God always provides!

Today we have been shown greatly the goodness and provision of God.

Over the past month and a half, I (David) have been looking for a job to provide for us now that God is bringing us back to the US. I’ve been knocking on all sorts of doors waiting to see what will open. 15 applications, to be exact. Of those, 10 have replied, 5 have done at least a preliminary interview by phone or one in person, and had 2 full interviews, one about three weeks ago in Connecticut, the other this past Wednesday in Boston.

It has been a very informative search; I can’t imagine what kind of difficulties other pilots go through, particularly those with less time than my over 1,000 hours. On top of all that, we’ve been trying to prioritize towards jobs that would allow me to be home more often than not, which is hard to find among most pilot jobs.

Finally, this afternoon, I got a phone call from the pilot recruiter for Cape Air, the company I interviewed with last week. Within a matter of seconds, our hopes for a job went from hopeful to ecstatic. They’ve offered me a job! Of the group of 10 that I interviewed with, 5 of us will be hired. To top it off, we had been shown the spaces left available for the next several training classes. I was offered the soonest class, starting September 7, which will affect my seniority within the company once we get going, and which also gives me more options for where to base compared to my fellow interviewees. It’s the best situation I could possibly get right now for this position with Cape Air. One last verification of some questions with the chief pilots, and I hope to move forward with the job!

Unless we miraculously get a job offer from Corning, Inc. just down the road from us here in NY within the next couple days. That would be an absolute miracle considering we’re currently at the step of “friends within the company are looking into it and asking around,” but I suppose anything can happen with God.

The other providence of God today has come in the form of a specific answered prayer. A couple weeks ago, my mom’s father passed away at 93 ½, just 10 weeks after my grandpa on my dad’s side passed away. The memorial service for Grandpa Goude is this week, and I really wanted to make it to CA for it, but we didn’t have the money for me to make the trip. At all. But I prayed about it, and I let God know that I’d really like to be there, but I refuse to buy on credit to get there.

Also happened today, my mom called to say a friend had saved up money for us, and wanted to help me get to the service. Not knowing our needs, she gave almost exactly the amount we needed for me to get to SoCal in time, and I quickly bought the ticket.

God is so good, and His mercy endures forever!

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Farewell

Our dear friends, supporters, and prayer warriors,

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Over the past few months, we have spent a large amount of time in prayer and reflection concerning our work in Chad.  Through this time of careful soul-searching, we have confirmed that God has called us out of Chad.We have hesitated to make this public because we do not know where our next step will be, whether we will continue as missionaries, or return to the workforce in America.  It is also humbling because some regard us as heroes, and stepping away from that will be seen as cowardice, poor spiritual strength or endurance, or ignoring God’s calling in our lives and running away like Jonah.  But we are confident that God is leading us, and that He will make our next step clear to us.

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Thank you all for your support and love throughout our time in Chad.  Really, from the depths of our heart, thank you!  You brought us encouragement, strength, and hope.  You were God’s hands supplying all our needs.  You made an impact in the lives of hundreds of babies, as well as all who hear the gospel through the continued ministry of the aviation program.  We literally could never have done any of it without you, your prayers, and your support.  Thank you!

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We ask your prayers as we seek God’s next step in our lives.

With love,

David & Sarah

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Rest

Thank you for all the prayers and encouragement these past few weeks. We will be taking a break and going back to New York this coming week. We are looking forward to time to reflect and rest. Thanks again for your continued prayers. 
With love,

Sarah

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What I Wish I Knew Before Going into the Mission Field:

Did you know…?

“In Holmes and Rahe’s original study on stress, they found that when people scored 200 points or more in a given year the cumulative stress had an impact well beyond that year. They found that 50% of those scoring 200 points were hospitalized within the subsequent two years for heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, or severe illness. The average cross cultural worker scores around 600 points. With around 800-900 points the first year of ministry.” (Heartstream ministries).

I was curious what our score for that same test would be from this past year. Sure enough, we are just like most cross culture workers scoring more than 600 points in a given year. And I thought this year was going better than the previous two years we have spent in Chad…

The truth is, this past year we had a lot of stress building up ready to explode like a time bomb. After having our amazing beautiful baby boy, just two weeks later we were on the road covering 25 states mostly by car going for 5 months doing presentations and attending General Conference and Adventist Layman-Services and Industries along the way. The whole time we didn’t have a home or bed to call our own for more than two weeks at a time.

