Tuesday, December 25, 2007
The best part for us as missionaries was that these Christians led each other to Christ, handled the baptisms themselves, and ask us to be there only to observe and celebrate with them. Having a group of such highly motivated and self-sufficient Christians is very fulfilling for our team and our work here. It makes our goal of a sustainable and self-replicating church movement among the Kabiye seem more real with every passing event such as this!
You have to love Kpaatcha, an elder of the N'Djei church, doing baptisms in 90 degree heat while wearing a winter hat but no pants. A more African scene would be hard to find! We love these people and their culture so much, and we feel that we have the greatest job in the world to be able to share in their growing walks with Christ. Praise God!
Monday, December 17, 2007
Thank you to GracePointe for sending Charles over here to bless our lives, and thank you Charles for being willing to come at the last minute. Thank you God for providing us with a great support system of family, friends and a loving sponsoring church!
Here is a pic of Charles bravely stumbling his way through his first Kabiye lesson. It's not for the faint of heart!
Finally, we want to thank everyone who has been trying to contact us by Skype, Facebook, email and blogs lately. Our internet has been very inconsistent since we arrived back in Kara, and we will not be able to talk on Skype until our internet is back to some kind of normalcy. We will try to keep updated on email as much as possible, so let's all hang in there together. You can still call and leave us a voicemail, and we will call you back just as soon as we can! (334)239-3109 (no international fees!) Please understand that we are just as disappointed as you are about not being able to talk to our friends and family. We love you all!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
To read more about what happened, scroll down and read our previous blog entries. To see a PDF we created to help in the fundraising process, click here.
Brett's friend Justin Baeder over at Radical Congruency helped us create a button that will allow people to donate to our truck fund online through Paypal. Paypal is 100% secure, and all money donated will go directly to the purchase of a new truck.
If you feel more comfortable sending a check (or you just want to deduct your donation on your taxes!), make it out to the Grace Pointe Church of Christ, mark "Emerson Truck Fund" in the memo line, and mail it to:
Grace Pointe Church of Christ
1565 Ray Thorington Rd.
Montgomery, AL 36117
Attn: Jerry Atkinson
Please join with us and make a donation to our Truck Fund so that we can continue the work God has called us to here in Togo among the Kabiye. God bless you!
Click the "Donate" button below to contribute using Paypal.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
1. "July 18, 2007 Africa" - I guess we posted on this day, and we live in Africa, so.....
2. "Sam and Nancy Shewmaker" - Apparently they have a fan club that searches the internet thirsting for information about our good friends in Rwanda...
3. "Soumdina" - This is the partial name of a village where there is a Kabiye church...but how somebody in Athens, GA new that, I'll never know...
4. "Africa Adventures" - I have to admit, this one was very personally satisfying for me (Brett)...
5. "Toyota Hilux Wreck Pictures" - I have to admit, this one did not make me smile...
6. "West African CFA" - Our local currency, which you can learn absolutely nothing about by reading this blog...
This is just a small sample of how people find us here. Some people come by simply typing "Emersons Togo" into a search engine, but that's just not that much fun!
Monday, November 12, 2007
This past week our team welcomed Don & Jane Neal and their 4 children back to Togo, their home from August 2000 until February 2006. Our blog readers probably haven't heard of the Neals, or else you're sitting there thinking, "That name sounds vaguely familiar..." The truth is, we don't know them very well ourselves, but for some reason we feel like we do...
You see, the Neals are a huge part of our team's history. They were original members all the way back in the 90's when the team formed, and they lived and worked among the Kabiye for 5 years. Their family has definitely been a big influence on the team and the work among the Kabiye. We missed out on getting to know them during our internship in 2003 because they were on furlough, and we missed living with them in Togo by a little less than a year.
We had only met them once before their return trip this week, and that was only for a short afternoon at their home in Texas. On their return trip this past week, we only spent a few hours with them. They passed through Accra (where we are currently awaiting the baby) on their way in and out of West Africa, but the bulk of their time was, of course, spent in Kara.
