Home > Andrew's Blogs, Mango Mission > Mango Mission # 13: God Works Behind the Scenes

Mango Mission # 13: God Works Behind the Scenes

Update # 13 from ABWE Missionaries in Mango, Togo – Northern Hospital Outreach.

Another answer to prayer: God has worked behind the scenes to make the chief engineer of the Mango airport expansion a young man from Missionary Tim Neufelds early days in Togo.

Excerpt:

The meeting began in the Préfet’s office, with quite a number of people in attendance. One young man asked me if I knew him, and I had to say I didn’t. He then introduced himself as Mr. Atrimi, and the name immediately rang a bell. I asked him if he was in the Atrimi family from Atakpame, and he answered that he was. He was a boy when I used to drive to Atakpame and preach in his father’s house. It turns out that he is the chief airport engineer in Lome, and that the director was going to count on him to develop the plans for expanding the Mango airport. I have to see this as from the Lord. It was a blessing to know as well that he has been attending one of our Baptist churches since he moved to Lome for his work. So we knew that we had a friend in this delegation, and that is always encouraging.

February 9, 2009

It is quite late Monday night, and I felt it best to write tonight, instead of the
usual Sunday letter, knowing that we would be meeting with government officials
concerning land for our planned hospital here in Mango. I wanted to share with you the
outcome of that meeting.

The Colonel who is the director of Civil Aviation in Togo is a fairly important
person. We were told (and he confirmed) that the President of Togo had written him a
letter. We may never see it, but I’m guessing that the President instructed him to do
whatever is necessary to allow us to build our hospital in Mango. I would love to see
that letter. So he made the 8-hour trip by car from Lome to Mango to meet with us. When
I asked about the time for the meeting, I was told that they would contact me. Mr.
Natchaba, Niles’ landlord called me on Saturday to encourage me to stick to our plans,
for whatever that is worth. On Monday morning I received calls from the Préfet, his
general secretary, and finally from The Colonel, who informed me that he was 20 minutes
outside of Mango, and that he would be ready to meet with us at the Préfet’s office when
he got there. Not a lot of time to get ready, but this is what I expected. I was
thankful for my missionary colleagues, Alain Niles, Peter Maybury, and Randy Young, as we
were able to speak to different issues.

The meeting began in the Préfet’s office, with quite a number of people in
attendance. One young man asked me if I knew him, and I had to say I didn’t. He then
introduced himself as Mr. Atrimi, and the name immediately rang a bell. I asked him if
he was in the Atrimi family from Atakpame, and he answered that he was. He was a boy
when I used to drive to Atakpame and preach in his father’s house. It turns out that he
is the chief airport engineer in Lome, and that the director was going to count on him to
develop the plans for expanding the Mango airport. I have to see this as from the Lord.
It was a blessing to know as well that he has been attending one of our Baptist churches
since he moved to Lome for his work. So we knew that we had a friend in this delegation,
and that is always encouraging.

We drove to the airfield, and began to look at the property limits we had
established. It was here that it became clear that Civil Aviation had not done their
homework in developing their plans for expanding the airport. Well, someone has to be
blamed, so the town surveyor was chewed out for not doing his work. It’s not that he
didn’t deserve it, but I felt sorry for him. These are important, powerful people, and
it had to be intimidating to have them coming down on him.

The next stop was on to property #5, which the delegation from Lome felt would be
the best place for the hospital. It’s not that property #5 is all that bad. But we like
property #4 better, and told them as much. It’s closer to town, to the airfield, to
water and electricity, and we have done much of the work of surveying it, and doing soil
and perk testing. We decided that we wouldn’t give in to their ideas without at least
pushing things as far as we felt it safe to do.

The Director had been complaining about a telecommunications tower that was built
near the airport without his permission. So he wanted to stop at that tower to see how
tall it was, and he vowed that he would make Togo Telecom move it should it prove to be a
safety hazard for the airport. When we got there, he discovered that it was 91 meters
high ( around 300 feet), and said it wouldn’t be a safety hazard. I was left shaking my
head a little. As far as I could see, any airplane circling to land would have to keep
an eye open for that tower. Now, I’m glad the tower is going to stay where it is, as I
value our telecommunications (phone and e-mail), which depend on it. But it is a little
confusing to hear that it doesn’t present at least something of a hazard to air traffic.
In the meantime he is concerned about the safety of a hospital that we want to build on
land 300 meters, or 1000 feet east of the airstrip? And bear in mind that this is an
airport that had one plane land in 2008!

The results of the day left us encouraged. The Director agreed that we could clear
up much of the confusion if they put down on paper their plans for expanding the Mango
airport. The engineer, Mr. Atrimi, will be working on that, and said he could have it
done by Friday. They will be getting that document to us, so we can determine whether
there is enough land for our hospital outside of their parameters. I have to think that
should be possible. In any case, we will finally have the information we need to make a
clear decision. Thanks for your prayers, and please keep it up. We are aiming to have a
decision on the land by the end of February, or in less than three weeks.

The meeting ended with lunch at the Préfet’s house, and we did enjoy the time
together with this rather large group of people. Alain Niles made the observation that
only one of the people present for the day was a native of Mango. It’s a sorry situation
when a town has outsiders making important decisions that will affect the development of
the region for years to come. It does seem patronizing, and leaves us a little sad.

Yours in His service,

Tim & Esther Neufeld

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