Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Family Christmas in Lassa Tchou

This year our family was invited to spend Christmas day with our brothers and sisters in Lassa Tchou. We gladly accepted, and we were joined by our friend and colleague Mike Squires and his roommate Larry. Since we were invited to the party, we of course had to bring gifts. We settled on watermelons and a huge monitor lizard! Watermelon season is almost over here, so we decided to get 5 big, juicy ones to bring to the party. The monitor lizard was more of an impulse buy, but we knew that it was a savored delicacy for the Kabiye, and as you can see from the picture below, it was a very well received gift!
Here is a picture of our friend Boniface preparing the giant lizard, which measured about 4 feet in length. We did not get a chance to taste it ourselves, but we spoke the next day with Jean Marie, who said that is was very, very sweet! Puwe lelen kpem!
We went to share our lives with our friends, and that we did. Caden and Corban love spending time in the villages, and they especially enjoyed this trip with all of the singing, dancing and playing with the village children.
We always feel welcome in Lassa Tchou, and many people that have visited Kabiye land have felt the same way. Caden ran around like a wild man with the children, and Corban managed to get a dance with this young girl :)
Our children are a novelty in the villages we visit, but they really are much more than that. We, as parents, rarely feel more loved then when people love on our children. All parents understand this. This is even true in Kabiye culture, where children are often an afterthought. We believe that God has put a love for children in the hearts of His people, a belief that is confirmed strongly by the interactions Jesus had with the little people he came into contact with. Some things, we have found, are universal, transcending culture, religion, social status and any other barrier that man creates. God has chosen the mouths of infants and children to truly praise Him!
Caden simply could not be corralled for this picture, taken after a tasty meal of rice, pork and tomato sauce. This festival reminded us that we as God's people occasionally need to stop, reflect, and enjoy this life on earth that He has given us. We are thankful for our family in Lassa Tchou, who showed us once again that one of God's great gifts is that "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Tumladu Kifalu

"Tumladu Kifalu" is the name given by the guys to our newest participant in Saturday communal work days, which basically means, "The New Guy". His real name is Prinam, which means something like "success", and he is showing a lot of good potential for discipleship. Trimming the branches back on the big front yard tree

I've known him here and there from just being around the neighborhood, but the other day he came to my house to ask for help. He had lost two of his school books, and he said that his dad was going to beat him if he found out that they were gone. I'm strongly for being honest with your parents, but I am also strongly against domestic violence against children, something that is widespread in Kabiye families. The books only cost about 8 bucks total, and it was a pretty easy decision for me. Mixing up the compost pit (which is looking dark and rich by the way!)
After asking the other guys on the work team what they thought about him, they all agreed that he should come and work with us to pay off the cost of the books. This Saturday was Prinam's first run with the work team, and he showed himself to be a hard and committed worker. He was quiet and obviously wary of his place in this particular circle of men, but he held his own and even responded to some questions about God that were posed.
Prinam is the shorter of the two yellow shirts, the other is Akla, my adopted son. Please pray for him and our interactions in the weeks to come. May his heart and ours be open to God's leading.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Wednesday in Lassa Tchou

Yesterday I went out to the village. It was a mostly normal visit, much like dozens of others I've done previously. What made it just a little bit different, and better, were the many things I learned. Following are some great things happening in Lassa Tchou, according to the people themselves. So often we ask them what is wrong in their village, but this time we asked them what was going right, an insightful question by Monsieur Michel, the Community Development specialist.

- They said that marriage relationships were getting better. They have received teaching in previous months on the subject of marriage, and they have been sharing these things with their neighbors with positive results. Whole families are eating together on a regular basis; men, women & children, a rarity in Kabiye culture, where the men usually eat separate from their families.

- The Kabiye love to laugh. As we were discussing families yesterday, I gave them the old analogy of "The man is the head of the family, but the woman is the neck, and the neck turns the head". They about fell out of their chairs, and two guys had to leave the building to hack up some Harmattan dust.

