Togo is located east of Ghana and west of Benin in western Africa

Togo is located east of Ghana and west of Benin in western Africa
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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Medical Issues

I was having neck pain and a lot of headaches for a couple weeks before I gave in and went to an American hospital in Mango, Togo just an hour away to get an X-ray.  The root canal treatment I had last year was not successful.  The abscess never went away as hoped and instead was infected.  My dentist from Milwaukee said I needed to get the tooth extracted.  I almost had it done that day, but the surgeon and dental hygienist in Mango who were taught by a dentist to pull teeth didn't feel confident in pulling one with a root canal.  So I had to figure out where to go and when.  In the meantime, we had to hope that the penicillin would get rid of the infection.

For those of you who think X-rays are as interesting as I do...  
The root canal is easy to spot.  The curved root had part of a needle left in it for more than 10 years (discovered last year). The black spot under that root in the X-ray was the abscess.

The infection didn't seem to subside at all the first 3 days, so we decided not to wait until the end of June as we had hoped.  With it being a tricky tooth, going local was not an option.  We finally decided that going back to Milwaukee would be the best option.  We booked a flight for June 1st.  Lydia and I were going to America!  There was a lot of traveling, especially with a 1 year old, but we made it, even with very little sleep.  Lydia only slept 20 minutes on an 11 hour flight!  How can a baby do that?! Well, let's just say that as I needed a tooth extracted, she was busy pushing her own teeth through gums.  Our 2nd flight was cancelled to Milwaukee, so we switched to a later flight to Madison.  

My bag didn't arrive from Newark, where I last saw it.  They have proof it arrived at the baggage claim office the next day, but has been missing since and is still under investigation for being stolen.  There wasn't even anything of value to anyone else in it.  The biggest loss was my mouth splint for my TMJ disorder, which I won't be able to replace until next furlough, unfortunately.  How ironic that I flew to the States to get rid of head and neck pain and I lose my mouth splint which helps to keep head and neck pain at bay.  Please pray that my TMJ disorder doesn't get too bad over the next year.

Anyway, I made it to my appointment the next morning and the oral surgeon did a fine job, he said it was a more difficult one, so to expect extra pain and swelling, but after a couple days it was feeling much better.  My mouth is healing very well.  I'm still getting used to chewing on one side, but the pain is gone and it seems to be closed up for the most part.

When you have an 8 hour layover and there's no kids' play area...
You make one!
Lydia loved making sure she would fit in the overhead luggage compartments.

It is amazing to think how many people pray for our family.  Truly a blessing!  You don't know how many times I thought that while traveling back with Lydia.  It went really well, I couldn't believe it. Apparently she saved all her sleeping for the trip back.  Because unlike going, she slept most of the way.

This is the way to fly!

In other news though...  a few days after returning to Dapaong, 1/2 of our family became sick. I thought we all were sick with the same thing at first, but then our symptoms started to differ.  David had a 24 hour thing which seems to happen almost every month.  I think the next time it happens we are going to have his blood tested and see if it's a type of recurring malaria.  Liza and I didn't bounce back so fast.  Our stomachs were still hurting and we were running to the bathroom often.  Liza was also throwing up and I had a head cold as well.  The 3 Wildauer girls missed both the closing service on Saturday and all the Baptisms and Confirmations on Sunday at CLET (maybe Micah will fill you in soon on that!).  

Micah took our stool samples in on Monday and the lab tech at the pediatric clinic, also President of Alpha and Omega, the Dapaong parish, said I had a bacterial infection and that I should take Cipro.  I don't think he had to look under a microscope to see that Liza had... dysentery!  I noticed when I was getting her stool sample that it looked like bloody mucous, which come to find out, is the main symptom of dysentery. Dysentery is actually a type of sickness, but not an actual disease in and of itself. We've learned a lot about sicknesses since moving here.  Micah took Liza in that afternoon to have the doctor check her out and get her prescriptions.  She's on Cipro too.  We're taking it together!  We both feel so much better now!  

Malaria, typhoid fever, and dysentery all sound like horrible diseases and sicknesses when you are an American (I can't help but think about playing the Oregon Trail as a student), and don't get me wrong, they are awful, but they are so common here that the pharmacies are stocked with medicines to get rid of them fast.  The only thing left is my lousy cold, which no matter where you go, there's no quick cure for colds.  And they spread so easily.  Please be praying no one else gets sick! 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Mini Vacation to Kara, Togo

The first thing the kids said as they jumped out of the crammed truck, "There's grass!"  They were very excited to stay at a hotel with a swimming pool as well.  We stayed at Hotel Kara which is a little dated (1970s, but various parts under renovation), but it was nice for our family.  They even upgraded us to a bungalow for the same price as a hotel room.  Swimming and pizza were enjoyed immensely our first night.

