Monthly Archives: February 2012

Day 9: The Journey Home- Part 2

Day 9 – Sunday – N’djamena

Sleeping in, Scrambled Eggs, and Coca-Cola

This morning we slept a little later. Although we were disappointed that weren’t able to leave last night we were able to rest up some from the long drive from Moundou and spend some more time with Pastor Bako.

Jackie, Joe, Craig and Harry walked around the corner from the compound to the local grocery store and bought eggs, butter, baguettes and mango juice and Jackie fixed us scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Later Pastor Bako came and took us the Lebanese restaurant for lunch and we had various meat dishes and pizza and Coca-Cola. At lunch Jackie told Pastor Bako about the church-wide study that Spanish River is doing on the Gospel in Life. Pastor Bako shared that his vision for the Village Altonodji is that it be a place where “the Gospel is lived out”. He spoke of some of the same things that we have been studying about: building relationships in the community in order to better share the Gospel message. They are doing this by providing fresh bread for the community (sold on the busy road outside the village), sewing clothing that is sold in the community, providing education for the children, providing healthcare at the clinic, and of course by providing care for the orphans living there.

Expansion of the Clinic- A Birthing Center

His next proposed project is to expand the clinic by building a birthing center where pregnant mothers can come to give birth. He explained that the infant mortality rate is still high in Chad and that there are many incidents of the mother or child having problems during child birth and having no place to go for care.

He said that the Village Altonodji is becoming well-known in the Moundou area along with the two new church plants. There was at least one reporter at each of the events this week: the pastor’s conference, the two church dedications and the dining hall / science building dedication. Dan was interviewed by a reporter from a radio station at the pastor’s conference and Pastor Bako heard mention of the school building dedication on the radio on Saturday.

Finally Coming Home!

After lunch we visited the marketplace in downtown N’djamena which was pretty busy for a Sunday. We relaxed the rest of the day and then went to the airport to catch our overnight flight to Paris. We’re finally on our way home!

Day 8: The Journey Home- Part 1

Day 8 – Moundou to Ndjamena

This morning we awoke and again saw people lining up at the clinic building. Michel, the nurse at the Village Altonodji was there to see them and the climic was well stocked with the medicine that we had left from the week. The patients pay a small fee for the consultation but the medicine will be free for as long as it lasts.

No Water, No Showers

We also discovered when we awoke that there was no water in the water tank so we were unable to take showers. We believe that the problem was due to a valve on the pipe going up to the tank in being the wrong position. In any case it seemed to be filling by the time we packed up, said our good-byes and left for Ndjamena.

Special Thanks

The staff at the Village Altonodji has done a great job hosting us during the week, doing their best to make sure we had plenty of food and water. We are grateful to Samuel, Calvain, Pastor Pierre, Jeremie, Mrs. Bako, Lisa our Canadian translator, Michel, the Mama’s (widows) and all of the staff for their wonderful hospitality. Of course we will miss all the kids and being able to play with them and have them to practice their English on us.

After about three and a half hours on the road we stopped in Bongor which is a village about midway between Moundou and Ndjamena and had lunch at the house of Calvain’s sister who is also the head of the micro-finance program that was started by Mission:Chad. She has the same brilliant smile as her brother and fed us a delicious lunch of various kinds of fish, couscous and a vegetable salad.

We got back on the road for another three hours, seeing many cattle and large packs of camels along the way along with trucks, motor scooters and bicycles on the busy road to Ndjamena. We noticed as we approached Ndjamena that the dust and haze was growing thicker.

The Amazing Story of Pastor Bako and Village Altondji

We finally arrived at Pastor Bako’s office in Ndjamena where we were able to take “bucket” showers and change clothes. We then had a chance to relax and talk some more with Pastor Bako who accompanied us on our trip from Moundou. He related the story of how the village came to be. Altonodji is the name of his first born, a daughter, and it means “orphans need love”. She was given this name as a reminder to Bako of his own experience as an orphan from the age of two and his promise to God to show love to other orphan children. His daughter tragically died of malaria at the age of six in 1989 during a time when malaria medication was hard to come by in Chad.

