Tuesday, July 10, 2012

African Life!

My thoughts are all smashed together at the moment.  I don’t really know when this past week began because so much has happened.  The days seem to linger and yet the weeks fly by.  In the past week we said goodbye to five short-term missionaries, welcomed two new short-term missionaries, celebrated the 4th of July, continued our work in the Magazine, shadowed doctors in the hospital, played with children, fellowshipped with one another, and went on a day trip to Kpalime to hike to a waterfall, visit the blind center, and shop in the market.  On top of all that I happened to catch a cold and was pretty sick Friday, but God is good and I am finally feeling much better.  

There is not much time to catch ones breath here as things are always happening.  This week our team will be traveling to Mango (Thurs-Sat) to see the hospital that is being built in Northern Togo and do some site seeing, were hoping for some hippos!  I have to say I am missing home but am learning so much here.  Africa is so unbelievably different than America.  Many times I find myself trying to compare the two and often I stand in disgust at how nice Americans have it.  However, I have come to the conclusion that I shouldn’t compare because there really aren’t’ any similarities except that both have people.  Each country is unique to itself and has its own troubles.  As an American I look at Africa and see the poverty and disease and think what sorrows Africans have; but as an African I look at America and see the broken families and drug/alcohol abuse and think what sorrows Americans have. It is all in the way that you look at things.

From what I have perceived thus far the Togolese truly value life or they seem to understand what is important – people.  They are all about family.  In fact if you don’t have a big family you are highly looked down upon.  When I travel through villages I just see people everywhere.  Walking together, eating together, playing together, working together, driving together (Side note: I don’t think I have seen one car that has had less than 4 people in it and most of the time I see a 5 passenger car, small car, filled with 8-10 people plus fruit or luggage stacked as high as possible and hanging out the back end.  The saying here is you can always squeeze one more! In contrast how often do you see more than 1 person in a car traveling down the 5 freeway?  Just something to think about).  The Togolese are definitely a people oriented culture, especially in regards to children.  They are also the hardest working people group I have ever seen.  Each day I see children, around the ages of 5-12yrs old, come to the hospital with huge jugs (similar to gasoline containers but larger) to get fresh water. They walk miles to get the fresh water, fill the jug (which probably weighs 20-50lbs), place it on their head, and walk back home.  It really is mind-blowing.  Well I could go on and on but I have much to do.

Please pray that our team would have safe travels this weekend, stay healthy, and continue to bless those we meet. Please be praying for the hospital and the missionaries here.  This past week was difficult as there were five people that died within a 24-hr period, and that was just one day.  Death occurs often here mainly due to disease.  For some statistics, a doctor that works here only lost 4 patients in his 20 years of practice in the States to similar diseases that take the lives of 170 Togolese a year; and that is just the record for this hospital.  As there is sorrow there is also happiness.  Abraham, whom I have mentioned before, was able to go home today.  His future doesn’t look hopeful, but he has wanted to go home for months now and he finally got to.  I went to say goodbye and it was the first time that I saw him where he couldn’t stop smiling!

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