Saturday, November 29, 2008

Merry Thanksgiving!

I can't remember the last time I was as thankful on Thanksgiving as I was this year. I really felt so blessed, and Thanksgiving actually turned out to be a strange mix of birthday-Thanksgiving-Christmas, or it seemed that way anyway.

I guess first I should start off by telling the story of our most recent packages. Last Tuesday, Stefan and I had planned to take some clandos to Kelo so that we could pick up packages since we knew we had some with Thanksgiving food in them. He had asked off of work from Andre, the CEO, and I had off because I had just worked the night shift, so it was perfect. Unfortunately, the morning of, James talked to Stefan and pretty much told him he couldn't go because he was here to work and he shouldn't be taking off of work. Needless to say, we were really bummed, and immediately began making plans to see who could go on Wednesday since we were determined to get our packages before Thanksgiving.

Ansley and Emily decided that they would go since they wouldn't be working on Wednesday morning. I ended up talking to James later that day (Tuesday still), and I told him the plans. It was really odd; he began really discouraging us from going and giving me all kinds of reasons that we shouldn't go. He told me that he was going to N'Djamena early next week and he could get them then, and it didn't really matter which day we celebrated Thanksgiving on, and all kinds of things. And he kept saying, "Man, I wish you guys had reminded me when I went to Moundou the other day; I could have picked them up in the car on the way back."

That evening, Ansley and I were sitting in the middle house, and James came over and started trying to discourage Ansley from going again, but we were unbudging. Finally, he said, "You guys really shouldn't go because all of the packages are sitting in a pile on my living room floor."

We were stunned. "You're kidding me, right?" was my first response. He assured us that no, he wasn't kidding, and he had been lying through his teeth to me to try to get us not to go. He told us that he had planned to put all of the packages on a stack in the middle house on Thanksgiving morning along with a note that said, "Merry Thanksgiving!" He wanted so badly to surprise us. So he told Ansley to come up with some kind of excuse as to why she couldn't go with Emily. She did, although, she said she couldn't lie to Emily, so she told her what had happened. When they told everyone that we weren't going to be able to get the packages before Thanksgiving, everyone was pretty let-down.

But it was worth it. Thanksgiving morning, James stacked all the packages in the middle house (there were something like 14 packages total) with a note that said, "Ho, ho, ho, Merry Thanksgiving! I tried to get them down the chimney, but it was a tight fit. Might try cleaning it out." It was pretty fun.

So we got our packages! One of mine was a birthday package from home, which was amazing! And I got a birthday package from some friends back at Southern too (thanks guys, you totally made my day). And someone that knows Jacob's family had their school send packages with a whole Thanksgiving meal in it! It was totally amazing. So we made plans to have a huge Thanksgiving meal at James and Sarah's house that evening along with some of the other volunteers-- Gary and Wendy Roberts (pilot and wife), Steve Rose (cool guy who's working with Gary for 3 months), and Jeremy and Annie Smith (two nurses working with Gary and at the hospital).

We had so much fun making all the food, which all turned out to be absolutely amazing! It was the best meal I've had since leaving home. And we had SO much food! We ended up with leftovers. Here's what the menu was: Mixed nuts and craisins for appetizers, antipasta (which was amazing!), corn, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes with gravy, salad, cranberry sauce, bread with seasoned oil dip, two kinds of stuffing, and fri-chik. For drinks, we had cold apple cider and fresh limeade (we have that a lot here since limes are easy to get), and for dessert we had chocolate meringues and ginger snap cookies with this amazing pumpkin-spice whipped cream dip. We even had table decorations-- a huge pumpkin/squash thing (thanks to James), acorns and leaves (Jacob's mom sent them), and little corn kernels. Oh, and the pumpkin spice candle that my mom had sent me earlier.

Before we ate, we each took five kernels of corn and participated in a variation on a family tradition of Jacob's. We went around the table, and each of us got to say five things we were thankful for, one for each kernel of corn, and as we said them, we would throw our corn kernel into the pumpkin squash thing in the middle of the table (there was a slice missing because we cut it out to eat it).

Luckily, I had just taken my last dose of Quinine Thanksgiving morning, so my hearing and appetite were starting to come back. I ate so much food!!! Which was especially amazing because for the last week I had been so nauseas from malaria that I could only eat like five bites of food at each meal. God is good.

After we ate, we sat around and talked for a while and listened to music. Then we started cleaning up (I can't remember the last time I've washed that many dishes!). Finally, we decided that we would end our Thanksgiving with a nice round of games till midnight. We played Settlers of Catan (one of our favorite games here) for a long time while we drank hot chocolate (yes, we like hot drinks even in Africa), and when midnight struck, we turned on the Christmas music! Once we finished our game (which, by all means, I was set up to win, but James won out of sheer luck because 3s were rolled like 7 times), we decided to play a game of Citadels, which is another of our favorite games. We ended up staying at James's house until 2 am! And I had to work the next morning. But it was definitely worth it.

Oh! I almost forgot... While we were eating, Ansley read us Lincoln's speech that he gave when he made Thanksgiving an official holiday. I had never read it before, but it was so very fitting and inspiring. It really made me think about what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about; it's more than good food and a good time with friends and family, it's a time to really focus on giving thanks to God for his guidance and providence in our lives.

So here's to Thanksgiving in Chad-- one of the best, most blessed times I've had in Chad yet.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Birthday Addendum...

So, there was one thing that I forgot to write that I did on my birthday: I gave blood! I was really excited that I was able to give blood on my birthday because I've been wanting to give blood since I got here, but haven't had the opportunity. Apparently my blood type isn't in particular demand here.

Funny thing is, almost all of the student missionaries here are the same blood type: O+. This is a good thing because people with O blood type can give to any other blood type, so lots of the SMs have given blood multiple times.

Anyway, I was happy to give blood, but it was a bit of an experience. Never in my life have I given blood with such a large needle! It hurt quite a bit because it was a 14 gauge needle, which is like a small garden hose, and they missed the first time they stuck me. Luckily I had just eaten a large meal and drank a lot of water, so I was pretty well prepared. However, when I was almost done with giving blood, I started to feel nauseated and my hearing started to go, which are two good indicators that I might pass out. I am quite happy to say though that I did not pass out. And I was fine after giving blood too. But, I'm pretty sure that giving blood and then getting malaria soon after that were the reasons that my hemoglobin was so low recently.