We were so ready to go back to our simple life in Africa but then things got complicated. There was a mass missionary evacuation in Chad and we weren’t sure whether to go back or to stay in the states longer. So we had to change our tickets at the last minute and drive from Denver to New York one last time. Once in New York, David left for Chad without Joel and I for two weeks. We finally met up with him there and we were ready to get back into our “normal” daily routine here if that really exists. But the first night I spent in Chad I got very sick and found out that David also got really sick as soon as he got back onto Chadian soil. We laughed it away as a nice welcome home, but in reality, was it our bodies just telling us they were done with all the traveling and stress we had put them through?

We re-adjusted back into speaking French, no electricity, constant misunderstandings, corruption, and so many other things that resemble normal to us. As I write this Joel is playing in a termite mound. You get the point; things are different here and it takes time to cross cultures.

Although, stress builds up here too. From goat strikes, to non-operating fuel selectors, to needing a long list of airplane parts, the plane has been down for roughly 7 months. It has been one roadblock to the next. Volunteers also came one after the other and I was cooking for all of them without a refrigerator. Then we finally had a “break” going to the game park, but David was sick the whole time and was working 6-7 hours a day. Then we finally moved into our new house with electricity and clean water! After the move we both got very sick for several months and we now realize that must have been our bodies telling us again that enough is enough! Soon after, David’s grandpa’s health declined and he then passed away, so David went back to the states for two weeks to be with family during the difficult time. While he was gone, I got sick again from the stress of being alone here, and then Joel got malaria. After that David finally came back home and got tonsillitis. And now my uncle just got diagnosed with cancer and is struggling for his life.

There’s our year in a nutshell. Not to mention, people coming to us during this time with requests of loans to feed their families, and mothers needing money to pay for their severely malnourished child’s medical bill, and church members coming to ask for help with their child’s school bill, and a constant bombardment of requests for us to help them.

This is just this past year. All along our journey of 2 ½ years of mission work we have dealt with a lot of change and a lot of stress that has just been building up over time. Our breaks have been for language school and always trying to increase awareness of our projects, which really isn’t a break at all.

But we realize something we never saw before: we are burned out. No wonder we feel so compassionless, so dissatisfied with our work, so discouraged, and broken. Because when you live like this, your re-charge time is eaten up by knocks at the door, and the time you have with your spouse is always at a cost of that or more sleep, and the time you take with God can be missed or shortened because of a crying baby or running out of gas for the stove while trying to make breakfast. There is always something demanding our attention it seems.


So, what is it that I wish I knew before going into foreign missions? I wish I knew that it is a common thing for missionaries to burn out. One blog I have been reading said that, “The statistics are scary: 80% of missionaries burn out and don’t finish their term. 46% of missionaries have been diagnosed with a psychological issues, and of those 87% are diagnosed with depression.” I wish I knew this so we could have been building in real breaks and boundaries all this time. I wish we could have realized, the front lines that mission work is, that it’s common to have casualties and wounds and side effects of the war, so to speak.

So now you know… we are burned out, spent, and adrenaline fatigued. We need a break. A real break without presentations or meetings to go to or prepare. A time to restore back to health and recover from being on the front lines of working for God. I know you never would have known if we never told you so we wanted to make our needs clear. We don’t have the funds to do this and we feel selfish for asking for a vacation, but if we don’t we know we won’t last much longer in overseas service.

 

During this time we ask for your prayers and your support whether it be monetary or emotional. We love all of you and know we are safe to say these things because you care for us and you want to see the work move forward just like we do. Thank you for always being there for us.

 

With love,

Sarah

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Bob Macomber

I look out the airplane window as we approach N’Djamena. There are storms in the area, and lightening lights up the clouds with flashes of brilliance. The desert below me is blocked from view by the dust, which covers the landscape like a layer of fog. Sunset comes, making the sky a brilliant royal blue, casting light on the clouds, and long shadows behind. The beauty, marking the end of the Sabbath, inspires me to quietly sing to God.

“Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer,
That calls me from the world of care,
And bids me, at my Father’s throne,
Make all my wants and wishes known.

In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief.
And oft escaped the tempers snare,
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer.”

