In spite of being “stuck” here in the States for an extra six months, we are trying to take advantage of the time we have, and we are already starting to see some of the reasons why the Lord had us stay here longer. There are some exciting things we’d like to share with you both from the recent past and looking ahead.
At the end of October we used some frequent flyer miles (love those things!) to fly down to Florida. We drove to four different cities in Florida and Georgia to stay with two supporters, some fellow missionaries from Togo, and some old friends from college. Apart from our missionary friends, it had been at least 10 years since we had seen any of these people. Our main purpose in doing this trip was to develop a closer relationship with our supporters and update them about the work in Togo, and while we were able to accomplish that, the Lord also had other plans for us, as He often does.
What amazed Tiffany and me was how the story of the journey that God has brought us on over the past five years was able to bless people and minister to them. It seemed that each family we spent time with was somewhere along a similar path to the one we have been walking on, so we were able to identify with them in a significant way. We were able to bless and be blessed, encourage and be encouraged, and edify and be edified from our brothers and sisters who shared their homes and lives with us. We also met a couple families for the first time who we connected with right away, and we look forward to seeing what the Lord does with these new friendships as well.
Unfortunately, all the positives of our trip were contrasted by the constant and ongoing sickness we battled during the entire three weeks and following. Joshua picked up a flu bug from the first family we stayed with in spite of their valiant efforts to quarantine their sick little one, and he developed a nasty chest cold along with it that lingered until just a week ago. Owen was the next to go down with a similar cold that completely knocked him out for four days. One night we put him to bed at 8pm and he slept until 2pm the next day when we had to wake him up! I was fighting hard against the same cold and managed to keep it at bay until near the very end of our trip when it hit me like a train. I’ve had a lot of colds, but this was definitely the most aggressive one I’ve seen. Flying home was awful, and I spent the following five days trying to get over what turned into a sinus infection. Yuck! In spite of all this, many prayers were answered and somehow, some way, Tiffany stayed completely healthy even through the constant exposure to all these sicknesses! Thank you, Lord!
An Exciting Partnership
A couple months ago I got a phone call from a friend who used to be a missionary in Togo explaining an opportunity to partner with the organization he now works with, Just Hope International. They focus on producing long-lasting change in developing countries by training rural subsistence farmers to implement sustainable agricultural techniques and by helping them form into small groups designed to manage both their natural and financial resources. We see this as a huge opportunity both to expand what we’ve already done with moringa, and to integrate sustainable development work into our disciple-making and church planting work. Most of the people we work with are the poorest of the poor and desperately need help getting out of the poverty cycle. The answer, of course, isn’t to give them money or goods, but rather to teach them how to manage the resources God has already given them, mostly their land. Just Hope is an organization that understands this and is willing to take a long-term approach to making lasting change.
Nothing is finalized in this partnership yet, but I wanted to make mention of it so you can be praying for it. I will be flying to Tennessee on December 1 to meet with the Just Hope leadership as well as the guys I would be working with in Togo. Following that, if everything continues to move forward, two or three people from Just Hope will meet up with me in Togo in January so we can begin assessing needs and getting a test garden started.
No Tickets For You!
Some good news is that I have my ticket to return to Togo in January for five weeks, but on the other hand there are some major complications regarding our family’s trip back in June after the baby is born. The problem lies in the fact that our tickets are award tickets purchased with frequent flyer miles, and United’s policy is that all travel must be completed before one year from the date they were originally issued, which was February 2, 2014. Because of the unexpected (but very welcome!) pregnancy, we have to extend our return ticket past this date, which United is not wanting to allow us to do even though their website technically allows it. They also won’t allow us to cancel the trip and get a refund of the miles and fees paid (about $350 per person) because we already used the first portion of the round-trip ticket when we came to the States in July. The worst-case scenario is that we have to cancel the ticket, lose all our miles and money, then purchase full-price, one-way tickets for June, while the best-case scenario is that United has some compassion on us and allows us either to move the date of the ticket or get a refund of the miles and money.
Please be praying that the Lord will connect us to someone at United with the compassion and authority to make this happen! We’ve seen Him do crazier things before, so why not this?
We really appreciate you praying about these specific things mentioned in this blog post, and we look forward to telling you about how He answers and works!