Oh, I almost forgot to say why I gave blood. There was a 5 year old girl in pediatrics who had a hemoglobin of 3.8 g/dl, and her father didn't have the right blood type to donate (he was AB+ and she was B+). Her name was Emilie :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Fond Farewell

We recently lost one of our student missionaries. He went back home to Denmark, and we were all really sad to see him go.

The Friday before our bike trip, we all went over to Nathaniel's house for the "feast" that we were having in honor of his departure. I wasn't really sure what a Chadian feast entailed, but I knew that we would at least have a good time spending time together. When we got to his house, we all sat around in chairs and on benches just talking with everyone, which was really fun. All of us student missionaries were there, except for Ansley because she was working, and Sarah, Andre and his family, Augustin 2 and one of his sons, and then there was Nathaniel's African family (Daniel, Justine, and their two sons).

After being there for about an hour, we had prayer and the feast began. We started off with this flat peanut dough-bread and sauces to dip it in. It was really, really good! I was even surprised to see that they had made two sauces-- one goat sauce, and one sauce for the vegetarians. After that, we had a course of boulle with sauce.

I don't think I've ever explained Chadian food before. There seem to be some staples here: boulle (boohl) and bruille (bwee). Boulle is the typical Chadian meal here, and it's this strange loaf of cooked stuff. I'm still not sure what all is in it. Likely, some flour, millet, sometimes rice, and who knows what else.

Eating boulle is an experience in itself. There's a large bowl shaped loaf of boulle, and usually everyone washes their hands, breaks off little pieces of the loaf, squishes it into a nice dipping shape, and then dips it, fingers and all, in the sauce. Since there were so many people, we just cut off small portions of the boulle, and poured some sauce onto our plates.

After boulle, we talked some more. Daniel gave a very nice farewell speech for Nathaniel, and then we headed off to Friday night worship.

The party continued after worship as a bunch of us went back to Nathaniel's house for a bonfire. Nathaniel built the most amazing, pathfinder-worthy fire while Emily played the guitar and sand, and the rest of us talked and sang as well. It was really funny though, the oldest son in Nathaniel's family, Yanique (maybe 6 or 7), kept saying, "Ca c'est pas bon!" (that is not good!) as the smoke from the fire drifted into his face while Nathaniel was fanning it.

Once the fire was pretty much going, we tried to sing songs that all of the Chadians would know as well. At one point, we taught them how to sing "God is so good" in English. This was one of the coolest things that happened that night; after we taught it to them in English, they taught it to us in French. And then, they proceeded to
tell us that they knew it in other languages too. I think we sang it in five different languages all together. We sang it in English, French, Nangjere, Gumbaye, and Arabic. It was amazing.

Then as we settled down, Emily brought out the sweet rice that she and I had made earlier that afternoon. It tastes so good! It's just sticky rice made with milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar. It was a wonderful treat to end the night with. We still stayed and talked for a little while after that, and Nathaniel made a speech for Daniel, thanking him for everything. All in all, it was a wonderful night, and a perfect way to wish Nathaniel farewell.


Last week I had my birthday, and I thought I would write a little bit about what we did on my birthday, and I also thought it would be a good opportunity to write a funny story about someone else's birthday.

For my birthday, I was really excited because I didn't have to work until 9 pm, so I had the whole day free to do whatever I wanted. We decided that we would do a big meal all together to celebrate my birthday and Maria's birthday, which was the day before. So Ansley, Emily, Maria, and I all prepared the food. We had cucumbers with salad dressing, and big franks! Both my parents and Jacob's parents had sent us canned veggie meat, so we were able to have hot dogs with onion, mayonnaise, and ketchup that we had found in Lai on our bike trip. The meal was wonderful! And then, Ansley, Maria, and I made cookies. Sarah and James let us use their oven, and so we made some interesting cookies... We didn't have butter, so we used peanut oil, and we only had a few small eggs, so the cookies ended up tasting like slightly crumbly peanut butter cookies. They also had craisins and pecans in them! They were really good.

So that was pretty much what we did for my birthday. Then, that night I had to work the night shift, and boy was that a memorable night. Ansley and Augustin 1 (there are 2 Augustin's here) had been working and were supposed to pass the patients off to me and Gilbert. Unfortunately, Gilbert was really late, and we weren't really sure if he was going to come. He did come eventually; he had just overslept.

During change of shift we had something happen with one of our pediatric patients that affected me a lot. I can't explain why it affected me so much, and it doesn't make much sense, but here's the story.

We had one 3 year old boy in the urgencie room with tetanus and some other problems (probably malaria). Tetanus causes your body to have muscle spasms, and it's very difficult for your muscles to relax. Not many of our patients with tetanus survive because there's not a whole lot that we can do for them. We give them some medicine called Diazepam to try to relax their muscles, and there's an anti-tetanus medicine but we don't have it here at our hospital. The muscle spasms make it very difficult to breathe since your breathing is controlled by the diaphragm, which is a muscle.

So this boy had really ragged breaths, and he was having almost constant muscle spasms, they just wouldn't let up. And while Ansley, Augustin 1 (one of the local nurses), and I were standing there, he stopped breathing. So Augustin started doing chest compressions. I had never seen this boy before, that night was the first time I had seen him. I don't know what it was, but I just felt overwhelmed. I started crying silently and praying. It didn't make any sense, but I just started praying hard, "God, not him. Don't let this baby die." I even asked God to let him live, as a birthday present for me, which in retrospect seems kind of a silly thing to ask God.

Finally, he started breathing again. And the muscle spasms returned. And as we left his bedside, I thanked God, but I began to think about that baby and how tired his little body was from fighting. I prayed again that God would let him live, but then I prayed that if that wasn't best, that God would do what He knew was best.

About 20 minutes later, Gilbert came to find me and told me that he had died. I was really upset, but in some ways, I was glad for him to have rest. But it still doesn't make any sense to me why I was affected so deeply by this boy that I had never laid eyes on before, and why I had this overwhelming sense of not wanting God to let him die. That was the beginning of a long, long night shift. Generally on the night shift, we are able to sleep in between doing our work. We make sure all the 9 pm meds are done, and then we can sleep until midnight, do the midnight meds and vital signs, and then sleep until 5 am meds and vital signs. This is if all goes well and there are no emergencies.

By the time we were finished with the boy with tetanus, it was already 11 pm, so there wasn't much time before midnight meds. I decided that I would organize the registers where we keep record of what patients we have, and then I started the midnight meds and vitals. As I was finishing with the last patient, a man came up to me and said, "My sister, there is a delivery" (he said it in French of course...). So I told him to wait a minute and I would be right there. But I remember thinking, I can't do anything about it anyway-- Hortence, the mid-wife, is the only one with a key to the delivery room.

