Day Eight: Friday

   Posted by: Dean White   in Ghana

Note: It is now Tuesday. It has taken me this long to process all that occurred on Friday. After this post I plan on writing one more day as a summary.  Today and yesterday we have been at a new location in Prampram that is on the ocean to recap, recoup and process before we head back to the US. We get to stop in Paris tomorrow for 6 hours …I might even get to go to the Eiffel Tower!  Thank you for those who have followed this blog. Thank you for coming on my journey, forgiving the misspellings and the break in sentence structure. I value your thoughts, friendship and partnership. Your notes, emails, prayers, texts and encouragements were all very vital to me.



  • Witch Village in Gambaga (Northern Ghana)
  • Staying the night in Tamale

Purpose: To visit the Witch Camp and bring provision & hope

Tomorrow: Traveling back to the Ponderosa & then travel to PramPram for R&R

Highlights from today:

  • Driving to the airport
  • Witch Camp
  • Meeting with Joseph Asara with Radach Inc.

Quote of the Day: “Not taking a risk is the biggest risk of all.” ~ Joseph Asara

William the Driver

We have an amazing driver here.  He weaves in and out of traffic, drives on the opposite direction of traffic, and cuts people off with a sinister giggle. He must stand about 5’4” and drives as if he was driving a Nascar.  I, of course, love it.  I have even sat upfront and video taped him driving through the town, back roads, and dirt roads with hopes I can use the footage and play it back with my VR goggles (virtual reality). Well today we were planning on leaving at 5am to catch a 6:30am flight to the Northern area of Ghana. The van that William drives did not get dropped off to him on time and therefore he was late picking us up. Instead of 5am, he arrived at 6am. It takes 35 mins to get to the airport. William dogged cars, ran lights, moved through traffic as if he was a missile with a gps targeting system. We arrived at 6:25am, ran to the gate and …it was too late, we missed our flight. But man…was it a fun ride for the Ghana Nine to the airport!  We caught an 8:45am flight, thank God, and it all worked out.


The Traveling to the Witch Camp

When arriving in Tamale (pronounced Ta Ma Ley, not Ta Ma Lee), Monday Amoak was waiting for us.   Ghanaians often get named after the day they were born. True fact!  Monday is another amazing person. He & his wife works with a non-proft organization that is 90% self-funded and employs over 150 people. They develop micro-enterprises, lend out micro-loans, and train people to start businesses. More on this later. Monday took us to our hotel to drop off our things and then we jumped into a van to head to the witch camp.  In total, there are about 9 witch camps in Northern Ghana. There were more, but Monday works hard on helping train the women to do textiles or another business and ultimately closing the camp.  Tamale had to be 105 degrees that day with 110% humidity. Our van’s a/c spitted blasts of warm air and having a window open was our only relief. Remember, we have 10 people in the van and we are all sweating.  The 2.5 hour drive was intense. In addition, there were many things we saw on the way. 5 hut configurations. Strange beetle shaped homes. Shea trees. Terminate hills. Extremely thin cattle. Crops of yams. Most people in this area are farmers and sell their crops when at the market.  There are many villages of people. Each area of villages has a Chief. The Chief then has Elders that oversee each small village. The Chief holds an important role. For instance, before going to visit the witch camp we had to meet with the Chief and get his permission. We brought him a gift and bowed before him to show him respect.  Whatever the Chief says goes. If the Chief is Muslim than everyone in the villages are Muslim.  Muslim represents 95% of the faith in this area compared to only 5% Christian.  In the Muslim faith, men can have up to 4 wives.  Therefore, many of the huts in the villages are in groups of 5 hut configurations. One big hut for the man, and smaller huts for each of his wives. This ensures many off spring to help with the farming. The woman in the villages take the leaves of the Shea trees and make Shea butter used in many skin nourishing products. Yams, watermelon, papayas, pineapples, mangoes and corn all grow in this region.  There were also strange beetle shaped domes scattered in between the villages. The beetle dome huts are built by the Nomads who are moving cattle from one area to the next to feed on the grass and build this temporary living beetle looking huts. The cattle look so thin.  I have no idea how they eventually get them fat enough to sell. We also saw many kids. Many would be in a mud pond to swim and play seeking relief from the heat. But when they saw our van coming up to the pond, they would jump out of the dirty water and run into the Shea trees or the crops. When the kids see a van they think that these are kidnappers who want to steel them away for sex trafficking.  We even saw a mom carrying things on her head (they all carry things on their heads. Huge things.), with a baby on her back (another common thing here) and two little ones in tow.  When she saw the van from a distance she immediately started walking the opposite way.  The life of a woman here is truly heartbreaking. You are born into deep poverty. You work hard to make butter from the leaves of a tree, get married to a man who has 3 other wives, he dies from disease as well as one of your children, your other child is stolen from you and forced into sex trafficking, then another woman in the village accuses you of being a witch. So then you are forced out of the village and your only skill you have developed now is tainted since no one will buy from you since you are a witch. Who is there to tell these women that they are still valuable? That they are here for a greater purpose. That they are loved.


The Witches

We stopped at the main village to meet with the Chief and get his approval. I was expecting a harsh and mean man who was going to look at me cross-eyed and yell something in a language I could not translate but easily understood that he would want us out of there unless we give him money. Thankfully I was completely wrong. We first were greeted by dozens of beautiful smiling children, who loved getting their photos taken and then laughing when we played the photo back and showed them what they looked like.  Everyone …even the adults, wanted a photo.  In the U.S. we are so image conscience; we can’t image living everyday with no idea of what we look like. No mirrors in villages. No cameras either.  Then a messenger came to us saying the Chief is ready to meet.  We walked up to a large hut, took off our shoes, walked up to a matt that was rolled out across the floor and knelt on our knees. We then proceeded to follow protocol of bowed head thanking him to see us. He spoke through an interpreter and then told us we can sit on the benches that were provided for us.  In his hut he had a motorcycle, straw since I think his horse that was outside sometimes comes inside, grain, and a platform where he must sleep. He was sitting on the platform when we spoke to him.  We brought him a gift of towels and candies.  He seemed very pleased and not only welcomed us but also asked that we would not forget about him or the villages. He appreciated that we were going to go visit the widows as well.

