Lamatou’s Story

In January 1987, I arrived in Togo as a new missionary. Dal Washer, a veteran missionary invited me to work in a church he was starting in the village of Kpakopé. It was there that I met Lamatou, one of the ladies attending the church. She had already received the Lord, but was baptized when I was there. She would help translate for me as I taught the children and ladies group. One day she shared with me that she had some real needs. She had 2 girls with 2 different fathers and wasn’t married to either of them. This is a common practice in Africa. Now that she knew the Lord, she wanted to live correctly, but she had many needs to care for. Could I help her? At this same time the hospital was in a need of a housekeeping worker, so I suggested Lamatou. There was some resistance by some of the missionaries since she wasn’t married and had the children. In the end, she was hired in 1988 and she continued to be a faithful worker at the hospital.

As my first Togolese friend she taught me many things. One day, I said to her “you are so nice to everyone, how come?” She then told me how she had been abused and punished by a stepmother. She would be forced to kneel in the hot sun and hold her arms up for a long time. As a child she decided she would never do that and would always be nice to others.

I spent some special moments in her place when she moved near the hospital. I remember how she went out of her way with her limited salary to feed me, but I didn’t know they hot pepper even for breakfast. In the night, when I had to go to the bathroom, their “toilet” was under construction. It was a huge hole with 2 long planks across the hole in the ground. As I was on the planks, I got to laughing and the planks started moving up and down with me and then I imagined myself falling into that big yucky hole. We laughed about that one often.

She also taught me to go the “extra mile” with a friend. In Togo, you accompany your visitor to the road, to their vehicle or even if on foot all the way back to their house. After one of my visits at her place, she took my hand (perfectly normal here for close friendships) and walked me all the way back to my house, maybe at least a mile or more. She told me that this is what friends do, so I suggested then maybe I should walk her all the way back to her house and we could do it all day long.

She eventually worked in the clinic at HBB doing many things, including translating. She knew at least 3 languages. Lamatou is Kabiye, so my learning Kabiye drew us even closer.

Lamatou met her husband at our hospital and I was there for her engagement time and their wedding, but some years later, when Lamatou could only give him one child, he left her for another women. I still regret to this day, that I suggested she should marry him. She was just so thankful for a job that helped support her son and pay for medicine for her diabetes.

Lamatou passed away a few years ago, but she’s my eternal friend. We always reconnected immediately even after it had been years apart. I thank the Lord for friends from another culture, their love for me and our eternal friendship since we are in Christ.

-Story shared by Jane Schmitz

Only God

God has done what seemed, no, what TRULY WAS impossible: the graduation of 31 nursing students from our two schools of nursing!

We have two ABWE hospitals in Togo:  One in southern Togo, Hôpital Baptiste Biblique in Tsiko, where we have been educating Togolese nurses since 1997; and the Hospital of Hope in Mango (northern Togo).  A few years ago administrators of both hospitals reported the need for another nursing class in order to adequately staff the hospitals.

I had taught in our nursing program in the south since 1997, directing the program since 2002 – but directing and teaching in two nursing schools, approximately 7 1/2 hours apart, never even entered the realm of possibility in my thinking!  I had never considered having a nursing class in Mango! God had provided finances for the south – but this all started to come together at the end of my furlough –  and there was no money at all for the program in the north.

Only God could provide what was needed! We had materials, a building, potential faculty, most of the finances for the south – pretty much everything that was needed for the next nursing program (our fifth nursing class for HBB). But we had nothing at all for the north!  I made a list of what we did not have in the north: no building, no books/resources, no teachers, no assistant director to oversee the school in the north whenever I would be in the south; no money for. . . anything!

And God provided every single thing!

**Only God could have orchestrated the schedule so that we started classes in the south (May 30, 2016) and then, one week later, started classes in the north (June 6, 2016) – a staggered schedule that worked with the curriculum and allowed me to be at each site for every trimester final exam and evaluation.

**Only God could have provided each of the teachers needed – some who serve full-time in Togo, several visiting instructors who had taught with us in past years, and some nurse educators who had never been to Togo before!

**Only God could provide safe transportation between these two hospitals for the past three years: Over 30 round trips between Tsiko and Mango – over 13,640 miles which might not sound like much to our American minds – but in Togo, over some rough roads, weaving through herds of cattle, goats, sheep, ducks, people, motercycles!!!