As I came to the end of the hallway and was almost outside, I heard the very familiar sound of a woman in labor. Very shortly after that, I heard the sound of a baby crying, loud. I turned the corner outside on the sidewalk, and was slightly shocked by what I saw. There was a woman squatting on the ground next to the sidewalk, and her husband was crouched down next to her holding a very agitated newborn baby.

I ran fast to get Gilbert over in pediatrics, and when I told him what happened he started running back toward the woman and her family. I wondered what on earth we were going to do because all the clamps, scissors, and bulb suctions were locked in the maternity room. Luckily, Gilbert had gone over to Hortence's house when the man and his wife first came in, so he had just come back with the key.

I sat down on the sidewalk next to the man and his wife and tried frantically to get the man to let me cover the baby with something, but he was rattling off some agitated French that I couldn't understand. I kept trying to cover the baby because it was cold outside and newborns can't regulate their own temperature anyway. Finally, Gilbert found a clamp, clamped the cord, and then cut it, so I took the baby away from the father and started covering it up. We moved the woman and her baby into the delivery room, and I began to work on taking the baby's vital signs and measurements. At one point, I remember turning around to see how Gilbert was doing with the mother, and I was met by a shocking sight. There was Gilbert with half of his hand inside the woman, doing his own little curetage sans anesthesia and sans sterile technique. I asked him if the placenta was complete, and he showed me that it was, so I'm not 100% sure what he was trying to do.

Just as we finished up all the care for the newborn and the mother, Hortence walked in looking like she had just rolled out of bed. She was about to ask how dilated the mother was when she noticed the newborn baby all wrapped up on the bed. Here's the exchange that happened between us:

Hortence: She already delivered?
Kristin: Yep.
H: Who delivered the baby, you?
K: Nope.
H: Gilbert?
K: Nope. (I smiled)
H: Well then who?
K: The father.

At this point, Hortence gave me the most shocked expression I've seen on a Chadian's face yet. It was pretty funny. So I explained to her what had happened. We moved the mother out into the maternity beds, and then Hortence insisted that we clean the delivery room right then, just in case someone else came in that night. Chadians do not know how to clean very well. Their idea of cleaning is pouring bleach water on everything. So Hortence began flooding the room with buckets of water and handed me the little thing they use to scrape the water outside. This was counterproductive; as I was sort of sweeping the water out, she was pouring more water onto the maternity bed, which then flooded the floor that I had just cleared.

Being very tired, and not wishing to continue with the counter-productivity, I just stood there until she finished. At that point, she grabbed the scraper thing and started sweeping the water out herself, which was fine with me because at that point it was almost 2 am, and I was tired and my throat was getting more and more sore.

Luckily, there were no more emergencies and I was able to get about 3 hours of sleep that night. What a night, and what a birthday.

Friday, November 21, 2008


So, I thought that you deserved some news that was not horribly outdated. Here's the first of a few.

So apparently Africa and I haven't hit it off so well. I am, yet again, sick.

Last week on Wednesday or Thursday (12th or 13th of November), I started having a sore throat and thought that another cold was coming on. I lost my voice (still don't have a voice...), and had all the normal cold symptoms- runny nose, sore throat, etc. But it just wasn't going away, and I started feeling wheezes in my lungs.

I talked to James on Tuesday... Bronchitis it is! Or at least that's what James is treating it as. So, I'm taking medicine, and to fix the wheezes in my lungs, he prescribed me some salbutamol breathing treatments. It has definitely been an interesting experience to use the nebulizer here. I've never had to do anything like that before, and I don't like it. When I finish with the medicine, I feel like I've just downed a shot of straight caffeine because it makes my heart race and I get all jittery. No good.

That night I started to get a fever, and I thought, "This can't be good..." All day Wednesday, I felt absolutely miserable. I had a fever all day long, severe nausea, headache, achy muscles, and just in general felt drained. I took a malaria test, but it came back negative. Sometimes we get false negatives, but I decided not to take the medicine just yet. I think I'm going to get re-tested on Friday if it persists. I may just start taking the malaria treatment anyway even if it's negative again. We'll see.

Lest you think that this is a completely negative blog, I will add here a blessing. We had been planning a big bike trip for a few weeks now, and it was supposed to happen this past Sunday. I went to bed on Saturday night not feeling any better- still had a very sore throat, coughing, runny nose, etc. But on Sunday morning, I woke up feeling so much better! I still didn't have a voice, and I was coughing a little bit, but I decided that I would go anyway.

We had an absolutely amazing time! It was one of the best times I've had yet in Chad. I'll have to write about it in a separate blog, but it was super fun. And I was so blessed because I was able to go, and I actually didn't feel bad all day long. We biked for probably a total of 40 km that day and went swimming. I know God must have been with me, helping me to have the energy and the health to go, and I am so very thankful.

*Post note: It's now Friday. I got re-tested for malaria, and while I was at it, I did some other tests too. The last three days I've been really fatigued. I haven't really had energy to move around much, and I was trying to figure out why, because usually I don't get that way with fevers and such, at least not that bad. I began to wonder what my hemoglobin was because I had recently given blood and stuff, so I had that checked too. The results? Malaria it is. And my hemoglobin was 10.3 g/dl (normal is somewhere above 12), so that explains the fatigue. So I got some malaria medicine and some iron pills. That ought to fix me up real fast :D I'm actually trying a different medication than Quinine this time... I have to take four pills twice a day, and it's only for three days. But I still have to take Doxy for a week. And while the new medicine lacks many of the side effects that Quinine brings, it most definitely makes me very nauseated and is probably the most disgusting thing that I've put in my mouth since entering Chad. No joke. But life is good.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bike Trip!

More current news! Are you in shock?

November 16, 2008

As I mentioned before, we had been planning a bike trip for a while. Originally it was going to be a three-day camping trip, and Nathaniel wanted to be able to meet families around the area. We had to make some changes, and we ended up deciding that we were going to bike to Lai, a slightly larger village that's 18 km away.

Sunday morning, we all met over at the middle house with bikes, backpacks, and lots of excitement. Each of us had borrowed bikes from random different people, and I had arranged to come to work late that evening because we wouldn't be back until late evening, and I was supposed to work at 3pm.