The next morning we ventured out of Kara to an animal reserve.  We took a bunch of fruit for the elephants.  When we got there the workers cut it up for us and led us right into the elephant yard.

It was a little intimidating to be enclosed with 3 large-to-us elephants.  It seemed like one of the elephants was very curious about Lydia.  It got mud all over my arm with it's trunk.  I think I'll leave the green leaf-like-flower hat in the truck next time.

 Once we started feeding them some fruit they all stood still.  

Who wants to come visit us and go feed some elephants?!?!

Unfortunately our 3 older kids were not keen on being so close to such large animals.  
Mom and Dad (and even Molly, taking our lovely family picture, haha, oh, timid kids) on the other hand, had a great time feeding the elephants!

Safe on the outside of the enclosure.  The kids enjoyed watching the elephants suck water up with their trunks, pour it into the dirt to make mud, and then throw it on their backs.

We went from feeding elephants to a (West African) Safari.  We crossed this river, which is only passable during the dry season, to get to the other park.

We joked when we first saw a beat up pickup truck which we thought would be our mode of transportation to see the animals, but then we saw this and were quite excited.  The seats were comfortable and the cover was greatly appreciated to keep us from getting sun burns at high noon.

We saw a handful of different animals half of which were imported from South Africa, including these zebras...  Can you see them?!  

Lydia enjoyed hanging out with Daddy on the Safari and petting the tortoises.

So needless to say, this isn't East Africa with it's great safaris, but we did have a pretty good time and enjoyed what West Africa has to offer in Togo.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Home Service brought about a lot of questions.  There are many questions Americans want to know about Africa and missionary life.  A few of our close friends, after asking many questions, joked about printing answers on t-shirts so we could just say “Read number 33, or 1, or 77.”

So, since I have a horrible memory, I’ve asked friends on Facebook to remind me of some of the questions we were asked on home service so that I can answer them all in one blog post.

Q. What question is asked the most?
  1. When do you leave?  Looking back on this, I think people were trying to get rid of us.  Just kidding.  Actually, many times I had to clarify.  Leave the place/town where we currently were or leave the United States to return to the mission field.  Usually people meant the United States, but not always.  We were always on the move while in the U.S.  

Q. Do you like living in Africa?
  1. No and YES.  Someone with us at language school in France once said, “no one really likes living in Africa, we’re going because we’ve been called there.”  I’ve thought this to be true so many times.  This is God’s will, not ours.  A lot of times our personal desires don’t like God’s will, but we are still called to do it.  Most days I can’t stand the heat, bugs, dirt, things not working, etc.  Yet, I do like living here.  It’s home.  It’s simple.  It’s familiar.  Two years ago, there wasn’t anything familiar about living in Africa, but now that we are back from the United States, everything is familiar.  The food, the way we live, the songs we sing in French, the heat, the bugs, the dirt, the stores, the people.  It’s all familiar.  It’s what our kids know and understand best.  And even though I don’t like the heat and things not working well, it’s still nice to be back with the people we've grown to love and care about.  My favorite part of living here is our CLET family.  All the students and their families mean a lot to us.  Wherever you go there will be people to love.  

Q. How can we send you a care package and what kind of things would you like to receive?
  1. I actually got this question a lot and never knew how to answer it.  I’d usually hem and haw my way around it because even though receiving care packages is a lot of fun and we really enjoy them, the shipping is really quite expensive and we really don’t want you to go out of your way.  Actually, just a letter to the kids would mean a lot and costs about 1/100th the price.  Sending a package is around $100.  Whereas an international stamp is just around $1.  The kids love stickers by the way.  If you are so inclined to send a package, feel free to message us for ideas, and please notify us if something is sent so that we might look for it to arrive.  Our address is…
sous Rev. Micah Wildauer
B.P. 53
Dapaong, TOGO

Q. How does she do it?
  1. In Christ all things are possible.  There are days I wonder if I can do it or not, but somehow “it” gets done even when I think it can’t. 

Q. You talked about getting a washing machine to help your clothes last longer, were you able to get one yet?
  1. No, I decided against it for now.  Although this past week I’ve really been wanting a dryer.  It’s rainy season and even after our clothes have been on the line all day they are still as damp as they would be getting them out of a washing machine.  So then we have to place them all around our furniture under the fans all night just to get them mostly dry.  They still feel a little wet, but that’s as dry as they’ll get during this season. It really gets interesting when dealing with cloth diapers.