We then got back into the van and headed to the witch’s village which was about 10 mins away. Upon arriving the ladies and some children met us at the van. We walked to a meeting area where the ladies were waiting for us and the Elder who oversees this witch camp was there as well to greet us and tell us how much they appreciated our visit.  We brought the ladies eye glasses that a friend donated, soccer balls that were donated from Wendy’s swim team she coaches, beautiful handmade quilts, and Bibles in their language.  We tried to also bring grain but since we missed our morning flight, we ran out of time to stop and buy it.  The ladies were so happy they began to clap and then bursted out in song. One lady stood up and began dancing, then another, then another.  Betty joined in then the rest of us and we were all dancing & clapping our hands. When people sing in Ghana …they put their whole heart in it! The kids (some of them were grand kids) loved the soccer balls and as we passed out misc items we had in ziplock bags, the kids would grab the empty ziplock bag as if it was a silk purse. Pastor Abraham, who came with us said you would have thought it was Christmas.

There are many reasons why these women are here. They have all been falsely accused. Without a husband, a lady can be accused of putting a curse on another woman. All it takes is for a woman to say, “I have had a stomach ache for 2 days, and I saw you look at me strange, you must be a witch.”  The lady probably just has indigestion or lactose intolerance. Or if a lady has had a child die of disease, or she is too old cause only really old people are witches, or maybe her skin started to flake, and the list goes on.  If she has a husband or if the Elder or Chief speaks up for her, she will be ok and the accusations will stop. But if no one stands for her she is excommunicated from the village. Destined to die in the witch camp with a very sad existence. One lady whose husband died, had teenage son who accused her of being a witch. There was nothing she could do. She was banished. Monday Amoak works to help these ladies. To bring dignity back to them. Show them a trade like sewing, buy their products and restore them to their village. He has closed a few witch camps and is working on more. We are here to support his cause, connect him to Pastor Abraham who can bring more volunteers, and plead with the Mayor to see this cause as important enough to either ignore the help or calm any Chiefs that come to complain or allow the help from the US to get to Monday.

Being exhausted from the early morning, the frustration of missing the flight, head ache of the long ride on the really bumpy dirt roads, the blistering heat, puddle dripping sweat, & putting our fears aside were all worth the end result of seeing the smiles on these ladies faces.  You could see in their eyes the pain and cavernous hearts they bear. They need soap, they need clothes, many were barefooted and could use simple sandals or flip flops …but more than anything, they need to be loved. To be told, you are accepted. To be told, you are invited.


Monday Amoak & Rev. Asara

Raddach is a company that employs over 150 people here in Tamale. Rev. Joseph Asara leads this non-profit. Monday, his wife and an Oklahoma guy named Donny (we were so shocked to see a white guy with a red haired pony tail on the top of his head with a southern draw, open our van door and say welcome!), work with Joseph Asara to train, create businesses and build infrastructure for the less fortunate in Tamale. Asara’s non-profit makes 90% of the needed income for the business; only 10% comes from donations. Muslim business people will hire the Raddach group to train their employees and develop interns. Asara then takes that money and promotes Christianity to the villages and empowers woman by training them to run their own business. Monday said, “Empower the woman …empowers the family.”  They hold a yearly conference that attracts 400 people each year and also run programs for kids and teenagers. Asara and Pastor Abraham shook hands and committed to work together for those in this area.


Thought for the Day

Walt Disney is famously quoted, “It’s fun to do the Impossible.”  As I reflect on the past days, I feel as if we accomplished the impossible.  Find a person of influence that is selfless and truly wants to help Ghana …Pastor Abraham. Train him and his team of crusaders, then pull in his community and have them discover the main problems. Have those people meet in groups to discover the root of the problems, the fruit those problems produce and reach how can those problems get fixed within this community. Then connect Abraham with a mission that is beyond his own community  …the witch camps. Connect him to key people who are already running with the cause but could use help ….Asara & Monday.  And have a meeting with the one person who could stamp this all for approval or put a road block in the way …the Mayor.  He will allow the U.S. to provide the know-how, just as we have helped Rwanda and their president with the PEACE plan.  We work with Pastor Abraham and he gets to be the hero to this community (not the U.S). And all this done with a group of nine volunteers.  All I can say is Thank you God!  Miracles happen every day.  It requires taking risks. It requires striving to do the impossible. It requires empowering others and taking one’s own ego out of the way. I am honored to have been part of this team. I have my cynical side that worries it will all be in vain. But EVERYTHING has come together. And perfectly. I am proud of the Ghana Nine, Wilson who introduced us to Pastor Abraham, Pastor Abraham & his team, Monday, Donny, Asara, the Mayor, and Saddleback to give us the PEACE plan. This journey has stretched my heart and gave me hope for mankind. And …it was fun!  Disney is right, it is fun to do the impossible.


A work in progress

Witch camp no more

Today I get to leave

I was banished to live here

And in my anguish, grieve


You see, I was falsely accused

On my behalf, no one spoke

Thrown into a prison of my sorrows

Doomed to live under this shameful cloak


Then one day came a person

With a loving embrace & a helping hand

Told me I was made for a purpose

And for me they’d take a stand


With tears of joy

And a trembling hand

I grabbed ahold and

Walked out of this forgotten land





Day 5-7: Tues-Thursday

   Posted by: Dean White   in Ghana


  • Latter Rain Church
  • Village of Akotiaku
  • The Mayor’s Residence

Purpose: Train key leaders who want to have an impact on the health & well-being of this community

Tomorrow: Visit and bring provisions to the “Witch Camp”

Highlights from Tues-Thurs:

  • Training
  • Meeting the Mayor of Ghana
  • The Team

Quote of the Day: “I want the people of Ghana to feel empowered.” The Mayor


The last 3 days have been devoted to training.  For a full day we taught on the key principals of growing a healthy community and the action steps the leaders of the community will need to take to implement change. The second day we taught a Road 2 Health system that enabled the leaders to discover their greatest problems, the root causes, the results of those problems and then finally discuss solutions that they can implement from the community.  We started with about 50 key leaders, some drove over 2 hours to be here for the 3 day conference. We then also invited the community to join us for one of the evening sessions and had about 100+ people, many of them were college aged.  The training was a huge success.  I had the opportunity to lead most of the training and do what I love in regards to thinking on my feet and generating energy by engaging the crowd.  At first my jokes were not landing.  They didn’t understand baseball nor the analogy of baseball. But by the end I got them to laugh and understand a model they can adopt. I was very thankful to our leader of the group, Betty.  She prepared ALL the trainings, the schedule, the videos, the system, and much much more.  All I had to do was talk and engage others. Which was the easy part!  In addition to Betty, the rest of our team (The Ghana Nine) were AMAZING!  As I was teaching, I would get a whisper in my ear on something I was about to miss, or get a suggestion that would make all the difference. When the participants were asked to break into small groups, the team would join the small groups, facilitate discussions, take notes, and put people as ease.  I left feeling exhausted as if I played a football game and left everything on the field. But I also was invigorated on how well the team worked together. We had a very successful conference, and I was able to perform at my best because of this amazing team. We needed each person to do their part and commit to giving their best …and they did!  Betty laid an amazing ground work and then we all worked in our strengths.  This morning, day 3 of the training, was focused on putting what they learned into practice.  We loaded two vans and headed out to a remote village. The dirt road there was so full of pot holes it looked like the dimples of a golf ball. Luckily we have a very skilled and funny driver William.  We arrived at a village that I have only seen in movies. In this village, the people lived in mud huts with thatched roofs, had no electricity nor any running water or pluming. There is a chief in this village that approves all and anything that goes on or any outside influence that wants to come in to help.  We pulled over on the side of the road and began to work. The leaders did an amazing job and they were excited to get started.  We observed and supported as they instantly engaged the community, listening to their needs, and began building new relationships. It was hard to see people living with such little. Yet, after talking with them, they were just normal people like you and me. Yes they live in different conditions that you and I do, but they live life, have joys and problems like the rest of the world and appreciate a new friendships.


The Mayor of Ghana

One of the major things we were hoping for was to get a meeting with the newly elected Mayor of Ghana.  Betty has been corresponding with his office before we left and as of Tuesday this week we still did not have confirmation if we would be permitted a meeting with him or not.  Well, we heard back on Weds and after moving a few things around on his schedule and ours, we were able to come to an agreement for tonight at 7:30pm at his residence.  This meeting was crucial to the development of the PEACE plan that we have initiated in Ghana. If we were to develop the leaders, the leaders then empower volunteers and then the government not approve, all the work would be halted.  The contrast is also true.  With the government’s, namely the Mayor’s support, things can move much more freely and development in these cities can begin and the system that Saddleback and the President of Rwanda created can be readily adopted for Ghana.  Meeting the Mayor was an honor and very to the point.  Betty prepared an excellent PowerPoint presentation, I spoke on the alignment of the system and how all three-key people have the same goal; to empower the people of Ghana to better enhance their communities. That this vision is shared by Saddleback, Pastor Abraham of Latter Rain Church (who also came with us) and also you the Mayor. He responded with, “Thank you for recognizing this.” There were so many things that were perfect for this meeting.  Betty’s presentation, Lisa (part of the Ghana Nine) knew the Minister of Finance from previous missions’ work and ultimately arranged the meeting, Wilson (the owner of the Ponderosa, who also came) has done similar work in another area of Ghana and knew of areas in this district that were doing some of the work we recommended, and that Wilson & Pastor Abraham both live in this district.  Basically, it wasn’t white America, trying to bring aid.  It was proven systems that were created when Rick Warren went to Rwanda, these systems plus a leader in the community (Pastor Abraham) that has a proven track record of helping the community through the years, plus empowering Ghanaians to take pride in their communities and work hard to enhance them together.  All that is needed is a willing Mayor to say, “Let’s do it.”  We left the meeting very excited with a confirmation that he will greatly consider this and would like to speak with the key people in Rwanda.  Betty is already arranging the meeting!  We walked out of the meeting screaming with joy!


The Team

I really feel blessed to be part of this amazing team.  All of us are so different and our individual gifting has complemented each other. Wendy brings joy and a smile to everyone she meets, she is our photographer.  Mario is funny and is always in a great mood, he is our I.T. guy. Roylene, is quick with a complement and supportive word, she is Mario’s wife & our first aid/nurse. Sandra, a social worker with a heart of gold, keeps us singing on the bus. Kristy, who works with the homeless and those recently out of jail, handles all our finances. Lisa, assists Betty with logistics and planning and keeps everything behind the scenes working. Greg, Betty’s husband (he used to play for the Raiders), keeps us laughing and my ego in check.  And our fearless leader Betty, who handles planning, details, training, logistics, cares about the team like a mom, and keeps me on a short leash (an extremely difficult task).  This team, the Ghana Nine, feel like 9 gears of a watch. When one moves the rest move.  And even with the sleep deprivation, we have been in support and care for each other.  It is evident that everyone is valued and respected.  We have sung, laughed, played, and succeeded together. Each person has pushed out of their comfort zone and found new gold in their life because of it. And each one has impacted my heart.


Thought for the Day

The leaders that we trained and then let loose to do the work were beaming.  They were excited that we flew all the way from America (I am hearing those words in their voice as I typed it), to train them and give them a solid system for a successful and healthy community.  When they popped out of their vans, they took to the work like a kid to a candy store. It made me think about how powerful is a strong vision. And how often we are simply looking for a road map for life.  I too often look for a road map for my own life. A simple system that someone can teach me and then let me loose. It sounds so easy and yet for a vision to work it takes more than just will power.  It takes others to be there to support, encourage and run alongside with you.



Day Four: Monday

   Posted by: Dean White   in Ghana


  • Elmina Castle

Purpose: Visit the place where slavery trade existed for over 500 years.

Tomorrow: Training 50 leaders

Highlights from today:

  • Slavery
  • Rain
  • Ride home


Quote of the Day: In Ghana, we have a saying, “You are invited.”


Elmina Castle

Today we got up early and drove about 4 hours to visit one of three castles that exist in Ghana. The Elmina castle was built in 1482 and was originally used as a barter / trade station for sugar, alcohol and spices. But the original purpose was quickly changed to the dark and horrific place that housed thousands of slaves for trade for over 500 years.  At any given time, 600 men and 400 women were imprisoned, tortured and stripped of every ounce of dignity they carried with them. The men would be packed into the dungeons by the hundreds with minimal space, little food and water, forced to live in incomprehensible conditions in the heat of Africa with the thought that they would eventually be sold, washed like a commodity and then boarded a ship to be sold yet again.  The women were often chained in groups of 5. Often these women were from different areas of Africa and often did not speak the same language.  Then the random group of 5 were put in a dungeon with 20 other sets.  These women 100 women often would die in the tight corridors from the methane gas that resulted from their excrement. As if that was not disgusting enough, wealthy men would peer on from a 3rd story balcony that over looked the woman’s courtyard. They would choose a slave woman they wanted to violate and if she refused or ran away, she would be stripped in the courtyard while her legs were chained to an extremely heavy cannon ball and left in the sun to blister without food or water. If she did not protest, then she would return after her assault to the claustrophobic dungeon with the shame knowing everyone knew what just happened to her. I really don’t know how to grasp the depth of the sorrow nor swallow the truth of this disgusting catastrophe that this existed for over 500 years. There were many ‘Freedom Fighters’ who tried to stop slavery or break in and free the slaves.  Their punishment was imprisonment, torture and often death. In fact, we saw two cells that were side by side. One cell was for those non-blacks who were caught stealing or overly drunk. This cell had a window and was fairly spacious. But those non-blacks who were Freedom Fighters were put in a small dark cell with cross bones above their door. Left with no food and minimal water. Yet as harsh as that may have been it seems so minor compared to the black slaves and the complete harshness they were treated. The castle has a very haunting feeling and as you walk the original slaved walked grounds you can almost hear the cries and screams, smell the rotten mix of feces, blood, bacteria and decay, and see the walls marked from loss of all hope.  How could this be part of our history? How could humans enslave each other & treat each other with such horrific acts of violence. I can’t find a word that would express the depth of the devastation. I was reminded that even today there are people who enslave girls as sex slaves. This is too much for my heart to handle. I don’t want to know this existed nor that things like this still exists.



