We are going to Togo! – 2016 February Newsletter

DSC08476Happy February!

Did I say WE ARE GOING TO TOGO!  Read all about it in our latest Newsletter.  Our  2016 February Newsletter  is now posted.  Let us share with you what we have been doing and how God’s been working in our lives.  Go to our website under “newsletter” tab or click here.

Please also see our updated prayer requests, pictures and financial pages.

God bless

Fred, Lydia, Noah and Nathanael

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The origin of Ice Cream! and Season Greetings.

Noah continues to be a joy for us.  The other day it was his friends and him that taught us the origins of ice cream (see video below).

Outside of that, just wanting to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  We have one more interview, one more Togo Presentation and a handful of CME (continuing medical education courses) to-go.

By the 11th of December we are hoping to be back in Madison, Indiana for some extended down time and careful / prayerful consideration of our future.

We want to say a sincere THANK YOU to all –  family, friends, those who listen to our Togo Presentation and those who interviewed us for possible jobs despite our uncertainty.

Our present prayer is that HIS direction becomes very clear!

God Bless

Fred, Lydia, Noah and Nathanael




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Summer Newsletter 2015

Nattiers & us

Our Summer Newsletter is now posted!  Let us share with you what we have been doing and how God’s been working.  Go to our website under “newsletter” tab or click here.

Please also see our updated prayer requests, pictures and financial pages.

God bless

Fred, Lydia, Noah and Nathanael

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At Peace and Thank You very much

If I ever thought God talks to me, I would say he does it through the peace he gives me during a crisis and/ or busy time. Our trip back to and our first month back in the USA is 11232904_10204787690271298_2664629645280174490_nno exception. Yes, we have questions about our future –will God open the door for another 30 months in France / Africa? – and, yes, we are busy –9 presentations, 7 interviews –but despite this, we are at peace. And in and with this peace we are given the confidence that He is watching over us, and that everything will work out for his glory.

Our trip back to the US from Togo was long but uneventful –thanking God! We showed up in Indianapolis with 7 of our 8 bags, and into the arms of Lydia’s parents, Dave and Ann Childress and a long-time friend, Kharon. It was nice. Thank you very much!

From there we travelled home to Madison, Indiana and got settled in to our temporaryDSC08779 home for the next 6 months. This was followed with trips to Edgewood, Kentucky; Quincy, Illinois; Bowen, Illinois; and Indianapolis, Indiana where we not only got to meet friends and supporter to share our story and thank them for their support, but tell them about our future plans and ask them if they would be willing to continue supporting us. The response so far has been very encouraging more so for the “familiar” feeling that has been felt in each of these gathering. We are left with no doubt that not only are our blogs and newsletters read on a regular basis, but that we have been prayed for and are loved like family. Thank you very much!IMG_8668

In between our travel schedule we had a Childress family re-union at the home of Dave and Ann. During this time we got to visit with not only Lydia’s parents again, but Lydia’s brother and sister and their families. Since our departure 2 years ago, the grandkids have grown from 3 to 5 with the newest members being Ezra Childress born in November 2014 and Nathanael Pfenniger,DSC08960 born in March 2015. The time was fantastic. We played on a slip and slid, ate barbecue food, shared our presentation, and had a night of fireworks that was fit for a king. I think I can say without a doubt that the grandkids most favorite person is “Granddad”. Thank you very much!

As we head into the month of August our schedule will continue to be busy and it will be so until the beginning of December. Between now and then we will be making 8 more presentation, visiting Samaritan’s Purse headquarters for a debriefing of our time in Togo, possibly attending ABWE orientation program for short term missionaries, making two trips to the West Coast –the first one on August 13 to visit family and pick up our van, and the second in November to attend a week long missions conference. Intermixed in all this will be a number of interviews. We continue to be blessed not only with the support– financial and spiritually –that we have received, but with the understanding people have shown as we take the next six months to investigate, pray, and listen to God and what step He will have us take next. Thank you very much.

Please see our updated prayer request page, picture page and our present level of financial support.