**Only God could have provided a brand new beautiful car half way through the program: putting it on the hearts of a surgeon and his wife to give all the funds for the purchase of an incredible vehicle!

**Only God could have allowed us to graduate 16 new nurses in the south (June 8) and 15 new nurses in the north (June 15):  two incredible graduations during which God was honored (our #1 goal!); during which we had the opportunity to thank families, friends, teachers, colleagues.

**Only God knows how many times during the past three years I said to Him, “I cannot do this”!!!  And how many times He so patiently said to my heart, “No, Sharon, you cannot. But I can. And that is the idea!”  And truly, that is what God wanted – my total dependence on Him!

I shared these verses with our graduates at both sites shortly before their graduation ceremonies: Psalm 126:3 – our incredible joy as we recognize the amazing things God has done! And Isaiah 26:12 – everything we have accomplished is not because of us, but He is the One Who has accomplished all things!

-Shared by Sharon Rahilly

Shining Jesus’ Light

The Mallay family served at Hôpital Baptiste Biblique from December 2016-January 2018.  When their oldest daughter, Arwen experienced health problems, they returned to the States. She was diagnosed with cancer and has been in treatment since then.  The article in the following link was written by Arwen Mallay for the World Medical Mission/Samaritan’s Purse Magazine this summer.

Arwen- Shining Jesus’ Light

Follow her story at Mallays On A Mission

 

PET carts

One day this spring, while walking through our Women’s Ward, I noticed a woman who was paralyzed from the waist down and had been admitted to the hospital for a simple infection. Her hands were calloused with thick leathery skin and she explained to me that she cares for her family and her home by scooting across the room with her hands. She had an active child playing by her bedside and I couldn’t begin to imagine how she was able to run a home and keep up with a toddler all with limited mobility. We talked some more and arranged for a follow-up visit at the hospital a few weeks later for a potential solution to her problem of mobility.

Several years ago a missionary family became interested in “Personal Energy Transportation” carts or simply “PET Carts,” which are hand-cranked transportation devices for the disabled. Items like traditional wheelchairs and crutches are difficult to use in areas without paved roads or level terrain, so often the disabled are home-bound and isolated from society.

Thanks to these missionaries’ interest, and some generous donors, our hospital received a large shipment of PET carts just a few weeks before this woman’s hospital visit! I quickly recruited a volunteer PET cart team to assemble the device and then we waited for the woman’s follow-up visit.

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When the day came, the woman was dressed in her best clothes and smiling ear to ear in anticipation. We began by explaining all the features of the cart followed by a personal demonstration by yours truly. Next, we helped her onto the cart and watched as she quickly learned to pedal, steer, and brake by herself. After reviewing the safety features once more, she was ready to return to her town as a newly independent, and mobile, member of society.

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Valentin#1

Honoré Afolabi received one of the PET carts for a gentleman in his Lomé neighborhood.  The man agreed to do a short Bible study with Honoré and he also accepted a French Bible.  Honoré was able to walk him through The Story of Hope study. Without being told to, the man decided to take notes and write down the verses to read them again at home.

By the grace of God, on the afternoon of Monday, June 26th, he accepted Christ as his personal savior! We give God the glory for his saving grace. Please pray for him as he expressed the desire to continue the Bible study.

-by Kristi Tebo and Honoré Afolabi

Missionary Doctor: Giving Thanks – Some Visuals From a Mission Hospital

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I was encouraged today to look through a collection of photos taken at Hôpital Baptiste Biblique here in Togo. These photos (courtesy of Judy Bowen) reminded me of many things for which I am thankful. I’d like to share a few of them with you.
I am thankful for this hospital compound! We almost always have electricity and we have clean water, a home for our family, and a community of missionaries who care for one another. There are plans to expand the hospital, but even what we already have is more than many other hospitals in various places around the world.

Here is a photo of our obstetrician, post-resident Dr Potter, along with a visiting obstetrician together in surgery. And next to that a photo of myself with one of our surgeons, Dr Kendall, in what looks like a typical “consultation” here. I am thankful for our surgeons and OB/Gyn specialists. They are such valuable members of our team. I am thankful for open communication and for an atmosphere of encouraging one another.

