Togo. West Africa. 2 weeks. There and back again. What a trip!
On July 21, I left for Togo, West Africa via AirFrance. Landing on July 22, I was exhausted but excited. I absolutely love Africa so I was very excited to be back on the continent. My first week was a survey trip, designed to allow me to meet missionaries, see ministries, and get a "lay of the land" so to speak. This week would be influential in helping me to formulate ideas for what is to come in my new ministry in Africa as a media specialist.
Week 2 began on July 30 when my team arrived. A group of 9 students, and 4 staff members showed up from a long trip through Ghana. Our storytellers workshop was well on its way to beginning. The purpose of the workshop is to teach skills and techniques in multimedia and how it correlates to the mission field. Using media, we are taught how to effectively communicate stories to a specific audience. This week would be crucial in helping me to develop and cultivate the skills I will need in my new ministry in Africa as a media specialist.
I met a lot of people, missionaries and nationals alike. I was introduced to more ministries, touring the Kpalimé Blind Center, the Tsiko Hôpital Baptiste Biblique, and visiting with different village ministries as well. I learned that many of the churches also house schools.
Many of the ministries are run and staffed mostly by the Togolese which is encouraging to me, because as missionaries, we are always seeking to "work ourselves out of a job". Yet, even with all of the good points and the seemingly strong successes, there is hardship. When God's work is exploding exponentially in an area, the Enemy seeks to oppose as strongly.
- A family takes in 8 children from the neighboring village and cares for them. At some point the biological parents of 2 of the children show up and create a huge scene. It is scary and disheartening. Many questions arise from the argument and the outcome is uncertain.
- A woman desiring to reach all of Togo with the Gospel through training women and teaching them about the Bible is faced with obstacles: many of those women have little to no education, they are incredibly busy, and/or proper resources are so difficult to come by.
- A man working as a physician's assistant was overwhelmed by the task load on him as he was the on PA in the whole hospital. This hospital is the second busiest hospital in all of Togo. More PAs have been trained since then but they are still overwhelmed with work.
- A retired surgeon comes out of retirement and takes time to go to the hospital to perform surgeries. He is operating outside of his "expertise" in many cases and he is tired. Performing 3 or more surgeries a day is exhausting. Not all of his patients survive.
- Technology is developing at a rapid rate - even though by our standards it is outdated and archaic - and it is changing culture. A communications ministry is seeking to meet the needs as effectively as possible, switching from just printed literature to digital communications. The goal is to get resources out to as many people as possible, but they are short in personnel to mass produce and their knowledge is still somewhat limited.
- An organization designed to minister to men and women with HIV/AIDS has run into a financial drought. Their ministry has virtually stopped because they do not have the funds to continue.
- In the northern area of Togo, they have faced the death of teammates as well as other severe medical issues affecting their teammates. They are tired yet they press on.
God is mightily at work in Togo, but the opposition is also strong. It is encouraging to see the successes as well as the faithfulness of the workers, yet it is also hard to witness the obstacles and issues they are facing. So what have I learned? Humility is crucial. Humility and dependence. This is a whole other blog post in and of itself so please check back in soon to read on!