Pastor Bako later had a vision to build a village to house and educate orphan children and provide medical care for them. He related the story of how God has provided the funding at each step of the project. One donor gave a large sum of money for the first dormitory building and was never heard from again (Pastor Bako refers to him as the “angel sent from God”). Spanish River has been a partner in the project since the village was first built in 2007 housing 40 orphans, providing funding for the David Nicholas Chapel building in the center of the village.

Pastor Bako once again expressed his gratitude to Spanish River for the contributions to the village in the past five years to help make it grow to house almost 150 orphans. God has truly blessed the Village Altonodji!

All Flights Canceled

We left for the Ndjamena airport about three hours before our flight only to arrive and discover that all fights had been cancelled to the extreme dust and haze. We will spend the night tonight once again at the TEAM mission compound and try to get another flight to Paris tomorrow. The adventure continues…

Day 7: Dedication, Solar Survey

Day 7 – Friday – Village Altonodji

Dedication Service at David Nicholas Chapel

This morning when we woke up we again saw that people were already lining up for the clinic. First on the agenda, however, was the dedication of the dining hall and the new high school building including the science lab. We first met in the David Nicholas Chapel where the school children had gathered and the choir was already singing praise songs.

Among the speakers at the ceremony were a representatives from the regional council and from the department of education. Both referred to the partnership of Mission:Chad and Spanish RIver that has been in place since the beginning of Village Altonodji and which made these two new buildings possible. They thanked both partners for the contributions that they have made toward the education of the people of Chad.

Enabling Students to Love God with Their Minds

Dan spoke about the partnership in building the Village and the desire that the children that attend the school would learn about Jesus. He spoke of the love that we have for the children attending the school and quoted Psalm 139 that they were “fearfully and wonderfully made” and that our hope is that they would grow up and share Jesus with others. Dan then read a message from Scott Hafeman of Mission:Chad who expressed the prayer that the school will “enable its students to love God with their minds and hearts and to serve the people of Chad in Christ’s name.”

After the dedication ceremony we went to the dining hall and science lab for the ribbon cuttings and to tour each building. The dining hall has a kitchen and tables where the children will eat their meals with an office for the staff. The science lab has several tile covered tables for doing laboratory experiments. The building has two additional classrooms for the grammar school. After the ceremony there was a reception for everyone in the library building.

Frustrations, Fixes, Laughter

We then started back at the clinic where Jackie, Katrina and Michel, the nurse at the VIllage, began seeing patients. Harry and Joe assisted them by taking vital signs and filling prescriptions from the pharmacy.

Earlier in the week we had noticed that the swings near the entrance to village were broken (this is where the well known picture of Pastor Bako and the orphans was taken) so Dan, Craig and Ken went into Moundou in search of chain and hardware to fix them. At the third building supply store we were finally able to find what we needed. After a somewhat frustrating week dealing with pump and generator problems (and a lack of parts and tools), Ken was able to get both swings working again and it wasn’t long before the kids were laughing and having fun on them.

After a lunch of rice, potatoes and goat meat along with some of Jackie’s special recipe black beans, the medical team went back to work in the clinic and were able to see more than one hundred patients. Jackie treated one woman who had infected wounds on both feet and was barely able to get to the clinic. Ken donated a pair of socks and his sandals to protect her bandages on her walk home.

Difficult Yet Rewarding

It has been a difficult week but at the end very rewarding in that we have seen first hand how God is using Pastor Bako and his ministry to impact so many lives throughout Chadh from the pastors to the orphans to the communities surrounding the new church plants. It has been a privilege to be a part of this team and to see God at work in Chad.

We are looking forward to starting the long journey home tomorrow morning.

Day 6: Gouri

Day 6 – Thursday

Today we left early to go to Gouri which is about nine miles from the Village Altonodji. We drove up and saw the new brick church building which is under roof but is still not quite finished. Next to the church was another three room brick building which is the home of Pastor Sylvain (the church planter) and his family.

