Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Truck and Driver and Baby Update

We want to let everyone know that we are doing some better. My teammates here in Togo would surely tell you that I'm still not myself, but I have been comforted so much by your words of encouragement and your prayers for us. April and I feel so blessed to have so many amazing friends and family...

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

Newest Journeys

We have had a rough week. If you haven't heard already, our truck was totaled in an accident (thankfully, we were not in vehicle) and April has begun experiencing early contractions. These are Brett's journal entries from Facebook.

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

A Riddle

In Africa, how many people can you fit into a truck?

Answer: One more!!! There is always room for just one more!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Attention: Road Work Ahead

We are winding up the rainy season here in northern Togo, and the roads are an absolute mess. Leave it to the enterprising youth of our country to step up and solve the problem!

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

Growing Up In Two Worlds

Here is a picture of Caden watching a movie with our friend Germaine's children. Germaine has built lots of furniture for us and is an excellent carpenter.

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

Africa Moment #7

When I have an annoying hangnail or my fingernails just don’t have that smooth edge, I always reach for my…hacksaw blade?