Greetings from beautiful Atakpame, Togo!
We have now been living here for 6 months. Alex just received his visa, so we will be having an empty house available soon. That means friends can come see us! We will have the room to house you! So please consider our invitation!
August just seems to have flown by. We are still loving our little church here. This is the climb uphill each Sunday we make to go to church! What a workout! Motos don’t even try to climb this mountain.
We just returned from our outreach ministry week in Amou-Oblo which is close to Amlame. It is about an hour and a half from Atakpame. A couple weeks prior we did 64 eye surgeries in Amou-Oblo with excellent results!
We are happy to be a small part of this work. As you can see our team was rather large this time as our founder, Lewis Swann, and volunteer Rachel Baber RN joined us.
Our team also did our first non-eye medical ministry. Rachel held several clinics not only here in Atakpame but also in the bush! We prayed over a woman who had epilepsy and had fallen into a fire. She does not have a husband or children. She only has her parents to take care of her. God did a miracle in her life while we were praying over her! You can read more of her amazing story in last week’s blog.
We saw countless children, women and men that had needs. We were able to meet some needs but not all. We had the privilege to pray for these two children. Their parents told us that their limbs need straightening. The girl in white and blue who is 9 years old, crawls on her knees everywhere, so we were able to find crutches for her. The young boy is 4 years old and his right arm is twisted and has pain. There are so many NEEDS here!
Not only were we meeting eye needs but basic health care for the people in these villages. Most are not able to see a doctor and do without, but when “free” medical care comes they come with their needs! It was a tremendous experience. We are so thankful that Rachel Baber came to do this for the people!
We also showed several films highlighting Jesus and were able to give out Bibles and literature.
We found a “person of peace” to leave the audio Bible with and she will be responsible to play the Bible several times a week for all to hear. We not only bring individuals to Christ but also desire to see them grow. We will be checking on these villages to see their growth! We hope to plant churches this way.
Please be in prayer for this small village as we have heard it has many Voodoo “witches” Pray for the gospel to break forth and deliver every single person in that community.
What a blessing to find out that Rachel played the violin too! I played and gave a violin lesson at a school where we held one of our clinics in Amou-Oblo. The children were very curious. I loved it!
We had a prayer tent and a medical tent and I got to spend some time with the children.
We are learning new things about our team members everyday and finding that God has put together some of the most qualified, loving, and committed Christians to work with here. We held our first team building event at our house this month. We did six team building games. We had fun and fellowship and they all got their first taste of Mexican food!
We are truly blessed to be a part and have a place here in Togo.
If you would like to have a part in this ministry by supporting us, please go here. You can make a monthly donation or a one-time gift! We also covet your prayers and rely on them to effectively reach out to some of these people who have no hope. May God Bless your giving!!!
So many changes in one month!
This was supposed to be our blog post for May, but we are officially on Africa time, so it is now our June post.
After being in Togo for three months without any breaks from the farm both Wayne and I got Malaria and was down for almost two weeks.
I had become very homesick and depressed.
Talk about the hardest thing for any mother, is having your youngest daughter deliver her first child and being across the world. God gave me abundant grace to walk through that! We got all the updates thanks to Facebook and got pics as if we were there. I would love to hold that little bundle though. He’s absolutely precious and we are grateful to the Lord for all the help everyone has given them! Thank you for loving on them for us!
Through all that, Lewis had suggested that we look at possibly moving into town with electricity and water to make things easier on us.
We thought about this for a couple weeks and felt that our French teacher, Joseph, whose family owns a store in the market place, would be our best resource in finding an apartment. We talked with him and in two days he had found a two-bedroom house that we went to look at Saturday (day before Mother’s Day). The only problem was it was new and not finished. It didn’t have plumbing or running water yet, but we decided to look at it.
We did not have a clear go from God on this house, so we prayed at church the next day that God would show us what to do or if this was not the house to open something else up.
