Showing posts from 2014

Goodbye 2014!

Our 2014 was a year of struggles and victories, highs and lows, discouragements and moments of elation!  I wouldn't trade 2014 for anything! 

-moving our home from language school to Togo; going from COLD to HOT
-getting to know a new culture, learning to accept customs and culture traits that are contrary to my own
-going from living in the poor neighborhood to living in a house that is considered upperclass here.
-watching Manny learn how to pick up lizards and frogs and teaching him that they are outdoor pets!!!  -trying to make friends for my boys when they don't have a common language
-realizing that our boys need to have baths EVERY day because of how dirty they get here!
-learning how to cook again; cooking most things from scratch
-accepting that I can't do it alland hiring Afi to work at our house 3 days a week
-experiencing the excitement of making friends in a second language!
-going from a place where matching clothing is tacky to a place where it's just a…

Worshiping with Music and with Rice

A couple months ago one of the musicians from our church in Kpegolonou visited me and said that a group of musicians would like to minister to the other churches in our area. They plan to provide music lessons and conference workshops for worship leaders. Those are some of the things that my father did with the churches here and this group would like to continue doing them.
Empowering Togolese leaders to minister to one another is an important part of our ministry philosophy, so when I saw this young man with his own ideas and plans for ministry I wanted to help.
We've not only been helping with musical instruments, the group wanted to help some orphans in a nearby village. So one Sunday afternoon we drove out to Kpime Woume and worked with the pastor there. We sang songs, the pastor gave a brief Bible message, and then we gave each kid a bag. Each bag contained rice, tomato paste, and soap. Then we walked with the kids back from the church. It was a lot of fun.
Again, on Christma…

Christmas Catalog 2014

In this post we've tried to best communicate the many needs we have here with the Christian schools in Togo. Right now we have 14 schools, about 100 teachers, and over 3,000 students with more on the way. This is a tremendous opportunity to provide a good education, spread the Gospel, and make disciples in Togo. Please read the attachment and prayerfully consider how you can help:
Christmas Catalog 2014

Hitting the Dusty Road

Last Monday we filled our truck with books and soccer balls then hit the dusty to Lome! In one week we visited:
5 of our Christian schools 1 new school that wants to join our association 1 church that wants to start a new school

We traversed many a long and bumpy road (thanks to all of you who help provide for our truck!) and left town before the large government protests started on Friday.
The most important thing we saw was the night and day difference between the trained Christian school teachers and all other teachers. Our teachers who have been trained created a great atmosphere for learning and demonstrated the fruit of the Spirit to their students. We also saw that we have some new teachers in our schools (and more coming next year) who have not been trained, so we decided to provide a 3-day crash course during Christmas break.

After seeing several good teachers and some areas in which to improve on Monday, we drove out to another school Tuesday morning. The first teacher I saw…

Music Ministry

There is a group of church musicians here in Kpalimé who have a strong desire to help other churches' music ministries. Primarily, they plan to teach people in other churches how to play musical instruments in church. They are continuing one of my father's ministries here in Togo by helping church musicians and music leaders.

Thankfully, my father left us a few extra instruments here which we can continue to use. However, one of the trumpets which my father left was broken and missing a vital part. So the other day Mawko, the head of our new Christian musician association, took me to the instrument repairman. It was quite an experience.

The repairman lives only a 2 minute drive down the road from my house at the fringe of a small village at the foot of a mountain. Mawko told me that the man's father traveled to Germany and learned instrument repair in Europe. The son was apprenticed to his father and he is now the only local instrument repairman we know.

The repairman look…

Our first school visits!

We have a truck!  We're so glad that everything was finally completed for us to pick up our truck this month.  This has allowed us more freedom to do what we came here to do!

This week we visited 4 local Christian schools run by Baptist churches.  Cyrus was happy to join the preschool class at the Kpegolonou school.  This school is very near our home and we'll be there regularly.

We distributed some materials for the classes and met a lot of teachers.  Impossible for us to remember all their names!

Andrew sat in a few classes to observe teachers.  There are so many kids per teacher, but they were pretty well behaved - probably because we were watching.  Not that our kids were distracting AT ALL.

Saw a lot of cute faces! 

Manny had fun playing with some kids during recess at the Zomayi school.  Since they don't understand each others language their play amounted to him pushing through them quickly making dinosaur noises.  They thought he was hilarious.

There are 9 othe…

Christian school construction 2014

We are constructing 2 new Christian school buildings this year. And by "we" I mean that I am taking pictures and keeping track of the finances on a spreadsheet while John Teusink and his crews do the real work. We wouldn't be able to have Christian schools without the Teusinks and their ministry here in Togo. Truly God has provided all the people we have needed for this ministry to succeed: Roger, Koudjodji, Christy Sopcisak, Anne Miller, the Teusinks, CWE, my parents, and all the other pastors, administrators, and teachers. As we continue to grow we need many others to join with us but we know that God will provide, not only the finances, but the people who will work to spread the gospel and make disciples through this Christian school ministry in Togo.

