Lisa Swinney

What a blessing it has been to see how the village of Mamakrom has changed over the last four years. It is hard to believe it is even the same village with the same kids.

Watching the video footage from 2006, the kids have no joy on their faces and no hope in their eyes. Just returning from Mamakrom in July 2010, EVERY single kid had joy written all over their face and hope in their eyes. All of which has developed from the ESI Foundation.

It has been such an amazing journey being an ESI sponsor. I love knowing where my money is going and exactly how it is being spent. Seeing the new school building first hand was a great experience. The new school, new bathroom, new school uniforms, water well, mosquito nets are just a minor start of what ESI has done for the village of Mamakrom.

I loved meeting the school teachers that are currently teaching at Mamakrom. Watching their love for those kids was priceless. ESI has teachers working in the school that have a true passion to teach the kids. They are caring, loving, and enthusiastic about teaching these kids. Being in attendance the day of the ribbon cutting for Mamakrom Primary School was amazing.

Hearing the elders of the village thanking the ESI foundation for what they have done was truly touching. The elders are so appreciative and I truly believe they are so excited for these kids and the generations to come, to have the resources that were not available to them growing up. They all want the best for their kids and their village and have been truly moved by the efforts of the ESI Foundation. One of the older school girls spoke at the ribbon cutting and was thanking ESI for all of the blessings that have been given to them. She made a promise from all the school kids to the foundation. She said “We will continue our part in taking good care of the school and attending class so that the ESI Foundation will continue to provide us with the resources to be able to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, presidents and engineers.” I had tears in my eyes.

Just knowing that I am a sponsor, and knowing that my small donation makes a difference and is contributing to these kids one day making something of themselves was so touching!

Another thing that stuck with me was one of the school teachers said, “We want to thank all of the sponsors for donating their money that they could have used to buy something for themselves; but instead donated to help Mamakrom.” I thought to myself, “Wow, my small amount each month makes a HUGE impact for these people.” I was so blessed being in attendance that day. I wish every sponsor could have been there and felt the emotions that we all felt that day.

I encourage everyone to consider being an ESI sponsor. It is so rewarding to see first hand how your monthly donation is changing Ghana one village at a time. I have no doubt that the children in attendance at Mamkrom Primary School are going to grow up and make something big of themselves. The ESI Foundation has given that hope to these children. In 2006, they didn’t dream of having such opportunities, but because of ALL the sponsors being obedient to God, the kids of Mamkrom now have a hope and a future ahead of them.

Glory be to God!

– Lisa Swinney

Kennedy Acquah – from Ghana

About five years ago, I was part of a small group of believers who embarked on a church planting exercise in Otoase in the Suhum Kraboa Coaltar District of the Eastern Region. I happen to be part of the Methodist Church team whilst there was a Presbyterian team that was stationed at Mamakrom.

I was fortunate to be paired long Mrs. Linda Simpson who later became my mom. We had a wonderful time together as a team in sharing the gospel to all those folks in the village.  On the third day of the exercise, something dramatic happened, the pursuance of which has brought us all to knowing this foundation – ESI.

Listen to this. My partner on the field of mission informed me that she wants to be part of the Medical mission in Mamakrom after that of Otoase. In sharing the Samaritan Purse, she was so enthused with the movement of the school children and being a lover of kids, she decided to go and see how things will play out in the other village. Obviously she heard a whisper and was bent of SEEING what she HEARD.

Little did we all know that her obedience on that fateful Wednesday morning was going to give birth to this GREAT vision? I wasn’t there with her but when I saw the video of that mission, I knew they had problems and they needed someone to stand in the gap for them. They had challenges and had lost all hope. I believe that for years, they have lifted up their eyes to their political leaders but in vain. With lost hopes in their water facility, educational infrastructure and other social amenities, it was time for them to receive help from God Himself.

When Linda called and told me of the idea for a Foundation (ESI) to help bring hope to the village of Mamakrom, I knew it was very DIVINE and the events of the past years attest to that. It is unbelievable and difficult to explain but for the fact that I have been there when it all happened, I know it is true. God has done it and you can’t imagine the hope and joy around that small community. Our brothers and sisters in the village can now boast of two additional bore holes, a five classroom block to mention but a few. Best of all is the growing knowledge of Jesus Christ and His love in these children. God, I thank you for ESI.

I want to say without doubt that, God had Mamakrom planned out and was waiting for a willing and ready to go heart. When Linda obeyed and went God saw her heart and gave her that burden. I am happy to be a part of this God-given Vision. ESI has brought hope to the hopeless in the village and I know that God has just began and He who has began this good work in Mamakrom will finish it in Jesus Christ.

You too can be a part and make a difference in someone’s life. Have you asked yourself, “what if you give all you have? What will that gift do? Your childlike gift like that could change the world. It could feed a multitude. If you have not heard God whisper, keep your ears open and be attentive. God bless you that you obeyed.

-Kennedy Acquah, Ghana

Jennifer Colella

In 2009, my dear friend, Jan Foster, went to Ghana, Africa for the first time as part of a mission trip. Upon her return, she shared her experiences, along with pictures, and her excitement about the mission trip with me. She encouraged me to look into going the next year because it “changed her life”. Mission work is something that has always been on my heart, but I had never pursued it. I was inspired by Jan’s stories and her work in Ghana.

