Learning the Community

In my first few days in Togo I have seen a great deal. These first few days have been ones of introductions, tons of information and exploration. I am living with Mike and Lynn for a few more days before I move over to the living quarters of Togo House (the ministry Mike and Lynn run in the community). Living in their home, they have cared for and fed me well, every step of the way giving me information about the community, culture, etc. that will be helpful for my time here. I have learned a great deal about the history and current happenings in the community, including past and present mission work happening in Togo.

Yesterday I attended church with Mike and Lynn. They attend a small local congregation that is a part of the Baptist Convention in Togo. Everyone was very friendly. The service was both in Ewe and French. Unfortunately, I was not able to understand much of the service. Lynn, who was sitting next to me, often whispered to me what was happening or being said, but obviously was not able to translate everything for me. Generally, I’ve been able to understand a good portion of the French conversation taking place around me. When people speak slowly and use basic vocabulary, I can usually understand most of what is being said (even though I then struggle to say much back). The church setting was quite a bit more difficult, however, as the speed of what was being said was much quicker and the vocabulary was often words with which I am unfamiliar. I was able to read the scriptures in my own English translation and understand the main points of the sermon, but I lost a good bit in between. It was still a wonderful experience, though. In the coming weeks, we plan to visit a few different churches in the area to help me get a feel for the different churches and religious beliefs/experiences that exist in the community.

Today was a day of seeing the community a bit closer. This morning Mike and I drove all around the community. He showed me the general area from which they draw kids for Togo House programs. We walked down by the marsh that runs parallel to much of Lomé. We visited a neighborhood shop where Mike likes to buy eggs. He showed me multiple of the local schools, both public and private, that exist in the community and teach kids that come to Togo House.

This evening we spent some time walking around the community. We went out around 5pm when people are most out and about (walking home from school/work etc.) and tend to take the time to talk with one another. This was a great opportunity for me not to just see the community from inside the truck, but spend some time with the people in the community surrounding Togo House. We greeted many people, spoke with a few people Mike knew and a few kids that attend Togo House activities, checked out a few local shops and generally got a feel for the neighborhood (and most importantly landmarks that can help direct me back to Togo House if I’m out walking by myself). Everyone was very nice and interested to know that I will be living in the neighborhood starting next week. I look forward to taking Mike’s suggestion of walking around the neighborhood once I’m living there. He recommends walking around or sitting in front of my house around either 6am or 5pm to catch the most people out walking. I think I’ll probably stick to the 5pm hour! This will be a great way to build relationships and get to know the community, essential components to a good ministry and a major part of why I’m here!

Overall, I’m having a great time thus far and am looking forward to the remaining two months ahead! Continued prayers for safety, health, building relationships, learning experiences, great ministry opportunities and less bug bites (don’t worry, I’m taking my malaria medication regularly so I don’t get sick!) are always appreciated!

I haven’t taken many pictures yet to share and took none in the community today. However, here is the welcome sign that met me at the middle school English club at Togo House on Saturday! I have some other photos from English Club, but the internet/power has gone out multiple times today, making it hard to upload more pictures. I’ll try to upload more soon!

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