting a lift on property with John.

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Just exploring, this photo was taken over what is now a playground! Who would have thought.

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Now the land is cleared and flat ready to get the foundation going! These men had the ability to make a steady income and provide for their families these past couple of years.

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Standing at the future entrance! So excited for what is to come! We love PNN!

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Our team in Ghana going over construction plans, and of course our little neighbors wanted to join us:)

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Our partners and project supervisors in Ghana! Francis on my left and John on my right. These men are like mentors to me throughout this whole process and have helped create this vision. Without the hard work ethic, faith in God and determination to see this vision come a reality we could not have done it! We are so thankful for the two of you!

DSC_0411 My dad and I! He is the absolute best! I don’t know anyone who is as selfless, kind, and hardworking as him. Thank you for believing in me when I spoke about this project from a young age, and thank you for encouraging me when others said it would be impossible! Good think we serve a big God who makes things possible!

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My brother on his first trip, now you see a wall around the property.

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Wow!!! The first structure is put in place… no more wooden frame foundation, this Village is literally being built from the dirt up.PNN-and-Chapel-Entrance

Francis standing in front of Arise Chapel that sits right in the center of the property. Just like God will always be the center of this organization.

 

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So we’ve come along way from those hills and corn fields 😉 This is housing block one! The future children’s home. Unlike other Children’s homes PNN has created apartment style homes where 6-8 children will live with a local foster mother in a true home setting! It is ALL ABOUT FAMILY! There are 6 apartments in this housing block!

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The housing block! No longer wooden frames, its painted and it is beautiful. God is so faithful in his promises. He gives us the desires of our hearts. This was never my dream or something that anyone could explain that a young girl could speak of doing. God has surrounded me with so many amazing partners and individuals who have been mentors, friends and supporters to make this a reality. And indeed it has! I believe that God had saved this property for this very reason. He knew long before the foundations of this world was created every child’s name that would walk through the gates in here would have a home, and he knew that this is only the beginning for what Project Nyame Nsa can accomplish.

With more info on the project click here.

Monday’s post

“Prayer can never be in excess.” C. H. Spurgeon

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When I leave for Ghana in six days my life is going to forever change, in fact there is no way that my life will ever be normal again. And I am so excited for that. That being said there are a million things that I need to do leading up to Sunday. I just closed one great chapter of my life leaving UNC, and now I am preparing myself for a very different one.

A chapter that has been anticipated for what feels like my life…

A chapter that unfolds in six short days…

A chapter that requires less of my ability and all of His, a chapter that is in need of constant prayer for every decision small or large, health and protection.

This post may have been short but I just felt the Lord put prayer on my heart. To be in constant prayer this week for all that is coming up.

So if you could join me in prayer and cover this trip because that is one of the most powerful things we have. So I thank you in advance for supporting this project by your prayers which is more valuable than anything else.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Mark 11:24

He has done great things

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I thought I would share some inspiration, and leave you with some good news before the weekend starts. That He Who is mighty has done great things for me. In this case, you too. The key word of this verse is has.

It doesn’t say is…

It doesn’t says is going to do…

It says has.

He’s already done it.

This is so powerful that God has already done great things for you. But how can you walk into those great things if he is not in the forefront of your life. One of the greatest things that God has done for us was giving up his one and only son. For you and me.

There is no greater love than this. There is no greater illustration of sacrifice than this. There is no greater mercy than this because we are so undeserving of this perfect love. God cared so much about us, that he chose to sacrifice his only begotten son so that we could have a choice to have everlasting life. What do we have to do? Believe, confess it and live it out. (Look up Romans 10:9) God never tells us that this life is going to be easy, in fact he tells us that we will be mocked for believing and following Christ.

But we must always remember this

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

John 20:29

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God

Romans 12:2

Wherever you are in your walk of faith, or maybe your not even there yet keep this in mind  to remember that God has already done great things for you! This is something that helped me when I was going through really hard times, where I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Instead of turning bitter towards God I chose to acknowledge that He was already working for me and He lead me out of the darkness. Whatever you are going through today, or what happens tomorrow always acknowledge that God has already done it, we just have to trust him to lead us out, and lead us to greater things.

Packing for Ghana

Happiness is packing for a place very far away

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For anyone who knows me knows that I am an over packer. You can ask my best friends from college (Sarah, Cate, Marisa or Tara) and they will be glad to tell you its completely true. And they will probably mention the time we went to Europe and I found myself on multiple airport floors frantically de-stuffing my luggage. Which resulted in my carry on weighing as much as I do because my suitcase was always overweight. I mean I thought I could overpack, isn’t that why suitcases have wheels now;) Apparently not.

