Monthly Archives: October 2014

Lizard for Breakfast

I know my recent posts have been pretty serious, so I wanted to lighten the mood and talk about some good things happening here.

This morning I started making breakfast and wanted to use the little camp oven. Our wonderful friends Jonathan and Melody have let us borrow it until we someday upgrade and get a real oven. But for now this handy piece of equipment is a huge blessing. I bake all my bread in it, even though it only has a max temperature of 320 degrees and when I put the loaves in it drops down to 200 degrees. Miraculously though the bread bakes all the way through and is very tasty. I wanted to make a healthy fruit crisp this morning with bananas and oatmeal so I popped the oven on top of the burner. I got back to mixing my crisp together to wait for the oven to reach maximum temperature, although it wasn’t long until I started hearing something inside the oven!! I heard its claws against the metal dancing around the now-heated inside. I yelled to David for some help in the kitchen and said, “I think there is a lizard in the oven!” He answered back, “what…?” Then without any further explanation he came and grabbed the oven and ran outside with it. When he opened the oven up he couldn’t find the lizard. Then after some thorough inspection he found it and, unfortunately, it was cooked.

That was the beginning of the day. You kind of have to just go with the flow here and cook your fruit crisp anyway despite prior knowledge of what was previously cooked in your oven. Therefore after a good breakfast we were off to the nutrition center.

Today at the center we saw 23 mothers with their babies. After the babies are weighed and measured and their standard deviation below the 5th percentile marked on a growth chart, they come to me for consultation. I love what I do. Honestly, it is really fulfilling to see a mother come in with a child with a negative 3 standard deviation (severe malnutrition) and receive education and come back week by week on the program, gaining weight every week. This last week I was really discouraged by a mother who just seemed to not understand that her baby needed food other than the supplemental milk we give the babies. Her baby had lost weight and she kept telling me that it is typical for women to cook one meal for the family, eat that in the evening, and reheat the leftovers in the morning for breakfast. I told her her child needs more than that and that she should use green leafy plants they make sauce out of and mix that with peanut butter or cassava. She just laughed and thought I was totally out of touch with the cultural way of doing things. This week she came back with her baby and he gained .5 kg (about 1lb)! I gave her a big hand shake. The week before her baby was unalert and looking limp. I had told her that if the next week he didn’t get better he would need to stay at the center for monitored care. This week she smiled and said she tried the peanut butter and green sauce. I was shocked she remembered the education we gave her since to me she seemed so disinterested. It just goes to show that despite what we think we don’t know the heart. I was so encouraged this week to see not just this mother, but other mothers come back with similar stories who listened to the education we gave them.

One mother came and had a gift for me. She opened up a container and gave me a large bunch of taro. I was so touched with her kindness and gave her a big thank you in her language. Then she said no, I want to thank you because you do so much for all the mothers and babies here. I was encouraged so much because sometimes you feel as if the people you serve can be ungrateful. There were so many blessings today I just couldn’t help but share them. I hope you are blessed as much as I was today.

With love,
Sarah

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Bon Travail et Bon Guerrison!

Things have been moving since we have been back, though not necessarily as we would have guessed before we arrived. As we mentioned previously, I (David) got malaria just a couple weeks after we arrived. We suspect that it came from mosquito bites in the capital when we first got here, though we don’t know for sure, I definitely got eaten down in Béré too! Anyways, the malaria knocked me out for a week. Immediately after I got better, Sarah got a resounding case as well, and we have been dealing with that the last couple weeks. Even though things aren’t like we thought, God has still been providing a ton of blessings to us each and every week.

One blessing has come in the care and patience from our doctors Olen and Danae, as well as the new nurse anesthetist Mason who gave us meds and his wife Kim who supplied everything we needed when we spent nights at the hospital. God provided us food and fellowship during all that time too, thanks to Dr. and Mrs. Bland, and our friends more our age at the hospital.

There are some of our acknowledgements, now I’ll go more to a narrative mode to not tire you out. :)

We had so many plans showing up. Sarah has been helping Mike and Chris, the new Nutrition Center directors to organize the center. The first several weeks we were open on site we had 60 mothers come per week to try to get help for their kids! Thankfully, last Tuesday we were able to work at a much more settled pace, and provide quality education as we also gave formula to mothers with a real need.

I haven’t had much opportunity to fly yet. Shortly after arriving I took a trip to N’Djamena. Jonathan and Melody just received a donated, factory-new Land Cruiser, so I took him to the capital to pick it up and bring it down, as well as bringing the hospital administrator. We spent some time with the local church administration before I went back to the airport to pick up Olen and family as they were returning from their annual leave, and fly them home. I had to cancel another flight because of poor runway conditions, and I’m glad I did, because when I would have been returning, probably the last big rain storm of the rainy season hit Béré, and I would have been stuck or worse had I gone.

In the free time when Sarah was feeling well enough, I have been working on emptying a 20-foot container in our hangar to convert to an office. We lose a lot of project efficiency because we don’t have a common area to keep records, finances, etc, so everything is managed on an individual basis. My hope is that this space will provide us a good area for that. I also had been praying for a computer specifically for the project, for the same reasons. Just the other day we found an old, beat-up computer with the full Microsoft Office business suite, which was such an answer to prayer! It’s still really slow and we have to keep it plugged in for it to work, but it will be a good enough short-term fix for our basic needs.