- The 3 women at the meeting all said that the women/wives of their village are being treated better, often given a voice and respect by their husbands.

- They said that they are doing better disciplining their children. A young father even repeated to me, "My children learn more from what I do than what I say." I had taught this same concept at a Kabiye marriage retreat back in August, and this man was not in attendance at that meeting, which shows me that information is filtering out from core groups.

- They said that here are several large compost pits in their village, implemented after they were taught about composting in a development lesson. I have recently fallen in love with the dark, rich, and all natural fertilizer known as compost, a better long term alternative than chemical fertilizer. I plan to visit again next week to see how these pits are coming.

- They said that they are having Bible studies with their neighbors. This is obviously the most important teaching they have received, the story of love, redemption, sacrifice and everlasting life with God. I thank the Father that his Son is being proclaimed in big ways and small, through avenues both direct and indirect, in the village of Lassa Tchou.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Alibi 1 Introductions - Wiyao & Yawa Nnama

This is the first in a series of posts that will introduce you to the new Body of believers in Alibi 1. Today I want to introduce you to Wiyao Nnama. Wiyao (wee-a-ow) is the Kabiye word for chief, and Nnama means respect or obedience. Wiyao is married to Yawa, and together they have 6 children. He works mainly as a farmer, but when the opportunity arises, he is also trained to work as a mason. Wiyao is a fun, energetic and outgoing man. I enjoy his company, and our personalities mesh well together. Yesterday I spent about 30 minutes talking and getting to know him one on one, and I believe that God will use him for great things. I have seen how his fellow villagers like and respect him, and that will hopefully be a key to open the door for the gospel to be shared within Wiyao's sphere of influence. In the picture below you can see the joy of brotherhood that he shares with his friends.
Wiyao is also quite a dancer. Follow this link to see his great moves: (Wiyao's moves)
Please pray for Wiyao and his family as he leads them on a new journey in life, one that is now taking place within God's Kingdom. I hope that one day you can come and meet him, give him a hug, and let him know that you love him and have been praying for him!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Alibi Baptisms

Yesterday there were 34 baptisms in the village of Alibi! I know that many people have been praying for this evangelism effort, and our prayers have been answered. The number baptized included 10 married couples, which is a huge praise! We are leaving to go to the beach for a few days here in about an hour, but I wanted to quickly share the news and post some pictures (you can see even more pics on my Facebook page). I will tell more of the story later, with video. Praise God with us today! Headed down to the river, singing and dancing all the way! The chief of the village and his wife were baptized! These 4 friends were so full of joy after being baptized, laughing, dancing and slapping each other on the back :) The entire group of 34, plus their children. First communion. We praise God as His Kingdom expands among the Kabiye!

Here's a short video!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hearing & Doing - Making Disciples

Matthew 28:16-20 - "Then the 11 disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'"

A response I have to this scripture is to climb a mountain this weekend and worship Jesus as the 11 disciples did when they first saw Him after the resurrection. He is my Lord, my Teacher, my Savior, and He is worthy of my praise. My life and work will flow out of my love for Him.

I will also respond to Jesus' teachings in these verses by daily studying the Gospels to find exactly what He meant by, "everything that I have commanded you." I want to know the commands of Jesus. I might even make a list! I also was given a good book by a friend: What Jesus Demands of the World by John Piper. I'm looking forward to digging into it!

Specific commands that Jesus gives to the 11 disciples/Apostles in this passage:

- "Go and make disciples of all nations."
- "Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
- "Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you."

