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Africa? Lord, Are You Serious?
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By Darlene L. Turner

"We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps." - Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)

We all have fears. Snakes. Spiders. Rejection. As Christians, we want to be used of God and serve Him, but would we set aside our fears and go to the other side of the world to live in a remote place? A place crawling with deadly critters, hot temperatures over 52 Celsius, and people we don't know? Most of us would have to admit just like Jonah, we’d turn and run in the opposite direction.

However, for Nate and Erin Weston, that wasn’t the case. When asked why they chose Mango, Togo, West Africa, Erin said, "We didn't, God chose it. Africa was the last place I wanted to go. For real. I was thinking Portugal, Chile, Ukraine—anywhere, but just not Africa." Obviously, God had different plans because Mango was their "Nineveh," but they didn't follow Jonahs lead and run away. Instead, they were excited to go on a two-year mission trip to help build a hospital. Their one big concern—what would their five children (ages 14, 12, 10, 7, and 3) think?

God had already started working in their hearts. "From the very beginning, all our kids were excited about the idea," Erin said. "As things started to come together, our children saw God do miracles right before their eyes.” Their children were able to see first-hand how God can move mountains and that "He is so worthy of our faith, our trust, our lives, that He hears and He answers. Sometimes with more than we can even imagine."

So, this family was ready to go to the uttermost ends of the earth. In August of 2012, filled with aspirations of God doing great things, they gathered their 10 Rubbermaid containers, five large suitcases, kissed their family and friends good-bye, and headed to Mango, Togo.

How quickly did they adjust to a life outside of "safe" Canada? Erin said she was probably the one who took the longest to settle in. She had to figure out how to do the banking, find the best markets, find a safe spot for her kids to play and so on. Her biggest struggle? Fearing for her children's safety. She felt as if critters were looming at her front door just waiting to pounce. She said she "would go on walks and whisper the name of Jesus so I wouldn't freak out." After a sleepless night, her devotional reading spoke to her. "Entrust your loved ones to me." From that point on, she trusted more and worried less. Yes it was tough, but Erin learned she needed to lay her children at Jesus' feet because He loves them more.

The Westons settled into their home in Mango—a small town in Northern Togo population of approximately 40,000 with the majority of residents living in poverty. The homes consist mostly of mud huts or concrete blockhouses. The climate is sub-Saharan and is usually either wet and hot or dry and hot.

Nate works with a team of other missionary families and about 27 Togolese men. The hospital project has seen its share of miracles, problems, and then more miracles. This hospital is not your typical North American one. In Erin's words, "Picture instead a walled compound of 66 acres and long, low one story buildings." Separate structures for the admitting office, operating rooms, maternity ward, etc. Eventually there will be a school for missionary children, a soccer field, and a basketball court. God is doing amazing things in Mango!

He has also worked in the Weston's lives—colossally. They went through a break-in, accidents, and four of their five children were seriously ill. They almost lost their daughter to a staph infection. However, through it all God provided miracles. When asked if they questioned their decision to move to Mango, Erin replied, "I can say in all honesty that I never regretted being there. In some ways, I was thankful we were there. We saw God move in our lives in such ways that we never would have seen living in Canada."

Erin is currently back here seeking further treatment for their daughter. Did she question what God was doing? Of course. Who wouldn't? Especially when she received word from the doctors here that they would need to move back home for ongoing treatments. This news shocked and deeply saddened them. They felt "God had plucked us from the life we felt was His certain plan." Definitely not what they had expected.

When asked what was the biggest lesson learned from this, Erin laughed. "Can I have two or three?" Her answers?
  1. God is in control. “I am not in control. Of. Anything"
  2. We can trust Him. “What else would I trust? I can trust Him with the littlest of details and the biggest of life’s concerns. He is worthy and He is good."
  3. To bring glory to His name. “I want His name to be honoured, praised, loved, cherished and worshiped through our lives and the lives of our children."

Lessons to live by every day—for all of us.

In a few weeks the Westons will be moving back to Canada but leaving their hearts in Mango, Togo, West Africa. It will be an experience they will never forget. God moved big time in their lives and conquered their fears. In their darkest moments Erin shares a little secret. "It was never as dark as you might think it should've been. That's the thing about fear&mdsah;it's way worse imagined than it truly is. But in it, in real time, with our Saviour by our side gracing us with the peace that surpasses human understanding it wasn't as bad as you'd think. At all."

Wow. Do we face our fears like this? It should be a lesson learned for all of us. Is fear holding us back from accomplishing our "Nineveh"? Let’s follow this family’s example and just do it!

When we do, God will bless us abundantly.



Visit Erin's blog at: http://notafrica.blogspot.ca






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