I can’t wait till we figure out how to keep me busy with flying, but until then there’s still plenty to do. The bible school is hosting a 8-week training for potential Bible workers just down the road, starting Nov 17. I’ve been asked to teach up to 40 hours of classes, so I will be busy lesson planning for the next couple weeks. We also are greatly reducing our guards’ hours so we can afford other projects. I’m need to clarify their hours and daily duties before the new hours go into effect next week.

Finally, I am trying to work with potential volunteers, arranging if they’re coming, when they’re coming, what they’ll be doing. We have two nurses coming in the next month or so short-term. We’re praying for more help for the center. On the flip side, our current housing situation is limited, we can only truly accommodate two volunteers (or three if there’s a married couple) at a time, and conditions are less than ideal; very small living space, no electricity or toilet, and no means to prepare food. We have been praying that someone can come help us build an area for short-term volunteers with a kitchen, toilet, and living area. Our chain-link fence between the hangar and the runway is also already falling apart. God has already blessed us with the funds to build a new, rolling, metal gate; we just don’t have the time to build it ourselves with this Bible Training coming up!

Things are progressing very nicely with the little one. Its little hands were waving at us on the ultrasound the other week, and it’s all looking good to Dr. Danae, so we have no reason to doubt! We are due roughly April 23, which means we’re planning on flying back towards the end of February, if we can keep Sarah gaining weight. I’m excited because that puts us back during maple syrup season, so I’ll be able to work with Sarah’s dad in New York as he makes his batches I’ve always wanted to make maple syrup!!

As we look ahead at making a family, we expect to quickly outgrow our one-bedroom, one bathroom (with a small kitchen and porch) house. We’re hoping to soon start building a new, bigger house on the compound that will accommodate our growing family. Then our house could go back to short-term housing like it was intended.

So things are progressing slowly and surely. We’re looking forward to what is ahead, because we know Christ is at the head, and He is working all things together for good, not just for us, but for the people of Chad as we focus and re-energize our efforts to help with the gifts God has given us.

We love hearing from you, even if we don’t always respond! Drop us a line, our contact info is under the “Contact Us” tab at the top. Prayer requests include protection for the baby and from sickness (I just now registered a temp of 99.8, I hope it’s not malaria again…), effective preparation for the Bible Training, and volunteer help for the Center and construction projects.

We appreciate your prayers and support!

David & Sarah

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Fears

Have you ever heard God speak? I would have told you no last month, but I heard Gods voice two weeks ago. I was sitting on my porch feeling the start of malaria coming on. I thought to myself ‘wow this was literally my biggest fear: coming to Chad pregnant and getting malaria.’ I felt helpless. I had prayed for Gods protection from malaria, but here I was facing the very thing I asked God to protect me from. As I was thinking about all of this I heard a voice that was almost audible that said, “Fear not, I am with you.” I felt this peace like no matter what was going to come ahead God was with me and He was facing every moment with me. I now know that if God ever speaks to you like that it is for a good reason…

This last month has been severely testing both David’s and my strength physically and emotionally. The start of the month David had malaria which meant as soon as he walked off the plane in Chad he got malaria. A nice welcome back I guess you could say. The following week was when I got malaria at 11 weeks pregnant. We then were back and forth from the hospital and home due to vomiting, dehydration, and other scary scenarios that can happen when having malaria and being pregnant. Needless to say we were on our knees often, and I kept thinking back to when I heard God tell me, “fear not, I am with you.” There was so much comfort in knowing that God knew what was happening in my life and that He cared so much to let me know He was there for me. At the end of the week we saw the babies heart beat and were thanking God for His protection, and were slowly on the road back to recovery. I was so thankful for those of you who emailed and told us we were in your prayers. Every bit of encouragement kept us going.

I love Psalms 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” I thought I was done walking through the valley this last week, but just yesterday I was working at the nutrition center educating mothers with malnourished babies and as soon as I had finished the consultations I was feeling horrible again and threw up multiple times after. Back to the hospital we went for IVs and anti-nausea meds.

It has been really hard keeping up hope and continuing to have faith that God has a plan for me here while being so sick. But today I am feeling better than yesterday and I am so thankful for that. It’s hard not being able to do anything but recover from sickness when the point of me coming here was to help others who are severely sick- not me. But I’ve learned that every day I am feeling well I should make more of an effort to help others since each day I am healthy truly is a gift from God. With so many uncertainties in life, it really makes me realize more miracles and blessings God gives me that I often take for granted. I someday want to get on James’ level when he says in James 1:2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Someday I want to count it ALL joy when I fall into temptations and trials! But I often have a lot of questions and only after do I see the benefit of what God teaches me through tribulations. But even when David and I thought ‘when is the point when we just give up and say let’s go home’ God reminded us that it’s not suppose to be easy. In fact He never promised life would be easy when we work for Him, but He did say He refines those He loves and when our faith is tested we should count it all joy because it produces patience.

Working for God is hard, but it is so rewarding and life has meaning and purpose in a world where many question why they exist. The more I work for God the more I have a longing and ache for heaven that nothing can fill.

With love,
Sarah

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