Shelby Dunlap's Archive

6 Commentsby   |  07.22.11  |  Accra, Ghana

Well, tonight is the night that I will sit in my room, look at all my pictures from the summer and make sure I have everything packed up. I cant believe it is Friday the 22nd. It really does feel like yesterday that we finally made it to the Ghana airport and saw the big AKWABA (welcome) sign above the door. This summer was a blast and I am so thankful I got to spend it here with these kids again in this beautiful country. This time around I got to see alot more than last year. I was able to visit lake volta and actually feel the water with my hand as we were rowed across. How many hands i’ve held that has grown up in that water made it so weird yet gratifying to be there. In my mind I’ve always had such a negative conotation with the words ‘lake volta’. After being there, though it is a beautiful lake surrounded by lush moutains, the conotation was still there. Every child I saw on the shore line when we made it to the other side, which were many, just made me hope for them, that they weren’t being treated as badly as some of the stories I have heard from the kids here.

Also another highlight from this summer was going back to Nkwatia. Yes I honestly was dreading going up there again but when we got there and the teachers remembered me by name as well as some of the kids really made it worth it. Many of the kids ran up to me and stared for a second and said, ‘Ah! I remember your face, very familiar! Then they brought me into the computer room and pointed to a picture on the wall. A picture of Brittany, Laci, and myself as well as all the teachers. I don’t want to say I made an impact on any one there or here for that matter, but just hearing them remember who I was even though I was there for only 2 weeks last year made it really special. I feel like all in all, this summer was a little bit better than last. The homecoming I recieved when I got here I will never forget. Kids stopping their football game to run and give me a hug will forever be one of my closest memories. True Happiness. You know I let the kids just use whatever I bring, i.e my iphone, camera, video camera, etc. The other night I was looking through all my videos and ended up watching one from the first week. A boy whom I got close with last year, had my video camera and was just filming random things. I didn’t hear it the first time I watched it because the volume is not really loud on my camera, but when I put it on my computer I heard what Edmond was saying while filming. He was giving a ‘tour’ of a certain part of the village when he starts to tell his story. He said I thank the Lord for the Village of Hope, my mother died when I was 2…then towards the end he said I want to thank Shelby’s mother and Shelby’s father for letting her come here. God bless Shelby’s family. So to my family, even though you are not here, you are making an impact on these kids. Hopefully someday soon you will finally be able to meet the kids I talk about all the time!

*Very little is needed to make a happy life. It is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.*
-Marcus Aurelius
That quote stuck out to me very much yesterday when we went to the Liberian Refugee Camp. It was like a whole other world from the Village of Hope. There are guards at the front that only let you in if they know you or you are with someone they know. You walk in and it’s just like any other small town. Very runned down, houses made from scrap metal, kids running all over the place. We went and looked at the school those guys we met are helping start. In the front of the school there were alot of kids just hanging out doing nothing. Then they started a football game, and they used an empty bottle as the ball. They were still playing hard and having the time of their life from the expressions on their faces. They made something out of nothing…Little things bring them joy, if only more people thought that way. As we were walking through we found out that this place used to be the definition of a refugee camp. Everyone had tents as houses and now it looks like any other town. They made something out of nothing.

Last night I was in Joy Barnett House, suprise suprise, and I was watcing ma Victoria cook jolloff rice. I was talking to Vida about how its getting closer for me to go and I hope I don’t cry like last year. She said I wouldn’t, Lebene said I probably would haha. Anyways she said one is greater than zero. Lebene just looked real confused and told her to stop talking because she isnt making sense, and Vida snapped back with a ‘yes it does you just don’t understand!’ She continued telling me that one is better than zero…and I said im not following you. She said what if you had never came here last year. You would have never met any of us…one is better than zero. You coming one time is better than never coming at all. I’ve always wondered how the kids respond to people only coming once and for just 2 weeks, that kind of answered my question. Everyday I am thankful for these kids and they are a living testimony to what God can do. They have gone through SLAVERY, through beatings, some have seen people not come up after diving down into the water, and yet they are here making an impact on me. Yesterday when we were driving to the refugee camp, someone asked Chelsea about her tattoo on her foot and what it ment. It was some tree, im not sure what kind but it is mentioned in the Bible in, I think, Isaiah. Anyways God had it as a symbol that he is there to help those in need. And she said she got it as a reminder to her to be a symbol of Gods love to the needy, the poor, and the depressed. I thought that was amazing. Tonight we are having her going away party. She knows there is something going on for her but doesnt know any details. It is going to be alot of fun, and really sad because she has been here for 2 years. She said this time saying goodbye is going to be the most difficult.

