It’s a Jungle Out Here

Most days I forget how much my daily life is so very different from what I would have expected even just a few years ago. It’s a challenge to update you all on what is happening because the things that might be noteworthy have settled somewhere behind normalcy. I don’t recognize their significance anymore.

I’ve been out and about in town a lot more. Thanks to Kenz mostly. (Thanks Kenz). Ive been going to praise group practices, friend’s homes and fields, just out in general walking around town, in and out of boutiques and little roadside shops.

Taking moto taxis almost anywhere is normal. As I ride into town from the hospital, I usually recognize about 1 in every ten faces I see along the road. I know them, I know their families, their personalities. I can see how it really takes time to feel like life is settling in and becoming authentic in a totally foreign place. My friends here now are close to my heart. Many I will never forget.

 

Tsiko Guest House, at your service.

The Guest House has not been as busy these past couple of weeks as far as seeing visitors come and go. Not as many people are crossing the ocean as the holidays approach. But this has allowed more time for talking through and walking through some updates in how we get things done around here. Hopefully when January comes the Guest House will be ready for the next influx of volunteers.

 The hospital ministry out here has grown so fast and so quickly that the Guest House is almost busting at the seams. The facilities, as good as they are, weren’t designed for such a volume of guests. An expansion project is in view, but in the meantime, this has made our job a little bit trickier as we work to keep things running smoothly. It is a good problem to have considering how thankful everyone is for all of the visitors who come out to help. The resident missionaries carry a considerable load working in the hospital and the many other ministries of this mission.

 

I’m a teacher now.

Since mid-October, I’ve been teaching at the local ABWE Christian school. I only teach one 45-min class each Tuesday on “comment utilizer l’argent avec sagesse” (how to use money wisely). And yes, I am teaching in French! The kids are helpful and patient with my French when I stumble or get stuck. I really enjoy teaching them.

I didn’t come out here to be a teacher, but having seen the common misunderstandings about money among adults, some friends and I on a whim said, if only they were taught when they were young…. hey, let’s teach the kids.

It is very much an African school house setting. Cinderblock walls, dirt floors, big chalk board and desks. I’m trying to teach about the basics of money wisdom, first of which means knowing you can’t serve two masters –when money takes the place of God, that happiness you seek from it will turn to ashes. Several of them are well versed in the Bible verses I mention in the lessons, but many of them have said they don’t have bibles in their homes. Please pray for my kids –for them to understand money more like a Christian and for them to see God more.

So far, I think it has been really successful. At the beginning of each class, I’ll usually ask a question that gets to the heart of the lesson for the day. I see how they respond. Then I teach the lesson, trying to engage them and interact as much as possible. And I finish with the same question again. I think I see learning happening in their eyes. I hope so.

Looking back, Looking forward

I read the autobiography of Kay Washer called One Candle to Burn. She and her husband Dal Washer were the first people to come as missionaries with ABWE to Togo. While I was reading that book, I was also working on some design projects that give visitors info on the ministries out here. When Kay and Dal first arrived, none of these things were here. They looked out towards the north of Togo, and equipped with breath in their lungs and hope in Christ, they served people.

Many people since then have invested in what the ministry is today. Overall, it is impactful for me to have a close acquaintance with how it has grown over these years. And now, thinking out towards my future, I’m considering if and how specifically I might be involved here for more than this one year.

 

Immediate future.. More Togo? 

Officially, my year ends in February. As it happens, several of the guest house staff is leaving mid-December. All at once. If I go in February, Guest House responsibilities will go to three women who are already stretched as it is. If possible, I would like to lessen that blow by staying until the Guest House manager returns in May.

(I also really want to stay so I can finish the school year out with my new class. I would love to see where this finance class can go in a years time!)

To be determined.

In other news…

I took this picture of our runway during my walk up the mountain. The runway stretches along the valley directly behind the hospital property where I live. ABWE aviation (which will extend the reach of the ministry considerably) has been a long time in development out here and now the airplane is in a container, on a ship, somewhere in the Atlantic ocean, headed our way. Please pray that all goes well in shipping! I’m pretty excited that I’ll get to be here when it arrives.

 

More of Togo life

Good fellowship on Sunday afternoons
Baby dedication service of little Sara McKenzie GAGLO
Many thanks to Essie and Abigail for walking all the way up the mountain with us!
Noah.. Kokou & Essie, your son is probably the cutest kid I have known.
My favorite picture of all time. So many good times with Mama Florence. Strength and Dignity are her clothing.