God Bless

Fred, Lydia, Noah and Nathanael

P.S. Our Updated Schedule:

August 6 to 10 Rogers Arkansas
August 13 Fly out to Vancouver BC
August 16 Temple Baptist Tacoma
August 20 Tacoma Family Medicine Residency Tacoma
August 24 to Oct 2nd Multiple states and family medicine clinics
Oct 11 / 12 Milton United Methodist
Oct 13 – 15 Samaritans Purse Headquarters
Oct 17 to 19 Kirksville Missouri
Oct 23 to 26 Fisher Illinois
Oct 28 to 30 ?? ABWE orientation
Nov 7th IWU Marion Indiana
Nov 8 to 15th Temple Baptist Tacoma Washington
Nov 16 – 23 ?? Grandview Michigan
1st week Dec MAG Madison Indiana



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We are going . . .

Oh how time flies. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is upon us. We just started work and now we have just finished work. Our last day of work was June 14th. For the last two weeks we have be doing some visiting, saying our good byes and packing.

DSC08158We were blessed with a trip to Mango in northern Togo where ABWE has opened a new hospital. It was a long tripDSC08270 but well worth it to see what God was doing there through ABWE. It is a beautiful 60 bed facility that is attracting literally bus-loads of sick people from not only Togo but the surrounding countries. On the way home we visited a nature reserve in Kara. There we got to spend some time with three elephants (the only ones in Togo!), who we got to feed and pet. Upon our arrival home we hosted a DSC08366three day open house for the national hospital and clinic staff to come and visit prior to our departure. Seventy-two people showed up! It was truly a refreshing time to spend with so many. During this time words were shared, laughter was had, prayers said, and tearsDSC08382 shed. One thing is for sure that we will miss this place and the people here!

From there we have been packing –reducing our house down from multiple rooms to seven suitcases –and planning for our return, writing emails, setting up doctor appointments, and church presentations and reaching out for funding (to see our present needs and commitments click here). It feels like we are leaving one busy place for another. At the same time we are excited, nervous, happy, and anxious in anticipating the transition/change that is in progress, not sure of where we will end up but at peace that God is in control.

God Bless

Fred, Lydia, Noah and Nathanael


P.S. Our present schedule is such:

July 4th -5th                                            ⇒ flying home, Madison Indiana

July 7Th                                                  ⇒ Florence Kentucky, Grace Fellowship

July 9th / 13th / 14th / 15th / 16th           ⇒ doctor / dentist appointments

July 16th-19th ?                                  ⇒Florence/Edgewood, KY

July 22 to July 27th                             ⇒ Quincy Illinois, Bowen Christian Church – Quincy Family Medicine Residency Program

July 29 to Aug 3rd                                 ⇒ Madison Indiana, Childress family reunion

Aug 5th to Aug 10th                                ⇒ Rogers, Arkansas

Aug 13th ??                                             ⇒ flying out to Vancouver BC

Aug 15 /16 / 17                                      ⇒ Tacoma Washington, Temple Baptist Church

Aug 18th to Oct 7th                                  ⇒ Travel back to Madison Indiana visiting family / friends / supporters / clinics; exact schedule – route still to be defined; need to visit multiple states

Oct 11 / 12th                                            ⇒ Milton, Kentucky, Milton United Methodist Church

Oct 16 / 17 / 18 / 19 ??                         ⇒ Kirksville, Missouri

Oct 20 to 26th ??                                    ⇒ Fisher, Illinois

Oct 27 to 30th                                         ⇒ Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (ABWE)

Nov 7th                                                     ⇒ Marion, Indiana, Indiana Wesleyan University

Nov 8th to Nov 15                                   ⇒ Tacoma Washington, Temple Baptist Missions Conference

P.P.S. See our updated (or soon to be) pictures and prayer page as well  AND please email us (mail@fredandlydia.com) if you would like to see if we can “squeeze you in” to our visiting schedule 😉




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Spring Newsletter 2015

Picture.tifAnd he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us . . . . 
Acts 17:26-27

Our Spring Newsletter is now posted!  Let us share with you where we’re going and when and how God’s been working.  Go to our website under “newsletter” tab or click here.   Hope you are having a blessed new year.

Please also see our updated prayer requests as we head into this new year and our updated pictures.

God bless

Fred, Lydia, Noah and Nathanael

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It’s Back and He’s Here!!

