Merry Christmas

We would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Joyeux Noel. We pray this letter finds you and your family well, happy and together.

Although we have had more personal and professional growth this year tibhan ever before, and faced more challenges and more obstacles than ever before, one of the downsides of writing a blog is that it makes it tough to write a Christmas letter. I have already written about our experiences this last year so I can’t write a summation letter, telling all about the year. So I thought I would keep it simple.

I would simply like to thank all of you who have made this year possible. All of you who have prayed for us, donated supplies and money for our projects and encouraged us. It is not possible for me to find adequate words to express how much that has meant to us.

There are however, a few institutions and individuals who deserve a special note of thanks and acknowledgement.
Adventist Health International and St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center for their donation of supplies.
Clarkston SDA Church for it’s financial and moral support.

Archie and RBD Willis, David and Cathy Olson, and Kermit and Ronnalee Netteburg, our stateside family who have handled our business affairs, paid bills, sold our house, found renters and plumbers, shopped for us and done countless other things that we could not do from Africa.

Our August group, Patty, Will, Jolene, Clia, Lindsay, Nick and Kelsey

Our August group, Patti, Will, Jolene, Clia, Lindsay, Nick and Kelsey

And our volunteers. To all of you, we could not have made it through the year without you. We know, we went 3 weeks in October without any volunteers, it wasn’t pretty or pleasant. You gave up money and time and your families to come be with us and work with us. You saw us at our worst. You raised money for the Centre. You put up with lousy living conditions, malaria, diarrhea, sand in your food, slow unreliable internet, all so you could make a difference. And you did and continue to make a difference in our lives and in the lives of the people of Tchad. You are our African family.
Johnny, Rebecca, Laura

Johnny, Rebecca, Laura

Rebecca Wind – Denmark
LyDiana Jesmin – Malaysia
Tini Binaas – Malaysia
Johnny Ahn – Georgia, USA
Brandon Tresenriter – California, USA

Rebecca, Johnny, Brandon

Rebecca, Johnny, Brandon


Laura Engelsen – Denmark
Henrik and Miriam Hoberg – Norway
Thomas Andersen – Denmark
Matt Tresenriter – California, USA
Matt Tresenriter

Matt Tresenriter


Ellen Shin – California, USA
Lindsay Gardner, Tennessee, USA
,Lindsay, Ellen, Johnny

,Lindsay, Ellen, Johnny


Nick and Kelsey Ewing, North Carolina, USA
Lindsay, Nick, Kelsey, Clia

Lindsay, Nick, Kelsey, Clia


Patty Padhilha – Uruguay
Patty, Will, Jolene

Patty, Will, Jolene


Will and Jolene Wainwright – Washington, USA
A rousing Saturday night game of Hand and Foot

A rousing Saturday night game of Hand and Foot


Adrian Sarli – Tennessee, USA
Diana Hernandez – Mexico
Dr. Orie

Dr. Orie

Orie Kaltenbaugh – Washington, USA

On this Christmas 2014, it is our wish to be with you all again. May Jesus come again soon and make that wish come true.

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 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.

-Scott Gardner

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Ousman and Ali

I heard a car behind me and turned around to look. I was greeted by the sight of a white Toyota Hilux (the most common vehicle in Moundou) disgorging a number of Arabic men. They were tugging on something in the back seat, and pretty soon the form of a young boy, 11 or 12 years old, was drug out, and hauled by his four limbs, without any spinal precautions, across the sand to our back door. I finished up the consult I was doing and gave the nurse a few minute to do his assessment, then I went out into the Salle de Reveil (our ICU, recovery room, ER combo pack) and asked the nurse what had happened. “It was an accident, Doctor.” I nodded in agreement, thinking to myself, “I am never going to learn, am I?” Ask a stupid question…So I found out it was a moto accident and that he had been unconscious since the accident, which had just happened a short time before.

I quickly looked him over, he was breathing fine, lungs were a little junky, but good breath sounds, no obvious fractures, tummy soft, not distended, pulse and blood pressure were OK, and no evidence of head injury, except a little swelling around his left eye. In fact, not a mark on him. Then I opened his eyes, uh oh, right pupil was already fixed and dilated, the left one was a little smaller but didn’t react to light either. I had already decided we aren’t doing craniotomies here, so I won’t be tempted to use precious resources in a losing cause (God can work a miracle without my help), and anyway without a CT scan I had no idea what was going on in his head, I just knew it was really bad.

So I gave my well-rehearsed speech to the family that we would do what we could, but that without a miracle from God he was going to die. Throughout the evening he developed problems handling his secretions, so we set up suction and showed the family how to suction him. His oxygen saturations decreased, so the nurses started oxygen, but he continued to slowly deteriorate as his brain predictably swelled.

The next morning after worship I went into the Salle de Reveil and noticed he was still there, but he seemed to be breathing easier, much less noise. I went over to him and touched his forehead, it was warm, but as I watched, his chest didn’t move. I felt for his pulse and couldn’t find it. Abba, our consultation nurse, came over and listened to his chest and quietly shook his head. Ousman had just died. The family members that were at his bedside still didn’t realize he was gone. We gently explained that the inevitable had happened, and as we had expected he hadn’t survived his injury.

Ali was across the room from Ousman, just a few feet away, he had come in the day before with a broken femur, also from a motorcycle accident. He said something to me in Arabic and motioned me aside. He had been there all night watching as the nurses had cared for Ousman, so I thought he was upset about having to see this little boy die. I wished I had a curtain I could draw so he wouldn’t have to watch, but there was nothing I could to protect him from this sight.

I am always amazed at the perfunctory way a family goes about caring for the body. His catheter and IV were removed and within minutes the body was on the back porch waiting for the Toyota Hilux to come back for him. All this was done in total silence, with stone faces, totally devoid of emotion. As I usually do at times like this, I retreated to my office and closed the door. I needed a few minutes to just sit, and mentally prepare myself for rounds. I keep my windows open so I have fresh air in my office, and I heard a sound outside. I turned my head and saw Ousman’s father squatted down facing the wall, body wracked with sobs as he mourned the loss of his son. It was the most private place he had to give in to his grief.

Later that afternoon we took Ali back to the OR to fix his broken femur. The case went well, it was a nice transverse fracture, there weren’t multiple fragments so we were able to get a good reduction and fixation with an intramedullary nail. And thanks to the techniques I learned from Dr. Orie Kaltenbaugh, the blood was minimal as well. Toward the end of the operation, Daniel gave him some ketamine in addition to the spinal, so he had the usual moaning and verbalizations people get with the ketamine. We give them valium too, so they don’t remember it. Anyway, he kept saying Ousman, Ousman, Ousman, over and over. I looked at the nurses and that was when I found out that Ali was Ousman’s older brother, and he had been driving the moto that had the accident that killed his little brother. The look, the words in Arabic, and the agitation of the morning now made sense, and my heart broke as I finished closing his physical wounds, knowing I couldn’t heal his heart.

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