Togo has presented challenges but also has been a wonderful encouragement. Here are two instances.
A couple of weeks ago I encountered a preemie (in the hospital/pharmacy where I serve) who was incredibly small. They all said that it’s the smallest one that they have seen which a little less than 2lbs. The baby was born outside the hospital and then brought here for treatment because the parents were worried about it. One of the nurses said she was surprised that it was brought here given that it is a girl. In this culture, it is normal to let a girl baby die if she is weak and doesn’t stand much of a chance of survival. Maybe this is a wealthy family that can afford the treatment to keep her alive. I have never seen one this small either, so I ventured my way into the NICU and looked at the little tyke. There were two nurses surrounding her trying to get an IV in. They were really struggling, as the smallest size IV that we have is bigger than the baby’s veins. The attending physician had tried for an hour and a half to put a line in through the umbilicus, but was unsuccessful, so another option was needed. The poor baby just laid there, struggling to breath. You could see her chest cave in and out as her lungs exhaled, and then inhaled. She eventually died. She kept losing weight due to not being able to eat. She was getting some caloric intake in the form of dextrose, but it just wasn’t enough given how much energy she had to expend to breathe. Even after giving her multiple doses of surfactant, her lungs couldn’t handle the stress of life, and the little one just died of exhaustion. While I didn’t personally care for her or hold her, I was invested in her care- regularly asking how she was, verifying orders for drugs that she needed. Death is a part of life, and it is especially visible here in Togo. If this little one was in a NICU in the states, she would have had a much higher chance of survival.
Over a week ago, a group of us went to a village around 45 minutes away where there was a baptism service being performed. We loaded 9 people up into an SUV and headed off at 7am. It was raining slightly, so the weather felt great! We were greeted at the village church by 120 or so kids who came running out to us, thrilled to see white people, but they were also excited to get to travel in a car (it is around 3 km until the river where they were getting baptized). It took 3 or 4 trips with 3 vehicles to move the whole village to the water, so there was an hour and a half that I just stood around and waited. I asked them how the church here got started, and the story is cool! There was a patient from a neighboring village who was treated at the hospital here. After they got treated, they accepted Christ, and started a church at their own village. As word spread of the way that God was changing hearts, the villagers from neighboring villages traveled to hear the Good News. Eventually, a church in all of the surrounding villages was needed to hold the size of the congregation. A pastor from Mango goes there once a week to preach, and they have elders and such who help lead during the week. THIS IS THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH! Gatherings of brothers and sisters in remote parts of the world who are PASSIONATE about Jesus. Who leave behind their old ways and seek HIM. I was struck by their willingness to forgo the old, and take on the new in stride.
Praise God for new spiritual life in the midst of physical death. #CUGO