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  • Writer's pictureTim Robinson

Togo Team Update 5

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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!

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