Similar to the visiting obstetrician above, we often have short-term personnel come here to aid us and to lift us up. Here is a surgeon who came and offered himself as a servant, and next to that a family doctor and medical student who likewise came alongside the doctors here to be a blessing in service. I am thankful for the short-term missionaries and their desire to serve. I’m also thankful for the wisdom and experience they bring with them (and the chocolate they bring with them…).

Here is a little one being weighed and so full of life. To the right is an image of a child born prematurely who did relatively well for close to a month, but then ended up dying. It was touching to see how the mother cared for him. I am thankful for life. How precious a life is, even when it doesn’t seem to last long by our standards.

Dr Ebersole poses with a little boy who had recently undergone an esophagectomy after having eaten lye more than a year before. Fellow post-resident Dr Tebo is pictured with a patient who is too cool to be NPO (not allowed to eat for the time being). I am thankful for our pediatricians and the knowledge and experience that they bring to the table. I’m thankful for our success stories.

Here Dr Tebo and I are introducing a paraplegic woman to her new PET cart while her daughter and some friends look on. You can see in the second photo just how happy she is with her gift. I am thankful for the generosity of donors and for the compassion that I see people show toward others. It’s truly a blessing.

Here is a photo of a chaplain sharing the gospel and then one of a nurse praying with a patient. I am so thankful for our chaplains, nurses, and aids. They so often help us with the language barriers we encounter. I am amazed at their patience toward us. I thank God for a country where we are free to share the gospel, a mission focused on prayer, and a hospital where we take the time for both. I am also thankful for our nursing program here that continues to provide the hospital with excellent nurses.

Here we see Dr Ward, another post-resident, being his true self. Getting to know him and learn from him has been a lot of fun. Next is our fearless administrator making me *feel* tall. I am so thankful for laughter and for friendships. I’m glad that we can still have fun and lift each other’s spirits and remind each other the reason for our joy. I’m also thankful for our administration team and for their willingness to brave so many meetings to keep the hospital running.

In this photo, I’ve come down to everybody else’s level so that our photographer could get a decent shot while the PA laughs at me. In the next, I’m asking a patient (in limited French) if her pain is any better. I’m thankful for our photographer. I am thankful for our PAs and the outstanding work that they do. I’m thankful for my limited French and the gratefulness of our patients.

There aren’t any pictures to go along with this, but I’m thankful for my family and how well they have taken adjusting to life in Africa. Also, dear friends, I’m thankful for you and your prayers for us as we continue to work. May Jesus be lifted up.

-Shared by Seth Mallay

 

via Missionary Doctor: Giving Thanks – Some Visuals From a Mission Hospital — Mallays On A Mission

Patient turned Pastor

During 2016 Hôpital Baptiste Biblique (HBB) saw another example of the connection of healthcare and God’s church. In June , M. Agouda, a retired teacher from the village of Gbadigbena, came to the clinic for treatment where he heard and responded to the gospel of grace during his consultation. Coming back for a follow up visit in July, he spoke with a chaplain asking for help. A group of new believers had grown up in his village because of his testimony. The chaplain spent time with M. Agouda and provided Bible Study Materials from the Christian Materials Center.

image1God also directed M. Agouda’s path to cross with another believer from a small church which had been started through the outreach of the hospital many years ago – a village much nearer to him than our hospital. This church leader began to visit, pray with him and encourage him in the Bible. Two of the HBB chaplains traveled to this village in August to encourage this small group. In September, the Evangelistic Mobile Clinic, made the more than 3 hour trip to provide a free day of clinic to the village at the church meeting site. By October, one of our surgeons, Eric Miller, accompanied the chaplains to see how God was leading in the establishing of another gospel outpost in a dark place.

image3This group continues to meet and study God’s Word together. At the end of December they journeyed to the regional church conference where they connected with an experienced Togolese pastor whose heart has already been burdened to reach out to this remote area. Please pray for this small group of believers and others like them to grow into strong churches.

-Shared by Annette Williams

One Test Short. One Dream Reached.

Gnoyi failed his high school diploma test. Without his high school diploma he never would have been able to be a part of the medical community. With the help of Hôpital Baptiste Biblique he was able to raise the funds and find the courage to retake the high school diploma test. Storytellers Abroad participant, Alison Waller produced this story of Gnoyi’s dream to become a part of the Togolese medical community.

