Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving in Tchad 2010

Hi Everybody,

Just wanted to tell you we had a nice TG although our chief cook had
some problems in the kitchen :-/, but we left with full bellies, so I
guess it was a good TG. I bought bad flour - normally I smell it before
I buy it, but this time I forgot. It smelled like dirt but I decided to
use it anyway - bad mistake! It wouldn't bake. It was disgusting!! I
tried to make an "apple" pie with green pumpkin, but it wasn't green
enough, so it tasted like pumpkin! It was ok, but not too exciting. We
had some real potatoes, but then I made another pan of the fake instant
kind, and no one really ate them! We had gluten and gravy, cornbread
stuffing, which was ok, but it was a bit dry, then Josie made a sweet
potato pumpkin dish, and a friend sent her stuff for green bean
casserole and pumpkin pie. So, it was ok, but since the pie crusts had
the bad flour as well, and we thickened the gravy with corn starch, I
was a bit disgusted that after being in the kitchen all day it didn't
turn out better! But we had good fellowship so that was fun. Right now
we have 4 SMs, one girl was here before and she is really a character.
She brought two friends with her and one of them was a student of Aunt
Verna's in 1st and 2nd grade! (Aunt Verna, it is Phillip Sherwood.) The
last one is a girl from England, so she had her first TG in Chad! They
are a really good group and a lot of fun. The three of them are only
here until just before Christmas though, so we wish they had more time,
but glad to have them for now anyway.

There are also a couple of Congolese drs here who are from near where
Gary grew up, so they speak his African dialect, so they have had fun
chatting together. Unfortunately, we have a new district medical officer
who is really being a pain and won't give them licenses to work here in
Chad, so they are going over to Cameroon to help at the hospital there
for now, since they have no dr there right now. Our new drs for the
hospital here are scheduled to come in about 2 wks so we pray they will
not have the same troubles, but he is really being a pain and
unfortunately his brother is the head of parliament or something like
that, so everyone is scared to cross him.

Anyway, we had a nice Sabbath and now Gary leaves tomorrow for some
meetings in Paris. He will be gone for about 10 days, and Jonathan and
Melody will meet up with him in NDJ on his way back, so we are looking
forward to having them back again!

Guess that's all for now. Would love to hear about your TGs too if you
haven't written already!

Love to all,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A deep subject.

Well - it's a deep subject. I've been procrastinating writing this in
part because I didn't know the outcome and in part because I know I
can't accurately describe the work, energy, sweat, and frustration that
went into this project! (Also, I was hoping Gary would write this, but
he's way too busy!)

Two weeks ago this last Sunday Gary started drilling a well on our new
property. The hospital has a small "back yard" (as Gary calls it)
drilling rig and Jamie had used it a couple times, so we were hoping to
get a good well and get down to clean water. Jamie and Tammy were
leaving on Tues for the US so Gary said he would fly them up to
N'Djamena in time to catch their afternoon flight if he would help him
drill this well first. So, they got everything ready and Gary told me
that once they started drilling they couldn't stop, so I nievely thought
that by the time Gary left on Tues, we would have a well with pure,
clean water! Yeah, right - TIA: This Is Africa! They drilled all day,
got the bit stuck once, so had to take it back out a ways and then go
again. Night was a blessed reprieve from the sun, but everyone got too
tired and curled up under the bushes and went to sleep. By 1am Gary was
working alone - he didn't want to stop and risk getting the bit stuck
for good. I can't remember how deep he was; maybe 100-120 ft or so. The
ironic thing about drilling a well is that you have to have water to do
it. How is that supposed to work, I mean, aren't you drilling a well
because you don't have water??! Thankfully we do have a hand dug well
probably 50ft away, so during the day several boys had been kept busy
just bringing water, but now Gary was doing that too! Just as the sun
began to peek over the horizon Cherise woke up and we went out to see
what was going on. Gary was still drilling! I couldn't believe it! So,
we pumped and hauled water for him for a couple hours. He finally
stopped and came in to eat. Anyway, he kept drilling that day as well
until they ran out of drill stock (pipes that drive the bit down into
the ground) at 150 ft! He talked to a guy that has done lots of wells
around here and he said he would surely get good water at 65 meters - 45
more feet. So close, and yet so far! So...the reason you need water when
you drill is to put down in the hole you are drilling to bring all the
mud back up out of the hole. So, Gary decided if every couple of hours
we pumped more water in the hole we could hopefully keep it open (it's
possible for the sand to cave into the hole and then you have everything
stuck in there and you are in a world of hurts!) and he would find more
pipe in NDJ so that he could keep going.