We drove to a nearby outdoor restaurant that was on the beach. The place was beautiful yet a tropical storm was brewing.  I didn’t feel like eating and then someone said, ‘Dean, didn’t you want to jump into the ocean?’ And …Oh yes I did!  I immediately ran down to the sand, kicked off my shoes, and ran into the ocean. My feet were in the Atlantic Ocean!  More specifically the Gulf of Guinea. The sand was more course than at home and appeared as if there were bits of glass sparkling in the sand that had been made smooth through the years of washing back and forth over the sand and through the waves. And as I began to go a bit father out on the slippery rocks while the waves became more wild, people called me back in.  I was just about to jump to the next rock…bare footed of course.  What were they so worried about?  Strong undercurrent they said.  I didn’t see any strong undercurrent.  Just a few crashing waves and I’ve been in tons of those before.  As I walked back on the sand the bolstering clouds broke free and released a downpour. I stood on the sand, in the warm rain, letting it wash the yuck I was carrying with me from the castle and taking it back out to sea.


The Ride Home

We had a long ride home in the tropical storm. Traffic was bad, the roads even worse. The team (we are calling ourselves the Ghana Nine, more about us tomorrow) sang songs, played games like the Ellen DeGeneres iPhone app game (I’m sure you know the one), and spent time sleeping or just in silence.  I reflected on the day.  …I have heard it said that God often breaks before He blesses.  I remember the story of how Jesus took 5 loves and broke them and it then multiplied and fed 5000; that a seed must die first before the new plant or tree births, a muscle only grows if it is first torn, that adversity often creates extraordinary jumps in invention, we only appreciate the warmth after the cold… You get the picture. Even broken pieces of glass thrown into the ocean and washed over and over again with the sand and salt water become smooth beautiful jewels over time.  But what about the black slaves?  Or the Jews in the holocaust, or the Indians that the white man stole their land and introduced them to disease or the Japanese that were imprisoned during WW2, or the young girls who are currently being used and discarded?  How do these broken people get multiplied, how do their broken pieces of their lives become sparkling jewels? I can only hope that one day, as they walk around in Heaven, they sparkle with beauty for all eternity.


Thought for the Day

In Ghana people say, “you are invited.” Which means, “Please join me.” And yet it holds a deeper meaning. “Please join me and let’s talk about life, I want to be your friend and hear about you, I want to care about you, let’s laugh and smile together, and I would very much like you to be part of my family.” …would be a more accurate meaning.  The Ghanaian’s have much to be depressed about, their dollar (cedi) is dropping very fast as compared the value of the US dollar, this area was the epicenter of the transatlantic slave trade (it hasn’t even been 100 years yet since slavery has been abolished), most of the roads are dirt, part of Ghana is in the heaviest of diseased areas in Africa, the heat & humidity, high unemployment, etc; and yet the people smile and love to laugh.  They are the first to give a complement and build each other up. “God will bless us or He is good to us,” they often say.  Recently there was oil found off the coast of Ghana.  It was a find that could mean billions of economic growth for Ghana in the range equal to what pours into Dubai. I have my doubts that the money will ever hit the shores of Ghana but that is the American in me talking.  The Ghanaian would say, “If God so wishes …it will come true. That we have life and know Him is more blessing that we could ever imagine. I am simply blessed enough knowing God said to me, …I am invited.”



Day Three: Sunday

   Posted by: Dean White   in Ghana


  • Pastor Abraham’s Church

Purpose: Teach and connect to the needs of this church

Tomorrow: Heading to a Black Slaves Museum of Tolerance

Highlights from today:

  • Color
  • Latter Rain Church
  • Light


Quote of the Day: “The beauty of Ghana is in its people.”


Ghanaians, as with most of Africans, love color.  It is in their clothing, on their cars and in the brightness of their personalities.  The countryside is filled with unfished buildings, dirt roads, and depravity. Yet on Sunday, you see people dressed to the nines. They walk through the dirt roads, pass forgotten construction, and around the filth, with hope gleam in their eyes dressed in the brightest of colors that are only dim compared to the smiles on their faces.  They are friendly people with joy in their hearts and friendship in their embrace. The canvas of their lives against the dirt and often forgotten roads is one of beauty and colorful art. In the US, we have so much and often feel as if we don’t have enough. Here they have much less but act as if they have much to be thankful. It begs to wonder, if we didn’t have the backdrop of Hollywood flash to compare our lives with, would we be more thankful?


Latter Rain Church (Not associated with Latter-Day Saints)

One of the main purposes of this trip was to partner with a center of influence in this area of Accra. To find an organization or a church who already loves this community and then support them to help their community.  To come in to an area and act like the US is here to help is arrogant. Our goal was to find a local person who wants to help flourish the economical and spiritual lives of others and let them be the heroes. Yesterday we met Pastor Abraham and his family. I gave his sons a beach football and Abraham’s family joined us for dinner last night.  He and his wife serve a very large community where there are slums, witch camps, and many widows.  He started caring for this community in 2003 and since then has been effective in closing witch camps (more on this in a future blog post), providing food and resources to widows, providing hope in the slums and helping the community at large with teaching & practical life assistance. He and his wife Joanna are truly amazing people.


