I’m writing this post in the hope that our internet connection, which just blinks on and off but doesn’t do anything right now, will start working again, hopefully sometime today. But since today is Sunday, it may be tomorrow when someone at the internet place comes to work and figures out that the connection is down. Togo has numerous internet service providers, but all, except one, have the same dial up number and all go through the same government-owned server. The one independent provider is much more expensive, so our options are limited. Really, for a tiny third world town, I should be thrilled that we have service at all. I’ve learned that, most of the time, you just have to give them some time and eventually it’ll come back on. With things like water and electricity, it helps to have a backup reservoir and a generator, in case it’s a little longer than you counted on.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, today is Jonathan’s 4th birthday. It’s amazing to me that kids grow up so fast. OK, so maybe 4 years old isn’t quite grown up, but it seems like yesterday that this precious little boy was placed in our arms. For those of you who do not know Jonathan, he is not ours by birth, but he is ours by choice. From the day I first held him, I got the feeling that not much about raising him was going to be easy, and he hasn’t disappointed me. He is intense, strong, aggressive, sometimes defiant – all characteristics that I am praying that God will not take away, but bring into submission to Him and use to mold Jonathan into his servant. I worry sometimes that we don’t know what to do to make that happen. But I remember that although I can influence him, I can’t, and I don’t want to, make Jonathan into my image. But I do ask that God’s Spirit will work with his spirit to make him into the image of his Creator. That process of transformation will take time for Jonathan, just as it is taking time for me.

This morning we visited the church at Kpeyidzi. Well, it’s really more of a cell group of the larger Dagbati fellowship. My first year or so in Togo I was out at this village quite a bit, as we attempted to plant a church there. Jeff Holland and some of the other Dagbati leaders had begun the work. Jeff left on furlough, and it was a good opportunity for me to go along, build some relationships, learn some language, and contribute a little to the church planting process. The church that was planted has struggled a lot. In fact, I had given up on going out there. It seemed that each time we would go out, it would take quite a bit of time to assemble a crowd to worship, and I got the feeling they were only doing so because I had arrived.

At the takpekpe held a couple of weeks ago, I saw a couple of guys from there and they asked me to come out. They assured me that they were meeting regularly. Sure enough, we showed up a little after 8:00 this morning, and they had already started. The crowd was small, but earnest, and we had a good time worshiping God together. The two leaders are being trained by the elders in their cluster, and I shared the teaching time with one of them. One of the most encouraging fellows is out there is Papa Roger. He’s an elderly man who decided to follow Jesus as a result of our ministry in his village. Our churches almost never sing songs translated from English, but this morning they did sing the Ewe version of “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” My heart was strengthened as I heard Papa Roger sing with all of his heart, “Totro meli o, totro meli o”—“No turning back, no turning back.” Growth in Christ, whether for a newborn babe, a newborn Christian community, or someone like me whose been at it a few years—it just takes time.