“If I start having a seizure again, I want you to tell the stewardess I’m acting this way because I’m happy to go home. Whatever you do, please don’t let them take me off this plane!” Jeff told me as he swirled the two fingers of Scotch we both ordered before take off from the airport in Accra, Ghana. After my last blog, you might think I drink Scotch each time I go to Africa. I don’t. However, Scotch did play a minor part in these two stories.
Jeff Miller is my nephew and a year older me. His mother, Carmen, is my sister, but Jeff is more like my brother. We have a history; most of it is good.
It had been a rough trip to Ghana. Our first attempt- a few months earlier- had been aborted after two days worth of delays at JFK airport in New York. When we were finally ready to take off, the captain announced that we would not be stopping at Banjul because the flight crew had already been on the clock too long.
Although no punches were thrown, darn near the entire plane broke out in a fevered frenzy as people began shouting and cursing. We were stuck and couldn’t get off. I looked across the aisle at Jeff who pointed out the windows to the flashing red lights of the Boys in Blue- New York’s Finest- surrounding our plane in their cars. Once the police entered the plane, folks calmed down and the Captain informed us we were not flying to Ghana after all. He reasoned that taking irritable folks up to 37,000 feet and flying for the next twelve hours might would be tantamount to suicide. We agreed. Jeff and I jumped on the next flight back to Kansas.
Our second attempt to go to Ghana was successful and we were even treated to first class because we whined about the previous trip. I’m not above whining to get first class. We had taken two of our sons with us- they didn’t get first class and still won’t let us forget it.
We had a great trip until we were bouncing down a road between termite mounds so tall their peaks were listed by name on a topo map.
Jeff is, physically, one of the strongest, fittest, healthiest individuals I know. He’s owns his own brick masonry company and is in great demand because of his artisanship and excellence. So when the seizure hit him, it took us by such a surprise we almost had one, too.
We rushed him to a local hospital which didn’t come close to comparing to one of ours in America. It was a series of open concrete block buildings built in the 1940’s and hadn’t seen one bit of improvement in sixty years. A big sandwich board sign in the entry bore a photo of a child with cleft palate and ten reasons why you shouldn’t destroy or disown the child.
The doctors vacillated between giving Jeff Valium and calling the witchdoctor. Seriously. I voted for the witchdoctor remembering the time at Hobson’s Pond as teenagers when all the girls were there and Jeff, well, that’s a different story. However, I let bygones be bygones. But the boys were two votes to my one, so we just let Jeff come out of it on his own while a nurse waved a file folder across his face to give him air. Seriously.
As we were setting on the plane waiting for the personnel to load the last plastic bag of deep fried shrimp, which would later ooze out all over the luggage at JFK, Jeff swore he’d never come back.
Then he had a vision.
In his mind, he saw an orphanage along a beach near an area where we watched the fisherman drag in their boats.
Twelve years later, the Father’s House rescues boys from slavery. Jeff is a darn good brick mason but a reluctant fundraiser and even more reluctant at building an organization. I say these things with deep affection.
But he is unparalleled in casting a vision.
So his good friends, Matt and Tammy Garret, and his marvelous wife, Lori, came along side, and now orphaned boys are rescued from slavery, given a place to live, food to eat, an education, spiritual training, and, most of all men to show them how a real Dad behaves.
One man’s vision has fired the fuel of thousands who came along side to make the vision come true.
To read more, go here: The Father’s House, or check out their Facebook page.