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One Year in Mango

Thank God for Tim and Esther Neufield – seasoned and obedient missionaries who serve along side a gracious and well equipped team in the northern part of Togo.  I had the blessing of enjoying a meal, fellowship, and prayer in their Mango home a couple of weeks back (with the entire team) and found all of them to be top quality missionaries.  Their sacrifice and devotion are matched by their wisdom and abilities.Mango Musings May 18, 2009

It was a year ago today that we crossed the border from Ghana into Togo to begin this term, after leaving Seattle on May 16. It is a cliché, but it sure doesn’t seem all that long ago. On the other hand, a lot has happened over the past 365 days.

Arriving in mid-May, we discovered that the car I left in Ghana for repairs back in December 07, was not yet repaired, and we had to wait several weeks before we had wheels. When we did get the car back, it was minus the radio and tape player, which left me wondering if that happened by accident or if it was intentional. Since I haven’t been back to talk with the repairman, we are still without radio and tape player. But there is usually so much road and engine noise in the cabin that it doesn’t really much matter. We did make several trips north to Mango between May and September, with the goal of finding a house to rent, along with property on which to build a hospital. Both searches took much longer than we had ever imagined. We did eventually find a house, but the catch was that we had to finish the construction. That looked simple to this missionary who knows very little about construction. But it turned into a 4-month project, and we are still finishing the odds and ends, like installing curtain rods and towel racks, as well as wrestling with electrical problems. It also cost about twice as much as we estimated. But we were finally able to move in on February 1, and Esther is in the process of making it into a home.

Other events that filled the year include finally finding and purchasing property for the Wendell Kempton Medical and Ministry Center in March. Then there was the death of our good friend and helper, Sister Kiméwalu about the same time. Nogbedji began his sewing school in February, and it is fully functioning now, and looks to be a great way to show love to needy young people, and to build contacts in the community. We finished the book, All That The Prophets Have Spoken, with a group of Christians and Muslims, and were surprised and encouraged by the response, especially by our Muslim friends. Several of them are asking for more.

Last Monday we traveled south to bring Nouhoun to the hospital for the surgical repair of a broken leg he suffered when he fell into an uncovered well while looking for his child in the night. Since we were unable to find help in Northern Togo, we brought him here, and on Friday, Dr. Bob Cropsey operated. This evening I stopped by to visit him and his sister, who traveled with us to prepare food for him and take care of needs such as bathing him. We don’t have food service for our patients, which is standard for most African hospitals. Family is also expected to care for things like taking the patient to the bathroom, and giving him a bath. It helps keep the costs down, and with the strong family values here, rarely do people object to this type of help for the sick. Trained nurses at the hospital take care of things like dressing changes, and of course, any administration of medication. Anyway, Nouhoun seems to be in good spirits. Since the end of the bone was too splintered to repair, Bob had to take it off (the damaged part of the bone, not the leg), which is going to leave Nouhoun with one leg shorter than the other. We don’t have orthopedic appliances to be able to do things like hip replacements, but something like that might be possible at some point in the future. Once the leg is healed and stronger, he will be able to walk without the pain he would have continually suffered, had he not had this surgery. He will walk with a limp, but he should be able to walk comfortably. While visiting with him I told him that God loves him very much, and then prayed with him. It is hard to know how much he understands, but we seemed able to communicate in French, and I think he got most of what I said to him. On the other hand, I had some difficulty understanding his French at times, and want to visit him tomorrow with Bawa, a hospital employee who speaks Anufo, the principal language spoken in Mango. I’ll try to send a couple of pictures to the website on this letter.

We will be here in the south at least through the weekend, with Togo Team meetings here at the hospital on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then a shopping trip to Lome for groceries, and things to outfit the Mango guesthouse, which is going to begin receiving visitors within a few months. We do want to have everything ready for that day. Construction on the hospital site is supposed to begin in October, but we already have a team of friends from the Silverdale Baptist Church in Washington State that is scheduled to arrive in late June to work on getting the guesthouse kitchen into working order. That includes building and installing kitchen counters and cabinets, along with other construction projects. This is what we have been aiming for since our arrival in Mango last September, so we are pretty pumped by the way things are moving along.

Thanks again for your prayer support. Esther and I were talking today about the way it seems that Satan has been attacking the ministry here in Togo. He seems to love to divide the brethren, and of course, any leader is a target. We are impressed by the need to pray for our Togolese pastors, in particular. This isn’t a war where casualties come home in flag-draped coffins. Rather, it is seen in churches without pastors, because of devastating sin, or in a fellowship of pastors who no longer trust one another, and who seem intent on finding some sin in others that will justify the way they treat one another. So we do need to pray. And do pray for the missionaries, who, after all, are also human, and subject to the same temptations and weaknesses. I find that the old adage that when you point a finger at your brother, you leave three pointing at yourself, is all too true. Yours in His service, Tim & Esther Neufeld

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