Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rough Week

It has been a bit of a rough week. Aside from the usual power on, power off, water on, water off saga that goes with hot season and makes things like cooking, cleaning, laundry and sleeping a little more difficult. (I am told that I might be better off in the bush where I wouldn’t expect to have such luxuries), I have had some other interesting challenges to face.

I have been working with a young woman who has some serious problems but is not really interested in dealing with them in a constructive or realistic manner. So, it comes down to the fact that I really can’t help someone who isn’t interested in helping themselves or to accept the help I have to offer. I guess my biggest struggle with this is trusting God to take care of the situation when I can’t.

On that same note, I have been learning to trust God with the things that I can’t deal with on the home front. My mom is going in for back surgery today and I am continents away. It is not that I think that I would be able to do anything major if I were actually there, but it would be nice to be able to be there for my parents. I guess if the truth were told I would like to be there for myself too—to be reassured about her health, to help and to be able to see improvement. But, I get to wait this one out from a distance, knowing that she is in good hands which does make the waiting a little easier. (I guess I must be working on patience at the same time as trust!) You're in our prayers mom.

On a more positive note, the kids are enjoying a break from school this week. It has been nice have a little extra time in the day without the commute and to be able to do some extras like playing board games in the evening. Now if I can just get them into sorting and packing mode that would be really helpful.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Planes, trains and automobiles

“You wanna fly to Cotonou tomorrow?” So began a four day adventure, the results of which remain to be seen. I had come across the existence of Free Methodist churches in Togo through the American Free Methodist World Missions website recently. A few years ago a Free Methodist from Cameroun initiated a ministry in the capital of Lomé but the ministry has since continued under the leadership of Togolese pastor. I had discussed the possibility of making a connection with the Togolese church with Dan Sheffield, since it’s the only other Francophone country in the region where the Free Methodist Church is present. He agreed that such a connection might be useful in the future but not necessarily our top priority as we prepare to transition back to Canada. The week following my conversation with Dan, the Togolese pastor himself contacted me out of the blue.

In the past we’ve flown to Ghana in a little 4-5 seater plane that SIM makes available to the mission community, though it’s not necessarily cheap. The price for round trip to Lomé was too exorbitant for me to book it and so I had been contemplating the possibility of taking the bus—a 24 hr trip one-way, and probably no A/C. Perhaps that’s why I was taking my time about planning the trip. When Ed offered the ride to Cotonou it was hard to pass up. Cotonou is about a two hour taxi ride up the coast from Lomé.

As chance (God) would have it, I never took that taxi. As we were flying into Cotonou we heard another pilot making arrangements to land with the control tower. She commented that after dropping off her passenger she was continuing on to Lomé. I said to Ed, “Wouldn’t it be nice if she could just take me on to Lomé—that would save me a lot of time and grief.” In Cotonou, we got out of the plane and a couple of pilots walked up.
“Where are you from?” one asked.
“Niamey,” replied Ed. “How about you?”
“Just returning to Lomé,” she replied.
“He’d like to go to Lomé,” Ed put in.
“Oh, come, come” she said, “we just dropped off the future president, we’re empty,” and then grabbed me by the arm and dragged me off with her co-pilot. That chance encounter saved me a visa, a trip through customs, a border crossing and a 2 hr taxi ride. We glided gently down the coast of beautiful sandy beaches at low altitude. Only the pilots had head-phone radios to talk so I contemplated the coastline in silence, as the roar of the engine drowned everything else out. Unfortunately, I never got to visit those beaches.

Back on the ground I easily found the pastor. I settled into the SIL guesthouse and spent the next two days visiting his churches in the area. Pastor Dosseh gives primary leadership to the church in Lomé but then gives oversight to lay church-planters in a couple of villages. He also oversees a church plant in central Togo, in a town called Sokode—it’s considered the Muslim capital of Togo and also his home town. His experience in Muslim ministry has useful potential for collaboration in Niger.

Wednesday morning he took me to the bus station downtown to catch my ride home. The bus was supposed to leave at 11 AM but it still wasn’t repaired… At 3pm we finally hit the road and I waved good-bye to my new friend out the window. The long bus ride home had its own adventures… but I arrived safely and was reunited with my wife and family.

Since then hot season has kicked in and power keeps going out.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


The clock on my computer says that it is 1:50am and I am wide awake.

I could blame it on the heat and humidity and the fact that my ear is oozing and has been annoying me all night. But I know that in reality if Dave where here I would have whined at him about my ear and he would have groaned sympathetically and we both would have rolled over and gone back to sleep, (at least until the pain got REALLY bad). However, my respect for single parents and just single missionaries in general has grown this week—I should say that I have always had a deep respect for those who are able to manage life as a single especially because I am not one of those people.

I think the real reason I am awake has more to do with the cockroach in my bathroom that I found when I tried to doctor my ear. I tried to pitch my shoe at it a couple of times because it was out of reach, but by the third poorly aimed throw he surrendered for parts unknown and I was wide awake.

As I was sitting there trying to figure out what happened to my little friend, I realized that I was hearing voices on the street. It never ceases to amaze me at how my Nigerien neighbours seem to function at all hours of the day and night. I am amazed at how late young children can be found in the streets. There is a part of me that understands the nocturnal side. When temperatures are so hot during the day, I can see taking advantage of the cooler evening, (but for me that would mean getting some much needed sleep). I suppose the other difference is that I have to live on a different time clock because of the boys’ school. Our guys start school at 7:25am (on the opposite side of town) in order to make the most of the cool of the morning and to avoid rush hour traffic. Then school goes straight through to 3pm. For the few Nigeriens that go to school here their day starts much later, then they take an afternoon rest hour and start school again in the afternoon from 3:30-6:30pm (depending on the age and school). I am guessing that the long rest hour is what makes the difference.

I will let Dave talk about his trip when he gets back. The good news for me is that he has a bus ticket and hopes to start home today. The bad news is that the drive time will take 24hrs if all goes well according to the bus company! Please pray with me that the trip home is a good one and that they make really good time.

I think my doctoring is working and if my cockroach friend will remain in hiding I guess I need to be getting back to bed. In a few hours I am going to have to wake the boys and get on with the rest of today.