“With the added education I will be respected more, and people will have confidence in what I say so I will be able to approach my patients in a way that they will have confidence in what I say and I will be able to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and they will listen because of their respect and confidence in me. I will do it though humbly and I will give glory to God.”

Jeremie’s Journey

Storyteller Cy Hayden is sharing the story of Jeremie, who is a Chaplain at the Hôpital Baptiste Biblique and a local pastor in Togo. Jeremie almost lost his pregnant wife due to a coma because of a sickle cell crisis. His son then developed hydrocephalus a month after his birth. Through multiple miracles, God healed both of them.

 

Small Investments, Big Rewards

Baby in Bed 3

“Pediatric bed #3 is a 7 month old with malaria and anemia. She also seems kinda small and her mother says she doesn’t breastfeed well.”

I heard this report in our daily sign-out rounds one rainy July morning and thought it sounded like a run-of-the-mill malaria case with a little malnutrition mixed in. However, when I arrived at bed 3 later that morning I found signs of a very different problem. “Katy” was an adorable 7 month old baby but had some peculiarities about her: a tongue that seemed too large for her mouth, a huge open fontanel (“soft spot” on the skull), a very noticeable hernia that caused her belly button to protrude, and generally low muscle tone that prevented her from rolling over, sitting up, or holding a toy. In addition to the bread-and-butter malaria, it was apparent that Katy had something else very wrong as well. I sent off an additional lab test and her diagnosis was confirmed a few hours later: hypothyroidism (low amounts of thyroid hormone). In the U.S., this problem is usually detected in newborns within a few days to weeks of their birth thanks to newborn screening programs, but in Togo there are no such safety nets for infants and it can often go undiagnosed for months or years, causing damage to the developing brain and other body organ. Luckily for Katy, she contracted malaria during our annual rainy season and therefore came to medical attention sooner rather than later. The treatment is simple: one pill per day of thyroid hormone along with blood tests every few months to ensure that she’s receiving the correct amount. We immediately started her on this medicine and saw marked improvements in her ability to breastfeed during her hospitalization. Fast-forward 4 months and now Katy is a rolly-polly 11-month old who is eating everything in sight and sitting up on her own! Not only that, but her hernia has almost disappeared and her fontanel (soft spot on her skull) has nearly closed like a normal baby. Her mother, and I, couldn’t be more thrilled. I gave them a follow-up appointment in January and am secretly hoping that she can pull-up or walk by the next time I see her.

Though Katy’s treatment is straightforward, financing it can be very tricky for her family. They must purchase daily medicines, make long trips to the hospital every 2-3 months, and also have routine blood tests performed – all for years on end. For many families in Togo this can be a nearly insurmountable hardship. Thanks to our Pediatric Benevolence Fund, which many of you generously supplied, I’m able to help offset many of these costs for Katy and other patients like her. In a medical practice filled with sick and dying children, it’s such a ray of hope to see “simple” cases like this making remarkable progress!

Back-to-School Shopping!

Nerd alert: back-to-school shopping has always been one of my most favorite times of the year and living in Togo has not changed that at all! Though a little delayed in starting this year, the Togolese schools are officially back in session. Just as in the U.S., a new school year in Togo means back-to-school shopping for pencils, rulers, and notebooks, which is an additional cost to families who have already paid for school enrollment fees and mandatory school uniforms. Since all of these expenses can add up rapidly, the poorest families in Togo sometimes choose to stop sending their children to school at a young age, thereby perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

After moving to here in May, I have become involved in a local church plant (meaning a new church that’s just starting out) in the neighborhood of Kpotame. The church has several struggling families as well as some orphans that attend, so the pastors organized donations of school supplies for these needy families. In addition to many other church members, I was able to use some of my ministry donations to help the church buy basic school supplies for over 20 students. It’s amazing what the gift of a ruler and notebook can mean in a child’s life! It is our hope as a church that these children feel loved and supported as they return to school this year.

