Blog: When a donkey falls in well

So often, we have excuses for not doing things. We have excuses like we don’t have time or it’s too much of an inconvenience or too much money or too much of a commitment. We often just don’t want to leave our comfort zone. For some, the comfort zone is small and clear cut and for others it’s pretty large and vague. In traveling and trying to fit in with culture, I’ve learned to accept whatever is on the plate in front of me. Which has resulted I some pretty interesting meals.

Living in a Seventh Day Adventist Christian community, the Sabbath often is a day of rest but many people have different views of what rest is. We had a non-Adventist volunteer a few months back and after a day of early morning bush sabbath schools, cooking, church, potluck, afternoon program, and an evening program, she said it was the most tiring day of the week!

I was up at the evangelical mission in NDjamena on sabbath when a 40ft container of building supplies came in and needed to be stored in various locations around the compound. They asked if I would be willing to take inventory of one of the locations. I smiled, replied, “No Problem,” and mentioned that a donkey fell in the well. This is Jesus’ example of what happens if a problem comes up in sabbath: we aren’t going to leave it! The next day, Sunday, their well broke and they said it was their donkey falling in a wells since they all missed church having to fix it!

Now here, market day is on Saturday. So shopping on sabbath isn’t a no-no like in America. But traveling is a huge faux pas. Where as in America, traveling generally isn’t so terrible on the sabbath, especially when you have multi-day journeys and start crossing time zones. My translator, Naomi, always is talking how “a good pastor” had a sermon one time about this donkey falling in a well so if it’s a necessity, there’s no avoiding it. Here, not everything is available on a regular market day. One can’t find pots or clothes really on the other six days.

Funny enough, we witnessed an actual donkey falling in a well! It wasn’t on sabbath but it made a great story. Naomi, Charis and I had gone out to the bush to do some health education with a nomadic Arab tribe and we were sitting around with the sheik* drinking tea when we look over and see a couple of donkeys fighting. They narrowly missed one well but as they came close to the other well, the young men started running to stop them when one slipped right in! His head was sticking out with just one leg and he was sliding down further and further. Naomi, mother of 5 boys, maker of bricks and pounder of rice, rushed over to help the young men. She starts tugging while one of the guys yells, “just push him in!” She yells at them in Arabic as only a mother of 5 boys can do and they started pulling with her. It was no small feat but they got the donkey out.

Recently I read “Drinking Tea with the Hezbolllah” by Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis in a trip back from the capital. Its about a crazy trip through the Middle East in search for the true good Samaritan. It’s one of the best books I have read in a long time as it shows that we don’t have to look far for people to help.

It doesn’t matter what religion we are or what day of the week it is, it is just important to pull the donkeys (figurative and literal) out of the wells we come across!

Not the donkey that fell in the well but just my friend Cinnamon who eats my bean leaves!

*ok he really wasn’t a sheik but when else am I going to have the opposite to use that in a blog? But he was the chief of a nomadic Arab tribe so it’s close enough, right

Zachary Gately
+235 68920884
+235 91122492

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