If I could paint, I would capture the beauty and inspiration of seeing this place for the first time. I try to catch it with my smartphone, but sometimes it isn’t quick enough or discreet enough. I’ve just had to put my camera down and pay full attention to what I’m experiencing.
Like that day I was riding on the back of a moto and caught a glimpse of a boy, probably 2 or 3, trying to walk with a small bowl balanced on his head -just as he sees his mom and siblings do. And those Sunday mornings in the vibrant worship times at local churches. And those personal interactions where cultures are clashing incredibly but both of us are willing to cover it with grace in the name of simple kindness.
Every day I’m getting more acquainted with a new normal and I’m having fewer for-the-first-time-ever encounters. I’m still a rookie but that brand-new fresh-eyes perspective only lasts so long.
It has taken just over one month to fully transition into the Guest House Finance role. Now my Pediatrician friend, Kristi, will be free to spend work hours in the hospital. And to rest. Over the last few weeks, I’ve also been involved in some data-analysis projects with hospital admin (in French!!) and soon I will be working with their finance department.
I’m also having fun teaching music lessons to some MK’s (missionary kids). McKenzie and I do a fine arts class with young kids each Thursday and throughout the week I teach lessons one-on-one with several kids. It’s a pretty low-stress gig. My job is to inspire a love for music and a sense of discipline in the art with hopes that they will go way beyond me.
So my daily work looks a lot like paperwork and music lessons. Which might be dull unless you live in West Africa on a missions hospital compound.
The ministry here is so alive and multi-faceted. Every time our team meets together I learn more about the difference it has made and is making in the community.
The hospital as an organization has benefited 40 years of patients, but then it has also provided discipleship and economic opportunities through jobs (medical, administrative, chaplains, building management). This has been true in the Guest House too. And economics has its own way of building authentic connections with people.
But then there’s just the day-to-day life where you share about Jesus, you make friends and sometimes friends become like family. Missionaries who have been here 15-25 years are like permanent fixtures in the community and many of them talk about their “African sons and daughters” who they have watched grow up, build careers and start families. They have been counselors and friends. It’s great to see that here, though I imagine that simple daily life with a missionary focus would have the same kind of impact no matter where you live.
A couple weeks ago, I was invited to join a few people who are helping one missionary’s long-time friend, “R”. She’s a local single mom in a desperate situation and she’s setting up a small store selling general foods across the street from the hospital entrance. I’m involved to help guide her over the course of this year in how to start, set prices, save for future expenses and how to pay back a loan over time.
We are all treating it kind of formally –there is a written agreement and all. It is similar to what I’ve heard about with ministries helping people achieve economic independence by giving them economic responsibilities through loans. Please pray for me because I’ve never done this before and much of it will need to be in French. Although when I really need to, I can ask Florence (one of my favorite people in Togo) to translate English–Ewe for us. I really hope to see her succeed.
There is a lot of work ahead of me and so much to learn. I’m taking things one step at a time and trying to soak in the simple beauty of Togo as I walk through life here each day.
- For my French. The language barrier is one of my biggest challenges.
- For R’s business to become stable and that her efforts to learn would be fruitful. Please pray I can be a good teacher, understanding where she is coming from and what exactly she needs.
- For staffing needs here at the hospital. I am considering making videos to communicate the positions needed here.
- I still, almost daily, struggle with feelings of loss for people I miss, which at times overwhelm me and keep me from being fully invested here. In the sage words of Passenger -you only hate the road when you’re missin’ home.
- Learning to pace myself… this will be a marathon, not a sprint.
- Had an authentic Togolese dinner with a local family at their home. My friend Simone is living there with them while she volunteers at the private school for 3 months.
- Hiked up to the largest waterfall in Togo and then stood underneath it!! Water pouring on me from 80 meters high.. most rewarding hike to date.
- Went to Lomé (closest city 2.5 hours away) to get groceries and spend time with friends. We had a brief stop at a beach-side hotel to pick some people up so I got to touch the Gulf of Guinea!