Friday, May 27, 2011

Work, work, work

In other news, things have been moving along well on our projects, though now I'm afraid we have screeched to a snail's pace again.

We were able to put up the frames of the three nutrition center buildings. They put one up a couple weeks ago and then the next week they put up the next two. It went really well and it's exciting to see that coming up.

The first nutrition center building going up!

Cherise took her job seriously!

But she had fun too!

The beginning of that same week Gary had gone to the capital to buy all the tin for our house and those buildings plus a couple churches and so that was all delivered on a Friday (2 weeks ago, I think?) We were really excited about that. Our house is almost ready for the roof to go on - just a bit more welding to do and so things were really happening. Jonathan Smith, our volunteer from Texas, who we endearingly call Tex has done a lot of roofing and so he was excited to finally be moving on to his area of expertise as well. (He's done a lot of construction, so he was great doing everything, even welding our roof although he hadn't done that a lot before, but he was the expert in our group at least for putting on the roofs.) Then on Sabbath he talked to his mom, and his dad, who has been battling cancer for over a year had taken a turn for the worse. He was already thinking of leaving early (he was supposed to be here until July) but now he decided and we encouraged him to go ahead and go back. The only problem was he couldn't find his passport. So, Gary, Artur, and I spent quite a while that evening looking though the entire bedroom (3 bachelors in one room - use your imagination!!). It was no where to be found. Gary was already planning to fly to town the next day, so Tex went with him and then helped him get a new passport and get on a flight. Sounds simple, but it wasn't! I won't go into all the details, but the flights were full, embassy not too helpful, etc, etc. And Gary had a couple flights to do in between! Anyway, Tex finally got on a flight on Tues and Gary came home. We really miss him, and of course miss his expertise, but being there for his parents and spending some quality time with his dad are much more important right now.

Tex welding on our house

Also on Tuesday, Kel and Josie left to go back to the States for a few months. Josie has some concerts scheduled at a couple camp meetings and they had some family celebrations to attend as well. They are hoping to come back some time in September, but in the mean time our group has really shrunk. We miss them all...

Oh, the same Sabbath that Tex decided to leave, we went to church as normal out in Dabgue. While Dr James is gone he let us use an old Land Cruiser that was donated for the hospital and just came in on the container that we got in Dec. (It looks exactly like the one Gary's family had in Zaire when he was growing up - same colors and everything, it's just a gas model instead of diesel.) Well, unfortunately it has quite a few issues, which I can't explain, but we tried getting the part from the US and it was the wrong one. I don't really understand this either, but it is some part for the carburetor, I think and it doesn't have the original one on it anymore, so we don't know what one it has on it or something. Anyway, it will randomly just die as we are driving along and you have to stop and wait a couple minutes, pour some gas into some filter, and then off you go again, until it does it again. So, I don't think we had any problems all the way to church. Cherise is our official driver (actually steerer) and she can actually do a good job if she doesn't get distracted! So, we got all loaded up (remember this is Africa, so that means at least 3 people up front, 4 in the middle seat, and as many as will fit in the back - maybe as many as 6, but some kids, 4 or 5 on the roof rack, and 3 or so standing on the bumper!) So, we got all loaded up and Gary pushed in the clutch and there was nothing - the clutch was gone! Great! So, we unloaded, pushed it out into the street and then as everyone was pushing it, Gary had to coax it into gear and off we would go, with everyone scrambling to get on since we couldn't stop! Let's just say we got the procedure down pat because it stopped five times on the way home! It was pretty funny, though it was very hot and we were just hoping we could make it home!! Anyway, we did make it home and haven't touched the car since!!

"This is the way we go to church"

The rainy season is approaching. It's hard to know when it is really here because it will rain a few times and then stop and then rain some more, but there has at least been rain around every afternoon for the last few days, so it has at least cooled it down at night, which is always a relief. Sometimes it's worse to have the rain because the sun comes right back out and then it's just really humid, but if it rains in the evening then it usually is better. So, we are thankful for the rain.

Yesterday, Cherise and I were taking clothes off the clothes line and Cherise pointed out a little lizard. We were quite close to it and it wasn't running away, so I looked a little closer and she was straddling a small hole with about 5 eggs inside. Cherise got to within a couple inches of her, I think we could have touched her, but I didn't want to disturb her. Cherise did take a picture, but it is hard to see the eggs. Then maybe an hour later, Artur came home and Cherise wanted to show him, but it was gone. So, she must have covered them up when she was done. We did see the lizard though. Anyway, we hadn't seen that before, so that was cool.

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Monkey Love

So, I've had several requests to her more about the monkey, Red. When we got home from our last travels and had been gone almost 2 weeks, he had really changed. He had a lot more hair and had turned even more orange. He looks more like a patas monkey now.

