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, and a few slapping the cab doors.
Where am during all this? I’m sitting in the cab hoping I don’t get yanked out the window and beat up. Keep in mind, I can’t really take a side here because both guys were behaving badly and I can’t talk anyone into calming down because everyone is yelling so loudly that you can’t hear anything. Additionally, no one is yelling in French; it’s all in tribal languages so I wouldn't have been able to understand them even if they had been talking slowly. Therefore, I wasn’t even sure what was going on because I didn't know what they we saying and I was watching most of the action through the semi-shattered side mirror.
I called one of the other missionaries, Jim Gerhart who thankfully, was in a meeting with one of the local pastors. Pastor Happy was blessing #1 and blessing #2 was that the riot was taking place near the city's gendarmerie so it didn't take too long for some officials to arrive. Jim, the pastor, a soldier, and a police inspector arrived at about the same time. While the policeman was sorting everything out the pastor was explaining everything to us. Apparently, road-rage wasn't the only motivating factor; the two drivers were from different tribes which have had conflict before and the truck driver was known (but not known to me) to be a trouble-maker.
Once the policeman had the crowd under control the pastor told the movers to take the truck and leave, so we got out of Dodge and unloaded the stuff at my house. In the end, the two drivers went to jail, but no one was seriously injured and the cargo made it into the house so I’ll chalk that one up as a victory.
Now we are jumping into ministry details: last Friday we had a meeting of the officers of the association of Christian schools. It was very encouraging to see them making wise decisions in the face of difficult problems. One of the most difficult situations is that one of the 14 schools is struggling so much that it may close this year. Please pray for wisdom for all of us here as we seek to do what will most honor God in this set circumstances.
We planned much of our summer schedule at the Christian school meeting. I’ll be helping one of our other missionary co-workers, Christy Sopcisak, plan and present a curriculum seminar for a few teachers, then about a month after that I’ll be doing a seminar (with much help from Roger and Christy) working on our new History/Geography curriculum with a group of teachers. Finally, they asked me to work on a discipleship program for all the Christian school teachers. We want all the teachers to be discipled and to be discipling their students. As you know, that is the purpose of the Christian schools, to proclaim the gospel of Jesus and to make disciples of Him.
On another note, many of you have been asking how the kids are doing. Manny and Cyrus are adjusting well, and we are looking forward to staying in one place for a little while since we have had 6 different homes in the 4 & 1/2 years since Manny has been born; this house makes #7. One problem so far is that the kids are afraid of spiders. I feel their pain. I remember that when I was a kid living here in Togo I was very afraid of spiders. Now… I’m still very afraid of spiders, I've just learned to deal with the fear.
Someone always asks me, “what do you need?” First, we need your prayers as we adjust and spend more time with our ministry partners. Second, we still need $2,000 towards paying the import tax on our vehicle which will be arriving in August. Third, the Christian school ministry needs $6,000 to be ready for next school year: this includes expenses for a curriculum seminar, in-service training, and replacement books and materials for 14 schools.
Finally, we need you. There are many ways you may be able to be involved in the ministry here in Togo. If you are interested, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To God be the glory,
Andrew Paul Ward
Andrew Paul Ward