OH! the president deal…almost forgot to tell yall about it. Well he didnt come…so after the kids and pretty much everyone here at the village got EVERYTHING ready, signs got painted, flags got hung, he couldn’t come and had all these other important people come in his place. LAME. I did get to see some cool tribal dances and what not but yeah. After the program I was hanging out with Raul and funniest thing ever. All the kids had to dress nice so he was wearing dress pants and a white shirt and the big ole dock martin type boots. I was chasing him around and the way he ran made it obvious those shoes were heavy. It was SO funny I wish I had gotten it on film. I finally caught him and he laughted and screamed so loud people turned around. haha I had to make him be quiet but at the same time I couldn’t help but laugh. Oh im going to miss that kid.

But I think this is going to be my last post in Ghana! I hope for who ever has been reading this you have enjoyed it. Today’s was pretty long but I just had so much to say :] haha. Anyways I am really excited to be home and see everyone. see you all in 2 days!

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another; for he who loves his fellow man has fullfilled the law… and whatever other comandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ”Love your neighbor as yourself” Love does no harm to it’s neighbor. Therefore love is the fullfillment of the law.
-Romans 13:9-10

Oh Happy Day..

49 Commentsby   |  07.03.11  |  Accra, Ghana

WE ARE BACK AT THE VILLAGE OF HOPE!!!!

Oh it is the best feeling ever being back here. We got back last night at around 7:00 and was welcomed the best way ever. First off, the drive here was absolutely awful. I think we went a different way or over the past 3 weeks more pot holes were made. I don’t ever get car sick but I almost asked our driver to pull over 3 times. He would speed up by pass cars than slam on the breaks to try and avoid random pot holes. It was terrible…I guarantee at one point he was pushing 95 and then swerved to the right to not hit something. Needless to say when i saw the gate to the village I was more happy to be here than ever before!
Before I get to our homecoming here, I just want to give y’all a little story about the driving here. When we were driving to lake Volta, we went in a big old greyhound type bus. Now were trekin along and then bam, or driver slams on the breaks but doesnt stop…just keeps going and we all hit the seat in front of us but eh its Ghana. I am sitting in the back of the bus next to a window and right after the break check, I see, and I am not exaggerating, a sheep flying through the air with its legs up facing me. He lands on his back and rolls down the hill…and thats when we found out why we break checked. haha Also almost saw someone run over a dog in that same outing. If your not watching where your going you WILL be hit or run over…whether you are human or animal.

OKAY so we have been here for 4 weeks so far, insane. The first day we got here was absolutely heart warming, but last night was almost better. We got in at night so it was getting dark and the kids were inside eating so no one saw us drive in. Well I started my walk up to the different houses and kids literally ran and jumped on me giving me hugs and yelling my name. I almost fell over twice. I think alot of them completely forgot we were coming back that how suprised/excited they were when they saw me. Lebene was the best one though…I was walking down the road toward his house and I could see him sitting on the steps but I didnt think he could see me cause it was dark and he was under a light. Somehow he did and he came running full speed, i had to move out of the way or i guarantee you id of been on the ground. But he gave me the best hug ever. Oh words really cant describe the love i have for some of these kids. They all expressed how much they missed us and some had said they’d been counting down the days till the 30th :]
Leaving Nkwatia was bitter sweet, as much as i was ready to get back here, i held back some tears. I went and gave my favorite boy godfren a hug buy and then we were saying bye to the teachers and the ones that remembered me from last year held my hand a little longer and said some sweet things. And Richmond made it clear that if we dont see each other again on this earthly world, we will be seeing each other again in Heaven. That was super sweet.

