Ama’s Mother’s Day was 3 Months Ago

Ama’s Mother’s Day was 3 Months Ago

Ama traveled over 700 miles from the country of Mali to the country of Togo to see her family. She was a twenty three-year-old mother with a beautiful eight-month-old baby girl named Blessing.

This first-time mom had never seen her baby girl because she went blind in both eyes during pregnancy.

 

 

(In a culture where witchcraft is prevalent, pregnant women are often told not to drink water. Dehydration during pregnancy can either leave the mother or baby blind. We see this all too often in Togo.)

Ama thought that she went blind because someone put a curse on her. Curses are common, so this is the first thing that came to her mind. She didn’t know that she could have prevented her blindness by drinking water during her pregnancy.

Ama thought she was traveling to Togo just to see family. But God brought her to Togo for something bigger.

Her mother-in-law had just heard about Sight.org, so she drove three hours to bring Ama to us. Our doctor knew immediately that he could help her.

Ama became the first eye surgery patient of 2019.

 

 

Our staff was so excited for the first surgery that we all crowded around the operating room to watch. As Ama was lying on the table getting prepped, I noticed that every muscle in her body was shaking. I’m not talking about a little shake in her hands. Her legs shook, her arms shook, her stomach shook, even the muscles in her neck were shaking. She was scared to death.

 

 

I couldn’t just stand there watching. My heart broke for her and I had to do something. I asked the doctor if I could hold her hand and pray for her during surgery and he said, “Yes, anything you can do to keep her calm will be helpful!”

 

Our eye surgeries only last fifteen minutes, so I thought it would be pretty easy to sit with her for just that short time. I forgot that she had to be fully prepped before and cleaned after. I sat on a rolling stool as my arms and legs fell asleep. But it was all worth it. I prayed over Ama and held her hand. I could see the muscles in her body slowly calm down.

 

 

Soon, it was all over and the doctor proclaimed that her surgery went very well and she would be able to see the next day.

 

As Ama rested and recovered, I got to play with her beautiful daughter. I imagined what it would be like to not see my own children, to miss out on seeing their precious eyes and cute dimples.

 

 

Ama missed out on the first eight months of her daughter’s life.

She didn’t see Blessing’s tiny fingers and toes get bigger every day. This young mother didn’t get to watch her baby grow over the first several months. She never experienced looking into the eyes of her baby and completely melting with love.

 

 

I hurt for Ama.

I grieved that she missed out on so much with her baby. She missed out on so much joy that comes with being a mother.

But then, I rejoiced for her.

When our optometrist took the patches off her eyes, we all gathered around once more. We couldn’t wait for this sweet mother to see her beautiful baby for the first time.

 

 

To be honest, it wasn’t what we all expected. We wanted it to be like the movies. We wanted her to open her eyes and see her baby. We wanted her to cry with joy.

None of that happened.

When Ama opened her eyes, she was almost frozen. They handed her baby to her and she just sat there.

Maybe she was overwhelmed.

Maybe she was still groggy from the medicine.

Maybe she was in pain.

We don’t know.

 

 

Finally, after what seemed like forever, Ama picked up her baby’s foot and examined it. Her baby cried so she fed her. As she fed her, she looked into her eyes.

 

 

It wasn’t as dramatic as we expected.

It was real life.

She had just recovered from major surgery but she was still a mother with responsibilities. She just kept going as usual, taking care of her baby. She just did what she needed to do.

A few days later, we caught a few glimpses of her smiling and playing with her baby. Sweet little Blessing was all smiles, all the time. Could she tell a difference in her mom? Did she know that her mom was seeing her for the first time? Did she feel more connected to her mom?

 

 

One week earlier, Ama had no idea that her life was about to change. She didn’t know that she would be getting her sight back. She also didn’t know that a bunch of strangers would pray over her and tell her all about the One who brought her there. That is the whole reason Sight.org is in Togo, to point people to Jesus. To open the eyes of the blind both physically and spiritually.

We don’t know how Ama responded when she heard the good news of Jesus, but our team did not miss a chance to tell her about Him and pray over her. God brought her there for a reason and we all knew it.

This Mother’s Day, will you pray for Ama?

Pray for her heart.

Pray that she responds to God’s loving voice.

Pray that she will not ignore the fact that God chased after her.

Pray that she bonds even more with her baby now.

Pray that God transforms Ama in every way.

 

 

Watch video of Ama as she gets her patches off!

 

 

 

 

Story of an African Father

Story of an African Father

 

Father

This man brought his wife to our medical team to get her eyes checked.

She had to wait all day until surgeries were over. As she waited, her husband sat to the side patiently, holding their baby.

When the baby was hungry, he would let his wife feed and then he would hold the baby again.

He had such a sweet, quiet spirit.

When his wife got her eyes checked and found out that she had already lost her sight in one eye from glaucoma and was slowly losing sight in her other eye, he held her hand and silently prayed.