Well, at 4:30 that afternoon our answered prayer came on a moto (motorcycle) to the farm. A Dutch woman named Wijneke with her little girl Nelina came and said that she had met Laurie in November. She felt the Holy Spirit telling her to come see us that day. We talked and she said that she was returning to Holland for a job and that she needed us to come live in her house! I told her that we had just looked at a house the day before.
She invited us to come eat lunch with her the next day because her husband Alex would be off work.
Wijneke’s house is a brand new four-bedroom home with two baths and it is two blocks from a school and hospital/clinic near the main highway in Togo! It has a fridge, microwave, electricity and running water! She will leave everything for our use: furniture, TV, kitchen stuff, etc.
We excitedly accepted her offer!
Not only did God provide a house but a car too!
A neighbor of Wijneke is a driving instructor and has many spare cars. Its ours to use until Feb 2017!
We expected to rent it but God had different plans.
God has been so good to us! Thank you for all your prayers, we are seeing God’s plan unfold before us.
The way God worked everything out definitely spelled out that this was a GOD thing.
We are grateful to Alex and Wijneke and their family for asking us to come live in their home. Alex is a Librarian in Atakpame but functions as a lay pastor in his church. He is waiting for his Visa to be able to join the rest of the family in Holland. Wijneke is an anesthesiologist and took their two children with her to Holland. Please pray for the changes this family will have to endure in the coming months having to be separated.
Written by: Elaine Riley
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We have been in beautiful, sunny, HOT Togo, Africa for 3 months now.
We have come a long way in many aspects of the word. We are breaking into a new language and can communicate some but we have a long way to go. We have French lessons that are classroom style every Tuesday and Thursday with Joseph who has graduated from the University of Lomé. We are blessed to have him teach us. We really enjoy the time we have with him. Not only are we learning conversational French but learning the grammar and writing of it as well as learning the customs, culture, and history of Togo.
We received our packets of seed from America and are excited to say we are working to get them into tilled ground by next week. We are happy that God has sent the rain to soften the ground. Different team members have their own plots and the plot we chose has never been broken up so it was especially hard. Unfortunately, because of the way they do their rows, both Wayne and I could never do the back breaking work, so we hired some school age boys who come after school to do this BIG job.
We are learning much about farming, as this community and region is mostly farmers. This city girl is now a farmer’s wife, who would have guessed?
Wayne, Ishaka and Chris holding the seed packets that we are going to plant!!! We are so excited!
Our head farmer—Ishaka with one of the young boys who tilled up our plots!! We have all the plots behind them to plant!!! We’re planting corn tomorrow!!! We can’t wait for the harvest!!
Our church is small and is only .02 miles from our farm.
It’s a little Assemblies of God church and has about 50 members. We love their worship time and love to watch the children dance. The service is done in both Ewe and French and one of our team members translates to English for us. We have such a fireball of a pastor and this church loves to pray and has a passion for God, especially the younger kids.
We were glad to have a part in helping to finish their concrete floor this week inside of their building. We hauled all the water for the man who was going to do the floor, otherwise the children would be responsible to haul it up in buckets after school from the well.
They hold one of their Sunday School classes outside and we do the one inside for adults!
Our whole team has been battling what seems to be Malaria. We are starting to recover, but we are still weak and wiped out. Please pray for healing for us and the rest of the team.
We want to thank all of our family, church body and donors for making this possible.
God’s adventure is slowly unwrapping before us.
It is a privilege to serve this community and team! Thank you for all the cards, pictures, and gifts that was sent to us. We truly appreciated the time, effort, and cost in doing this for us!!! We miss you all so much and our previous lifestyle in American is fading so quickly but we will never forget you guys!!!
The pace of Africa is SLO-MO here if I can describe that for you. We will try to explain that in many ways in the months to come. We are praying for you. We certainly can feel the prayers from home!!!
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This was not my first time to Africa, but it was my first time to Togo with Sight.org.
