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Our last week-end at AshesiGhana Goodbye

Dear <<First Name>> - Greetings from sunny Colorado Springs!  We are at Mission Training International for their Debrief and Renewal (DAR) intensive program for returning missionaries.  Some sort of debriefing is a requirement of our sending agency, TMS-Global, and DAR is a good fit for us. DAR is helping us reflect on those 54 months in Ghana, to gain perspective on the future, and process the transition between them, all with a cohort of like-minded individuals, couples, and families who are in similar transitions. 

In this edition of PrayerMatters, we each write about our experiences of Ghana Good-bye.  Then we reflect on what is next and where we are in the transition.  Thank you for your continued support as we discern our next step in joining Jesus in His Mission. 

Peace,
Steve & Suzanne

Saying Good-bye (by Suzanne)

Suzanne and her good friend and "birthday twin" Casper. 
Many of you know that Ashesi has been part of me since my time there as a Fulbrighter from 2006-2008. So, it was no small thing to say goodbye to both the place and the people. As in all things, however, God laid in place many unseen plans that made my departure smooth, and which I can fully appreciate in hindsight.
First of all, I had been in conversation with a US-based Ghanaian scholar and academic, Angela, for almost two years. She was considering a move back to Ghana and potentially to Ashesi. As it turned out, she was ready to come just as I was announcing my departure. So, my replacement was assured.
His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo grants Presidential Charter to Ashesi College.
Second, as you know we had been anticipating the Presidential Charter for the university for some time. It was finally announced that it would officially granted by the President of the Republic of Ghana himself at Ashesi’s graduation on June 23. So, in my last official act as Provost of Ashesi, I had the pleasure of sharing the graduation stage with His Excellency Akufo-Addo as he presented Ashesi’s Presidential Charter to Ashesi’s president Patrick Awuah. It was a very joyous occasion and an excellent official bookend to my time at Ashesi.
Suzanne awards Cameroonian student Vladamire his degree.
My graduation reading was from Ecclesiastes 3:1-12, the quintessential reflection on transitions: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens … A time to plant and a time to uproot ... What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time … I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.”
Tearful good-byesOur last unofficial event in Ghana was a party! Steve and I decided to throw ourselves a going-away party in Accra the evening of graduation and the evening before our departure. While it was a bit of a whirlwind getting packed and cleared out of Ashesi while also getting to our party in town, we are so glad we did! We had guests from our various circles (or Steve would say “buckets”) of life in Ghana: some friends from our time 10-12 years ago, some friends from church in Accra, some Ashesi friends, and some other friends. All in all about 100 people came to wish us bon voyage and to celebrate with us a time well-spent at Ashesi and in Ghana.

We are still in contact with many friends and students from Ghana and Ashesi, and will follow the Ashesi story and our friends and ex-students’ lives into the future. But as Steve talks about in his reflection below, I feel very blessed and honored to have served Ashesi for the season in which I did, and feel equally blessed to be released and am looking forward to whatever God has next for us.

Released from Ghana

If you spend much time in missionary circles, you’ll hear talk about this phenomenon of being released. Generally, it comes in response to a question like “Why are you still here, (in a difficult situation)?” the answer being “We’ve not yet been released,” meaning God has not lifted their call or responsibility to a particular mission field.   “I have fought the good fight,” the apostle Paul wrote late in his ministry, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” and to me, it seems the apostle had been released (2 Timothy 4:7).  
Steve and his good friend Nana Sackie, a sub-chief from the village.
“But how will you know if you’ve been released?” the next question comes, and the expected answer is, “Oh, you’ll know.”   You will just know.  Intellectually, I knew that when we announced we were Ghana Leave Ghana, but I couldn’t know we were truly released until we were.  The last time we left Ghana in 2008, after two years, we most definitely were not released.  If you knew us from that time, you know that all we talked about was Ghana and Ashesi University, and how we longed to return.   Leaving Ghana and Ashesi this time is different, and I believe it is because God has released us. 
Steve, Kofi, and Peter.  Kofi was my "fixer" and we helped Peter buy a Taxi.  
Our last month was hectic as we sought to complete our various ministries outside our University responsibilities, like making sure the tuition for the last set of high school students was paid (thank you to all who helped 35 students from the village of Berekuso attend high school).  The exciting news is that these high school scholarships will continue, but will be provided by the of Chief of the village.   There were personal loose ends like helping little Suzzy Phonecard enroll in seamstress school; arranging car handovers (driving our beloved SUV, Rhino, to Liberia and also a taxi we helped a Ghanaian friend finance); and saying our good good-byes to students, faculty, and friends from the village.  We were both sad and overwhelmed by their heartfelt thanks for our presence in their lives.
This team drove The Rhino SUV over 1000 miles from Ashesi to Liberia. 
Click on the photo to read the "Last Adventure" blogs
On Saturday, June 23, the University graduated 137 students, it’s largest graduation class to date. That evening we said good-bye to friends from our different circles. The next day, Sunday, we said good-bye to our lovely home church, Asbury-Dunwell Church, and then boarded a plane for Texas that night. 