We were guests in Pastor Abraham’s church today. I wish you could have been there to hear them sing!  We were all dancing in the isles! To say that the worship team brought the roof down would have been an understatement. At one moment, I swear there was a conga line!  I was offered the opportunity to speak. I spoke on being light to others. That light gives warmth, takes away fear, brings peace and is attractive. Even the smallest light can push darkness away. And that light lives in each of us. And is the perfect answer to a cold, scared, and lost world. I then had everyone point to their neighbor and say, “You are light.” Then I had everyone stand up and say boldly, “I am Light” as I repeated “Yes, yes you are.”  I referenced Matthew 5:14. It was a charismatic moment in this African church of 200+ people. Abraham has been teaching his congregation that they are all called to help others. The night before at dinner he asked if I could speak on a topic that would continue and align with what he has been teaching. If more people helped others in the community, the community would be changed that much faster. After the service, he gave me a huge compliment and with a huge boisterous hug told me it was the perfect message.   I am feeling humbled and thankful.

Thought for the Day

So many thoughts are running through my mind today; I feel as if I am on an emotional roller coaster. At one hand, I see the depravity; on the other hand, I see bright colors and joy. The light and the dark. Poor and the rich. The haves and the have nots. At one point today (mind you it is like 100 degrees here and the humidity is around 85%) we drove past a golf course. I first said, who in their right mind would be playing golf right now (I saw at least 5 people playing). Then, like a 2×4 to the head, I thought …a golf course? To the right were slums and to my left an 18 hole course.  The dichotomies in Ghana are many. There are wealthy here and there are those who are extremely poor. The middle class is small. The highs and low of emotions are beginning to be a bit much and tomorrow I head to a museum of tolerance to see and be impacted of what it was like to be a black slave. Yet I end today with a thankful heart, visualizing over and over again the joy in Pastor Abraham’s eyes. He is the light on a hill for those in this community. Helping him help others will be our goal. For light, when fed with the right fuel can become a beckon of hope, healing and love for miles and miles and miles.



Day Two: Saturday

   Posted by: Dean White   in Ghana


  • Ponderosa Inn

Purpose: Rest & Preparation

Tomorrow: Teaching at a church and hanging around town

Highlights from today:

  • Sleep
  • The Ponderosa & Wilson
  • Christy the seamstress

Quote of the Day: “In Ghana …the weather is hot and the food even hotter!”



After yesterday’s travel and finally getting to bed around 3am. I slept in till 11:30am. I would have even slept longer but the rest of the team were already up.  I am very fortunate to have my own room. All others on the team are sharing a room.  The team, for the most part, hung out at the Ponderosa and relaxed.  We did some prep for tomorrow, but the focus was rest and I am excited to say I took full advantage of it.


The Ponderosa

We are staying at a wonderful B&B.  This was a huge surprise to me since I was prepared to sleep under a mosquito net and wake up to small critters scurrying off when the lights turned on.  I have an air-conditioned room with a small fridge full of bottled water and my own bathroom.  I feel very spoiled. The Ponderosa has a pool, a nice eating room, and a balcony that overlooks the city. Wilson is the owner of the establishment and has been our wonderful host. He has arranged our daily transportation, has a team to prepare our meals, and has built a beautiful B&B here in Kwabenya (near Accra, Ghana).


Fitting In

So one of my big highlights today was meeting Christy the seamstress. This week we have a few meetings with some key people in Ghana (the mayor is one of them) and it will be important that we dress appropriately.  For me, that meant I needed a Ghanaian shirt or male dress.  Wilson arranged for a seamstress to come to the Ponderosa and meet with the team to take measurements and for us to choose fabrics.  She happened to come with a few shirts already made which worked out perfect for me since two of them fit perfectly!  All the Ghanaian women kept saying, “Ohhh look you soooo nice!”  I also teach tomorrow at a church in front of about 200 people and to have a shirt ready for me was …a miracle. It will take the rest of the team a few days before Christy can finish their clothes.


Thought for the Day

So often there are blessings and gifts given to us and we might overlook: the gift of a beautiful sunset, the joy we are given to laugh with a friend, the opportunities that await us simply because where we were born in the US. Before my journey began on this trip, a friend told me to be open to all the ‘gifts’ that will be coming to me; gifts that require nothing on my part. Two days in a row this has come true. Yesterday, after a long flight, we went to a nice restaurant in downtown Accra. The place was super swanky. As I was walking upstairs the chef was walking down. I complemented him on the restaurant. He said, “Let me show you around.” He gave me a tour of the most amazing place. An open-air patio with walls created by ferns, a speak easy bar with a secret door that opened up to a 2nd floor cat-walk and a one-of-a-kind wine cellar, to a private Hollywood style circular room whose windows opened up to the room below, to the ‘this is the place to be’ disco-tech, and eventually to the main floor and a private room for our party of 11. A few minutes later the waiter came to me and said the chef would like to provide our appetizers. Now these were not chips & salsa. No, no, no. We are talking Top Chef Richard Blais type of appetizers. Later that night I was given the gift of the Ponderosa & my private a/c room; and then today, to receive two shirts that are already made and fit for me. I am in awe and feel extremely thankful.  I came here to serve and I feel abundantly blessed



Day One: Made it to Ghana

   Posted by: Dean White   in Ghana


Made it!

What occurred:

On this first day of adventure:

LAX to Amsterdam 10 hours + Amsterdam to Accra, Ghana 7 hours.  Flight 17 hours

Travel to and from airports, check-in, security, customs, finding the shuttle in Ghana = 8 hours

Total of 25 hours of travel.  Little sleep, I think a total of 90 mins.

It is now 2am here.  And I am finally crawling into bed after 32 hours of this journey.

I will post pics and add more commentary tomorrow.  I am still unsure about the amount of time I will have internet access.

First impressions:  People are genuinely nice & friendly; and it is very humid and hot. Even at 2am in my room.

Today’s Quote: “without great risk … no one can see the world through the eyes of another.  True in love and all adventures worth living.”

Tomorrow’s Goals:  Rest and prep for Sunday

Below is a photo of our team.



Heading to Ghana

   Posted by: Dean White   in Ghana

Here we go again!  This time Ghana, Africa.

Which meant getting a lot of shots!  I am looking forward to a few weeks of rest from my 1st world problems and seeing life from a new perspective.  I will try to blog every day so you can join me on this trip, meet the Ghanians, feel their joy and discover who you are in the midst of another culture.  Thank you in advance for being part of my journey.



Day Four ~ Last Day

   Posted by: Dean White   in Ecuador


  • Escuela Enrique Ponce (Elementary School)
  • Shopping!
  • A Great Dinner

Purpose:  Travel to an ‘unreached’ community and enjoy our last day.

