After having reached the 15-day mark in Chad, I wanted to bring word about how things are going for us. And give a couple fun stories of stuff that has happened to us here already. We are settling into life here. Gary and Wendy Roberts, our leaders and mentors here, graciously fed us initially so we could get our feet under us, but now we’re cooking for ourselves. Everything is the way food should be: unpackaged, small, and nowhere near nice enough that you would ever consider buying them in the States. Sarah used an entire bulb of garlic in a sauce for lunch, which is equivalent to about 2-3 cloves in the US. We wake up before dawn, today at 4:30am to do devos and meet for morning worship with some church members at 5:30. After breakfast, it’s work time, stopping for lunch around 12-1, then more work until nightfall at 5:30. After that we enjoy dinner, a bucket shower, then bed.
Gary has been meaning to do some ground training with me, but we’ve been busy with other stuff; I’m just flying with him when he goes somewhere, and we talk theory en route. Sarah has been working with Wendy in the few select cases that the Nutrition Center is taking while it’s closed.
Oh yeah, the Nutrition Center is closed, because we don’t have enough people to help do everything that needs to be done. Ideally, 6 people are needed. Right now there’s 2. The center could re-open if we had another nurse here. So here’s a call to nurses and spouses of nurses alike: We need you here, working for the children in this place where life is not at all easy like the US. For the spouse, anything will do. Our biggest need is probably someone with skills in personal evangelism, counseling, and/or Bible working (a perfect fit for the jobs would be a certain couple named Gabe & Heidi). Whoever you are, though, if you are reading this and the Spirit is urging you, please answer the call! Our contact info is easy to find on the blog. :) Email is probably best for now.
Now, the stories. Our 2 Sabbaths here have been very different (if you didn’t catch the blog title…). But there are some similarities too. You’ll see.
The first Sabbath, we had just started to learn to drive the motorcycles they have for us here the day before. Gary and Wendy wanted us to join them at a new church they built about 45 minutes from the airport, mostly on a sandy road. Since we knew it would take us a lot longer to drive than them, we set out early. 25 minutes into our drive, we were tired of driving through the very difficult sand, and thanks be to God! there in front of us was our rendezvous point with the Roberts. We expected them to be on our tail, but they had been slowed by someone at the Nutrition Center, so we waited almost another 25 minutes for them to arrive. Then we followed them through fields of corn, millet and/or sorghum, sometimes with the path visible, sometimes overgrown, to the main road to the church, which was also very sandy.
When we got there, almost an hour 15 minutes after leaving, nobody was there. 2 little boys who were out shooting birds with slingshots heard us singing in English, and came and sat down. But they spoke neither English nor French, and we don’t speak Nanjéré, their language, so we tried to sing some songs with them, tell them a story, and pray, but I wonder how much they understood. Come to find out, the man who typically led out was out of town, so word had spread and nobody knew at the time that we were coming down, so nobody came.
On the way back to our place, we stopped to greet people from another church in between. They had already finished, so we shook everyones hand and sat down (the Chadian way of doing things), visited for a little, then got up and kept driving. Arriving home, Sarah and I did our own worship/relaxing before driving to the hospital for a potluck lunch with the Nasaras (white people) up there. (Just a side note, the kids here are so cute! When they see you coming, they jump up and run towards the road with a smile on their face screaming “Nasara!” or “Lapia!” (their standard greeting in Nanjéré)).
At potluck we met everyone, then sat around talking the rest of the afternoon, heading to the Roberts for dinner, then home for a shower and bed. It was nice to spend time with people at the hospital, but all that travel for what seemed to be very little was discouraging…
Our second Sabbath was very different. We had breakfast early so we could leave early again for the farthest church that we visit regularly. Olen and Danae Netteberg, the doctors at the hospital came with us, so we were going to ride in the car with them while Gary and Wendy led the way on the moto. Starting out, Olen discovered a fuel pump issue in the car, so we had to turn around, and ask Danae’s dad Rawlin Bland (also a doctor at the hospital) if we could borrow his car, which he graciously let us do. Gary and Wendy waited for us by Hippo River so we didn’t miss our turn. We followed the path just wide enough for a car, barreling through the mighty deep sand. The path got progressively smaller and smaller until we were driving with one wheel filling the path, one off. We drove through fields, brushing trees, bushes, rocks, you know, whatever we could find with the side of the car. As the road got even smaller, we stopped for a second while Gary went ahead to check it out.
