Monthly Archives: January 2015

Medevac

Well, as promised, here is a story about the aviation program. It’s not the one I had planned, so this will become one of a series of stories.

Yesterday morning, I woke up at something like 2:30 am with a tremendous thought. It was a freeing thought. I guess it’s not related to the story, except that it kept me up all night long. Being in N’Djamena to submit paperwork at the civil aviation authority and hoping someone caught their commercial flight in so I could take him down to Béré to help with things, I had sufficient internet to occupy my time looking for useful apps for my phone. At any rate, I guess what I’m trying to say is I got a grand total of maybe 4 hours of sleep.

Morning hit, and I ignored alarm after alarm trying to finally get a couple more minutes, but to no avail. I finally woke up, took a cold shower (there are only cold showers in this country unless you’re really special), ate some breakfast, and started to get ready for the day. I was going to go in to town after submitting the airplane paperwork to look for some supplies for the NC. I took the short walk from the guest house to the civil aviation offices, dropped off my paperwork, and headed back to grab my stuff, when I got a text from Olen, “Want to fly down and back up?” I thought, uhh, not really. My paperwork should be processed today, and I should be around if they have questions.

As I conversed with Olen, though, it became clear the need. One of the staff’s wife was having heart issues, and needed to get to a place where they could get more testing done. Sure, that’s why I’m here. I still have permission to fly in this country for one more day, I may as we’ll make the most of it. It’s 9am, if I can keep the turnover time to a minimum, I should back up here before 2:30, then I can check back in on the new flight permissions and still “ride the sunset express” home with my incoming passenger if we get the permissions on time.

I made my way quickly to the airport, and started pre-flighting the airplane. Things were looking good, so after filing my flight plan I jumped in the plane ready to go. “Oops, forgot something!” Ran back inside and took care of business before my 2-hour flight, then went back, figuring I should probably drag the plane out a little before starting. Jumped back in the plane. “Wait, where are my keys?” I looked everywhere, couldn’t find them. Not even in the random places. Crawled out of the airplane. Ran back to the bathroom just to check. Nothing. Did I drop them at the tower while filing? Not likely, but must be. Let me check the airplane one more time, I don’t want to walk all the way down there. Opened the plane door, and there they were behind my seat cushion.

They say third time’s the charm, so for a third time I jumped in the plane to go. I guess it worked, and so I was off. On the way down I made sure to let Olen know when I would be there so they would be waiting for us, we could refuel, and go. Well I had a nice tailwind and shaved maybe 10 minutes off my flight. Then, because it’s Africa and nothing seems to go quite according to plan, I sit around for more than an hour after refueling. Thankfully my beautiful wife had a lunch ready, so we sat in the hangar and ate while waiting.

Finally the passengers arrived, and after a little arranging and weight reducing we were all loaded up and ready to go. I jumped in the plane, hopeful to get up before the aviation office closed so I would know if we got the new permit before the weekend. Started the airplane.

Nothing. The starter didn’t engage. The battery was charging fine on my flight down just a couple hours ago. I didn’t leave any lights on, what could be wrong? Tried again to the same result. The prop was like a lazy man who was watching his favorite show, oblivious to the world around him. “Man, today is not my day for getting into the airplane ready to go somewhere…” Thankfully Jonathan was on hand, so we looked at it together. We tried jump starting it. Nothing. It had to be difficult, didn’t it…

So we took off the top cowling (like a car hood that’s screwed on) and took a closer look. Every wire looked normal. All leads and connections looked solid. Nothing looked amiss. Battery showed regular voltage. Finally, Jonathan figured, “why don’t we just knock on this solenoid here, and see if that does anything.” So with passenger holding the brakes and me just reaching in from the outside, we made sure the prop was clear and turned the starter. Wouldn’t you know it? Fatty got off his couch to get himself some chips! Aka, the prop moved. I’m then able to crawl into the airplane for at least the 6th time today (but only having started once), start the plane a second time, and roll out for takeoff. As I’m setting up navigation and everything, Olen drives his truck down the runway to watch us off. Final check, roll into position ready to power up, then I see Olen tear back onto the runway and race in the opposite direction. Sure enough, a family of 5 or 6 goats were hanging out down there and needed chasing off. As he cleared the runway again, I powered up and away we went.IMG_1971

Approximately 2 hours later, about 4:30pm we arrived in Ndjamena to a bit of a rough landing. I drop the passengers off, then climb back into the airplane again to taxi to where I’d park for what would inevitably be the weekend now. The solenoid needs to be hit again. I’m not taking the cowling off now, I’ll just drag it the 300 yards or so, whatever. Tried to budge it; didn’t move. Nothing wrong except an uphill start and poor leverage. Thankfully one guy came and helped me push it down, or I might have had to resort to opening it up again. Wrapped things up in the plane, went to get out, and everything was locked for the evening already. Great. Started walking back towards the terminal when I hear my name called from where I parked. The guard! That was just leaving, but the taxi guy I had called to pick me up told him I was there, so he let me through.