But for some reason, we feel like we really know them...
Maybe it's the stories we've heard about them from our current teammates. Maybe it's the fact that we live in their old house! Maybe it's that we can see the mark they left on the team and the work here, even after they have been gone for almost two years now. Maybe it's that our families are both a part of something bigger than ourselves, something lasting, enduring and led by God. A team of families dedicated to bringing the gift of God's salvation to people who otherwise might not receive this gift.
We want to say thank you to Don and Jane, for who you are, for what you've done, and for all that you do to support the work here. God has been glorified through the lives you lead for Him, and we are so blessed to have you as teammates and as a piece of our team's history!
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Kalao’s doctor told him that he will not be able to work for the next 3 months. During that time, we are helping him to pay his bills and feed his family. Please pray that Kalao would heal quickly and be able to return to work. Kalao is a strong Christian, and we have confidence that his faith in God will help him through these hard times. We are so grateful to have a Father who does not leave us on our own, but constantly works for our good. May He do so in Kalao’s life!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Abalo, the driver, is home from the hospital. I visited him each of the last two days in his home. Now that he is better, it is VERY difficult to be around him. God is teaching me so much about forgiveness and grace. If I can't give it to Abalo, how can I receive it from my God? However, my human nature is not easily suppressed, so while needing to forgive and give grace is the spiritual reality, it is not that simple when you add my flesh to the equation. Pray for April and me. Ask God to overwhelm us with the grace and forgiveness we have received from him, and the spiritual strength to give the same to Abalo.
The first trip to Abalo's house was to get his first hand account of the story. I asked Matt to go with me to help me with communication and to make sure I kept my cool, and the visit ended up going ok. There are huge holes in his story, and while I''m not willing to call him a liar, I will at least say that he is probably confused on some of the details :) He was, however, apologetic. He actually thanked me for saving his life and for coming to visit him in the hospital. I thought the "saving my life" line was a little dramatic, but then he explained that he was in pretty bad shape at one point and the money we gave his family to buy him meds was pretty crucial.
The next day I brought the police to his house to get his information and a statement so they could finish their report. Now listen carefully to what I'm going to say hear: Under normal circumstances, I take no pleasure in cruelly scaring other people or making them just about wet their pants with fear, but I have to be totally honest here and admit that it was a guilty pleasure for me to watch Abalo squirm and twitch when the two policemen walked into his home with their full military garb on. Maybe God granted me that pleasure, who knows :)
We also found out that the truck is semi-salvageable. We did not have full coverage insurance since it costs about $10,000 a year, but we will be able to get about $8,000 - $10,000 out of it to put towards a new truck. Which means we still have lots of praying to do, but we feel blessed to have our amount needed cut from $40,000 to about $30,000. The truck is now resting in our garage, awaiting a mechanic from Lome' to come and assess the damage and see what we can get out of it...
And now, the baby update. Prell has been almost completely off of her feet for several days now, and the contractions seemed to have lessened. However, we are taking no chances with this little life, and we are leaving tomorrow for Accra to wait for the baby. Please pray that this little one will stay inside for a few more weeks....
While in Accra, we will be able to communicate regularly and would love to talk with you. You can reach us by calling 334-239-3109, a stateside number that goes right to our computer. It costs you only what it normally would cost you to call Montgomery, Alabama. Thanks so much to everyone for continuing to bless us. Please know that we are doing better and that God is sustaining us. I am personally clinging to this verse in Psalms, Ch. 65 vs. 5:
"You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior.You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas." NLT
May it be so!
Here is a pic from the last trip my truck ever took to a village here in Kabiyeland. Thanks be to God for blessing us with this truck, even if it was for a short time...