He was a hard working teacher who obviously loved his wife and children. We all continue to pray for this family.

Read their whole story to see how you can pray for them too at https://sight.org/2016/03/elizabeth/.

Give sight for Father’s Day.

20 Years Without a Mother

20 Years Without a Mother

As I sat with our medical team talking, our ophthalmic assistant, Dominic, said,

“Something happened yesterday that I need to share with all of you. No one knows this yet. It was such a surprise to me that I have not told anyone yet.

When I was very young, my mother had to leave us. I was raised by my father and grandparents. I don’t even know what my mother looks like.

I have not talked to or seen my mother in twenty years.

Several years ago, I started praying that I would get to see my mother again. I don’t even know what country she lives in now, but I feel like God wants me to see her. My father does not know where she is. No one in my family does.

 

Dominic

 

I have been praying for so many years now and nothing has happened. There is nothing I can do but pray.

I almost gave up on ever seeing her, until last week. My uncle called me and said that he had seen my mother in Liberia, where I am from.

My mother asked about me, so my uncle gave her my phone number.

 

Dominic

 

Yesterday, my mother called me.

I talked to my mother yesterday for the first time in twenty years.

 

Dominic

 

She was so excited that she talked the entire time. I barely said a word.

I am so overwhelmed that God has brought my mother back to me. A son needs his mother. I am thirty-six years old but I still need my mother.

I got to tell her about the work I do with Sight.org. I am so happy that she now has a taste of my labor. I have long been wishing to do something for my mother as it is our culture to show that you are not a waste.

I am so thankful. Praise God.”

 

Dominic

 

Our medical team was overjoyed to hear Dominic’s news. Dominic has been through a lot of hard times in his life. As a child, he and his family had to flee Liberia during the horrific war. He saw things as a child that no one should ever see.

 

Dominic

 

And yet, you would never know he had gone through all that.

I call Dominic my tour guide when I go to Togo. He is our best interpreter. He knows all the animal and plant names. He is extremely intelligent.

 

Dominic

 

Dominic has always dreamed of becoming a doctor. That is why he is the best ophthalmic assistant anyone could ask for.

He pours himself into his work. He is a hard worker and he loves his work. He is serious about helping the people in Togo. He is serious about getting our patients well again.

He is also serious about encouraging each patient with the good news of Jesus.

 

Dominic

 

And now, he is serious about getting to see his mother again.

His goal is to go back to Liberia in December so he can see his mother at Christmas time.

We are all so excited for Dominic. He has his momma back!

Sight.org will be helping fund Dominic’s trip to Liberia. If you would like to help Dominic go see his mother, you can donate at Sight.org.

 

Dominic

Baby Natalie

Baby Natalie

I was so tired. I just wanted a good nap.

It was blazing hot in the midday African sun. Our tent was unbearably hot. I thought about resting under the mango tree.

 

Natalie

 

Our tent was pitched outside the village hospital. My friend Meza said that there was an empty office in the hospital with a fan where we could rest.

 

Natalie

 

We went to the office to rest but Meza had to go back to the tent to get something. As she walked to the tent, she saw a family sitting on the sidewalk.

They were holding a tiny baby and crying.

She immediately went to them to see what was happening.

They said their baby was not breathing. They had gone to the hospital but did not have enough money to pay for treatment. Meza assured them that we could pay for the treatment and she called for the doctor.

Meza ran to the office to get me. She said, “There is a baby out here that we need to pray for.”

We rushed down the hall to the family who was now sitting inside.

What I saw next, I will never forget.

This tiny baby was staring at the ceiling with very little life left in her eyes. She gasped for breath every five seconds. I have never seen a baby this close to death. We all prayed and cried over this sweet baby girl. As I prayed, I felt like I was about to watch her die right there.

Finally, the doctor arrived.

As the doctor treated this eight month old baby named Natalie, the rest of us continued to pray and sing over her.

At one point, Natalie’s mother left the room. No one knew where she went.

During this time, the doctor said that he had done all he could do. She was breathing better but she had a very high fever that was not going down. There was bigger hospital down the road, so he asked us to take Natalie there instead.

We climbed in the bus with Natalie’s father and aunt and drove to the other hospital. We still did not know where her mother was.

 

Natalie

 

At the second hospital, Natalie got hooked up to oxygen and fluids. She was starting to breathe much better and her fever was going down.

 

Natalie

 

After an hour, her mother finally came back. She told us that she thought her baby had already died, so she went to tell her parents to prepare for the funeral.

When we told her that her baby was still alive and doing much better, she broke down in tears. She couldn’t even look at her baby. She sat on the floor, crying.

We sat with her and prayed. We all worried about this young mother. When I looked in her eyes, I saw sadness and darkness. I wasn’t sure if it was postpartum depression, fear, guilt, exhaustion, or something much darker.

All I knew was she needed a lot of prayer. She needed Jesus.