Tomorrow:  Heading home

Highlights from today:

  • A Forgotten Village
  • Some Misc Interesting Facts on Ecuador
  • Working in the Jungle  …hopefully my next stop!

Quote of the Day: “What about the poor children? Can’t we do something for them?” said by an impoverished boy who got a box and had compassion for others who have even less.

Today as we jumped on the bus and started heading out to our first destination, we were halted by a school parade.  The children were dressed up in all sorts of costumes and the band played in sync.  I think they were celebrating a children’s author, like we do with Dr. Seuss in the states but I am not positive.  You will love the photos below.

Forgotten no more!

Samaritan’s Purse will be sending 100,000 shoe boxes of love to Ecuador this year.  8.2 million boxes globally.  These shoe boxes are part of a yearly program where churches and organizations throughout the world collect boxes in November and December. 5.2 million come from the US and 3 million from other countries.  Some people just go to the website and send their box directly into Samaritan’s Purse.  This week our team had the privilege to hand out about 740 of these shoe boxes to children.  In some cases, the free shoe box is the open door to a closed off community.  There are those who want to help closed communities but often people are not trusting and are either ashamed of their community or the main person of the community doesn’t want to lose the power they have over the community.  In remote villages, this person is a witch doctor or shaman.  In rural Ecuador this person can be an older man or woman that the community sees as the wise one.

Today we were able to go into one of these forgotten communities.  A nearby pastor has wanted to bring in aid and it was the gift of the shoe boxes working through the school that opened the door.  The school put on a program (with clowns again …didn’t realize clowns and gift giving are synonymous here) and the pastor spoke about how he and his friends want to come in and help provide for this community.  The village looked like it had been a thriving small city at one time and now the dust blows through there like it is a ghost town.  The parents leave the area for work daily, and leave their children with the school.  Therefore, the school actually educates about 200 children.  We met only a few parents and there was no one in the streets.  Even the ‘wise woman’ could not be found today.  The school, though at one time had all the working plumbing, did not have running water.  There was a large container that gets filled with water and connects to the water fountain.

A good portion of the kids had on some simple jump suits …maybe they were uniforms of the school.  I am sure those who can buy their kids this uniform do so and many others are not able.  In some schools a uniform is mandatory.  If the parents can afford a uniform then the child gets free education, lunch, and child care.  This school welcomed all children in the area with or without a uniform.  Though I didn’t get to go up the river, into the jungle and dodge spears in order to bring in shoe boxes (I would have jumped at the opportunity to do so and hope to one day), it was extremely rewarding to know that our team got to be part of the solution for this hurting community.  And that this town will now have outside help from a pastor who has prayed for many years for them. He will work on providing food, water, health care, job training and the good news of Jesus.

Fun Facts

I have some miscellaneous facts that I wanted to toss in about Ecuador and this trip.  For one, I can now say that I have not only jumped from a plane from over 12k feet (I went sky diving some years ago), I have also jumped from bus from over 10k feet!  Quito has about 14 active volcanoes in its surrounding area.  I was able to see one of them from the hotel today.  There is a photo below.  Guinea Pig is a delicacy here.  I saw a picture of some people eating one on a stick.  Can’t say I had the chance to do the same but the picture of the guinea on a stick and someone biting in was …alarming.  Roses are everywhere.  You can buy a dozen for about $2.00.  They grow them in this area and they are a key export. We needed to call information to help a lost old man and found out that you must know the person’s two last names in order to get info.  It is custom to put popcorn and corn nuts in your ceviche (a Mexican dish where lime juice actually cooks the raw fish). They use American currency since the year 2000.  A village may not have electricity or running water but they will have a church or a school. Very few adult children live on their own.  For this reason even colleges do not have dormitories.  The seat belt law requires the driver to wear a seat belt …but you are allowed as many people in the car you can fit!  See pics below.

Dinner & the Jungle

After our stop to the ghost town and a long drive back, we went shopping in Quito.  I love the whole bartering for the sale system.  If you have never gone to Mexico and bartered for something you are missing out.  They expect you to barter and in fact, really respect you if you are good at it.  I know enough Spanish to help others and I had a blast going back and forth talking the sale down from $28 to $15.  But it was here that the shoe shine boy spotted me.  He swore he recognized me from a TV show and when he asked where I was from and hearing California, it was just enough to confirm his suspicions.

We then headed back to the hotel and for our evening programs.  We met up with the other teams and shared our adventures. There were so many amazing stories.  For instance, a lady who put a box together with her kids back in November and sent it into Samaritan’s Purse, saw it pop up on this trip, in her distribution! What are the odds?! There was the kid who got the box full of dinosaurs and wondered, ‘what in the heck are these?’ and the volunteer that just happened to be in that distribution, whose son wants to be a paleontologist and happens to know every name of every dinosaur. And then there was my favorite.  A little boy who came from a very impoverished area got a shoe box.  Feeling the sense that he now has more than others, said to his mom, “But what about the poor children, how can we help them.”  How is it that those with nothing often are the most generous?

We had a wonderful dinner at the hotel and heard how Samaritan’s Purse is partnering up with Mission Aviation Fellowship to reach villages that are deep within the jungle.  They showed pictures and the ‘grandfather’ of one of the village spoke about his encounter with the ‘white man’ for the first time many years ago.  He spoke how his people knew there had to be a God but really didn’t think much about it.  But now they know God and His Son who died for their sins. There are a few movies about this story, one is called “at the end of the spear” the other is “through the gates of splendor.”  I got a picture with ‘grandfather’ and will be posting it as soon as they send it to me.   This is the Jim Elliott story for those who have heard.  Grandfather spoke in his native tribal language and through an interpreter he said, “You may not have a feather in your hat but God wants to give you a mansion in Heaven.  His way is full of life and full of blessings.  To be free from the penalty of sin is the greatest gift of all.”

Thought for the day:

Where is your contribution?  Where do you see your greatest thumb print on this life?  What will you be remembered for?  These words are a constant battle for me.  For some, their greatest contribution in this life will be their children, for some it will be their work and for others it will be how they gave a little so others could have much.  A simple box of love.  Giving just a little so others can have much.  That is what Samaritan’s Purse is all about.  People from all around the globe giving a little time to run to the dollar store, filling a shoe box with toys, school supplies, prayer, and love, just so a child can feel they have won the lottery.  8.2 million children will be blessed this year.  Many will find more than just toys and school supplies in their box …many will find salvation and a reason for life.