2009 also happens to be the year that I was at my lowest point in my life. Depression has been an on-going struggle for me and in 2009, it was consuming me. I felt that my life had no purpose, no meaning, and I was (barely) living in a very dark world in a deep state of depression. I was having a difficult time breaking those chains that kept me from living a life of joy, peace, and abundance. There were many contributing factors that led me to this state, and I could no longer fight them. I was completely broken and, honestly, I wanted my life to end. During this difficult year, I started pursuing God again. In a state of desperation, it was the only thing I knew to do and it was the only thing for which I had enough strength. He was drawing me near and, even though I was a “Christian” my entire life, it wasn’t until then that I truly began to know Christ, who He is, and what He did. My story is not an overnight success. It has taken years for me to learn to trust, love, and rely solely on Him. During this time of relentless pursuit of God, my life began to transform and, while it hasn’t been easy, I continue to travel the road that He has set before me. There is so much freedom in that. Also, during this transformation, God began opening doors for me and one of those doors was the opportunity to travel to Ghana in 2012 with my dear friend, Jan, along with the ESI Foundation, on a mission trip.
I really had no idea what to expect. I only knew of Jan’s stories and pictures. I had attended a benefit for the ESI Foundation earlier that year and was even more inspired to go. Feeling that I was finally on the right path, I was hoping to serve, give back, and love on the people in Ghana. Little did I know that my life would change so drastically and I would be forever impacted by this trip.

Our mission team left on July 20, 2012 to Accra, Ghana. I traveled with 6 other team members including the founders of the ESI Foundation, Rusty & Linda Simpson, board members Jan Foster (friend) and Barbara Graves, Rusty & Linda’s daughter-in-law Natalie Simpson, and my close friend, Janet Dempsey. While we encountered some difficulty with our flights, we all arrived in Accra safely and ready to start our mission. I’ve known Rusty and Linda for many years as I went to high school with their oldest son, but I had no idea of the work they were doing in Ghana. I was absolutely blown away with their efforts in a small village about an hour outside of Accra called Mamakrom. The ESI Foundation and its sponsors have funded an entire school for this village and sponsor the children within it. What was once a two-room mud hut that served as a school for 50 children and 2 teachers, is now a preschool, elementary school, junior high school, library, science lab, computer lab, Headmaster office, teachers’ barracks, outdoor latrines for both children and teachers, and two wells that supply water for the entire village. Due to the efforts of Rusty, Linda, and the ESI Foundation, there are now over 300 children that regularly attend the Mamakrom Village School and 15 teachers that are providing for their education.
In a poverty-stricken village, I have never seen such joy in my life. When we arrived the first day, the children were amazing. Their excitement upon our arrival was something I will never forget. The entire school had lined up in two rows and all of the children were singing and dancing their little hearts out as we walked through. At some point, someone started playing drums and it was a celebration unlike any I’ve ever been a part of. I don’t know how long it lasted, but we danced and celebrated with these children that I didn’t even know.

Rusty & Linda Simpson, Barbara Graves, and Jan Foster already knew most of the children from their years of work and love prior to this trip. I was immediately loved, accepted, and appreciated by the children, the teachers, and all of the people in this village. The children wanted to be held, touch our faces and our hair, hold our hands, sit in our laps, and just be loved. And they were. We spent the rest of the week with them in Vacation Bible School. We worshipped in song and dance, prayed, and had an entire curriculum of Jesus-loving games, activities, and learning tools. The children loved it. The teachers loved it. I loved it! The village was so appreciative. My heart has never felt so full. Up to that point in my life, I truly had never seen or experienced such joy!

Linda Simpson led the school in song, praise, and worship at the beginning and end of each day. I will never forget the sound of 300 children singing in unison “All God’s children singing Glory, Glory, Hallelujah, HE reigns! HE REIGNS!”

I have never in my life been part of such a noble, special, loving, and reaching mission. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my love for Christ along with the children and people of Mamakrom village. I am in awe of our Lord and the work He is doing in the village of Mamakrom through Rusty, Linda, Barbara, Jan, Natalie and the entire ESI Foundation. I am blessed to be a part of it.

-Jennifer Colella

Reid Barker

When I sit back and reflect on the life of Christ, my thoughts always take me to Jesus’ last instructions to His disciples. Mark 16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” If this command was meant just for those 11 men, whom Jesus had invested so much time and guidance, then the spread of the good news would have eventually died out with them. The realization then must be that Christ is talking to every believer, and talking to me personally. I cannot begin to explain the joy and excitement that I have to be able to fulfill the calling God has placed on my heart to go to Ghana, Africa and the village of Mamakrom to spread the gospel. I must first admit that when I really sit back and think about this opportunity, I am greatly humbled that God could use me to further HIS kingdom. But, that is truly the beauty of our faith. God consistently, throughout history, uses the seemingly ordinary to do extraordinary things. I am a 25 year old, teacher/ coach, who by my standards would be considered still a spiritual amateur. All that God needs is someone who is willing and able, and he will do the rest.

One of the things that makes me most excited about this mission to Mamakrom is the opportunity to meet mine and Lisa’s sponsor kids. Linda and Rusty Simpson, and the entire ESI Foundation do a great job keeping us updated on where our sponsor money is going each month, and how it is benefiting the village. Those updates, as great as they are, I know will in no way compete with wrapping my arms around Nathaniel and Betty for the first time. To be able to spend time with them dancing, and singing praises will undoubtedly be a small glimpse of Heaven. I look forward to being around these kids and seeing their passion for school, learning, and God. Being able to talk to my classes in Frisco about my experiences and the education/ schools in Ghana will be inspiring.

I catch myself focusing on how God might use me to help the “least of these,” in Mamakrom and then the reality that I (the American, living in luxury compared to Ghanaians) may be the “true” least of these in this situation. I feel that God will use these people, who have little outside their love for Christ and their faith, to open my eyes to the true beauty of this life. I am praying that God would use every MOMENT of this trip to challenge me spiritually, and make me stand in awe of Him and His creation. Every Soul is Important. I am just blessed, and honored to be a small part in growing His kingdom.

-Reid Barker