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Written Thursday, October 18, 2007
"Prayers Needed In Togo"
Long story short, our brand new truck is destroyed. I'm not really in the mood to recount the whole sordid tale, but I will say that a mechanic came to work on our truck, and we totally trusted the guy because he works for our team at the MK school and as a mechanic. He fixed a small leak our car was having and then took it for a spin to make sure everything was OK (please note, mechanics coming to your house to work on your car or take it to a garage is not the norm in the States but is common here). Turns out this man of normally strong moral character had a lapse in judgment, went for a joyride, drove fast and out of control and drove our truck off of a bridge. He is alive, but barely. God spared him for some reason, for as you can see by the picture, there is no rational reason why he should have survived.
This comes at a difficult time for us with April just 6 weeks away from her due date and us only two weeks from journeying to Accra to wait for the baby. We are trying to keep our heads up and not let our Adversary use this against us, but it is hard. However, we have felt God's presence through all of this mess and we're putting our faith in Him to sustain us and help us find the solution for the problem of getting a new truck.
Please pray. Pray for the man who was driving our car. His name is Abalo and he is a good man and a disciple of Jesus Christ. Pray for us that we would have peace. Pray for a solution and that God would provide for our family.
Written Friday, October 19, 2007
"Truck and Driver Update"
The man who was driving, Abalo, is going to make it, praise God. After 12 hours in a coma, he finally woke up, begged for some water and they hooked him up to an IV of pain meds. He was incoherent all day yesterday, but today I was able to talk to him. He is still in ALOT of pain, but God has spared his life. I hope he does something great with it...
We talked to an eyewitness who said that while the truck was airborne, probably about 20 feet in the air and 30 feet from the road off the side of the bridge, he actually opened the door and jumped out. Just amazing. Had he been wearing his seatbelt like he should have he would almost definitely be dead.
The truck is another story. We did not have comprehensive accident coverage because it costs about $10,000 per year, so we are going to have to salvage what we can and find the money for a new truck, around $40,000. The thought of fundraising again makes us sick to our stomachs, but it also gives us a chance to step aside and allow God to work, because there is NO WAY that we can do it on our own. We just don't have the resources available to us. We know that God will provide, so stay tuned for a crazy and encouraging story about how He does it...
The timing is just killing us right now. April is 34 weeks pregnant, and Caden came at 38 weeks. We are leaving for Accra, Ghana in 2 weeks to deliver the baby, and the stress of just living here plus April being very pregnant plus having an amazing but crazy two year old plus having our brand new truck obliterated plus trying to fight against Satan hardening our hearts toward Abalo (the driver) is pretty tough right now. We covet your prayers and words of encouragement.
So many people responded to my last note. Thank you, sincerely and gratefully, thank you. I hadn't shed a tear over this whole thing yet until this morning when I got up and my inbox was flooded with emails from Facebook saying "so and so has commented on your note" and other encouraging emails from people. I'm more convinced almost everyday that the ability to love and to be loved, to give and receive LOVE, is one of our Creator's greatest gifts...
Written Saturday, October 20, 2007
"Like We Needed the Drama"
Last night, April started having some pretty strong contractions. They were about 8 minutes apart and longer than 30 seconds. I'm no nurse, but even I know that this sort of thing is not good. Fortunately, our friend Edith IS a nurse, and she said pretty firmly that this is not good. We were scheduled to leave for Accra on November 5th to await the baby, but we're going to have to leave two weeks early, probably this coming Wednesday.
If you've been following the previous notes about our truck situation, then you are well aware that we don't need this right now, at all. We just have to accept that it is happening and deal with it. We've got an amazing support team in our teammates, fellow missionaries, our sponsoring church, our family, and of course our friends.
We would really appreciate your continued prayers. All of this is so much to take in all at one time, and we're struggling to deal with it all. Please pray for my beautiful, radiant wife and our unborn child. Pray for me that I will be strong in the Lord for them. Pray that we can, when this is all past, praise God and bring further glory to His name...
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
On my way out to the village of Koumea Laou to practice my Kabiye language skills this week, I came across these two youngsters engaging in a very ambitious activity: They were trying to fix the road, one small shovel full at a time!
