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.

15 Jul

Togo Team Update 5

Monday 7th
Our final language lesson with Samuel was good, we learnt about numbers,
money and counting money, which is different from other counting. We learnt
‘power tools’ which are key phrases and questions to help us learn more
Ncham vocab. So things like, what is that called? Where is _____? How
do you say _________ in Ncham? We then headed for a walk around town to
buy a few supplies and practice a few phrases, we even stopped off for a
Coke. In the afternoon the girls had their hair braided and the boys
headed over to visit Samuel’s farm. In the evening we did our daily devotionals.
Every evening we look at a part of Jesus ministry as an example for our
own lives and ministries. Each team member takes a few turns during the
trip to lead the devotional, share a bit about the passage and ask a few
discussion questions. We talk about the day, sing some songs, do some
bible declarations and pray before bed.

Tuesday 8th
This was the first of our 2 day family visits. We spilt the team into 2
groups, the first group headed to Madame Pierre’s house, she is the lady
who is doing the cooking for us. They headed out to the market, peeled
Yams, pounded FooFoo, ground Tomatoes to make the sauce and eventually ate
it all. They also made Bean cakes, which are white beans cooked off,
added to flour and water, whisked up then deep fried. The second group
headed to Samuel’s house to spend the day with his family, they also
headed off to the market, then they made the dough for doughnuts so that
it would rise. They learnt how to sweep, to wash and how to cut up fish
to cook, and rice, all done on a charcoal fire! After lunch, everyone
gathered at Samuel’s house to fry and taste the doughnuts. Late in the
afternoon we all headed back to the guesthouse for a debrief looking at
how much vocab we had learnt. We talked a lot about the lifestyle and
everyone’s simple lack of ‘stuff’. Just before dinner arrived, the tailor
and seamstress turned up to take our orders, joy was had in trying to
describe what wondrous creations had been drawn and making sure all the
correct measurements were with the correct designs and the correct cloth!
The prices were excellent and everyone was excited to see how they would
turn out!

Wednesday 9th
Today the two teams swapped houses so that everyone could get a full
experience, but also to be able to compare the two houses and lifestyles.
When Madame Pierre isn’t cooking for us, she runs a hair salon in town
with a good number of apprentices. Her husband used to be the keyboardist
for the translation team but now runs a women’s development NGO in Bassar.
They are quite well off in comparison to Samuel’s family. They are also
a bit older and have been working for much longer! As if the day hadn’t
been long enough, we had an early supper and then headed out by motorbike
relay taking the team to the Church of Pentecost on the road out of town
for a 1800 service. Much fun is had on the bikes and an evening service
quite suits the team! At the start of the service there was literally
about 8 people and the team in the church. As the sun went down, it got
darker, and after only a couple songs it was time for Tim’s 3rd preach.
Just as he started to preach, one of the ladies on the front row handed him
a torch, it became apparent there was no electricity in this church
building! Not exactly a carols by candlelight and certainly a new
experience having to preach whilst holding notes and a torch to see them!
Samuel was in good form and the team appreciated only having to sit through 1
translation this time. The pastor however was not an Ncham speaker and so
he had someone sat beside him translating from Samuel’s Ncham into his
native Ewe! I guess that is not so uncommon here. The motorbike relay
home was a little more exciting, in the dark and also the rain! Just as
the pastor was saying the closing prayer the rain fell, and boy was it loud.
As soon as we stepped outside we discovered it wasn’t as bad as expected,
the tin roof made it seem a lot worse!

Thursday 10th
At every church service we have made an offer to the congregation to
reduce the price of the Ncham new testament to make it more affordable for
more people. When it was first published it was 1000cfa (approx 800cfa =
£1) then they reduced it to 500 because no-one was buying them, so we
made the offer to reduce it to 300cfa and cover the extra costs ourselves.
Thursday morning was the day we had set for people to come to the
translation office to buy the New Testaments or any of the 4 Old Testament
book that have been published. It seemed like a long morning 0800 – 1130
but at the end of the morning, 150 had been sold! It was a tremendous
encouragement to the team, and also to the translators. Word had even
spread so that a few people from the Catholic Church bought some and even a
non-believer who was fixing the car of another guy who was buying bibles,
wanted one! The only downer was half the team getting sun burnt. So
the afternoon was spent slapping on the after-sun, drinking lots of water
and relaxing!

Friday 11th
Due to sun burn problems some of the planned excursions were put on hold,
a few did make it out to visit the bakery. They met with the baker and
then headed out towards the mill. The wheat gets ground in one room, then
in the next room, it is made into dough. Every baker has their own
recipe, and ours likes to add a bit of nutmeg which of course must be
ground before adding. Water and yeast and sugar and salt and a tablet of
bicarbonate of soda is all mixed up and then slowly added to the flour in
the mixer. The mixer has three parts. 1 – the motor linked to 2- car
axle with a fly wheel on it, adapted to take a dough hook instead of a
drive shaft. Which sat in 3- the bowl with a raised middle which sat on
a pillar so the operator could turn the bowl whilst the hook mixed the
dough. When everyone has had a good debate and is happy, it is pulled
out and slapped though a machine that can only be described as a giant
wrangler, which kneads the dough. From there, into a cloth sack and onto
a motorbike, off to the bakers house where it is made into 200 loaves of
bread. Some of which took the form of crocodiles, an elephant and even a
mobile phone! Post lunch was time to rest before we headed out to the
local gospel Radio station. Not something a team has done before, but
GREAT fun. We introduced ourselves live on radio and after a little
explanation as to why the team was here, we introduced ourselves in Ncham.
We then sang a couple of songs and got REALLY hot in a tiny studioesque room
in the back of someone’s house! The station covers 4300km2 which is
pretty large, but no-one can know the number of listeners. Having
motorbike relayed the team back to the guesthouse; Tim and Samuel go off
to the station to record a sermon. A wonderful opportunity to give the
gospel and make an appeal, encouraging people if they have responded to go and
find a church to get involved in. As we settle into Devotions the tailor and
seamstress arrive with the finished clothes. The team are very pleased
bar 1 dress that isn’t finished yet, due to some design questions and
discussion!

