Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Eve Deliveries

In light of Christmas, we wanted to do something extra to give to others.  Last year, we took the kids to the hospital to pass at tracts and coloring books.  But this year, we wanted to do something different.  We talked with one of our Togolese friends, Pastor Jeremy, to see if he knew of a couple families who could really use some help. The hard part is determining who needs it the most.  When you are surrounded by poverty it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to even start.  So we thought Jeremy would best be able to choose 2 families who where very needy and who don't know Christ. 
This is the little store in Adeta where we went to buy the food.  It is a tiny little place, but they surprisingly have quite a lot of food things like rice, pasta, oil, mayonnaise, mustard, tomato paste, bouillon cubes, powdered milk,  and canned sardines.  So bought a little of everything!  We even found some little cookies for the children.
We packed 2 bags of goodies to bring to the 2 families.  The kids were so excited! 
Driving down the road.  Jeremy chose 2 families in this area where he has started a church.  They are both unsaved families.

John, Jeremy and Aiden carrying the food.

 One of the sweet little girls in the family.
Some of the children were a little unsure of the Yovo (white) family showing up at their home!

 Madame Elise (Pastor Jeremy's wife) came along with us and helped with Ansley.

When we arrived, they brought out benches and chairs for us all to sit on.  It is very customary.

This is the stove where they cook.

When we gave them the food we also were able to share the Gospel with them.  Pastor Jeremy translated into Kabiye.  John was able to share with them that the food we gave them will only last so long.  And that they will become hungry again.  But Jesus is able to fill the hunger of the soul!
The patriarch of the family.

Some of the other family members.

Ansley, of course, was a hit!

This was the second home we went to.  The wife is expecting her second child and recently lost her husband.  She just cried as we gave her the food and Madame Elise talked with her about salvation.  Please pray for her.  Her name is Da Bebe.  I would like to visit her again.
The kids were so excited to see all the food.  The little girl with braids is the daughter of one of our Togolese friends.  She ran over to see what was going on when the van pulled up.


It is so easy to become overwhelmed when you are surrounded by so much need and suffering.  I often wondered what is was like for Jesus as He was constantly confronted by those with great need.  He did not heal everyone.  He did not fix everyone's situation.  He was able to but He chose not to. He, of course, had great wisdom in choosing to act as He did.   We can not heal everyone and we can not fix the economic situation in Togo.  We can not take away the hurt from losing a loved one. We can make a difference in people lives as we have the opportunity to by showing them Christ.  It takes a lot of prayer seeking the Lord's direction and wisdom, but we were thankful for this opportunity to reach out to someone in need and show them the love of Christ.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Blessings from America

A couple weekends ago I was invited to speak at one of the village church's Christmas ladies meeting.   It is a special church because we know the Pastor and his wife well.  We met them both when we first came to Togo in 2001.
As soon as Madame Akofa (the pastor's wife) asked me to come speak I thought that it would be the perfect time to give a gift to the ladies.  Some time ago the ladies of Faith Church (our sending church in NC) collected ear rings and gave them to me to bring to Togo and give some Togolese ladies.  I had kept the ear rings waiting for a special time to hand them out and then was just the right time!
The church is about 40 minutes from the hospital in the village of Djove-Pime down a VERY bumpy, pot hole ridden road....if you can even call it a road anymore!  It is more dirt now that asphalt.

This is Madame Akofa.  I can not say enough about what a godly woman she is. She and I have talked together, laughed together, prayed together and even cried together.  She has been with our family for the births of Eliza and Ansley.  And she calls herself the kids "Togolese Mother".
Can you spot the little Yovo (white person)? As soon as I arrived at the church, Ansley was whisked away from my arms.  But she was more than happy to be carried around on Louise's back.

Madame Kafui is another sweet lady.  She is a nurse at HBB and is very active in the ladies ministry at this church.

Ansley definitely made her rounds visiting with all the ladies.  One lady was holding her and Ansley just barely started to fuss and Akofa (even though she was leading the meeting) went right over and took Ansley.  And Ansley settled right down!  All our kids LOVE Akofa.
After I gave a devotion, Madame Akofa explained to the women that the women from my home church had given ear rings for them.  They were all so excited.
Madame Akofa handing out the gifts.

They all wanted to put them on right away!

