Sunday, July 11, 2010

Oh Happy Day.

I woke up yesterday after a pretty good night's sleep. It was Saturday. I had no plans and was kind of excited about a day of relaxation---maybe a little reading, a little blogging, a little sun.
Then I looked out the window: torrential rain! Iiick.
I was groggy and in desperate need of the elixir of life: Known to others as coffee.

I changed into decent clothes (i.e.  not pajamas) and stumbled up to the dining room. I found a piece of banana bread and filled my coffee mug to the top. I went to my office and checked my email. I had a message from Melissa:
"Hey! We're on for going to Aneho today--leaving at 11:30! Hope you are coming!!"

I look at the clock---its 11am. much for my lazy day. Excited to have something to do, I ran downstairs, hopped in the shower and got ready. Due to my limited wardrobe, my "get ready" time has been slashed almost in half! Brilliant...I'm ready at 11:30.

Melissa is from Kansas and announced to her Church she would be coming Togo to work for Mercy Ships. Afterwards a couple she is good friends with told her that their daughter lives in Togo outside a town called Aneho. She and her husband have a house on the beach!! Since she's been here, Melissa got in touch with them, and they were gracious enough to invite all of us to their home....what a treat!!!

We head to the round about to catch a taxi to Aneho--approx. 45 minutes East of Lomé. Sometimes this can be tricky, and not many drivers want to drive all the way to Aneho. After more than an  hour of waiting for a taxi, a mini-bus pulls up and the door opens. There appears to be room for 2...maybe 3 people. The drivers says 6?? Yes, come on in.

Wait, excuse me,  but you want 6 of us to fit in here??

This is Africa people--their motto is "There's always room for one more."
Melissa gets in the way-back with 3 other ladies already sitting on that bench. Dulce, Mel and Louie somehow cram in in the middle row. I sit on the console in between the diver and Liz, who's in the passenger seat. As the sliding door is closing, one more guy hops in and practially sits on Ducle's lap. He slams the door shut and hangs his upper body out the window.

And we're off.

Nice scenery. Good company. A little squished, but minus the driver awkwardly brushing against my leg every time he moves the stick-shift, things are going well :)

We finally get to Aneho and are dropped off. We wander a bit...take some pics of the beach and the lake. We make our way down the beach and find a little bar and table to sit and enjoy the sound of the waves..which is quite heavenly.

Then, we see something amazing. This woman is making sandwiches for the people at the table next to us. We were pretty hungry and needed some sustenance. She us putting some sort of green substance in the loaves of bread. I stare, I think, I process....
That's avocado!!
Ohhhh snap! Avocado sandwich on the beach? Avec un Castel? C'est Magnifique!!
She comes over to us and we how much---"200 ceefa," she says. About 45 cents. I think I can handle that. Louie orders 2, and the lady literally laughs at him, tells him he cant have 2 because he will get fat. She shows us her pregnant belly and tells us that not even she would eat 2, and she's pregnant! ha. She makes each of us a sandwich, and refuses to make a second for Louie. We all got a kick out of this.
A DJ is playing music just behind us and a covered sitting area has turned into a dance floor for several Togolese women who are gettin' down. Comical. Typical. We soak it all in.

Now it's time to head to our new friend's home: Melissa and JJ. We have directions and we are pretty confident we can walk there, so off we go. 45 minutes later, we are still walking. hmmmmm. Eventually we call them, and JJ comes to pick up the lowly travellers that have come to crash in their lovely home.

We pull into the courtyard and all I can think is: If this is missionary living, I think I could handle it! The yard was perfectly manicured with beautiful plants and flowers. The flower pots were painted a joyful shade of pink and all of a sudden we were not in Africa anymore. Melissa walked out and happily welcomed all of us to their house. What a treat...I was almost speechless!!

Inside, the house was cutely decorated with all sorts of remembrances from home. Yankee candles burned in all the rooms and there was Bath & Body Works soap in the bathroom!!! We got a tour and ended up on the roof-top veranda that overlooked the ocean. I felt like I'd died and gone to Mexico!! :)

We all chatted and got to know one another. We found out that JJ's parents are Missionaries and that JJ grew up in Northern Togo in a town called Kara. He was home- school by his mother. He went to Bible College in Florida with the intent to return to Togo as a missionary. While there, he met Melissa. They got married, and now have been in Aneho for a little over a year.

Their mission here is running sports camps. How wonderful is that?!?! They have been teaching soccer and basketball to kids in Togo. Two things that are very close to my heart: Sports & Camp! I was so impressed with the work that they are doing---2 lovely people serving God and helping many kids who have nothing. They have raised money to purchase some land on Lake Togo. Their plan is to build a camp there--Togo Palms. They will have cabins and facilities to run sports camps and capacity to hold 300 kids. Melissa and JJ will live on site. It's going to be amazing when it is completed, and they are the PERFECT couple to make it happen.

Melissa, a.k.a. Martha Stewart, cooked us the most amazing dinner---Chicken Marsala! Pasta, chicken breast, garclic bread, and the most delicious chocolate fudge cake for dessert. We all had seconds and thirds. By the end we were all thinking, "Ok, how can we move in with you?!"

Afterwards, we all piled in their car and JJ drove us home. We sang the entire way---Beatles, Proud Mary, Fresh Prince theme song...random but great assortment of tunes. Louie also sang us the only Christian song he knew in English. It was a trip.

Around 8:45pm we got back to the round-about by the port. We thanked our lovely hosts profusely, and waved goodbye with grand smiles on our faces.

Yesterday was one of those days where you think: There really are good people in this matter where you are; Togo or Tyler. The world is smaller than you think. So much goes on outside our little bubble that we each live in, and though it takes sacrifice to help others, you can still make a very happy living out of it. Melissa and JJ are wonderful examples of that. I thank God for the work that they are doing, and hope He blesses them with success and happiness throughout their lives :)


  1. It was a lovely day with amazing people. I am so glad I got to share that moment in life with you & the Alderman's. =)

  2. Hi Claire. Quite a day! Makes me smile to learn about good people making a difference. Thanks for sharing this great story with us! John Bufe


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