January 24, 2012

We're back!!!

We completed our survey trip on Wednesday, Jan 18 and flew into Atlanta on Thursday. After only5 days of being back we are still a bit jet-lagged. Thus, we feel like we really accomplished something by putting out this newest prayer letter so quickly! So, go read it! :-) You can find by clicking the "Updates" tab above.

Some pictures from our trip are on our Picasa Account here.

January 19, 2012

Update 7- (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)

TUESDAY
Today we got into Sharon Rahilly's car and drove back to Kpalime. On the way there I snapped this picture of this van. Too bad you can't see from this picture how many passengers there were.

Dave & Doris Totman, Geuntan(a Togolese), Jim Gerhart, and Sharon were holding a BATA (Baptist Academy of Theology in Africa) meeting to which they invited us. It was interesting to observe and hear them fine tune what we want it to look like. BATA is still being developed to offer bachelor's degrees. There are currently 2 students taking BATA classes in Ghana.

Before we left, Patience, the seamstress, delivered the clothes we had made.

We got back to Tsiko around 2pm and napped, naturally.

Judy Bowen and Sharon Rahilly had Kevin & Emily Hall and us over for dinner. Our first homemade TOGOLESE food! It was great!

WEDNESDAY
We met a few of the Mango Team missionaries this morning as they were all assembling for Togo Team Meetings on the Hospital Compound. Then, our ride arrived and we, along with Emily & Kevin, began the long drive to Accra, Ghana. We stopped at Choice's Hotel and had lunch. Choice (yes, the real Choice) came out to our vehicle to see us off. His first name is Emmanueland when he heard we have an Emmanuel he was so happy that he gave us a 2 stringed guitar thingy for our son! Manny loved it. [Remind me to superglue it back together.]

We got to the airport at 4pm, but couldn't check in till 7. Our flight left at 11pm. The wait didn't seem to long. We ate dinner at a restaurant in the airport. Emigration took a long time. The flight over the Atlantic seemed quick because we slept through most of it. Forgot my m&ms in Togo, so I didn't have a travel snack. I'm hope someone enjoyed them.

THURSDAY
Back in Chattanooga, the boys seemed to have hardly missed us. Except for Cyrus who took to nursing again like a champ! Manny opens doors now! Cyrus has two teeth! 15 days really makes a difference in children so young. I didn't cry as much as I thought I would on our trip. I was kept busy. I don't ever want to leave them for two long weeks again. Not ever. Not when they're 2 or 20. Okay, well, maybe when they turn 20. . .

January 16, 2012

Survey Trip- Update 6 (Sunday & Monday)

SUNDAY

Our 2nd Sunday in Togo we attended the Tsiko church. This church uses drums and we sat right next to the brass players. They were really loud!

There were two different choirs, one on each side of the platform and each sang a special. During the specials, many women of the church danced down the aisle and dropped an offering in the basket at the front of the church. I sooooo wanted to follow the line of women down the aisle. . . I’ll have to stop being so self-conscious when we move!

Andrew and I played a combination of Because He Lives, and Amazing Grace on borrowed instruments and then he preached on Ruth chapter 1.

The missionaries living on the hospital compound get together every Sunday night for a service. Andrew preached Ruth chapter 2 and we played another special number.

MONDAY
We visited four classes at the public school in Zongo this morning. We drove by two mosques on our way there. Some of the spots on the road were was pretty hard on the car. At the school I was told that one of the 2nd grade teachers beats his wife and children and is generally a very angry man. Why someone like that would want to be a teacher is pretty amazing, but in Togo people become teachers just for the income. We saw the 1st grade teacher hit several students. She got frustrated because the class was out of control and resorted to the only form of discipline she knew.

One of the teachers at this school taught Roger when he was a boy. He talked with his old teacher and told us that the man had beat him many times. I don't know how Roger feels about the teacher now.

We had to cross this bridge to get to and from the school. It was very sturdy. You can also see mud bricks drying in the sun in the corner of the picture.

We drove to La Lumier where Roger is the Principal. He gave us an interview that we could use in our presentations to churches. We observed two classrooms. Bea told me at one point during our trip that African children are all beautiful. She's right.

When we arrived back on the hospital compound Judy Bowen gave us a tour of the resource center. We picked up a big box of notepads we had ordered and bought postcards.

January 14, 2012

Survey Trip- Update 5 (Thursday, Friday, Saturday)

Thursday morning we visited the Agbale Pedogan Christian school. There was a girl from Germany with a group giving assistance to Togolese Schools for a few months, I think. The group was all split up into different Lome Schools. The kids loved her. They also loved the camera!

We visited Concord supermarket and the Wards picked up groceries. They bought a lot of screw-in 60w light bulbs. Apparently, those aren’t always available. We stopped in the market for a few minutes and bought a ton of fruit. Then we started the drive north.

