Dust Storm!

I wish that I had a photo of this one. As I finished teaching English class, a huge dust storm rolled in from the desert. It was a huge wall of black and grey cloud, looking like a large wave surging forward. It was moving fast. I jumped in a ruckshaw, but realised that the wall of dust had already passed my house and we were going to have to head straight for it! As we entered it, the wind whipped dust and pieces of rubbish around and even into the ruckshaw. Even using clothes to cover my eyes and mouth and nose, a lot of dust got in. The ruckshaw driver put on the head-lights, as we could see very little, as it was dark inside the cloud of dust, like in thick fog, but darker instead of white. We made it to my front gate and I felt my way through unlocking the 2 padlocks to let me in through the gate and then the front door. Inside my house is also full of the dust that the wind blew in. (Instead of glass windows and solid doors, we have metal slats and mosquito netting, neither of which stops wind and dust.) My belongings look like they have been sitting for weeks, while I only left the house 2 hours ago. Even as I type, the dust continues to settle. One hour, and it is all over, but the dust still settling and a few more gusts of wind. And thankfully a drop in temperature of 10*C! Now to start mopping up the dust.

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Return to Chad

I arrived safely in N’Djamena, Chad, on 11 August and am now language learning and getting used to the heat. This morning it is only 27*C, but with 84% humidity! I’m settling in well and looking forward to travelling out to the town that I’ll be living in on Saturday.

Return to Chad

I’ve nearly finished the meetings and studying in Europe and will be flying back to Chad on 11th August, God-willing.

This time, I’ll be living in Abéché and will spend the first 6 months working on Chadian Arabic.
After that I’m hoping to do some Bible story-telling among a people group who don’t yet have the Bible in a language that they can understand.

Thank you for your prayers. I couldn’t be there without your support. Here’s a photo of me hard at work in Marseille, studying French with the aid of some lovely French coffee!

Back in the UK for a while

I am in transition. I left Chad on 26th August after a miracle with a replacement passport arriving the morning before the day I was due to fly, leaving only 36 hours to get a Chadian visa into it. But during those 2 days I saw many unbelievable things and saw that God was in it all.

So now I’m back in UK and trying to adjust to the food, tarmac, keeping warm, clothing, buses, having change, shopping and just learning how to balance my time in a healthy way. I miss Chad, but it is exciting to be seeing friends and family here.

I am in the UK until July 2015, God-willing. In that time, I will be visiting churches, prayer groups, youth groups and individuals who have been supporting and praying for me while I was in Chad.

Please do not stop praying for me while I’m here. The transition is huge and I’m finding it hard to manage my time well. If you are in the UK and want to catch up with me, do get in touch.

World Cup in Chad

So in most other countries of the world, there is electricity. But here in Chad, not many places have electricity. And even fewer have televisions. In big towns, there are ‘cinemas’ that project onto a wall in a courtyard and have benches or seats, and even here in the village, there is a cinema.

The other alternative for watching the matches is to find a family rich enough to own a generator and a television and pay for the privilege to go and sit on a bench or a mat outside their house, in the courtyard. Generators are quite noisy but the televisions are generally turned up full blast.

I have found such a family here, about 15 mins cycle from my house and I go and sit on a mat with the merchant’s wife and children to watch the matches. They even gave me tea to drink during the Argentina-Iran match!

Trying to explain world geography to some of my neighbours is a challenge. They think the South American teams are ‘white’ people and so comment things like, “You, the white people in the world, there are a lot of you, aren’t there!” Trying to explain that Irish and Dutch are different nationalities takes time for them to understand. They call South Koreans, ‘Chinese’ and no amount of explaining would convince these Chadians otherwise. But in a country that rural people only have heard of people from France, Cameroon, CAR, Sudan, Libya and China, they like all of the nations that they see to fit into one of these groups. I’m hoping to take my world map, for my neighbours to see, but I’m not sure it will make a difference. So I’ll just sit on the mat with them and enjoy the football!

Ambulance Driver

Sometimes when the hospital drivers are busy or away or sick, I have been asked to drive the ambulance. I love driving, but this adds new challenges, as it is difficult not to jolt a patient while driving in thick sand!

Graduation of nursing students

The photo shows 11 of the 12 new nurses, recently graduated from the Evangelical church of Chad Nursing School in Bebalem, along with one of the tutors (on the left). It was exciting seeing their hard work being rewarded as all 3 research groups received a commendation of ‘very good’ from the jury examining them.
Please pray for each of these students, as they start work in many different settings around Chad.

