Electricity

Sunday afternoon I was sitting in my office contentedly doing consults when the lights went out, and the fan slowly spun to a stop. I knew Isaac our maintenance man was at a funeral and likely to be gone all day, so when I finished the consult I headed out to the generator, which was now quiet and restarted it. Two consults later, the lights went out again, the fan spun slowly to a stop and my heart sank. Something was wrong with the generator, Isaac was gone, and we had had city power for most of the last two days, which meant it was not likely to come around again for a while (this was true). So I went back out to the generator and this time really looked at it. Temperature warning, so when I restarted it I watched it start out at 85 degrees, normal operating temperature and fairly quickly rise to 89-92-93-95-99-102-106 at which point it shut itself off.

Adrian and I looked all over the generator, and deduced that although the radiator did not have a reservoir, it was full, the fan worked, but clearly the water pump was not pumping. It was now almost dark and the hospital had no power. No power means no water pump to fill the water tower. Fortunately no one was on oxygen, so other than being dark the hospital was fine.

At the house we got busy filling buckets and trash cans with water, and getting the new portable generator (thank you Clarkston Church) going and hooked up to at least provide the house with power. I felt like a real jerk having power at the house while the hospital was dark, but not bad enough to switch it off, and I didn’t know how to hook up the little generator to the hospital (I do now). Besides the hospital had power all last week when we were dark in the house.

God answered our prayers when Isaac showed up at 8 pm and got the fluid flowing again in the radiator. However, this was just the culmination of the electrical problems we have struggled with since returning from Europe. The charger unit for our house batteries died in October so Isaac bought the best one on the market here in Moundou, turned out to be the only one on the market, and it is a car battery charger, not a deep cycle battery charger. It really wasn’t charging the batteries well, just partially. So an hour after the generator shut off the batteries would die. Even with the generator going the inverter would shut off every few minutes leaving us in darkness. That was fine from midnight to five am, but in the evening it really put a damper on things. For a while we didn’t know if the problem was the batteries, the inverter or the charger. We couldn’t find anyone who knew enough about it to tell us, but the missionaries in Koutou came through with an old charger they were not using. It worked!! Now we just have to find another charger like it, so they can have theirs back.

Anyway, the point is, you never realize how dependent you are on something until you don’t have it. Those of you who have gone through blackouts can relate. Unfortunately here it seems like it is one electrical problem after another. Fortunately, we brought a bunch of stuff like the generator, cables, solar powered lights and so on to get us through the dark times. At this moment in time, all is well, we have power, the hospital has power, and the internet is working reasonably well. Let the good times roll.

Bekki enjoying one organized, clean corner of the house, because...

Bekki enjoying one organized, clean corner of the house, because…

...this is what the rest of the house looked like.

…this is what the rest of the house looked like.

Other news from the home front, our volunteers are all safely in the nest. Adrian Sarli of course met us in Paris and came down to N’djamena with us a couple weeks ago. Last Sunday Diana Hernandez, a nurse from Mexico, joined us after spending two weeks in Bere. Both have fit in beautifully here and are a huge help as we continue to try and get settled and organized. We have been so blessed with our volunteers, they are so helpful and cheerful and such an encouragement to us. Friday afternoon we met Dr. Orie Kaltenbaugh, an orthopedic surgeon from Clarkston, Washington, at the bus station. I cannot begin to tell you how nice it is to have a real orthopod here. He has already taught me so much and given so much helpful advice. And just having another doctor to talk things over with is a huge relief. Thank you Lisa for sharing him with us for a couple of weeks. While I am at it, thanks to all of you who have shared your kids, spouses, brothers, sisters, whatever, with us for a time as volunteers. We did the three weeks in October with no volunteers and I am telling you, it was not fun.
Dr. Orie, inspecting a wound as Diana changes the dressing.

Dr. Orie, inspecting a wound as Diana changes the dressing.

Saturday night we had our first party of the season. We had a couple of young ladies who are here teaching English for a year and an older missionary, all from the Mennonite mission over to have smoothies, pop corn, and play games. One of the girls plays the piano so for worship we had real live piano accompaniment as we sang some favorite hymns. We partied hard, laughing, talking, telling stories until late into the night (9 pm) when our guests had to return home. Reality is everyone is usually pretty tired by then anyway, so it felt really late.

One of the blessings of life in the mission field is that no day, no part of the day is ever boring. Another blessing is that you never have to look for trouble, it will find you soon enough. In fact you never have to wait for the other shoe to drop, it dropped 10 minutes ago. That being said, we continuously marvel that we have this opportunity to be here. Thank you all for your love and support.

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 as well as the videos she has made of 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. For our Francophone friends there is a French translation of our blog that you can find at http://gardnersenafrique.wordpress.com.