Q. What has been the hardest thing to overcome?
  1. The fact that things don’t work as well here as they would in the United States.  For example, the Internet, light and fan switches, plumbing, our truck.  It’s extremely hard to find someone who really knows how to fix a problem.  It’s really quite frustrating.

Q. And what has been the easiest?
  1. Loving people.  Everyone wants (and needs) to be loved here.  They don’t have much else.  While in the United States, we noticed among the general population how much focus was put on material goods (My! The amount of advertising Americans take in each day!) and not on the well-being of other people.  We even fell into that trap ourselves.  But here it’s easier to focus on the people more so than the material goods.  Except for when the materials aren’t working right and you waste so much time trying to figure out how to get them to work right.  Bahh!

Q. What is “shopping” like there?
  1. Hard.  It’s hard for me to go shopping.  I have to find a time when my husband is free to take me and willing to stay in the truck with most of the kids, since I don’t know how to drive our manual truck and only want to take 1 maybe 2 kids into the little stores or market with me.  Imagine a ginormous market or city wide garage sale, where every house has things to sell.  That’s kind of what our town looks like everyday.  Our town’s name is Dapaong, which  means market town in the local language.  Everyone is trying to sell something to make some money.  The main roads are lined with little booths of food, clothes (usually discarded from the United States or Europe), tools, electronics, cloth, this and that. There are some stores as well, most are just the size of a small room.  The walls are usually lined with shelves of whatever they are trying to sell with a counter between the owner and the customer.  You tell the owner what you want and they dust it off, put it on the counter, add everything up twice on a big calculator, subtract what you give them to figure out the change to give back, box up the goods, and carry it to the car for you.  There are a few stores that are a little bigger in which you can actually walk around and put the things you want in a basket to take to the “check out.”

Q. Is it what you thought it would be?
  1. I had no idea what to think. I was quite open to whatever it would be like.

Q. What were your kids’ thoughts on being in the US?
  1. When we first arrived in the US they had a lot to take in.  I’ll never forget David staring at and not knowing what green grass was.  Not only were the kids excited to watch TV, but they were even amused by watching a washing machine, dryer, dish washer, and even a water fountain.  It was good for them to learn what those things are, but I think it’s even better that they know they can live with out them.

Q. What did they think when they returned to Africa?
  1. So far our kids have been really excited to be back.  I was a little worried they’d be bored without playgrounds, cousins, friends, Netflix, zoos and the like, but I think they really like it here.  It’s familiar to them and the heat, bugs, and dirt don’t bother them one bit.  Kids don’t always need new and exciting things.

Q. What kinds of foods do you eat there?
  1. Well, so far, since getting back to Dapaong, we’ve had mac and cheese with tuna, green beans, fresh salads, grilled pintade (guinea fowl), grilled goat, bread, cheeseburger soup (with ground donkey meat in lieu of ground beef, because the beef here is chewy and donkey meat tastes about the same as beef in the States), pork ribs, potato salad, yellow melons, bananas.  That’s just a bit of what we eat here.  I wrote a whole post on food sometime last year.

Q. Do you like the local food?
  1. Yes.  I usually have our house helper cook for us twice a week and almost always a local dish.  I especially love when there’s a meal at a church or the seminary though.  They usually serve rice and sauce with a couple pieces of meat.  I have not had a bad sauce yet.  Delicious! 

Q. Do your kids like the local food?
  1. Not so much.  They don’t like spicy food at all and all the sauces are spicy.  They do however chow down on the rice without sauce.  Occasionally they’ll try a piece of meat even though it’s been cooked in the sauce.  They do like the sweet beignets (African doughnuts) though.

Q. Do your kids speak French?
  1. Yes and no.  Sam understands French, but is too shy to speak it.  Liza understands some, but follows Sam’s lead and won’t speak it.  David probably speaks it the most because he’s the most outgoing.

Q.What do your kids do for school?
  1. I homeschool them.

Q. When is your prayer/service time?  Do you do one every day before schooling begins?
  1. We usually pray Responsive Prayer 1, Matins or Morning Prayer first thing, before breakfast, with a focus on the Catechism.  Before the kids go to bed we pray Responsive Prayer 2, Vespers, Evening Prayer, or Compline.  The CLET (the seminary that Micah teaches at) has morning and evening prayers as well which the students lead.  Sometimes we will go to the CLET for evening prayers at 4:30 in lieu of prayers before bed. Of course, those services are all in French.

Q. If so, how much time do you allow yourself before beginning lessons?
  1. I tried starting school right after breakfast, but always had too many things to take care of around the house, so we would often start half an hour to an hour after breakfast.

