Jul 24

Out of the mouth of infants…

“Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies
you have prepared praise” – Matthew 21:16

Our church in the US often have a special service at the end of VBS where the children perform songs and recite Bible passages. Here in Lomé, Togo, they have a similar Sunday, but at the end of the (Sunday) school year.

The children dancing (click here to listen)

This past Sunday was the Sunday School children’s program. It was a delightful time of song, dance, and Bible verse recitation. You can see videos starting here.

They also had a special offering “competition”. In Togolais (Ewe) culture, a person is given a name based on the day they were born. Only after the parents get to know the baby (a week or so) are they given a religious or western name. Because everyone is known by their “day name”, everyone knows what day they were born on. For this special offering, they call out each day of the week and those who were born on that day comes forward to put their offering in the plate. The amount for each day it totaled and the winning day is announced, along with the runner up.

I did not know what day I had been born, so I had to ask Siri. She informed me I was born on a Thursday, so you can call me Yao or Yawovi.

In the offering my day came in second, only to be beat out by Sunday (on which Pastor Kossi was born), because there were many people born on Sunday and only a handful on Thursday. Pastor Kossi told me years ago he told the congregation that he would pray that more people born on Sunday would come to the church and that those who were expecting would give birth on Sunday. It seems God answered his prayer. I told him he needs to pray that more people born on all days come!

It was a great and joyous day based on the salvation we all have through Jesus, who took the little children in His arms and blessed them.

Jul 04

Rain Delay

Today durning class with the pastoral students we had a torrential rain. No big deal in the US, but when you are in a tin-roofed church, a heavy rain drowns out any class (you think the gym at ILC is bad during a storm!).

When the rain started, the students moved up closer to the lecture and I moved closer to them and we tried shouting over the noise. At one point the rain got particularly heavy, so we took a 5 minus coffee break at which point the rain let up some and we could continue.

Click here for a video of the interruption
The rooster seeking refuge

The rain was so bad that a rooster sought refuge in the church. I guess he was wondering by when the downpour struck.

Rain also paralyzes the city and causes travel problems as most of the roads in the city are dirt roads and they become even more difficult to travel on, if not impassible. Also most of the transportation is by motorbike, which isn’t pleasant during a heavy rain.

This past week, Pastor Kossi was traveling up to the land the church body has purchased and is farming. He was caught in heavy rains and his cell phone stopped working because of the water damage. He has since replaced the phone and purchased a rain poncho to wear while riding.

Jun 28

Connected!

I finally got the new apartment wired for internet. I’ve had access on my phone, but it has been difficult to do much, especially since my hotspot wouldn’t work. But this past Wednesday Togo Telecom finally came and ran fibre to the apartment and installed the Nokia modem and I’m back on-line.

We had been waiting on the electric company to increase the capacity to the apartment because the original installation didn’t provide enough power for the AC units. The owner had requested and given money for the increase, but nothing was happening, so the head pastor here called a friend who works in the government, who called a manager at the electricity company, who then immediately sent a technician with the pastor to get things sorted out.

The internet installation was dragging on for weeks as well. Finally the head pastor pulled some strings (or threatened to) and got us moved up the queue for installation.

It’s good to have friend in high places! It’s good to be connected.

I shared the story of the electricity in a sermon I preached at two churches here. I pointed out, however, that every believer in Jesus has access to Someone much higher than someone in the national government. We have access to God Almighty Himself! “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” Romans 5:1-2. Through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have obtain access to the grace of God.

It is good to be connected. Through Jesus’s death and resurrection, we have a Friend in the highest place of all. Thanks be to God that He has reconnected us to Himself.

May 27

Rough Road Ahead

There are three kinds of roads (that I have seen so far) on the city of Lomé: paved, cobblestone, and dirt.

The paved roads are reserved for the down-town business area and major connecting arteries, as far as I can tell.

A paved street in Lomé

The next level down is a cobblestone road, which isn’t the old-style brick, but is a new-style flat brick that must be cheaper to lay than paving. It is however, almost as rough as the old-timey cobblestone streets you find in the US.

Cobblestone street in Lomé

The most common street, however, is simply dirt, not gravel, but dirt. It’s a fine, brown dirt that gets packed fairly tightly. Somehow it still manages to have pot holes, however. And muddy and full of ruts after a rain.

A typical dirt road in Lomé

It seems that the nicer the street, the nicer the area. I told an American who has been working here for many years that the apartment I found was on a cobblestone street and she was impressed! That seems to confirm my suspicion, although the owner of the apartment building lives (in a very nice compound) on a dirt street, so it may more indicate how close one is to a major area.

I was thinking paved roads would always transition to cobblestone before one reaches dirt, but that only holds true in the major areas. On the way to the main church here, the main paved road turns to dirt a couple hundred feet into the side street.

A rather abrupt transition from paved to dirt
May 23

Pardon my French!

Today (Thursday) I taught the seminary students for the third time (not counting this past Sunday evening when both the current pastors and seminary students gathered together to study Luther’s Small Catechism). The students told Pastor Kossi that they had trouble understanding my French. I guess my accent isn’t very good (or, at the very least, isn’t what they are used to). I told them I have trouble understanding their French as well (and they seemed surprised at that). The accent here is different from what I am used to.

My comprehension isn’t helped by the fact that the church has simple thatched walls that go 3/4 of the way to the roof. They are nice for letting in the occasional breeze to help keep one from getting too hot, but they also let in all the noises of passing motorcycles, vehicles, and neighborhood animals.

I pray at my accent will improve (or at least they will get use to it) and that I’ll get used to their accent and be able to understand them better. Of course half that time they are speaking Éwé, which I guess they will force me to learn. Until then, I asked them to “pardon my French.”

May 18

Deposit…deposited

Today (Saturday) Pastor Kossi had a man come over to exchange money so I could have enough to make the deposit on the apartment. Then we went over to the owner’s house. After a long conversation in French/Éwé, we gave him a 6 month deposit and 3 months advanced rent ($206/mo based on the rate of 582 CFA Francs to $1 the man gave me this morning).

We then went to a bank downtown so I could withdraw money from the ATM (Guichet Automatique de Bank [GAB] in French) in order to pay for the AC installation. My bank gave me 602 CFA to $1! That is above the market rate, it seems. I will have to go back to that ATM again if it keeps giving such a favorable exchange!

I should be able to move into the place next Saturday. I am really looking forward to getting settled (and having AC!).