There are so many occasions for misunderstandings and hurt feelings when many cultures come together to try to accomplish something. Tonight was a nice reminder of why we’re here. Togolese believers joined alongside our teammates to spend two hours praying and singing together with an emphasis on unity. There were probably 80 people that attended this Sunday evening session and it was very encouraging.
Today after our Saturday morning waffle breakfast I headed over to an installation service for the Cheif Canton. Togo is broke into 5 basic regions and in every region there are several préfectures (think regional governors), and under each préfecture there are many cantons. Mango is situated in the northern most region called the Région des Savanes. In our region there are 5 Préfectures and 69 cantons. Under the the canton are many villages with each village having a chief, and in the case of Mango, under the village chief there are chiefs from each of the 5 parts of the town. Resolution of family and civil disputes usually begins with the most local chief and only moves up if the situation cannot be resolved.
During the unrest in Mango last November a new Chief Canton was named (among other political leaders that were replaced) in hopes of calming the situation. Today was the day that he was officially presented. The festivities included traditional dances and speeches. We did have to take a break to let the rain pass by. I left my reserved seating during the storm and chose to watch from the second floor balcony of the school next door as my seat was under the large tarps that pretty much just gathered large pools of water until the weight became too much and the tarps would break free from their frames covering anyone below.
After the event was over I was invited to a meal with some other city leaders at the Préfet’s house and after the meal I went by the Chief Canton’s house to greet him and wish him well. What I thought would be a couple of hour event ended up taking most of my day but I found myself surprised to be enjoying the opportunity to be a part of this event. I’m thankful for the love God has given us for this town and these people. Life can be busy, hectic, difficult, and sad here but we are blessed to be a part of this town and these people.
Model home Mango style…
Today I took time while running errands to drop by and see the new home of one of our nurses. It was a pleasure to see the progress and pray with him that God would bless his family and new home. He hopes to move into this house in two weeks after the electricity is connected. Many of our nurses and other employees are in the process of buying property and building a small home now that they have a consistent paycheck.
The past few weeks Melissa has been the doctor on-call for Saturday to Sunday so we’ve not been able to take our Saturday post-breakfast moto ride. But today the schedules aligned and we had someone willing to watch the boys so that we got out and despite running into heavy rain part of the way, we did a big loop we enjoy that took us to the villages of Sadori, Padori, Faré, and Faréo among others. We spend so much time at the hospital that it’s nice to get out into the villages to see life and the change of seasons.
As we were leaving the hospital, we stopped to try to sort out a situation. This older gentleman had traveled hours to arrive at the hospital this week and be seen. He hadn’t come with much money and after being seen he purchased the medicines he needed and lost the rest of his money. While most people arrive at the hospital with someone, he was alone, didn’t know anyone, had no money, and seemed to have a hard time processing his situation. In this photo Melissa is sorting through is medicine to see if he’s taking the proper pills. Together with one of the hospital chaplains and a security guard a plan came together for the guard to keep some money and make sure he ate and took his medicine until Monday or Tuesday when one of the taxi drivers we trust heads in the direction this man came from so that we can send him back to his village. It’s situations like this where I thank God for the people he called to work here. This situation was only know and solved because of the diligent work of a kind guard and a chaplain willing to come in on a Saturday to try to talk with this patient in his language and show him God’s kindness.
Can you tell they’re excited to see a box of candy bars? Friends sent us this box of candy all the way from Washington State and somehow caught all the cool days so that they arrived still in their original shape (something that’s not too easy to pull off). Of course once we looked at how much was spent on the postage I’m pretty sure these may be the most expensive candy bars in Togo. Yep, we feel loved…
Another Saturday morning waffle breakfast gang. We broke out the last of the huckleberries for some huckleberry topping for the waffles the past few weeks. How fun to enjoy huckleberries here in Africa! Thanks Arla for including that treat on our container.
Today began with a baptism for another hospital employee’s child at 7am. Aden and I went along with the DeKrygers. We visited the family, expressed our wishes and prayers for the little guy and then headed home. These ceremonies usually begin in the mosque for the men while the women visit at the house and then for the rest of the day people drop by expressing their best wishes. This event takes place just days after the birth of the baby and is also the day when the baby is officially given his or her name. If the families have the means they buy and kill one sheep if it’s a girl or two sheep if it’s a boy as a way of thanking god for the baby. The meat is then shared with the people that come to visit throughout the day so that as each family takes the meat home and prepares it they may remember and give thanks for this new life.
