Paris

Saying good-bye again to Jon and Lindsay.  Two of the greatest kids parents could have.  Love you two.

Saying good-bye again to Jon and Lindsay. Two of the greatest kids parents could have. Love you two.

We are back in Paris, and I have to admit, I kind of felt like I was coming home. We have been through this airport so many times the last few years that it seems like our airport. Today we were successful in finding a “Pauls”. That is a boulangerie (bakery) that is a chain, but has the most amazing round loaves of bread with cheese baked into it. It will serve to feed us for the next 36 hours. We met up with the Maranatha volunteers we will be traveling with. Many of them we met last year, so it is like a mini homecoming, just in a foreign country.

Last night we were able to talk with many of you as we waited for an extra two hours in Atlanta. For those we missed, we are sorry, but we either ran out of time or you were not answering your phone.

I was thinking I should write about how we are feeling now that we are finally doing what we have been preparing for for the last 19 months. But honestly, we have such a kaleidoscope of emotions that it is like the white noise people use to go to sleep. We don’t know how we feel. And that is probably a good thing. I think God can use us better if we don’t have preconceived notions or plans that are likely to interfere with His plans. Also the less firm plans we have, the less disappointed we are and the less we fight God when He wants to change things up. For those of you type “A’s” that is not to say that we should go through life without any direction or plan, just be prepared for detours and direction changes. Case in point, Koza to Moundou.

So here we go, and as more than one person has pointed out to us, it will be an adventure. And for all those who fear that serving God will be boring, I can assure you it is not. You never know where He will lead you, but you can always trust that if we knew the end from the beginning, as God does, we would choose no other path than the one in which He led us.

We love you all. We miss you all.

For those of you new to our blog, read about us and our upcoming mission to Africa in the “About Us” page, then there is a “Timeline” page that tells you where we will be this year, and finally a “Definitions” page that explains some terms that may be unfamiliar to some of you. Also check out the links to other Mission Hospitals to find other missionary blogs.

– Scott Gardner

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Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas)

Merry Christmas to all our dear friends and family. We are in Silver Spring, Maryland with Kermit and Ronnalee Netteburg. Ronnalee is Bekki’s sister. It is good to have all our family together.

Lindsay, Bekki, Scott and Jon at the National Christmas Tree, Washington, DC

Lindsay, Bekki, Scott and Jon at the National Christmas Tree, Washington, DC

Christmas eve we went to St John’s church in downtown Washington, DC for a Christmas eve service. This church is the “President’s Church” as it is across the street from the White House and every President since Madison has gone to church there. It was a beautiful service, and a touching way to usher in Christmas. We then made a quick visit to the National and State Christmas trees on the ellipse. From the picture you can tell it was very very cold. Jon was not taking the band off his face for anything.

We head back to Tennessee on Friday for the last minute packing and shopping. And yes, we got our passports with our visas for Tchad, thanks to Diana Jo and Maggy at the GC. All is set for Monday afternoon, December 30 when we finally take off for Africa and all that we have been preparing for.

So on this Christmas day of 2013, from our family to yours, we wish you all a happy, blessed day, full of family, food, laughter and the love of Jesus.

With you we look forward to 2014 and the promise it holds, but even more we look toward the coming of Jesus when we can be with Him forever and everyday will be Christmas.

For those of you new to our blog, read about us and our upcoming mission to Africa in the “About Us” page, then there is a “Timeline” page that tells you where we will be this year, and finally a “Definitions” page that explains some terms that may be unfamiliar to some of you. Also check out the links to other Mission Hospitals to find other missionary blogs.

– Scott Gardner

Au Revoir

With some of our classmates on our last voyage together in Strasbourg

With some of our classmates on our last voyage together in Strasbourg

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. When we arrived nearly three months ago, we had no idea what to expect of our time here. We were not sure what the other students would think about these two really old people who would be their classmates. We know what they were thinking, “Who are they?”and “Did my parents send them here to spy on me?” Then there were the teachers, would they resent us for being ‘’special”? You know grades don’t really count for us, would they think we wanted special treatment? You know, the usual pre-school jitters, will the kids like me, will the teachers like me, will I have friends, will I pass? All those questions. The only thing we had nailed down was the boyfriend-girlfriend thing, that we had covered.

Now three months later, we have all the answers. We passed, actually quite well, thank you very much, and our classmates and teachers liked us, even said they would miss us. And, in case you are wondering, even with the stress of school and all, we are still together. In fact I don’t remember college being this much fun. And, sorry Tom, but Bekki is the best roommate I have ever had.

Bekki with classmates Jacquie and Grace

Bekki with classmates Jacquie and Grace

And we made friends, lots of friends, good friends, and that is the part neither of us expected. It was not supposed to hurt this much to have to leave. Yes, we are counting the hours to when we are with Jon and Lindsay again, but at the same time it has been really hard to say good-bye. We have tempered it some with the promise to come back next November for the AMALF Congress, but our classmates will be gone, and we all know it will never be the same again.

For sure we will miss the chocolate, (I had my last bowl of chocolate chip granola this morning), the cheese, the old world charm, the chocolate, the quiet villages, the history, singing French songs in church and at vespers, and of course the chocolate.

