It has been 49 days, 7 weeks, 1, 176 hours, or 70,560 minutes since we arrived at Moundou. And it has probably been the longest, most difficult 49 days of my life. Especially if you think of it in terms of minutes, then it sounds interminable. At the same time it is hard to believe that we have already been here for 7 weeks. It has flown by, probably because we have not had time to think about it.
But tonight is the time to reflect on these 49 days, because today marked a turning point in our missionary experience. Bekki and I graduated from our Missionary Residency Training Program. The graduation was a little anticlimactic, we heard it rather than participated in it. And, I know what you are thinking, it had nothing to do with the Imam, although he was chatting on the microphone at about the same time. You see this morning at 5:47 am James and Sarah left. As in gone, as in all three French verbs (that I know), partir, sortir, and quitter. We heard them drive off, but didn’t get up since we had said our goodbyes last night. Tonight they are in N’djamena, and we are here.
And you know what? By the grace of God, we are OK with it. There have been a lot of times the last few weeks, especially those first weeks, where I would have used the slightest excuse to go home. I even thought of which diseases would get me sent home. Unfortunately they were either not acceptable, or I was vaccinated against them. There were times I thought they would be sending me home in one of those white coats with the long wrap-around sleeves. There were times I thought I must be the worst missionary ever, and there have been a lot of times I really questioned the omniscience of God. I mean really, us? You couldn’t do any better?
But now as I look back, I see once again how God has led us, and would not trade it for anything. James and Sarah held our hands as we took our first steps and then turned us loose at the right time, encouraging us, but letting us make mistakes and learn lessons the hard way, through experience. And through the darkest days, when we thought we were drowning, and couldn’t see the surface of the water, because of your prayers and encouragement, God sustained us.We are making friends with the staff members, and with the church members. In fact each Sabbath morning we load up the ambulance and take up to 15 or more people to church with us from the area around the hospital. After church yesterday, Bekki was invited to a women’s council meeting where they planned the upcoming events for women’s week. I met the Principal of the local Adventist School and he took me and several others over to the school to look it over. Partially of course, to start hitting me up for money to help build it up. But you know, I can’t blame him. Four hundred students in primary school (six grades) with seven teachers, in one and a half buildings. The half building is missing it’s top half and roof, except for two rooms which have a thatch roof. They have lots of land, just not much in the way of buildings, so I would be looking for funding too.
We are also starting to get the crazy work schedule under control. Tomorrow night the administrative committee meets for the first time with me as medical director. We will be discussing the answer to the question: “What is the mission of the Surgical Center of Moundou?” We have to decide that before we can move on to the other questions and issues. The surgery center is at a crossroads, it has been functioning somewhere between a general hospital and a surgery center with most of the problems of both without the benefits. We really need an identity.
Tonight we are in the big house. It is as good as anticipated. Even though we don’t have most of our things, and we are still sleeping on a mattress on the floor, it is still a huge leap forward. James and Sarah were gracious hosts, but we were still guests in their home. Now we are in our home, we are at our hospital, with our volunteers, with our staff. For tonight all is well, we are at peace, we are content, we are happy. Even though I know many more difficulties lie ahead, we finished our training with our heads held high, ready to start the next exciting phase of our missionary career. For we know in Whom we have believed, and we know we have you behind us, giving us love, support and prayers from all over the world.
For those of you new to our blog please look around at the other pages, the “About” page tells a bit of who we are and our background, the “Definitions” page explains some terms that are used that some of you may not be familiar with, such as GC or AHI. The “Timeline” gives an idea of where we will be throughout the year, and the “Video” page has a video Bekki made of Koza Hospital, where we initially were to be. Soon there will be a new video about Moundou. There is also the Surgical Pictures Page, but be forewarned, it has some very graphic pictures, so if you don’t like blood and guts, stay away from that page. You will also find links to other missionary blogs such as Olen and Danae Netteburg, Jaime and Tammy Parker and others. Finally, if you like our blog and want to receive each new post directly to your e-mail, please sign up with your e-mail in the subscribe box. It doesn’t cost anything, there is no commitment, it just makes it easier to follow us.
We welcome volunteers.