We finally got everything ready to go a little bit before 9am, and took off. It was a beautiful day-- sunshine, clear skies, and a nice, constant breeze. We couldn't have asked God for a better day to go.

I guess I should explain who exactly "we" included. There were six of us total: Nathaniel, Emily, Jacob, Ansley, me, and Daniel (the father of the house that Nathaniel stays at). Daniel was nice enough to endure the teasing from other Africans that he was hanging out with all the "Nassara" (white people). It was really fun to have him along, and it came in handy several times to have a local with us.

The trip there was not particularly eventful, but it was so much fun. We had some good times joking around with each other, taking pictures and videos, and other things. Emily had brought a harmonica, so we had fun with that. One person would play for a little bit, and then do a hand-off to another person while we were biking.

Once we got to the river, we had to be ferried across to get to town. This was definitely the most sketchy "ferry" system I've ever seen in my life. We paid 300 francs a piece to have ourselves and our bikes taken across in a long canoe-resembling tree trunk. Funny thing was that it was sewn together in places with really thick string (or very thin rope), and there was actually one man whose job was to bail out the water as we made our way across the river. There were also two people "rowing" with large bamboo type sticks that they used to push against the bottom of the river (so it really wasn't terribly deep). We were all very thankful to make it across with no problems and some good laughs.

Oh, and while we were getting in, another man came up to ride along with us, and we recognized him! His name was Paul, and he had been a patient at the hospital here for a long time. I had gotten to know him pretty well while he stayed at the hospital, and so had Jacob, so it was really cool for us to see him there and get to talk to him again.

After we got across, we biked into town, and decided to find a place to eat (it was about 11:15 when we got to town). Daniel helped us find a restaurant that would serve vegetarian food, and we all sat down for a nice meal. Restaurants here in Chad are very interesting. The one that we ate in was essentially a little closed in hangar, complete with thatched roof, and a large grass mat on the ground for you to sit on. They bring your food out on large, round platters with plates. We all had bread and a dipping sauce. The meat-eaters had a goat sauce, and the vegetarians had an interesting sauce composed of oil, mayonnaise, tomatoes, and onions (which was surprisingly very good). We also splurged and had cold drinks. Although, my drink turned out to be
disappointing; it looked like a strawberry soda, but it tasted an awful lot like bubble gum, which I don't like. But it was nice to have a cold drink.

After lunch, we decided to bike around town for fun. So we biked around for a while, just taking random turns whenever we felt like it. One funny incident from our exploration... Here in Chad, it is not uncommon to see two guys walking hand in hand, which has taken some getting used to. So as we're biking down one street, Nathaniel and Jacob start talking about this, and they started holding hands while biking down the street (they're true Chadians now... I'll have to write a blog about qualifications for being a true Chadian later). Ansley was in front of them and decided that she wanted to get a video because it was so funny, but when she went to do so, she ended up crashing and they nearly ran into her! In her defense, it really was the most graceful fall I've seen yet- she managed to walk/run out of it, but then collapsed on the ground in laughter.

There wasn't much interesting there, but it was fun to explore. There's this one bus stop (we think that's what it is) where there's a large cement thing that has paintings on it and distances from Lai to other villages. I think it's the closest thing resembling Chadian public sculpture that I've seen yet. I wish that we had gotten a picture of it, but maybe some other time. We also saw the hospital there (which looks very big and official next to ours), and we saw a funeral procession while biking through town.

After we finished riding around, we ended up at the river (a ways away from the ferry route) where it was less crowded, and we decided to go swimming. It was at this point that we realized how very sunburnt we all were. Nathaniel, Emily, and Jacob ended up swimming all the way across the river (maybe 1/4 of a mile?) and they had fun jumping off little cliffs into the water. I got tired after swimming halfway out to the sandbar, and Ansley decided to stay closer to the shore. So, I sat down on the sandbar and soaked up some more sun and cool water.

Then three random guys swam up to me, sat down in the sand across from me, and started talking to me. I was kind of irritated at first and kind of hoped that they would go away if I didn't start conversation. But alas, they were disposed to talk, and they initiated conversation. But it actually turned out being a nice conversation. They knew some people from the hospital, and we talked a little bit about religion (one was Catholic, one was Muslim, and one was an Evangelical Christian of some sort).

When we finished swimming, we went to the market where we shopped around for different things. And then we headed back. At this point, I was pretty tired. We had some issues with the ferry on the way back. Luckily, this time the boat was not sewn together, and there was no need for a bailer. However, they tried to charge us
500 francs a piece instead of 300 (people here try to rip off white people all the time and give us higher prices because they think that we're rich). So Daniel had a nice heated argument with one of the boat steerers. But it all worked out in the end.

On the way home, things were going great until we got about 6 km away from Bere, and my bike chain fell off. It fell off three times in a row before Nathaniel decided that some extra repairs were needed. He gave me his bike (which was too tall for me to ride, so I walked it) and told me to go ahead while him and Jacob fixed mine. The chain actually ended up breaking and they had to fix it. While I was walking Nathaniel's bike, several people asked me if I was ok, and a few stopped to help me, which is funny because I didn't look like I was in distress, I was just walking the bike, but no one offered to stop and help Nathaniel and Jacob who were slaving over a
broken bike chain in the sand. What can I say? I guess I just exude the air of "damsel in distress."

So we made it back without any major problems, and I was only a little bit late for the 6pm medications, which turned out to be alright because there were very few patients and I got them all done quickly. But I was most definitely exhausted by the end of the trip. Oh, one other funny thing (Christy, Emily, and Andrew will find this particularly amusing). Ansley decided that all of us deserved special awards for the trip.

Emily won the mountain-biker award because she just looked the part, and her bike looked more like a mountain bike. Nathaniel won the safari-man award because of his funny touristy, safari hat. Jacob and Ansley both got the stuntman award (Ansley for her several graceful falls, and Jacob because he'd randomly go no hands and very nearly wipe out). And I got the ghetto bike award because my bike was really ridiculous with only one pedal, a really messed up seat, broken brake handlebars (no Chadian bike has brakes by the way), and a loose chain. Oh, and Daniel got the intense Chadian award because he's pretty much one of the only Chadians we've seen who would go on an 18 km bike trip with 5 crazy white people.

After our trip we were all quite sore; we couldn't sit down comfortably for a few days (Ansley, Jacob, and I all got bruises from our bike seats). But I think we all came away with a deep sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It was an awesome trip.

Theory of Fearlessness

This is just a small excerpt (with some slight changes) from an email I wrote, but I thought I would post it here. This is my theory of fearlessness.