Thank you to all of  those who made this trip possible for me: Samaritan’s Purse & Steve Rutenbar for getting me on the trip;  those who financially supported me: Jane Lamar, my wife Kerri, sisters Debra and Dori, Pat Campbell, Helen Lind, Stephanie Koontz and Cheryl Moranville;  and for the countless people who have prayed for this trip and have read my blog.  I have appreciated your comments, thoughts and …tears. In many ways we have traveled this week together, sharing the same heart for these children, wanting more for them as we look deeper within ourselves.

¡Hasta pronto, Te extrañare!



Day Three

   Posted by: Dean White   in Ecuador


  • Escuela Tumbaco (Elementary School)
  • Igelsia Buen Pastor  (Good Shepherd Church)
  • Hotel Meeting

Purpose: To pass out shoe boxes and learn more about Samaritan’s Purse.

Tomorrow: Heading to a tough area to pass out boxes and shopping!

Highlights from today:

  • It’s Christmas …like never before
  • The Purple Team Unite
  • A Free House?  What?

Quote of the Day: “We sure had fun today!” said by a little boy after everyone opened their gifts.

What brings you the most joy?  For me is to know that what I did made someone smile.  It just fills me more than anything. Today I saw hundreds of little children and their parents smile so much their mouths had to hurt.  Needless to say, my joy is overflowing!

Christmas in March…why not?!

Today we headed East of Quito. Our first stop today was at a school for nursery age up to 3rd grade (2 – 8 yrs old).  The school was founded by a lady named Patty who had a heart to educate the kids in this area and give them a chance that their parents may not have had.  The school began in 2004 with 10 kids and today the school has 167 students. The school was organized, clean, and well thought out. You could easily tell that the teachers put their entire hearts into the education and love it. Today, Patty was dressed up like a clown and put on an ensemble for the kids.  Her energy would put most kindergartners to waste.  The kids played games, sang songs, saw a skit put on by the teachers, and there was even these two little boys who sang and rocked out.  I am hoping to upload the video.  To see the boy on the left rocking and ‘Jesus’ in the background playing the guitar was …awesome! (the video file  was too large for the blog… bummer,will have to YouTube it later).

From the school we went out to a rural area.  They warned us that this stop would be much harder with the hardest stop being tomorrow.  It is in this rural area men work for $2 a day if they can find work.  When they do find work they could be gone from home for many days.  Then they come home, drink and …beat their kids.  Today I saw many children with cigarette burns on the top of their hands and up their arms.  The church is the only refuge the children have in this area.  Here they are fed, loved, and safe.

And today they felt like kings and queens!  I had so much fun playing with the kids.  They all wanted to be hugged, tickled and they soaked in every ounce of attention our team could pour out.  When we passed out the gifts, it was almost like they didn’t know how to receive it.  For many, this was the only Christmas gift they may have received.  I went around and sat down next to many just so they, one by one, could show me what they got.  Often they would ask me in Spanish, what is this?  I then would show and tell them how play dough works, or show them how to make their glow in the dark bracelet work.  So many of the toys just amazed them.  One girl got a bag of ring pops.  I told her they were very popular in the US and she put one on and smiled from ear to ear.

But no one smiled more than this little boy who got a little white lamb in his box.  He ran all around showing everyone the lamb he got!  I swear it practically brought you to tears.  Two little boys were saying in Spanish, “We sure had a lot of Fun today!”  Wish I could give Christmas gifts out every day of my life!

My Team

The purple team consists of 12 people.  10 from the US and two interpreters. Of the ten, 2 won the trip in a contest (Paula & Kim), 2 are from large churches (Anita & Linda),  2 work for a large retailer that supports Samaritan’s Purse (Cindy & Bob) and 3 work for Samaritan’s Purse in Boone, NC (Ross, Becky & Stacey).  If you just counted don’t forget to add me in the mix.  The two interpreters are Mariela and Jose.  Jose has become a great friend.  He says people call him the Robin Williams of Quito because he resembles him so much.  I have been happy that the team has worked so well together.  We truly have been there for each other in so many ways.  Especially when you give your heart out many times a day and you are exhausted because of the altitude and little sleep, it is important to have the right team around you.  And I do.

I have to tell you a bit more about Jose.  His mother just passed last week.  In fact he buried her on Monday and joined our trip on Tuesday.  On Saturday and Sunday last week, all his family came over to his house.  And, as it is custom in Ecuador, the family parties all night long with no sleep for two days.  It is like business as usual in the day but as soon as the sun goes down it is time to celebrate the person’s life that has passed.  On Tuesday morning when I met Jose, he had a smile and joy in him that beamed.  His mother lived a good, long life but he was rejoicing since she was now in Heaven.  He is the type of person who has joy at the core of his soul and can’t help but let it overflow onto others.  He fills my ears with story after story and facts upon facts on Quito.  I will miss my time with him.

Samaritan’s Purse

When we got back to the hotel in the evening, we met up with all the other teams that are out here.  The 7 teams and 50 people filled a conference room and got to hear all the amazing things Samaritan’s Purse is doing in Ecuador.  They include: feeding programs, disaster relief, HIV Aids treatment, building playgrounds at orphanages, developing schools, wheelchairs, refugee help for those escaping Columbia, emergency response to Boliva, Haiti, Turks & Cacaos, medical caravans that have helped over 80K people, and a surgical clinic to help people with back and feet deformities be able to walk and live normal lives.   But the story that will stick out most in my mind was a lady who was gifted a free house from Samaritan’s Purse.

A few years ago, a volcano erupted and wiped out hundreds of homes.  The combination of fire and ash completely engulfed a huge area leaving many families without anything.  Samaritan’s Purse responded quickly.  In addition to disaster relief they normally provide through churches and schools, they started building homes.  They built and gave 102 homes away.  Not only were the homes free but a volunteer attorney went to work and was able to get the government give each home owner the deed to the home.  Most deeds are owned by the government out here. The government was so impressed with Samaritan’s Purse that they then started to build homes on the same plot of land modeling the homes after the ones SP built.

Well one of the people who got a free home gave her testimony today.  With tears in her eyes she thanked Samaritan’s Purse and all those who give to the organization.  She told us, through an interpreter, how she felt so desolate and scared after the volcano took her home away.  She didn’t know where go to.  Her and her children were hopeless.   But today she has a 3 bedroom home and each of her kids have their own room.  And …she owns the home!  In addition, Samaritan’s Purse taught her how to sew and sell scarfs; now she has a little business that provides for her family.