I was not overwhelmed by the African landscape or culture, because I’m used to it and I love it. What I was overwhelmed by was the medical team that we have. I had met them all online and Lewis had told me stories about each one of them, but nothing could have prepared me for seeing them all in action. They are simply amazing people. It doesn’t matter if they are doing eye surgeries, sweeping the floor, cooking, or fixing a generator, they are consistently beautiful people, inside and out. I want to tell everyone I know about them, about their pasts, where God has brought them, their hearts, their love for the people of Togo, how lovingly they welcomed me, EVERYTHING! I am working on updating the team page with stories so that everyone can get to know each one of them a little better. I have already put up new pictures of each member, so check out the team page.
Other than falling in love with the team, what impacted me the most, was seeing the eye surgeries in person. It is so easy to become overwhelmed by all the great needs around the world. It is easy to feel helpless and not know how to help or want to help everyone all at the same time. When I was in Togo, I felt like I was truly helping.
When I saw people go from completely blind to seeing within 24 hours, I knew God was doing something big through me and the team. They weren’t just getting their sight back, their whole lives were being changed. I got to experience 46 people’s lives be completely changed in three days. I wish I could explain how powerful that was.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I hate needles. I faint every single time I get blood drawn. So it’s kind of amusing that I work for a nonprofit that does eye surgeries. When I went to Togo, Lewis Swann kept asking me if I wanted to observe a surgery in the ambulance, and I promptly said no every time.
He finally convinced me to try. I was so worried that I would faint, and there was no room in that ambulance for me to faint. I had tried to watch videos of surgeries at my desk in Tyler, and every time I tried, I got light headed. Lewis just kept saying that it would be beneficial for me to watch, so I gave in, but not without lots of preparation. I had about five different people pray over me before I went in. I also convinced myself that if I had my camera between me and the patient, I could separate myself from what was actually happening.
I got my scrubs on, sterilized my feet, took a deep breath, said one last prayer, and stepped into the ambulance. I took several pictures and then the surgeon asked me to come closer. There were already 5 other people in that tiny ambulance, so I thought that I would just stay as far away as possible. Nope, he wanted me to stand straight over the patient!
Then something amazing happened: I was enthralled with the whole thing! The next thing I knew, my camera was down and I couldn’t stop staring at the surgery. The surgeon explained every step of the process and I could not believe how they were doing it! He just cut a slit, pulled out the cataract, cleaned it out with water, and replaced it with an artificial lens. Then he just covered it with a patch and the next day it would be healed on its own. It was absolutely amazing and I didn’t feel light headed at all!
I am so thankful that God gave me the ability to observe his amazing healing power through the surgeon.
We are settling down on the fram just outside of a few miles from the third biggest city in Togo, Africa in Atakapame. We have met many neighbors who have stopped by to greet us! We feel very welcomed here. Their customary greeting is Bonjour and curtsey.
We have noticed a young boy about age 9 or 10 (most people here do not know their true age) named Chris who is very malnourished and has Sickle Cell Anemia. He is skin and bones with a huge belly. This boy has been abandoned by his parents that live in the city and brought him to his grandmother who also is skin and bones and cannot provide for him very well. His parents have taken him to a witchdoctor and the witchdoctor said he would die. We have taken him under our wings and take him to the hospital where his doctor is treating him each month and we feed him twice a day as well as love him. He has improved in his countenance, knowing somebody loves him and wants to provide for his daily sustenance. The doctor at the hospital gives him only until he is 18 years of age to live. But God…
So we see Chris each morning and each afternoon when he comes to eat. It is a blessing to be a part of his life and I’m sure God has shown him that He will take care of Chris and we are building a relationship with Chris for many days to come.
We have some chickens here at the farm…4 roosters and 2 hens with 6 baby chicks. We will be making a pen for these chickens first thing as we desire to raise chickens to eat as well as having eggs to eat! We are excited that God has already provided these chickens for our team! We also desire to raise goats soon!
We are praying for all our family, friends and loved ones, we miss home and desire to see your faces. It is so hard being ahead six hours as you are still sleeping when we arise at 5am!! It has been some adjustment with the weather and time change! God is GOOD! We will keep you posted! Love to you!!