It's funny; I think I've always been really fearful of lots of things. When I was little and dad and mom would leave at night even if it were just to go to the grocery store, I couldn't sleep until I heard the door open and them come in because I was afraid that something would happen to them. And even in college, there were lots of times when I was afraid of different things.

But I think that just before coming to Africa, like at the end of last semester in school, I began to realize that God had plans for me, and that he would keep me safe. I came up with a theory that has helped me not to be afraid while I'm here. It goes something like this: I don't think that God brought me to the middle of Africa just to die; I believe that He brought me here to do His work and to spread His love. And, even if God did bring me here to die, my life is in His hands, and there's no better place to be.

God has a plan for me, and I have no need to be afraid of anything that comes my way or that might come my way because fear is wasted energy when the God of the universe holds you in His hands. It's helped me to remember this a lot of times. There have been so many opportunities for fear since I've been here-- there are pit vipers here, I walk home every night by myself in the dark, the small war, and lots of others-- but I don't think I can really remember being scared except for when I was riding the horse and fell off. Even then, I think I knew that I would be ok.

I'm not saying that nothing bad will happen to me, because bad things do happen even to those who love God. But, I have no need to fear what will happen to me because ultimately, my life is in God's hands.

Dangerous Prayers

Again, outdated, but it's news...

October 20, 2008

Today I didn't work at all because I have been switched to the night/evening shift until the end of October. So the way that it works is like this: One day completely off, the next day from 3pm - 9pm, then the next day 9pm - 8am. And you just cycle through that schedule. The nice thing is that i get about 2 days off each week, and there are two other nurses working with me.

So, today I was off. This afternoon Stefan decided to go riding, and I thought I would go for a ride on the other horse on my own. Ansley helped me catch Pepper, but he was being really stubborn and kind of feisty. His attitude made both of us a little nervous, so I decided not to ride. Besides, I kind of had a bad feeling about going, but I couldn't explain why. A little later, Sarah came and asked me if I wanted her to help me catch and saddle Pepper so that I could ride. So I changed my mind and decided to go.

Just as we were saddling him, Stefan came back on Bob. Unfortunately, Bob had little motivation to go fast, and Stefan didn't get much of a ride. So Stefan decided to go out riding with me. We started off at a nice slow walk. Then we got the horses to go a little faster. Sadly, when we got to one stretch of road there were a lot of kids, and Pepper gets very skittish around kids. I guess the kids here think that it's fun to scare the horses, so Pepper does not like children. Oh, I forgot one thing. Just before we had gotten to the kids, Pepper was running to catch up to Bob, and a tree branch (the end of a tree branch) rammed straight into my eye because I didn't have time to duck. At that point, I called up to Stefan and said, "I think we're going to have to go back now." I told him what happened and that I was seeing spots in my left eye. But then it started getting better, and I could see alright despite my eye hurting a lot.

So I said that we could keep going. As we got to where the kids were, Pepper started getting nervous. Stefan told me to go ahead a little way to the crossroad and wait for him there while he tried to chase the kids away. When I got to the crossroad, Pepper decided that he didn't want to wait, and he bolted. I tried to get him to stop or slow down, but he was flying. I've never in my life gone that fast on any horse. I started to get really scared when I realized that he wasn't going to slow down. Also, this was my first time riding with an English saddle, so my balance wasn't very good.

I began to pray because I just knew that I was going to fall off. Sure enough, I flew off the left side, landed on my lower back, and rolled. Sometime when I fell, I also managed to hit my head and left arm/shoulder. As I laid there, I wondered if I should try to get up or not, but thought to myself, "No, Stefan will come soon, and he'll know what to do," which was kind of a silly though because Stefan is not really medically minded, and I'm the nurse. Then I realized that I wasn't sure if I could move my left leg even if I wanted to. This brought a new fear that it might be paralyzed, which was actually kind of silly to think because I could still feel it.

Finally, I saw Stefan coming on Bob, and when he got to me, he asked if I was alright. I told him I wasn't sure if I could move, but I would try. So he gave me a hand up, and I discovered my ability to move, which was exciting, yet painful. We walked ever so slowly back to the hospital, which was luckily not far away, though I don't remember much of the walk except for a lot of pain. Once at the hospital, I explained a little of what happened to Ansley and some others. Then I went to take a shower and see what injuries I had. Thankfully, it could have been much worse. I took inventory and found that I had a scrape above my left eye, a swollen and bruised left eye, scrape on my lower back, very swollen lower back, and sore legs. All very minor, non-threatening injuries, praise God.

I walked slowly home for dinner after my shower. While I was walking home, I started to get really nauseated and felt like I might pass out. I told Berthe and the girls what happened. Then I laid down on my bed to wait for food. It was at this point that I began to cry, and I told God that I didn't want to be here. As I laid in bed, I began to try to go through what had happened, but some parts were fuzzy, and I couldn't remember. So then I began to worry that I might have a concussion, but I didn't think I had hit my head that hard, and I didn't think that I had lost consciousness. And, another odd thing, from the time I fell to the time I got home, it all felt like deja vu. I felt like I had dreamed all that happened before, every detail.

Anyway, here comes the cool part of the story. As I laid in bed crying and thinking I didn't want to be here, I thought, "No. Wait. This is just another of Satan's schemes to discourage me." And then I remembered my worship and my prayer from this morning. This morning I had been thinking about the fact that I don't praise God enough, and especially when situations are bad. I felt like I had been complaining a lot and I don't always have the most positive attitude. So this morning, I sang some praise hymns, read some Psalms of praise, and prayed that God would teach me to be like Paul- praising God in every situation.

Once I remembered my worship, I began to sing the Doxology hymn and prayed. I decided that I would have a good attitude and not complain. And once I started singing and praying, I actually began to feel joyful and at peace; it was really amazing to feel God working so clearly. Beyond that, I realized another blessing in all of this. When I was eating my dinner a little later, I noticed that my back hurt a lot less if I was sitting up straight. Since the beginning of this past summer, I've been trying to work on having better posture. So as I sat up very straight and ate my dinner, I thought, "wow, now that it hurts to slouch, maybe I'll make even more progress with my posture." As soon as I thought this, I laughed and thanked God.

