14 Aug

Togo 2010 – what really happened?

So I was off in Togo for most of July, and amazing time on sooo many levels. Great to go out and visit places and people I have known for the past 12 years. It was especially brilliant because it was a trip I didn’t’ think I would ever get to make again. Having left the WYnet job and handed it all over, it was exciting to be asked to head back and train Steve who took over from me. Fortunately I have worked with him for 4 years now, training him wasn’t too big a deal, a good lad is Steve! I can’t really pinpoint what was so good about it. Maybe it was getting away from the 15 months of organising a tour, maybe it was the delight of seeing people and places again. Maybe it was once again the privilege of seeing God at work in the lives of young people again. I miss youth work!

I first headed to Togo 12 years ago with a bunch of mismatches; we headed out to renovate an old missionary house for the Bible translation team to use as an office. At the time I made some real close friends, many of whom I am still in touch with. Little did I know that that trip was going to have quite a profound impact on my life. Not only did it open my eyes further to the big world out there, but it challenged me spiritually too. 5 weeks was a long time to be away from home, but frankly I was happy to be away, things at home weren’t easy or happy for the most part. Coming home from such a trip with a changed perspective, some new friend, and some challenges to face head on with God, really set me up for the next few years of my life. Having the opportunity to take a team of young people out to Togo and be challenged and changed as I was has been a huge privilege of my former job as WYnet coordinator. This year’s trip was no exception.

Great bunch of young people who were happy to get stuck in with all the activities we were up to.
Great bunch of young people who were keen to find out more about God’s plan for their lives.
Great bunch of young people who got to know each other VERY well, and managed to get on with each other and grew to love each other.
Amazing bunch of young people.

I also had the immense privilege to gain a peer. Ruth who was out as one of the leaders has been all the way through WYnet when I was in charge, eventually joining our leadership team. Great to see that relationship move on from Leader / youth to peer. That really doesn’t happen as often as I would like.

Talk about spiritually challenging, the chance to get some time and space away from normal life, somehow the lack of distractions and I guess responsibilities allows time to calm down and allow God to speak and reveal more of Him. It also allows time and space to deal with stuff as it comes up. So one thing I ‘discovered’ God ‘revealed to me’ however you want to term it, I came to the realisation that I have been carrying some resentment. What a great chance to go get some space and deal with that! There are some other things too that go back a bit in time that I could take the chance to sort out!

13 Jul

Togo 2010 Update 2 – Sent on Sunday 11th July

Monday 5th
Pretty much the whole day was taken up with travelling to Bassar. We and all our bags piled into the minibus and headed off at 0700! We arrived about 1500 and promptly prayed over the building our beds and then the rains came! Boy was it loud, pretty awesome! Hanging mosquito nets is a bit of a mission when you are hot and sticky, but they all got hung and supplies bought and we started to settle in!

Tuesday 6th
Day 1 in Bassar involved a little walk into town to visit the police station
to let them know we are around in town. The Chief Constable, Raymond there is always very welcoming and open to hear about what we are up to this time on our visit. Wondering around the town is surprising hot and tiresome for us ‘yovo’ (white people), so after a lovely siesta we sat down with our resident linguist, Ruth who taught us some of the basic linguistics we need to go on and learn some Ntcham. This mostly involved trying to figure out how we make all the various sounds in English, only to find that Ntcham has so many others that we aren’t used to making!

Wednesday 7th
The morning had in store for us our first Ntcham learning session with Samuel. We learnt about the different sounds in the Ntcham alphabet and then all the various greetings. We moved onto to have a wander into town practicing those greetings with everyone we meet along the way.
The afternoon was spent chilling out hope for the big rain storm to come our way. It didn’t.

Thursday 8th
This morning was Ntcham class 102. 0900 in the office with Samuel learning our new Ntcham names. The pronunciations can be a challenge!

Tim- Gbati
Steve-Ubootu
Ruth- Damba
Megan – Jabii
Aimee – Saai
Lizzy – Jeeti
Miriam – Jaai
Hannah – Ajaa

We learnt how to introduce our selves and ask “what is your name” we also learnt a few more ‘survival’ phrases like, I’m sorry, thank you and I don’t understand. Once again, we took a wonder around town practicing the things we have just learnt. It is so much easier than learning a language in school. The freedom to go and apply what we just learnt is a real advantage! After a wee siesta in the afternoon we headed to the office to help Samuel produce some booklets of the scripture portions he has translated. We hope to distribute these in the various church meetings we visit while we are here. Every night after dinner we get together and have devotions. We take it in turns to lead based on one of the passages about Jesus ministry. The session includes a bit of singing, praying and sharing about our day, what we have found good and what we have maybe found harder. A great time to explore scripture together and grow closer to God and be challenged in ways that maybe we didn’t expect.

