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Father’s Day in Togo

Tim Neufeld writes about his Father’s Day in Togo and an Imam who preaches too long, and his son’s reaction to the long sermon on Noah.  I guess if you’re a Baptist or Muslim the PKs (Preacher’s Kids) and the IKs (Imam’s Kids) have the same hope:  short sermons.June 21, 2009
It’s Sunday noon, and an unusual time for me to write.  However, it rained last night for a while, started again at 4:00 a.m, and hasn’t stopped since.  This is what everyone has been waiting for, and I’ve an idea that once it stops, or at least slows down, we will see a lot of people in their fields.  Eight straight hours of rain, with some of it heavy, and all of it steady, will thoroughly soak the fields and make them ready for planting.  An added blessing with the rain is the lovely cool we enjoyed this morning.  It’s 77 degrees in my office as I write, and we even turned the water heater on for a while.  Esther doesn’t like cold showers.

With the heavy rain falling, we didn’t get together with our usual Sunday morning group.  In a town without cars, few people enjoy getting out in the rain and mud.  So Esther and I had time to relax, and I find myself at the computer writing you.  It has been a very quiet morning.  Even the donkeys have been silent, and they usually bray on the hour.  There is no ignoring them.  They start out loud, like they are hyperventilating.  DonkeyThe hyperventilating turns into the familiar hee-haw, with more emphasis on the hee than on the haw.  At first I was startled by the sound, but now find it amusing.  The Togolese simply ignore it.  Speak of the devil, I no sooner wrote the above when one of our neighboring donkeys decided to make a liar out of me.  Still there and in good form!

It’s Father’s Day (which isn’t celebrated here in Togo), and I was sobered and somewhat saddened this morning as I came to the place in my personal Bible reading where King David had to flee from his son Absalom.  What a tragedy of poor parenting, and the consequences of anger and bitterness, finally leading to death for Absalom and more than 20,000 Israelite soldiers!  Someone has aptly said, “Ideas have consequences.” So does sin!

Friday I stopped in at my imam friend’s place to take his blood pressure.  He was looking quite pensive when I walked into the yard, and I later learned that he had some major issues with his wives and children.  His blood pressure was high at the first reading, so I stayed to visit a while, intending to take a second reading.  While there, one of the children set him off, and I was able to show him how his blood pressure climbed immediately following his outburst.

Friday is the Muslim day of worship, and people come to the mosque for a message, much as we do in Christian churches on Sundays. The imam is the mosque preacher, so I asked him what he had preached on that day.  He replied that he spoke about Noah, and how people today are like they were in the days of Noah.  They ignore God, and eventually God will judge them.  It was during our discussion on preaching that he yelled at one of the children in the yard and I took his blood pressure.

Later his older son followed me out to the car to tell me about the tension in the family brought on by his anger.  I had to smile a little when he told me that the imam had preached way too long during his Friday sermon.  Of course, his reasoning was that such a long sermon would not be good for the imam’s blood pressure, but I suspect that very few people like a long-winded preacher, Muslim or Christian.  That’s one I need to take to heart.

I see where it finally stopped raining, which may be why our neighbor’s donkey brayed.  Temperature has also dropped to 75 in the office, which is really unusual for early afternoon.  A little later Esther and I want to go out to visit Nouhoun, the man we took to our hospital in Tsiko for surgery on his shattered leg.  He returned to Mango almost two weeks ago, and I stopped by to visit him Friday, only to find that he had “gone out.” He seems to be getting around well on the crutches they loaned him, and according to Mr. Nogbedji, he is having a good time.  Even limited mobility is much appreciated when one has been bed-ridden for such a long period of time.

This week will see us getting the guesthouse ready for our first construction team, as the Silverdale Baptist Church sends us ten people to build and install our guesthouse kitchen, among other things.  We have the air conditioners ready, but are waiting on the director of Togo Electricity here in Mango to return from who knows where and boost the amperage at the house so we can run them.  We put in our request two weeks ago, but I was told he traveled, and they can’t do anything until he gets back to Mango tomorrow. If it stays this cold, nobody will want to run them.  In any case, it is going to be great to see friends from home.  They arrive in Togo on Saturday, June 27, and will get to Mango on Monday June 29.

Please continue to pray for exoneration from customs duties and the VAT (value added tax) of 18% on local products, such as cement and rebar.  Randy Young was able to finish the first step, and we now have a letter signed by the Minister of Health giving us his approval.  We still need signatures from the head of department of finance, and from the head of the customs office.   This has been a process, but I have an idea it wouldn’t be better in the States were we asking for the same thing, and could well be more difficult.  We are grateful to be here, and for the most part, find Togolese government officials to be sympathetic.  Thanks for praying.

Yours in His service,
Tim & Esther Neufeld
ABWE/Togo, West Africa

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