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Backhoe Arrives In Mango

Two ordinary events in our world are life changing in Mango, Togo:  A backhoe arrives, and a peanut field floods.  As you read you will realize that a  flooded field means that a crop of peanuts is lost, and when a crop is lost, people go hungry.  Not a big deal for us, but a huge deal to the people of Togo.  Likewise, a backhoe is common fare – I saw one today – no big deal.  But in Mango Togo, a backhoe has  lifesaving potential.  The backhoe referenced in Tim’s update is the work horse for building the new hospital which will save lives!   Read all about it . . .

September 27, 2009

I’m not sure just when I can send this as at the moment, we are unable to connect to the Internet.  We experienced a fairly major storm last night, with lots of lightning, and that may have done something to the system.  Since there is nobody in Mango who can fix things, we might have to wait for help to come from Kara, Dapaong, or even Lome, depending on the problem.  I’m hoping it’s a minor glitch.

We took our bike ride to the river yesterday in the late afternoon and were shocked to find the river was 200 meters up from where we used to ride.  We noted earlier quite a bit of flooding in the lowland just south of the city, with a lot of people standing on the bridge looking at it.  Since we had very little rain over the past week, we wondered from where the water was coming, and it now appears that a dam has been opened in Burkina Faso, flooding the area downstream on the Oti River.  That explains the sudden rise in the river level.  We heard people sloshing around in the fields, and discovered a family trying to save some of their peanut crop.  They were in water almost up to their knees, so it wasn’t an easy task, as peanuts, like potatoes, grow underground.  The great problem will be lost crops, and some people are going to go hungry this coming year.

As we rode our bikes toward the river, we noticed skies darkening off to the east, but that raised no alarm in my mind.  The eastern sky often appears that way in the late afternoon.  Esther suggested that we perhaps should return home, just in case it rained, but I pooh poohed the idea, saying that it might rain at some point in the night.  Twenty minutes more showed just how wrong I was, as the skies quickly darkened with heavy clouds.  We hopped on our bikes and started back toward town and safety, but the wind soon came in strong gusts, and rain pelted us in icy sheets.  Well, maybe they weren’t icy sheets, but with the wind and the wet they felt that way after the heat of the day.  Anna, who chose this day to ride with us, was blown off her bike at one point, and it became clear that we needed to seek shelter.  Lightning was beginning to flash in the area as well, so we made for the partially completed buildings beside the abandoned toll station on the main road.  The sun to the west, which had been a pale disk, was soon obscured behind the heavy cloud cover.

There, we found shelter from the wind and rain, and Esther had time to reproach me for always saying it isn’t going to rain.  She was right this time, but I reminded her that nine times out of ten I’ve been on the side of truth.  So the odds were in my favor.  We waited a while and it became clear that this was no small storm.  It had settled in for a spell.  Fortunately Anna had her phone. Cell phones here still astonish me, as we had no phone access at all from 1976 until 1996!  Now we see them everywhere.  She was able to call Alain Niles and asked him if he could come and get us with his truck.  I’m not certain that he was thrilled at the prospect of going out into the storm, but like the Good Samaritan he is, he showed up twenty-five minutes later, rescued us, and brought us safely home.  While waiting, we had time to laugh about our predicament, and spotted a camel kneeling down in the back of a pickup, resembling a dog riding in a car.  The head was up over the cab, and he was looking around, ignoring the wind and the rain, as though this were a pleasant Sunday afternoon drive.  We don’t often see camels this far south, so it did attract our attention, and of course we wondered where they were taking him, and why.  Africa is such an interesting place!

On to more serious business, on Tuesday we received and unloaded our first container for the building project, and it went off without a hitch.  The loading dock, while primitive, worked just fine.  John Teusink came up to help unload the backhoe, which started right up on the first try.  He was able to drive it out of the container without scratching either the container or the tractor, quite a feat, as there was about a half-inch clearance between the boom and the top of the container.  Since we have no equipment operators on the team here in Mango, we were very grateful for his presence and his help.  Thank you John!  He also helped getting the empty container off the truck and on to our property, where we trucked the contents from the Public Works compound and later reloaded the container for safe storage.  I’ll send pictures to our photo site.

I was left at the property to guard the contents while others went back for additional loads. While waiting, I discovered a new biting fly, or rather, it discovered me. Tuesday evening I was itching arms and elbows, and had some very noticeable bite swellings.  I thought it strange that mosquitoes should be about in the heat of the day (and it was hot!).  I later commented to some of the local people about these mosquitoes that don’t play by the book, and they laughed and told me that it wasn’t mosquitoes that bit me, but by something they called, mouchon.  I think it is a gnat that resembles a small housefly, (mouche is French for housefly) and while I don’t believe they carry disease, their bites sure do itch.  I’m still scratching five days later.  So we have mosquitoes at night, and the mouchon during the day.  I’m pretty certain they will go away with the advent of the dry season, which will soon be upon us.

Other news includes a number of Bible studies we have going on with various neighbors and friends.  Please pray.  Nogbedji had to take an emergency trip to Kara yesterday for help with a badly infected tooth.  Dentists here don’t know about urgent cases, so I was doubtful that anyone would help him on a Saturday.  But praise God, he did see someone who prescribed antibiotics and told him to come back next week to have the tooth pulled.  Maybe they don’t know about root canals either.  I’ve experienced what he was living yesterday, and sure wished I could do something for him.  It will be good when we have a hospital here in Mango.  The Youngs move to Mango this week, and we are looking forward to that.  Groundbreaking for the Wendell Kempton Medical and Ministry Center is less than four weeks away, and it is beginning to look bigger and more exciting by the day.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Yours in His service,

Tim & Esther Neufeld

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