Over 100 Patients Served Before Lunch

On the other side of the church building there was a good sized thatch covered shelter area where we set up our mobile clinic. It was over 100 degrees as it has been every day this week. We again set up three nursing stations, with Jackie and Katrina and Michel (the nurse from the Village). Harry took the blood pressure and temperature measurements, Dan, Ken, Joe and Craig manned the pharmacy. We were able to see over 100 patients before we stopped at about 2pm to have lunch.

Our lunch consisted of a salad of beets, string beans, cabbage and carrots which was delicious, and some of us had boule, which is a native dish made from ground millet and water (tasted sort of like matzoh balls) served with fish and a sauce for dipping. I would have to say that boule is an acquired taste, as it was a little bit gritty. We also had fresh bread with the meal.

Over 150 Attend Church Dedication Service

After lunch was the dedication service which started off with a walk-through of the new church building, followed by a gathering of about 150 people under the thatched roof shelter with lots of children looking on from the sides. Just as in Bekonkjo, there were several speakers including elders from Pastor Bako’s church in Moundou and a representative from the Church Planting Committee and Pastor Sylvain and his family were introduced. The village chief was ill and in the hospital but sent a representative who expressed his gratitude for having the church building in the village and asked for prayer for the chief who is not a believer but, as Pastor Bako said later, “God is working on him”. There was even a deaf pastor who spoke and signed a message of appreciation for the new church. All the speakers spoke of their gratitude for the partnership of Spanish River and Pastor Bako’s church (simply known as Church Number 8 ) in planting the church at Gouri. Dan responded by thanking them for the opportunity to be a part of this outreach project and for their wonderful hospitality during our stay.

Paganism Driven Out With the Gospel

Pastor Bako explained later that the area around Gouri is mostly pagan (practicing animism) and that there is a big problem with alcoholism in the community. The people at the Gouri church are primarily new converts which was exciting to hear. God is at work in Chad bringing light into a dark land!

We made the short trip back to the Village Altonodji where we ate and went to bed early after a long day.

Day 5: Bekondjo

Day 5 – Wednesday

The Long Drive

This morning we left early and drove about seventy miles east to the village of Bekondjo where one of the new Spanish River church plants is located. The village is spread out along the main road with a lot of criss-crossing paths leading to many brick and thatched roof buildings that make up the village. We could see that there were many young families in the village as we were greeted by a great number of curious children who probably had not seen that many white people together before.

Thirty Patients Cared For

We walked past the new brick church building and set up the mobile clinic in a cluster of four large mango trees that provided enough shade from the hot sun for three nursing stations and a large waiting area. Jackie and Katrina were at two of the nursing stations with their interpreters and Michel the nurse from the Village Altonodji was seeing patients as well. Dan and Craig took patients temperature, Joe and Harry took blood pressure and Ken counted out pills in the pharmacy. We saw about thirty patients before we had to pack up the clinic before eating lunch.

Lunch consisted of a delicious meal of plantains, potatoes, chicken and fresh bread, one of the tastiest meals so far. The people of the village were very friendly and enjoyed having us there, especially the children, who loved having their pictures taken and then seeing themselves displayed on our digital cameras.

Two-Hundred Attend Worship

After lunch was the dedication of the new church building. There were over 200 people packed into the building with more watching through the windows. During the service there were a series of speakers including elders from Pastor Bako’s church in Moundou, representatives from a committee that Pastor Bako has set up to oversee church planting, leaders from the new Bekondjo church and even the local village chief. The speakers thanked Spanish River for their financial support in constructing the building and providing support for Pastor Benjamin to plant the church as well as for sending the mission team. Dan also spoke and thanked them for their hospitality and told how Spanish River was happy to play a part in sharing the bad news and good news of the gospel in Chad.

After the service we drove the two hour trip back to the Village Altonodji where we had a delicious dinner with the team and Lisa, one of the interpreters that worked with us. Although we had to eat again by flashlight, the power was back on for a few hours before we went to bed and we were able to recharge our various electronic devices.