We reached Kpalime around 1pm and had lunch at Chez Fanny again (I had curry shrimp, gotta love my curry!!!), then we continued on to Tsiko. Laundry was the first thing we did when we arrived.

FRIDAY

I felt sick (no need to go into details). Sorted through pictures and videos. Andrew cracked open a coconut for us. Even though I've lived in the tropics since I was 5, I'm still not a fan of coconut.

We also tasted some of the star fruit. Not bad.

It's National Liberation Day here, so the market everything is closed. Got to Skype with the boys!

SATURDAY

Andrew felt sick (no need to go into details). Roger translated the answers for Andrew's teacher survey. Carissa Sherrit had dinner with us at the Ward's house. We practiced guitar and violin to play at church tomorrow.


January 11, 2012

Survey Trip- Update 4

Thankfully my voice returned by this morning. I saw (and killed) my first mosquito in the middle of the night. So far I've only been bit once, which surprises me. I cover myself in DEET every morning knowing how attractive mosquitoes usually find me. Since it's the dry season here, though, there aren't as many around.

We visited the Be Christian school this morning. From there, Kujoji and Joseph Akakpo accompanied us to the public school. Joseph is national who is also with ABWE. We really enjoyed getting to know him better and look forward to working with him when we return.


We drove by the Atlantic Ocean in the afternoon. The road is pretty far removed from the beach. We had dessert after lunch- ICE CREAM CREPES. Absolutely delicious!

We returned to the customs office to pick up our passports. It was not as easy as we assumed it would be. There was a crowd of 20 people at a table. Two officers had a box of foreign and Togolese passports. The first officer picked through each of them calling out the names of their owners. If the person was present he placed the passport in another stack. The second officer took from the top of the stack- (meaning that if you were called first, you got your passport last.) He called the person’s name again and had them sign a book. They were then free to take their passport. This wasn’t too bad, except that the first officer occasionally went through his box again and placed the newly arrived owners’ passports on TOP of ours! It took an hour for us to get our passports, since we were one of the first called. Lesson learned- sometimes it’s better to come late!!! It was very difficult to be patient with this method. I heard a British lady complaining behind me. If I had allowed my mouth to open I would have sounded just as mean. Lord, grant me a gentle and patient spirit!

We went back to the hotel and had dinner. Then Andrew and Bea left for a wake of Sarah, a former teacher at a Christian school. Andrew said it was very similar to an American funeral service.

January 10, 2012

Survey Trip- Update 3, (Tuesday, January 10th)

We visited a Public school (near Becky's house) in the morning. As on Monday, Amenyo and Roger were our translators. Amenyo teaches at the Kpegolonou Christian elementary school and Roger is the principal of La Lumier.

The teachers at the public school were on STRIKE! The kids were running around unattended. The principle was the only responsible adult there! This would be unheard of in the states. For some reason, I wasn’t thinking how strange it was at the time, though. In this case I’m only noticing the difference in culture in retrospect.

Just a note to anyone visiting to Togo schools- show your camera and you will get swarmed! The kids love having their pictures taken, which makes for really blurry pictures because they are constantly trying to get closer to the camera!

We hit the Kpegolonou Christian school (near Beky's house) around lunchtime. I hung out with the kindergartners. About the only phrase I could say in French was "Qe'est-ce que c'est?" asking what they were eating. They had no idea what I was saying. The teacher told me, "porridge." Just another proof to me that I NEED to learn Ewe. This was not the last time I wished I knew their heart language.

They had some sort of crisp tortilla shaped food that I really wanted to try. I restrained myself. No sense risking being sick the next week while we're here. But, when we MOVE here. . . . Hmmm.


Went to Chez Fanny for lunch(I had curry chicken). Fanny (yes, the real Fanny) gave me some star fruit that I was admiring. I haven’t seen star-fruit since living in Grenada! We then picked up Ben Ward for our drive to Lome. He is a missionary to Ghana who is currently living in Togo to learn Ewe. It was a squishy back bench, but the trip seemed to go quickly because we talked about language school, Ghana visa requirements, and Ben’s ministry plans the whole time. We went straight to the customs place and dropped off our passports. We needed to get our visas extended another week. They told us to come back the next day to pick them up. We took a short rest at the hotel and then went to an appliance store (Ramco) and a supermarket (Super Ramco). I was able to price a lot of food stuffs. Does it interest you to know that diapers are $1 each? It does me.

Somehow I lost my voice in the evening. It may have been from all the dust in Lome. The roads are a lot more congested and everything just felt a little dirtier. Give me a village any day! We tried to go to Chinese for dinner, but they were closed, so we had went to a pizza place instead. It felt really late because it was so dark, but it was only 7pm.

A Late 'Happy birthday' to my sister Hannah. Sorry, it totally slipped my mind while we were in Togo!

