Merry Christmas! We are so thankful for the hope that this day represents and for the support of friends and family both here in Togo and on the other side of the pond. We ate breakfast together as a family, opened gifts and just relaxed at home for most of the day. We did get together with the rest of our team for a big Christmas meal at the guesthouse around 4pm. While days like this can be hard to be so far from family, we are very blessed with close friends and a large team that make holidays enjoyable to gather together.
Christmas Eve was a busy day. But unlike previous years, this Christmas Eve did not involve any last minute shopping or trips to the mall (buying options are limited here in Mango). Melissa spent a few hours at the Mango jail this morning with the Nurse’s Aid class. The Mango prison has around 80 prisoners all are men, and most represent a very sad story. These are not men accused of horrific crimes, but are common thieves, bandits, drug users and the like. The Nurse’s Aids practiced taking vital signs on each of the prisoners.
This evening after what felt like a day full of meetings, work, and appointments, we got to relax a bit as a family with Aunt Megan. We ate pizza, decorated (and ate) cookies, and even had carolers drop by.
Ezra gets lots of attention during lunch break and he loves it!
Now that the dry season has arrived and burned fields and dry grass are the norm when we encounter an occasional flower it really stands out as something memorable and different. It is our desire that the hope our team is able to share through compassionate healthcare will stand out as something that draws people’s attention to our source of hope and bring glory to God.
With just days until Christmas we finally got a tree and a few decorations up. The boys enjoyed putting up the tree and we played Christmas music to remind us that despite the hot weather Christmas has arrived.
Another container has arrived with crucial parts and supplies for the hospital. The short-term (1 or 2 year) nurses from the States will have a mountain of work sorting and arranging things.
While I know cotton grows in the US, this was my first experience seeing cotton fields and seeing the work that goes into picking and preparing this crop for transport and sale.
This was going to be a short trip out the hospital entrance and up the road less than a quarter mile to watch the Togolese military camp lower their flag. (This is an “event” that happens most evenings around dusk and Aden enjoys watching this from time to time because several soldiers gather, salute, and march while a trumpet is played.) However, despite recently having the tire repaired we noticed it was completely flat by the time we reached the military camp so the boys had to walk back while I pushed the moto.
Watch out Mango! Aunt Megan has wheels! Since she lives clear on the other side of town from our house (and the school room) she also is the bus driver for some of the children on that side of town that she teaches.
Dr. Bob Cropsey has been out here in Mango for a couple of weeks helping get the hospital in order for opening. He will be back around the opening date in March to help with surgery needs after the opening. He served for many years as a surgeon at the southern hospital so today I took a trip to Kara (2 hours away) with Dr. Cropsey to attend a church of a pastor he helped mentor years ago. I enjoyed the church service and the introduction to a couple of pastors in Kara.
Today fellow missionaries offered to watch our children for a few hours so Melissa and I spent some time together. We explored Mango a bit and also took a short moto (motorcycle) drive to the small local reservoir where at times hippos can be seen. We didn’t see any hippos but it was still nice to get out a bit.
Tis the season… Now that the rains have been over for almost two months, most of the people who raise crops have finished harvesting so the fields are burned. There is frequently the smell of smoke in the air and after dark you can often see an orange glow on the horizon from burning fields.
The Radio Flyer is getting lots of use during the kids’ recess time from school. There’s a bit of a story behind this wagon… The boys’ grandma works at a medical facility that used this wagon to cheer up their young patients until they received a complaint of a splinter and had to get rid of it. It found its way to our container and now is heavily used at break-neck speeds and we’ll count ourselves lucky if a splinter is as serious as it gets…
Melissa has been helping train the Nurse’s Aides and she’s also been helping with their testing and practical exams. Here Ezra is playing the role of a pediatric patient so that the class can get practice measuring, weighing, and taking vital signs on a baby.
Mmm… Chocolate shakes…