Q. How do you handle grumbling in the ranks if any grumbling occurs?
  1. Not well.  I usually say something like, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but we’re doing this anyway”.  And move on.  If there are any other ideas from you, I’d love to hear them!

Q. What’s a typical day like for you?
  1. I wake up when the alarm goes off, that is to say, whenever one of the kids wakes me up.  Our house helper comes at 7am to wash dishes and make breakfast.  We say prayers and then eat breakfast while our house helper sweeps and mops the bedrooms.  After breakfast we start school with Catechesis and literature while our house helper cleans the rest of the house and washes our clothes and cloth diapers.  Then the kids are free to play until lunch while I get a few things done and/or cook lunch.  At this time our house helper is either cooking lunch, going to the market, or cutting up fruits and vegetables for us.  After lunch is nap/rest/quiet reading time/a couple more hours of school.  Then the kids are free to play again while I get some work done and make supper.  After supper we play a little bit, get ready for bed, say prayers, put kids to bed, and finally have a couple hours to get some work done without interruptions (if we are lucky).

Q. Do you have running water and electricity?
  1. Most of the time, yes.  We can pretty much bet on the electricity going out a few times during the day, but usually for short spurts.  

Q. What’s your house like?
  1. Check out my last blog post.

Q. What kind of things are you taking back with you?
  1. Toiletries, homeschool supplies, electronics, future gifts for the kids, tools, seasonings, clothes and shoes to last us for two years until our next home service.

Q. How long does it take to fly there?
  1. About 2 hours from St. Louis, MO to Washington D.C.  Short layover in D.C.  8 hours across the ocean to Brussels.  4 hour layover in Brussels.  6 hours down to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.  Plus an 8 hour drive to Dapaong, Togo.

Q. How much does it cost to fly there?
  1. It’s around $1400 round trip.

Q. Can I come and visit?
  1. YES!  You can even look us up on LutheranBNB.

If more questions are asked, I’ll create a sequel to this post.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Flip or Flop?

It took more than a month to fix up our house enough to move in.  So we extended our contract at the old house an extra month.  Moved out on February 28 and still had workers coming to our new (to us) house up until March 18.  Things were done quickly (quantity not quality), yet slowly.  For instance we gave our painters 3 weeks to paint the inside of the house.  The first 2 weeks we barely saw any progress, most of the paint was slopped on the last week, with drips and drops everywhere.  I shouldn’t complain because labor is cheap here, but the cost of the paint and the unnecessary diluent (which is another story in itself) are not cheap.  Unfortunately, the before pictures don't show all the work that needed to be done.  But, fortunately, the after pictures don't show all the little things that weren't done quite right.

 Living Room Before

Living Room After

Dining Room Before

Dining Room After

David...before or after?!?!

Kitchen Before

Kitchen After

Boys' Room Before

 Boys' Room After

Girl's Room Before

Girl's Room After

Master Bedroom Before

Master Bedroom After

It was a very frustrating process, and even though many things aren’t quite the way we wanted them, we are satisfied overall with the transformation.  We are happy to be living here finally, if even just for a month before we leave for home service.

Stay tuned for part 2.  When we return from home service, we plan to flip the exterior, including our future school building. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

September to December

A summary-

Again, I haven’t written a post for awhile.  First, because I’m pregnant and tired ALL THE TIME.  Second, because the last months have been quite depressing.  Our truck has had all kinds of problems, at one point, leaving us without a vehicle for over a week.  We couldn’t seem to get the go ahead on the house we want to move into.  Everything is always breaking.  There’s always lots of bugs in the house.  The Internet stinks.  The water goes out for a couple days, as well as the electricity going in and out.  I could go into detail on all these things, but that would just be more depressing.  So I’ll skip the depressing months and look forward to what I can only hope to be our crazy busy months before heading to the United States for furlough…  January, fix up the house.  February, get settled in at the house.  March, get ready for furlough.  Amongst our normal school routine and being pregnant.  We can do this!

A little more on the house-

We originally planned to stay in our current house for 18 months until another certain house opened up, but after finding out this other house wouldn’t be available, we began looking at other options.  When I first saw the house we are now fixing up, I was quite disappointed, it’s in disrepair and would need a lot of work.  Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of houses to choose from in Dapaong.  This particular house is in a good location in so far as Internet, water, electricity, American friends, and CLET are concerned and is a good size for our family.  I quickly changed my mind and began thinking of how we could fix it up.  The second time I saw the house, after 6 months of waiting on the owner to sign a contract, I was again disappointed, but now we’ve put so many months and thoughts into it and have the keys that we can’t really turn back now.  It’s finally time to “flip that house”!  I hope and pray it looks completely different in 1 month.  Please pray things go smoothly (this will take a lot of prayers, because rarely do things go smoothly it seems), so that I’ll be excited to share before and after pictures in my next post.

