Sep 29, 2013

Rest in Peace

This weekend was tough. Saturday was a hard day to get through. I was in shock, I cried a few times and I prayed throughout the day. I prayed for Renee and her entire family, I prayed for Renee's safe return home. 

Early Saturday, Kwame and Renee called from Kissemah to inform me that Renee's Dad, Steve Farwell died unexpectedly in Goose Lake, Iowa on Friday. 

Renee spent most of the day in Kissemah, many residents of the village, students, teachers, parents, caretakers of the children, all came to the Mawuvio's school office to offer Renee their condolences. Steve and Barb had visited Kissemah twice since 2011 and everyone has fond memories of them. 

Renee was able to get a flight out of Accra on Saturday night and should be  home by late Sunday.  She called me in between her flights, she was eager to be home with her Mom, Barbara and her sister, Ellen and the rest of her immediate and extended family and friends. Funeral services for Mr. Farwell will be this week in Goose Lake.  

I had the great fortune of meeting Barbara and Steve Farwell at their home in Goose Lake, in July of 2011, the very first time I met Renee. I wanted to meet them before going to Ghana and they invited me to their home in Iowa. 

I was welcomed like an old family friend. I was immediately comfortable, it was like I had known the Farwell's all my life.  We had a wonderful time, I remember sitting out on their deck overlooking the most beautiful corn fields, it was quiet, we all enjoyed a cold beer and DJ their beautiful Lab, entertained us as he went into the fields and came out with a cob in his mouth, he was having a blast.  

We went to dinner on Saturday night, I stayed at their home in Goose Lake. Sunday we visited for a few hours, I got to meet Renee's sister, Ellen,  and then Steve and Barb and Renee took me back to the airport mid afternoon. Last year the Farwell's came to Atlanta for a weekend and we spent a full day doing the CNN, Coca Cola and Aquarium visits.  Both times I was with the Farwell's I felt like I was a long time family friend, something about the Iowa connection. My Mom was from rural Iowa, with the Farwell's I've always felt like I am close to home. 

Ever since I met Renee, I've always told her that she has amazing parents.  They've been extremely supportive of Renee's and Kwame's dream of educating the children in Kissemah. Renee's parents both visited Kissemah in the early days, when MOP was getting started.  

They both visited Kissemah last December, Steve actually came to Ghana as a surprise.  Everyone was excited to see both of Renee's parents in the village.  Barb and Steve where there when a significant portion of the new school was painted, they put in several long days in Ayikumah, bringing the school to life with a proper colors. 

Mr. Farwell was easy going, he always had a big smile, I am so glad I got to meet him.  I am deeply saddened for Renee and her family, their friends,  Steve's co-workers and all the people in his life.  

I know there are heavy hearts across two continents, both in Iowa and in Kissemah Village, in Accra. 

Mr. Farwell rest in peace.