I've been struggling lately with making the link between Jesus' clear commands to his 11 closest original disciples (the other one Jesus chose betrayed His very life), and those also being the direct commands to us today. If you have any thoughts or input about making this link, please post your comments here or send me a message on Skype/Twitter/FB/MySpace/my Yahoo email address, my Gmail email address, my other Gmail email address, my really old Hotmail email address, or just send some old fashioned snail mail to:

Brett Emerson
B.P. 802
Kara, Togo, West Africa

That should cover it. Grace & Peace!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Hearing & Doing - Shema Living

Our team is currently engaged in a season of seeking God's direction for our work. Much of what we are studying together stresses obedience to God and His commands, many of which were given through Jesus. What is obedience, exactly? From reading The Shema in Deuteronomy 6, my friend Matt came up with a great definition: Obedience is hearing and doing. I plan to blog some bits and pieces of our studies together, focusing on specific scriptures (hearing) as well as my response to that scripture in my daily life (doing). Today I'll start with Deuteronomy 6:3-9.

"Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."

In response to this scripture, I will lead my family daily in reading God's Word. I will also search the accounts of Jesus' life to better understand how I can obey my Lord.

May we all not just hear God's Word but obey it as well!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Grilled Sweet Corn and Male Bonding

Some guys bond over beers, some over football, some over video games, the outdoors, etc. Here in our place we bond over grilled sweet corn...From left, Patrick, Eric, Akla (I hope that's a not a gang sign), and Horou. A small portion of our harvest of sweet corn, the seeds of which came from a small feed store near Montgomery, Alabama. The guys trying to prove who is the most manly among them by flipping the sweet corn on the grill with their bare hands....for me, I prefer my grilling tongs :) Eric, our day worker. A devoted Catholic with a mean corn eating face! Patrick, student at University of Kara and the best car detailer in the prefecture! Akla, my adopted son, rabbit guy, dog walker and high school student. Horou, a hard working, do everything kinda guy. This year he is beginning university! Jolie, our adorable little German Shepherd puppy. Our dogs love corn, a fact which is most easy to see when we clean up their poop in the yard :)

I thank God for the young Kabiye men in my life, these and so many others. May our relationships continue to glorify God and further His Kingdom!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Travel in Togo

Ever wonder why life here is so crazy? You can read about a recent travel day that I had in Togo here, well explained by my friend and colleague, Jesse Shanks. Thanks Jesse for taking the time to write the story and share the pics!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

It's Harvest Day!

We harvested our sweet corn (seeds brought from America) a few weeks ago. The whole family got involved as did many of our neighbors. The man in the hat is our day guardian.


As we pulled the ears off the stalks, we threw them into trunks...

when we were finished, we had five full trunks!

After everyone had left, Daddy let Caden have a little of his own fun in a sand pile out front....and I was wondering why he came in with sand in his hair. ;)
We blanched quite a bit of the corn for ourselves and gave away even more. It was so fun to hand out plastic bags full of ears of corn. If you haven't shared any food with your neighbors lately, I encourage you to do so...you will both be blessed.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Something You Should Know

Eight years ago I married this handsome man 
(Brett....not the monkey!)And I love him for reasons too many to list.
He's still my best friend! 

Read HERE about how we celebrated and how Brett pulled off a huge surprise for me :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My God-Moment Yesterday

Yesterday was one of those days where God seemed to put everything in place so His word could be shared. Immaculee came by to say thank you for some things I had helped her with recently. Often when she stops by it is just as I'm preparing lunch or dinner for my family and I'm not able to talk long...though she could talk for hours! I admit that a lot of my time with her has felt like wasted time to me. I wasn't sure why God had put this woman in my life...I'm still not sure, but He did give me a God-moment yesterday. We had been chatting for a few minutes about what was going on in our lives right now, all the while keeping an eye on Corban who was trying to play in the dog food. At some point, Caden decided to join us outside so now my attention was stretched between 3 people. Immaculee was telling me about a new family (a mother and three children) who were now renting her spare room. She was quite excited to have housemates again because she gets so lonely living by herself. The mother did not have the money to pay the usual three months rent in advance to secure the rental. Immaculee said she knew what it was like to be poor and felt sorry for her. She decided to help the woman out and let her stay and simply pay the monthly rent when she had money. I told her that she reminded me of a story in the Bible called The Good Samaritain. She had never heard it. About that time, Akla (the rabbit guy) showed up with a friend. The children followed him to the rabbits to play. I trust my children with Akla and knew he would let them play but not let them get hurt. This allowed me to turn my full attention back to Immaculee. I told her the short story and then decided to take it a step further. I went and got a French Bible and my English Bible. (If you don't know, Immaculee speaks French and English very well but is always wanting to improve her English so she can communicate with her daughter in America.) She read Luke 10:25-37 out loud in French and then I read it in English. She loved the story. And I loved the moment. As we were ending our discussion, Akla was leaving and the mosquitoes where coming out forcing us to end for the day. I have no doubt there will be many conversations in the future that will feel like wasted time between Immaculee and myself...but when God blesses me with moments like this one, it feels like it's worth it. As she was leaving, she asked me when I was going to give her a Bible. I told her, "For now, you can come and read mine". I hope she asks the next time she comes for a visit.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