Packing for Africa feels different, for some reason I do not feel the need to overpack. I don’t have to worry about what I am going to want over there, I am going to worry about what I need.

You can bet I stocked up on maxi skirts, dresses, sandals, sunblock, peanut better and t- shirts(especially my Project Name Nsa one.) I am excited to live a simpler life, not having to worry about what I am used to worrying about. I am excited for what I am going to miss, because I feel like what I am used to having everyday I have taken for granted. So for now that means goodbye to my mac foundation, lattes, manicures, online shopping, nights out in the city, sushi dinners and sadly binge watching reality television which is my guilty pleasure. So as weird as this sounds I am excited to miss these “western luxuries.”

What I am most excited for, getting closer to God, having to rely on him for everything. Not the “I need this now” or “help me pass this exam and I promise I will go to church next sunday” kind of prayers. This kind of prayers where you are demanding God to do big things, to bring forth healing in his son’s name, to change people’s hearts and make life situations better, the kind of prayer that asks for protection, health and provision. This is what I am excited for, to see God work in such mighty ways that all who encounter could not deny that he is the creator of the universe and that he is with us where ever we choose to go…even in Ghana, Africa 😉

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

 

His plans,not ours…part two

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.Jeremiah 29:11

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If you missed part one of this blog post click here. We had one more night in Ghana during our first trip.  I was sad to be leaving this place I had come to love so quickly, but knew I would be returning soon. My dad also grew to love this place as much as I did, this made me so happy. This night was spent celebrating a wonderful first visit with the men and women who worked for the organization that we partnered with to build the wells. Men and women who we made instant lifelong friendships with. Men and women who would quickly become partners, companions, and family. Over dinner and maltas, (A favorite Ghanaian soda) we talked about the possibility of creating a non-profit organization to help orphans in particular. Scribbling on paper napkins different words in Twi (one of the languages spoken in Ghana) we had chosen Nyame Nsa. Which means God’s helping hands. This name seemed perfect, now we needed to go home and make it official. So as God would have it Project Nyame Nsa was born. (pronounced -nah-men-sah) To learn more click here.

I went home to New York inspired, my compassion for these people turned into passion, and no one could tell me what we wanted to do would be impossible. Because God was on our side. Fast forward to spare you all the organizational details, over the course of the past six years we are an officially registered non-profit in the US and Ghana. We have raised over a million dollars to build a Village of Hope for orphans with a housing complex for the kids, a church, playground, guest house, soccer and basketball area and transportation to a nearby school. The small vision of the orphanage had exploded into something so much larger than what we had expected. The Village sits on a 5 acre land plot one hour from the capital city Accra. When I initially said yes to this I didn’t realize all that it would entail. That’s the simple beauty of being obedient to what God has called you to do. He lead me every step of the way and surrounded me with family, friends, supporters and donors that made this vision a reality. And I will be forever grateful for this! He always provided for this project when it seemed impossible. At every phase He provided just what we needed.

I want to use my story as a way for anyone reading this to know three things.

  1. Everyone has purpose, whatever it may be. But you can’t discover this purpose if God is not in control of your life. So often people want to be used to do great things by God but struggle with control. How can God lead you to your destiny if you are busy chasing money, the crowd or what you think is best for you life. He can’t, and you just might miss out on a wonderful,exciting and fulfilling life that you were created to live.
  2. That you don’t need to go to Africa to make a difference. This is something that I strongly emphasize. This may be your calling, and it might not be. We can all be lights in different places and fields. If we were all called to go to the same place how could we make a difference? I would so encourage anyone to pray, be still as ask God to make it so clear what he wants you to do. And he will.
  3. Passion. Life without passion is boring and unfulfilling. I promise you that when you truly find yourself doing what you love you won’t lack anything. You will be at the center of God’s will, what other better place is there to be?

