Saturday, September 13, 2014

Togo: Ebola Update

It is the one conversation that every foreign missionary dreads.  It strikes fear, dread and heart break all at the same time. It can cause division among a team.  It brings anxiety and tears.


No missionary ever wants to have to face this issue and yet we (in our total of 4 years serving here in Africa) have had to face this twice.  The last time was when we had to evacuate in 2005 due to political unrest and violence.  Now, 8 years later we had to sit down with our missionary team and face it again.

Let me be clear.  Ebola has NOT shown up in Togo.  We also have a border to our north, east and west from the countries of Burkina Faso, Benin and Ghana.  However, there was a recent scare in Ghana where a man was suspected of having died from Ebola(EVD).  If positive, that would have brought Ebola fearfully close to our hospital.  Praise the Lord, his blood work came back negative for EVD so the Lord maintained our borders of protection.  But each day as the cases spread and the numbers climb, Togo faces a very real threat of EVD spreading to our little country.  Some have even said it is imminent.

Currently, there are reported cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia & Nigeria.

With the  CDC and WHO's predictions that EVD will continue to spread in West Africa we had to sit down and have an open honest discussion about what we as a missionary team will do.  We have had many "sideline" talks regarding the issue-- the medical staff has made some plans and preparations, we receive multiple daily emails from our chief of staff with the latest confirmed data on the disease.  But this was the first time our entire team (medical people, pilot, maintainence, print shop) had sat down together to formulate a plan together on when and how we would evacuate.

Source Unknown

It is a very personal subject for each missionary when deciding when to leave.  It can cause tension and even arguments.  Some people feel you should leave at the first sign of a threat.  Others feel that if we are called to serve here then we should stay to the very end.  There also could come the time when our mission, ABWE, would order a mandatory evacuation of all missionaries.  But we as a team were able to have a incredibly unified, supportive approach to our facing evacuation.

 The team was able to assure the medical people with children that even though they are essential to the hospital that they are mommies and daddies first and that if they feel they need to take their family to safety then the team would support that decision. We were also able to verbalize to the couples and singles that if they want to stay to the end, then the team would support that decision too.  But that if they felt the need to leave early, then no one would pass judgment. These were not vain words that we shared as a team.  They were laced with tears and nothing but love and trust for each other.  As John and I left the meeting we were encouraged by the sweet sense of unity that the Lord had granted.

So far, the Lord has protected Togo from this ravaging disease.  For that, we raise our hands and gratefully say "Thank you, Father!"  But we also humbly fall on our knees and beg, "Please have mercy on us!".

Please pray this with us. 

Pray the Lord would stop the spread throughout the countries currently suffering.

Pray that we would not have to face the decision of leaving the very place we have come to serve and call home.

Pray we will not have to look into the faces of our Togolese brothers and sisters, who are terrified of the disease, and tell them we are leaving them behind.

Pray the Lord give wisdom if we are faced with the decision to leave.

Please, please pray that the Lord will continue to have mercy on us.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

This is just weird....

The things we do for our children!

I have had to do some strange things since becoming a mom and some even stranger things since becoming a missionary, but this might be the weirdest.....

...boiling cloth diapers!!

Poor little Ansley was getting burned by the ammonia in her diapers.  Since I don't have any fancy detergents to use and don't have a way to get any right way, I Googled it and found out you can boil them!

I know, you didn't really want to know this, but hey....this is missions! :)  You 've got to work with what you have, and I had bad diapers, a pot, and some boiling water.  It seems to have worked and Ansley is a much happier baby.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Hardest Part of Missions

I often am asked, "What is the hardest part about missions?.  And there can be many answers to that. But I would have to answer that the hardest thing about missions is seeing your children hurt or suffer because you have made the choice to be here.  And that really is true for any parent.  It is incredibly hard to watch your child hurt no matter who you are, where you live, or what you do in life.

Aiden is my tough child.  He is resilient and goes through life happy.  He is not whiny or one to be sensitive.  But today, his little heart is breaking.

For the last month, we have been so blessed to have an incredibly sweet family, Micah & Katherine Schmidt, visiting.  Most of the time when people come they leave their kids behind- partly due to the cost of bringing a family and partly because people are afraid to bring their children to Africa!   So we are always happy when families visit, but this family has been extra special.  Maybe because they are a big family like us (they have 5 kids!)....maybe because their kids are so close in age to ours...maybe because they homeschool....maybe because we are so similar in our philosophy of family and child raising.  But I think more than any of that, the Lord has just so uniquely knit our hearts together.  We are sad to see them go for so many reasons, but for me the hardest reason is because Aiden will have to say good bye to his new best little buddy Daniel who is 4 like Aiden.

Last night at church, we were praying for the Schmidt family.  John was sitting beside Aiden and noticed Aiden start to cry.  When he asked why, Aiden replied that he was crying because his friend was leaving him.  This is the little boy who didn't even cry when both sets of grandparents left.  He is tough....but today he is definitely broken hearten

I know you are thinking, "Really? Best buddies in only a month?".  But I wish you could see them together.  They are kindred spirits.  I really feel like the Lord sent Daniel just for Aiden.  For almost 2 years, Aiden hasn't been able to play with a 4 year or even 5 year old boy with out having to struggle through a language barrier.  Or play cars with a little boys who looks like him.  Or climb trees with a little boy he could giggle together with. And now that he has made such a sweet little friend, it will end as they leave for the States tomorrow. I didn't realize the sacrifice Aiden has made until now. 

So today, unequivocally, I can say that the hardest part of missions is the hurt that your kids have to go through.

My family

My family