Hello from Togo! As you probably already know we have finally made it home safe and sound after a grueling, delayed, and rerouted 50 hour plane trip followed by an 8 hour drive from Lomé to our house in Kara. Since we arrived late Saturday night we have been doing a lot of unpacking and getting things set up around the house, in between lots of sleeping of course! The boys are doing pretty well now after experiencing the full effects of jet lag for the first few nights. Tiffany and I are waking up very early with no alarm, but we are really enjoying it since it gives us a chance for some uninterrupted quiet time before the day starts.
One thing we are very thankful about is the way God worked in all our travels. We had asked many people to be praying for Joshua and Owen during the trip, and they did amazingly well considering how rough it was on them. In fact, I think that I was probably more fussy than Owen was! Also, we were concerned about all of our luggage (6 large Action Packers) making to Lomé unharmed and untampered with. I was amazed to see all six of them stacked up next to Tiffany by the time I finished acquiring visas at the airport. Upon arriving home we didn’t notice a single thing missing or damaged. God has definitely taught us over the past year to hold on to our stuff (or “junk” as we like to call it) very loosely, but it is still neat to see Him answering prayer in small ways like this.
The drive from Lomé (where the airport is) to Kara (where we live) is normally a six hour trip. But, with the roads being so bad right now and with our luggage weighing the truck down we moved at a pretty slow pace. Near the end of the trip the road passes over the mountains of Aledjo. Once through those mountains, it’s smooth sailing and only 30 minutes more into Kara. However, the mountain road usually presents plenty of surprises due to the high volume of poorly maintained and overloaded semi trucks and taxis. Normally it’s only a matter of driving carefully around corners and watching out for overturned trucks, but on Saturday we encountered a new first for us: a corner totally blocked by trucks with no way around! Agouda (the guy who drove our truck down to pick us up) and I got out and looked the situation over. Meanwhile, Joshua and Tiffany started praying. It turns out that one truck had overturned on the inside edge of the road, another had broken down on the outside, and a third had stopped between them and couldn’t get moving again because of his heavy load. I managed to get some video of it, trying to be discrete because some Togolese really don’t like it when you whip out a camera. Oh yeah, and I almost forgot to mention the truck bursting into flames that we had passed earlier.
Over the past five days we have had a steady stream of Togolese neighbors and friends coming by to greet us. It’s been great reuniting with many people with whom we built relationships during our first two years here. We have lost count of how many people who said they were fervently praying for our return when they found out that we had lost our support and didn’t know when we’d be able to get back.
We have also been meeting with missionary friends old and new, and we are very excited to see the ministry partnerships that form from these friendships. In fact, that is a big prayer need right now, that in the beginning stages of our work here we would develop the partnerships that God wants us to have with local Togolese believers, with other foreign missionaries, and with groups who can help in our development work such as literacy teachers, well drilling teams, agricultural groups, etc.
We are overjoyed to finally be back in Togo, and while this week and next are mostly schedule free as we get settled in, we know that there is a lot of work ahead of us. But, there is a great freedom in knowing that the work is not ours, but Christ’s. He is the one building his Church, and we are just thrilled to be a part of it. So please pray that we will constantly follow His leading in our work here instead of our own ambitions, no matter how good or noble they might seem. We look forward to seeing what He is going to do in and through us by His grace and for His glory!