We stayed at the hospital all day, waiting. That night, Natalie finally came off her IV and oxygen. We visited with the family. The last time I looked in Natalie’s eyes, I thought I was going to watch her die.

Now she looked like a normal baby, smiling, playing, cooing. We were all overjoyed.

 

Natalie

 

However, I was still worried about Natalie’s mother. She never smiled and she seemed so numb.

 

Natalie

 

We asked the mother and father if they were Christians. They said no.

For the next week, we continued to check on Natalie. Our team went to a different village, but we continued to pay for Natalie’s treatment in the hospital. Her breathing never completely normalized, so they kept her in the hospital to continue treating her.  We called Natalie’s father two times a day for updates.

She seemed to be getting better. We were all hopeful.

A week later, we got a call from Natalie’s father. He said that they hospital had done everything they could for his daughter. They had exhausted their resources and were releasing Natalie from the hospital. She was still not breathing normally.

The next morning, Natalie’s father called. Natalie had passed away in the night.

Meza screamed, “No, not Natalie!” She fell to the ground crying.

I felt like I was looking in a mirror. I had the same exact reaction just five months prior when my neighbor’s daughter died.

When you spend so much time praying over a baby girl, you crumble when it all comes to a screeching halt.

Meza and I are both mothers. We took this grief upon us as if it were our own child. Our momma hearts were breaking. I could only imagine what was happening to Natalie’s mother. I prayed even harder for her.

As we grieved, God comforted me with the thought that He is bigger than all of this. He was still working. He still had plans for this family. I felt that God was going to use this to draw the mother and father to Him. Our ministry team would be in their village for the entire year. I knew that even when I went back to the United States, our team would still be there, loving on this family, and speaking God’s love over them.

Two days ago, I got a message from our ministry team. The house church in that village was growing. They have been meeting together for five months. Many people in this village have become Christians.

The house church picked three people this week to be their “Persons of Peace.” They will be in charge of the audio Bible as the village comes together each week to listen to God’s Word.

 

Natalie

 

I stared at the pictures of the three “Persons of Peace.” I recognized the woman in the middle. It was Natalie’s mother!

 

Natalie

 

I frantically messaged our ministry team leader for confirmation. He said that it was Natalie’s mother. He found out that she had been involved in Voodoo, but after her baby died, she decided to visit the house church. She has now become a Christian and has been coming every week to listen to God’s Word. The village has now picked her to be one of the people responsible for encouraging everyone in the house church.

I was overwhelmed. God really was speaking to me on the day that Natalie died. I was comforted by the fact that He had plans to draw Natalie’s parents to Him, and only a month later, He had already done that with her mother.

This Mother’s Day week, we are praising God for his miraculous works in the midst of death and grief. We still grieve the loss of baby Natalie, but we are overjoyed at the salvation of her mother. She has been brought from darkness to light!

As you can see from the story of baby Natalie, there are so many medical needs in rural Togo. At Sight.org, we only have the resources to help with eye medical needs.

So many people come to our team with non-eye related needs. Sometimes we can help, and sometimes we can’t. We pay for them to go to the hospital when we can. But even then, the rural hospitals have limited resources, as was the case with Natalie. We will never know if Natalie could have been saved if she were in a big city or in a western hospital. We all wonder.

Our team often gets overwhelmed by the needs of the people around them. They can’t fix all the needs they see every day. However, we are comforted by the fact that Jesus is bigger than we are. His plans are better than ours.

He has placed our team in rural Togo for a reason. One of the reasons is to heal people’s eyes. But the biggest reason is the be the love of Christ to them.

Because of our eye surgeries, Jesus opens the door for ministry. Through that, house churches are being established, hundreds are giving their lives to Christ, and the Word of God is heard.

 

Natalie

 

We will never understand all of God’s plans. We don’t understand why Natalie had to die. But we do know that Jesus loves Natalie and her family. And we know that He has a big plan for her family.

 
Patchwork Bags from Togo

Patchwork Bags from Togo

This Mother’s Day, give your mom a patchwork bag from Togo.

All proceeds go toward giving sight to the blind in Togo, Africa. 

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Large Bag: $60

Dimensions: 23×17 inches.

 

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Medium Bag: $30

Dimensions: 18×15 inches.

 

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Small Bag: $20

Dimensions: 8x5x5 inches.

 

To purchase a bag, go to our Gift Catalog or stop by our office in Tyler. 

 

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Story behind the bags:

We purchase these bags in Togo from an artisan. We have started to develop a relationship with her. These bags are well made and sturdy and we are in love with them. We think you will love them too!

She shared her story with us and we want to share it with you.

“My name is Anita, I am married with three children, two boys and one girl. I started this business when I was 18 years old. Because of poverty I quit school and started doing patchwork materials. But I don’t do the bags myself, I have people who do them for me to sell. I just make the material, give it to them and they make bags for me. It is really a good business. I don’t only sell the bags, I also have dresses, children dresses, skirts and many more things. I love my work. Thank you for wanting to hear my story, may God bless you.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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