I know we wrapped up our site visit posts last week, but we wanted to address some questions we are frequently asked about our trip.
How was Togo?!
This question is tough, because we never know what people want to know in response. The short answer is, of course, “Good!” But how vague is that? The longer answer is that Togo was hot, beautiful, welcoming, and challenging. And the even longer answer is this: It averaged in the 90s every day and very humid, except for when the rains came through. We drove through huge cities and small villages, through mountain passes and into valleys, past groves of thousands of trees and fields of countless plants. And everything was beautiful. We saw vibrant sunsets and flowers, fruit trees heavy laden, and fabric so colorful they were nearly blinding. We were welcomed into village huts, dimly lit stores, and fancy restaurants. And we experienced the ins and outs (the good and the bad) of hospital care, cross-country driving and local cuisine. So Togo was good… but it was so much more than that, too.
How hot was it there?
In the 90s every day. Maybe more? Not sure. Hot. It was hot. Especially for these three Alaskans. And humid. My hair doesn’t do well in humidity – it gets weird curly/frizzy, which is why I was wearing that black and white headband in so many photos. It was so hot and humid that we could literally feel the sweat running down our backs and little Hudson had sweat pooling on his forehead and in his neck creases.
What did you wear?
Well, Allen mostly wore long pants and button-up short-sleeve shirts. Hudson wore onesies with shorts or rompers. I wore knee-length or ankle-length skirts and short-sleeve T-shirts. When we were visiting Muslim women, I made sure to be more covered up in my longer skirts out of respect. I did not have to wear any head coverings. We wore sandals every day, except for when we went hiking with Jane.
How was the food?
We mostly ate American-style food, since we were staying with ABWE missionaries or on ABWE compounds. However, we did have some Togolese dishes in restaurants and others that were made just for us. We like the food in Togo, especially the fruits: they were so fresh and flavorful. Very different than our weeks-old fruit here in Alaska. We like the fufu, too. You can read about us helping make fufu here!
Did you get some clarity on what exactly you’ll be doing in Togo?
Yes, we did! We shared about that here, but basically, shortly after landing in Togo, we heard official word that the orphan ministry we’d planned to plug into was not going to be started. This was due to two key things: some long-term logistical needs (financially, staffing, etc.) and research-based evidence that an orphan ministry was not really needed in this region in Togo. That left us feeling a little lost – why would God call us to Togo if that isn’t what we were going to be doing? Later in our trip, we had an opportunity to meet with Pastor Polly, a “seasoned” Togolese Pastor, and asked him what the churches in Togo need. He said, “Our churches need training on how to reach children in villages with the Gospel in a sustainable way using local resources. And after reaching them and sharing the Gospel, how can we follow up with them? We need people to come and not just run events, like Vacation Bible Schools and Backyard Bible Clubs, but to teach the people in our churches how to run them, too. It would be great if there was a team of young people who traveled around together to the churches and helped provide this training and run the events.” So that is what our family will be doing: We will develop a small team of young adults, disciple them, and provide training to churches with them about how to plan effective and sustainable ways to minister to kids, share the Gospel with their families, and follow-up.
What’s your timeline like now?
We hope to attend Field Prep Seminar with ABWE in November 2019, if we reach our required level of support. Then, we hope to receive clearance to go to the field in Spring 2020. This will allow us to go to language school in France in the September 2020. The year-and-a-half-long program would end in 2021, and we would go to Togo shortly thereafter. Our terms are four years long, so we will be in Togo for two and a half years before coming home on Furlough (our time in language schools counts in those four years).
If you have any questions that we didn’t answer here, let us know!