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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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!

Sitting on a mat

Here in Bebalem, some of the most important, refreshing, energising and fun moments are had by sitting with friends on mats under trees.
The photo is of me and my adopted Granny, Rebekah, enjoying some time together. I spend a lot of time with Granny Rebekah, who suffers with arthritis in her knees, so can’t move far and is always at home, happy to have visitors. When I’m finding work hard, or the culture or community challenging, she chats to me, feeds me, encourages me and prays for me. She chatters away in Ngambai, the local language, so it keeps me on my toes, as she understands no French!

I have had no outgoing e-mail for weeks, as the reception has not been strong enough, so please be patient with me if you have sent me an e-mail and I have not answered.
Sometimes ‘snail mail’ is faster here than waiting for the reception to be strong enough to send or receive an e-mail.

Meningitis, malnutrition and ‘muru’ moments.

‘Muru’ (pronounced moo-roo) is the Ngambai word for the local staple food, which is made with the flour of sorghum, rice or millet. I love eating it and feel thoroughly spoilt when nurses invite me to eat with them in the middle of the hectic days. We sit together and eat from a central plate with our right hands, taking a piece of ‘muru’ and dipping it in the sauce. Sharing together in God’s provision for us.

I hate meningitis. The statistics for meningitis speak of a third of people dying, a third recovering and a third being left with long-term consequences. The statistics are more harrowing when you see the families and patients affected.

I hate malnutrition. Some of the children come in so malnourished that they can’t fight against the acute infection that has brought them in to hospital. There is a fantastic feeding program run by the local Catholic sisters. So it is great to see the children who do recover from their acute infection, enrolled with people who can help.

In the middle of the stresses of dealing with meningitis and malnutrition, I am always thankful for the ‘muru’ moments.

Orientation in Kenya

Greetings from Africa Based Orientation in Machakos, Kenya.

The classes are intense, but the food and banter with all the other new missionaries are good.  We come from countries all around the world, including Brazil, Germany, Canada, Australia and the USA.

We are also going to many countries around Africa.

Me in Rokocho school, Kerio valley

I had a safe trip ‘up-country’ in the Kerio valley in Kenya for 10 days.  It was an extremely busy time, as I was expected to speak motivational lessons in many of the local schools.  I also had the opportunity to visit many friends, which was a great encouragement.

Unfortunately towards the end of the 10 days, I wasn’t so well, though managed to make the trip back to Nairobi as planned.  I had great support from some Scottish friends and managed to get onto the right medication to get treated and am now feeling a lot better.

We are in Machakos for 3 weeks.  Please pray for my health, my energy levels and my understanding of all of the training that we are being given – some of the topics are very challenging.

Packing and paperwork!

Me on the summit of Lochnagar

I have less than 2 weeks left in Scotland and life is a whirlwind of packing, paperwork and Goodbyes.  I find it especially hard to say Goodbye to the elderly and children.  I have taken lots of photos along the way, which I am hoping to print out and put up in Chad.  It has been encouraging to meet with many folk who faithfully pray for me.

The timetable of farewell services and mountains has come to an end.

Below is an idea of what the next few months will look like.  As God’s timing often looks different from mine, the reality may well be quite different – watch this space!

3rd July – late evening flight to London

4th July – Fly to Kenya

6th to 16th July – Visit Cheptebo, Kenya, where I lived from 1999-2000.

19th July to 9th August – Africa-based orientation.  There are around 25 of us from all over the world going to many different countries in Africa.  We receive teaching on culture, health, safety, language learning and many more topics.  It is quite an intensive 3 weeks.

10th August – Fly to Chad.  I will spend the first while (as long as it takes) getting a visa, work permit and driving licence sorted in the capital.  I will then go south to Bebalem, where I will have a home-stay with a Chadian family before I start work at the hospital.  The home-stay is also an opportunity to start learning the local language, as well as customs and culture.

I am looking forward to finishing the paperwork and packing and actually getting there!  I would value your prayers for my French, my Goodbyes and for the orientation – that I’ll be able to take in the information so that I can use it when it will be needed.

I will be able to update this blog in Chad, so do keep an eye on it for updates.

Thank you for your prayers.  God’s timing is perfect.

Marseille 2011

Greetings from Marseille!  I am half way through my 6 weeks here.  Some days the French flows better than other days.  I am shadowing a GP in a rural medical practice around an hour away from Marseille.  The vocabulary that I am learning is mostly in the presentation of problems by the patient.  It is a fantastic learning opportunity and I am extremely grateful to Dr Houn and his wife for their help.

For the first 2 weeks, I was house-sitting and cat-sitting for a Scottish family and I am very grateful for the use of their house.  Though I am less thankful to the cat for the frequent gifts of nearly-dead lizards and mice!  I am now living in a shared flat with a girl from the Christian Union in Marseille.

Me on St. Victoire.

I am involved in my local church here and am also involved in a puppet presentation of the story of Jonah that the AIM team here are doing on Saturday 14th May.  I am managing to squeeze in some time with friends here, some Frisbee practices (for a different knowledge of vocabulary) and I finally managed to climb the local mountain, St Victoire.

Farewell services – dates for your diaries

1st June – Belfast, Northern Ireland.   8pm at Stranmillis Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

12th June – Aberdeen, Scotland.  10.30am at Bridge of Don Baptist Church

19th June – Inverness, Scotland.  11am at Castle Street Baptist Church

If you are not able to come to one of these services, but would like to meet up before I leave, please contact me.

Return to France

I am returning to Marseille for 6 weeks more language study from 11th April to 27th June.

I spent 3 months last year in language school in Marseille.  In spite of the bin-men striking, I settled well into the city, finding tons of friends, a welcoming church and a friendly Frisbee team!

This time I am hoping to shadow some doctors to improve my French for working.  I would really value prayers, as the more I know, the harder it is to discipline myself to improve.

If you are in south France, do visit and I will have internet access, so keep in touch!

Flights booked for Chad

This week my flights are being booked for a departure in the summer.

God’s timing is perfect!

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