See Ya Soon "Miss" Ethel

I heard a missionary say once that there are no goodbyes, only see-you-soons. But if you really knew it was your last time to see them would you be able to not say goodbye? Is it really goodbye? If we will one day see them again and their memories are forever with us then isn't it just another "see ya soon"?

As people living in a land that is not our own, we are never going to be comfortable with what goes on around us. I am beginning to learn this on a whole new level. Since our arrival in Togo, we have had to distantly say "goodbye" to six people and grieve in our own way. A wise friend recently told me, " Such is the life of a warrior and warrioress on a foreign field of battle. Foxes have holes and birds have nests--but we have no place to lay our heads." This is one aspect of our job that I was not prepared for.

The above picture is the only one I have of my family with Curt and Ethel Pemberton. It was taken on our 2008 furlough when the GracePointe elders and their wives had a dinner/meeting with us. "Miss" Ethel passed away Sunday morning. I have told many people that she was a woman that truly understood the daily blessings that God puts in our lives. I am so thankful that we were able to see her and spend time with her during our recent furlough in March/April. "Miss" Ethel was a woman of energy. A true gift from God...I don't know where else she could have gotten all that energy. She was an encourager, a provider, a servant, a helper, a grandmother to so many, and a lovely southern woman that loved God with all her heart. We will notice she is missing on our next furlough to Montgomery. Thank you "Miss" Ethel for the amazing example you were to me and my family. God has blessed us many times through you.

Please keep the Pemberton family and others at GracePoine as they mourn the loss of Ethel yet rejoice in knowing we'll see her soon.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summer 2009


One of our "jobs" as missionaries is to open doors for other to experience our life. We can try our best to describe it to you, but until you step into our world, there is no way to paint an exact picture. Every summer our team hosts a group of college students for two months. This year was no exception. They experienced life daily with us....living, eating, playing, ministering, praying, waiting, frustration, joy, team life, Togolese culture, we didn't hide anything from them. They were a great group to have in our homes and our lives have been impacted by them. Thank you to their friends and families that sent them to us with your blessings. God will continue to use their experiences here to shape their futures and we're thrilled to be able to watch Him work.
Jacob, Matt, Tyler, Josh, Abbie, Chelsea, Allison, and Maleah, thank you for blessing our lives.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Update On Antoinette (and my life)

Antoinette returned from Tsiko with more waiting ahead. The blood analysis machine at the hospital there was broken so they suggested she return on Aug. 15th. In the meantime, they sent her home with meds to help with pain, depression, and energy. It’s now been two months that she has been sick. I’m getting more frustrated every day.

