Blog: Zach is Stuck In ‘merica

By this point I should be enjoying pizza dans Le Côté Jardin in NDjamena before a long dusty trip in the morning. Instead, I’m drinking coffee in a little mountain town with my sister enjoying free wifi. Plans never go the way they are laid out but in this case it is going to work out very well for me. Because of my extended holiday, I will be able to attend a conference for Adventist Health International next week! This will be great to meet other people who are working in similar capacity and have had met similar challenges that I have encountered.

In the mean time, I am enjoying the fresh air and horse back riding and coffee and wifi and friends and Mexican food and hippies. So please, don’t hesitate to give me a call or a text if you wanna catch up before I head back out into an area of low communication!

My sister Kara and I horse back riding through the forest!

Zachary Gately
+235 91122492
+1 (530) 927-7970

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

Old Habits Die Hard

It’s been 3 weeks now since I blundered out of that Ethiopian flight #0500, so happy to have fast mobile internet, burritos, and English. Now I can’t say that I had terribly bad reverse culture shock but none the less, there have been many times that I forget I am in the land of the free and home of the brave.

1) I don’t have to translate into another language for my day to day duties. I catch myself thinking about phrasing, gender, and conjugation when I’m looking for an item in Target.

2) Whenever I have to go pee, I look for the closest bush or door to outside before realizing I have a regular toilet in my house. Thanks to Nick, Allah, and Kim, I’ll now have that luxury when I arrive next week!

3) I start thinking what my friends and family would be doing 8hrs behind and then realize that we are in the same time zone.

It’s been really great being able to chill with Giada and Ina Garden with my cats everyday. Though everyday there seems to be something related back to Chad, I’m still getting a great vacation.

Feel free to give me a call on my cell here: (530) 927-7970! I’ve got exactly a week before I’m flying back!


Sleep has not been staying with me as of late. I wake up around 4:30 am and cannot go back to sleep for the life of me. I don’t want to get up but finally after checking my email, I wearily stumble outside to pee and then brush my teeth before starting my morning brew. I then clean up my room and try to respond to a few emails, do what research I can as this is the fastest internet will be all day.

This morning, I stepped outside around 6:30 and was instantly on alert. I didn’t smell a threatening amount of smoke but I looked intensely smokey outside across the compound and over the horizon. Growing up in Northern California, forest fires always threatened the end of my summers. Was this smoke?

I look again.

It can’t be fog either. We haven’t had any type of moisture in the air for months now. Then it dawns on me:


I knew that dust was everywhere. My clothes are dusty, my counter top is dusty, my computer looks like it fell into a sand pit, and I have to scrub my body like none other just to get clean.

But this morning was more than I ever expected. The air is now so saturated with dust that it casts shadows like clouds. It rolls in like a storm front. I half expect to be caught in a sandstorm on my way to the market today. So if you don’t hear from me soon, you’ll know that I have huddled down with my camel and am waiting out the storm.

Christmas in Béré!

As you can imagine, holidays away from home can be an emotional roller coaster for many people. First it was Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and now it will be New Years. It seems like only last week I boarded my first flight out of Reno, NV, to head over hear and now we are entering 2014!

Thankfully, I have supportive family and friends (I think) who still keep in contact countries, continents, and oceans away. I can’t say that it’s always enjoyable being so separated from those you love or that it is easy being forced into a new community. We make due though. Sunday we began with the feature film Elf, Josh’s birthday brunch, and an evening of snacks and a movie at Parker’s. Monday was an insane day of screaming children, temperamental Toyotas, and Christmas shopping in Moundou. I don’t want children anymore. Ever. I want to be able to hand them back when they are screaming their heads off for no reason. Tuesday we decorated cookies. Jamie was our judge for the competition. With so many cookies, we did categories by shape and my stocking was a winner! Following this we ate pizza, played games, and watched one weird Christmas movie. Everyone fell asleep at one point or another but as soon as it was over more games commenced! Daniel and I opted out when we realized we still had no card or gift for the families here on the compound. We cut and glued and folded until 4 am! We attached the cards and a little token to a roll of toilet paper from America with a sad bow. Inside we said, “Thank you for making our holidays ‘ultra soft’ this year!” Charmin Ultra Soft does wonders here, especially for those extra frothy days.

After a fitful 3 hrs of sleep, we drug our corpses to the Netteburgs for a pancake feast and stockings! Hello Christmas! All of Christmas Day was food, cookies, gifts, and more food! We were pretty tired all day which made for even more interesting conversation and games!