Looking back, I've thought of some other blessings and things to be thankful for. First of all, I didn't break any bones, and I wasn't paralyzed- both huge blessings. Second, I feel reassured in my theory that God didn't bring me to the middle of Africa to die (I'll have to write later about my theory of fearlessness). It was also a blessing that this happened on my day off, and I don't have to work until tomorrow afternoon. Finally, I realized that it was really good that I didn't go out riding by myself the first time because had I gone alone, things could have been much worse. So, be careful what you pray for; prayers can be a dangerous thing ;)

Praise God from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Baptism By Fire

Ok, this is exceptionally outdated. I wrote this in my journal and just haven't gotten around to typing it up. But this is how I got started working in the hospital.

My second Sabbath in Chad was quite memorable. I was walking to church, and it was fairly cool since it was still morning. As I came to the corner of the hospital where I turn to walk to the church, I saw some people with their large bull cow. These cows are some of the most miserable creatures I've ever seen. They're so gaunt, and they are what I imagine the seven cows representing famine in Pharoah's dream looked like.

An older man was telling a little boy (about 7 or 8 maybe) to get the cow. When the boy went to grab the rope, the cow got angry and started rushing the boy with his horn (the cows have huge, long horns). I watched in horror as the cow tossed the boy several feet in the air with his horns. The boy landed hard on the ground, and I'm really not sure how he managed not to get trampled. But somehow the boy scrambled away, and I ran over to check him out.

I didn't see any broken bones or wounds, but he was bleeding from his mouth. I frantically tried to motion for his family to carry him to the ER (Urgencie), but I think that they were in shock. I decided to run to get James, but I couldn't find him. Fortunately, by the time I finished looking for James, the family was taking the boy over to the hospital. I decided that there wasn't anything else that I could do, so I went on to church.

Church is kind of difficult here because I don't understand everything, but it's getting a lot better, especially now that I have a French hymnal and I'm learning more French. This particular Sabbath was more difficult though because in the middle of the service it started pouring down rain. So there was rain pounding the tin roof of the church, and it was almost deafening. All of us SMs had decided that on Sabbaths we would make lunch together and eat together after church. So we all went to the middle house and made egg sandwiches-- toasted bread, mayonnaise, scrambled eggs, and tomatoes. It was definitely interesting learning to cook
over a charcoal stove, but the food was amazing!

Once we were nice and full, we decided to play a game of Bible Bananagrams. That was so much fun, and it was really challenging to use only Bible words. In the middle of our second game, James came in. I was definitely surprised by his reason for coming. The hospital had been having trouble with one of the nurses not showing up to work, not doing his job, and giving patients wrong meds. Apparently, he had decided that he didn't want to come to work this Saturday, so James asked me if I would work his shift from 3 pm to 9 pm.

Needless to say, I was not very happy to have to work on Sabbath, and I was scared because there was so much I didn't know about how the hospital works. But I went. And I worked. It ended up not being that bad. It was definitely challenging and tiresome, but I think it was good for me. I think being thrown into work and out of my comfort zone was good for me because I was forced to learn fast. Maybe baptism by fire is the best way to go.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

God Is Faithful

Once again, I'm writing about experiences from a long, long time ago. So I hope that you don't get confused since this is old... One day, I will catch up and you will be able to read about current happenings for me in Tchad. But for now, I figure any news is good news.

September 20
I can't even begin to write down all the ways that God has been faithful to me since I've been here. But I wanted to write down a few specific things that have happened so that you can see how God is working.

The first has to do with my devotions. I really felt impressed to read in Hebrews, so I did. I don't think God could have chosen a better book for me to read at the beginning of my time here. One day in particular I was really not wanting to be here; as soon as I woke up, my first thought was, "I don't want to be here. I want to go home." That morning I read Hebrews chapter 6. All of it was encouraging, but verses 10-12 really gave me the strength to hold on. It says:

"God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised."

That's certainly not been the only time I've felt God's providence in my devotions, but it's one that I wanted to share.

Another small way that God was good to me has to do with the weather. It's rainy season right now (well, it was in September), so it rains quite a bit. One morning I was going to take my shower, and I could see storm clouds and hear thunder. I said a quick prayer asking God to hold off the rain until I was done with my shower because it was already cold (yes, it gets chilly here) and I didn't want my clothes to get wet. It wasn't until I had just finished my shower that I began to feel little raindrops heralding the storm that broke loose not five minutes later.

I mentioned before that there was one day that I really didn't want to be here... Well, there have actually been quite a few of those days (there were at the beginning anyway). It's not always even because life is hard or different here; some days I just wake up and don't want to be here. Other days I have reasons for not wanting to be here. But whatever the reason (or lack of reason), I try to pray for strength and encouragement. And God always comes through. He always gives me something to turn the day around and to give me perseverance.

One day I was irritated because my French was still not very good. The language barrier makes the other nurses not trust me (not really a problem anymore), and it makes everything more difficult. That morning, one of the nurses I was working with, Samedi, told me out of the blue that my French was getting better. And recently, several of the other nurses have told me the same thing. It's very encouraging to hear.

My French is still improving, and I think it might be a process that continues until I leave here. But lately I've been able to have mini conversations with people that I work with, and as I've gotten to know them a little better, it's given me more reason to want to stay. So as you can see, God has been good to me. And this is just a small sampling of his faithfulness.

God is so good, God is so good
God is so good, He's so good to me

*Post note: This was something I wrote in my journal a long time ago. Since then, God has proven faithful in even more ways, my French has
gotten much, much better, and I've come to love the people here. I work with some really amazing people, and I love the family that I live with. I have truly enjoyed getting to know the people here, and as much as I know I will love going home, I know that when I leave Tchad, I will miss each of the people here so very much. I've been able to have good conversations with a lot of the people and have made a lot of friends here. It seems like everywhere I go in this life, I will always be missing someone dear to me. I can't wait for the day when we can all go to heaven to live together forever, and I will never have to miss anyone again. Come quickly, Lord.

"Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her." ~Hosea 2:14

Malaria and Quinine

I thought that it's about time that I write a bit about malaria. Before I came to Africa, I was really worried about getting malaria, and to be honest it kind of scared me. Thankfully, I am no longer afraid of malaria; nothing like facing your fears to get rid of them. So, here's a bit about malaria.

Originally, I was going to keep score-- me versus malaria and giardia. Now, I'm not so sure because I have a feeling that the statistics might be discouraging.

I ended up getting malaria eleven days after arriving in Chad, which is funny because it takes 7-10 days after being infected to show symptoms. So I must have gotten malaria the first or second night here. Since then, I've had it two more times, each about 2-3 weeks apart. What can I say? The African mosquitoes must love my sweet, American B+ blood. I'm just hoping that I don't continue to get malaria every 2-3 weeks for the rest of my stay.

