Good Relationships are Hard to Come by

Béré is a happening place! It does not seem like it on a day-to-day basis but looking back over the last few days, I realized I stopped a lot of things 18 November. Most emails I need to respond to are from around that date, all my receipts from them on were not entered, and I haven’t blogged since then. I had a few great ideas for blogs: “Birthdays in Béré,” “Holidays without Hype,” or “Too much Food for Thought.” Alas, the timing came and went so here I am writing now.

It steadily has picked up pace here and I am more and more surprised at how fast each day and week is flying by. This week started with an awesome celebration. Our translator, Naomi, turned 30 this year! We prepared a feast full of all types of food! I killed the guinea hen and blood squirted all over, drenching my pants and flip-flops. We plucked it then cleaned it. Naomi was running around like a mad women so Shannice and I took over the making of the sauces.

Naomi lives on the other side of Béré, on the edge of “the bush.” It is so peaceful and it was so much fun to be out there with friends celebrating under the wide open sky! Though the day was busy and we were thoroughly exhausted afterwards, her party showed how we are still learning culture, language, and customs, but also how far we have come since arriving in this corner of the world.

Unfortunately, not all gatherings bring happiness. This week we also had to attend a funeral of one of our Traditional Birth Attendants. She was only 32, leaving behind children, husband, and community. She worked herself too hard and by the time she went to take care of her health, the malaria had spread to her brain.

All the Community Health Workers and Traditional Birth Attendants came out and we presented our condolences as a group. It was hard on many of them as they had worked together for two years. We sang a song similar to “We Have this Hope” and talked with the family. I believe her death inspired her fellow health workers to take action in their community. She loved her community and made sure that they knew it.

Late yesterday afternoon, Daniel and I raced into the market to get ingredients for potluck today. It was almost 5pm which meant most of the well stocked vendors were closing up. Muslim prayer is at 5pm but they were squeezing every franc they could out of the day. We walk over to get credit for our phones. We are in a hurry, but by sitting and chatting for a few minutes, we add another layer of cement to building that relationship. This particular vendor has helped a lot recently and by spending those few precious minutes, we showed our appreciation for his help. We then rush over to another vendor who has onions, pasta, garlic, as well as other random things we buy on a regular basis. He’s obviously trying to close but as he sees us, he lights up, stops what he is doing, and asks what we would like. I start going through the onions and find some good sized ones (Coming from the land of supersized, the “large onions” here look more like scallions and the small ones like olives). He shakes his head and pulls me around to the side of his shop where there are even bigger, better quality onions! Score! Daniel noticed how this relationship just grew in that moment and we talked about it a bit on the ride home.

Western countries don’t usually value relationships as much as other countries, especially in Chad. As a vendor of any status, you usually buy on credit but there aren’t banks or collateral items here. Trust is required. People get burned easily as too often business falls through or the crops don’t do as well as expected.

I didn’t understand this (though I was told it) fully until this week as I witnessed the coming together of multiple types of relationships. I like this way of working and I assume that in a perfect world, it would be the way to work more effectively. But since we don’t, this method of working has a huge potential for loss, both financially and emotionally. I’m still learning daily as I gain linguistic skills as well as understand cultural nuances more fully. Good relationships take time to build and regular maintaining! I encourage you all to let those who you care about know it, especially I this holiday season.

Happy holidays to all! No worries, my next blog will be a lot sooner!

Zachary Gately
+235 91122492
zgately.com

L’Hopital Adventiste de Béré
ATTN: Zachary Gately
52 Boîte Postal
Kelo, Tchad
AFRICA

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Crash and burn

This Friday evening, it was my turn to do vespers. Since I talk about a quite comical experience that happened this week, I though you might enjoy the story as well as the message.

Confidence

We all need confidence. A healthy dose of self confidence is needed in the work place, in school, art, and relationships. Confidence is a bit like having trust in yourself. You know you can accomplish x, y, and z without problems. It may not be easy but you have trained, practiced, or bs-ed your way far enough to know the hang of it.

