Blog: What are you winning at?

“What are you winning at today?” Our server asked us as we tried no to laugh in her face. It was a valid question, just an odd timing that she asked us. We were at the Gratitude Café at one of there SoCal locations, expecting wholesome hippie food. That’s not meant to be derogatory in the least. When I am asked what food I miss most, it’s hippie food. What I would give for my Spicy Tofu Salad at Pangeas…..

I digress, if you want good, healthy, wholesome food, go to the Gratitude Café. There’s on in LA, one in Berkley, and a couple other locations. Their food is based on having gratitude and positive reinforcement for yourself alongside a healthful plate of comfort food.

These last two weeks I have had lots of gratitude. Many unexpected things happened during a time that was less than fun. There have been some political issues that are being worked through but these issues just added to the rest of stress. I’m doing two jobs, trying to workout how to get a car, stay healthy, traveling up and down and between Lai to Moundou to Ndjamena, and some how I’ve managed to keep clean underwear stocked through it all.

I was preparing for potluck, our Saturday afternoon lunch, but couldn’t figure out what to put in as “meat” for spring rolls. I went to Danae and Olen’s to ask what they used to make their peanut based veggie meat. Instead they just gave me a flat of veggie burger! Score!

Then I got a couple of unexpected packages. They routinely take way longer than I care to think of but these cam just in time. One was from my family in Austria that had the largest Milka Chocolate bars I have seen. I ate enough to get sick but you know, I’m trying to stay healthy so I’m limiting the rest! And then, since some couple left, last minute a package was rerouted to me. Super!

I’ve also been trying to read more. When I first arrived, I couldn’t read anything about a similar situation as me. I just wanted to escape. But the last three books I’ve read, all very good btw, have taken place on this continent and somehow had some lessons to learn. Cutting for Stone, Acts of Faith, and The Poison Wood Bible. The last one is a tough one because it’s about missionaries who mess up. I was pleased that it arrived with a bag of coffee from a college friend that was finished well before the book was started. Amazing.

With all the traveling, I have had extra time not only for reading, but also for listening. Another a friend from college stocks me on music from time. That way, I won’t be totally culture shocked when go back annually. Some short term volunteers also took pity on us and sent some great Podcasts (Serial, really check it out). What an escape headphones can provide.

All I can say is that I am grateful for these little things that end up being not so little. So what am I winning at today? I am winning at friends.

Zachary Gately, MPH
zchgtly@gmail.com
zgately.com
+235 68920884
+235 91122492

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

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Blog: I’m coming home without missionary pants!

We are well into rainy season now! This means frequently washing my feet, sparse variety of veggies outside of greens, and I’m lucky if my towel dries between uses. I bet you wanna know how often that is…

It’s also the season for lots of comings and goings. We have a variety of short termers come through during the summer as well as lots of longer term taking vacation or leaving. Needless to say, I’ve been busy tripping to and from Kelo, Moundou, Ndjamena and back to Bere too!

Our lone Student Missionary left this past month as well. I like to think that she was inspired by my public health work to return to the US to do her MPH after she fell in love with this diverse and rewarding career. In reality, she liked public heath before she arrived at this district hospital next to the middle of nowhere. In leaving, she left notes for many of us on prescription pads. My prescription was frequent shopping with occasional chill pills and a vacation after three months!

So yes, I’m coming home….on vacation in October!

But I’ve been trying to continue searching for a new pair of pants as my “Doctor” recommended some shopping. Recently I’ve had a couple pairs wear out and I really just need a good pair of non-ethic, non-dress, non-jeans pair of pants. But that doesn’t mean I need missionary pants.

Thanks to an old college crush, I’ve learned a new category of pants: missionary pants. I didn’t know they existed until last month when Sarah Macomber was explaining that my old crush (who apparently had a crush on me too!?! I find this out only after Sarah arrived. They were inseparable in college) called my pants “missionary pants.” I’ve come to learn that this means those khaki travel pants that have lots of pockets and dry fast are missionary pants. Funny how life works out that I had missionary pants and now I’m in the mission field. But just to clarify: I don’t have any now. Just not my style and it’s way too easy to be picked out. Now I just wear my Arab robe and get called Alhaj Zach and then get a free drink. But it’s nice to have an actual good every day pair of pants too!

So in the weeks to come, I keep looking for that pair of pants.

Zachary Gately, MPH
zchgtly@gmail.com
zgately.com
+235 68920884
+235 91122492

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

Blog: Do you want some cookies?

Growing up really sucks sometimes. Running around without a care in the world except where I need make my next fort was my mantra for most of my childhood. I watch the kids here and see that they have similar missions: catch all the creepy crawlies, create an awesome stick collection, and look for every opportunity to eat cookies!

I still look for every opportunity to eat cookies.

But as a kid, you are oblivious to most difficult things. Kids often don’t care if you’re fat or have bad teeth or if your skin or religion is different. They just want to play and eat cookies.

When did we change?

There has been so much hurt in the last few weeks, months, years…maybe its just because I’m in tune to news now as a socially responsible, post-grad 20-something millennial. When the killings to Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and the Dallas DART happened, I was in Moundou (which means 3g cellular network) and I actually was able to load the news. As each day passed and something else happened, I didn’t know how to feel. So after checking in with friends in the US, I bought some cookies and shared them with the doctor’s kids we were staying with as they taught me French and watched French cartoons.

Once back in the bush, I relayed this new info to our team. They were equally saddened as no news had reached them (social media restrictions are in effect). I felt terrible as I relayed this news to the adults and one little 7 year old listened on. He looked really confused why this would be happening. He had a look on his face that said, “I don’t know what’s going on but I know that it’s important and sad.”