Picture your life like this....you’ve got a quaint little bakery that is within walking distance of your house. The next closest grocery store (of any kind) requires the use of your car to get there. But you don’t mind, you like your trusty little car. You have your weekly routine of strolling to the bakery twice a week for fresh white bread, banana bread (with the occasional zucchini bread), tortillas and tortilla chips, pie crusts and pizza crusts. You’ve become such good friends with the baker, that she shares other things with you like fresh squeezed lemon juice for lemonade or a delicious ham and cheese quiche. On Tuesdays you make your weekly trip to the grocery store with the occasional stop off at other place for a few staple items. Then imagine that suddenly your bakery closes. You don’t know why and you don’t know if or when it will reopen. Now you have to find a new place to buy your beloved bread items...or you could make them yourself. You don’t mind making these items, you just can’t make them as quickly or abundantly as your baker-friend. You’re watching your life become slowly more difficult. It’s Tuesday, grocery store day. Guess what? your car won’t start so you’ve got to find some other way to get to the store or your family won’t have anything to eat this week. Then, your dishwasher breaks. Are you getting the picture?

Now, obviously, I’ve exaggerated things a bit for you to get a glimpse of my life right now, but it is frustrating. I really don’t mind doing the extra baking, and actually enjoy it, but it’s difficult to do that with 2 toddlers demanding my attention. It’s taking a lot more planning in order for our week to run smoothly. With Antoinette, I could call on her at a moment’s notice to help me with anything....cooking, cleaning, taking care of children, running to the store for me...I just can not do this with anyone else as easily as I can with her.

Please pray for Antoinette’s health and my (April) perseverance as we wait for answers.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pray for Antoinette


Antoinette, our wonderful house helper, is leaving at 5:00 AM tomorrow morning to go to Tsiko, the Baptist Mission Hospital south of here. After a month or so of illness, her health continues to be a mystery to us and we ask that you join us in praying that the American doctors there can give her (and us!) some answers. Pray for health of safety of her three children that she is leaving at home.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Time for Survey

It's that time of the year again, time to pack up the trucks and head to Mali to survey the Dogon people. So what's a survey? Good question. A survey is a trip to learn more about the need for missionaries among a largely unreached people group. In addition, we take a look at the logistical aspects of missionary life: what's available, how much it costs, what the government requires of missionaries and so on and so forth. Survey trips have resulted in mission teams locating to many fields all over Africa and the world over the last 20 years. As I write, in fact, there is a team of 10+ students at Harding University who are making plans to live among and minister to the Dogon people, a direct result of survey trips to Dogon land that our team has been undertaking since 2004. This is the 3rd year that I have been involved, and it has been eye opening to say the least.Please pray for our safety. Anything can happen on trips like these, and it usually does, and we are asking God to go before us and make our paths straight, in the West African understanding of straight at least :) Pray also for April and the boys, as they we be without me for 10 days. I praise God for my family and the strength that they have that allows me to make these journeys. May the Kingdom expand as a result of our efforts!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Goodbye Eli



This morning Asiki came to us saying that one of the twins was in the hospital again. A few hours later, he returned to tell us that Eli had died. We are saddened of this news and are still trying to process it. There are mixed emotions running through us. This is not uncommon here for children to die before they are one yet is there something we could have done? We're thankful Eli was/is not Asiki's only child. As parents ourselves, it is never easy to watch someone lose a child. We are not clear what caused him to die, although, Asiki was saying he had "bad blood" again. It's possible that Eli had a problem that could not be handled here.

Our hearts are morning this loss...but know that Eli is no longer in pain. Pray with us for Asiki, his wife, and Elise (the other twin) as they mourn the loss of Eli. He would have turned one this month.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Pray For The Sick

We've been back in Kara for about two and a half weeks. During this time, it seems people we love are becoming sick. There are three people specifically we want to ask you to pray for:
  • Antoinette, our houseworker, has been sick for almost two weeks. In the two years she has worked for us, I think she has missed work because of sickness three times. She went to the doctor who put her of medication for high blood pressure. Her daughter has been helping us at our house and I can tell she is concerned about her mother's health as well. Antoinette lost her husband years ago, if something happens to her, her three children will have no parents.
  • Erik's wife, I don't know her name, is sick. I don't know anything other than Erik did not work today because he was taking her to the doctor.
  • Eli and Elise, the twins, have been in the hospital. They were not eating. They are both doing better now, but I ask that you continue to pray for them to gain strength.
Through all of this we ask that you pray for our health and strength as well. Because life here is difficult physically, a simple headache can feel like an illness. We are thankful for each of our prayer warriors and praise God that you are in our lives.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Veronique's Visit