They don't do this for free, of course. All over Togo right now as I write there are young boys filling in potholes and hoping that some kind soul will stop and pay them a few coins. These two actually did a pretty decent job on their little 6 foot stretch of road, so I stopped and paid them 200 CFA for their effort, about 40 cents. They were very happy to receive such a gift, and if you look closely you can see the boy on the left holding up his coin for the camera. God has given these two the gift of entrepreneurship!
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Here he is lounging around with some of our teammate's (the Ries boys) kids.Here he is again playing with the children of our houseworker, Antoinette. Watching Caden interact with our teammate's children one day and our Togolese friend's children the next has really helped us realize how Caden is growing up in two different worlds. Caden shares a common language and culture with the Miller, Reeves and Ries kids, but he shares only small commonalities in language and almost none in culture with our Togolese friend's children.
So what is our response to this? We have asked ourselves plenty of questions about what our lives should look like here as missionaries, and one question we've dealt with alot is, "How do we engage this foreign culture while still maintaining our (and Caden's) cultural identity?" It is a delicate balance, and to be totally honest, it's been difficult at times. We did not realize how much God would ask us to open our lives to the people around us; our home, our privacy, our possessions and our time have all been demanded of us.
We have made the decision before God, our sponsoring church, and our many supporters to leave our lives open to the people we encounter everyday. Sometimes this decision is difficult to follow through on, and at other times it gives our lives such great joy. Whatever the cost, we believe that it is our responsibility as Christ's ambassadors to open our lives to those who don't know His saving grace, and in that way we will serve God's kingdom as long as He would have us live in two worlds...
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Not the financial kind of Prosper; were talking about our friend Prosper (pronounced proh-Spare). Brett met him in the market here in Kara a couple of months ago and started a conversation. Prosper is a kind and gentlemanly old fellow, and they hit it off right away (they say opposites attract!). Brett ended up giving him a ride home, and they have been friends ever since. He likes to teach Brett the Kabiye language, and in exchange Brett has given him rides here and there around town, since he is an old man and doesn't get around very well.
This week Prosper came to our door in need of our help. He had swelling in his hip because of an infection, and the doctor prescribed him some antibiotics. Prosper does not have the financial means to buy the needed drugs, so we bought the drugs for him. We'll see him again this week and get an update on his health. At his age, even the smallest things can be very dangerous.
Please pray for Prosper. Pray for his body to heal, and praise God for his kind and humble spirit that has so strongly affected our family. We thank God for giving us opportunities to serve people right here in our part of town!
Friday, September 14, 2007
Four times each year, we meet as a team with representatives from the churches or clusters of churches in Kabiyeland. Some are elders, some are just well respected by their brothers and sisters, and all are committed to God and to living lives of righteousness in their villages as a witness to Christ's life changing power living in them.
We talk about what is happening at each church, a kind of "state of the movement" discussion, pray for each church, and cast visions for the future of each church and the movement as a whole. It is a beautiful time of fellowship and communion with a common purpose in mind: the spreading of the gospel of salvation through Jesus to all Kabiye villages and people!
What really struck me at this last meeting was the sense of brotherhood. Our movement goes by the name "Kabiye Yesu Cecewiye", or the Kabiye Family of Jesus. This family mentality was so evident as the men present at the quarterly meeting talked, laughed, planned and prayed together. A true family of people that would otherwise never be brought together. Without the common bond they all have in Jesus Christ, this gathering would have had no purpose!
Pray for these men. Pray for Jerome and for Kpaaca (pah-chah). Pray for Essohanam and Jean-Marie. Pray for all of the leaders of the Kabiye Family of Jesus, that they may continue to spread the message to all Kabiye people so that nobody will be left out of the family...
Monday, September 10, 2007
Monday, September 03, 2007
We were able to talk to a couple (she is Dutch and he is Ghanaian) that recently delivered there to get the good and bad of their experience. They had their first son in the Netherlands via C-section and therefore had a good perspective of what was different in terms of holistic health care. They gave us confidence in the quality of medical care we would receive and a "heads up" on the typical Ghanaian care we would receive from the nurses. We were glad to hear all they had to say so we didn't go into this birth with unrealistic expectations.