We welcome volunteers.

-Scott Gardner

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48 Hours

In about 48 hours we will be headed back home to Moundou. For now we are on the train headed to Paris for a rendez-vous with our newest volunteer, Adrian Sarli. In fact his plane should have just landed at Charles de Gaulle airport.

Before I tell you about our time here in France, I must clarify something I said in the previous blog post. I made the comment that I really didn’t want to have to deal with another container, and although it is true, it is also true that containers are necessary from time to time as we need them to transport large pieces of equipment we cannot get elsewhere. So we will face other container wars in the future. What I neglected to say was how much we appreciate the hard work that goes into packing and sending these containers on the part of the team at Adventist Health International in Loma Linda, and the team from AMALF in France. And they do work very hard at gathering supplies and packing them in such a way to withstand the rigors of ocean and overland transport. So to all of you, from all of us, a huge thank you.

Chateau Chambord in the Loire River Valley

Chateau Chambord in the Loire River Valley

We began our trip with a great week with Lindsay visiting Blois in the Loire River Valley, and then spending several days in Paris with her. It was her first multi-day visit to Paris, so it was a lot of fun showing her around. And she showed us where she got mugged in September, and how she fought back, and pinched the guy hard enough he gave back her wallet and then ran like the wind to get away from this crazy American. I was so proud of her. We had an absolutely beautiful day to visit Versailles and explore parts of it we had never seen. Sabbath we met several of her new friends from Spain, as well as our friends at the Paris International Church. We were also able to give a couple of presentations and do some recruiting of francophone volunteers.
Sitting on the throne (no really) in the throne room in Chateau Blois.

Sitting on the throne (no really) in the throne room in Chateau Blois.

Selfie at Versailles

Selfie at Versailles

Marie Antoinette's Hamlet on the grounds of Versailles.

Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet on the grounds of Versailles.

Wednesday morning we flew to Geneva and went back to work, doing presentations at an Adventist Rehab Center outside Geneva, La Ligniere, as well as at Collonges with the IFLE (French language) students. Finally the last presentation at the Friday night meeting with AMALF (Association Medicale Adventiste de Langue Francais). Really the big purpose of this trip is to strengthen ties with our French speaking church family, and recruit French speaking volunteers.

Lindsay taking a picture of me taking a picture Bekki taking a selfie in front of Notre Dame

Lindsay taking a picture of me taking a picture Bekki taking a selfie in front of Notre Dame

Chateau de Vincennes, the donjon, Palace of Charles V

Chateau de Vincennes, the donjon, Palace of Charles V

Overlooking a beautiful valley in the Rhone Alps region of France

Overlooking a beautiful valley in the Rhone Alps region of France

I have to say it has been absolutely wonderful. Our friends from the Paris International Church, Collonges and AMALF have been so good to us. I am afraid if I start naming names I will leave someone out, but you all know who you are and you are so appreciated. Both Bekki and I have commented on how amazing it is to have the same feelings of home in France like we have in the US with our friends and family there. It is something we never thought we would experience, but we are so blessed to have such an international family. So to our American family (our friends are family too) we send you a huge ginormous thank you for your love and support. A notre famille francaise, nous vous envoyons la reconnaissance geante et enorme pour votre amour et votre soutien.
Song service Friday night at AMALF

Song service Friday night at AMALF

In 48 hours we head back to Tchad. I am happy to report that I am ready to go back and get back to work there. I have come to realize that our ministry takes on many facets that we didn’t anticipate. For example our ministry to the young expatriates in Moundou, not just ours but those working with other missions as well. The ministry of the God pods. We hear them being played all day, every day, the Bible being read in their native tongue. The ministry of the Jesus video that we show in Ngombaye. The ministry of just trying to do as Jesus did and relieve a little of the suffering that we see. And now to start our French library of medical books, health education materials, reading and picture books for our staff and patients. And the ministry of encouraging people in Europe and the US to share Jesus and His love right where they are.

We love and appreciate you all, and look forward to seeing you again soon.

Cathedrale Saint Jean le Baptiste in Lyon, France

Cathedrale Saint Jean le Baptiste in Lyon, France

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 as well as the videos she has made of 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. For our Francophone friends there is a French translation of our blog that you can find at http://gardnersenafrique.wordpress.com.

We welcome volunteers.

-Scott Gardner

Les Sauterelles

“Owwww!!! Help Scott, get him off, get him out.”