Baby update-

We saw our healthy baby via ultrasound 2 days before Christmas.  We were hoping to share with grandparents on Christmas whether they have another granddaughter or grandson, but unfortunately we couldn’t get a clear enough picture to tell.  Maybe this will be our first surprise baby.

Christmas fun with friends-

A fellow LCMS missionary family from Ghana, the McDermotts, came all the way up to Dapaong for Christmas.  Our kids have loved spending time with them (and so have we).  Although the long, napless days have been tiring for this pregnant lady - from playing at the CLET to swimming, decorating Christmas cookies, (long) church services, and enjoying playing with Christmas presents with each other - they had a blast and will miss their new friends.

The Good News-

Our Savior was born on Christmas day to come and take our sins away.  No matter how bad our days seem to get in this sin filled world, we can rejoice in knowing that Christ was born to die for us and rise in victory to forgive all our sins.  Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Summer "Vacation"

The other professors' wives would ask me, “How’s your summer vacation going?”  I’d simply reply, good, but really, there was no vacation about it.  When I hear the word vacation, I think, where are we going?  After traveling so much over the past 2 years, this year has been “boring” (using Sam’s favorite word from this summer).  Even more so because there are no play grounds to go to.  So we often turn our furniture into a playground….

Not everyone was "bored" at home all summer.  Micah was able to travel to Ivory Coast for the ordination of 4 men who graduated from the CLET...  

Meanwhile at home, one of the trees fell over in the back yard and the kids had a new playground…

Micah received an African outfit from one of the churches he visited in Ivory Coast, which Sam was quick to try on. Presenting the wise man of the Wildauer clan...

Micah brought home some cocoa pods from Ivory Coast.  The kids really enjoyed pulling the beans out of the pods and then a few weeks later, after the beans had fermented and dried, we made chocolate…

Our kids playing with the neighborhood kids…

After Sam learned about the 10 highest mountains in the world and mountain climbing in school, we took a little trip to the Grotte aux Greniers de Nagou, otherwise known as the caves in Nagou...  

The actual mountain climbing wasn’t quite what Sam had learned about.  There was a ladder to climb down to the grotto and up when finished, instead of rocks…

Looking into the cave where people used to live…

Climbing down and walking along the mountain side was a challenge at times with the youngest two.  Can you imagine families living on the side of this mountain?…

Our summer “vacation” ended the end of August as the next school year started.  Here’s a picture of all the students and their families… 

And here’s a drawing, by Samuel, of our growing family…

The kids are all super excited to meet their new baby in May!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

1st School Year at the CLET

Our family at the opening and closing services of the CLET’s 2015-2016 school year.  Consider these our first and last day of kindergarten pictures.  One might see how much our kids have gotten bigger or how much Micah has gotten smaller, but I see so much more.  I see just how poorly put together we were back in August.  Living out of our suitcases still after having moved into our house the day before, not knowing how anyone else would be dressed, what was appropriate, what wasn’t.  I remember sitting through the opening service in the far back, watching everyone’s moves, trying to take it all in, on top of translating French to English (to myself in the head) and keeping my kids (half way) under control.  It was exhausting!  The closing service was much different.  I wasn’t watching everyone’s moves.  I’ve (kind of) learned local behaviors.  I didn't have to watch my children.  They were sitting with the other kids and I was sitting with the women’s school and singing and dancing in front of everyone.

We’ve been here through a whole school year.  We arrived in Dapaong just a few days before this past school year started and now we’ve reached the closing of the school year.

A lot of days have felt like the following picture.  Our kids looking like monkeys on display for all to stare at.

The next picture is how we see our kids every day.  Our kids acting like monkeys and we have to somehow raise them up right.

There have been many “boring” days where our kids have just wanted to play with their cousins or friends back in the States or go to a playground, but most days the kids go to bed happy from all the fun they had (especially now that we have a little pool).

We’ve grown a custom to living here (somewhat).  Yet we still have a lot to learn and grow.  Especially our kids… (David planted himself in the garden to grow, and that’s what he’s doing, soaking everything in and growing).

Sam has grown a lot this year.  He started kindergarten in January and is soaking everything in.  He’s learning how to write in cursive and how to read.  He especially enjoys reading books to his sister.  He’s learned a lot about God’s creation, including how plants grow and is enjoying watching his garden grow.

Liza enjoys preschool, whether her teacher is Mama or Sam.  She goofily takes it all in.

In the end, our family has graduated "kindergarten"...but there's still a lot more to learn.