The Consolation of Israel

The Consolation of Israel

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.’”  Luke 2:25-32

Simeon, a devout Jew, was looking for the prophesied Messiah. In the above passage, Luke refers to the Messiah as the “consolation of Israel.” The Messiah was to come and console, or comfort, Israel. Fortunately, Simeon, unlike many of the Jews, recognized Jesus as the coming Messiah and had the opportunity to worship Him. He also proclaimed that the Messiah was not only for Israel but also for the Gentiles. Anna and I desire to share this good news with the people of Togo! Just like us, the Togolese need to hear that they can find comfort and hope through Jesus. Many Togolese have never heard the name of Jesus before and are hungry to hear more. We long to be able to share this hope with them so that they may praise God as Simeon did so long ago!

Anna and I will be married in Grand Rapids, MI on January 7, 2017. We can’t believe that it’s less than two weeks away!! We have been (and still are) busy with the many details necessary for a wedding. We are thankful for the many family and friends who have pitched in to help us plan this special day. We have also enjoyed being back in the U.S. and having the chance to celebrate the holidays with family. We spent Thanksgiving with Mike’s family and Christmas with Anna’s family.

2017 is looking to be another busy year for us. Our main focus will be pre-field ministry which is a time for us to raise the necessary financial support required to return to Togo. We are looking for churches and individuals who would like to hear about our ministry in Togo. We would love to share with you! There are several additional ABWE training sessions we are required to attend before leaving for the field. These training sessions will help prepare us for ministry in Togo. Our goal is to leave for language school by August 2017. Will you please pray that the Lord will meet our financial needs and that we can complete all the necessary requirements by this coming fall?

Mike will continue with his online master’s degree courses for at least another semester. We are thankful for the benefits he receives through the GI Bill which makes earning this degree possible. We are also thankful for the opportunity for Mike to earn this nursing degree through Cedarville University where all classes are taught from a Biblical worldview. Mike is looking forward to getting involved in nurse education at the Hospital of Hope.

 

It’s official!!

Today was an awesome day!! I celebrated my appointment as an ABWE career missionary and my parents’ 40 years of missionary service!!

Dad and Mom retire after 40 years of faithful service in Asia

Dad and Mom retire after 40 years of faithful service in Asia

Mike and Anna- now both ABWE missionaries!

Mike and Anna- now both ABWE missionaries!

mike-with-anna-and-parents mike-with-pastor-jackson mike-with-scott-dunford

ABWE missionary appointees to Africa

ABWE missionary appointees to Africa

The Work of the Lord

Despite my best intentions I have not provided the updates on this website that I was hoping and planning. And so I realize that it’s been almost a year since I’ve provided any update. My goal is to go back and add information that I sent to supporters and prayer partners so that you may have a better idea of what the past year has been like.

Patient praising her Savior

Patient praising her Savior

A short summary of the past year? The Lord is working in Northern Togo!! Since the hospital opened on March 2nd, 2015 we have registered over 15,000 patients! That means more than 15,000 people have been exposed to the gospel while seeking physical/medical care. Many of these people heard the gospel for the very first time. As a result of the hospital ministry there are now at least 8 Bible studies that are being held in villages surrounding Mango. There are approximately 4 Bible studies/house groups meeting in Mango! The hospital chaplains sell approximately 10 SD cards each week to patients requesting audio files of the Bible and other evangelistic material. In December, two of our Togolese hospital chaplains were baptized. These are just some of the examples of how the Lord is working here. I know numbers are not the best or only indicator of how the Lord is working but it is encouraging to be able to share these statistics with you. Can you imagine what else the Lord is doing in the hearts of the Togolese that we aren’t even aware of? It is certainly a privilege to be used of the Lord to help bring physical AND spiritual comfort to a hurting people.

Assessing a patient

Assessing a patient

I have worked as nursing supervisor over the past year alongside an experienced Togolese nurse. Together we have worked to unite an international team of nurses and nurse aides to provide compassionate healthcare to patients who come from Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, Niger, Guinea and the Ivory Coast. One of my main jobs has been doing the scheduling for the nurses and nurse aides…40+ staff members. It has been a challenge but one that I enjoy for the most part! We continue to need staff so if you are a nurse or nurse aide and are interested in serving short-term please let me know! We can use you for as short as 4 weeks or as long as 2 years. Besides actually providing bedside nursing care, my job has also been a catch-all of troubleshooting equipment issues,

Patients often prefer the floor!