3 weeks left in Ghana. It blows my mind but I wouldn’t honestly want to be anywhere else than where i am right now. Ive already been asked what day im coming back next year and if it could be in January. Haha. They want me to come twice a year and stay long, so in other words I just need to make the VOH my current residence.

Well just wanted to let everyone know we are doing good and we are all healthy. Well I take that back, Michelle and Zach have a sore throat and hopefully it doesnt turn into anything. I am the only one who hasnt been any kinds of sick! Thank you Jesus.

Thanks for the prayers and thoughts…they are working :]

God is good, all the time
Lovetoall

new adventures

10 Commentsby   |  06.28.11  |  Accra, Ghana

well yesterday was the day we made it to Lake Volta. It was a day full of craziness. We had to get up at 5am because our bus was coming to pick us up at 5:30, and there was a huge storm the night before so the thunder and lightning kept most of us up, so needless to say, 5 came real early yesterday. We drove into town to catch another big bus. While waiting we met 3 guys from Newcastle England – Josh, Ed, and Doug. They are spending 8 weeks here doing something with their university…it kind of sounded like study abroad but they are medical students and one of the classes they take is to go somewhere and work with a hospital in their host country. We spent pretty much all our traveling talking to them.
The bus to the lake took about an hour and a half from where we are staying. When we got off the bus we were all standing in around in a circle just talking to each other when i noticed the crazy lady.
[[Okay now for those of your pirates of the Caribbean fans, think back to the second movie i think? well the part when they get in that tiny boat and go through a swamp type place and meet the crazy voodoo lady with dreads.]] OKAY she lives in Ghana. haha. While we were standing there talking i see her coming up to us, and no one else saw her because their backs were turned. She was giving me the death stare and moving her hands around in a weird way witch like way while talking to herself in twi so sadly i couldnt understand her. By the time she was a few feet behind us i told everyone to not freak out or turn around at the same time, but there is a crazy lady behind yall. Haha and of course they all turn around at the same time. She went a little nuts saying things and moving her hands around us like she was casting a spell upon us. We referred to her as calypso for the rest of the day. At one point, how she did this i have no idea. She ended up right behind me. It scared me so bad because i wasn’t expecting her to be there.

Anyways that was fun. We then got on a ferry to cross the Lake. For those of yall who havent heard of Lake Volta, it is the largest man made lake in the world as well as the home to many children who have been sold into modern day slavery and made to be fisherman. Many of the kids from the village of hope have been rescued off of this lake. We saw many fishing boats out on the water when we crossed. Kind of surreal. When we made it to the other side we drove a good 2 hours into town and walked around there for awhile. Went to the local hospital, radio station and school. When we were done we rode a tro tro (which is a taxi van that crams well over 25 people into it) back to the lake. Instead of waiting for the ferry to get back, we took an actual fishing boat to cross the lake. Being on an actual fishing boat on the Volta lake was crazy. I just thought of all the kids that have to be out there everyday. When we made it to the other side we were greeted by all these young boys helping us get out of the boat.When we got out we walked through mud houses and everyone said hello. This country may have the most hospitable people, i love it.

We finally made it home at around 6 and we went to bed not too long after that haha. The experience was awesome and i am so grateful we had the opportunity to go see it first hand. If you have never heard of this place, go to touch a life foundation website and watch the video about lake volta in their videos. Def eye opening!

We go back to the village of hope on thursday!!! I am SOOO excited to go back and be with those kids but i am going to miss the kids here as well. It will be bitter sweet for sure.

I hope everyone back home is happy and healthy. Everyone here is doing just fine and enjoying Africa.

