This sweet little baby was born prematurely at our hospital and stayed many weeks until she could be discharged to her village about 45 minutes from the hospital. Her mother is disabled and wasn’t able to care for her so her grandmother stepped in. There is a growing Bible study in this previously un-reached village and our chaplains and NICU nurse have paid the family visits on a regular basis. A few weeks ago I was called urgently to the reception area to see a sick child and was shocked to see baby Grace in her grandmother’s arms barely breathing. We rushed her back to our ER area where several doctors and nurses worked to revive her. I hurriedly found our chaplains (who lead the Bible study in her village) and they came quickly to support her. Unfortunately, Grace had been sick for too long and passed away. Her family was heartbroken. They took her body back to her village where her Muslim extended family allowed our chaplains to lead a Christian burial service which was attended by 30 men and women (many of whom do not attend the Bible study). Please pray that good comes out of the pain and suffering in this family. Please pray for our hospital staff that have loved and cared for Grace for many months and were very attached to her. Life is so fragile.
Today we visited the rehabilitation facility in Bomboika to see the progress and encourage a young man who spent a lot of time at the Hospital of Hope. He’s was fitted with a prosthesis that was made at these facilities on Monday and will stay for two weeks learning how to use it before returning to his village. This young man’s recovery and prosthesis is made possible by the generosity of so many. Much of his care at the Hospital of Hope was paid by generous gifts to the Hope Patient Care Fund and donations given to the team benevolence fund helped cover the cost of his prosthesis. It’s fun to see hope return to someones life first-hand, but the thanks is really due to so many that stand behind us in financial and prayer support. Thank You!
We have a crew that is out here to help repair wells in three different villages and they decided to try to remove the old pump from the first well that was drilled on the hospital property. As they worked on pulling the old pump out it was discovered that there was water in this well and this got people wondering if this water had just seeped in over the years or if maybe this well had begun to produce water. The wiring for the pump was bad so that was repaired and the pump was lowered back down. In this photo many missionaries gathered eagerly anticipating and praying for a miracle and that the well would now work (we know God could do this). However, the suspense will have to continue as it was once again discovered that there is some sort of problem with the pump itself. A new pump was ordered and will hopefully get here so that this group can try this one more time before they leave next week. We’ll let you know how that goes…
Here’s a photo of the Thursday morning village Bible study that I go to along with one of the hospital chaplains. They recently built this structure so that they could have their own place to meet.
Almost overnight more than 1,000 Fulani people have gathered here at this make-shift refugee camp (about 30 minutes out of Mango) after being chased from their homes by another tribe. It seems this started when an armed burglar entered a home and killed the man of the house before fleeing to Ghana. In retaliation that tribe burned the homes of people they suspected of being in the same tribe as the burglar and several Fulani were killed including some children. Yesterday we brought out some rice and other supplies to this camp as they await aid from the government. Two government officials are trying to negotiate so that these people can return to their villages without fear of more violence. However, many will return to nothing as many of their homes were burned.
Well it’s a long way from Starbucks… Each Thursday morning I head to a village with one of the hospital chaplains where we lead a Bible study. Before leaving town at 6:30 am we stop here at this little stand for our coffee. Water is boiled in an aluminum pot poured into a glass drinking glass and instant Nescafe is added along with sugar to get us going. It doesn’t taste anything like Starbucks but it gets us going and it costs less than any cup of coffee you can get in the States.
Today Melissa is on-call at the hospital but the boys and I joined a couple of chaplains and a fellow missionary to attend the first official Sunday gathering in a village where we started a Bible study with the family of a surgical patient over a year ago. It was encouraging to see so many of our Christian employees involved in helping lead this group and it was encouraging to see such a good turnout and the structure this village built to provide shade for their Sunday meetings.
It’s hard to believe all the work that goes into raising and harvesting cotton one of the main crops around here. It’s very common to see small piles of cotton gathered around the villages right now as they await the trucks that will take them to one of the processing plants (in Kara or Dapaong). At those processing plants the cotton is washed and the seed is removed and they are packed into large bails that will then make their way to Europe or someplace else in the world where it may be made into clothing that may someday make it’s way back to Africa after it’s no longer wanted in other parts of the world. (see clip of loading the truck here)Sadly this past week there have been a couple of instances where people sold their cotton and armed robbers have broke into the home of the families that have worked so hard and stole the money these families received after selling their cotton. In one case near a village where we do one of our Bible studies a man was killed and his wife injured when they did not comply and simply give the burglars what they asked for.
Saying goodbye to another great short-term group from a very supportive church… From watching children during our team meetings to hosting a Family Feud night and lots of construction and medical things in between they come to serve and encourage each time Spring Creek sends a group and we so appreciate them.