This lady was so precious.  She just beamed as she wore her new ear rings.
Helping each other out

 All gathered around looking at each others new ear rings.

Some of the ladies after the meeting.  All very so thankful.
One thing that struck me was how excited the women were.  And I honestly don't think it was about the gift itself as much as the act of giving.  I think they were quite surprised that some women way over in America, from a different culture, a different language, a different lifestyle -really a completely different world- had thought about them and wanted to share something with them. The simple ear rings conveyed a great message of love in Christ.
I told the women that even though in this lifetime they will never meet the women from my home church and that even though we are from different worlds, we are sisters in Christ.  One day in Heaven, together we will bow before the King of Kings and worship together.  Skin color, tribe, language, culture will all be irrelevant as we kneel before the One who humbled Himself for us, one Christmas long ago  so that one day He could be our spotless sacrifice.
So from the ladies of Djove-Pime to ladies of Faith Church
Joyeux Noelle (French for Merry Christmas)
Akbe-lo (Ewe for "thank you") for the Christmas blessings.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sweet Little Grace

Grace is a little girl that we have all fallen in love with.  Several months ago she came into the hospital having some heart dysrhythmias and it was determined that she needed to go to the U.S. for heart surgery.  While all of that was being worked on her father, Komi, collapsed while working here at the hospital.  Komi was one of our lab techs and was a wonderful Christian man who was always joyful and such a hard worker.  After his first incidence, he was resuscitated and miraculously survived.  It was decided that he too would need serious surgical intervention to correct his heart problem.  Six weeks after his first cardiac arrest, he collapsed again at home and was not able to be revived.

Just a day or so after his death, Dr Kelly (our missionary pediatrician who has been working to get Grace to the U.S.), got word that all the paperwork had gone through and that a hospital in the States was accepting Grace and they would do the surgery she needs to live.

My girls met Grace just a few weeks ago and they go to school with her.  Well, they have just clicked with her and have become good little friends.  They can't communicate (she speaks Kabiye and just a little French) but they don't seem to let that hinder them.

When Eliza and Olivia heard Grace was going to the US and would be flying on a plane they wanted to do something for her.  So we went through the things we have here and made her a little bag with crayons, a coloring book, glow sticks (for when it gets dark on the plane), some stickers, a little doll and some fruit snacks.  Yesterday evening we went to visit Grace at her home and give her the little bag.  At first, Grace was a little shy.  I think she was surprised at all the Yovos (white people) at her house.  But soon, they all grabbed hands and went to play on a big pile of dirt.  There was lots of giggling!

As a write this, little Grace is boarding a plan in Lome to head to the US for her heart surgery.  She had to leave behind her mom and little brother.  I cried the other night as I thought about her getting on that plane and how very scary it will be for her.  I worried she wouldn't know how to use the potty (remember she doesn't have plumbing or running water) and if she would know how to eat the food they serve on the plane.  Would she be scared when the planes takes off??  So I called Dr. Kelly to get some details!!  She told me that Grace will have an escort (an off duty flight attendant) to accompany her all the way to Indianapolis where she will have her surgery Tuesday.  But please pray for Grace.  The organization that is funding her surgery has arranged for some Togolese people who live close to the hospital (and who know Kabiye) to be there to help with communicating with her.  But it just breaks my heart to think of her being in such a different place, with different looking people, a different language, different food, freezing cold and without anyone she knows.  And it just breaks my heart that her mom had to send her off after just losing her husband.

Would you please pray for Grace.  Her surgery is this Tuesday.  Please pray that the Lord will allow the surgery to be successful, that Grace would do well and that she can return home quickly so that her family can continue to be a testimony for Christ.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Two Years

December 3rd, 2011

The day will forever be etched in my heart and mind.  It was the day we lost everything. It was the day I received a phone call from my husband saying, "You need to come home.....our house is on fire".

And while there are far worse trials that we could have faced, this was a hard one.  So as I look back at that day and the days following I want to always remember some of the things God taught me.  And since my memory is not the greatest, I wanted to write them down.

Things really do matter.

