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I am sitting in my living room in cold, windy Connecticut, counting the days until I will be returning to Ghana... 70 days exactly. This will be my sixth trip in less than four years. I just can’t get enough of the absolutely beautiful, funny, loving, mischievous, needy, heart-melting kids at the Good Shepherd Orphanage. They are on my mind everyday, and I am lucky enough to receive regular e-mails from them. Yesterday’s email was a “friendly reminder” that dear sweet Enoch will be having a birthday on December 10th (is he turning 12? 11? so hard to keep track...). The email was sent by Enoch’s brother who also makes sure that I get a reminder when HIS birthday is approaching. I must remember to send him an e-mail and take a belated present when I go over in February.

I am eagerly anticipating telling the children about our new non-profit that is devoted to helping all of them get the education that they need, and deserve, in order to have a better future. Over the years these kids have shown me such great appreciation and love for the ways that I have helped them, but somehow this latest news will be the most exciting for me to bring... to be able to tell them that we are really committed to getting them educated through at least high school, maybe even university. What poor child living in an orphanage in Ghana would EVER believe that this could be possible for them?

I know exactly how they will respond... I’ve seen it so many times before: First they will screech, jump up and down, hug each other, hug me, and repeatedly say, “Oh Mother Lisa, you are such a good mother”, “God bless you so much”, “God bless the donors”, “God has answered our prayers”. Then over the next couple of days they will slip numerous handwritten thank you notes into my hands, each one of them thanking me, blessing me, blessing my family and blessing all of the generous people who have donated money to help them. The letters will be meticulously written and intricately folded, like little origami thank you notes. Is it really so surprising that I can’t get enough of these children???

If only all of the gifts that we give this holiday season could be as life-altering as the gifts we will be giving the kids in Ghana... the gift of education... the gift of a hopeful future. And if only the gifts that we give could all be received with the amazing, overwhelming appreciation that the kids in Ghana will express so beautifully through their songs, prayers, hugs, dances and heartfelt words of thanks. Their capacity to give and receive love are truly awesome.

70 days... and counting...

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