The days are flying by and it is all I can do to keep track of what day it is. We left off at the end of Tuesday night after that harrowing ride down from N’Djamena and getting settled in. Since then, it has been a whirlwind of learning the project, the language(s), the culture, where to do laundry, how to buy essentials, etc., etc. I cannot believe all that has happened so please stay with me as I try to recount how it has happened so far.
Wednesday started with and early alarm clock to be ready for breakfast by 7 am. Tammy said she would take us over to our host family that would be feeding us and introduce us. Charis and waited but didn’t see her so we wandered over to her house and found out she probably has typhoid. Sickness is very real here, even if you have been here over 4 years like the Parkers. Allah, the son of a hospital worker and our neighbor, walked us over to do the introductions. By that time it is almost 9 am so the sun is fiercely high in the sky. We are ushered to sit under the sprawling mango tree to keep us cool as we have our first go at local food. Breakfast consists of tea and gatos. Gatos are not cats (Spanish) but are more like breadier donut holes. The compound that we are eating at is split between two brothers: Duliga and Kebdiga. Their wives cook us the food and depending on the meal, it could be in one compound or the other (they are connected). Duliga is the vice principal of the SDA school here and Kebdiga is a nurse at the hospital. Duliga is also studying in Cameroon but works every couple of years to keep up with the cost of education (PREACH!) and that they cannot take out loans. He has two daughters, Raïsa (5) and Dianna (3) who we attempt to practice our limited French with while we eat. Raïsa already speaks French, Nansurai (the local language, spelled wrong I’m sure), Arabic, and her mother’s language. Dianna speaks Nansurai and dances around a lot.
The food has a rice base as their stable carbohydrate. There are usually different sauces that go on top. The most common is red sauce, which is potato, pepper, onion, garlic, other spices, and peanut oil. Everything is cooked in peanut oil! Another common sauce is l’ozae, which is made from a local green. For breakfast we usually have bouille (sounds like bwhee), which is a rice porridge. The tea is extremely sweet! Between the tea and eating limes like oranges, many of the local people have very poor oral health.
After breakfast, we headed back over to the designated student missionary (SM) hut, where we have access to a flush toilet, a shower, as well as a kitchenette, for worship with the SMs. We got the day started right and then set off to our tasks of getting our living situations set up and learn more about the project. The main project that we are working on is called Project 21. It is an all-inclusive health lecture and practice series that trains Community Health Works (CHW) and Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) to help their quarter as some what like a really good mom. They would be the ones to refer to the clinic or if it is more serious of a situation, then to the hospital. Béré has an ambulance now so, if needed, they can get to the hospital very quickly. The 21 part comes from there being 21 quarters in the Béré district. We will be focusing on these and hopefully within the next few months.
That took up most of the morning. Following lunch, we, Charis, Marci, and I, went out to all the quarters to speak with the delegates or head of each quarter to invite them to a meeting on Friday to update them on what we would be teaching their CHW and TBA. This was our first motorcycle experience here and it was great! Later this week we’ll be learning how to ride to increase our independence.
It was quite invigorating to meet with the delegates at their homes as well as see the community we will be working in. I can only hope (thanks Allison!) that our work will go smoothly and well. You all will have a role in that as you keep us in your prayers!
Wednesday night, we had nice debrief to better understand everyone’s roles at Béré. Tammy made sugar cookies (a treat!) and we ice cubes in our drinks (I really don’t know which was better). In another blog I will recap with all the abbreviations, names, and other pieces of information to help you better understand day-to-day life here.
The following day started out very similar with breakfast at our host family’s house, followed by a morning of learning, meeting, and understanding more about the projects and culture. In the afternoon, we went followed up with getting any more necessary items from the market and went more in depth into about what we want to accomplish over the next three months.
Friday was the big day for our meeting with all the delegates from the 21 quarters of Béré. In the morning we had to go register with the MCD. He is the one in charge of all health related personnel in the surrounding region. We had to take copies of our diplomas (thanks Mom for scanning it) that did not arrive until after we left for Chad. After a lot of talk and making sure that we were not trying to be medical doctors or anything else clinical, we headed back to prepare for the meeting. Tea and gatos had to be brought over to the pavilion (check out what the hospital compound is like on google earth) as well as a basin for washing hands. Even after a huge down pour that kept Charis and me in the hut of our host family, all the delegates came to hear what we had planned for their quarters. God really blessed us for how well the meeting turned out. As you can see, He has kept us in business so far: passing police checkpoints, travel safety, broken down bus, unity, and so much more! Since being here, I have been reading the devotional Jesus Calling. My grandmother made sure I had a copy and it has been a huge blessing to my daily routine.
Friday night ended with a simple vespers service where we gathered and sang songs, ate popcorn and recounted our blessings throughout the week. Tammy and Jamie keep giving and giving of their hospitality, I don’t see how I’ll ever be able to repay them (especially without an oven of my own!)!
So much more has happened from Saturday until now (Wednesday morning). I’ll keep you posted!