Tears well up in my eyes as my song triggers memories of another flight, not even two weeks before.

It was night, and the lights of towns and cities shone up at me. Water refracted the light of the moon. There were also thunderstorms in the area. But this time, I was not admiring the view. Suspended in the air above southeast Michigan, my heart was 2,000 miles away, beside a bed in Riverside Community Hospital, where my dad, his four siblings and their mother were gathered to sing and celebrate the life of their father and husband, the Honorable Judge Robert D. Macomber.

He served in Europe during World War II, then spent 10 years teaching Chemistry before deciding to go back to school to fulfill a life-long dream to be an attorney. After some time, he became a judge, which he continued in until retirement. Even after he retired, my grandpa would sit in as a visiting or substitute judge in various courthouses throughout Southern California until 2012, when he was 86. He was well-respected by all, and widely regarded as one of the most straight-forward and integrous judges. In appreciation for his service to the city, the La Sierra Branch of the Riverside Public Library was named after him.

My dad emailed me about a month ago that Grandpa was slowing down, and starting to fall regularly. With several other family members in poor health, I had mentioned to Jonathan that I or we may have to leave soon for a funeral. So when Grandpa fell and cracked a vertebra, I was on high alert. A day or two later he was moved to the ICU for reasons unrelated to the fall, so after consulting with my Dad, I left Sarah and Joel at home, and jumped a bus to N’Djamena Monday night, heading back to the US. By the time I reached my last layover in Washington DC on Wednesday night, the decision had been made to remove my grandpa’s life support at 9:30pm and let him pass into the sleep of death, surrounded by his family, singing hymns and sharing stories.

Thus it was, at that set time, that I found myself on the plane, looking out over the Great Lakes, bawling and singing with songs of my own. He died that same night, just an hour after I arrived home to Denver. I then continued on to California to be with the family.

I can’t tell you all the courts where Grandpa Mac served, or the various boards he sat on. But I can tell you he was a man who lived his passion, and loved his family. As kids, we went to their river house in Arizona during the summer. We rode the Colorado River on jet-skis, and boated all over Lake Havasu, my grandpa smiling at the controls the entire time. When we saw each other, he’d often greet us, “Who dat?” The proper reply was always, “who dat who say ‘who dat’?” Then, “who dat who say ‘who dat’ when I say who dat?” He would keep going with more who dats than my young mind could ever process, and laugh as I stuttered through an attempt to add even more. He always had witty little comments that came out at unexpected times. For instance, one day, when we were eating mixed peas and carrots for lunch, he reminded us all to “eat every carrot, and pee on your plate.”

Praise God for the life that he lived, and the example he was. Praise God for the hope and promise of the resurrection. I can’t wait to see him again.

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The New House

The new house at the hospital has been such a blessing! Our lives have been transformed by the change in pace, the niceties that electricity brings, and the greater space to live in. No longer do we have to be wary in our own house of people coming right up and looking in on half the house through our screen. No longer are beggars coming by 24/7 to beg money for stuff that many of them could get by a day’s work (we do help those who can’t). But I (David) wasn’t fully convinced that it was the right move.
Ever since we came back to Chad in October, I had been trying to figure out ways to get us electricity. We ran a generator during times when we really needed it, like blending up Joel’s meals, running lights for a game night, etc., but it wasn’t very practical to start it every night for our small needs while we wanted to talk to each other at the end of the day. The generator, sitting just outside our screened porch, made it difficult to hear each other.  

The ideal would be to get new solar panels, I thought, but to get them we’ll have to wait over a year for them to be shipped and arrive, and then install them. If we bought the panels in-country (which we didn’t have the money for anyways), we needed a way to secure them so they didn’t just get stolen again. And I didn’t know how to do that. I prayed and prayed that God might make a way for us to have a fridge.  

In January, our evangelical friends, who lived just on the other side of the runway, decided they needed more education, so they moved back to the Minnesota for 18-24 months, to return to Chad afterwards. I asked them if we could borrow the panels while they were gone, but they just said, “Sorry, they’re already in storage in Kelo.” I had thought that God was going to make electricity possible through that, so I was confused, but we continued to wait on God’s solution to the problem, even as our house was feeling smaller and smaller with Joel moving more and more.