He really is a naughty monkey as I guess most monkeys are! We let him on our screened in porch since we like to sit out there when we have time and hang out with him, but he isn't allowed inside the house. The only problem is, we can close the screen door into the house from the porch side, and he knows good and well he is not allowed in there, so of course that is exactly where he wants to be!! It is especially bad now that the cats have been inside and he likes to torment the cats! So, he will sneak inside and hide under the table and up on the chairs so we won't see him. Usually he doesn't get any farther than this, but it's hard to catch him and I'm sure he thinks it's funny! One time though, I was in the kitchen and I heard something and turned around and he was up on my stove! So, we tried various punishments to discourage him: we put him in the small dog kennel which he hates, swatted him (a monkey spanking!), flicked him, etc, but none of that seemed to give him good enough motivation to stay out where he belongs! So, Gary got a good idea. We have a bug zapping racket. It looks like a badminton racket, but has wires with a little bit of juice when you push a button and the bug (hopefully a mosquito!) touches two of the wires and fries! It's really quite wonderful. Only now our racket is pretty old and doesn't work very well, but Gary got that thing out and we zap him every time he comes inside. It hasn't solved the problems if the racket is out of sight, but get that thing out and we suddenly have a very obedient monkey! It's quite funny to watch!

So, we weren't sure how Red and the cats were going to get along. Obviously we don't want cats that will end up deciding he is a yummy meal, but we didn't need to worry. Red decided he is the boss and the cats haven't been smart enough to figure out that there are two of them and only one of him. He is totally unafraid of the cats and will come up to them (one more than the other) standing on his hind legs, arms up and swinging! I'm surprised that they don't hurt him, they have really gotten into it a couple times, but he doesn't seem phased.

So, his next shenanigan was to get out of his cage! I originally made it out of desperation when we first got him. We got him on Sabbath and by Sun or Monday Gary left on a trip. I can't remember which trip this was, but he was going to be gone a week or so, and I knew I couldn't stand to keep Red inside the little dog kennel the whole time. We have to put him in there for his safety if we are gone from home so that nothing can get him, but he really doesn't like it. Gary had strung up a line outside where he could run but then you have to worry about him getting caught up in the cord and strangling himself and also he isn't protected from all the kids and their slingshots. And let me tell you, there were ALWAYS several kids at our fence to see him. Often there were as many as 50 kids! I about went crazy! Anyway, it's a bit better now since the novelty has worn off, and we've fixed our fence some, but the kids were tearing holes in the fence just so they could see! So, I knew I couldn't stand the week with all the kids and trying to keep the monkey in the little cage, so I took a wooden crate that our refrigerator had come in and screened it in. Then I put a cardboard roof on top and the two ends had cardboard strips on the bottom as well to hold the screen. Anyway, it was a great relief because at least he was safe, outside, and had a bit more room, but it wasn't a permanent solution, especially once it started to rain! You will remember that from Oct to May we really hadn't seen a drop of rain (actually in April I think we had a few spits one day, but not enough to speak of) so it wasn't a problem, but now we have started to get a few random showers and as soon as that cardboard got wet, Red figured out how to get out! So, for a few days we were putting bricks and heavy things on top to keep him in and then he figured out how to get out the bottom, so it was just no use - he needs a better cage! We had to use our porch as a cage which isn't ideal, but of course Gary was leaving again for a few days. At least Red would stay in his cage during the night and then let himself out in the morning! So, he asked the boys to start working on cutting some steel for a cage. Then, the unthinkable happened. Last Wed night all the nasaras (foreigners) came to our house for bible study, so Gary put Red in his cage maybe 15 min before it got dark. I was in the kitchen a few minutes later and saw Red outside with the cats. Gary said he would wait a few more minutes to put him back, since he would probably just get out again anyway. So, we started our study and in 10 min or so Gary went to put him back to bed, and he was gone! Gary looked in all the trees and even went out to our new house/hangar site since they've had him out there with him quite a bit while they were working and called and called him, but he was nowhere to be found. He came back and told me quietly that he was gone and he was sure a dog or a kid must have gotten him. After we were finished I asked everyone to pray for our monkey and they were all sad to hear he was gone. We all looked around and called some more, but still nothing. There was a dog next door that kept barking so I called the guy over and asked if he had seen the monkey that evening, and he acted all innocent - I wasn't so sure! But there really wasn't anything we could do until morning. We were all really sad even though I stubbornly refused to give up all hope. Gary was pretty sure a dog had gotten him. Red didn't really have a good enough fear of dogs and we have been worried about that from the beginning. He didn't really think Red would wander away on his own. While we are home, he will climb the fence and trees along the fence line, but he stays in the yard unless we go out. I woke up several times during the night and each time I checked in his cage to see if he had come back. But each time it was still empty. We woke up to a lot of wind and the threat of rain, though it never did rain much, and I couldn't help thinking that maybe Red was scared if he was out there somewhere. I had just about given up hope, and was feeling really bum and I just wanted to go outside and be alone, but Cherise heard me and came running. I was a bit grumpy with her and tried to get her to go back inside, but she figured out what I was doing and wanted to look for Red too. I couldn't refuse her, but I didn't really have the energy to answer her questions! "Mommy, did something eat Red?"

