Dust

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:

Dust.

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.

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Malaria Round #2

After three nights of unsuccessful sleep, a slight fever, body aches, and a headache, I gave in and hunted down an ever busy doctor for a lab test form. Dr. Danae, dressed to the nines in her new Fulani outfit while doing rounds, let me slide without too many questions. I get pricked but I then had to go into town with my mom who is visiting. I was fatigued but no worries, I made it there and back. Right before we head out, I got the verdict: positive at 0.05%. Not bad I guess, considering last time my count was 0.25% after a day of treatment.
Thursday night goes by quick and into a fitful
Friday night.

I felt alright in the morning but as soon as I stood up, I realized there was a limited amount of activity I could do. I could be up for about 15 minutes before I had sit or lay back down. We had a lot to do for a big meeting in the afternoon so I quickly made a list and gave it to Charis. She took charge while I sat with our temperamental printer and printed a couple hundred copies off, one sheet at a time. It can’t take more than one paper in the tray or else it eats them. It worked out though since I could just sit and zone out in my malarial state.

Thankfully, I had bought a bunch of peanuts when I went to the market so I would have some type of salty snack. There are very few salty foods here. Most snacks are sweet biscuits, cookies, wafers, or candy. Sweet foods simply do not agree with me when my stomach is not content. So rather than chance sweet foods and medication to result in vomiting and IV quinine (the worst), I happily munched on salty peanuts.

In the end, I was feeling 95% by Saturday morning. It makes a huge difference when you catch malaria early rather than wait and hope it goes away. Its similar to that awkward conversation you’re putting off or going with that idea you have. You’ve just gotta do it. And the sooner you do it the better off you’ll be tomorrow.

“A stitch in time saves nine.”

Zachary Gately
zchgtly
zgately.com
+235 91122492

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

Shaking Hands with a Leper

Living in Bere has opened my eyes to how it was like in biblical times. The stars come alive living in a city with no electricity. The Fulani people carry their houses along with all their possessions on the backs of donkeys (in N’djamena they use camels but rainy season is too long here for them). The houses are made from mud and the roads are unpaved. James Appel brings much of this alive in his book “Children of the East.”

Yesterday, Naomi and I were going around to the last few quartiers on an announcement run when we remembered to ask about a friend of Tammy’s. Tammy has a program for those in need. In return, she takes their picture and asks them questions about their life. She had made contact with this particular man but when she went to return, her translator had left and began spreading rumors that she was exploiting these people for her personal gain. Hurt, Tammy was all the more determined to find him again but after 4 months without a hit, she had all but given up.

We had found one of her other friends by accident last time we went around to the chiefs. He was demon possessed when Tammy met him. His brother had chained him to the wall of the house so he wouldn’t hurt anyone and he had shredded all of his clothes. When we met him, he was clean shaven, washed clothes, and for sure, was not possessed. As we passed this same quartier, we asked the chief’s son if he knew anything of Tammy’s other friend. He pointed down the road and mentioned a landmark. We followed and low-an-behold, we found him. He had leprosy. He is missing half of his digits on his right hand. He only has heels for feet, wrapped in thick plastic. His gums are painful to look at and it is evident his sight has been gone for some time. He scoots over on his rice-sack mat and welcomes Naomi and I here.

I am speechless and Naomi is about to cry. We tell him that we are happy to see him and that we have been looking for him. He speaks of God’s grace and his worries for his family. He thanks us for visiting and wishes us to return.We reaffirm that this was only the beginning. We had some gifts that we had purchases but since we couldn’t find him, we couldn’t deliver. We blesses our route and we are on our way, speeding back to tell Tammy about our find.

We head back out to him a couple hours later with a bag of rice and the other gifts. We just sit and listen to his story. He was previously pastor and he was one of the only members of his family that survived the war that ravaged the country of Chad 30 years ago. He told us the only reason he is living today is because he tucked his Bible under his arm as he fled for his life. When caught, his captors released him saying they couldn’t kill a man of God.

His leprosy has stopped its progress and his condition is relatively stable, though unreversable. He talks about how his biggest fear is that his kids will make bad decisions. Already he thinks his son-in-laws are studpid. He worries for his wife and for his grandchildren. But at the same time he begs for God to take him from this world. He has seen so much hurt and experienced so much pain. Yet, he is possitive that God is there actively working in his life. God is taking care of him and God will continue to provide.

In the end, we’ve nothing but time to give. We must spend it wisely but also be willing to spend it with others. We can control so little in the world but we can share ourselves with others.

I know I haven’t written much lately (hence the photos earlier) but life has begun to get mundane. I send of some emails, feed a dozen malnurished kids, practice some French, and forever am sweeping my house. Among many things, shaking hands with a man with leprosy helped me realize that I cannot get too comfortable. I don’t want life to pass me by while I sit there thinking everything is normal. I must live life and look for the moments that can’t be done over as time will always keep passing us by. Like I said, life here reminds me of biblical times. Its simplicity and love of time together as friends and family are some of the biggest reminders.

*movie recomendation*
About Time. It is very nice, if not just for the English countryside.

Zachary Gately
zchgtly@gmail.com
zgately.com
+235 91122492

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

Desole!

My Friends! It has been so long since a post so I though the best way to keep you all interested is with some pictures! There are a couple posts in the making so stay tuned for more adventures! Until then, Enjoy!

Shannice took care of Charis while she had 6 liters of fluid put into her frail, giardia ridden body!

Daniel and I completely cleaned out the SM hut with bleach and insecticide. It was quite a task!

Daniel and his children. (He’s been busy since arriving, no?)

Papa and I at Sarah’s surprise birthday party.

In a matter of minutes, i broke out in a rsh that covered my body. By the next morning, it was gone! #whenintchad

The blood bank at the hospital was out of blood so we all donated! First time for our new SM Johnny!

My mom arrived, ready to work with Maranatha as they completed the Nursing school. She brought me a coffee maker, bless her heart!

And here is a selection of the colorful mats available at our local market! I had to buy a bunch for the AHI ceremony that took place Friday. There are so many more awesome colors and patterns available in Moundou and NDJ.

I hope this satisfies your curiosity for thee next day or so as I finish up those posts and get them out! Take care!

Zachary Gately
zchgtly@gmail.com
zgately.com
+235 91122492

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

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 @ gmail.com
zgately.com
Berep21.wordpress.com
+235 91122492

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

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