With the missionaries to Geneva, who studied French with us, and are now preparing Geneva for the upcoming evangelistic series

With the missionaries to Geneva, who studied French with us, and are now preparing Geneva for the upcoming evangelistic series

But seriously, more than those temporal things we will really miss the people, our friends. These people have prayed with us, and for us, encouraged us, cried with us, laughed with us, and taught us. So many of them are former missionaries to Africa, especially Cameroon, and they have told us stories about the missions past, and they listen to our stories of the mission present and future. When they heard about the trouble in Koza, the universal response was, “You can’t go there, it is too dangerous.” And this from people who gave their lives and hearts to Cameroon.

They have been so patient with our French, even though it would have been much easier for them to just speak to us in English. They patiently waited as we worked out what we wanted to say, and then when we got it wrong or didn’t pronounce it right, (read “butchered a really beautiful language”) they didn’t laugh, they just quietly corrected us. And when we didn’t understand them, our dear friends patiently repeated the phrase, slowly, loudly and carefully. And although they were truly talking to us as they would a child, they didn’t make us feel like children.

No, we never thought we would have to say good-bye like this from Collonges, or that it would be this hard. But just like when we left Tillamook, when we left the Lewis-Clark Valley, and when we left our family, we leave with heavy, heavy hearts. And although it hurts every time, it means that we are leaving behind people we love and who love us. It means that we have friends all over the world, friends that will support us and pray for us. And as hard as it is, neither of us would trade our time here, in Tillamook, or the L-C Valley, the experiences we have had, the friendships we have made, or our heavy hearts for anything. Because our hearts are heavy with the love of our friends. À bientôt.

For those of you new to our blog, read about us and our upcoming mission to Africa in the “About Us” page, then there is a “Timeline” page that tells you where we will be this year, and finally a “Definitions” page that explains some terms that may be unfamiliar to some of you. Also check out the links to other Mission Hospitals to find other missionary blogs.

– Scott Gardner

Moundou or Bust

The hospital at Moundou

The hospital at Moundou

So there you have it, we are going to Moundou. It has been an incredible journey that we have been on the last two weeks. We received word from the West African Division late the night before Thanksgiving that they had decided it was too dangerous for us to be in Koza, and they had decided to take the advice of Dr. Dick Hart from Adventist Health International and send us to Moundou instead.

For the last couple of months I have been exchanging e-mails with Hamed, the administrator at Koza Hospital. As we laid plans for the future we developed a good relationship. When the issue of safety was first raised he assured me that it was fine, but then I received a heart breaking e-mail from him. He had read the bulletin from the US Embassy and finally realized the full implications of the situation. He told me that although we were badly needed he understood and felt that it would not be safe for us to come. He lost not only a physician but three other volunteers and a student missionary. I had tears in my eyes as I read that e-mail.

Bekki and I spent a lot of time praying and we both came to point of total submission to the will of God. We felt it best to leave the decision in the hands of the Division officers, and if they wanted us in Koza we would go, if to Moundou, or Batouri, we would go. Despite that, there were a lot of emotions last Wednesday night as our dreams and preparations for Koza came crashing down around us. There was not much sleep that night. We know they can go on without us, no one is indispensible, but it will be so much harder for the staff there, and it must be so discouraging. Plus, they are in harm’s way themselves. So we have determined to do everything we can to support our hospital in Koza, even if we cannot be there in person.

I must share with you a story of God’s amazing grace, watch care, and concern for His children. Early last week I received an e-mail from a missionary in the Extreme North of Cameroon. She is an American and I will call her Blessing. Blessing had stumbled on our blog when looking for news of the kidnapped priest. She wrote to me asking about our situation. We wrote back and asked some questions about what it really was like there, from the perspective of someone who is living there. Her reply was…, well the right decision was made, let’s just put it that way. The ex-pat missionaries have all been pulled out of the countryside into the big city where it is much safer. In her years of being in the area, this is the first time she has had concern for their safety. The Police commissioner for the area met with them and strongly warned them against living near, or traveling around the Nigerian Border. This group is cruel, calculating, and very dangerous. Since being designated a terrorist group by the US, they have now threatened US citizens as well. I truly believe that God spared us, the church, and the hospital by warning us before we arrived, and for that I praise Him. And I also believe the e-mail from Blessing is a reassurance from God that the right decision was made.

But now our thoughts must turn toward Moundou. Moundou is the second largest city in Tchad (yes we are now going to Tchad) with an Adventist Surgical Center started by James Appel, and is a two hour drive south of the famed town of Bere. Yes, that Bere, home of Olen and Danae Netteburg our nephew and niece who are physicians at the Adventist Hospital there. (You can check out their blog, “Life Under the Mango Trees”, by clicking on the link on our home page.) And the missionaries in Tchad have reached out to us in a big way already, doing their best to make us feel wanted, welcomed and loved. Fortunately, we already know most of them, the Parkers, the Roberts, the Blands. Last winter, I had the opportunity to visit the hospital at Moundou for a day with Roland Bland, so I have seen it, Bekki has not.

With all the changes the GC is bringing us back to the US for a couple of weeks to get paperwork done, and visas added and so on. We plan to be in Tchad by the end of December. And I will tell you more about Moundou in the next posting.

For those of you new to our blog, read about us and our upcoming mission to Africa in the “About Us” page, then there is a “Timeline” page that tells you where we will be this year, and finally a “Definitions” page that explains some terms that may be unfamiliar to some of you. Also check out the links to other Mission Hospitals to find other missionary blogs.

– Scott Gardner