"I don't know, Honey. It seems like maybe so."

"But I want my monkey."

"I know, so do I, but he isn't here."

I was turning around to go back inside, when above the howl of the wind I heard a faint cry. It took a minute for my mind to register.

"Gary, I hear him!" I yelled.

I didn't see him right away and I expected him to be half dead when we found him. But before Gary even got outside I found him in this tiny tree on our fence that's about as big around as if you put your thumb and index finger together into a circle. He likes that tree and will often sit there and watch the world go by. He was afraid to come down I guess, so I quickly ran over and he jumped to me. I was SO HAPPY to see him again and he was fine. Gary was already there as well and I could tell he was very relieved as well. Who knows where he was for the night, Gary knows he wasn't in that same tree as he checked it more than once, but we were very thankful he was safe, even when he started in on his antics again! I'm thankful that God cares even about the little things like keeping our animals safe!
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Monday, May 23, 2011


I wrote this May 9, but somehow didn't get it posted. Sorry!

I was gently reminded this last week that I haven't written since Christmas! Wow - I'm sure I can't remember all that has happened since then, so I will just hit the highlights and more recent happenings.

A couple months ago Cherise got a monkey! Some kids brought him to our branch Sabbath School and were teasing him and not being nice and he was really scared and crying/screaming and trying to get away. His back right leg was broken (actually in 2 places), so Gary told the kid that had him that we needed to take him to the "hospital"! He didn't want to give him to us, but Gary couldn't stand to see them mistreating him. He told them to come to our house the next day and he would have negotiated something with them, but they didn't come. We don't want to pay for animals because then they start trying to catch them, so we don't want to start that, so it worked out nicely that they didn't come. I guess they won't now. So, we didn't know for sure at first if we were even going to keep him. I sort of feel like we are turning into a wildlife refuge! Some kids brought us a hawk the the other day, but they were trying to sell it to us and birds are too hard for us to keep because of the kids with their sling shots, so we told them if they keep it until we get back we will take it, but I don't think they will keep it alive that long.

They are starting to work on the wall around our property, so I will be glad when they finish that. Right now we have to keep the monkey, he is a patas monkey, who has finally become known as "Red" in a cage if we aren't right there with him or else the kids will shoot him with their sling shots. :-( It makes me mad that they do that, but I guess it is just too big of a temptation. I actually caught two boys, probably about 10 yrs old or so that I saw shooting at the neighbor's. Josie and I snuck up behind them from each side and they couldn't get away, so I marched them over to our neighborhood chief and complained. I don't know if it will help or not, but anyway, it isn't good for the monkey to be in a cage so much, so I will be glad when we get our wall up and can have some privacy and hopefully he can learn to stay inside and roam free most of the time.

We also just got two cats. I haven't seen them yet. The pilot that was working in the game park just left so he gave them to us and Gary took them home already. He had a flight from down near us to the East on Friday, so he went back home Thurs night and came back Fri afternoon. We are hoping to keep the mouse population down as we are always struggling with that!

For the last month or so, we have been home only a handful of days. First we had a trip to the capital. Cherise needs to renew her passport, so she needed to go. We got back from there and found out that our overflight permissions for Cameroon had finally been issued. We have been trying to go there for some time now. So, within a couple days we left for our trip there. We started out by visiting our primary school in the Northwest, out in the mountains where Steve and Carol Rose were working. They are returning to the US now after serving for two years there and so their replacements had arrived, and so Gary was able to have some meetings and hopefully help the transition go more smoothly. It is in an absolutely beautiful location - green, lush, and cool! Coming from Chad, it felt like a feast for my eyes! I couldn't believe it when I went to the market with Carol and she bought a whole hand of beautiful bananas for the same price I pay for one small one!! It was especially fun for me to meet Carol as Steve spent three months in Chad with us back around Christmas 2008, but I had never met her.

After a couple lovely days there, we continued on down to the coast and spent the weekend at the beach. It's not the best beach in the world, my biggest complaint being that when the tide was in it would wash out all the trash and debris from the shore. But we really had a lovely time playing in the waves and black sand. Cherise surprised me by how much she loves the water and wasn't even afraid of the waves. There is also a fresh water spring, just a couple hundred yards from the beach so after finishing in the salt water it was so nice to go for a quick swim in the fresh, cold water. It was really refreshing!