It’s amazing what a difference no internet access makes! We are very thankful to finally be “back on the air” –though our internet is limited, it is something, which is better than the nothing we had for a little over seven weeks! So in case you’ve been wondering about the “silence” from the Pfennigers –this is why.

DSC07406A lot has happened in the past few weeks. The major and most important event was the birth of our son, Nathanael Yawo Pfenniger, who was born March 19th at 9:30 pm. (Yawo is Ewe, the local language here, for Thursday. Togolese tradition is to name your baby based on the day they were born, so there is a boy and girl name for every day of the week.) Starting at about 8 months pregnant we had been blessed with three different OB’s who gave up time with family and vacation time to come out here to Togo for two weeks each, not only to help in the hospital but also to be there for the birth of our son. First was Dr. DSC03859Becky Haak from Indianapolis, Indiana, who not only helped in covering the hospital and clinic but also helped to recruit the second doctor that came out as she was getting ready to leave. Dr. Teresa Brown, from Evansville, Indiana, left 4 kids and a husband at home to help us here as well. Dr. Brown walked with me twice part way up the mountain in hopes of “kick-starting” some labor without NK2_7884-001success. There was one evening, when we thought it might happen, but after an hour of regular contractions, they disappeared. Her son Josh had come with her and was very helpful in hospital ministry and in watching and playing with not only Noah, but other missionary kids here too. Then as she was leaving, in came Dr. Melodie Stocks, from Kirksville, Missouri, who left 3 kids and a husband at home as well. Thank you so much to the families of these three ladies who gave them up for this time!!

On Dr. Stock’s second day here in Togo, she got to deliver our beautiful little boy! After DSC07390two hours of labor and three pushes Nathanael arrived in the HBB hospital. He weighed 2.6 kg (5.72 lb) and was 47 cm (18.5 inches) long. In the first few hours of life his oxygen level was lower than what was expected and he was requiring oxygen by nasal cannula. Due to this prolonged need for oxygen there was some real concern that maybe he had a cardiac problem and an emergency flight team was contacted to start the process in case this was needed. An x-ray and echocardiogram here at HBB were reassuring and then a final echo down in Lomé verified that all was normal – Nathanael has been cleared of any medical concerns, for which we are very grateful and truly thanking God for! It’s amazing how God can use times like these to strengthen your faith in him, especially when there are so many “what if. . . ?“ questions.

DSC07424His big brother Noah was very excited and happy to first meet his baby brother –he didn’t quite understand why Nathanael couldn’t get up and come play with him as of yet. Noah has done well adjusting to the changes in the home. About a week after he was born we were blessed as several Togolese hospital employees came by in the morning to give a DSC07431traditional “welcoming” to the baby, which involved singing, reading of scripture, and prayer, this was an event that truly touched our hearts –Fred was close to tears.

Thank you very much for all of your prayers with regards to the pregnancy, delivery, and healthy baby! We both had about a week off after the birth, which was much needed, and Lydia will be taking a few weeks off and then returning to work at the beginning of May.

We also very much want to thank Dr. Haak, Brown, and Stocks, these women not only took the time away from family and work to be with us and then jumped right in to help us in covering maternity and the OB clinic, but they also intentionally took time to minister to us as a couple and personally –we felt very blessed by them!

God bless and hope and pray that you had a meaningful Easter!

Please check out our pictures and prayer page over the next few days as we will be updating these soon –finally!



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2014 Belated Christmas Newsletter

DSC07229Our Belated Christmas news letter is now posted!  Go to our website under “newsletter” tab or click here.   Hope you are having a blessed new year.

Please also see our updated prayer requests as we head into this new year and our updated pictures.

God bless

Fred, Lydia and Noah


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The Tale of Two Ladies

DSC06974She walked into the door with a 25 week pregnancy and ruptured membranes (her water had broke) –the prognosis was poor.

In the US a baby has a chance for living after 24 weeks and as such, and at this time, interventions are done to increase the chance of survival. The mom is given steroids to help mature the baby’s lungs and antibiotics to discourage labor. Once born, the baby would have access to surfactant (a medication for the lungs), a ventilator, IV nutrition and a slew of specialist. Here we can do only the steroids, antibiotics, CPAP (some pressurized oxygen), and IV fluids (no nutrition). And in terms of specialist, what can I say, have you met Dr. Lydia, Dr. Fred and Dr. Russ the pediatrician?