I am grateful for people who are creative and excited for having fun. You cannot just sit around expecting to have a good time, especially here. Last Sunday was Josh’s 21st birthday and it was a bit of a let down compared to most 21st birthdays. We did have an awesome brunch that cannot compare to any other meal here. Right after that, he headed out to clean the OR. Boring. After an afternoon of Elf and an evening at Parker’s (oh yes, we also watched Polar Express), Danae decided to put the kids to bed and was persistent on throwing Josh in the river at 10 pm. We put a pillowcase over his head and threw him in the back of the 4runner and pile in. Olen maked sure he had the ride of is life on the way there. We drug him out and asked if he wanted to go in with his clothes. He thought we were bluffing so he wouldn’t take off his hoodie or jeans. We were not so we just tossed him into the murky water fully clothed! Danae, Olen, and I jumped in so he wouldn’t feel so alone! We sang an awful version of happy birthday as we toasted with D’jino on ice. Since he is a “missionary” D’jino is just a regular, non-alcoholic soda (though it does have some addictive properties. We need to import it to the USA for sure!). A few more people were thrown in before we clambered back in/on the vehicles. Josh was a slightly pissed but once he had D’jino and Tammy offered the use of her hot shower, he said it was totally worth it!

See, we know how to have fun here! Too often overseas work is seen as charity and suffering. It is already hard enough without the added mental stress of these added expectations. We must mix it up with fun and emotional releases. Jesus even escaped when he needed to. I love having fun and just because I live in the middle of Africa, in the bush, and have a difficult time traveling anywhere, I refuse to let these get in the way of a good time!

So here’s to fun, here’s to success, and here’s to moving forward! Happy holidays!

Zachary Gately
zchgtly @
+235 91122492

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

Let the Count Down End!

Over the last few days I have made very strong attempts at posting a blog: the big “10 days left” or maybe “only a week left.” Alas, no count down happened except in my head (and of course the living room as I spread out all my belongs and made the best use of the 100 lbs that I was allotted). Try to recount all the things I needed to get done before day zero was adding a ball of stress the size of a golf ball under my left scapula so I decide to push this off until my bags were checked and I was waiting at Reno International Airport, the first of the four five airports I’ll be gracing over the next 42 hours. Thankfully, the US Postal Service has those flat-rate boxes that can (if the postal gods are feeling favorable) be shipped with the rest of my food that I had to leave behind (hint hint for anyone who feels generous!!)

Packing and struggling aside, I’m full of wonder as I prepare for this adventure. I have grown weary of explaining where Chad is located, what public health does in said location, and how I came upon such an odd opportunity. I’m sure they think I am crazy but oh well. I now just say I am starting a job at a hospital on Monday.

Over the last month, I have had to buckle down and make sure things are taken care of! Calling my banks and giving my clothes away! I tried to clean my room but (sorry Mom and Kara) my family will have to take care of that. I visited friends and families. I watched as two good friends became united by that holy matrimonial ceremony that I have no desire of partaking in for several, LONG years. I ate at my favorite restaurants and indulged in my favorite family recipes. I also stopped exercise to fatten up for the circumstances ahead (just in case as I may sweat it all out in the 112 F degree weather).

All these things have helped me realize what point of life I am in currently. I have my friends and family as well as an education. I need experience (and money to pay for that education) to help move up to the next step so, I ask, why not Chad? I’d rather have a horrible time, dragging myself back to the USA with only pennies in my pocket and a full blown case of malaria than have that feeling of regret. I can’t wait to see what this community has to offer and what I can learn from them. Being able to use my skills and expertise in a full time capacity is a dream come true.

All this to say, I am excited to start on this adventure! Feel free to email me at if you have any questions, would like to know more, or even to send words of encouragement! Thank you in advance for your thoughts, prayers, emails, letters, and of course the occasional kindle book!

Love to all,


Laborious Limbo




Since graduation in June, live has been less than action packed. It’s been filled with gardening, baking, memorial service planning, and running. Reflecting on these activities now, it seems that I have turned into an 85-year-old woman. Needless to say, it has been quite relaxing. Maybe a little bit too relaxing…

I’m still preparing for my upcoming job in Bèrè, Tchad, which is ending up to be a bit more work than I have expected (as far as the preparations). Since I am not living near Loma Linda University anymore, I have had to rely on emails and conference calls to suffice for my communication with most of the preparations. Between finances, the Global Health Institute (shout out to Angeli for TONS of help), and knowing what to pack, I’ve been on the verge of pulling out my fingernails several times.

I am stoked for this opportunity but I am also hesitant, as so much has already been jumbled. This position is dripping with potential but where my abilities end and luck has to take its course is still up in the air.

My tentative leave date is September 12, 2013. Less than six weeks away and so much has to happen. What would happen if I am offered another job in Syria or Sonoma or Siberia? One that paid enough to pay off my massive student loans, plus living, plus savings, plus a trip here or there?

Professionalism is a skill that us millennial need massive amounts of help on. Its just part of “learning to grow up” I guess. If anyone has some good links or ideas on how to be professional, positive, or productive, please let me know! I am always looking for ways to be a better employee, applicant, and colleague.

Stay tuned for updates as I continue to prepare for my next adventure!

Fresh baked today!