God recieved a new angel

8 Commentsby   |  06.25.11  |  Accra, Ghana

So around this time last year, we were here in nkwatia and Brittany Hunt got the news that one of her grandparents had passed away. I dont know what the deal is with being here, but today we got the news that one of the drivers at the Village of Hope passed away. His name was Michael and one of my favorite adults here. I really got to know him last year on our numerous trips here and there. The second Sunday we were in Ghana this summer, he came up behind me, tapped me on the shoulder and when i turned around he had the biggest smile on his face. I screamed and gave him a big hug and he said its so good to have you back here. Though I only knew him for a short time in my life, he is going to be missed. He leaves behind a wife and kids. He was up here last week dropping some things off and i was outside talking to him and he said he wasnt feeling good. Never in a million years thought that goodbye was going to be the last.
I hope that his family and everyone at the village of hope knows hes with our father and is in no more pain. I pray that his family feels God’s arms around them in this time of sorrow. Anytime id run into Michael he’d always ask how i was doing and hoped i was well.
Michael – ‘Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
-Philemon 1:7
I just want everyone to cherish the life they have. Whether they are going through a tough time or are having the time of your life, you can never say i love you enough….to the ones who mean the most to you.

So to my family and friends, i love you to the moon and back. You each have played a certain part in my life who have made me the way i am today.

4 Commentsby   |  06.16.11  |  Accra, Ghana

hey yall!
we made it safely to nkwatia! the weather is perfect here. nice and cool…complete opposite from home i hear! When we got here today some of the kids remembered me from last year! that was a nice surprise. They have a trip planned for us next weekend to go see lake volta, which is the lake many of the kids at the village of hope have been rescued off of. it will for sure be an eye opening experience that i am so excited to endure!

How many times in the bible has God made something out of nothing?
Many of us have the idea that God uses our strengths to do his work. I absolutely believe that is true, but what about your weaknessess? God can use our strengths and abilities to glorify him but he also uses our nothingness. I think when you put your self completely out of your comfort zone and begin doing something your not comforable doing, God’s power and light will be most evident. It will be more proof that it is indeed God’s power being used instead of your own….God uses broken imperfect people to bring light to the darkest of dark. I just pray everyone remembers that though we are gifted with many strengths, our weaknesses are just as much an outlet to show God’s people his unbelievable power.

Hope that makes sense! hah

Love to all.

3 Commentsby   |  06.04.11  |  Uncategorized

We have been here three days now, but I am starting from the beggining!

Day one was an absolute success! when I was walking up to the school, I passed the soccer fields and kids stop playing…which is crazy…screamed my name and ran up to me with open arms…talk about an amazing homecoming. Im just beyond happy to be back here, words cant describe it. I spent all day up at the school saying hi to everyone and just helping out in different classrooms. I went and saw shine, and the smile on his face when he saw me just pretty much made my whole trip. He ran out of his class and just held on to me for a good 10min. Ohhhh Im quite positive trips to here are going to become a usual thing…so yall just get ready for me to be gone alot the next few years.
Tonight I brought my computer over to one of the houses for a movie night, just like last year. They all remebered and were beyond excited, we watched Matilda. Alot of kids from other houses came over and we all cramed around the table to watch the small screen. Shine sat in my lap the whole time and fell asleep towards the end. OH and get this haha..so Lebene, my favorite, apparently wrote my name down in his phone as ‘Shelby, my only love’ and some of the kids saw it so they have been trying to embaress him when he’s with me…which is all the time. haha oh well.

BED TIME! I would get more sentimental, but someone is waiting to use the computer, so until next time….

Love to all back home!
Shelby

A walk in my shoes…

7 Commentsby   |  05.31.11  |  Accra, Ghana

woohooo! We leave tomorrow and I can’t hold in my excitement. Some of the kids have been calling me NON stop this past week asking which day I am coming back and that they are going to wait for me to arrive :] talk about a good feeling! Well I am mostly using my blog I started last year while in Ghana, so feel free to check that out as well. >>

www.shelbyannadunlapwww.blogspot.com

anyways I am so blessed to be given this opportunity to continue building a relationship with the people who have already touched my heart. I know that the minute I left the amazing country of Ghana a year ago, God was already preparing them for my return! God Bless each one of yall that will be out going to different places around the world.

Just remember,

‘This was not something we chose. It is something God put in our path. Wherever He leads, we will follow’
-John Thomas