Physical Therapy

We are currently in N’djamena ready to head back to Moundou on the early morning bus. We just got back from our whirlwind trip to California, primarily to recruit a physical therapist. Since shortly after arriving here we have known that we desperately need a real physical therapist. The best surgery in the world is to no avail if you end up with a stiff, frozen knee.

Rebecca did it, and made a huge difference, until Diana came. She has put her heart and soul into it, but it is not her passion, it is not why she came to Tchad. She has made a huge difference as well, but when we first heard that there was a physical therapist, with business training, and Oh yea, he already speaks French, we were, well we were ecstatic. But as always there was a catch, he might still be going to Haiti. We waited, we prayed, and we waited. Finally Rebecca could stand it no longer (thankfully) and she e-mailed Angeli at the Global Health Office, “is Nick still available, should we continue to hope, or move on?”

Turns out Haiti fell through, (bummer, sorry Nick) and he was thinking and praying about what to do next. When we got that e-mail, it was clear to me what needed to be done. Nick needed to know we were serious, we were really flesh and blood, not just some name on a paper, and if Haiti didn’t need him, we did. The time I could go to California and make a personal appeal was just over two weeks away. It was clear to me that God was in this, everything fell into place, Samedi was available to cover, we were able to get reasonably priced tickets, Nick was available then and so on.

So on March 22 we headed up to N’djamena, caught our flight to Paris to Atlanta and finally after 52 hours got to bed in Los Angeles. It was a very busy week, as we had a lot of things to do while we were in Loma Linda. We met with the AHI and Global Health officers. This is the group that helps manage our hospital, and helps keep us supplied. They provide financial and material support. We were able to attend their committee meeting and tour the warehouse as well as run errands for the missionaries in Bere. The warehouse was impressive, equipment and supplies for all over the world are housed and shipped from there. They were able to put together three 50 pound boxes of supplies for us, catheters, syringes, instruments, sterilization paper and packets and so on.

We met with medical students in the DMA (Deferred Mission Appointment) program. We showed pictures and answered their questions and encouraged them in their quest to serve our Lord. We enjoyed a few days of clean, traffic laws, and climate control. And most importantly, we met with Nick.

Turns out he had pretty much decided to join us, before we arrived, but he was very happy to meet us and have a chance to talk with us. And we got what we came for, a verbal commitment to join us in August, for at least a year. Diana and Rebecca will have the time to pursue their passion of community health and outreach. Our patients will get full time professional physical therapy, and our students and staff will be able to learn from Nick. This in combination with the planned visits and support from our physical therapy friends in Switzerland should really get this off the ground, and hopefully even start an outpatient PT program.

At the same time we got a commitment for 6 months from a nurse who speaks some French as well. He will join us in late July through the end of the year. And we got a commitment from Dr. Salomon to join us as soon as he can get his Tchadien visa. Dr. Salomon is a young physician from the Congo who spent the last 4 years working alone in Koza, Cameroon. I was supposed to join him there, but well, you know that story. The hospital in Koza is just about shut down now, and he was looking for a job and we were looking for help. Match made in heaven, quite literally, I believe. He will be such a help in doing consults, surgeries and ultrasounds. We have a great team forming up for the next year, I really believe that we will be able to take the Center to the next level and beyond. God has been so good to us.

One story before I close. Due to unfortunate changes in how Delta Airlines calculates miles for your status with them (silver, gold, platinum, etc) we got demoted, big time. We had plenty of miles, but Delta apparently didn’t feel we had sent them enough money, so I went from Gold to nothing, a blip on the sheet, and Bekki dropped to Silver. The big problem with this was luggage, with Gold we got extra luggage, which we used to carry supplies. As I said earlier we wanted to take back three boxes of medical supplies, then we had one trunk for ourselves (Fritos and other essential food items). Problem one was that when I checked in on line it said we each only were allowed one bag to check. Problem two was that we had two round trip tickets, LAX to Paris and Paris to N’djamena. By doing it that way it saves $1000 a ticket, seriously (don’t even try to understand airline ticket pricing, it is more confusing than Obamacare). Problem three was that although we booked through Delta, the flights were operated by Air France, and although Delta has always let us take humanitarian baggage for free, Air France is not so generous. And you have to go with the rules of the operating carrier, not the booking carrier, even though they are partners. So we faced potentially a $400 bill for two boxes, $100 each for 2 flights.

Rebecca posted on Facebook asking for prayer, we prayed, and we went up to the ticket counter. First answer to prayer, Air France accepted Rebecca’s silver status, so she got two pieces of checked luggage. However, they called Paris and the home office refused the humanitarian baggage, so we would have to pay for that. Second answer to prayer, they agreed to check our luggage all the way through to N’djamena, even though the flights were booked on separate tickets, so we were now down to $100, which I would have been happy with, but not God, no way. Third answer to prayer, turned out (again don’t even try to understand this) that on our flight to N’djamena we were allowed 5 pieces of checked luggage (2 for me, 3 for Rebecca), and since they checked us all the way through, the computer (not Air France, their computer) gave us that baggage allowance for the whole trip. Total bill $0 (after tickets of course). Then to top it off, all four pieces came through, totally intact. I told Rebecca that poor Air France did not stand a chance against her Facebook prayer warriors and our God.

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