The fridge would have been so good for us with all our volunteers that we were feeding. My poor wife; feeding up to 5 hungry guys plus herself every meal, without refrigeration! She started cooking at 6am, and didn’t really stop until about 7pm… It made us realize how frustrated Martha, in the bible, had to have been with Mary not helping with all those guests! Things had to change; but how?

Finally the opportunity came to move to the hospital. What an answer to prayer! Except… who would take care of the airplane, and make sure there weren’t issues during the night? What would happen to our little house? We couldn’t just leave Jonathan and Melody there at the airport without anybody else around! 

Finally, God convinced me that those were His problems, not mine, and that I shouldn’t turn away from the answer that He has provided for my family. Commuting to work has turned out to be a great blessing. It helps me stay focused and intent on finishing the task I’ve set out to accomplish for the day. I’ve been able to have worship with the daily helpers (something I’d never been able to do before). My prayer time and worship time have greatly improved, my countenance is changed; everything is better! I’ve never been so content and satisfied with life in Chad as I am now. Truly, God has pulled us out of a bad situation that was wrought with stresses beyond what we could handle.

I still don’t feel 100% comfortable being at the hospital with Jonathan and Melody at the airport on their own. I still don’t like the fact that something could happen to the airplane and I wouldn’t be there to take care of it. I still regret that the living situation there is so bad (which shows why nobody at the airport could last longer than a year here besides Jonathan and Melody; their strength and endurance is amazing! They have an awesome solar system, which they enjoy at their house now). I will not have someone else come to join our work full-time if we don’t have an adequate-sized house with refrigerator and electricity for them to live in; it would be a permanent disservice to them, and put shame on the cause of God. Yes, things will always be hard in the mission field, but why make it harder than it already is? Rant over.

Our lives are greatly improved with the blessing of living at the hospital, and we thank God so much for opening the way! While my heart is still in Bendele, and I can’t wait to build a house down there with everything we need, I am thankful for having had the challenges of life without electricity or running water. Every sip of cold water, every breeze from the fan, every second of seeing my wife’s face after 7pm is sweeter now, after having been without for over 2 years. Truly, feed on the faithfulness of God, who, in His perfect time, has made us appreciate even the smallest joys. His goodness endures forever. 

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Kyle the IA

Arriving home from Zakouma Friday afternoon, I had to rush to get ready. Our airplane inspector from the US was arriving! I had made all the arrangements beforehand to get him from the airport on Thursday, registered at the police, and on a bus to Kelo by Friday morning. As the bus crawled its way south from N’Djamena, we were rushing home with Darren in Zakouma’s 182. We landed, I changed clothes, and jumped in Jonathan’s Land Cruiser for the hour drive to Kelo.
It was a miracle that Kyle could come help us, so much so that it requires the time to tell it:

While we were in the US, Sarah and I had planned to leave for Chad immediately following my brother Stephen’s wedding in Fresno. We’d drive to Denver, pack, and fly out, leaving the trusty old Prius to find its own way back to New York. When we heard about the evacuation of Americans from Chad, we didn’t know what to do, so we postponed our tickets, and decided to drive the Prius back to NY ourselves. On the way, we stopped by Andrews, where my mom was for a week of classes while working on her doctorate (getting her D.PT at her age! I won’t say how old she is, but she was 40 when she gave birth to my younger brother, who’s now 22. I’m proud of her!). We arrived back in New York that Friday, and I left Sunday morning for Chad.

While at Andrews, we ate a meal in the cafe for old time’s sake, and just so happened to be joined by a woman I didn’t know, and we struck up a conversation. Shortly afterwards, Darryl Penney, the Chief Flight Instructor at the airpark, walked up and sat next to his wife. I had been talking to him about trying to renew my expired flight instructor certificate while at AU, but it didn’t look like it’d work out. Once he connected who I was, he offered me at least a free Instrument Proficiency Check, which I was also needing, and so I gratefully accepted, thankful to God for His providence! As we ate, Kyle, who teaches maintenance at Andrews, also came to join us, and learned of our work in Chad. He’s friends with Gary, and has been all over the world with Adventist aviation projects, and mentioned that if we ever needed anything to let him know, which I also gratefully accepted.