Friday 9th
A more chilled day today, Ruth wasn’t feeling so great yesterday and woke up feeling worse today. The team did a great job of reacting with prayer for her! Whilst the rest of the team headed into town to greet people and check out some cloth and negotiate with the Tailor, Tim and Ruth popped next door to see the doctor. The result is that we are currently treating her for malaria. It is far more precautionary than reactionary; it is very simple to treat here. She is fairly chirpy when not asleep but she has rested well, drank lots and even eaten some. We thank God that she is already doing better at the time we write this. Please do pray that her recovery is quick, the team miss having her around! After lunch, some of the girls got their hair braided, it is certainly an experience! You’ll have to check out some photos after we are home.

Saturday 10th
This morning we headed over to Samuels house to learn about making African Donuts! First job is to make the batter. We then headed into town to explore market day. Town is much busier than any other day we have been in, and the market was packet with everything imaginable included smoked fish on every corner. Ruth is doing better today; she managed to join the team for breakfast. After lunch we headed back to Samuels house to cook to donuts having given the batter time to rise over lunch.

05 Jul

Togo 2010 Update 1 – Sent on Sunday 3rd July

Hi folks, sorry for the lack of contact, we landed fine, managed to eventually get visas in Lome airport and found all our bags with no problems! The first few days are always tiring, due to the travel and the change in climate, but everyone is doing really well. Saturday was spent getting used to life here, drinking lots of water and hoping that Steve could get all the supplies we need. Thankfully he did, and we managed a short wander down the road near the guesthouse.

This morning we headed out for our first church meeting of the trip. The service started at 0700. Yes you did read that right! The church has 3 services and the 0700 service is conducted in French and English. The next 2 of the morning are conducted in French plus one of the local languages. Long and warm is not a great combination for staying awake, but a wonderful experience being with several hundred of God’s people worshiping together!

This afternoon we hope to head out to a small party with some of the other missionary families who are around at the moment. There has been some trouble here the past couple of weeks. The petrol prices were hiked up and several groups of workers held strikes that led to localised protests. Things have been calm since we have been here (I doubt it is our influence!). You could pray for continued peace and that our plans aren’t disrupted!

Tomorrow we head up to Bassar, a 5-7 hour minibus ride. We are all looking forward to getting up there and getting settled in.

– Pray for continued good health

– Pray for safe travels

01 Jul

I'm off to Togo tommorow!

As tempting as it might be to make all the To-go to Togo puns, please don’t bother, I WILL have heard them all before! I’m currently sat in my bedroom having led a VERY full of day of orientation for the team who are heading out via Paris tomorrow. My brain is a bit fried, I don’t feel like I have really stopped since the tour. In fact, I know I haven’t, one of my last jobs yesterday was to finalise the list of ‘follow up’ opportunities to pass on and even this morning was a teleconference about a possible tour in 2011! I then had to get my head very quickly in the game ready for the Togo team. I was mostly very pleased with how the day went, until a text from Ali at 2100 mentioning that I had left my packet of anti-malarial meds on the table at home. Thank goodness I am only 12 minutes drive away from home!

I’m tired. I don’t think it is a big deal, I’m not grumpy yet, but I can feel the tiredness from running around on tour! At the same time though, I am REALLY excited. This is the Togo trip that I didn’t think was going to happen. A chance to see the people one last time, a chance to properly hand over to Steve, a chance to get my knife back! I don’t express excitement very well verbally and I’m not sure the team think I am excited, but I know that as soon as I see Samuel in the airport, things will start to get real!

We had a fab time of sharing earlier, and I shared that one of my hopes on this trip was to get away from ‘normal life’ (whatever that is!) and try to make use of the extra time and space such a trip provides to really take hold of the depression issue and give it back to God. I’ve done a great job of analysing it myself. I know myself far better now than I ever did. I have things in place to avoid the dips, Ali is better equipped to cope with me! BUT even amongst all that, I need to allow quality time for God to do some deeper work in me. Weeding a garden is a great analogy when it comes to this stuff. I found the weeds and pulled them out, even dug a bit to find the roots. However, for the garden of my life to be fully restored, some of the underlying soil needs to be modified, balanced out to provide a better growth environment. Such a trip provides some excellent retreat time in the afternoons!

Pray for me at this time;

– That I allow God to do an awesome work in me.

– That the team all stay healthy and safe as we travel and do our thing.

– That handing things over to Steve goes smoothly.

– Pray also for Ali and Dan, for protection over them and a good time until I return.

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