Watch for the write-up of my most recent trip to Budburburam Refugee Camp in November, 2004. I stayed in the camp and worked with 25 schools, did a 2 day workshop for 90 teachers and pastors from 12 schools and 12 churches as well as some other interested people. I gave out about 5,000 strings and taught that many people the figures and stories that went with them. Conditions were physically challenging for me but very rewarding. Sometime, ask me about my meal of cucumbers.

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This trip to Africa started about 13 years ago. There are some very powerful and beautiful Bible stories that were told in the local idiom. I wanted to go to Liberia in West Africa to collect some of those stories as well as the sounds and voices of the people. But the country was in civil war and has been ever since.

I had a chance to go to Ghana, West Africa with four other people on a Mission trip and decided to take it. After I signed up for the trip, I discovered it was not in Accra, the capital, but rather 25 miles west in a refugee camp. This refugee camp is for Liberian refugees, 40,000 of them, 8,000 of which are children. God said, "If you canít get to Liberia, Iíll bring the Liberians to you."

I was scheduled to go August 5, 2004 but the US Department of Transportation shut down




Ghana Air as unsafe and we had to reschedule for a later date. It cut our trip short but I was able to work with many people and also able to make contacts to return in November for an extended time of three or four weeks.

40,000 people in a 450-acre area means that they are crowded together in a helter-skelter of very small cement block dwellings. Cooking and washing are done outside. Water has to be carried from tanks where it is sold by the bucket full. About half the time there is a strong presence of Ghanaian soldiers reminding the people not to get too settled, because
they do not want them there. Teachers, nurses, merchants, and farmers all grouped together with nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no means of earning money. Many do not know where their children, parents, brothers or sisters are, and yet they are a very upbeat and positive people. They hope to return to their country next year after free elections are held.

When I pulled out my string, they knew a number of the figures from Fou-Fou Stick, Eyes and Nose, Two Diamonds, to A Fish Net, plus three or four other tricks. They knew a couple of figures that I had only read about as well as a couple of new tricks that have never been recorded. Young and old alike

loved the chance to learn some new ones and to show what they already knew.

A thousand strings went pretty fast while walking through the camp. I would stop where two or three people were gathered cooking, washing dishes or clothes, playing carom, or just talking. They were so pleased to have some diversion and to show me what they knew. They kept finding me and saying, "Teach me the Knots or Loops or Sunset" or asking me, "May I have a string for my brother?"

It was an awesome experience at the camp and also with the Ghanaian people in the areas where we traveled. As I said, I am returning in November with another six or seven thousand strings to work in the schools at the camp. The schools are almost all run by churches and have no materials or books. They copy off the board and memorize. What a shame for such bright kids. Can you tell that I really connected with them?