Civil aviation was indeed closed, and my incoming passenger was delayed until Tuesday noon. Got my medevac to the guest house, and stayed up until 9:15pm when they had tickets, at which point I called the taxi guy back and asked him if he could come get them and bring them at 2 in the morning to catch their flight out at 4:30am. He said sure, as long as I call him to wake him up beforehand. Finally, I went to bed exhausted. At 2:45, I wake up having forgotten to set an alarm, and find they worked it out anyways and are gone. They paid for our room, to boot! Finally, slept in peace after almost exactly 24 hours. Now the plane is stuck in NDJ until at least Monday waiting for the office to re-open, so we can see if our paperwork was processed.

Such is the life of a mission pilot in the African bush…

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Wow, Thank You!

I don’t have a lot of time to post stories right now, but I just wanted to give a big shout-out to one of our biggest supporters. Ryan and Christine Coy are some of our best friends, and they’ve always wanted to help support us in whatever way they could, even though they can’t afford to help financially right now. Well, they’re on our list of prayer partners, and when we asked our prayer partners to pray for our finances, God decided to move them to action.

Unbeknownst to us, they started a fundraiser for us on gofundme.com, trying to raise money for us to come home for the birth of our coming child. I suppose many of you have seen it, and that’s what led you to find our blog. Anyways, thanks to that fundraiser, over $5,000 has been raised for our airfares! A large portion of that money came from people we don’t know at all, as far as we know. One person donated $2,000 on their own! Christine asked us if we knew the person, since she had never heard of them, but we hadn’t either! I couldn’t even tell you the name now if I tried! But what a blessing.

God has been taking care of us ever since then. Granted this past month was December, which is when everybody is more giving, but God has been filling our needs and encouraging us to push forward in the work we have before us.

Christine, Ryan, thank you guys for acting on God’s inspiration. You say you can’t help financially, but you have raised $5,000 for that we would never have gotten otherwise. And thank you everyone who gave, even you who gave only $5. It is such a gift! We can’t thank you enough.

We’re celebrating 3 birthdays among the Nasaras today, and I must go, but thank you again everyone! Stay tuned for some fun airplane stories coming out in the next week.

David

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It’s not us…

Today Sarah and I listened to a sermon we had downloaded online before coming here: “Recapturing the Wonder of Adventism” by Daniel Pel (audioverse.org). It has got me to thinking: what is God’s story here in Chad?

There are so many aspects and details, I’m not going to go into all of them, but the premise is that God is doing some huge things in Chad, and it’s super exciting to see when we remember to look. God says over and over that forgetfulness is a sin, and this helps me to see why. When we forget, we think life is about us. But it’s really all about Him.

In October 2011 God called us to Chad. We didn’t get here until Nov 2013. It was a long and difficult path, but when finally we arrived as naïve kids, jumping in without knowing anything about the place, He carried us through. Last year was one of the most difficult years in my life. Everything I knew about myself was beaten down, and everything I thought a missionary life was was dashed to pieces like a potter’s vessel. Sarah felt the burden of my struggles and had her own, and before we knew it, both of us were so burned out we wouldn’t have done any more good here, so God pulled us away to what was like paradise for us in France and Geneva. After a lightning-fast visit to the states, we were back in Chad with a new group of co-workers and new hope.

While we were in Geneva, we met several people who will be lifelong friends, and many who we look forward to getting to know better in the years to come, including many people of influence in the Adventist church organization. Was it anything we did? No, God put them all before us. Many whom we met we didn’t realize who they were until after the fact.

One person I met “just so happens” to be the new News Editor for the Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines. He mentioned that if anything newsworthy happened in our corner of the globe, to let him know. So when the Nutrition Center opened in December, I emailed him, and he asked me to write an article on the center for publication (when I started writing, I forgot the fundamental premise that it’s God’s story, and wrote an absolutely awful article rough draft. Thankfully Mr. McChesney didn’t read it, though he still has it in his inbox… The real story I will let you read when the article is published).

The story of the NC is only a huge part of an even more ginormous picture of what God is doing, in Chad, yes, but also throughout the world. I was just yesterday marveling how many of my friends and peers are wanting to serve God as missionaries. My closest friends from grade school all want to go. My friends from college want to go, or are already in the field (3 of my flight instructors from Andrews are now mission pilots in Bolivia). People we’ve never met are emailing us asking for more info about volunteering with our projects.

God is making something happen. I know my generation, and I would argue that, in general, it’s one of the most crooked groups of people to ever exist. But God is pulling out His people that He has set aside to accomplish His task: to show His glory to the whole world. It’s not just our generation, there are many even in their 50s and 60s that are leaving all they ever knew to go where God has sent them. And it’s not because of anything special in us: it’s His time to shine. Prophecy points to what God will do, and the world knows that it’s time is short. Will He not do it before the end comes? It’s not our task, it’s His. He will do it.