The first time I got malaria, I remember thinking that it wasn't that bad; a headache, a fever, and a little nausea. But after my second round, I took that thought back. It really isn't pleasant at all. The second time, not only did I have a headache the whole time and a fever for a day, but I also ended up being extremely nauseated for 3 days straight, and I had really bad stomach pain. Oh, and I ended up having a bad cold at the same time (thanks Stefan...).

To be completely honest though, I think that what's worse than malaria itself is the medicine used to treat it. Quinine and Doxycycline. Doxy just makes you really nauseated (as if the malaria didn't do a good enough job), even if you take it with your meals. But Quinine has a long list of awful side effects.

First of all, it causes you to have ringing in your ears. Constantly. It doesn't go away until you're finished with the medicine. Beyond that, it muffles your hearing, so you're constantly asking people to repeat what they just said.

Another side effect is evident in your stride. Quinine tends to make you dizzy, so sometimes it's difficult to walk straight. And good luck if you try to stand up too quickly; you just might find yourself face down on the ground. Usually I tried to take one dose of Quinine just before I went to bed (you have to take it three times a day) so that I would sleep through some side effects. But one time, I took it at 9 pm, went to bed, and woke up at 11 pm to use the bathroom.
Unfortunately, I forgot that I was on Quinine, and when I got out of bed, the world began to spin, and I almost fell into the wall.

The final irritating side effect of Quinine is what it does to your blood sugar. Quinine very effectively lowers your blood sugar. I was not aware of this the first few days that I took it, so when I would take my afternoon dose, I usually hadn't eaten anything since breakfast. So by about 2 pm, I would get really shaky, weak, and tired. Luckily that side effect can be easily remedied by eating something. But I learned pretty quickly not to take my Quinine without eating.

So, all in all, malaria isn't that scary. It's certainly not pleasant, but it's not frightening anymore. However, I've noticed that it seems like the times that I most want to go home are the times when I have malaria... Go figure.

"Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her."       ~Hosea 2:14

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Crew

I thought that it would be good for me to write a blog about all of the other student missionaries who are here with me because then when I refer to them in stories, you can have an idea of what they are like and who they are.
First there is Stefan. He has been here since July, and we have been very appreciative of his French skills. He took both elementary French classes before coming here, and since he was here for two months before us, his French is very good. It was really nice because he was able to kind of show us the ropes and help translate for us. Stefan amazes me in other ways besides his French skills too. He's the youngest of all of us (19 years old), but he has such a positive outlook and a bring-it-on attitude. He's on his fifth round of malaria right now, and he's had giardia with malaria once, but nothing seems to phase him. He also seems very confident and sure of God's leading and ability to take care of things. While he's here, he's working as the accountant/administrator's assistant because he's an International Business major at Southern. He's a really good guy, and I've enjoyed getting to know him.
Jacob was the oldest until Ansley came. He's 22, and he's a pre-Med student from Southern. If it weren't for Jacob, I might not have made it on the plane to come here. I met him at the gate for our flight from Dulles; I had been crying because I just said goodbye to everyone, and I was really having second thoughts about leaving. But when I saw him, he was smiling, and excited, and he began talking about Africa and all the plans and things he couldn't wait to do. He was so enthusiastic that I couldn't help feeling somewhat reassured. I think that Satan wasn't very pleased with Jake's enthusiasm and positive attitude because when we first got to Bere, Jake had an awful start. He got really sick the second day he was here; he was vomiting, had to get IV fluids and spend his second night at the hospital, and was just generally miserable. I think he seriously considered going home (who wouldn't with a start like that?), but we all visited his house and tried to cheer and encourage him. We prayed a lot for him. Things have been much better for him since then, and he's been a big blessing here. His enthusiasm is back to its contagious self.
Next there's Jason, who is an EMT, pre-Physician's Assistant student from Union. I think he's 21 years old. He has also been extremely positive, and is always ready for adventure and new things. Kind of makes sense to me since he's an EMT and he's taking the International Relief and Response program at Union. Jason has also had his fair share of attacks from Satan. It seemed like any time he would try to jump in and help with something, it would be taken the wrong way. And, Jason didn't feel very useful at first because he was not a nurse and he didn't know French. But things have turned around a lot for him; he's learned a lot of French, and he is most definitely making himself useful.
So, for the first 5 weeks that I was here, it was just me and the guys. There were some other short term volunteers that I want to write about too, and then I'll write about the others who have come since then. Dr. Bond (his first name is James…) is a surgeon from the States who comes to volunteer every once in a while, and stays for a month or so each time. He's a funny man. And somewhat hard to read. The first time I met him, he pretended not to know English and made Klevin (another volunteer) translate. At first I insisted that he knew English, but finally decided that I would play along. It was kind of fun. He ended up being a blessing in disguise in one way. One day, I was really frustrated with him because I thought that he was expecting way too much of me too soon. His expectations were truly unrealistic, and it irritated me so much that there was no way I could live up to them. But after some thought, I realized that he was trying to push me for my own good, which was nice because a lot of times I don't push myself hard enough.
Then there was Gabriel, Dr. Bond's son. He's a 25 year old pre-Med student at PUC. At first I thought he was extremely shy, but I'm not so sure now. He had malaria when we got here, so I think that might have had something to do with it. But he's really nice, and he's very good at soccer. I'm glad that I got to know him a little bit.
Last of the volunteers that were here when I first got here is Klevin. I think he's also 21, but I can't remember for sure. He's from Brazil and is in Med school in London. I think he's planning to be a missionary doctor when he finishes, and he said he might come back here to work some. He has also considered working in the Amazon doing mission work. Klevin is a truly amazing person; I admire him a lot. He's the kind of guy that everybody loves because he's sincere and every word out of his mouth is encouraging or praising God. When he left, all the hospital workers kept asking me when he was coming back. He's going to make a good doctor someday because he really cares about people. Even though I had only known him for a little over a week, I was sad to see him leave because he was like a brother to me.
Those were all the people at the beginning of my time here in Bere. Since then, we've had some more long term volunteers come (and a lot of short term volunteers too…). Nathaniel is an engineering student from Denmark, and he's 22 years old. He is super fun, and I'm really sad because he's leaving in about 2 weeks. Right now he's teaching at the elementary school, and he's been teaching them how to sing "If You're Happy and You Know it," and when they sing, I can hear them over at the hospital (the school's not very far away, but still…). Nathaniel inspires me because he learned French so quickly, and now he visits with lots of different locals and gets to know them. He's also very funny and likes to play jokes. A bunch of us recently went to a holiday celebration near the market (more on that later maybe), and I went with my family here. As I was standing around talking with Berthe, I suddenly felt someone grab the bag on my shoulder, and I spun around real fast and was startled, and there was Nathaniel smiling and laughing at me because he had scared me. He's also quite adventurous, and we're hoping to go on a biking trip soon, but we'll see if it all works out, and I'll write about that later. One more thing about Nathaniel, I almost forgot. He amazes me because he has had just about every illness (not even joking) that you can get in Chad, but each time he has been so positive. I have never seen anyone as sincerely cheerful when they are sick, and I mean really sick. He had some really bad vomiting a few times, and when he was finished throwing up, he would come back and would still have a smile on his face and be like, "Oh, I'm alright. It's ok."
There's also a Danish girl, Maria, who just came a few weeks ago. She's 18, just graduated from high school, and will be going into medicine. She's very sweet, and at first she was quite shy. But she's definitely opened up some and we have fun talking and doing stuff together. She's really nice, and she's always willing to do whatever needs to be done. She recently helped paint one of the hospital buildings, and she goes around at the hospital on different shifts and helps out so that she can learn and be helpful. She's only staying until December though, and that's kind of sad.
Next is Ansley! Many of you already know Ansley, but I want to write about her anyway because I'm so glad she's here. Ansley and I went to high school together, and then to Southern together. She's a 23 year old nurse, and she is super positive and cheerful. She is forever encouraging me and the others here as well. She also has kind of taken the mother role, and she takes care of us when we're sick and fusses over us. She's sweet. She's also very fun and always prepared for whatever life throws her. There have already been so many times that I've been glad that she's here, and it's only been 5 weeks since she got here. One night I spent the night in Ansley's hut with her, and boy was that a memory. It was blazing hot, and there had been some unrest in Bere (I'll write about our little civil war sometime soon…), so we slept with the door closed. I slept on the grass mat on the floor with Ansley's mosquito net draped across me. Well, I guess to say that I slept would not be entirely true. I woke up at least every hour because it was hot and I was so itchy. I was really confused about why or how the mosquitoes would be biting me so much despite the mosquito net. I later discovered that I had actually been attacked by a bunch of sand fleas! You should have seen my arms… I looked like I had a skin disease. So, I didn't get much sleep at all that night, but it was really sweet of Ansley to let me stay with her. Not sure if I'll try it again anytime soon though.
Finally, there's Emily. It's kind of difficult to describe Emily; you just have to get to know her. But I'll try. She is a 22 year old student from Walla Walla, and she is pre-Physician's Assistant also. In addition, she is a phlebotomist, but we're making a nurse out of her. Actually, we're making nurses out of almost all of the SMs here. Anyway, Emily is one of the most energetic, cheerful, friendly people I've ever met in my life. She's just so full of life and love. I've already had so much fun getting to know her and hanging out together, and I know there will be more fun times ahead. Another cool thing about Emily is that she's very creative. She likes to design clothes, and before she came here she made a bunch of t-shirts that were Chad themed to raise money for her trip. She likes to sew a lot, so a lot of her clothes have some personal touches, and it's really fun.
As you can tell, we have an absolutely amazing team of missionaries here, and that's not even all of the missionaries here; those are just the student missionaries that are around my age. We've also had lots of short term people come through, older couples, middle-aged people, and then there's James and Sarah (the doctor and his wife who's a nurse). I wish that all of you could meet each of the people I've gotten to know here, but I guess you might have to wait until we get to heaven. God has called some amazing people to work here in Chad, and I feel so privileged to be able to get to know them and to work with them here. Words can't describe how much God has blessed me here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Family and My Hut