Saturday 12th
The few who made bread, rise early (see what I did there?) to go and bake
it, but upon arrival we find it has already all been baked, they started
at 0100 and were done by the time we go there at 0630. A little
disappointing, but we did leave with 3000cfa worth of
bread we had helped make
which is probably far too much bread for a small team to eat! We didn’t
want that much, but we didn’t have the right amount of money, and so they
piled more bread onto the pile!

Sunday 13th
We headed out early to go to Tatale (tan-ta-lea) at 0730 to go visit a
church. Tatale is an Ncham speaking town over the border in Ghana.
Languages aren’t always restricted to country boundaries in fact there are
more Ncham speakers in Ghana than Togo. They are slightly different
dialects, but the Ghanaians can fully understand and read the Togolese.
We crossed the border fine, and got to the church to find everyone
emptying out and carrying everything to town. After further investigation
we find that one of the church members died early in the morning and the
whole church is going to run the funeral and the burial. So we go and
find a different church to attend and share there instead! We hung out
for a long while eating our packed lunch at the first church waiting for
the pastor to turn up so we can have a brief meeting with him before
heading home.

And so here we are!

01 Jul

Togo team update 3

Hey folks we are up in Bassar!

Monday afternoon as we write this email, we are all a little bored and
slightly claustrophobic because it has been raining since 0300 in the
morning and we haven’t been able to leave the house yet!

Friday we were still in Lomé, we did some cultural orientation in the
morning then Tim and Samuel ran around town exchanging money and buying
supplies. Bassar has a population of around 40,000(?) but there are
something’s you simply can’t buy. Jam for example. In the afternoon we
visited the Togo Bible Society office to find our selves in the middle of
their postponed weekly chapel meeting! It was wonderful to find out more
about what they do in Togo, especially as they are partners in the Bassar
project. We then headed off to the Wycliffe Togo office only to find
that the head of the office (Napo) who is an Ncham (the language in Bassar) speaker
was in the north of the country. Maybe we will try him again at the end of
the trip.

a.. PRAY for the Togo Bible society, they are looking to expand their
team so that can do more translation and more distribution.
b.. PRAY for Napo the head of Wycliffe Togo as he travels that he will
clearly communicate the need to have bibles in mother tongues.

Saturday we were up early, breakfast at 6, the bus was an hour late to
pick us up, some would say “that is Africa”. We loaded up and headed north.
The driver was very good, knowing all the best places to buy more supplies
especially fruit along the way. We got stocked up with bananas, mangoes,
pineapples and oranges. The first three are not really available in Bassar.

Along the way we stopped for lunch in Sokodé, and met up with Becky Snead
who is a Wycliffe UK member working on a dictionary project. It was a
welcome break from the bus! We arrived in Bassar at 1600 which gave us a
couple hours to check the place out, set up the mozzie nets, get the water
filter going and connect up the newly bought gas cooker. Bar a tap that
wouldn’t turn off and a bit of tape required for the window screen, the
house was wonderful.

a.. Pray for Becky, she is trying to get the dictionary in a state to
publish by December.
b.. PRAISE for the safe, trouble free journey.

Sunday was our first church experience. We attended Bassar Baptist
church, which was a wonderful gentle introduction to African church life. The
service was a bit hot, but not too long, and Tim preached for the first
time on this trip. The whole team were clapping and moving in the worship,
even recognising some of the songs we could sing along in English. We even had
a chuckle when they pulled the hymn books out for two songs!

Mid afternoon we popped over to Samuel’s house to meet and greet his
family and present the gifts we bought for the kids. It was a warm afternoon
but good to meet the rest of Samuel’s clan. A little odd watching Tom and
Jerry in French though!

Post evening devo’s Tim and Richie managed to run back to Samuel’s house
to watch the last 15 minutes of Spain beating Germany for the Euro 2008
title.

a.. PRAY for Samuel, for protection over his family,
b.. PRAY he finds the time and finance to finish building his new house.
c.. PRAY as he embarks on a pig farming income generation project.

Monday the rain started during the night, lightning and thunder right over
head, somehow some of the team managed to sleep though it! After lunch
the rain actually stopped enough for Samuel to take Tim to the doctor. Tim
has managed to pick up a throat infection which is limiting his ability to
swallow. The doc has prescribed some anti-biotic tablets and some
anti-inflammatory; he should be fine in 5 days time.

a.. PRAY the medicine works.
b.. PRAY for Jenny as she keeps the team working

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