Usually the Administration office is closed from noon to 2pm. Today during our noon break we headed over with some other employees to greet one of the hospital cashiers who got married today. Aden once again wanted to go along despite the rain but I’m beginning to suspect he wants to go to these events because he knows candy or pop are usually a part of the event.
I think I’m at the bank either doing business for the hospital or team at least once or twice every week. This is a task that I used to dread but now enjoy and have enjoyed getting to know the teller and bank manager.
Dr. Elizabeth, Megan and Lindsey are really doing it… They’ve each served two years on the Mango team and this week they finished classes and training in Harrisburg, PA to become full-time ABWE missionaries in Mango. That means after two years with our wacky team they want to do this long-term… We couldn’t be more excited! We love and admire each of these ladies and our lives and the lives of our children are richer when we’re serving together. Dr. Elizabeth is a pediatrician who has worked with Melissa in the hospital and clinic these past two years with a program with Samaritans Purse. Aunt Megan has been a huge part of our lives as she arrived with us in Togo almost two years ago and has taught one or both of our older boys the past two years in addition to a lot of other missionary kids. Lindsey is a great nurse who is always positive and looking for ways to serve. Now begins the process of raising support followed by language school, but we hope to see these three and the others that were a part of this year’s candidate class in Togo soon.
Today Aden and I joined a few other members of our team as we greeted the family of one of our employees as today was the celebration of the baptism and naming of his daughter.
There’s a little shop in town where the men who fish in the Oti river sell their fish . Today I stopped to see if they have one of the larger fish for sale and all the bigger ones were already sold but today they had a Boa for sale. The fishermen catch these from time to time in the river and they are also sold and eaten in sauce over rice. We haven’t tried that yet but that could be interesting…
Something tells me we’re going to be in trouble when these two are big enough to ride a moto…
One benefit of having a big team here in Mango is that our kids always have someone willing to read a book to them or spend a few moments with them. Gary and Genny LaMarque are here from the Boise valley and they’ll be helping at the hospital for three months. Gary will be helping with all the maintenance and repair projects and Genny is helping filing papers and making entries in the computer in administration.
Last evening I went with a couple of other missionaries and hospital chaplains to show the Jesus Film in a village that we have a Bible study in. The video was late in starting and at one point we packed everything up to leave when it began really pouring down rain but by the time we got everything packed up the kids in the village began chanting that we should try it again, and sure enough as we looked up into the sky it was covered with stars and the storm had passed so we set back up and showed the entire movie. However, we didn’t get back to Mango until after midnight.
Today begins an even busier week for Melissa and I. Melissa is the doctor at the hospital today, on-call tonight and passes off duties tomorrow and then she will transition to one week of being the night on-call doctor for the hospital Monday to Friday next week. If things are calm she could get a good nights sleep and be able to be home with the kids most of the afternoon, but if things get crazy, she could be working most of the night and needing to sleep during the day. Pray with us for calm evenings!
One part of working in the administration of the hospital that I enjoy is getting to be a part of the lives of our employees for their special events like weddings, baptisms, and funerals. Today it was the latter. One of our employees lost her husband after he was diagnosed with cancer. The ceremony was supposed to begin in Mango at 6am with the presentation of the body before it was transported to his village for burial but like most things here schedules are rarely followed. I gathered with some of our hospital employees to greet the family and view the body this morning and then we all followed the van transporting the casket to the river that separates the village from Mango. We then were transported across the river by boats where we either walked to the village or were given a ride on motos. Following a brief ceremony and the greeting of village leaders and more family members we were treated to a meal before heading back to Mango.
We are blessed to be on a team where there are many people at any time willing to help out. Today, that was aunt Amanda willing to get up early and be at our house to watch the boys so that Melissa could head to the hospital and I could head to the village funeral. We really could not do what we do without a team of people both in the States and here in Togo standing with us and lifting us in prayer. We really do thank God for each one of you!
Each day the nursing students begin with a time of devotions presented by one of the missionaries, hospital employees, or a special guest. Today we had a special guest who is the brother of one of our employees. In the photo he is the young man with the sunglasses. He is a gifted and well-known Christian singer here in Togo. As a child, he went to the ABWE Blind Center in southern Togo where he was taught life skills and where his faith grew. The class enjoyed his words of encouragement and the songs he presented.