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.
Bri has been a huge help and encouragement. She is a PA who came out to help, arriving shortly after the Todd and Lassa Fever tragedy. Despite this being her first trip to Africa, she quickly found her new normal and jumped in seeing patients at the clinic, taking first call at the hospital (so that Melissa’s night calls were less busy), and hanging out with our boys and Melissa when there was free time. When it became clear her planned departure time was during a very hard time with hospital and clinic staffing, she extended her stay a few weeks to help get us through a rough patch. God has an amazing way of bringing us the people we need and making things work out even when we can’t see how it will unfold. We praise God for the willing individuals who sacrifice their time and money to come help us in this dry corner of the world.
That crazy Masters team… They spent a LOT of time with Komi doing inventory these past several weeks so that they decorated his office the night before the left so that he’d know how much they enjoyed working with him. Komi felt the love…great job guys!
In the comings and goings department…
Today we said farewell to a group of young people we’ve come to love. We’ve had seven students from The Master’s College with us for a month and they’ve been a huge encouragement. These students have worked hard sorting and inventorying hospital supplies, offering childcare services, and doing any tasks thrown their way. They’ve also lead worship for our Sunday night services, gone along on village visits, shadowed medical providers in the hospital and clinic and done it all with a great attitude. We’ll miss this team and our children will really miss this team as they’ve been amazing with our missionary kids!
It is with profound sadness that the Togo North Team must announce the death of one of our teammates. Cheryl Cleveland passed away at her house on the Hospital of Hope grounds here in Mango Togo Saturday morning. Cheryl was a pharmacist who had just finished her planned 18 month term with the Hospital of Hope.
Cheryl was a key member of the Hospital of Hope family and worked hard as a pharmacist to make sure the opening and first year and a half of the hospital’s operation went smoothly. Please pray for Cheryl’s family as they were expecting to welcome her home this week. Cheryl will be greatly missed by her friends and teammates here in Togo as well as by her many friends and family in the States.
It is our hope that even in her death, Cheryl’s strong faith and service for her Creator will point others to a relationship with Jesus Christ.
We have a visiting professor from the States teaching our nursing students anatomy and physiology for six weeks. While some of our professors are French speakers, the professors that visit from the States require a translator because these professors teach in English and then the lecture is translated into French.
We are so thankful for providers that come to work in the clinic during this time when we are very short on providers. This Nurse Practitioner serve for many years in the Army but was willing to come out on short notice to see patients in our clinic for one month when she heard about our provider shortage.
Today was an exciting day as 18 new nursing students began their training. This is the first nursing class to be trained here in Mango and the training will last 3 years. If you’re interested in helping with the cost of this training or would like to sponsor a student for a month for for their entire training please let me know and we’ll let you know how to partner with this program. Pray that each of these students would have hearts that desire to serve others motivated by their faith, and desire to serve God.
The hospital really needs to have two surgeons at any given time. When Todd was here there were some weeks when he was the only person able to do surgeries for a week or so. He was a hard worker and didn’t mind covering spells where he was the only person. Since Todd’s death, we’ve been blessed with a number of short-term surgeons but Todd’s absence has been felt every day. We’ll find a new normal and we’ll carry his vision on, but we’ll never be the same…
Because two were arriving and two were departing we ended up with four surgeons here at the same time today so I snapped a photo of these four. We’re so thankful for the surgeons who have been willing to use vacation time and find ways to leave their lives in the US for a couple of weeks or a few months to help cover the hole left in surgical coverage by the loss of our friend and teammate.
Today Melissa and I were once again able to enjoy a moto ride following our Saturday morning waffle breakfast. With our schedules being a bit more hectic recently it was fun to get away from the hospital for a couple hours and see how some of the rains have changed the look of the countryside. We stopped and I talked with a farmer for a while as he sat and wove a new grass mat for the roof of his house. Melissa took the opportunity to try her hand at planting a cotton field with the Fulani women who had been hired by the farmer to plant his field. These women are paid 500 fcfa per day for their work. The current exchange rate is 580 fcfa to one US dollar, so for their work under the African sun planting a cotton field in one day they make less than one US dollar.
I’ve been helping with projecting the Jesus film in villages where we have started Bible lessons a couple of times a month. There’s something very special about sitting under a starlit sky, listening to the hum of the generator in the background, and watching people be introduced to Jesus for the first time in their own language. It’s not uncommon to have a crowd of 200 to 300 when we begin these presentations. It a privilege to drive, help with technical stuff, and have a chance to pray with the hospital chaplains as they lead these events.
This morning we were invited to attend some traditional dances. After an hour in the sun can you tell that Ezra had just about had enough of this cultural event?