In Togo we believe the age of viability is 27 weeks, not 24 due to a lack of ventilators, surfactant and specialists. But because all things are possible under God, we usually attempt treatment at 24 weeks.

She’d come all the way to see us from Lomé, she had only one living child with a history of multiple pregnancy losses, and she’d come because she heard that we could help her. We discussed with her the gravity of the situation and the very big limitations that we had at this stage in the pregnancy. We prayed with her and then put her on bed rest in the hospital, did the few medical interventions that we could do and put her and the baby in God’s hands.

If you’ve ever had to lay in bed for a long period of time, it’s not very fun and let alone when you’re pregnant and worried. This was a challenging time for her, but little did she know the real challenge was about to come. It was about a week and a half later and she went into full labor in face of anything we could do to help. The baby was born and immediately started on all treatments that we could provide at this young of an age. The physical challenge for the mom was over, but now the physical challenge for the baby and the emotional challenge for the mother was just beginning.

After 48 hours of requiring CPAP, we were able to switch her to regular oxygen and over a period of weeks was able to wean her off this. She was placed on medication to keep her from having spells of not breathing (common in premies) and she was placed on antibiotics and blood tests were done. In addition a tube was placed running from her nose to her stomach –as babies at this age do not have the ability to breast or bottle feed and with high risk of aspirating the fluid into their lungs. Despite all of the challenges of being a premie and needing to come off and on antibiotics during her stay here, she actually did remarkable well, considering all the premies we’ve delivered and worked with, helped and lost, she is one of the youngest we’ve had and one of the ones that has done so well.

During this time it was not without its emotional challenges for the mom –she spent over 6 weeks in the hospital day and night to be there for this baby. Though we have nurses –realize that the majority of care of patients falls to the family. Also, realize most of this time she was sleeping on the floor and buying just the basics of nutrition from alongside the road outside the hospital (there are no local restaurants nearby). We’d talked to her about the time she would need to stay in the hospital after the baby was born, but it is not easy to fully comprehend what that means until your there. There were several mornings when she would have tears slipping down her cheeks as she tried to keep her emotions at bay –she was tired, not fully rested, anxious to be at home with her husband and family, and to be able to get the food she was used to. It was those times, we hugged her, encouraged her, and prayed with her. I know that during these times she thanked God for the life of her baby and still does to this day! We have enjoyed watching this baby grow.

DSC06976She came in to the medical clinic because of fluid in her belly –she looked like she was 9+ months pregnant. She was admitted into the hospital because of ascites (extreme fluid accumulation in her belly) that had failed initial outpatient treatment. As a part of a “normal” work-up a pregnancy test was done and surprise of all surprises she was found to be pregnant.

Further work up gave her a diagnosis of Hepatitis B and thus the cause of her ascites and a 24 week pregnancy. In the US, Hepatitis B can be treated and possibly cured. Treatment is carried out by specialist. Here we do not have the medication nor the specialist. Here we cannot treat to cure, we can only treat her symptoms. Complicating her pregnancy is the ascites and vice versa. The baby cannot grow if the uterus is restricted by the ascites and this can be a major point of concern. We did not know if we could help her, let alone if she would survive this pregnancy.

The gravity of the situation was discussed with her and treatment was started. Over the following twelve weeks, she went from 98 Kg to 55 kg and at 36 plus week, she delivered a healthy baby. But this is not the whole story.

Throughout her twelve weeks with us, she was cared for, loved, and prayed for. During her time here, she made the decision to follow Christ. After that whenever we saw her, it was always with her Bible open and her reading some portion of scripture. In this time she seemed to almost always reflect a spirit of gratitude and gentleness.

These are the tale of two ladies who we had the chance to come to know very well due to their long stay in the hospital and multiple doctor visits. We were challenged by the gravity of both of their situations. There were a lot of discussions over how to handle their care. We were blessed by how God worked not only physically in the lives of the moms and babies, but also how they were touched spiritually during this challenging time for both of them. Thank you so much again for the way that you pray for us, encourage us and give to the ministry here in Togo –these are at least four lives that you’ve had the chance to be a part of and give to.

