Before sunrise this morning we received a phone call we were hoping we would not get informing us that our teammate and friend Todd DeKryger was now in the presence of our Lord and Savior despite the best efforts of a medical teams in Germany and Togo. Todd was our Medical Director and was hugely instrumental in the planning, funding, and construction of this hospital. His fingerprints are all over this place. While we mourn our loss and the loss of a father, a husband, a brother, and a son for the DeKryger family, it is not without hope. Todd’s services as a surgical PA both at this hospital and at the southern hospital here in Togo have literally saved thousands of lives. But more importantly, his single focus on bringing the hope of Jesus Christ to those who have no hope will be carried on by us and by those that follow us because of his passion and vision.
One year ago today, February 26, 2015 we were celebrating the inauguration of this hospital. What a day that was… Todd was so proud of the team of Togolese employees and expat missionaries that made that day possible. He said it was one of the happiest days of his life. I am certain that for Todd, February 26, 2016 contains joy we cannot imagine as he is welcomed into the presence of the Lord and Savior he served so tirelessly here in Togo.
Today after informing our team at a early morning team meeting of Todd’s promotion, we informed our staff. We cut out optional and new clinic visits for the day and it’s been a day with many tears but at the same time and strong resolve to continue the ministry that Todd so strongly believed in.
Please keep the DeKryger family as well as Jennifer’s parents who are also serving out here right now in your thoughts and prayers. They are a wonderful family who have been our great neighbors for this past year and a half. We think the world of this family and so admire their boys and the role models they’ve been for our own boys. Here are Jennifer’s words to us all this morning…
The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! John 4:36
Today, Jesus called Todd home from the work he was doing planting and harvesting in Togo. In the mystery of His will, God chose this day to reward Todd with the unequaled joy of heaven. This is the promise of God that we as believers cling to through tears and pain. Todd poured out his life as an offering to God in Togo. I know that Todd would similarly encourage us who remain here for a little while longer to also be faithful in our service to our King (Philippians 2:17). Please continue praying and ask Jesus to bring comfort to William, Grant, Luke, and Drew. Ask that His Spirit would provide peace that is beyond the knowledge of this world. Keep praying that the boys grow strong in their knowledge of God’s Word so they can live out the legacy that their father has given to them. Also, pray that our Father in heaven would send more workers like Todd to the beautiful fields of Togo where the harvest is so great!
My heart is overwhelmed with unspeakable grief – for myself, our boys, our extended family, our spiritual family and the Hospital of Hope team. I cling only to the gospel and the certain hope of our salvation through Jesus Christ. I long for the men, women and children of Togo to know the Savior that Todd served so faithfully. Even in my pain, I am confident that our sacrifice – that Todd’s sacrifice – was worth it. I believe that the great commission is a cause worth dying for. And in the midst of my grief, I fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.
The outpouring of prayers and support in recent days has been overwhelming. And I can’t begin to thank all those who have shown kindness to our family. There are many decisions to be made and I will update you again in the days to come. Please be patient as I will not be able to respond to every call, message or e-mail personally. Thanks for standing with us through this time.
In Christ Alone we find our strength, The DeKryger and Benefiel families
Wow, what a morning…
God has graciously provided all that was needed to get our teammate Todd DeKryger onto his medical evacuation flight. The morning did not go as planned or without problems but God was faithful to provide all that was needed. When the ambulance borrowed from the military lost it’s belt we were able to find a truck that was willing to pull the ambulance the remaining 20+ miles. We were following with a van that could have taken Todd the remaining distance to the airport but it was decided that the additional move into a smaller vehicle was more risky than keeping Todd in the towed ambulance.
Todd’s condition remains very serious and continued prayers on his behalf are needed for the flight to Germany and for the days ahead.
