We ended Part 1 of our site visit sharing about me falling asleep during dinner, Facetiming with our girls, and finally getting to sleep… We pick up Part 2 the next morning!
We woke up Saturday morning in Kara at the SIL, a guesthouse/compound owned and operated by Wycliffe. Joan came over to walk us to breakfast that first morning.
After downing some instant coffee, oatmeal, bananas, and fresh-baked bread, we walked over to the apartment Joan and Jane (who are sisters) share. Joan instantly bonded with Hudson and we talked about our plan for the day.
First up: a trip to a fabric shop! We shared a story about our visit to the fabric shop in our May newsletter.
After that quick stop (we were only there for about 10 minutes), we drove over to the market!
From fresh fruits and vegetables to clothes and watches, you can get just about everything at the market. We saw the voodoo stalls where they sell animal carcasses, amulets, and more to supposedly help ward off evil and protect the user. Witch doctors were there selling herbs and concocting mixtures to help with various ailments.
… and Hudson fell asleep while walking around. Poor jet-lagged baby.
After stopping at the market, we toured a store in town that sells “American” items, like Cheerios and Nutella.
We also visited a meat shop, where Joan and Jane purchase frozen chicken, fish, etc…
…and a pharmacy to buy a baby bottle (because a mouse chewed through the tip of the one we brought for Hudson).
We went back to Joan and Jane’s house for lunch, rested some, and took a few photos on their rooftop deck:
Next up: a tour of the Bible Institute and Grace House, the beautiful building in Kara that was designed to be an orphanage. Work is currently being done on the facility to replace the ceilings. You can see part of our tour of the building in our site visit video. There is a playground and soccer field at Grace House and Allen had a great time playing on the slide.
Later that day, we returned to Grace House to attend a wedding reception! We took a photo with the bride and groom…
… drank some soda…
… and took some selfies.
After the reception we just hung out with Jane and Joan, then went back to our home-away-from-home. We talked to the girls again on Facetime, showered, and crashed!
Allen and I spent some time praying that night, though. We had “official word” that the orphanage ministry was a no-go: through some recent research, our teammates found that 8 churches in the Kara region are collectively caring for nearly 200 orphaned and vulnerable children! Allen and I were so excited to hear that because, in our opinion, that is how it should be – kids in a family, not kids in an orphanage. Because of that finding, plus the financial and legal requirements that go along with running an orphanage, our Togo South Team decided not to move forward with opening a formal orphanage.
So while exciting as that was, it left Allen and I wondering, “What are we supposed to do in Kara, then?!” As we prayed about it, we knew that God wanted our family in that city… we just couldn’t see why! We really specifically asked Him to speak to us in church the next day, despite the language barrier we knew we’d encounter.
So the next morning, we ate a quick breakfast before meeting Jane and Joan to head for church. We went to two churches: a smaller village church and a larger “urban” church. Both were wonderful experiences!
At the village church, we participated in worship while Hudson was passed around the room to each woman. You can hear some of the singing in our site visit video. Jane said they squeeze 75 people into the church on a Sunday morning!
Dirt floors, wooden benches, and the love of God filling each nook and cranny inside. We loved being there!
We left that service in time to head to Pastor Martouka’s church. Again, wonderful singing and worship… and a truly encouraging sermon straight from God to our hearts. If you missed our previous post about the sermon (from Hebrews 11:7), here it is in a nutshell: This journey isn’t about what we see or don’t see. It’s about having faith. Faith is doing something that has never been seen before. It is believing that what God says will happen, will. It is taking God’s promises as reality.
We spoke with Pastor Martouka after the service and told him how encouraged we were. We believe that God used him to answer our prayers from the night before!
Hudson made some new little friends at Pastor Martouka’s church, too:
We ate lunch at a little restaurant in town, then had an afternoon rest before visiting a house that’s currently for rent in Kara. Jane and Joan thought about everything for this visit and wanted us to be able to see what kind of living arrangements we could expect. The house we looked at was big (about 3 times the size of our current house in Alaska!) – four bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, large kitchen, and the whole roof was essentially a deck that provided views of the surrounding town.