If you are a regular reader of our blog, you know about Veronique and her story of how she lost the ability to walk when she was a little girl. Just before we left Togo, she came to our home to share this excitement with us....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Together for Togo Updates

We now have less than two weeks until the 2009 Together for Togo conference! Much prayer and planning have gone into this conference, with much more to come in the next several days leading up to the big event. We want to update you on three things in this email. First, the deadline to register, second, an update on the registration costs for the conference, and third, the conference schedule.

We would like to ask everyone who plans to attend the conference to please register by this Sunday, March 29th. This is especially important if you will be needing housing during your stay in Montgomery, since we will need the week before the conference to make the final arrangements on where everyone will be housed. If you won't know until the very last moment whether or not you will be attending, registration will be available at the door when you arrive, but housing will not be available for late registrations. Please visit www.togetherfortogo.com and register today!

We would also like to announce an updated pricing schedule for the conference. Registration for the full conference weekend is $65 per adult and $10 per child to cover the cost of food and other expenses. However, if you can only attend a portion of the conference, pricing is as follows: $25 for Friday only (includes dinner), $35 for Saturday only (includes lunch and dinner), and $10 for any single session (Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday evening) if you do not plan to eat with us for any meals. After registering at www.togetherfortogo.com, please make payment out to Grace Pointe Church of Christ, write 'Together for Togo' in the memo line, and mail it to Grace Pointe at 1565 Ray Thorington Rd., Montgomery, AL 36117. All funds will go directly towards the costs of putting on the conference.

We would also like to note that free housing will be provided for all out of town attendees. A big thank you to the members of the Grace Pointe and Vaughn Park churches for graciously offering their homes for the conference weekend.

Finally, we want to give everyone a heads up on the conference schedule. GracePointe will open it's doors on Friday, April 3rd at 4pm to begin the on site registration process, and the evening meal will be served at 6pm. At 7:15pm we will worship together and listen to a keynote speaker. On Saturday, April 4th, we will begin at 9am with worship time, followed by breakout classes and another keynote before lunch is served at 12pm. We will begin again at 2pm with more breakout classes which will continue until dinner is served at 6pm. We will have more worship time and a keynote speaker at 7:15pm before breaking for the evening at 9pm. On Sunday, GracePointe will have two services, at 8:00am and 10:15am, with combined adult classes in between. We look forward to sharing in these special times with everyone!

Please visit www.togetherfortogo.com today to register for the conference. We continue to ask that you be in prayer for the success of the conference and that God would be glorified as we gather to celebrate the advancement of His Kingdom in the tiny country of Togo. God bless you!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Furlough Time

It's that time of year once again for our family, our time to leave our lives in Togo for several weeks and reconnect with our sponsoring church, our supporters, our family and our friends. Please pray for our time in the States, that it would be productive, restful, and full of God's sustaining grace. Hope to see many of you soon!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Our Team


Pictured above:
-Reeves Family: David, Becky, Hannah, Elijah, Gabriel, Caleb
-Kennell Family: Mark, Nicole, Maddie, Michal
-Hangen Family: Matt, Grace
-Emerson Family: Brett, April, Caden, Corban
-Miller Family: Matt, Andrea, Abby, Aidan, Asher, AnnaMarie
-Teachers: Bennett, Daniel, Bekah

Not pictured:
-Stoff Family: Andrew, Julia (Albertville, France)
-Head Family: Ryan, Melissa (Memphis, TN)
-Richardson Family: Ryan, Beth, Katie, Jonah, Aaron (Memphis, TN)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ever Wonder What Life is Really Like Here?