When it became apparent to me that Gary wouldn’t be able to come do the annual inspection for us, I remembered Kyle, and asked him if he knew of anyone who would have the time to volunteer to come help us. He replied that he had plans for Spring Break that fell through, so if we could pay for his trip, he’d come, and try to get a student to come with. Turns out he convinced Shankar, a Sri Lankan-French Canadian maintenance student, to come with him.
Between the French speaker coming along, the suddenly open free time, and a new continent calling, he decided to come. Finding tickets with reasonable prices would be tough, though. Lo and behold, a friend of his (Greg) was also coming to Chad, and had found out about an Air France sale, with round-trips less than $1,000! (Normally I can’t find an Air France flight for less than $3,500 for economy). What a blessing for us!  

Kyle’s visit was very fast, but very encouraging. Not only did he help us finish the annual inspection, he fixed up a lot of things that needed to get done “eventually”. He also provided an outside perspective on how things were going on the project, which gave us direction on how to move ahead. His visit also provided me a trial run to learn what details are relevant, and which aren’t, in tracking maintenance for the plane. Someday (3-5 years) I’d like to launch a full coordinated maintenance app to track everything easily, to make life much easier for us here.

In the 6 days Kyle and Shankar were in Béré, they did so much for us in work and in spirit, and we thank God for all the events that fell into place for them to come help us. Have you encouraged someone so much in so short a time? Give it a try.

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David’s Throat

Lo and behold, I wasn’t better the next morning. I was worse, sore all over from the malarial marathon. But I was scheduled to translate for Sarah’s health class at the Bible training. I prayed, and God gave me the strength to translate. Then I came home and collapsed on our mattress, which we had brought out on our porch to get a little wind during the night. I started malaria meds, and just weathered the day.  
Sabbath came, and my fever got up to 102.5, so we skipped church, but I needed the socialization of potluck at the hospital, so I took a fever reducer and we went. I ended up eating two full plates. “That’s weird,” I thought to myself, “malaria usually takes out everyone’s appetite… Maybe I’m feeling better already.” Returning home, we took my temp again. 103.9°F! What on earth?  

Sunday, the pastors came with Jonathan to visit, and they prayed with me for my healing. “I know God heard us, and will heal me,” I told them, “I feel better already!” It was short-lived. I ended up spending the rest of that week in bed, with a fever, and as the week wore on, a sore throat developed. Wednesday, it seemed more like an extreme case of strep throat, but the expired strep test I took came back negative. By Thursday, the pain was unbearable; I couldn’t eat, drink or talk without excruciating pain in my throat, and it was all inflammed. In desperation, I went to Olen ready to just be put into a coma until it passed. He didn’t quite go for it, but he gave me more expired pills to take, plus some Lidocaine syrup to kill the throat pain long enough so I could eat. It helped immensely.  

I was feeling anxious to get better. Sarah and I were supposed to leave for Zakouma that same Thursday, where I was going to help with their annual aerial game count. They were understanding, and postponed until Friday, but would have to move on without me otherwise. With the new meds, I was confident enough in my ability to fly, knowing I wouldn’t start until Sunday morning. Friday, I felt strong enough, so we took the risk and went. I was still in major pain, but I was ready to get out of the house.

Explaining the situation to the park’s operations director Darren, he gave me some tea-tree oil. Applying it on the sore spots, it seemed to dry them up faster. Eating meals, I had to have refrigerated water, drink a bit to numb my throat, then eat just a little before it made me want to scream again. Repeat. Finally, by late Sunday I was able to eat a little more at a time. I was a flying mute for the survey: Long hours of 300’ above ground, 50’ tolerance side to side. The surveyers sat behind me while Darren recorded the info. “Antelope, two, on the right.” “Ostrich! One, on the left.” Sometimes I saw something on the left my surveyer didn’t see, but I couldn’t say it with my throat… I downed 3 liters of cold water per 5-hr flight, but sweat it all out.