Bekki and I were sitting on our bed, tucked safely inside our mosquito net in our pajamas when Bekki started screaming and grabbing at the back of her night shirt. I was pretty sure I knew what was wrong. Tis the season for les sauterelles, the grasshoppers. They are everywhere and one had found his way onto Bekki’s back inside her shirt. I can only imagine the distress, actually the look on her face made it easier to imagine the distress.
We managed to get the intruder out and disposed of (down the toilet) and things settled back down. But seriously it has been like one of the plagues of Egypt. Crunch, crunch when you walk. Most of the time in the evening two or three will be hitchhiking somewhere on your body. They are inside, outside and any other side you wish to have. And they seem to be dying. I guess they must come out to breed and then die, but I don’t really know.

At the bus stop in Bongor today there were baskets of them for sale, pre-roasted for your eating convenience. Some looked like they were honey roasted, so are probably pretty tasty. And for those of you who might be concerned, yes they are a clean meat according to Leviticus 11. However, I am grateful to be a vegetarian. I tried to find out how long this plague will last, but have not gotten a straight answer. Hopefully when we get back in two and a half weeks all that will be left are the corpses to sweep up.

We are currently in N’djamena, hopefully headed up to France to spend some time with Lindsay and then attend the AMALF meetings in Lyon, France. AMALF is an organization of French speaking Adventist medical professionals who support mission work in French speaking Africa. They have been a huge support to us and we are looking forward to spending time with them again and working with them on future projects.

I said hopefully headed up to France because I have received two e-mails and one phone call telling us that our flight tonight is slightly delayed, by 6 hours. We were supposed to leave at midnight and now are leaving at 6 am tomorrow. Fortunately the TEAM mission here had an apartment we could use tonight. It is really quite nice and not only that, it keeps us off the streets.

Just a few other random happenings this last few weeks. Probably the biggest excitement was the arrival of another container. Most of the supplies were for our sister hospital Bere and their staff, particularly Mason and Kim McDowell. But there were things for the missionaries at the airstrip, for us and for the Appels who are starting a hospital near Abeche, which is close to the Sudan border.

The team from Bere resting a bit after working hard all day.

The team from Bere resting a bit after working hard all day.

As much as I appreciate all the things we get in these containers, I am not sure I really want to see another one. They are so stressful. And although this went smoother than the first one did, it was still pretty much disorganized chaos. You never really know what is happening for sure. This time we decided against hiring a crane to lift the container off the truck. So we (actually, they, because the team from Bere, Mason and Kim, Jonathan Dietrich and Masha, did most of the unloading and loading, and had to deal with all the chaos. I was operating and Bekki was trying to get the stuff for Moundou situated before it developed legs and walked off), so they had to unload the stuff and then the empty container was taken off the truck, and reloaded. Then the next morning it was transferred from there to another truck for the journey to Bere. I think it is safe to say the team from Bere is not real anxious for another container anytime soon either.

A word or two about getting an empty container off the truck. I have included pictures, but if you ever get the chance to watch Tchadiens take a container off a truck, don’t miss it. We are talking entertainment value to make a Hollywood producer blush.

The two containers tied together with metal cable

The two containers tied together with metal cable

First they tied cable (yes I said “tied cable”, I didn’t think you could actually make knots with ¾ inch cable, but that just shows how little I know) from the top corners of the container already on the ground to the top corners of the container on the truck. The driver then simply drove forward and the container neatly dropped on the ground, ha in your dreams.

Both containers moved forward, the new one still safely on the truck.

Both containers moved forward, the new one still safely on the truck.

Reality: When the driver went forward both containers went with him. Then the cable broke (the knot held). So we (sorry, he) tried it again several times, then with Jonathan Dietrich’s chain, which also broke. Finally, however, he got the container partway off, but not quite to the point the back end would drop. So a couple of guys got under the container hanging off the truck bed and wedged 4X4’s under it. I could not believe they were not wearing hard hats. If that dangling container were to suddenly fall on them, someone was going to get a head injury. That’s the American in me, safety first.
The broken cable

The broken cable

Working underneath the now dangling container

Working underneath the now dangling container

Pushing the container

Pushing the container

So several more tries, several more trips under the dangling container, several more adjustments of chain and cable, when finally with a resounding thud in a cloud of dust the container settled, nicely lined up next to the first one, just where we wanted it. Hope you enjoy the pictures.

The container now partly on the ground

The container now partly on the ground

And safely, miraculously, amazingly in place.  Hallejuha!!!!!

And safely, miraculously, amazingly in place. Hallejuha!!!!!

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 as well as the videos she has made of 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. For our Francophone friends there is a French translation of our blog that you can find at http://gardnersenafrique.wordpress.com.

We welcome volunteers.

-Scott Gardner

Epilogue: We did finally get out of Tchad at 6:00 am the next morning and met Lindsay at the Charles De Gaulle airport. Next post will be about our adventures in Europe.