Patients often prefer the floor!

ensuring we have supplies, and dealing with personnel issues. Creating an international nursing team has had it’s share of challenges but also rewards as I develop relationships with my Togolese coworkers. Caring for the many, many sick patients has also been a challenge. We routinely turn away over 100 patients at the gate each day who have been triaged and told to return another day as we do not have enough staff to see all of them. In malaria season we were averaging 1 death each day, usually children. This is incredibly difficult for the staff who want to care for patients and see them get well. It is emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually draining. I am thankful for those miracle stories we do have where we’ve seen the hand of God miraculous heal a patient. It happens!! And most rewarding of all is seeing a patient accept the message of hope and become a child of the King even if on her deathbed.

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Living in Togo (specifically Mango) is a challenge itself. Over the past year we’ve faced numerous water, power and internet outages (3 continuous days being the longest we were without water or power), civil unrest and riots, rain/wind/dust storms, and temps in the 120s. I’ve survived the challenge of riding a moto in mud and in sand…it hasn’t been easy! But I love Togo and it’s stark beauty. Living here has given me a better understanding of life in Bible times. I now truly understand the importance and significance of feet washing!!

So the days may be long and I may miss some of the comforts of life in the US. But I know I am where the Lord wants me. Continue praying for me and all of us serving at the Hospital of Hope. We so desperately need your prayers. Be encouraged; the Lord is at work in Mango!!

 

Thank you for your support!! Merci Beaucoup!!

March Madness

March Madness

To many Americans this refers to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament that is held each March. For those of us in Mango this March, the madness has nothing to do with basketball.  The long awaited opening of the Hospital of Hope occurred on March 2nd and we have been running non-stop since that day!

The inauguration of the hospital was held on February 26th and was attended by over 5000 people including the President of Togo (I shook his hand!) and the US Ambassador to Togo. Trucks were even sent to outlying villages to bring people to Mango. A special fabric was designed for all the hospital staff and it was fun seeing everyone wearing it that day. It was an amazing day celebrating God’s faithfulness in getting us to this point. The community enjoyed the celebration, and the support the hospital received was outstanding.

I am thankful for the support of the President of Togo and the US Ambassador to Togo. But most of all I am thankful for those of you who have supported me and the Hospital of Hope financially and/or through your prayers. The inauguration was definitely a celebration (and believe me, the Togolese know how to throw a party) but is was more than just the mere opening of a physical hospital building. It is the realization of the dreams and the answer to the prayers of thousands of people. And it’s part of the bigger story of HOPE coming to Mango and northern Togo. You can watch a video montage of that day at https://vimeo.com/121229304.

 

NK2_7697 (1024x683)We used the weekend after the inauguration for final preparations of the hospital and then opened the doors to patients at 7am March 2nd. People started lining up at the gate by 5am! We have registered almost 2000 patients , done numerous surgeries, delivered several babies (including a set of premature twins!) and cared for hundreds of sick people since that Monday. But more importantly we have been able to show the love of Christ to these people and share with many of them the Good News. Many of the patients and family members are incredibly open to the gospel and some have never even heard of Jesus before entering the hospital.  Many Togolese are not used to experiencing compassion especially in a medical setting. It is exciting to be able to care for these people physically but also show them the love of Christ through simple acts such as providing a drink of water, clean sheets or a kind word.

Thank you for praying and supporting me financially. Through your efforts I am able to provide compassionate healthcare and share the message of HOPE to the people in this region of Africa.  Merci beaucoup!

Tsiko Update

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 2 weeks since we arrived at Hopital Baptiste Biblique (HBB) in Tsiko. It has been a busy 2 weeks full of hard work, sadness, joy, fun and adventures. As I mentioned before, the purpose of our 3 weeks here is for us to experience nursing in Togo and become comfortable treating the common illnesses/injuries that we will see when the hospital in Mango opens. I have cared for patients with malaria, typhoid fever, leprosy, terminal cancer and amoebas and patients recovering from a variety of surgical procedures including hernia repairs, abscess drainage, and bowel resection. This is a far cry from the OB patients I am used to caring for! Though all of us have at least a couple years of nursing experience in the US, nursing care in Togo is very different and the available resources limited. Additionally, the language barrier between us and our patients makes everything more challenging (though many patients speak French, there are some who only speak a local dialect. And even if they do speak French, it is at least their 2nd language so imagine the 2 of us trying to communicate in a language that isn’t the first language for either of us)! My first couple of shifts were quite overwhelming as I learn to navigate this new system. But things are improving as I get to know the Togolese staff and learn from them how to care for these patients. I am extremely thankful for their willingness to take the time to teach me and share what they’ve learned after so many years serving at HBB.