Yesterday, I had my confidence shattered. After trouble with one moto, Daniel, Josh, and I set out for the river on the other. We missed the first turn, and me not knowing the little roads all over decided to try to go to the river the same way I had previously returned. We hit some sand but it wasn’t too much of an issue: the extra weight and flat tires aided in our still vertical state so we just kept put-putting along. Out of nowhere cows started running along the road. No problem. They weren’t attached to anything and moved out of the way. Sighs of relief came out but were quickly caught as more cows attached to a trailer were headed for us. We edged over to the right but we hit sand, ran into the bushes, finally hitting a dense woody bush. Locals are laughing at us as we are trying to bend things that shouldn’t be bent back into place. We think to call Jamie with the truck but don’t want to bother his work. Maybe we can push it but with that Desert African sun beating down mid afternoon, it seems like unnecessary exercise. I decide to see if I can start it even though the starter can’t rotate the full circle to start. Imagine trying to start a lawn mower with only half of the pull cord. It goes!

We are determined to make it to the river. We pile back on and head off. No sign of cows but its pretty sandy. The moto seems a bit loose all over and keeping it balanced required more upper body strength than expected. We’re going, we’re going, and Daniel gets excited. “No problem, we got this!”

No wood to knock on, of course.

Bam! Next thing I know, I’m on my left side in the grass with Daniel’s leg sticking up by my head. I have no idea where Josh ended up but I told them to just leave me on the ground for a moment. Confidence completely shattered. We decide to walk the sandy part. Once the ground hardens, Daniel gets on so I can take him to the river and come back to get Josh. We seem to be headed in the right direction when we see a un passable puddle I put my foot on the brake only to realize there is no foot brake! We coast off to the side and I quickly shift down enough to use my feet to break. We surmise that it must have come off in the bush we ran into the first time, and causing the fall. We take the next turn and finally that cool breeze from a large body of water hits us and we come upon a sweet cliff to jump off. I head off to get Josh and in no time (comparatively to the rest of the journey to the river) we are back jumping off into the river. We float down, climb a tree, jump, and repeat a few times.

On the way back there were no accidents but without a brake and it still being sandy, we alternated riding and walking. I offered many times for them to ride and I would walk but after seeing me go down, the didn’t even want to try in the sand.

I was bone tired when we arrived back to the compound. I just sat as my bruises reminding me of the day. I though I could do it but I guess I haven’t practiced enough to match my confidence. But in time, I will have no problem riding in sand. I have all the sand I need to practice.

The question is, what was I putting my confidence in? My skills? My abilities? The quality of moto? The hardness of the ground?

I often think of the verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengths me.” I prayed this prayer and claimed this promise many a late night study session and before a race. But in reading a book about prayer, The Circle Maker, I now realize how shallow that prayer usually comes out. I know that if I had studied more three day before an exam rather than three hours, I could have done better on my own without extra strength from Christ. Not that He couldn’t miraculously open the pathways between my mind and my finger tips but if it is something that I can do, why would I waste my breath on asking God to do it? What if I instead used that same breath to ask God something that I cannot do on my own? The battle of Jericho, Elijah, and Peter walking on water are all great examples of assisting in times of great need that could not be accomplished without divine intervention.

It take confidence in ourselves to both work hard for something as well as pray for God to intervene. We then have to give Him the glory because there is no other way to explain the miracle. Attempting something you have never done or following a dream or going along with a mental prompting all take confidence, both in God and yourself.

In high school, I was told during a graduation speech 10 syllables that have changed how I proceed:

“If it is to be, it is up to me.”

At first, I thought it was selfish and cocky to use this but as I have grown (and matured a little, right?), I have realized that seriously, if it is to be, it is up to me. I have to be the one to reach out and make a connection with the famous author. I must train for that 10k if I want to place. And I must pray if I want God to help on the impossible.

It’s not an “I don’t need God” attitude. It’s a “If I think it should happen, I need to take action” attitude. We must go boldly before the throne of God. In the parable of the talents, the master want them to use their talents for increase, add in a bit of creativity, and have something to show. They all received something from the master and had to do something with it. He honored those who did something.

Sitting on our hands waiting for things happen won’t work with God. Pray hard and work hard. We must take the talents allotted for us and use them for Gods glory. We must have confidence that our God can do the impossible. We must have confidence that we can carry out His will for our lives. That much prayer with deepen your relationship with Christ and transform your life in a way that you can only praise God for!