So, Tues he went to NDJ. It took him until Wed at sunset to find the
pipe, a way to thread it, etc and get back. So, Thurs he was at it
again. He finally got through a big hard clay layer and got into some
sand and it kept collapsing around the bit. So, in the water that you
pump into the hole, you can put this really snotty stuff to help lift
out the sand/mud, but Gary felt like it wasn't mixing up well enough, so
he thought my VitaMix would be just the thing! I wasn't quite so sure!
But, I was ready for this thing to be finished. I was like, what is this
stuff, I don't want to put non food items in my blender. He said, of
this is the stuff that they put in canned beans and stuff to thicken
them, it will be fine. Still doubtful I said, "So it's edible?" "Well, I
just said they put it in canned foods, so I'm assuming it's edible!" I
wasn't so sure that was good logic! I think they put lots of stuff
that's not edible in those things! Anyway, in addition to cooking for
whoever was working for Gary ever day (most people would only work a day
or two at most and then it was too much work for them - or maybe it was
the food!) Cherise and I got to be snot blenders! It was a HUGE mess!!
Two tablespoons of this stuff in the 2 liter blender would turn it all
to this thick snotty mess! And we blended up at least 40 gallons of the

I can't possibly remember all the problems we encountered and what
happened on what days, but eventually Gary got to what he thought was
good sand and he pulled out all the pipe and the bit. I thought we were
on the downhill slide now, but alas... Now we had to put the casing in.
It was going to take 17 pieces to get down to our 170 ft hole and it was
going nicely until we got to piece number 14 and then it stopped!
Probably because it was a hard layer, and we had a big bit on small
pipe, the hole was not perfectly straight. After trying and bunches of
guys pulling and hanging on it, they finally pulled it all back up. Now
the pipes wouldn't unscrew, because they had tightened and twisted so
much! Anyway, they finally got it out, cut the bottom piece to a point
and put it back down. They got to number 15 that time and there was just
no going any further! It was truly disappointing! He had worked SO hard
on this thing! But what do you do? It's 150 ft underground! So, there
had been another layer of water up around 65 ft, but Gary didn't think
it would be clean, so that's why he had kept going, so now he decided to
go back up and try that one. So, they pulled the casing back up to that
point and then filled in the hole with dirt. (This is all much more
complicated that I'm making it sound. Because we had gone so deep the
casing we had was too big, so while he was in NDJ Gary had gotten
smaller casing and had it shipped all the way here. He was worried about
dropping the casing in the hole as you screw the next piece on, so at
4am one morning he had gone to the hospital to weld up a contraption to
hang the pipe from a pulley. And I know there is other stuff, like the
drilling rig was falling apart and Gary had to fix it, but I don't
understand enough to be able to tell you about it and this story it
getting really long!) So, basically, we are at the first layer of water
and he put a pump down in there and there is water, but it will only
pump for about 5 minutes before it runs out. So, basically we wasted
over 2 weeks on this crazy well and we have nothing to show for it! I
know what business I don't want to go into!!

So, not much else has happened besides that! I did cut Cherise's hair
yesterday though! She has not been keeping it up in pony tails or
braids, so it's just been a ratty tangled mess, so I kept threatening to
cut it, so I finally did. It's about chin level and it looks really
cute! I think it's going to be a whole lot easier to keep up - I should
have done it sooner!

