- Liz Ortiz
Things have Changed
“Things have changed” wasn’t a phrase I was expecting to say over and over again during my final weeks in Togo, while I was covering the gap for the sign-language teacher. But, I also wasn't expecting the announcement, just 3.5 weeks ago, that the ASL teacher wasn't coming back at all. I was scrambling those last few weeks, trying to figure out what to do with my deaf students. What will happen with Jonas?
It breaks my heart to leave, but I know it's my time. A friend told me that “God’s plan doesn’t mean it matches up with my plan.” This was a reminder I needed. Although hard to leave, I have to let go and trust God. He loves the deaf and Jonas far more than I ever could. He will care for them.
The last Tuesday I went to Amou Oblo, my heart was heavy. Jonas greeted me with the same big smile. It felt like a regular Tuesday until I told the teachers that I was leaving. Jonas’ teacher wanted me to teach her everything I could. The staff tried to convince me to stay. I had to explain that I couldn’t.
I don’t know what the future holds for Jonas with no ASL teacher to take over. We met with his mother to encourage her to send Jonas to a public deaf school, but it's not close, and it might cost more than his family can afford. Please pray for wisdom in this situation. Please pray for Jonas. It was the hardest saying goodbye to him, because he doesn’t understand that I’m leaving. People leaving is a foreign concept to him. The next few weeks are going to be hard as he wonders why his friend just disappeared.
I shared with a friend several months ago that I had really missed painting. I wasn’t able to bring my paint set from home because I didn’t have room in my suitcase. My Bible study group from church sent me a care package that included a watercolor paint set. I was filled with joy! Not only have I been able to paint again, but I have been able to use it in ministry. I’ve had several paint nights and paint lessons. A simple gift has made for big opportunities. Your emails, notes of encouragements, and care packages have meant the world to me this year. I can’t thank you enough.
In 2016, I came out to Togo for the first time on ABWE’s storyteller’s workshop. Stanley Leary, a media professional and consultant for Chick-fil-A, was one of my instructors for the workshops. The Hospital is in the process of a major expansion. ABWE asked Stanley to come back to Togo to work with Hannah and me on a video for this project. It's been a blessing to have Stanley here Togo, and I've enjoyed being able to observe and learn from him some more. I can’t wait to show you the video we worked on!
The last few weeks have been very full days. Lots of good byes, last minute phone calls for one more game night, selling/giving stuff away, and of course packing. As I stepped off the plane onto US soil, I was overwhelmed by the chilly temperatures! In Togo, we were entering into hot season. The temperatures last week were in the 100s! Although the adjustment to winter is difficult, it felt amazing to feel my family’s warm embrace again.
I’m spending my first week back in TN at my grandparents with my family. I’m grateful I can be with my family during Thanksgiving. I have so much to be thankful. I thank God for my time in Togo. Although some days were hard, I thank God for those too. Every morning I would recite Psalm 100.
“Shout triumphantly all the Earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness.
Come before Him with joyful songs.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God.
He made us, we are His.
His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with Thanksgiving, and His courts with praise.
Give thanks to the Lord and Praise to His name.
For the Lord is good and His love is eternal.
His faithfulness endures through all generations.”
Praise God for the developing deaf ministry!
Praise God that Stanley could come to Togo!
Praise God for finishing my first year in Togo!
Praise God for safely returning to the States!
Pray for provision of a vehicle for me. My van had to be sold.
December 3rd, I fly to Harrisburg, PA to ABWE headquarters for a debriefing.
Pray for safety in travel.
Pray for a productive debrief time.
Pray for grace for me as I transition back to the States.
Pray for Jonas and his family as they decide his future.
Pray for wisdom for deaf ministry in Togo.
Pray God’s direction as I consider full time missions
Pray for an ASL interpreter – big opportunity for one!