Thank you to everyone who has been praying for us during this decision. We truly feel this is an answer from Him. Continue to pray with us for the future doctors and nurses that will be assisting us in bringing this gift from the Lord into the world.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Matt heading back to his truck after scoping out the road ahead. We had to turn back because the road was so bad!
Matt and I are doing research in the Kabiye mountain region each Tuesday, trying to figure out where new evangelism might be needed. We have found that there are very few churches, and most of those are Catholic, and most of those Catholic buildings don't have people in them. We had a good conversation with some Kabiye men by the side of the road during our research trip today. One man said that there was no church in their village, and that he and few others had been meeting occasionally to sing some songs, but that they needed some guidance and direction. They asked us to come back and teach them, and how can we refuse an invitation like that? Matt will be heading back to that same village next Tuesday to meet with these men again and further build a relationship. I will unfortunately be in Accra picking up our new teammates, Matt and Grace Hangen, who will be with us here in Togo for a month-long stay. I will be back with Matt the following Tuesday though, and I can already see God working through these Tuesdays to spread His Kingdom among the Kabiye. I can also see that Tuesday afternoon is fast becoming one of my favorite times during the week...
Pray with us! Pray that God will show us the way to go, that He will provide everything that we need, that He will open the hearts of the Kabiye people in this unreached mountain region, that He will speak through us and that He will bless us with the gift of language (this last one is especially important to me!). I will keep you updated on the progress we are making in the weeks and months ahead...
Saturday, August 25, 2007
With the Ries family set to return to the States in May 2008, it is good to know that reinforcements are coming. We as a team believe that each of these 3 couples have been led by God's hand to work among the Kabiye. Please join us as we lift them up in prayer as they plan, prepare and work diligently to make their way to Togo and the place on our team that God has called them too. Praise God for providing further workers for this harvest!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
This picture is of two of the college students that Brett and Matt took with them. They were one of two couples on the trip who are seriously considering southern Sudan as long-term mission field. They were able to gather information and "scout out the land" in preparation for possibly moving to this region in the next few years. Also pictured are William Deng, Johnson Mading, and Jacob Deng. They are 3 Sudanese Christians from the Dinka tribe who accompanied us on our journeys and served as translators for our interviews with locals. Please pray for these 3 men as labor to bring their people into fellowship with our Lord. Pray also for the young people that God is raising up to harvest the spiritual fields of southern Sudan!
Thank you to all of our faithful supporters for allowing us to minister in this way! God will surely continue to put more people, young and old, in our path so that we can love them in the way that Christ would have us love them. We want only to glorify Him in our daily lives and our interactions with the Kabiye people. Thank you for your communication and your prayers on our behalf and on behalf of the people here. We couldn't ask for better partners in the Gospel that all of you!
Thursday, August 02, 2007
I have been able to talk to Brett a few short times. The only things I know are that everyone is doing well (praise God), he is ready to come home and see his family while at the same time really enjoying the trip, God is guiding their steps and opening doors for them to find lots of information about the people there, and the Africans there are really tall (6 ft.).
They will return to Kara on August 11th. Please be praying for their safety and that God would continue to guide their steps so that His Word can be spread to another part of the world.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
They've had some good interviews with people in Mali and are on their way back through Burkina Faso. I'm anxious to hear all the different stories about people they encountered. Please be praying for Brett's strength. They haven't had good rest at night and then he has been driving his group around all day. So often we get sick when our bodies are too tired, please pray for his health as well.
We've made it half way through our time apart from Daddy and Caden seems to be taking it well. Although, I can tell he's a bit confused when we look at pictures of Brett. His first reaction is pure delight and he points and says, "Dada" and then his face turns serious like he's realizing he hasn't seen his Daddy in awhile. Thank you for all your prayers and your support!