Thank you so much and God bless.

See our updated prayer requests and a few new pictures

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…here a little while, then it’s gone.

IMG_1130“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” James 4:14

How true this rings for us all. But there are times in our life when we are reminded of this more so than other times.  She was 24 years old and came into the hospital with nausea and vomiting and pregnant. At first glance this seemed like it was a simple case of “hyperemesis gravidarim” (extreme nausea and vomiting due solely to pregnancy –not uncommon), but within a short time this proved not to be the case. She’d started having problems with mid-chest/upper abdominal discomfort and some nausea about 2 years prior but had been told it was most likely gastritis and/or an ulcer. She was given medications and diet guidelines to help; however, things hadn’t improved and with the pregnancy had only gotten worse, to the point where she had lost several pounds of weight and wasn’t able to keep anything down. She was somewhere around 6 months pregnant when we first saw her.

On her first admission a scope was done to look down into her stomach and that was when the mass was found, in the lower part of her esophagus.  Later during that stay in the hospital a tube was surgically placed through her abdomen into her stomach so that she could start getting nutrition. In the initial scope a biopsy was taken and sent to the US, where a doctor could look at it and give us a diagnosis. The difficulty is waiting, waiting for someone to be able to transport it to the US and then waiting 4-6 weeks for the results.

We’d scheduled a follow-up visit around the time when we thought we would have the results back. It was that day that I will remember. The one thing about Togolese, that I am still getting used to, is that they do not tend to show emotion, especially in a hard situations. Mothers going through a miscarriage or having just delivered a dead baby seem to show little to no emotion and want little to do with the baby. Husbands, also seem to be remote and distant with emotion. It may be a protective mechanism as they see and experience death so much more frequently than we do in the US.  And that was what I was expecting as we shared the grave news with the husband and wife.

We told them that the biopsy result was positive for cancer, and that if it had spread, that her chance of survival was minimal. If it hadn’t spread that there was nothing the hospital could do for her here, and that she would need to go to Ghana as there are no oncologists in Togo.  This in itself is a huge financial challenge for any family, and this couple did not appear to be in any way well-off.   Then the question came, despite what we had just explained, “Wasn’t there something that we could do to help her?!” Outside of sharing the love of Christ with her, there was nothing medically that we could do for her. Then came a response that we had not expected, the husband broke down crying and again asking, “Please wasn’t there something that the hospital could do for her?!” He didn’t need to say in words that he loved her –it was written all over his face and in his actions.   We prayed for them, asking God that somehow He would work in their lives during the remainder of the pregnancy and what was to come afterwards, that God’s love and Jesus’ life, death, and salvation would become something real to them.

Weeks later and close to term (9 months), she was induced and delivered a healthy baby boy.  On discharge, we were talking to the husband again about what were the next steps. Ideally, they needed to go to the referral hospital first, but the cost of the trip and the initial consultation will be extremely expensive, and they were struggling just to pay the bill for what we had done for them a few months ago. The other step was to go for further testing in Lomé to evaluate her chance of a successful medical/surgical treatment, or if things were “too far gone.” As I am explaining things and talking with them, the same questions come up, “Please, isn’t there some medicine we can give her that will make her better? Or at least help her?!” My heart breaks for them and I say a prayer as I explain to them again that there is nothing medically that we can do for them. I explain that at this time our sole hope rests with God’s help and that I pray that during their time here they have come to understand more the love and grace of Jesus.

That was just a few weeks ago, and they have not come back in for their follow-up appointment, so I cannot tell you what the outcome is nor can I tell you that her and her husband have made a decision to follow Christ. But I have been and will continue to pray for her, her husband, and their new baby as they go through this very challenging, life changing process. I’m praying that not only will God physically intervene but that spiritually He will work in their lives and that somehow they will come to know and accept God’s love, grace, and salvation. Please join with us in praying for this family and the struggles that they have already and will be facing over the next few weeks to months.

God bless and May you have a blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends.

If you haven’t already -check out our updated prayer requests and pictures.

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