His plans,not ours…part one

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

I would like to start by saying I do not want to be perceived as someone who could pull anything that I am about to write about on my own. This was all perfectly orchestrated by God, in his perfect timing, with his hand over my life and the events which lead to Project Name Nsa.  My desire to build in orphanage in Africa was instilled into the deepest parts of my heart, and my mind since I can remember to speak. Crazy, right? That’s what everyone thought, my family, friends, teachers, and classmates. As most children would dream of being successful as a singer, dancer, movie star or athlete (which are great dreams, just not mine) I didn’t let their discouraging attitudes affect this dream inside of my heart. It’s hard to even put into words my feelings, I had felt since I was young that I was completely destined to do something great… in Africa. I grew up with nice things, we lacked nothing, and had traveled all over the world but never to any place like Africa. As I grew older I prayed that one day I could go, I felt like I had loved this place, yet I had never been. In a couple of years that would all change. I knew in my heart that I would do something, I just knew I would have to wait until  I was older, yet again I was wrong.

Years had passed, but my determination to go to Africa had not. My sixteenth birthday was coming and I saw this as an opportunity to raise money to build wells in Africa. I thought about the gifts that I could receive and how I had everything I want plus more. I lacked nothing, and I didn’t need these gifts. Through the generosity of everyone who came to my birthday we raised 7,000. Enough to build three water wells. I had begged my dad to bring me to Ghana (where the wells were being dug.) Thank God for him, because for some crazy reason he decided to take a chance on his 16 year old daughter. I will always admire my father and his decision to take me to West Africa. If it weren’t for him allowing me to go, then I don’t think I would be sharing this story. (So thank you Dad, I love you so much!) Our first trip to Ghana was life altering, in every way possible. I had come to love this place, and found myself broken hearted as I was confronted with various needs that weren’t being met for people. I went with an attitude that I was going to change these peoples lives for the better. Then God does what he does best, he humbled me, these people changed my life for the better. 

My second to last day in Ghana was spent visiting rural hospitals and villages. Our last stop was much further than the rest. We drove so far that the roads had stopped and we found our van bumping up and down red dirt hills through luscious green forests. I locked eyes with my dad for a moment we exchanged that just stay calm even though we’ve been in this car for hours kind of look.Where are we going, do people seriously live all the way out here? I thought to myself, and then the van came to a halt. We had reached our destination. As soon as the van door opened we were greeted by 1,500 village people that welcomed and celebrated our coming. We spent the day getting to know one another, playing games, visiting their huts and hearing their life stories. They were so honored by the gift of the well that they made me queen for the day. I saw how much clean drinking water had meant to these people. Something I would not have thought twice about back home, yet without access to water it caused disease, death, and the demise of education.With clean drinking water there is life, there is hope and there is a future.

Everyone was happy, yet this happiness did not derive from material wealth. This was different then the place I had come from. People had everything, yet wanted more, and found themselves unhappy. I  admired these people, they taught me something that I can never forget. I can also never forget the devastation and lack of basic human needs that these people didn’t have. How can I help, what could I do? Immersed in a culture far different then my own, covered in dirt, and african cloth, I felt happiness, I felt peace, and I felt at home. It was in this moment so far from everything that was comfortable and normal about the life I was blessed to live that I had refused to merely exist. I wanted a life with purpose, I wanted a life driven by passion. Passion I had found, now it was time to do something about it. I took one last look at these smiling faces, exchanged prayer requests and hugs then got in the van as the we rolled down another dirt hill. The village disappeared behind the trees, but these people could never disappear from my mind. This place was the inspiration behind the non-profit. I just didn’t know it yet. My eyes swelled up with tears, I never knew if I would see these people again, I didn’t know when I would be back in Ghana, but I knew I needed to. This is what I know for sure that God has called me to Africa. My dad looked at me as if he was reading my very thoughts. “Don’t worry Devon, we will be back here one day.”

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Pumping the water for the very first time! Celebration and friendships to follow.

 

Home

Home is where the heart is…

What I have come to learn about home is that it’s more about the people you are with than a place, or building. This was something I learned throughout my experiences of leaving my childhood home at the age of 15.I was born and raised on Long Island, then went to boarding school and off to college in North Carolina. I have felt like these different places became home to me. I loved growing up in New York, and also grew to love the southern culture.  It was about the people that I met, and were able to call family. The people that I could rejoice with over happy things, and people I could turn to when life threw you something challenging or unexpected. When I was sixteen years old I travelled to Ghana for the first time with my father Steve. I felt an instant connection to this place and the Ghanaian people. I would go on to travel back and forth from my time off school and Ghana felt like home. I started a non profit organization called Project Nyame Nsa which I will write more about in my next post. Over time Ghana has felt like home to me. Now that I have graduated I am moving there in two short weeks! Let the packing and preparing begin…DSC00084