I recently wrote this to a class of third and fourth graders who are sponsoring me while I'm in Africa, so I figured I would go ahead and post it here as well. Enjoy :)

Hello from Africa!

Some of you had some questions about what it's like to live in a hut, so I thought that I would tell you a little bit about my family here and where I live.

I live with a family here in Bere, and the mother and father have 10 kids! The father's name is Pierre, and the mother's name is Hawaa. Pierre works at the hospital giving people the medications that the doctor tells them to take. Their oldest son's name is Innocent; he's 25 years old and he's not at home right now because he's studying to become a nurse like me. There are two girls who also don't live here at home, and their names are Elodie and Bernadette, but I've never met them since they live in other villages. So those are three of the kids who don't live at home.

Of the children who live at home where I am, Bruno is the oldest, and he's 18 years old. I don't see him around very often, but he's very nice. Berthe (pronounced like Bertha) is 15 years old, and I have a lot of fun talking with her. She really likes to sing, and she sings in the church choir almost every Sabbath. Next is Ruth, who also sings in the church choir. She is 11 years old, and she is very funny, but she doesn't talk as much as Berthe. Then there is Anne, and she is 8 years old. She is very daring and likes to go swimming at the river and ride the horses we have here at the hospital. Esther is 7 years old, and she is very good at math. She's a little bit shy, but she also likes to dance and sing. Dorcas is 5 years old and she just started school today. She is a lot of fun too, and she's very smart. She can already speak three languages! The last of all the children is Bezalel pronounced Bay-zah-lay), and he's just 2 years old. He doesn't talk very much yet, but he's very funny because he always wants to be doing whatever his older sisters are doing, even if they're just going to school. So that is my family here in Africa.

Living in a hut can be lots of fun, and it's a lot like camping. Inside my hut I have a cot with a net that hangs over it to protect me from mosquitoes at night, and I have a table and a chair. It gets really hot inside the huts during the day, so I don't usually spend very much time inside. But at night time, it can get cold so I have a
nice, warm fleece blanket that I cover up with when I sleep. Every day I wake up to the roosters crowing outside my door. After I get up, I go over to our well and drop a bag tied to rope down in it to fill up my bucket. I take the bucket over to the corner of our yard where there's a grass wall set up as the shower room. Once I'm in there, I take a little cup to pour the water on myself and I wash up. Sometimes it's really cold in the morning, but usually it feels really nice when it's hot outside.

After I take my shower and get dressed, we have breakfast as a family. When we cook food here, we have a little wire basket that we put charcoal in and make a fire, just like you would for a cookout. The food here is pretty different than what we eat in America, but I'll have to tell you more about the food later.