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
With all the rain we've been having and help of our day guard pulling weeds for us, this is what God has now blessed us with. And yes, my son loves to run all over the yard, as well as my husband!
You can also see in the pictures our three growing trees at that end of the yard. Starting from the left: Frongi Pongi (I think this is the name), Mango, and Banana. The banana tree has impressed us the most with it's huge leaves that seem to appear new every day. Caden loves bananas and we are all looking forward to the day we can simply pick one off our tree to eat.
It wasn't until I looked at all three of these picture together that I realize how much our yard had changed in just four months. I am so thankful for the blessings God gives us through His creation. Sometimes, I sit on the porch in amazement to what God has blessed us with here in Togo. It's the small things like a pretty yard that remind me how much He cares for me and desires to take care of me.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a sigle hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousess, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow ill worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Please pray for Evangelique. She is a sweet spirit who courageously faces a difficult life each and every day. May God bless our friendship with her, and may He continue to teach us about His kingdom through encounters with sweet Kabiye people like our friend Evangelique.
Friday, June 22, 2007
You may remember an earlier post about learning to make soap. Several of the interns took supplies with them to teach their host families how to make soap. Our teammate, Becky, wrote a post on her blog about the learning experience you can read it by clicking HERE.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Uploaded by emersonstogo
Here is a short video of our worship time today in the village of Soumdina Po Wayi. SPW is a vibrant church that is full of enthusiasm and loves to praise God in song. The white girls in the background are 4 of our 12 college interns from Harding University. They have been a blessing to everyone that they have encountered so far in their 2 weeks living and working among us. Praise God that He is forwarding His Kingdom through the young Kabiye Christians in Soumdina Po Wayi and the young college interns who have a passion for world missions!
Friday, June 01, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
I am a 10 year old girl
Today I woke up one hour before the sunrise to begin my chores
I fed the goats, swept the floor, cleaned the pots, and got water from the river
I did all of these things with my infant brother strapped to my back
After I did my chores, I ate breakfast
Breakfast was some left over bean cakes and a glass of dirty river water
The same thing I eat every single day
After breakfast I said goodbye to my oldest brother who was leaving for school
I don’t get to go to school because my family can’t afford to send me and they need me to work
I desperately want to go to school
But I never will
I spend my morning working in the fields, planting seeds and pulling weeds
By mid-morning it is 100 degrees and there is no shade for me to work in
The work is hard, and I am tired
When I finish in the fields I eat lunch
Rice and beans
The same thing I eat every single day
After lunch I get to play some with the other kids my age who don’t go to school
We kick around a soccer ball made from twigs and leaves
We climb a tree
We chase the goats
I wish I had some toys to play with
I am a child in Togo
I want to keep playing with my friends
But my mother says it’s time to prepare dinner
I only got to play for 1 hour
And now I have to strap my baby brother to my back and do more work
My mother sends me to the river to get water
The river is a mile away
And I have to go 3 times
After I get the water, I pound some corn into powder
It takes me an hour to pound enough for my family
The work is hard, and I am tired
It is almost dark and dinner is ready
I eat outside the house with my 7 brothers and sisters
Corn mush and spicy sauce
The same thing I eat every single day
After dinner I am ready to sleep
Morning will be here soon, and I am tired
Tomorrow will be exactly the same as today
Because I am a child in Togo
Friday, May 11, 2007
Friday, May 04, 2007
If you don't read our family blog, then you might not know that we are expecting baby #2 around December 3rd. Please join us in prayer as we make the decision of where the baby will be born. We will keep you updated with info. about the pregnancy on the family blog: http://theemersonfamily.blogspot.com
Sunday, April 22, 2007
This year's All-Church Retreat was a great success! Kabiye Christians from all over the region descended on the village of Soumdina Po Wayi for 2 days of worship, teaching, and fellowship. We were blessed by their enthusiasm and passion, and we thank God that He is building up His kingdom among the Kabiye!