Lo and behold, we were on a cow path. We turned around and turned the other way at a fork in the path, and eventually (maybe 45 minutes to an hour after we first left Béré) we saw a village where we stopped to ask directions. Only a few kilometers away! We continued on, the path back to just barely big enough for a vehicle, to the church.
We came up to the mango trees they were having church under with church already in progress. There were 51 adults, plus probably as many children there. I had been talked into giving the children’s story, so I gave a brief synopsis of the salvation story in French (at least I hope it sounded enough like French!), which was translated. Then Gary spoke about the hope we have of heaven. Some more singing and prayer closed the worship service. One of the older men in the group was up dancing (tastefully) during the singing, which was fun to see. Then, the way they close the service is to make a line, and go around and shake hands, then turn around when done to shake the hands of those coming behind. It becomes one big, singing circle (with a guy dancing [tastefully] in the middle), then they pray, and dismiss. Afterwards, the doctors looked at some medical issues they had, we got better directions back to the main road, and we left.
The road back was indeed better, but we were still dealing with branches, rocks, little kids (kidding! They were baby goats we almost ran over…), plus we were running on fumes. To keep the story short, we made it back just fine, with some divine replenishment of fuel (nothing particularly exciting, we just didn’t run out of it when we very clearly should have).
We had potluck with the Nasaras in Little America again (an area at the hospital), then got up and drove Olen’s car, busted fuel pump and all, to a small branch Sabbath School just near Hippo River where there are mostly kids and a couple adults attending, which the Student Missionaries with the hospital typically help run. They sing songs, tell a story, and pray. The adults had studied together before we arrived. Afterwards, one of them told Gary that a VIP of some sort in the village had died, so we went to visit the family. They say not to underestimate the value of visiting someone after a death. Several church members joined because they saw that the Adventists care. What a blessing to just go and sit, few words needed, to show them you are there with them. Even you can do that for someone where you are!
Finally, we went back to the hospital. As we were getting ready to leave, we were invited to come and sing hymns around the hospital, so we went, all the while praying that the mosquitos who bit the malaria patients there didn’t bite us also! I don’t think either of us were bit once. People loved the singing, and it was lots of fun.
When we had dinner with the Roberts that night, they told us that the church with 51 adults was only 3 months old! A couple local Bible workers they had trained were from that village, so they went home and worked, and that was the result! God is working in powerful ways in the village of Broom Tu Su. Here in Béré, however, church growth hass been more difficult. The big day for the market is Saturday, and many aren’t willing to give it up to. Apparently spirits and mediums were consulted about what day to have the market, which became on Sabbath and is now an obstacle for many who would be on the verge of being interested. Evil forces are very much at work here. The only way God can be victorious here is through his representatives praying and fasting. That means us who are here and you who aren’t.
So there you have it, two Sabbaths. One discouraging, one encouraging. I think that will be the tone of our life here. We are learning to survive American-African style. The work, though it is there, is light for now until we get established, comfortable with the languages, culture, etc. We need people willing to come work, preferably now, but in the future as well. Life isn’t nearly as hard as we imagined, it’s just different than the immediate convenience of life in North America. Plus, it’s more exciting! Look at how many adventures you can have just by going to church here! There’s a nice foundation of Nasaras here to give the immediate support one would need.
Most importantly, God has already called us all to make disciples for Him. So you are already called to do work like this, wherever you are, and whatever you do. Please consider joining us. God will grow our faith with the same measure we give it. I want big faith, and I believe you do as well. Here’s the chance to have faith like Abraham and to move to an unknown country because of God’s call. We have been amazed at how greatly God has worked in our lives since we made the decision to come. He will work in a great way for you as well, if you will give yourself to His service. He is faithful in every one of His promises.
Please keep us in your prayers.
David & Sarah