The Jr. High school in Tsiko is finally receiving it's own building after sharing facilities with the elementary school for 3 years. This year they needed their own building in order to serve the number of kids they…

Life in Togo

You may be wondering about our daily life in Togo:

Has Ebola changed our lives at all? No, there have been no cases of Ebola in Togo (nor in the surrounding countries Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso). Please continue to pray that it won't continue to spread, but also pray for those who are suffering from the disease.

Daylight hours?
We are very close to the equator so it gets dark before 7pm everyday, and because it is dark so early I think it's hard to stay up past 9pm. We usually go to bed at 10pm unless we are having a get-together with other missionaries. No alarm clock is necessary because our kids wake us up around sunrise everyday :-)

Clothing? A lot of the other men who live here wear khaki pants with an African shirt because the African style pants feersand look like pajama pants. I, on the other hand, think that if it's socially acceptable to wear pajama pants all day then count me in!

What kind of food do we eat? Well, I eat whatever I can find. I love the food here, and…

Ice Cream and the Good News

Ice cream and the Good News: We concluded our teacher seminar with some ice cream, but more importantly, a discussion on giving the gospel in the classroom. Many of the students in our schools come from Muslim families or other families that do not believe in Jesus alone for salvation. These teachers may be the only gospel witness in their students' lives. So the teachers gave examples of students who heard the gospel in class and believed in Jesus, then we talked about how it is absolutely necessary to give the gospel and to be an example of a life that has been changed by the power of the gospel.

We just completed a week-long curriculum and teacher-training conference focused on rewriting the History and Geography curriculum for our Christian schools. The theme for the conference was: How should a Christian teach History and Geography? Christy Sopcisak and I reviewed some principles of teaching and curriculum, then the teachers crafted new learning objectives followed by creativ…

That sinking feeling when you know you are in over your head

You know that sinking feeling you get when you know you are in over your head? It reminds me of the disciple Peter in Matthew 14 when he was walking on water but saw the strength of the wind against him, so he became afraid and began to sink. Peter's reaction always seemed strange to me: if he had enough faith to walk on the water to begin with, then why would some little wind and wave make him afraid?
But Peter's reaction isn't strange; it's exactly human. Time and again I've had faith in God to provide and then I've seen Him provide much more than I asked for. However, when I feel the strength of the wind against me and see the height of the wave coming at me I respond just like Peter did. And every time Jesus pulls me up and not so subtlety says, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

So recently I deeply contemplated the magnitude of the Christian school ministry here in Togo as well as our future goals and needs - that's when I felt that…

Well, my truck driver started a riot...

Well, my truck driver started a riot. Last week I rented a truck, driver, and some movers to help me move a ton of stuff from the hospital compound to our new home in Kpalimé. We almost made it all the way back without an incident, but about 5 minutes from our house a moto-taxi driver didn't like how the truck driver was driving. And the truck driver didn't like the moto-taxi driver’s attitude or the way he was driving either. So the truck driver pulled over, got out of the truck [the big mistake], and started yelling at the moto-taxi driver. Then moto-taxi driver B came running over to help moto-taxi driver A, so all the movers jumped out of the truck to defend their boss, the truck driver. They held back moto-taxi driver B, but he kept trying to hit the truck driver so they punched him and tore his shirt. With that, lot of people started coming over to see what was happening. Next thing you know there are 40 people surrounding the truck yelling, some punching each other, an…

May in Chattanooga

My recovery is going well.  After the surgery I pretty much just slept for 4 days, but I think living on the top floor in a mission house has helped me get back on my feet quickly.  I'm not interested in walking around Walmart yet, but I feel pretty good most of the time.

We've been able to change our tickets to fly to Accra, Ghana on June 6th.  From there we'll drive across the border into Togo. We're so glad to have this time to spend with some dear friends and family before our move.

Our boys have enjoyed the extra playtime with cousins. They especially like to play in the water outside.

Surgery tomorrow

The last weekend of our time in Québec saw us visit the hospital again - this time for me.  Apparently, I have a "truckload of gallstones" (the ultrasound tech's words, not mine!). We made it down to Chattanooga without any major issues, and the surgery to remove my gallbladder is set for tomorrow morning.  With our flight to Togo scheduled for May 14th, that doesn't leave much time to recover, so we're pushing our tickets back a few weeks.

Maybe God knows we need more time with family and friends, time to rest, shop, drink Starbucks, whatever. . . before heading to Togo.  His timing is always the best timing.  He does everything for my ultimate good and for His glory.  

Please pray for me during surgery and during my time of recovery.

Sweet Fellowship

One of the greatest joys we've experienced during our time here at Parole de Vie has been the sweet fellowship with fellow missionaries.
We like to look at the very first picture that was taken of us all together and compare it to a more recent photo.  Notice how far apart from each other we are standing in photo #1 compared to photo #2?                                                                                                                     ↓ We get together for a meal most weekends.  One Sunday we all made crêpes.  Good food generally brings people closer together.  We've gone on numerous outings together.  Apple picking, visiting a museum of Sherbrooke, Maple Syrup Shack, the library, various restaurants, and several ladies' conferences. In December, the kids (meaning me and another mom, because the kids lost interest) made gingerbread ornaments together.  I hung them in our apartment, and the smell of the cinnamon generally helped the smell of potty traini…

winter fun

One of our fellow missionaries took the boys out to go tubing this morning.  They had soooo much fun!