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  PART 1
Sorry we have not been in touch. We planned to regularly update on the events of our trip, but after the first email we sent on August 3rd, the available internet did not allow us enough access to send out any more large group emails from the facilities in Ghana.
Many praises to our God! We have arrived home safely and we have many blessings to report. This was one of the most diversified trips we have been on, so the ministry opportunities varied from day to day.
Our first email highlighted the amazing experiences of ministering at the Mephibosheth Training Center (MTC) for handicapped children. On Thursday, August 2, we were able to join our team mates and actually participate in VBS activities for these children. We sang, presented the gospel and shared lots of hugs and love to the precious students.  Before they left for their summer break on the 3rd, Debbie and I trained their parents (some were Muslim)  in biblical principles for parenting. The gospel was interwoven through all of the teaching.
That night, the VBS team had a meeting to plan logistics for the different settings where they would need to set up. Debbie and I gleaned as much about the culture as we could from our Ghana coordinators Pastor Joe and his wife Andrea. This alerted us to specific topics that would be helpful to address. They explained our schedule and the groups we would be teaching. When Pastor Joe and Andrea left to take care of their responsibilities, we moved to the front porch to catch a breeze while we adjusted our plans for the week. We could hear a child sobbing and wailing. This was the
first and only time we heard any of the handicapped children cry or complain. In the three days we had been there, we would walk by them bent over a huge stainless steel pot washing dishes or scrubbing clothes. Their hands were bent and deformed, but they would always have a huge smile and would be working diligently. We would see them stumble or slide out of a wheel chair, but no tears or complaints. Most of the handicapped students had left for summer break earlier that day, but we noticed one little boy dressed in the MTC uniform sitting all alone on the curb at the edge of the play area. We sat on the curb beside him, put our arms around him and tried to communicate to find out if he was hurt. His name was Prince. He wouldn't tell us what was wrong. He had a pair of sunglasses he had gotten from VBS. He kept turning them over and over in his hands. A group of young boys from the village were playing nearby. As soon as they saw white people, they gathered all around us. They told us the boy's name was Prince. He was crying because his mother had failed come to pick him up. He continued to wail in the deep pain of someone who was forsaken. This was heartbreaking for us. We prayed with him, asking the Lord to help his mother make her way to pick him up. The workers called him for supper and he hobbled off on his club foot. We did not see him anymore that night, but he was on our minds continually.
The next day (4th), we were walking back from breakfast, we saw Prince, hobbling toward us, all dressed up in new clothes. No wailing. He was grinning from ear to ear with that bright Ghana smile. He was still holding on to his sunglasses. His mom lived five hours away and had to work on Friday. The school expected her to arrive that day. We felt a surge of hope, but still were a bit hesitant in the back of our minds. We were praising God by the end of the day because when we returned from our scheduled ministry activities, Prince was nowhere to be found.
We left to travel with the VBS team to Village church. Since we were a team we participated in the opening assembly for the children. This was certainly out of our comfort zone, but we are grateful for that experience because the Lord used their theme, "Shine," all week in our ministry also. When the children separated according to age groups for their classes, we separated with the parents to train them in biblical parenting principles. There was a good number of parents who attended. This is significant because they had never experienced any program like this before. However, unexpectedly, a large group of teens attended the parenting session. There were no VBS classes for their age level. Most of the parents were single moms. When we returned Sunday afternoon, August 5th, we adjusted our teaching from a second lesson on parenting to a session on purity instead.
In all of our sessions except the very last one on the day before we returned to the US, a translator conveyed the messages to the audiences. Sometimes, it was difficult to discern whether our teaching was impacting the ones who attended. During the session on purity, some of the VBS workers who did not teach classes, sat among the teens who attended. They were great team members because they encouraged us with their observations that the teens were attentive, challenged and considering the truths that were presented. At the  conclusion of the purity service, we announced that we would give a bracelet or neck tie to any single (teen or adult) who would look us in the eye and commit to a life of purity from that point forward. Obviously, we have no control whether the singles will follow through on their commitments, but God's instruction was clearly presented in a way they had never heard before. We trust His Word will not return void.  
On Monday (6th), the team traveled to Apam. The VBS workers ministered to 2000 children in an outdoor setting with little shade. Their numbers increased every day. We understand the need for all their meetings to strategize crowd control. They did an amazing job.  
While they taught the children, we met with the local pastors and wives for training in marriage on Monday and Tuesday morning. At first, we were disappointed at the attendance, and again wondered if we were making any sense. Our translator, Godfrey, was very enthusiastic and seemed to grasp and enjoy the teaching. At the end of the morning, the floor was opened for questions. We could tell by the questions that the pastors sincerely wanted to grasp and apply the material. They repeatedly expressed appreciation for the sessions. On Tuesday (7th) the word had spread and attendance increased. We passed out What is Marriage? and Time for Three books to everyone. Later that week, one of the pastor's wives told Pastor Joe, "I got really mad with my husband and started to react the normal way I do, then I remembered what we were taught at the marriage seminar and I had to stop myself and do what Sam taught."
The team traveled back to MTC for an afternoon VBS with 3-400 children from the local village there. Sam joined the girls on the puppet team a couple of afternoons before he came in to prepare for the evening sessions in churches. The girls said that his puppet's mouth didn't open a lot, but it really had a lot of action. This was a fun break for Sam and the girls enjoyed having him on the team.  
The Monday evening session began with lively worship which led into the session on purity. Attendance was very good. Godfrey translated and the reaction of the crowd showed us they were intently listening. We told them that worship, no matter how vibrant was worthless if it did not include obedience. The passage on Joseph's life taught not just that extramarital and premarital sex was wrong, but how to resist it. We concluded the service with a challenge to maintain lives of purity from that day forward. Each person who was willing to verbally commit face to face with us was given a ring that glowed in the dark. The lights were shut off and about 50 singles could see how their purity could be a light shining in darkness. Please pray that these young people will be diligent to stand by their commitment to the Lord in a culture that promotes promiscuity.
We leave on Friday to take a few days of vacation and minister at a church in Utah. After we return home on August 27th, we will send out Part 2 of how God blessed in Ghana.    
ALL for His Glory,
Sam & Debbie Wood

Here are some additional pictures and a few videos that you might enjoy:

        VBS Leader and my good friend               Bill Hegedus

Loving on some children at MTC

This little boy decided top wear the new underwear the VBS team gave him on his head.

This little girl at MTC was so excited when Debbie painted her fingernails

Apam is a fishing village where they catch and smoke fish to sell at the market

Washing dishes the old way

Kids overwhelm me as they are so excited to get their picture taken.

These huge termite mounds were everywhere_

Women carrying items on their head was normal to see in the market and on the streets.

Many children carried assorted goods to sell on their head.

Joyful Ghana Child at MTC
A little girl performs as a part of welcoming the ministry team to Ghana..

Purity Ceremony
Purity Ceremony

VBS Puppet Song
VBS Puppet Song

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Family Fortress Ministries
PO Box 1505, Jamestown, TN 38556

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Family Fortress Ministries
PO Box 1505
Jamestown, TN 38556