Yes, I said it.  Things do matter, but they are not the most important.  I would be lying if I said I didn't miss some of the things we lost.  Some days, something will pop into my head and then I remember... no, we lost that in the fire.   My girls will never get to try on my wedding dress.  They will never see their newborn hospital photos.  Aiden will never get to have the rocking horse his great grandfather made for him.  They will never be able to give their own children that special outfit I had saved.  They will never get to see pictures of John and me dating. But you know what?  It is OK.  It is ok to be sad over those things.  But it is not okay to be consumed by the loss of those things. 

I don't think there is anything wrong with having things or being sentimental about material things. I am sentimental to a fault!  But I have to keep it in perspective.  God gave us those things to begin with and then He saw fit for us to have them all taken away.  I just have to remind myself that I can chose to be sad over what we lost or I can chose to rejoice over what we have.  And the list of what God has given us is far greater than the list of what was taken by the fire!

 Invest in people, not things.
 But wait!!  I just said things matter.  And they do, but people matter more.  The question is, what is our focus?  And I ask myself this too!!  I am writing this so I will remember these things. So that I will be changed.

 But what do I invest in?  I use to get so caught up in the bows and boots and the fancy outfits.  I spent countless hours sewing for the kids.  There is nothing wrong with all that. I still love cute dresses and big bows for the girls! I got caught up in the activities and outings and experiences for the kids.   But after the fire, I was really convicted of making sure I invested as much into my kids hearts as I did into their appearance and activities.   I want always to invest into their lives, into their little souls,  because nothing can take that away!

And what about the house?  Did I invest as much time and effort into making it a place of hospitality so that we could minister to others as I did in trying to make sure it was up to date with Pinterest and all the latest home design blogs?  Did I hesitate to have people over because there was toothpaste on the bathroom mirror or because our walls weren't painted the latest shade of Benjamin Moore.  I did.

Our home here is simple.  Most of the things in it our not our things.  Ours floors may be dusty and my curtains may be tattered, but I want it to be a place where Christ is shared through hospitality.   Because the love and time we pour into others can never be lost!

People don't care as much about the appearance of your house as they care about the heart of your home.

The Kindness of Strangers

Before we ever left the scene of the fire, people were stopping.  Stopping to see what we needed, stopping to give us food, clothes and gift cards.  Cars would slow down to pass the house only to come back buy 3o minutes later, get out of their car and hand us some money and then leave.  They did it completely out of the kindness of their hearts.  Most of them we did not know.  Most of them we would never be able to thank or repay.  They had nothing to gain by giving.  Yet they gave.  Oh that I may have such a generous spirit and always look for opportunities to give, specifically to those who can not repay.  Because isn't that when we are most like Christ, when we give to those who can not give back.

The Strength of our Church Family

The are no words eloquent enough to describe the love that was poured out on us from our church family.  To those who gave so very sacrificially.....Heaven smiled as you gave your last five dollars so our children would have a good Christmas that year.  Two years later, I am still simply humbled at the way our church gathered around us and did for us what we could not do for ourselves. 

The Sovereignty of God

So, I still do not have some great spiritual reason why this happened to us.  I still don't know why God allowed this trial into our lives just as we were preparing to serve Him in missions.  But I do know that God is good regardless of our circumstances.  It is not a cliché.  It is not a hollow sentiment.  It is not an empty mantra.  It is a truth that I have threshed out and that I claim! I know that HE never changes.  I know that He is a loving and faithful Father.  And now, I can accept that that is all I need to know.  I know HIM!   I don't need to know why this happened because I have faith in the ONE who allowed it to happen.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


Just a few pictures from our Thanksgiving here in Togo.  We celebrated with all the other missionaries here, mainly Americans but also a few Canadian missionaries.
 John and Aiden carving the turkey.  Aiden was just fascinated by the electric knife. 

Setting up the food in the pailloute (a gazebo) here on the hospital compound. 
 This is what Thanksgiving lunch looks like in Togo.  Not too bad, huh?
The only things missing were some of my Grandma's collards & turnips, and some of John's Grandmother's candy bar dessert!
 Eliza, Olivia and Cassie.  Sweet friends
 Drew, Aiden and Ansley
 Sweet Ansley has been pretty sick lately, but she did take a few bites of her first Thanksgiving meal.

John leading the time of singing and praises.
 James, one of the missionary kids, leading music.
 The MKs singing.
 What a great group of kids!
Our little family.
  So very blessed and so THANKFUL for all the Lord is doing.

My family

My family