We've always found it to be very hard to describe our lives and work here among the Kabiye to our loved ones back home in a way that they can truly understand. I think that an outsider's perspective is necessary for this job, and my father, Darrel Emerson, is currently undertaking the task. After their visit to Togo last November, my dad returned home and began blogging about his experiences. For an insightful, honest and enlightening series of posts about our lives here, visit his blog at http://darrelsafricanadventure.blogspot.com

Thanks for sharing your experiences dad!

Discernment

This is Prosper. You might remember him from a previous post. He comes to our house every week or two, sometimes just to greet us, sometimes to bring us tomatoes or carrots, and often times he is coming to ask for money. We usually help him out with a small percentage of what he is asking for, which is mainly related to his health because of his age (he is 69, which is VERY old for a Kabiye person). He always thanks me and says, "God bless you", but it's his face right after I hand him a lot less than he asked for that rubs me the wrong way. His face says, "That's it? Are you kidding me?!" just moments before his mouth says "Thank you".

To be honest, my pride despises his reaction. Words like "ungrateful" and "manipulative" often run through my head after interacting with Prosper, but most times my compassion wins over and I receive him again the next time he visits. So my question is (and has always been as I struggle through benevolent giving in this foreign culture), "Where does God given discernment fit into this process?"

April and I could not possibly help every person that comes to our door or stops us on the street. We want to help as many people as we can, but we also don't want to create a group of people who are semi-dependent on our family. We're not going to be here forever. We want to find compassionate ways to help, but also creative ways. Righteous ways, but sustainable ways. Christ like ways, but discerning ways. You get the picture.

If you were reading this post and hoping for an answer to the problem, then I am sorry to disappoint you. It's more of a thought process post, something to spur myself and others on to holy thinking about poverty, our reaction to it, and the discernment that God promises us through the indwelling of His Spirit. Thoughts, comments and advice are definitely welcome!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

2009 Together for Togo Conference

Bi-annual Together for Togo Conference to be held April 3-5 at the Grace Pointe Church of Christ in Montgomery, AL


After much planning and prayer, we are pleased to offer you the chance to register for the Together for Togo conference. Held every two years and hosted by one of our sponsoring churches on a rotating basis, the conference is a weekend full of worship, fellowship, learning, caring and sharing about God's great work in Togo, West Africa. This year's conference features several speakers and teachers with strong, deep-rooted connections to Togo.

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Bryan & Tracey Ries were members of the Kabiye Team serving in Kara, Togo from August 2000 to May 2008. During their eight years in the field, they poured their heart and soul into loving and serving the Kabiye people. Bryan and Tracey currently reside in Franklin, TN with their three boys.

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Frank & Jenna Bunner were original members of the Watchi Team in southern Togo where they served for 10 years. Frank is currently a campus minister at Austin Peay University where he actively encourages young people to have an interest in missions.

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Tom Moore has been couseling mission teams in Togo for over 10 years. His understanding of what it takes to live and work in Togo has been a blessing to both missionaries and their sponsoring churches. His goal is to help missionaries live healthy and fulfilling work, team, and personal lives. Tom has a private counseling practice in Shreveport, LA.

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Stephen & Jennifer Presley have been members of the missions committee at the Homewood Church of Christ for 10 years. During this time they have also served as the contact family for Matt and Andrea Miller, members of the Kabiye Team. Stephen and Jennifer have blessed the Millers and the team by doing an exceptional job caring for them and by making two trips to Togo to visit and encourage the missionaries.

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Brett & April Emerson have been living and working in Kara for two years as members of the Kabiye Team. Their first trip to Togo was in 2003 as college interns, and they joined the team shortly thereafter. Brett and April are sponsored by the Grace Pointe Church of Christ, the host church for this years Together For Togo conference.