January 9, 2012

Survey Trip- Update 2

Andrew preached on Sunday morning and used a translator for the first time! He did great. The pastor said they'd give us a live chicken that was given as an offering. Afterwards there were several testimonies given from parents who have children in the Christian schools.

On Sunday night we gave our testimonies to most of the missionaries who live on the Hospital compound. We really enjoyed getting to know them better.

Today is Monday night for us. This morning we left Tsiko (resisting the urge to spell it out chico), where the ABWE hospital is located and drove about 45 minutes to Kpalime where we visited two schools (a public and a christian). Andrew gave a survey to two teachers at each school about their expectations of their students. This will help him while he works on his Doctorate ofEducation. It was amazing to see the differences between the two schools. In the public schools the children were made to repeat a phrase over and over again in an effort to learn pronunciation. It was clear they had no idea what "Mamaan es Mallad" meant (Mother issick), but the teacher seemed annoyed when they pronounced it wrong and carried a stick around the room threateningly. Bea tried to help the students stay focused while the teachers were being interviewed.


In the Christian school the teachers were great. We saw real learning taking place. One of the 2nd grade classrooms is going through the story of Moses this year and each of the students answered questions about the pictures of the story that were posted around the room.


After visiting schools we stopped at the Kpalime market and bought some fabric. Andrew wanted some Togolese style shirts made, so we took it to Patience, a seamstress that most of the missionaries use.

We arrived at the Blind Center compound around lunchtime and took a short nap. Then Joan Schmidt visited each of the classrooms with us and showed us the boutique where we bought some souvenirs.



I'm surprised that I can follow the basic meaning of most of the French conversations, even though I don't understand every word. Andrew says he understands about 75% of what he hears.

Tonight we had dinner with the Gerharts, missionaries who live on the blind center compound. Jim Gerhart works with the Bible Institute. We really feel like we should live in Kpalime so we can help with the Bible Institute and be centrally located for teacher training, too.

It's amazing how much this place reminds me of Grenada. Did I say that already? A lot of the plants are the same and some of the culture, too. Except for the language difference I feel quite at home!

January 7, 2012

Survey Trip- Update 1

It seemed like it took us forever just to get out of the states- 12 hours of flights and layovers! The 10 flight over to Accra, Ghana seemed quick because we slept almost the entire way. We were able to get through customs very easily. Customs agent #11 opened one bag, glanced at the top and sent us on our way. Maybe he didn't notice our 5 other bags! Bea Ward and Sheree, a friend from Chattanooga picked us up from the airport and took us to eat lunch at a small outdoor cafe. Here's a picture of me with airplane hair.





















That evening we were able to talk to Alyssa on the phone. It wasn't a good call. Cyrus refused the bottle up till the day we left and still would not accept it. It was hard enough being away from the boys for 2 weeks, much less having to think about their health. There was a little talk of dehydration and the possibility I'd have to go back early. That first night was a rough one. Eventually, it took about 36 hours before Cyrus ate anything voluntarily.

The next morning Sheree took us north on a long bumpy drive through Ghana to Ho. We checked out at a new resort on Lake Volta and took some pictures. Andrew and Bea posed in front of a cool looking hut.

At lunchtime, we met the Jungs, a couple who work with Bible training and evangelism, and then Jim Jung took us to the border crossing into Togo. Harry Ward met us at the border. The emmigration leaving Ghana was easy.

It took at least 15 minutes on a very bad road to get to the Togo customs shack (it was the size of a small fruit-stand). The paperwork only took a few minutes to fill out. Then we had to wait a while because there was a new soldier being trained on entry visas.

Togo isn't as hot as I expected, but if you stand in the direct sunlight for a few minutes you start to feel the heat. The Harmattan winds bring a cool breeze, but also a lot of dust. We've been taking showers at night because it's so hard to go to sleep feeling dirty!

Last night we met all the missionaries who live on the hospital compound and some who live in Kpalime at the blind center. Andrew kept hearing "how you've changed!" and "I remember when. . " As for jet-lag, we seem to be doing okay, but Andrew woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't go back to sleep for two hours.

Today Harry Ward gave us a tour of the hospital. There were 3 very premature babies in the first room we visited. It was sad to see how small they were. Harry said there is no place in Togo where neonatal care is offered so the ABWE hospital is the only hope they have.

So far we haven't had any real Togolese food. Harry and Bea have promised that we won't find any at their house. We'll have to pick some up at the market later.

January 2, 2012

Our bags are packed and we're ready to go. . . almost

Our Survey Trip Checklist
Funding
Airline Tickets
Entry Visas
Yellow Fever Vaccinations
Babysitter
House-sitter
Transportation to airport
Bags packed

We're so excited about visiting Togo! Please pray that we'll have a really productive trip! So far, I've only cried twice about leaving the boys. Pray my heart doesn't break during our trip.

Alyssa, Andrew's sister took some great pictures of our family on New Years Day. Here is one of them.