Visiting Health Centres in rural Chad

I had the great privilege of visiting some health centres in extremely rural locations. The roads were challenging, although I got to see some nice tarmac and a really nice bridge, but there was also deep sand, deep water, a treacherous mixture of the two and bridges only as wide as my vehicle!
In each health centre, I got to see many patients (between 15 and 40 each day). The visits are an encouragement to the staff, who are normally isolated. I was travelling with the health centres chaplain, who meets with the staff and the local church staff, encouraging them in their work. The staff deal with the challenges of lack of medicines, lack of laboratory tests, lack of medicines and isolation from support.
The language of communication varies depending on the health centre and we saw people of many different tribes. Some of the cases I saw were complex, some simply needed referred to a hospital (sometimes very far away) and some patients were just struggling to respond to treatment.
Please pray for these nurses and health centre staff in their task of providing good quality health care in such a challenging setting. While we get in the vehicle to go back to the hospital at the end of the day, they stay on, working in places that many people could not even live!

Learning in Kenya

Kijabe hospital
I have been given a wonderful opportunity for 2 months of further training in Obstetrics (delivering babies) in a big church-owned hospital in Kenya (Kijabe hospital). In Bebalem hospital, Chad, we have to cover every speciality in any patient that comes in the door of the hospital, although it is nurses that do all of the operations. Having received a bit of training in Obstetrics in Scotland, there were still large gaps and things that I can better learn in another African hospital. I arrived at the start of February and will be staying until nearly the end of March 2013.

It is a great privilege to go along on the teaching ward round 6 mornings a week and to be able to ask the consultants and senior doctors for advice and participate in discussions of difficult cases. The enthusiasm for evidence-based medicine and the supportive environment of the ward rounds are fantastic opportunities for me to learn. There are also teaching sessions every day at lunch and some mornings, so I’m learning a lot.

Culture Shock
It is not only a privilege to learn things at the hospital, but to experience the difference of life here. The amazing variety of fruit and vegetables, the coldness, altitude and differences in culture are all challenging and I’m learning a lot. I’m also perhaps able to reflect more on what I’m learning in Chad.

Trying to switch from using French and Ngambai to using English and Swahili has really given me a challenge and left my head in a linguistic mess!

Other opportunities
I had the opportunity to go to a missionary conference in Feburary, which challenged us all to ‘abide’ in Jesus. It was great catching up with people that I haven’t seen in years.

I got a day off last Saturday and got to climb a large volcano called Longonot. I saw some Giraffe and Zebra. It was good to be able to rest for a day and leave the hospital, even to do something so touristy!

The break from responsibility is a welcome relief. I am sleeping a little more peacefully here. Please pray that I will settle back in to the work in Bebalem quickly when I return.

Prayer and Praise
Praise God for this opportunity. Pray that I will be able to choose the things that we can easily apply in Chad that will increase our care for pregnant ladies. Please pray that I will spend the remaining month learning useful things. Thank you for your prayers. I have great internet access while in Kenya, so do contact me while I am here as I’d love to hear your news while it is possible for me to do so!

Rice fields and a rest

Having just worked non-stop for the 14 days since I got back from conference, it was nice to have a rest last weekend and get out to see the rice fields.

It is nice having time to simply spend with people. I also did some baking, some reading and some housework. It is strange just how similar a day could sound to a day in Scotland, but when I add that I had no running water or electricity, had to struggle along paths deep in sand and was eating off a communal platter with people and even sharing the same cup, somehow it seems a world away from Scotland. Having said that, it is the same moon that lights our sandy paths with cow-drawn carts here, as the moon which lights the tarmac and cars back in Scotland.

Work at the hospital is extremely busy for this time of year. There are around 45 children in the Paediatrics ward and still often 2 children to a bed in the High-care area. We have had some interesting cases and we have some interesting conversations with some of the patients and their carers.

Each patient has one or two people (or sometimes the whole family) arrive at the hospital to care for them, preparing their meals, paying for their medicines and going to the well for water for them to wash and drink. At night they all sleep on mats, sometimes beside the beds and sometimes outside the ward. With it being so busy, it is also very crowded.

Please pray for strength, for wisdom and that I’ll know when to study, when to spend time in the hospital, when to rest and when to be out socialising. Socialising gets me into interesting conversations with people, but I need to learn to study and sleep sometimes as well!

PS This was originally written on 1st November, but trying to share a photo with you all via the internet takes a lot more reception than we’ve had lately. So I will go out for a wander in the garden again, with my laptop held high in the hope that the reception is somewhat faster than the last few days!

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