The cost for the conference is $65 per adult and $10 per child, and payment should be remitted in advance of the conference. We realize that these are tough economic times, but we also feel strongly that anyone with an interest in or connection to missions in Togo will be greatly blessed by attending. However, we don't feel that monetary concerns should stop anyone from being a part of the conference, so there will be scholarships available on a limited basis. Please reply to emersonstogo@gmail.com if you may be in need of financial assistance to attend the conference. We would also like to note that free housing will be provided for all out of town attendees. A big thank you to the members of the Grace Pointe and Vaughn Park churches for graciously offering their homes for the conference weekend.


Please visit www.togetherfortogo.com today to register for the conference. We would also like to ask that you be in prayer for the success of the conference and that God would be glorified as we gather to celebrate the advancement of His kindgom in the tiny country of Togo. God bless you!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Twins

Back in July, we introduced our supporters to these two little twins. Elise and Eli.

A few days ago, Assiki and his wife came to visit with the twins.

I could have played all day with these two little ones...so cute!

They are now around 8 months old and doing great. Thank you for praying for them and their family. Please continue to pray for these little ones as they grow and learn.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Drums, Dancing and Death

The month of February is funeral month here in Kabiyeland (give or take a few days in January or March). Every Kabiye person who has died over the last year will be officially celebrated and honored with a funeral. Don't worry, they bury them shortly after they die and save the big celebration for February. There will be many times during the next month or so when we will see this exact scene repeated over and over as we visit villages or just travel around town. We know that we have a lot to learn about what this month really means to the Kabiye people, and we look forward to this month as a chance to deepen our understanding of Kabiye culture and (spiritually speaking) why they do what they do.

This video was taken today as a Brett returned from a hike in the mountains with Daniel, one of our team's current school teachers...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What Is Skype?


Skype
Uploaded by emersonstogo

You, too, can call us on our Skype number. It will only cost you what a normal long distance phone call costs (unless you are in Montgomery, AL, then it is free!). Another great thing about Skype is that it is only connected to our computer and will not wake us up in the middle of the night...so go ahead, pick up your phone and call...no matter what time it is, we'd love to hear your voice. 334.239.3109

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Adopted Son

I've been working with Akla alot lately. We're building a new rabbit enclosure together, and I have enjoyed spending time with him. It's weird because I'm way to young to have a 17 year old son, but for some reason the relationship just works.

Last week Akla came to me with a form for school that needed signing, asking me to give my John Hancock where it said "Parent or Guardian". With his dad passed away and his mother illiterate, I guess that title falls next to me! It is an honor to have this father/son relationship with Akla, to study the Bible with him, to discuss Togo and America, to teach him things and to discipline him when he acts like a 17 year old. I thank God for my adopted son and the blessing of being in deep relationships with the Kabiye people that God called us to give our lives for...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One of the Many Reasons

One of the many reasons I love our job of living in Togo...These yummy veggies (tomatoes and green beans) came from someone we have helped financially in the past. But it's not just a one time thing, we have had special deliveries from many of our friends. It is such a blessing to be thanked with the things that they have. Every time it reminds me of a different story from the Bible when someone gave what they could or what was precious to them. We chose to help these people without the expectation of ever receiving anything, so you can imagine the feeling to open the door one day to this enormous gift. I love this job.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Update

If you read our previous post, we have some exciting updates for you. (If you haven't read it, click here). First, we have a correction to make. Our friend's name is Veronique (vair-own-eek). Secondly, we found out the history behind why she has been in a wheelchair when she came by this morning. She was climbing a tree nearly 15 years ago, helping her family with food, when she fell. Thirdly, during the holidays she was able to raise some of the money herself to be fitted for the braces which will able her to walk. We were so thrilled that she had continued to look for help rather than just waiting for us that we willingly helped with the rest of the costs for the procedure. And lastly, when we asked her when the procedure would take place, she let us know that the doctor said he would do it as soon as she had the money.

Please pray for this doctor, Veronique's family (she is married with three children), and especially Veronique as she learns to walk again. We look forward to sharing pictures with you in the future of Veronique with her "new" legs.