I went to Kelo today. That's where we get our packages and it's about 30
miles, but takes an hour by motorcycle to get there. Three SMs who are
here had gotten a message from the guy at the post office (through a
hospital worker) to come get their packages, so they decided to go on an
adventure. I decided since it's almost TG, I'd like to go to the market.
We've hardly been getting anything in our market for a couple weeks. So,
Frederick drove me on our bike and the other 3 hired moto taxis and off
we went. Normally it is a break neck, hang-on-for-dear-life ride, but we
must have gotten the slowest drivers in Chad! I guess one guy must have
been learning still because the girl who was with him said, "He can't
drive! I could drive better than that when I was 10!!" So, it took us
more than an hour to get there, but at least it wasn't quite so jarring
that way. So, we got to the PO and there were 9 packages and about 4
envelope size ones and some other mail, but only 1 of them was for the
kids! So, they were a bit disappointed, but went to the market and did
our shopping (there really wasn't a lot there either, but at least we
got cucumbers, tomatoes, avocados and green onions) and then managed to
get them all back between the 4 motos. It's always more fun with a box
digging in to you back and smashed between that and your driver who
holds your backpack on his front! And then the guys told Frederick that
he was going to fast for them on the way there! So, about 1/2 way back,
we left the others in the dust. I think Frederick couldn't handle it any
longer. I have to say that even though it is bumpier going faster, it is
more fun, and I was worried about getting fried! Anyway, we made it back
fine, and it was sure nice to have Frederick there to help us.

So, that's all for now. Hope everyone is well and that you have a
wonderful Thanksgiving!

Love to all,

Saturday, November 6, 2010


We started out with a good day. We went to Dabgue for our branch Sabbath
School for the first time since being back. I'm not sure anyone has been
meeting there while we were gone - the woven grass roof structure that
we usually meet under has fallen down, so we just sat under a mango
tree. Our friend Franco brought his motorbike as well, with his brother
and our good friend Frederick, who speaks english quite well, so he is
often our translator. He has been doing some translation work of some
children's bible lessons, and he's really been a great help to us.
Anyway, the back bearing on Franco's bike had a problem, so we left it
somewhere and Gary went back and got them in two trips. (Dabgue is 4 or
5 miles from where we live.) So, on the way home, Gary brought Cherise
and I back and went back to get them, but Frederick and Franco's brother
had caught a ride back with a van that was going to the market
(Frederick doesn't live far from the market.) Franco was able to ride
his bike home then by riding up on the gas tank and driving really
slowly. Gary had just gotten back and we had changed and Cherise was
sleeping when Frederick called. He had gotten to the market and was on
his way home and someone told him his son had died. He still wasn't
home, but Gary said he would come down right away. I just didn't think
it could be true. Apparently the boy, Hans, who was between 2 and 3 yrs
old, had been a little sick yesterday but was feeling better this
morning, though he may have had a low fever. Unfortunately, it was true.
Gary stayed with him for an hour or so, and then came back and got
Cherise and I and we went back and stayed all afternoon. The only
problem was, the other day when Gary went to Ndjamena to Kel and Josie,
we lost our motorcycle key. We can not figure out what happened to it. I
got all ready to go to the hospital and couldn't find it. I figured Gary
had it, but no, he didn't. So, Jonathan's bike has some issues so Gary
took the ignition from his and put it in ours, so that was working, but
the only problem is, the gas tank is locked with the key as well, and we
were really low on fuel now! So, Gary ended up switching gas tanks with
Jonathan's bike before we could go back! Interestingly though, now our
charging system is working that we couldn't figure out, so if that is
the solution, maybe we can find out key now!!

Anyway, please remember Frederick and his family in your prayers. There
is so much death here, but that doesn't make it easier...

God Bless,