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Mango Mission #2

Update # 2 from ABWE Missionaries in Mango, Togo – Northern Outreach.

November 16, 2008

It’s Saturday afternoon, and I just returned from the house of the Imam, Abdoulaye, where I took his blood pressure to report to Dr. Stan Haegert. I’m afraid it wasn’t a very accurate reading, as he got into a quarrel with one of his older sons just as I was preparing the cuff. It was high, as I suspected, so I sat down on his mat and told him that we would try again in a few minutes. I talked with him about growing up on the farm as a boy, in the hope of calming him down, and it seemed to be working. Then just as I was ready to try again, an elderly man came in and whispered something to him. Abdoulaye began to repeatedly say, “Allah Akbar” (God is great), and then told me that the Chef de Canton (chief of the canton of Mango) had just died. Well, that didn’t help his blood pressure either, so I’ll try again in a couple of days.

I met the Chef de Canton once after we first arrived, paying the expected courtesy call. He was very old, and obviously not in good health. He told us that he hoped we could come with a doctor to make him well again. I’m saddened that yet another soul has gone into eternity, trusting in prayers, good works, fasting, and the continual sacrifice of sheep, rather than in God’s grace through our Lord Jesus Christ. With Todd DeKryger (PA from Tsiko) coming this weekend, I had hoped to pay him another visit to see if we could offer him some help. Now I need to find out if we should pay a courtesy call on the family to express our condolences over his death. I was told they would bury him tomorrow morning. Muslims don’t wait long to bury their dead.

Well, here it is Sunday afternoon and the phones, which have been down since Friday, are still not working. Which means we may not get this out tonight. This morning we began a study in the book, “All That the Prophets Have Spoken.” This is a chronological Bible study intended to present the truth about Jesus Christ, as first revealed in the Old Testament. Many have found that our Muslim friends are willing to listen to the words of scripture in this manner. When I was visiting with the Imam Abdoulaye on Saturday, he commented that Muslims accept the books of Moses and the Psalms of David as the word of God. So that would appear to be a good place to begin a Bible study with our friends here in Mango.

Following our time together this morning, we went to visit the home of the Chef de Canton. We found a very large crowd gathered, and were invited into a paiotte to greet several notable family members. One spoke of how the chief had expressed the hope that he could see the inside of our hospital before he died. He went on to say that we were now part of their community. Speaking for our group, I replied that my own heart was heavy when I heard the news of his death, and that we would pray for the family members who were mourning his passing. Our prayer is that they might know the peace of God, and the God of peace.

As we were preparing to leave, several elderly women came boldly into the room, and one of them threw some coins down on the floor, and then said that we couldn’t leave before we gave them money to buy food for their family members. That seemed to incite humor in the room, and we gave several thousand francs (1000 francs equals about $2.00), which she grabbed up with joy. We were later told that this is a custom among the Tchokossi people, and that they will even tie the feet of visitors to keep them from leaving until they make a gift. One person told us that at a burial, they sometimes put a person in the grave with the body, and won’t let him out until he gives something for food. Hopefully it is all done in good fun, but I wonder about the origin of the custom. There is so very much to learn about this culture and these people!

The harmattan came in heavy, and I’m going to try and send a picture of what our neighborhood looks like now. You might want to compare it with pictures taken just a couple of weeks ago. Once the dry air moves in, it just sucks the moisture out of the ground, and most every plant that isn’t deeply rooted. We are learning to live with dust, but are happy to be here.

Yours in His service,

Tim & Esther Neufeld

Mango Mission Update # 1

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