Stay with what you heard from the beginning, the original message. Let it sink into your life. If what you heard from the beginning lives deeply in you, you will live deeply in both Son and Father. This is exactly what Christ promised: eternal life, real life! (1 John 2:24, 25 MSG)

Zachary Gately
+235-9112-2492
zgately.com

L’Hopital Adventiste de Béré
ATTN: Zachary Gately
52 Boite Postal
Kelo, Tchad
AFRICA

Under the Mango Tree

Under the Mango Tree

Work. Sleep. Wait. Talk. Wait. Attempt Internet. Wait. Read. Swat flies. Sleep. Work. Wait. Repeat in any order you want.

This has been my life these last few weeks. Lots of waiting, lots of working, and lots of attempting to use the Internet. Anything mobile works great with my tablet and phone but any research or downloading papers takes forever. I would say its like pulling teeth, but that’s not too hard (at least with enough anesthetic). Imagine with me: take dial up from 1998. Then put giant apps, HDR photos, interactive websites, viral clips, and in depth PDF’s right there at your finger tips. The computer knows what to do but at the same time cannot complete the command because the simple HTML website will not load, the app will not download, or the link doesn’t work because it need the new java/adobe/QuickTime update that you can’t access. This is where the waiting comes in. Click. Wait. Fold clothes. Refresh. Sweep room. Click next link. Wait. Ah-ha! Found it!

I have been experimenting with downloading apps for my tablet. I started with a 3 megabyte app: success! Then 8 megabytes: success! Ok we are on a role, so lets go big or go home: 33.6 megabytes: SUCCESS! I attempted a few others but time did not permit me to wait hours for it to download. But I saw an new app that I just had to download. The only problem is that it was 88 megabytes. I pay 800 CFA ($1.60 USD) per 60 megabytes. So that equates to at least $2 for the app itself, plus connection time, ending up at about $5 for the entire download plus about 6 hours of download time. But it downloaded! Oh yeah!

Lord, I did not pray for patience so why am I having to practice it so much?

Needless to say, that is actually one of the hardest things to get use to here. The food is tasty, the people are friendly, the flowers and birds are exquisite, and I haven’t been sick for 4 weeks now! It’s a simple life but I am enjoying it.

Every lunch, Charis and I head over to our host family’s compound. Compound is the word that best describes the way people live. There are usually 2 or more families living on one compound. Several buildings are usually scattered along the walls: sleeping quarters, a cooking hut, an outdoor bathing area, and maybe one hut for storage. The livingroom is the common area outside in the middle. Our compound is split up into three sections hosting two families (brothers with their wives and kids): front, middle, and back. Front is living, sleeping, and cooking while the back was originally for volunteers to rent. Valerie, the host dad, said while he was studying at university last year in Cameroon a storm knocked down their two room hut! They (Valerie, wife, and two children) are having to cram into one of the volunteer huts while they saved to build their new home. This Thursday, construction begins on their three room hut! This is very fancy for this area. He’s using the best bricks and cement while others use mud bricks and mud for mortar. He cares for his family and wants his kids to have the best life that he can provide.

Even with this new house, I think their favorite room will still be out under the mango trees in their middle section. They have two magnificent mango trees providing the perfect over hang. It allows for a cooling breeze, shade, and enough space for the largest mat available in the market. As we rush over for lunch, sweating from the short jaunt, the refreshing “bon jours” and “lapias” on arrival just add to the comfortable atmosphere our family and the mango tree provides. Before lunch we play with Valerie’s children and any others that may be there. After lunch we take naps or just lay on the mat haveing tickle wars before heading back to work. The kids then proceed to say every phrase in every language for good bye. We miss them and they miss us but we know we’ll see each other for dinner!

Spending time with this family has been an unthinkable blessing. They welcomed us into their home and we have enjoyed spending time with them. They have had their rough time but still they open their home to the Nasara. Maybe they want their kids to grow up knowing many types of people or they just like hosting. We now spend hours under their mango tree, making funny conversation in broken French and body language, laughing, dancing, climbing, and napping. Walking under the mango tree, I leave my worries at the edge of the shade. This play time, meal time, and family time. Nothing can break that!

This blog took far too long to produce. I’ve been healthy but everyday brings some other challenge or time vortex! We are working on setting up our blog for the projects that we are working on. We made a video along with some pictures! I’ll be sure to keep you up on those happenings too!

Zachary Gately
+235-9112-2492
zgately.com

L’Hopital Adventiste de Béré
ATTN: Zachary Gately
52 Boite Postal
Kelo, Tchad
AFRICA