At the end of November 2021, we learned that jihadists had attacked northern Togo. They had been causing havoc in Burkina Faso, bordering northern Benin and Togo, for a couple of years. I sensed Benin would be next.
Eventually, we heard the terrorists were meeting not far from the Benin border, talking about how they would take over, closing churches and schools. I worked rapidly, getting all our documents together and sorting through everything we would need to take during a quick exit. Our house is only about 45 km (28 miles) from the border, and I, being a foreigner, would face the threat of kidnapping. I told Ester, my student missionary (SM), to live out of a packed suitcase. While this situation was unfolding, I was harvesting the fields and preparing to leave on furlough.
The jihadists then attacked the border, and the army fought back.
During the second week of December 2021, as Fidel remained on the farm, my SM and I took her belongings to Natitingou, the other project, to finish her year of service; she could not stay on the Pendjari project as the only female. We then left for Cotonou in the south to work on her visa. While there, we picked up another SM arriving for the Natitinghou project. Meanwhile, the police, concerned for our safety, told Fidel to get us out of the area, and he informed them that we were already away.
Finally, Fidel and I left for our furlough in the States. While we were gone, jihadists attacked the Benin border and shot a couple of military personnel. A few terrorists entered the area, coming in with cows and posing as Fulani herders. Some others arrived on motorcycles but did not attack.
When our furlough ended, we headed back to Benin. Soon after arriving in Tanguieta, there was a late-night attack on the police station about 20 minutes from our house. Some police officers were shot and wounded. A few days later, jihadists attacked during the day. I no longer felt comfortable at the house, and Fidel decided I needed to take the children we care for and leave. While I started packing the truck with what we would need to live elsewhere, Fidel drove to the town 50 km away to see if he could find us a place to rent. As soon as the children and I had the truck loaded, we left for Natitingou and visited Uli Baur.
Fidel found us a house a bit outside of Natitingou where it was nice and calm. The property included three houses and a courtyard. We moved in with a mattress, sheets, mats, a few pots and pans, a charcoal burner and some clothes. Since we had no chairs, we sat on the floor. Because there was no gas, we cooked over charcoal. The children were bored with nothing to do, but we were safe and had electricity and running water.
Fidel and I settled in and found a nice second-hand mattress; I had only arrived with a twin-sized one. I made a couple of shelves out of wood boxes used for delivering our motorcycles. I also made two more trips to Tanguieta during the relative safety of the day to get other needed items. Since this time, Fidel has continued to stay for the night and leave the next morning.
Jihadists came to our house in Tanguieta a few months ago to try and steal our cows, but God filled them with fear, and they fled before our guard and one of our dogs. They tried again, only getting away with our turkeys. They did, however, steal seven cows from our Fulani neighbor.
It is the harvesting season again, and Fidel is at the farm with the workers. The children and I remain at the place in Natitingou that Fidel found for us, waiting for Tanguieta to be safe again. We live in an area where other ex-pats have fled.
We have since purchased a fridge, my first since 2014, and now have a couch and a few plastic tables I brought back from Tanguieta. Gas came to the country again, and I filled my bottles. I also nailed a mosquito net over the door to diminish the fly population filling my house. Currently, I am raising 400 chicks in boxes at the house. Once they can care for themselves, they will go to the farm. Since we have electricity, one of the older children and I are making an egg hatcher. Soon the number of chicks should increase. As soon as we can get the proper amps to the electrical box, we will bring the printing press here so I can continue working.
Although times can be unpredictable, we serve a faithful God. Thank you for your continued prayers.