Some days have their fair share of disappointments. Today we tried drilling for water once again. This time we were drilling almost a mile from the hospital at a lower level closer to the Oti river with the hope that we’d strike water and be able to pump it up to the hospital to give us a reliable source of clean water since the water supplied by the city is frequently off. This turned out to be the fourth attempt and the fourth dry well. We know God has this under control so we’ll press on.
Saturday we took a moto ride with the Morales’, last night we had dinner together, and today they leave for whatever God has for their next adventure. It’s always hard saying goodbye to people who we’ve worked alongside for many months and this precious couple is no exception. They arrived one year ago and have given their all to be great nurses, encouragers, and great friends. They were very involved in Todd’s care and evacuation and just days later they were themselves evacuated so that Andres could be treated for Lassa by the CDC. They remained encouragers and returned to finish out their service with hospital after his recovery in the States. They’ve got huge hearts, are hard workers, and have committed their lives to serving others. We’re praying for their next stop and so grateful for their service and that God brought them to the Hospital of Hope for such a time as this.
This evening on the way home from the hospital I stopped by the schoolhouse to visit the Art Show which was organized by our teachers. We are SO blessed to have teachers who use their talents and training to teach our children. This is a vital part of the work here in Mango. If you know of a school teacher who would like to teach in Mango for a year (or more), our team needs teachers for next year.
Almost a year ago the young man standing next to Andres and me in this photo was brought to the Hospital of Hope by family members after he’d digested poison hoping to end his life before other powers did it for him. He was convinced that the curse that had been put on his life was going to take his life. He’s a part of the Gamgan people and it’s not terribly uncommon among these people for a young man to steal a young girl to be his wife. When this young man stole the girl to be his wife, the girl’s family found him and took their daughter back they then also got together and put a curse on him that was meant to kill him. Being convinced that this curse would end his life this young man instead decided to take his own life and thus his arrival at the hospital.
Alain and the chaplains talked with him extensively and while there was some improvement physically, he remained certain the curse would kill him and was very discouraged. Since he was staying with his uncle near our Thursday Bible study we visited and prayed with him a few times before he returned to his parents house.
Today, months after our last visit, we stopped in to see him and invite him to attend a Bible study near his home and it was great to see the difference in his life. He thanked us over and over and asked for us to pray for him. I think God has big plans for this young man and I’m praying he continues to seek a relationship with the one true God.
The last Saturday moto ride of 2016 ended earlier than expected when we had a flat tire while traveling about 50 MPH on our way back to Mango. Thankfully we were able to keep it upright and bring it to a stop when I discovered it had also been leaking a lot of oil so we flagged down a taxi and put the moto on top and we joined the 6 other people already inside for the trip back to Mango. It was still a successful ride as we were able to visit a number of towns we hadn’t been to where our patients come from and see a new part of Togo (Northeast corner) before breaking down.
Thursdays I usually go with one of our chaplains to a village Bible study that began when one of Todd’s surgery patients wanted to share the hope he’d heard while he was hospitalized, with his family. This study has been going for more than a year. Today’s lesson was on the death of Lazarus from John chapter 11 where Jesus declares “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live again, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
As these hard-working men and women, young and old, sat in a circle just outside their huts and listened to this Bible story and then worked on memorizing that verse in Gangam (the only language most of them speak or understand), it was hard not to think of death, to think of Todd, to think of the funeral I visited just over a week ago here in this same village so full of idol worship and attempts to reach out to the spirit world. This life is so fleeting and death is certain. I need these reminders to prioritize my life, my time, my resources…
After the Bible study the young man who’s father’s funeral we attended here two week ago, asked for us to come by his house as his family had an announcement they wanted to share with us. This young man came to faith in Christ because of attending this Bible study, and showed so much interest in learning and growing that we suggested he attend monthly Bible classes in Kara organized by a couple of missionaries that serve there. However, at the time of his father’s funeral two weeks ago he, and possibly his wife, were the only believers in his family. Upon arriving at his family’s “house” (group of huts), they brought out benches and chairs and gathered this young man’s siblings and their children. And then in Gangam they declared that as a family they’ve talked a lot since their father’s death and they know he was a follower of idols and fetishes all his life but they’ve decided as a family they are leaving that, and those that have converted to Islam are leaving that, and together they’ve decided their family will follow the teachings of Christ. They asked for prayer that they’d remain strong in this new decision. So here, just feet from where a thin layer of cement has been applied to the mound of dirt that marks the grave of Nakim’s papa, we prayed that God would protect them and give them strength to grow in their knowledge of Him. Strewn in the field not far from his grave were the items that this old man had wore and given a place of prominence in his home with the belief that they possessed the power to ward off evil spirits and give protection. These items would normally be cherished and worn by his children upon his death and later passed on to their children but for this home they’re no longer needed, fear is being replaced by hope. Pray for this family and pray for the Gangam people of Togo and West Africa.