Finally, after an eternity of not being able to communicate with anyone besides writing notes on my phone, I was able to whisper consistently by Tuesday. By Friday, I was almost back to talking normally. We had had some mechanical issues with the plane, so we took a last flight Friday morning instead of going straight home as planned. Over the vast prairie known as the Riguek, there were thousands of deer and antelope, several hundred giraffe, water buffalo herds near 1,000 total, and a couple lions. Finally, we found the elephant herd, some 500 or more strong. Banking hard high overhead, we tried taking pictures to get an accurate count for later. Returning to the airstrip, we passed over the group of 10 elephants that like to hang out in the park director’s back yard, trunks up on the porch hoping for a treat. Over 35 hours of criss-crossing the Chadian countryside, avoiding rock mounds and tracking potential poachers, and we were finally finished. As I told Sarah, it was fun! The type of fun that’s exhausting and not much fun in the moment, but afterwards you look back on and say, “Yeah, I’d do that again!”

Since then, my throat has been better than ever. I knew I had a small scale infection back there from time to time, but any attempt to treat it, it has never gone away. Not long before the infection started this time, I had prayed that God heal it completely. I guess sometimes God has to make things worse in order for them to get better. Praise God for His wisdom, and His willingness to put us through a little pain now so we can be healthy later! He truly is a great God to serve.

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Mbitikim

One Friday, our friend and part-time hospital chaplain Noel approached me. “Prophet David,” he always calls me, “I’ve just had contact with some guys from Mbitikim (a village 1 ½ to 2 hours away by moto). Their father came to the hospital for care, but ended up passing away. Before he died, he told his sons that the little gods he worshiped were worthless, and that he wanted to die in Jesus. His sons decided they wanted to follow their father, and seek God. They have invited us to go to their village to talk about rebuilding their runway.”
I was surprised. A month before, I had done several low passes at the derelict strip in Mbitikim to see if it was still usable (it wasn’t). Apparently, these sons had seen me, and wanted to help get it opened again. We set plans to go talk with them the coming Sunday, not only to talk about the runway, but also to invite the sons to the Bible training that was just starting with Jonathan.

Sunday hit, but Sarah was very sick that day, so we had to postpone until Wednesday. That Tuesday was when Patrice died, so Wednesday we were unable to go because we needed to be present for his burial. Finally, we had the opportunity Thursday to go. Once en route, I realized that we hadn’t stopped to pray, so we stopped right in the middle of the bush, and I prayed for God’s guidance. We continued on, passing the village of Tourma, where there’s a new church group started. “You see those bricks?” asked Jairos, who had joined us on the way, “the group here is making bricks so they can build their own church.”

Arriving in Mbitikim, we were surprised it was not a little casual meeting; all the village chiefs were waiting on us! 24 chiefs sat in a large circle, with 25-30 onlookers. After the formalities of opening dialogue with the chiefs, I was given the floor to explain AMA and what we do. While explaining our medevac work and support of evangelism, I made sure to mention my low passes, and that I made sure not to touch the ground in Mbitikim before I had received permission from the chiefs.

They asked a slew of very pertinent, useful questions. One chief asked what constituted a sickness severe enough to be medevaced out. Another asked the channels of communication to make a call. “Who’s responsible to repair and maintain the runway?” Of course they want us to build a hospital there too, but that’s outside our realm, we can only make the hospital more accessible, particularly during the rainy season.  

Finally, the oldest chief, a blind man with dark sunglasses, stood and commented, “If you sit at the table and eat too much, you’ll become sick.” I was confused; was he talking about how easy it is to get sick, so it’s so hard to define what needs a flight? They explained it to me: “We’ve talked about it enough, let’s not keep going on. The idea is there, we agree it’s good. Details can be worked out with time.” I love it! A voice of wisdom.

I took the chiefs to the strip, and we looked together at the condition on the ground. Praise God I had decided not to land a month before! Somehow I had missed large, 5-ft. deep channels where rains had eroded, up to 10 feet wide across the runway! We talked about how to get it ready, and I’ll go visit to see the work when they feel it’s ready. “Can you help us with a big truck of laterite from the river nearby?” I’d love to, but I don’t have anything but a moto. I borrowed Jonathan’s truck to visit. They seemed to understand.  

The village chiefs of Mbitikim – with their books – in front of an erosion channel across the runway.

Finally, we passed out some books, but we had less than necessary since we weren’t expecting so many to be present. Noel decided the chiefs who came wearing their name badge would get a book. One had forgotten his badge, but he made such a to-do about wanting a book than another chief gave him his. He immediately opened it, and spent the rest of the time perusing its pages.

