Hey guys! It has been two weeks now since I first arrived and, once in a while, I get the sense that I’m starting to feel the ground under my feet. Getting established has been a process. Thank you for being patient waiting for an update!
It’s amazing to think that only two weeks ago I arrived in Togo and set foot in Africa for the first time ever. I landed at the tiny Lomé airport, greeted on the tarmac by a wave of incredible heat. I don’t know exactly how hot, but once you pass 90 degrees and have almost no access to air conditioning, who’s counting? It was hot. (Still is.)
The flight was long and exhausting as expected. But one thing I didn’t anticipate – I had already felt like I was in a foreign country sitting at the gate in New Jersey before I ever left US soil. I was the only light-skinned woman getting on that plane. Several people with the airline kept asking me “Are you going to Togo? Can I see your boarding pass?” in a tone that was to say “You must be lost, let me see your boarding pass to make sure you get where you’re going.” Even after I arrived in Togo, I still had airline and airport employees, and even one fellow passenger, trying to help make sure I was at the right destination. Thanks friend, but yes, je vais au Togo.
Some teammates (and my awesome roommate McKenzie!!) met me at the airport. Six ortho surgeons came in on the same flight I did, so we all loaded up in the team van and drove 2.5 hours from Lomé to Tsiko. These doctors were a good deal of fun to have around those first 10 days.
I wish I could give you a play by play of my first two weeks. But there is just so much to say, so much to talk about and describe, so many great people to introduce, so many first impressions. Imagine a child who is suddenly in an environment that is completely new – they just have that deer-in-headlights look on their face – alert, curious but cautious. That was me the entire first week.
I have had to give myself time to adjust to life here in this beautiful place. Most of my time so far, I’ve rested. I’ve reconnected with teammates who were in France with me. I’ve met new people. I’ve had a number of meetings with administrative leaders with the Guest House, the CRC (Christian Resource Center) and the Hospital. I did get a tour of the Hospital and, in spite of my weak stomach for anything medical, I was inspired seeing first-hand the ministry happening there.
I’ve been to local markets and visited 2 different local churches, both of which were planted by abwe missionaries. I attended a bible study for Togolese high school girls yesterday. The girls are engaged in the topics and they are just a lot of fun. I can’t wait to really talk with them as my French becomes more fluid. The people here are so beautiful and kind. I look forward to building friendships around town.
McKenzie and I were just able to move into our apartment this past weekend. Living in limbo for this time was a challenge, but the apartment is great and we are having fun making it a home.
All in all, it has been a good start. Except for one thing..
I’ve felt loss.
Coming here, I left important things in the USA. Important things, good things, familiar things. I left people I love. I left a culture that is part of me. I left a context that I understood, a place where I had a certain level of confidence.
When I’ve traveled for fun or adventure, there’s so much anticipation – excitement that isn’t curbed by what’s at home because, well, Ill be back soon – I have places to discover and people to meet. This is different. I came to fill a needed role in a front-lines-of-the-battle ministry. This journey involves sacrifice, unknowns, and self-made expectations to prove valuable to this team of giants in the Faith.
And as I step out in confidence, I leave behind things that give me confidence.. and I feel lonely and small. McKenzie said something tonight that got me thinking that God might set aside good things in my life, and maybe then I’ll find out if I am most satisfied in Him.
My hope for this year is that God would increase my faith. That I would learn what it means to be the most satisfied in Him. What it means to trust Him.
- For my French to improve
- For my transition into taking on responsibilities at the Guest House
- For me to have clarity, creativity and initiative in how I can help most effectively
- I need to review my French notes. My vocab is suffering!
- Expect the unexpected and you won’t be disappointed
- Learned to love cold showers. Tip: just go all in. No reason to make it more of a shock by getting under that cold water slowly.