Please pray for our teammate and neighbor Todd DeKryger who is fighting a serious illness and is needing to be evacuated to a hospital in Germany. Todd and Jennifer will be evacuated from an airport north of Kara Thursday morning. We will leave the Hospital of Hope around 5am and begin the two or three hour drive to the airport where a medical plane will be waiting to make the trip to Cologne, Germany. The military camp has loaned us their medical transport vehicle for this trip. Here are some specific prayer requests that Jennifer has asked for…
Pray that he’ll be able to tolerate the trip well. Pray for Tod’s kidneys and liver. Also pray that his body would respond to the medications and that his mind would be clear. Pray for strength and stamina for Jennifer. Pray for peace, comfort, and perspective for their four sons who will remain in Togo. Pray for strength and wisdom for the grandparents that will be caring for the DeKryger boys. Pray, Pray, Pray…
Two weeks ago I was rounding in the Labor & Delivery/Maternity ward and heard a rushing noise. It was a particularly windy day so I didn’t think too much of it and then came the crackling. One of the nurses jumped up and cracked open a window and announced that there was a wildfire outside. Sure enough…the fields on the other side of the fence on the maternity side of the hospital were being burned as part of the practice of clearing the fields for this year’s crops and the strong winds had caused the fire to jump the fence. Unfortunately there were many young trees that had been planted about 2 years ago by Timothee (our French agriculture expert/missionary) and they were being burned. We could see Timothee battling the flames with buckets of water but the winds were too strong and the fire was spreading like, well, a wildfire. So…the lab technicians (the lab’s on that side of the building as well), the housekeeping folks, the OB nurses and aides all grabbed buckets, hoses, rakes, towels and rushed outside to help. Thankfully there weren’t any women in active labor at the time! Timothee was heartbroken. Those young trees had been carefully grown, planted and watered for 2 years. No small task when the ground is hard and dry and the water cart is pulled by a donkey. He is hoping that some of them pull through. Thankfully the hospital was on the other side of a dirt road and the fire burned itself out before it could jump. If you click on the link to the video Ethan posted (see the link in the 2/8/2016 post), you can see the hospital from the air and the blackened area around the maternity ward.
Today Melissa was in clinic when this gentleman came through with #15001. This means that we’ve now seen more than 15,000 people since opening in March. I recently put a bunch of photos of our first year together and that can be seen by clicking here.
“A” is one of our nursing aides. He has an ever-ready smile that stretches from ear to ear. He is “M” but is asking questions and is quick to let me know if I forget to pray for a patient! Here he is holding one of our littlest patients. I was working in the clinic the day she arrived (she had been born at home but they felt it was too cold to bring her to the hospital so she didn’t show up for 8 hours) and was called out to the reception area to evaluate a “premature baby.” I looked around the room for a baby and then someone indicated a small pile of pagnes (strips of cloth) in a woman’s lap. It was such a small pile that I didn’t think a baby could be hidden in its depths but sure enough…a small 870 gram baby perfectly formed and still pink and breathing. I picked her up and rushed her back to our Pediatric ICU where she has been hanging on to life. If she makes it she will be our smallest baby to survive. She is off oxygen but hasn’t been growing well and is still under 1 kg. She has had malaria and several other infections which have set her back a bit. Please pray for her mother who is only about 12 or 13 years old herself.
Well after a few days off for team meetings and for moving the school, it felt a bit like the first day of school all over again today. The school building on the compound was recently finished so the school got moved from the rented house in town to this new schoolhouse. This schoolhouse is just across the road from our house so it’s very close. There is going to be an attached apartment built on the end of the schoolhouse for one of the teachers but it’s still underway.
Goodbyes are a regular part of our lives but that doesn’t make them any easier… Tomorrow we will say goodbye to Mom and Jim who have spent the past month with us. How wonderful it has been to show them where we live, our life here, and for them to have time to spend with the grandchildren. Brooke leaves us tomorrow too after spending almost 6 months as a part of our team. She’s worked without complaint in the hospital as an aide and helped out with our children when we needed someone and she’s generally become loved by everyone for her sweet spirit, quick smile, and great sense of humor. We’ll be praying for her next steps as she returns to Idaho to begin a nursing program.Also going out tomorrow but not pictured here are the Markhams. Dwayne and Carol have also been with us for 6 months. They are from our sending church near Seattle and we’ve been spoiled having them serve alongside us for the past few months. Carol has been willing to help wherever needed with administrative tasks and Dwayne has been able to connect with his fellow nurses without any French unlike any other short-term nurses. In fact, he couldn’t be found for this photo because he was busy with goodbyes in town with the many Togolese friendships he’d made during his time here.
Chaplain DD and I had a great day of village visits today. We did our regular Bible study at first visit and then stopped into another village to discuss with the family of one of the past patients of the hospital the possibility of starting a Bible study with them. When asked if they would like to learn more about the Bible and its story of hope, the grandfather responded in his tribal language saying that ever since he was young he’s eaten what his parents gave him but that has left him hungry and needing something so he’d like to hear of the story of the Bible to see if that would fill him up. We will begin studies at this village next week.
Last week we announced that we are looking to fill 15 positions. Since that announcement there has been a constant crowd in front of the administration building with people waiting to drop off their applications. Please be praying that we will find just the right people in what is becoming a mountain of applications. It’s very sad that so many people are without any opportunity to work. For almost all of these applicants this would be their first job.