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Uncovered Well & A Broken Leg

Update # 20 from front line missionaries in Togo, West Africa.

April 26, 2009

On Friday I took an unplanned trip to Dapaong. It all began when we learned of a man who had fallen into an uncovered well, and who was unable to walk. Because he has no money, and family members are too selfish to help him, Noukoun received no medical care. We learned about his situation on Wednesday night at our prayer meeting. Ibrahim is one of his friends, and he (a Muslim) asked us to pray for his friend. On Thursday Nogbedji went by to see him, and came to me on Thursday evening to ask if we could do something for him. We looked at our options. There is no functioning x-ray machine in the Mango hospital, nor is there a doctor. Tsiko was too far to be a first option. That left us either Dapaong or Kara. Since Dapaong is half the distance, we settled on the hospital there.

We left at 7:15 in the morning for the 70 km drive to Dapaong, and made good time until we hit the city limits and were stopped by police. Students were practicing marching for Togo’s independence day on April 27. Then too, a government minister was due to arrive to dedicate a new maternity wing at the hospital. We wound our way through dirt streets, finally arriving at the hospital. We asked where we should go for urgent care, and when the nurse learned that the accident happened five days previously, he protested that it was no longer urgent. That was the mindset we were to meet with throughout the day. We did persuade them to take an x-ray, and then began to wait. The doctor had left to attend the dedication where the minister was to speak. We heard a lot of singing and chanting, and finally near noon, the festivities were over. But it was now lunch, and the doctor made a hasty exit. We decided to break for lunch, and found a cafeteria, where for about a dollar I got an egg sandwich, and Nogbedji and Pastor Laré ordered a plate of spaghetti and beef for $3.00.

Since lunch in Togo runs from noon to 2:30, we visited for a while and then returned to the hospital to wait. The doctor evidently decided that he didn’t need to return to work until 4:30, and there were quite a number of people who had waited all day to see him. So I was a bit surprised when he took us at the head of the line. If we thought we might find anything resembling sympathy, however, we were quickly disabused of that notion. I would be tempted to use terms like jerk, or arrogant punk, were it not that we are warned to be careful about our manner of speech concerning our fellow man. After stopping to flirt with a couple of girls selling deep fried fish, he marched on to the room, stood over Noukoun with a sneer on his face, and finally asked him his age and occupation. Noukoun doesn’t speak French well, so we quickly answered for him, fearing he would become the brunt of this mans scorn. There was a long moment of silence, and finally the doctor said that the right femur was broken, and that there were two options. One was surgery, and the other was to wait and see. Which one did he recommend? Well, he would recommend surgery. But he quickly informed us that he didn’t have the materials, so he couldn’t do it. And then he walked out of the room, making it clear that he had nothing more to say.

So we got a couple of men to put Noukoun back on a stretcher, and brought him out to the car, and home to Mango. The family members who met us at his humble abode went out of their way to express their appreciation for the help offered, although we didn’t do much other than to waste the day in Dapaong.

Do we need a hospital here in the North? I’m absolutely convinced we do, after seeing the total lack of concern on the part of the medical professionals here in the government hospitals. And we are still looking for a way to help Noukoun, as he lies in his small room, trying to find a position that allows for some comfort, and unable to walk or to meet his most basic needs. By the way, if you are interested in seeing the property recently purchased for the Wendell Kempton Medical and Ministry Center, check out the site where we send our photos.

Saturday evening we had a family concert with Johnny and Vivian, and their five children. I first met Johnny in Lome, in 1980. I believe he was between 8 and 10 at the time. He laughed when he told me that on one occasion Pastor Dave Fields spanked him when he disobeyed and climbed the Guava tree in their front yard. He says that’s when he realized that Dave loved him. Now he is a grown man, with children of his own, and a strong love for music. They came up from Niamtougou, where he is responsible for re-fueling any planes that land at the airport. He says they average about one plane a month. We asked them up here to put on a concert with the family, and invited the entire Mango team, along with any friends they cared to bring. I think we had about 10 Muslim friends and acquaintances that came for the evening, and Johnny did a great job of mixing songs, his testimony, and man’s need for the Savior Jesus-Christ.

Togo is 49 years old tomorrow (April 27), and a parade is scheduled for the main highway at 9:00 in the morning. Esther and I intend to spend a little time there. Then on Wednesday we have company coming. A team is expected to fly into our dirt airstrip to look at the hospital site, and to talk about the project. It will be about a five-hour visit, but it is an important time, and we will appreciate your prayer for that meeting.

We also expect an old friend, Phil McMillen, to arrive by car in the afternoon. He will be with us for several days. Phil and his wife, Kitty, served with us in Lome between 1984 and 1987, until we moved north to work near the hospital. So this is a visit we look forward to with great anticipation.

Thanks for your prayers on our behalf. We stay busy and are doing well. Heat is coming down while humidity rises. It threatened rain this afternoon, but the clouds were bluffing. We thank the Lord for the privilege of serving Him here in Mango.

Yours in His service, Tim & Esther Neufeld

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  1. May 10, 2009 at 8:24 am

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