So back to the practical: what is God doing in Chad? Chad has more issues than you can count (just like anywhere), but it’s a beautiful place with wonderful people. Chad is unknown and unrecognized by most Americans, they think it’s a boy’s name. America knows Liberia and Sierra Leone because of Ebola, Rwanda and Sudan because of the genocides, Uganda because of Angelina Jolie. But God is making opportunities for people to start watching Chad because He’s going to do something big here. That’s why, when finances were stretched, He moved Christine Coy to start a fundraiser for us on Facebook (which has more than doubled our average of blog readers per month). That’s why He gave me opportunity to write an article, and Dr. Olen has just published his second. That’s why Dr. James Appel has such skill in capturing people’s imagination and dreams: God wants people to see what He’s doing here.

So what is it? I don’t know exactly, but here are the pieces I see:
Béré Adventist Hospital
Moundou Surgical Center
Dr. James’ next hospital in the East
Bible Training Center
Project 21
Nutrition Center
Aviation

I can’t take the time to write what’s great about every piece, but here’s how I see them coming together: As we’ve been told by local government leaders, the greatest needs throughout Chad are health and education. The various medical establishments have already established a fantastic reputation in Chad, so much so that “L’hôpital Adventiste” is recognized by most anyone you talk to throughout the country. Project 21 and the NC work more in the cadre of health education. The Bible training center is training Bible workers to go into the field and share the good news of Christ’s birth, death, resurrection, and soon coming with others. Things are starting to shift in the locally-run Adventist school (like many Adventist schools throughout the world, God is working to re-center and re-focus them on Him). Soon, all will start to expand, and the airplane will enable that expansion in a way nothing else could. A 4-hour flight to Abéché will save the otherwise difficult 2-day bus trip for doctors. 2-day mobile clinics can take 2 days of the doctors’, dietitians’ and public health workers’ time rather than 4 days. More Bible Workers can be visited and supported in the same span of time.

Why does God care? Because He looks out for the lost and the widow, the abandoned and orphan. He takes care of the broken. It is He who supplies life and health, goodness and joy. In this place where so much feels backwards, where poverty is the ruler, and death so common, He is ready to use us to show them how He will take care of them and how much He wants the best for them.

I thought coming to Chad was for my own good. Now I see it’s for their good, and I just get to be a part of God’s story of what He is doing, not only in Chad, but throughout the whole world. Sure I might find some benefit, but that’s only a piece of the larger picture. I want my testimony to be like Jesus’, “I have finished the work You have sent me to do.” Until then, I will strive to let Him do whatever He wants through me for His glory. Please pray with us that we do not forget that He will accomplish what He has set out to do. And pray that we give Him all the glory, as He deserves.

David

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Post Holiday Plan

Are you wanting to lose some unanticipated holiday weight gain? Are you feeling a little under the weather with constant cold and dreary days? Are you feeling over stressed from your job?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above I have the perfect solution for you! Come to Chad!

Location: Chad is located in the heart of Africa and is free from Ebola. Come and explore the village of Béré, a remote area far away from tourists with dazzling stretches of sand and dirt.

Climate: This destination is a dream come true for sun seekers. Temperatures may vary, but you will most likely experience perfect 100 degree (or more!) weather the entirety of your stay.

Housing: Our guest rooms are free from electricity and running water letting you have a truly cultural experience of surviving day to day. Many people who have already experienced Chad have raved about the extreme weight loss they have had.

Popular Entertainment and Activities: Encounter the breathtakingly high termite hills, be captivated if you are able to see hippos in the near by river or monkeys in the nearby forest, and enjoy yourself as you travel from destination to destination on a working moto. Spend your days touring the market with products from Nigeria, China, Turkey, and other countries! You may also visit local families and experience the rich culture and hospitality of Africa.

Wildlife: As you are touring around you will be able to see the vast majority of wildlife or free range animals roaming around including: pigs, ducks, chickens, horses, donkeys, dogs, cats, and guinea hens. Other exotic animals you may encounter are snakes, scorpions, and lizards and if you are lucky you might see a camel as you are traveling around.

Food: All fresh food is organic with no GMO’s! The local food is full of unique flavors and ingredients that will send your taste buds (but hopefully not your stomach) for a spin.

Escape from your everyday life and discover the extraordinary benefits of Chad!

With love,
Sarah

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The Hustle and Bustle

Happy holidays! It is always hard for us being away from family during the holidays, but we were really busy this December so that helped us not get so home sick. We also received packages from friends and family that had things from home, and quick and easy meals which were SO helpful!! Thank you all who sent packages and emails!!