[Confession: I took this opportunity to stock-up on some new pens for myself too🙂 ]

 

Investments of Time

This past month brought another huge blessing with the arrival of my parents for a 3-week visit to Togo. It was wonderful to show my parents all of the aspects of my life and ministry here. They were able to observe my daily work at the hospital, interact with patients and staff, and even pitch-in with helping to organize several hospital storage containers. Outside the hospital, they learned how I shop for food and cook from scratch; how I get clothes custom-made; how we deal with heat & rain; and they even rode all over Togo on the back of motos!

My dad was able to work with my gardener to landscape my yard and also did a lot of small projects around my house (including the very important “bug-proofing”). My mom ministered to other missionary families through offering childcare, hosting families for dinners, and baking zucchini bread (yum!). On days away from the hospital, I had the opportunity to teach a Pediatric class to our nursing school…my dad now thinks he’s an expert on Pediatric respiratory distress🙂 We also went out to a village for a Mobile Medical Clinic where our nursing students were able to practice taking blood pressure levels and sharing the Gospel.

When we weren’t working, we visited local African markets, went on a guided nature hike that ended at 2 waterfalls, saw an old German castle in the hills of Togo, and stopped by a Togolese convent and monastery. Several of my missionary friends were able to join us on the sightseeing trips too!

Sound like something you’d like to experience too? I’ve got an extra bedroom and an empty seat on my moto for the next adventurous visitor!

Prayer Requests:

  1. Please pray for stamina and rest for our medical team as the hospital enters a “dry” season in regards to staffing. We have very few volunteers coming in the next few months and several of our long-term doctors will be leaving for vacations/furloughs before the year’s end.
  2. Pray for unity on our team, both among medical providers and all of our missionaries in general, as we are welcoming a lot of new families and saying goodbye (temporarily) to some others.

via Small Investments, Big Rewards — LoveAlways

Trials in Togo

Gaglo was there when the first ABWE missionaries came to Togo. He helped build the hospital and has seen first hand how it has made an impact on the Togolese. Over 32 churches have been planted because of the hospital. Gaglo not only works as a physician’s assistant, but is also a pastor for one of the church plants. In this video Storyteller Liz Ortiz tells his story.

Du Courage

img_0037Lately I have been hearing and using this French phrase often. It translates best as “Hang in there!” or “Be brave!” and is frequently used in Togolese culture whenever someone is facing a difficulty. Though it’s a phrase the Togolese use routinely, it has also become a phrase that the Lord’s been speaking directly to my heart.

  • When more than half of my patients are in a coma due to cerebral malaria…I hear “du courage” from the Great Physician
  • When a dental filling falls out while living in the middle of Africa…I hear “du courage” and “Fear not!”
  • While waiting for an appointment with a local dentist…I hear “du courage” and “Be strong and very courageous.” (Joshua 1:7)
  • When there are 5 pediatric cancer patients in one week needing decisions, treatment, and care…I hear “du courage” from the Giver of all wisdomimg_00361
  • When I stress fractured my foot while running to get out of the rain…I hear “du courage” and “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” (Psalm 37:7)
  • While I was using crutches on Africa dirt roads in the midst of rainy season…I hear “du courage” and “The fruit of the Spirit is…patience” (Galatians 5:22)
  • When a 2-year-old boy contracts meningococcal meningitis and remains in a coma…I hear “du courage” and “The Lord is faithful in all he does.” (Psalm 33:4b)

In the midst of trials, difficulties, suffering, and even death the Lord continues to speak “du courage…I am with you.” I am encouraged and spurred onwards by the promises found in the Bible, such as in Romans 8:37-39:

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I am also encouraged by the many blessings and miracles we encounter here in Togo. . .  Keep reading at Kristi’s blog

-Shared by Kristi Tebo

Feast or Famine

Bryant Ward shares his experience in Obstetrics and the need at our hospital.

Just in case you don’t make it through the whole thing, I want to get it out there: We need OB coverage at this hospital from April onward! If you want to come out here or know somebody who might, please direct them to me or to World Medical Mission. French is helpful but by no means required.

IMG_2200 The OB Ward – Jesus Film in the Background

Our hospital here in Togo has been around for more than 30 years. This past year, for the first time in those 30+ years it temporarily stopped offering obstetrics due to a lack of medical staff. This extended from the summer of 2015 until the middle of January 2016. It was a blow to morale at the hospital and to the community.

The hospital here is currently staffed by 3 long-term missionaries- an FP, a surgeon and a pediatrician ( the latter two…

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