In my off time I’ve had the chance to see more of the beauty of Togo as we’ve taken 2 different hikes. The first was to a huge waterfall located on the border of Ghana. The water was frigid but I still managed to swim out to the base of the falls. The second hike was to a smaller waterfall but our local guide is an artist who uses plants and rocks to obtain his paints. Along the hike he educated us on the native vegetation and showed us how he obtained the different color paints he uses. We also had the chance to see ABWE’s Blind Center where Togolese children with visual impairment are taught braille as well as life skills. And of course the staff also share the gospel with them.

In a week we will return to Mango and continue preparing for the opening of the hospital. February will be a time for team building and orientation, as well as completing all the finishing details to ensure we can safely and effectively care for patients.

Prayer and Praise:
-Several more staff members have arrived safely including our last nurse…our nursing team is now complete! However, we could definitely use more nurses (now and in the future). If you are interested in serving at the Hospital of Hope please contact me! Please be praying that the Lord will provide the staff we need.
-I have been asked to be the nursing supervisor alongside an experience Togolese nurse. Please pray that I will have wisdom as I develop schedules and learn Togolese work culture. And that I will be sensitive the needs of the nursing staff.
-Team unity- Our hospital team in Mango is made of up of Togolese (several different people groups), French, Canadians, a New Zealander and Americans. With so many different cultures it will be easy for the team to split into groups. Pray that this doesn’t happen and we will be able to work together as one team
-French study- Since my arrival in Togo I have been meeting regularly with a French tutor…so far it has been pretty informal since my schedule has been ever changing. I hope to begin structured training again in Mango. Please be praying that I will be able to learn French and be able to communicate effectively to my patients.
-Pray that we will be able to maximize the time we have left at HBB                                     -Safety next week as we travel back to Mango.
-I still need approximately $500/month to be fully supported. Currently I am covering my support shortfall with my own savings.

It’s hard to believe I am finishing up 7 weeks in Togo already.
As always, thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement!

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Merry Christmas!

Dec 27, 2014

Joyeux Noël! I hope you had a very Merry Christmas as we celebrated the birth of Christ! Though the weather didn’t feel very Christmasy here in Mango, I had a wonderful Christmas celebrating with my teammates. I enjoyed a Christmas Eve dinner hosted by the DeKryger family and then joined several of the nurses in caroling at the houses of the missionaries who live on the hospital compound. Christmas morning we had a singles’ brunch and I thoroughly enjoyed all the good food as well as the company. Christmas afternoon/evening we had a Togo North Team Christmas celebration including an white elephant gift exchange that was quite fun! I finished off my Christmas by watching It’s a Wonderful Life with several of my teammates.

Though it isn’t easy spending the holidays far from family, I am thankful for the friends the Lord has provided for me here in Togo and for your prayers and encouragement! Continue praying for us as the opening date of the Hospital of Hope is fast approaching and there is still much to be done in the hospital. Also, many of the Togolese staff who are transferring from ABWE’s hospital in Tsiko (southern Togo) will be arriving in Mango the first of the year. Please be praying for a smooth transition for them and their families. They are sacrificing much to come serve a the Hospital of Hope. I will be heading down to Tsiko on January 9th to spend 3 weeks working at the Hôpital Baptiste Biblique learning to care for patients with diseases I’ve never seen before and with the resources available here in Togo. Also, I just received my moto- I am thankful for it but please pray for safety as I learn to ride it and then use it as my main form of transportation around Mango.

Bonne année et bonne santé! Happy New Year!

Mango

Dec 15, 2014

I made it to Mango safely last week after a long 12 hour trip. Thanks for your prayers! I have been busy settling into my living quarters, learning my way around Mango and getting to know the Togo North team.

Today we had the opportunity to help unload a shipping container full of medical supplies. What a blessing to see how God has provided for the Hospital of Hope.
Also exciting was that this container contained the boxes I had taken to Lansing months ago. It was an early Christmas as I unpacked these boxes some of which contained a few surprises from my parents like m&ms!

Contain praying for us as we inventory and organize all these medical supplies. And as we continue adjusting to Mango. I have running water and electricity but there’s no Publix, Kroger or Wal-Mart to shop at! Please pray that we will continue to grow as a team as we prepare to open the Hospital of Hope.

Made it!

Dec 8, 2014

I made it to Togo safely! Several of my teammates and I arrived safely in Togo last night (close 11pm local time). Thankful for all your prayers and encouragement! All of luggage arrived and we cleared customs with 4 full luggage carts without too much difficulty! (Though I sure worked up a sweat heaving all those suitcases around…its much warmer in Togo than in Indiana! ) We are currently staying in, the capital, Lomé. We pick up another teammate from the airport tomorrow night and then will head to Mango on Wednesday. Please be praying for Carol who is currently enroute. And please pray for our safety on Wednesday as we drive the 9+ hours to Mango. Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement!

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