Now as other things happen (and continue) like Nice, Turkey, racism, refugees, child brides, sex slaves, crazy presidential candidates, let’s just remember to always have open arms, stand up for what’s right, and to share cookies with everyone, no matter how different they are.

Jojo and Abigail in Moundou

Ps if you want to see more photos, check out my Instagram at Instagram.com/zchgtly

Zachary Gately, MPH
zchgtly@gmail.com
zgately.com
+235 68920884
+235 91122492

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

Blog: can I borrow $20?

Will ya look at that? I’m gonna die here….oh well I guess we can back up. So I’m not going to die as in “future proche” conjugation like tomorrow or next week. It’s just that it seems like my life is more and more permanently here in the African bush: I’ve been promoted to Deputy Director of Adventist Health International!

Whoah! I’m the Leslie Knope of Chad! Those are some big shoes to fill!

But I’m going to need a car, so can I borrow $20? I need about $22,000 so with over 1100 friends on Facebook, I just need to borrow $20 from each of you! Or you can advertise to your friends.

Seriously…I’ll pay you back! Just let me know when you need the $20 back! Any time!

So there’s PayPal (zchgtly@gmail.com) and venmo (@zchgtly)!

Ok I’m going to sleep now! $22,000 in the morning? 😎

Ps. Also if anyone knows of a female Ben Wyatt, you have my contact info.

Zachary Gately, MPH
zchgtly@gmail.com
zgately.com
+235 68920884
+235 91122492

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

Zachary Gately, MPH
zchgtly@gmail.com
zgately.com
+235 68920884
+235 91122492

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

Blog: one long trip

I like planning. Programing. Everything has its time. Spontaneity is great but that’s more of a fun thing rather than a work thing.

Chad doesn’t like planning. Nor programming. What is time? Spontaneity is more of an everyday life thing and fun has to be planned out well in advance.

This past Thursday was the fifth of May or Cinco de Mayo so we had an Adventist celebration of the Americanized Mexican holiday in Chad with Haystacks and virgin piña coladas, as well as amazing authentic tamales made by Ben and Diana. Diana worked very hard. She started from whole grain corn kernels in the morning and ended with master pieces of tamales. I supplied the banana leaves.

Well, long story short, we found out we needed something that would be in N’Djamena the next day, Friday. I volunteered to go. But there wasn’t a known place to stay. No problem, I fired off an email to the evangelical mission to see if they had a bed for the weekend.

By 10:30 the next morning, I was half way there on the bus but hadn’t heard back so I figured why not just try to get back the same day. Olen already offered to pick me up in Kelo. The trip lagged on with minimal engine trouble, narrow camel misses, and a couple of prayer stops. I reached N’Djamena at about 2 and headed on my way to get my errands done.

The stops are as follows: Bank -> Appel household -> market -> pick up meds -> bus.

I thought I was going to fry while there. While my shoes were one, I felt like I had left them in the sun and then put them on. James and Sarah Appel have a beautiful house on the outside of N’Djamena where they can see camels while eating breakfast and dinner. I could’ve sworn my toes were going to burn off on the ride back. I don’t recommend a motorcycle ride through a hot sand plane in the middle of the hot season.

These meds were oddly arranged in 20 something tiny cartons. After half of them were loaded on the bus, they said I had to load the second half into the seat next to me and buy another ticket. So the second bus trip of the day resulted in me snoozing until we hit a bump and a box fell on me. Olen’s in-laws instead came to pick me up at midnight in Kelo. We threw the boxes in the back of their car and headed off, arriving home just before a light rain hit.

But it for sure was an accomplishment. Never had I gone to N’Djamena and back in the same day. It was long but not bad. It sure was nice to be able to sleep in my own bed the same night and of course it was great to get back for pizza potluck!

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” –Henry David Thoreau

I made the potato one! (Bottom right corner!)

Zachary Gately
zchgtly@gmail.com
zgately.com
+235 68920884
+235 91122492

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

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
zchgtly@gmail.com
zgately.com
+235 68920884
+235 91122492

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

Blog: Coffee is nectar from the gods

Well well well, as we age, apparently routines start to take hold of us. And as we get much older, we try to regulate those routines as much as possible (fiber pills and prune juice anyone?).

Just joking. I’ve never been one for routines, or at least routine routines. Every day of the week is different with the exception of a few things. The first (and currently not happening) is a morning run. Last year I was really good at keeping going. Then all my running partners left one by one and now it’s way to cold (54 the other morning! Yikes!). Second (and currently only routine) is a cup of coffee in the morning. I know and I know, it’s a terrible habit. Caffeine is a drug. I’ll probably get acid reflux at some point. But seriously, as my mother said, it’s like a warm hug in the morning from the inside. Just can’t kick it.

Now maybe if I had fancy koumbachew or açai berries or chia seeds or a bikram yoga studio, I wouldn’t need coffee. But it stimulates my brain in a way that just can’t be replicated. It warms up my engine and keeps it going.

To be exact, it’s Trader Joe’s Organic Fair Trade Five Country Espresso blend or anything from Augies (available in Redlands and Riverside, CA) that works best. It’s like using ultra premium 180 octane fuel (does it even go that high ever?) for a little rinky dinky VW bug. It just rockets off!

Anyway, I’ll just keep sipping away into the New Year and hope my stash keeps my satisfied. *cough cough*

Ps. I started making my bed but already fell of the wagon so I’m back to 1 routine only.

Zachary Gately
zchgtly@gmail.com
zgately.com
+235 68920884
+235 91122492

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