family, friends, and supporters;
been more than two months since we last wrote. Most of those two months
were spent in the capital of Chad, N’Djamena, doing administration
while our fellow missionaries who usually do the job took a much needed
break. In this news update, we would like to help you understand
something of this unglamorous underbelly of the missionary enterprise in
Chad. We hope you find it informative.
servants, Mark and Diane
– sort of.
Actually, we would like to backpedal
right away on the “unglamorous” bit – unless of course you
think that meeting all kinds of interesting people with a passion for
sharing the good news of Jesus is dull. This is particularly the case at
the Team guesthouse and logistics offices in N’Djamena where we were
working. Just in the couple months we were there, we welcomed a French
Canadian missionary working with the youth of Chad, several American
missionaries working with Mu~lim tribes in the east of Chad, an Egyptian
gentleman of Coptic roots and Presbyterian practice who wants to teach
theology in Chad with his new wife from Mexico, as well as many other
colleagues who live in the hinterlands of this vast country (twice as
big as Texas). Arranging visas, purchasing plane tickets, picking up
medicines, dropping people off at the airport, keeping the accounts
straight, and providing them with safe, comfortable, and affordable
lodging are just some of the things we did for them. For many
missionaries from many organizations, this facility is an oasis of peace
and orderliness in what is by any fair evaluation a very difficult
country. We were honored to minister to them.
As the number of missionaries in
Chad grows, so do the demands on this facility. For quite a few years
Team missionaries have been planning, raising money, and finally
constructing a new building which will double the guesthouse space and
provide better office facilities. That building is now nearing
completion. All the heavy construction was done by Chadian contractors
and hired Chadian labor. (When it comes to slinging cement around,
nobody does it better, and you can’t beat the price.) But when it
comes to the interior finishing of a building, long experience dictates
that western tradesmen and the missionaries do it. So, much of Mark’s
time during these last two months was spent hanging doors, building
kitchen cabinets, supervising the construction of a patio area,
and contracting with Chadian carpenters to build beds, desks, chairs,
nightstands, and tables. Diane did some painting and started work on
curtains for the building.
were all the short termers?
Mark really enjoyed the work. It was
a nice change from the intellectual exertions of translation. But we
couldn’t help but wonder where the short-termers were which might have
been helping us. Beginning a year ago, we and our missionary colleagues
appealed for tradesmen and handymen to come help us at this stage of the
project, and while a few did come (though no-one from our constituency)
it was nowhere near what we hoped for. So instead of preparing Galatians
for translation into Kwong, Mark built kitchen cabinets. It was hard not
to think about the planeloads of kids waltzing off to the Caribbean or
Latin America to, as the almost-but-not-quite joke goes, paint the same
Sunday school rooms at the same churches which some other kids
painted last year.
Now we are back in Chageen where we
will stay until November. Our main occupations during these coming 6
months will be preparing teaching materials for the Bible School (which,
we remind you, will open a year from now), finishing the construction of
the Bible school building (it needs a roof), and building an addition
onto our guesthouse to make it big enough for our colleagues Larry and
Jan Gray to live in. (They are coming to help run the Bible school).
Meanwhile, Diane remains much occupied with feeding malnourished babies
as well as her usual activities of producing programming for the radio
station and working on Bible translation when time permits.
new guesthouse and office was constructed with windows, dropped
ceilings, counter-tops, flooring and many other finishing materials
which we imported from the USA .
kitchens needed counters. A Chadian welder made steel frames and Mark
built the wood facing, drawers, and doors. The counter-tops came from
whose specialty is chairs, was one of 3 carpenters who worked with Mark.
Mark thoroughly enjoyed the comradery with these gentlemen.
(which just means “orphan”) is the most recent of Diane’s
charges. He came to us just before we went to N’Djamena and we
wondered how he would do during our long absence. As it turns out,
between the formula we were able to furnish and an unusual degree of
conscientiousness on the part of his caregiver he is growing and doing