Thought for the day:

One of the gals in our group told me of a story where she went up in the hills of Jamaica to deliver shoe boxes.  She thought, ‘Jamaica …this will be a simple trip.’  Little did she know that the trip would take her up mountains and little roads to the most remote area she could ever imagine.  She told me the little children came to a little school, barefooted in old clothes.  One school for the 25 kids and one teacher to teach them all.  After they gave out the shoe boxes, the teacher grabbed her by the arms and looked straight into her eyes and said, “You don’t understand …no one comes up here …no one ever comes to help us.”   She responded, “Until now.”

I got a gift today
It made me smile
The only gift
I will get for awhile
I will keep the wrapping
And the shoe box too
Share the candy with my friends
And always wonder who
Who gave me this gift?
Was it a girl or a boy?
How can I say thank you to them?
I wish they could see my joy.



Day Two

   Posted by: Dean White   in Ecuador


  • Driving to the southern part of Quito
  • La Victoria School
  • Dulce Regufio Church

Purpose: To understand the culture of Ecuador, work on a school and pass out shoe boxes to children.

Tomorrow: Going to another school and a church to distribute more shoe boxes!

Highlights from today:

  • Catching a glimpse of Quito, Ecuador
  • Working in my element
  • Gifts, gifts and more gifts

Quote of the Day: “Quito es el balcon del Ceilo.” Quito is Heaven’s Balcony.”

Throughout the day I am writing down notes so I won’t miss anything to comment on in my blog.  Yet each day is filled with many emotions, dozens of stories and hundreds of faces.  How does a painter choose what colors to add to his pallet? How do I capture the thrill and the joy and leave room for the touching? By the time I sit down to write and edit pictures, it is about 11pm my time, which is 8pm in California.  I wish I could just transport everyone here … it would be worth it.

Driving through Quito

Quito is what I would describe as Ecuador’s Grand Canyon.  Picture the Grand Canyon, then slam it together so you have many steep mountains right next to each other.  Add deep forest green all around and pour a bucket of housing in the valleys.  Ok … now for the interesting part, …add housing that looks like different bright colored Legos up and down the sides of the slopes of the mountains, now stack those Legos 4 stories high.  Colors you should choose are orange, purple, yellow, red and green.  All bright.  Draw a few windy roads through the valleys so you can get from point to point.  And there you have it, Quito.

They natives call Quito, Heaven’s Balcony because it is surrounded by mountains.  When driving you can’t help but look out and up to see the many eye catching mountain tops.  But you have to look quickly; the view will be blocked by another mountain before you turn the bend.  There is a huge stature of the Virgin Mary stepping on a dragon on one summit and a huge Roman Catholic Cathedral on another.  Then you blink and you are looking at an active volcano with steam coming from its top wondering if that is a cloud.

Our driver took to the twisty roads as if he was the designer of the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland.  Quito is also filled with ½ built buildings.  I think this is typical of Mexico in general and 2nd & 3rd world countries.  Though they say the recession of 1986 really put Quito in hardship and left many things undone.  All buildings are built with cement bricks.  Most are not painted but when they are, they are bright.

Some facts:

  • You are 2 pounds lighter in Ecuador.
  • Quito is 45 mins away from the equator.
  • Time actually last longer here … just kidding.
  • 3 million people live in Quito.
  • They natives say the city is female because the weather is moody.  It may start out beautiful but can change at a moment and begin to rain for no reason.  I don’t think the ladies on my group appreciated hearing that.

La Victoria

La Victoria is a school in southern Quito and provides education to approximately 400 children in the nearby area.  Southern Quito is semi-rural.  In fact, most people still grow corn on their property.   It is hear that many families live on less than $200 a month and some even live on less than $2.00 a day. When they figure a lunch is about 2 bucks, you can see how poverty has truly struck over 38% of the inhabitants.

La Victoria is a project where two churches and Samaritan’s Purse have come together and are building a 4 story school (3/4th finished!) to aid this community.  Our job was to paint, install ceiling tiles and fix some electricity.  We also got a few minutes with the ninos in between classes.  One person in our group said, “Wow, even though I don’t speak a lick of Spanish, all I did was sit down and all the kids came around me and wanted to play…one even gave me a cookie from her snack.”  Children here are truly wonderful.  They share, appreciate the smallest thing, and just want to spend time with you.

My job that I quickly agreed to, was to climb the scaffolding and paint the middle portion of the building.  I took to this like a clean pig takes to warm mud.  One, I love heights and two, I love a little danger.  This scaffolding was on a slope, supported by misc pieces of odd cut brick to ‘even it out’ and then you got to walk on planks that wobbled when you shifted your weight at all.  Needless to say I had a blast scaring everyone.

Magic and Gifts

After leaving La Victoria we drove to the ‘Dulce Regufio’  which I found out translates to ‘Sweet Shelter Church’ … that made a bit more sense.  But before we got there we stopped for a bit to eat in the bus alongside of a community street.  A public school had just let out and a number of children were walking past our bus shouting and waving.  Four stopped and started asking me a few questions from my window.  I decided to pull out some magic from my backpack and did a little impromptu magic show… still in my seat, just hung out the window a bit.  Before you knew it there were around 50 kids watching!

We arrived about a half hour later at the two story church …bright orange of course.  Upstairs we went with approximately 250 shoe boxes.  We originally planned for only 180 kids but word got out and the children came from everywhere.  The small room was packed to the max.  Comfortably you could sit about 140 people, today there were well over 300!  We had to be in that little room for about 3 hours.  The humidity level was so high I think I saw water droplets begin to appear on the ceiling.  We sang songs with the kids, some were chosen to go on stage and compete in a few games, I did some magic, the pastor gave a message to the kids and their families, and just when you thought the first victim would pass out, we began giving out the shoe boxes.  All the kids had to wait to open them …they were so good and patient, until each child had one and then all at once they opened their gifts!

The boxes were filled with all sorts of gifts.  I saw silly puddy, slinkies, a telescope, crayons, dolls, candy, and everything else one could imagine.  The children and their parents were so extremely appreciative.  Afterwards, a man gave a hug to one of the volunteers. The pastor noticed it and told the volunteer that to receive a hug from that man is extremely rare and better than any words he could have expressed.

Thought for the day:

It is amazing to see the value of a gift.  One that nothing is expected in return.  To give a gift like that fills ones heart.  I know, it is just a simple shoe box.  The contents are not worth all that much.  Yet the right gift in the right hand reaps fortunes we could never imagine.  A kind word, a little bit more patience, a smile, a card, a hug and yes, even a shoe box, may just mean all the difference in a person’s life today.