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.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.
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.