Arriving home, I was exhausted. I’d barely eaten, and with the rough roads, my back was sore all over. I’d get better tomorrow, I thought…

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Patrice

Before I start this story, it requires a bit of back-knowledge. Several years ago, Patrice was made the responsible for the Adventist church group about 5 miles south of us in Dabgue (where Jonathan held his Bible work training last year). A man of rare integrity; for instance, one time Patrice heard about some French Bibles that were available nearby a town he was going to visit very soon. He told Jonathan about it, and Jonathan was of course interested in buying them, and arranged with Patrice to buy them for us to distribute. Naturally, Jonathan mentioned he would help with the trip costs, but Patrice declined, saying, “I’m going right by the place anyways. It won’t cost me anything extra.” For us in a place where many do everything they can to milk us to the last penny, it was a welcome reprieve.  
Another, similar story, I had flown a medevac and Patrice, as the ER charge nurse that day, managed the unconscious boy. When the boy’s father asked for my contact info, seemingly to ask me for help paying their bill, Patrice refused to give it, because he said it wasn’t right to ask more of me than what I had already given. As I said, I had a lot of respect for him (If you think that’s bad of me, read Olen and Danae’s blog, the “Missionary Doctors” on our recommended list…you’ll see many examples of where people beg for stuff like they have nothing, are refused, then go and pay it themselves with wads of cash to spare. If you STILL don’t believe it, just come live here for a year).


Patrice’s wife Gisele works with Sarah at the Nutrition Center. Sarah always raves about how great of a worker she is, how quick-witted, gentle, kind she is. She also started the Bible School session as the head cook. Together, they have 5 kids, the youngest, Martin Luther King, is 2 months older than Joel.


To start the story; Patrice had been having some health issues recently, and was in and out of the hospital. I stopped by their house one day with some money for food for the Bible school, and Patrice greeted me. I could tell that whatever sickness he had was taking its toll, as he seemed pale, thin, and distant. As I had many things to do, I hurriedly left the money with Gisele and left. I mentioned it to Sarah, and she said, “Yeah, Gisele said he’s been getting better recently, though.” So I thought nothing of it.

About that same time, we received news: Patrice had been caught sleeping with interns at the hospital. I was really frustrated. Here’s a very respectful man, a leader of the church, and he fell. I didn’t know what was going to happen; the church as a whole here isn’t established enough to properly handle it.

A couple days after the baptisms (from the last story), and about a month after Patrice was caught, I got a call from Jonathan. “Patrice died last night,” he reported abruptly. “We’ll have to cancel classes for a couple days so everyone can attend the funeral.” We went to the funeral, and as Sarah sat besides Gisele, she was obviously in a lot of grief and distress. She kept asking Sarah, “What am I going to do for my children? What am I going to do for my children?”

The people who were gathered together listened as church members started talking about the hope we have of the resurrection, and the knowledge we have that Patrice is waiting in the dust for Jesus’ return. Just then, demonic screaming started a block away. Two or three people came running in, stumbling around, screaming, and making such a racket that all attention to the encouragement and biblical truth in it was broken as the crowd turned to see this new distraction. The service ended shortly afterward, and we left.

The burial the next day was uneventful to my knowledge. Attendance was so huge that we couldn’t see anything around the crowd, so we did the culturally acceptable thing to sit under a mango tree and talk.

The doctors say they can’t figure out why he died. He had a weird rash, but medically there was nothing seemingly significant about it. They suspected Hepatitis B, but something (excuse my lack of medical knowledge) indicated otherwise. Nobody knows the full reason why Patrice died. The Chadians, who, as a culture, handle death better than any other group I’ve encountered, stood by their default response, “It was his time to go.”

Our heart goes out to Gisele and her children as they go through this time of loss. Last harvest, much of their rice was stolen right out of their field. Then somebody came and burned the rest. So they didn’t have much food set aside for the year. Now, as Gisele is hosting mourners from all over Chad who have come to give their condolences, she’s obligated to feed them, so all their food for the year is already gone, and Gisele’s salary at the NC isn’t enough to feed them… On top of that, her 5 and 3 year old daughters keep asking, “Where’s Dad? Is he in the field? When is he coming home?” Martin Luther King looks hopefully at every man he sees, hoping it’s Patrice.  

Please pray for Gisele and her family. We will help her where we can financially, but it will surely be very difficult for her and her 5 kids in the days and years to come.  

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