It has been almost 90 days since we left Ghana, and with each passing day our gratitude for both the experience of serving in Ghana and at Ashesi, and at the same time having been released from it, grows.  It is truly a peace which surpasses all understanding.
ServingInGhana.org will soon be retired and we are looking for a new domain name.  ​
Email your suggestions for our new domain name. 

Where we are now and where are we going?

Steve looks over the Grand Canyon edge wondering what is next. 
Our sending agency, TMS-Global, provides 6 months of Home Leave at the end of a 5-year term for renewal and discernment. We see this phase as roughly consisting of three (overlapping) parts: rest and renewal, planning, and preparation. The last two-plus months have been mostly rest and renewal, especially with our new grandbaby Nelda and visiting many family members and some friends. We are currently on a 2+ month road trip around the US with an anchor point at Mission Training International in Colorado Springs for their “Debrief and Renewal” week. We’ll also visit the TMS-Global home office outside Atlanta in October. In between we are seeing all of our children and siblings and several of our nieces and nephews, and doing more estate necessities in Iowa and Connecticut.
Since we are not returning to Ashesi or Ghana, we are using this discernment time to seek our next vocational posting: here in the States, or overseas. While we do not yet have any single plan coming to fruition, we are looking along multiple paths and trusting that God will open the right doors.  As part of the planning stage of our leave, Steve is feeling led to pursue being a pastor at an International Church. Currently, there are more people living outside their home culture than ever before. The International Church is a way to minister to those living, working, and often serving in missional capacities outside their home culture. International Churches are English-speaking, sometimes in non-English speaking countries, and present a theology that is multi-cultural and not necessarily entrenched in the host country.  These churches allow those living and working far from home a less “locally anthropological” worship experience, and give them access to a pastor and community who understand the stresses and blessings of living far from home. International Churches often have local Christians as part of the community as well, typically those who either wish to learn or improve their English skills, or those who lived and worked in English-speaking countries in the past and who identify with a more diverse worshipping community. So far, he has had initial conversations or interviews with churches in Switzerland, Lebanon, and Vietnam. We will visit any that invite him to the next stage in a combined trip in late October to mid-December of this year and see what develops after that. Suzanne plans to follow Steve and seek her next vocation after re-locating. If none of those doors open, we’ll keep looking and praying; we may end up feeling called to stay in the States. 
Once we know where we’re going, we’ll start the preparation portion of our leave, which may include language learning or other training. We’ll keep you posted, and would appreciate your prayers for us during this time of discernment. We’ll be back in Texas Thanksgiving through Christmas to spend time with family and friends (unless an overseas interviewing trip develops). We are looking forward to baby Nelda’s first Christmas!
Baby Nelda and her Nana
Thank you for your continued support as we seek God’s will for this next major stage in our lives and in our calling to follow the path God lays before us.

Our Righteous Ride

We have been blessed by a “Righteous Ride” van, a 2001 Dodge Caravan that is ably taking us on our 2+ month road trip around the country, and will be ours to use through mid-January 2019. Righteous Rides is a ministry based in St. Louis that rents vans to missionaries on home leave for $10 to $13/day including insurance. They currently have over 100 vans on-lend to missionaries. Staffed largely by volunteers and made possible by generous donations, we are so thankful that they were able to honor our request for a van during our home assignment!

Supporting Steve & Suzanne

Learn - about our mission (now finished) was in Ghana ServingInGhana.org
Give - pledge your monthly support through TMS-Global
Pray – join our prayer team [click here].
Connect - send us an email Steve or Suzanne.
 

About Our Mission to Ghana

From 2014-2018 Suzanne and Steve lived on the Ashesi University Campus in Berekuso, Eastern Region, Ghana.  Suzanne served as Provost and Steve taught Leadership and tended to the spiritual needs of the campus community. 

They are on Home Assignment as they discern their next steps to where God is leading them.

Thanks for pledging your support
Copyright © 2018 TMS Global / ServingTheKingdom, All rights reserved.


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