The Pfennigers recently returned to the work in Togo. This is an interview with them by a church youth group.
Learn more about the Pfennigers at http://www.fredandlydia.com
The Pfennigers recently returned to the work in Togo. This is an interview with them by a church youth group.
Learn more about the Pfennigers at http://www.fredandlydia.com
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
God 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.
This 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
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.”
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.
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!
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!
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.
Lately 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.
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
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.
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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