Who knows if this house will be available when we move over, but it was nice to be able to see the home. Part of our Outfit and Passage (O&P) covers furnishing a house. And in Togo, that means purchasing all your appliances, too: refrigerators, ovens, washers and driers, etc. We have currently raised about 40% of our O&P (praise the Lord!) and if you’d like to help us make more progress, you can click HERE to give to our ABWE account.
One of Joan’s friends brought us a delicious meal for dinner: Fufu and a red sauce to go with it! We ate it all (it was so good!) and then we spent Sunday evening playing a travel version of Catan with Joan and Jane.
Sleep came quickly that night, for sure!
Monday morning, we dropped Hudson off with Joan and climbed a mountain with Jane! It was a beautiful climb, albeit hot already. We saw people working in a field and a mama climbing up the hill with her three kids and a basket of laundry. The views were amazing – Kara is a beautiful city and we can’t wait for you all to visit us there!
After getting cleaned up, we visited Jane’s friend who had brought us dinner the night before. She is Muslim who was observing Ramadan at the time, so we didn’t share a meal with her, but she held Hudson and we talked with her for a while, thanking her for the delicious meal!
We left there and went with Jane to Kara University, where we visited the American Corner. The US Embassy brings Americans over to work at the American Corner, giving Togolese students a glimpse of what America is like. Since Allen and I previously led the College & Career Bible study at our church, it was cool to be back with a group of students in that age bracket!
After leaving the university, Jane took us to meet Pastor Poly and his wife, who live in a village outside of Kara.
Pastor Poly is one of the more seasoned pastors in Kara and very insightful. At one point, Allen asked him, “What do the churches here need?” And he said, “Churches in Kara need to learn how to reach kids in villages with the Gospel. We need training on how to do Bible Clubs, VBS, and other outreach events using local resources to engage these children and plug them into discipleship in the local church.” Pastor Poly expressed his desire for young adults to be part of a training team that would go to different churches, equip them, and guide them in how to run these outreach events to kids. If they get kids in the churches, they’ll have open doors to reach their parents, too!
Allen and I have a HUGE heart for discipleship, especially with young adults – we taught our church’s College & Career class for years – so we were really excited about the need Pastor Poly shared with us. It aligns well with the giftings God has given us, our talents, and our passions AND it is something we can easily involve our children in.
We loved our time with Pastor and Madame Poly. They shared their testimonies with us about how they came to Christ – what a beautiful couple who loves the Lord and genuinely desires to minister to others. At one point, Madame Poly turned to me and said, “If you move here to Togo, we will work together and be friends.” I think my heart about melted – I said, “Oh, yes please! I would love that.”
We walked with Madame Poly over to visit with some other women briefly before heading back to town.
On Monday, we also went with Jane to visit some unreached friends who live in a village near Kara. They were observing Ramadan, but we sat with them under a tree and talked. Hudson was, once again, passed around the group, but he was so relaxed about it all! Can you spot him in the photo below?
That night, there was a HUGE rainstorm in Kara! Again, we included some video footage in our site visit video, but here is a photo, too!
The rain was so bad that it took the electricity out. Luckily, the SIL has a generator, so our power came back on within seconds. Jane and Joan came to our little apartment after the rain stopped and we ate dinner together there – the power was out at their house until about 11:00pm that night. After dinner, we packed things up and got ready to drive out the next morning to Tsiko (pronounced Chee-ko).
Phew. Y’all, this was LONG. High five if you made it through the whole thing!
Part 3 of our site visit will be about our time in Tsiko, including Allen’s hospital visit. Look for it next week and in the meantime, we’ll share some of our week’s highlights tomorrow and updated praises and prayer requests next Tuesday. See you then!