To start off the month, David and I helped our sister project with their bible school. Unfortunately, right now there are less than 10 current Adventist bible workers for the entire country! But the good news is that there are currently over 20 students regularly attending the bible school!

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David taught a 10 hour class covering the Sanctuary and a 15 hour class about the Character of Jesus. I taught 7 hours on different nutrition topics and we taught a basic first aid class together.

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I also helped out in the kitchen pounding rice and getting to know the cooks better (as well as practicing more of my Nangjere, the local language). This week the students started an evangelistic series lasting 11 days. The meetings will be held outside by the main road not far from the school. They have been hanging signs and visiting the surrounding village for advertising.  It has been fun getting to know the students and being involved with the school. One student wanted David’s phone number and couldn’t find a piece of paper to put the number on so he just grabbed his shoe and wrote on it like it was no big deal.

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I love living in Chad sometimes.

The next big event was the official opening for the Béré Adventist Nutrition Training Center (BANTC) on the 22nd of December.

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I drew the butterfly for the official sign and Mike, the director, painted the letters. We spent lots of time planning the event and inviting people to the opening. We had Danae, the OB doctor form the hospital, as our special speaker. Each of us had a part in the program. I talked about the current activities the center is doing and prepared all the refreshments. David gave a tour of the center and our directors talked about the history of the center and the future plans for it as well as getting the grounds ready for the event. We had balloons decorating the buildings and we even got matching shirts for all of the staff members.

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It was a lot of work. The only thing missing was the attendees. The program was suppose to start at 2pm (which means 3pm Africa time.) No problem right? Well, we waited and waited and waited. A total of 4 people came after a while. We were so grateful that our neighborhood representative asked his secretary to come because he couldn’t make it. We then found out that a really important pastor in the area had died and everyone was attending the funeral. We started the program anyway and it went really well. The people who attended really enjoyed the event. The secretary even stood up and said a few words about how he is really appreciative of the center and how he believes it is making a huge difference already. It was inspiring to hear such strong support from our local government.

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After the opening we had a clinical day at the center where we assessed the babies that come in and provide supplemental milk if they meet the WHO criteria for malnutrition. Each baby has to go through a screening process and counseling session where I get their history and any medical signs and symptoms the child is having. I also educate the mothers on inexpensive nutritional foods they should be giving their child on a daily basis. Chris, the wife of the couple directing the center, recorded how many counseling sessions I have done since we got back and it was 327. That averaged out to about 27 one-on-one consultations every time we had a clinical day. Now that the center is officially opening we want to increase to two clinical days a week and go out into the villages one day a week and do nutrition screening. We also want to have the center open for educational retreats once a month ideally.

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We plan on going village to village inviting people to the center to spend the night and get free education on child development, nutrition, gardening, and other practical things that will help families combat malnutrition before it starts.

I can see God’s hand clearly working at the center. 2 weeks ago we had an 8 year old girl who was severely malnourished come to the center referred from the hospital.

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Normally we get babies over 6 months to 3 years old, so we had to adjust some of our techniques to weigh and measure her. She was literally off the charts for her height (because all our charts are for infants and toddlers) so I had to guess on her level of malnutrition and adjust the calorie recommendations slightly. She couldn’t walk because she had no strength. She weighed 14.4kg (about 32lbs). The doctors didn’t really know what was going on with her medically so they gave her everything they thought would possibly heal her and definitely wouldn’t hurt to give her. The doctors sent her to the center to get help with malnutrition. She was eating some, but not much, so I had Mike make milk formula for her and instructed her to take it throughout the day whenever she wanted it. I figured it was like Ensure or Boost for her. We sent her back to the hospital to finish treatments and then told them to come back next week for more milk and another assessment to see if it is working. This last week we all expected them to come since they seemed sincere they would come back. They lived a long way from the center, but the uncle had a moto and he said he would give them a ride. That next week we worked all Tuesday and she never came. We started taking down everything and we were locking up when we heard a moto pull up and we saw the 8 year old girl on the back. She got off the back of the moto and started walking towards us!

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We were all in shock at the rapid improvement and got all of our equipment back out again and did an evaluation on her. She now weighed 17kg which meant she gained about 6 lbs in one week on the program! I was amazed! It is truly amazing to work here and to know that even in Chad where nothing medical is precise and everything seems like you are taking a stab in the dark that sometimes it works. God truly blesses our little efforts. When you are here seeing all the possible complications that could go wrong but instead the child gets better you just stand back and know that God is here. The hand of God is mighty to save!

Thank you for supporting our ministry this year. As self-supporting missionaries we could do nothing without your support. We love all the encouraging emails letting us know that we are in your thoughts and prayers. You are so important to the work that goes on here. We are all one body working together for God. I hope you realize the huge impact you make with every contribution you give. May God bless you abundantly in the new year!

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