Today was Tabaksi in Mango. Tabaski is known elsewhere as Eid al-Adha and is the first or second largest Muslim holiday. Tabaski honors the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his promised son Ishmael before God intervened and provided a lamb to be sacrificed instead. Having an animal to kill for Tabaski is something that many families begin saving for months ahead. Of course since there’s a huge demand for animals for this holiday some big sheep or goats can double or triple in price for the weekend. After this morning’s 9am prayers at the main mosque in town Muslim men returned home to sacrifice the animal. I say animal because wealthy families may kill a cow, many will choose a sheep, and poorer families will sacrifice a goat. If the families have the means they may choose to sacrifice an animal for each member of their family. The animal is killed by slitting its throat after its been placed on its left side and its head has been tilted toward Mecca. The night before this holiday Muslim households will be cleaned from top to bottom and clean or new clothes prepared for the special occasion.
Possibly poor timing, but today was also the day that Melissa and I both physically felt our worst since arriving. We’d been fighting something the past few days and today it reached its peak with nausea and a lack of appetite. So when a lady who was sewing some curtains called to say they were ready and we could pick them up we loaded everyone into the old pickup and headed across town for a quick trip. Of course on the way we say many cows, goats, and sheep being slaughtered in front to people’s homes. Many people burn the hair off of the sheep and goats immediately after killing them so this was a holiday for all the senses. Later in the day as the animals are turned into meals, each family shares a portion of the animal with neighbors and the poor so that no person is without a portion of the Tabaski meal.
Happy Birthday Aaron! Our first visit to Togo as a family was when Aaron was just 6 months old. Now almost 8 years later, Aaron is celebrating his 8th birthday and we live here. We love you son and pray you grow strong in the Lord.
Each day as the students finish up their day of school in the school room Aden eagerly exclaims “My Turn?”. Miss Megan then takes him into the school room and individually gives him some lesson that he completely enjoys. Thanks Megan for loving our boys!
First day of school photo… There are a couple of younger siblings in the photo who were not happy to leave the room shortly after this photo was taken. This week the students will do half days of school and next week they will begin with full days. Three of the students are in kindergarten so they will not be in school each day. For this school year we are using the office/guest room in our house for a school room.
Each Sunday everyone (except Ezra) lines up to swallow their anti-malaria pill. Thankfully this process has gotten a lot easier and Melissa remembers who likes their pill buried in peanut butter, who takes it straight, and who takes it hidden in a dab of jam.
Just some of the items we bought at the market today… They have each been soaked in bleach water for 25 minutes (something that’s needed for all fruits and vegetables purchases at the market) and are now drying. Can you guess which of these items we bought for the first time today because it was a bit of a splurge? That would be the potatoes… While the tomatoes and cucumbers are relatively inexpensive, this little pile of potatoes cost about $5. They won’t be a regular part of our meals but we sure enjoyed our baked potatoes with topping for dinner today.
Having grown up on a farm where we drank gallons of whole raw milk each week it’s hard to believe this is now what we accept as milk. But then there is the fact that most people in this city can not even afford to buy this type of milk let alone the big canister. (Melissa is also able to make yogurt from this milk powder which also serves as sour cream.)
Today and tomorrow our team is holding team meetings. These happen 4 times a year and are needed for team unity as well as keeping us all on the same page. Our team is fairly new (just a few years old) and is changing rapidly. In fact by this time next year we will likely be double the size if you take into account all the short term (2 years or less) missionaries who will then be a part of our team. Please pray for this team and the hospital project. The hospital project is needing to move its projected opening date from the first part of January to March. This can be disappointing news and impacts a lot of people both Togalais as well as foreign missionaries. Please pray that the needed parts for the boiler and other large equipment will arrive in time to be installed and the needed people with expertise to install these parts will be able to make their trips so that we can begin operations in March.
Progress is being made on the last phase of the hospital construction. The central nurses station is being constructed and the ceiling is being installed.
Today we went on a short outing to a little town a ways out of Mango where there is a monastery where catholic nuns sell among other things yogurt and honey. We treated ourselves to two jars of honey, three jars of jam and a few packages of frozen pork products. Since Mango is Muslim town pork is not something you can buy and in fact while we have lots of sheep and goats that seem to roam freely I’ve not seen a pig in town. We’ll probably use the small packages of ham in our morning eggs from time to time for a treat. In the photo Aaron is holding the price list.