We then continued on to Douala to the village where we used to have a branch Sabbath School when we lived there. They have started a primary school there as well, so we were able to visit that briefly and pick up some of our books that we still had there. I've been wanting the books for a long time! We also ate lunch with one of Gary's friends from the airport there, a French guy who is operating a charter company. Then we continued on to Yaounde, for meetings at the Union office in the morning.

Yaounde is up at 3,000 ft or so, and has a bit of varying terrain (maybe not mountains, but certainly not flat like we are used to) and so is also quite pleasant for a city. We only stayed one night and met the new officers at the Union and Gary had a good planning meeting with the president and then we flew back home.

We arrived home on a Tuesday and we had plans to go to the game park to do some maintenance on their plane and ours, but we were thinking we would probably go on Friday. It's hard to do serious maintenance on our plane since we still do not have a hangar, so Gary negotiated with them to use their hangar for working on our plane as well, if he would do an annual inspection on theirs. We are good friends with all the guys there, so it wasn't a problem. But then another flight came up for Gary to do on Friday, so we ended up going to the park on Wed afternoon. Nothing like unpacking and repacking in just a few hours, but we did ok. Another reason we were going to the park was because they were scheduled to put radio collars on ten elephants to try to help with the poaching problem. This way, if they get the collars on the correct elephants, so that each family group has at least one collar then they can keep track of them and hopefully better protect them.

So, they started with the first elephant on Thurs morning. The old pilot that used to fly for them back when we first got involved is also a conservationist, but he is now in school, working on his doctorate, I believe. So, he came back for this as well, so Gary flew the first day and he went with the ground crew. What they do is find the group of elephants with the airplane and then direct the vehicles in by radio. The vehicles get to within 1/2 a kilometer or so and then the vet gets his dart ready, etc and then he and two guys with guns go in on foot. The guns would be used for shooting in the air to scare the elephants away in the event they got in trouble. One of these guys also has a radio to stay in communication with the plane so they know where they are in relation to the elephants. It's really quite amazing how close you can be to 200+ elephants and not know it! Then once the vet is able to get close enough to a good elephant (30-40 meters) he will dart it with the medicine. Then things can get a little crazy! Of course the elephants start to run and it takes the darted animal up to 15 min to fall. It is usually too hard to follow the one that is darted from the air, even if you see it, since it is mass confusion with elephants running everywhere. So, you just have to watch them all and watch for one to fall at the same time directing the vehicles where to go and also coordinating for the vehicles to pick up the guys on foot, if possible. Then once the elephant falls, it is imperitive that the ground crew reach it in 5 min or less, or it can die. Once the ground crew arrives, they straighten out the truck so it can breathe, cover the eye with the ear to keep it from drying out, and put water on the ear too keep it cool. Sometimes the elephant will fall on the chest and you have to push it over onto the side. Anyway, we were able to go two different days, Gary went with us the first time and they collared two, and the next day Gary flew and Cherise and I went and did two more. The very last day, Gary was flying and only one other guy with him. I really wanted to go see it from the air, but I wasn't sure I could take circling for two hours or more! There was only one elephant left though, so I knew it shouldn't take as long, so we decided to go with Gary and he flew with the window open almost the whole time, so I didn't feel sick at all. Cherise didn't feel so well and laid on my lap for quite a while, but then did fine after things started happening on the ground. But then when it was all over we were waiting for the vehicles to get to a certain spot in the road so that we could buzz them and they could get video of it, and Gary was playing around following the river, and Cherise finally lost her cookies! But she did well, and still seemed to enjoy it.

Well, I wrote most of this on the way home, and it's a good thing because I've lost the time and motivation now! Things are fine here - just hot and muggy now. This is the hardest time of year for me!

They put up the frame of the first nutrition center building last week, so that is really exciting! This morning Gary left to go to the capital to buy all the roofing for our house, that building, and at least one 1-day church that they have up as well. We are really trying to get the roofs on before the rains really come - we've had some showers, but nothing really serious yet.

We've canned 55 quarts of mango sauce since we got back and of course the house is a mess, so we've been busy!!

God Bless,
Wendy, Gary, and Cherise

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Hi Everybody,
I will write more soon, but we are heading home from the game park
today, so thought I should get with it and send a few pictures while we
have good internet.

I will write to explain them, but we've been doing maintenance and
putting radio collars on elephants here. We were also in Cameroon before
that and took a couple days atthe beach.

Love to all,

This was Sabbath, just a few yards from our house!

Also Sabbath. There were three big males.

Checking the heart beat

Cherise was a bit scared and wouldn't let go of her Daddy!!

This is Cherise holding her monkey the day we got him. I'll try to send
a more recent one soon - he looks a lot healthier now!

There was a little "Playground" there at the beach and Cherise had a
ball on the trampoline!