I really am sorry for how long it has taken to update this blog. As you can imagine, we have been incredibly busy with preparations for the mission. So busy, in fact, that I woke up at 2 AM this morning and could not fall back asleep because I kept thinking about things I needed to get done this week. It’s not a very trusting attitude toward God, especially for a missionary, but that’s just one of my many many flaws… but I digress.

Oh, and why is the Africa song by Toto EVERYWHERE these days? What is that all about? I hate to admit that I have never liked that song, it has always reminded me of a dentist office and getting teeth drilled. I must have had some traumatic incident as a kid in a dentist office with that song playing in the background.

Well, as an update, we have quite a bit to accomplish before we depart for Africa on July 18th. We have found a renter. We have found free storage for most of our stuff, not everything, but close. We are still looking for a home for our dog and still haven’t been able to secure a years worth of malaria medication or funding to purchase them.

We still don’t know much about what we will be doing in Togo and are going in kind of blind. I can tell you what my personal preference is though… I want so badly to do Community Health Evangelism and Mobile Clinics. Forays into the rural villages to provide medical aid and investigate ways to address community health issues while also presenting the good news of Jesus resurrected is the kind of thing that makes me choke up with joy.

Here is a short story and description of what that looks like coming from the hospital we will be in from the vantage point of s short-term medical missionary (you can also read this story here and get some more detail into what Community Health Evangelism is):

I had the wonderful privilege of going to one of the off road villages (Kaduaso-Kope) about an hour from HBB.  The village is actually a collection of local farms with the village center being four thatch-roofed school buildings (a brick school is under construction).  There is no market in the village; no dispensary; no pharmacy.  People walk on a dirt road for about five miles for any type of health care – and for buying anything other than what they can grow themselves.

Pastor Lalabia (our chaplain) shared the gospel with all of the villagers who came for the clinic; Gnoyi (a nurse) taught on hypertension; nurses and nurse aides took blood pressures on approximately 230 individuals as they talked with each person individually about their need of a Savior and the peace and joy that only Jesus Christ can give!

We had the opportunity to evaluate children’s height, weight, and arm circumference.  The CHE team set up under a huge tree. Our innovative team members attached a tape measure to a long pole which was set upright against a tree for measuring height, and found a flat board on which to place the scales.  The pastor talked with the kids about how Jesus called the little children to Him.  He then had them line up – and the weighing/measuring began!  288 children later, the measuring was completed!  We will do some analysis of weight-for-age and weight-for-height,  and results will be reported to the village leaders with recommendations related to nutrition and other aspects of health.

I had the privilege of being involved in both ministries:  helping to set children on a contraption they had never seen before (the scales!), which was quite a scary experience for some!  Looking into the faces of moms who were so excited about having their children weighed and measured.  Estimating ages for children (probably only 10% of the children knew their ages; the rest had no idea how old they were)!   Applying a band of cut-up x-ray film, marked with green/yellow/red, around the upper arms of children – in order to evaluate nutritional status.  And also being involved as a nurse practitioner in treating hypertensive and dehydrated patients. Numerous times I told people that they should drink more – not ever thinking, of course, that I might want to consider specifying what they should drink!!  I did not realize until mid-afternoon that some of the villagers had a tchouk bar set up outside the school building where the mobile clinic was meeting.  Some enterprising villagers were taking the opportunity, as long as a crowd was gathered, to sell this locally-made alcoholic beverage!  I started smelling it on people as they came for treatment; saw some evidences in behavior as the day wore on!  Wouldn’t you know it:  the missionary nurse practitioner telling people to drink lots – 2 to 3 liters per day!  But not telling them what to drink (or what not to drink!).  I can imagine numerous villagers, downing the tchouk, while saying that the white missionary sent them!

We ended the day by visiting the chief of the village.  As we entered his compound, we saw a stick set up with the bones and feathers of two old, dry, dead chickens stuck on it.  It is a fetish that is used to ward off evil spirits from his compound.  How sad to realize that this chief – and probably close to 100% of these villagers – believe in such fetishes as the way to ensure protection and health!  Our prayer, our longing – is that God would show these people the wonderful love that He has for them, the fact that Jesus Christ died for them, and that they would realize the futility of trusting in a fetish – and would place their trust in the living God!  Pray, please, that Satan – who now controls these people – would be completely defeated and that God would build His church in this village!

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