Sunday, 13 August 2017

Boule, beignets and bye

As most of you probably already know, my time in N’djamena has now sadly come to an end. The last month was very busy finishing up all the many things that I wanted to do before leaving and saying good bye! Here is a picture blog which hopefully sums everything up.
Boule, sauce and beignets which I made with (a lot of) help at one of my friends from choir's house 
One of the things I wanted to do before leaving Chad was learn how to cook Chadian food. Ruth in particular asked if I could learn how to make her favourite – boule and spinach sauce. Boule for those of you who don’t know is the staple diet of most Chadians. It can be made with any type of flour or rice mixed with water until it becomes very thick. One of the ladies from the centre, Elizabeth who worked at our house taught me how to make all the delicious food that she had been making me and my flat mates throughout the year including peanut butter sauce a type of meatballs and most importantly boule! I was also able to make it with a friend from choir when I visited her house.
This amazing 16 year old was making boule for her whole family (10 people) on a wood fire!
This requires strength which I discovered I do not have in my arms!

My friend Elizabeth insisted on giving me all the dry ingredients possible so that I could make Chadian food for my sister so have been able to treat my family to Chadian food whilst we were on holiday.
Boule and sauce in Wales!
I was also taught how to make beignets (like chadian doughnuts/cake) by Elizabeth and the two ladies from the second group in the centre. My friends from the centre as well as from choir were as keen to cook European food as I was to make Chadian food so I had a number of good times making chocolate cake and pizza with different friends!

Our cakes
One of these ladies from the centre had done training at a hotel and was very happy to be able to make a chocolate cake in my oven.
Eating pizza at the centre

I also made pizzas with one of the ladies daughters which we then enjoyed at the centre one afternoon!
So that’s the boule and the beignets and it’s great to have been able to learn how to make Chadian food and cook with friends. I think the most important thing that I’ve been able to do during my gap year has been making friends, getting to know different people and building relationships. Of course this has made it very hard to say good bye and leave Chad.
This is our final day at the orphanage. I was a fun afternoon, the children were especially calm and cooperative on the day which meant we were able to have a small party and eat their favourite food- watermelon!
Oooooh.... hokey kokey kokey!
 For the street children we had parties at a local Christian college to celebrate the end of the “school” year of activities. We had a sort of fair with lots of fun games, a football match and a meal. The “Projet reflets d’esperance” is continuing with a young missionary couple and lots of Chadian volunteers from local churches.

Colouring masks

Playing football
I also had to say good bye to the children in the community that I had been playing with. These are the children of ladies that Naomi knows but who aren’t interested in becoming part of the centre. It was great to be able to play endless games of hokey cokey and have fun with them. One of the ladies from the centre who lives in the area came out to play with me a few times and suggested that she might continue.

Playing with the children
My French flatmates and neighbours all left before me so I had to say good bye to them all gradually. We had some good last times together including this day out with Prudence, a Chadian lady who lived on our compound for a while and wanted to take us all to a themepark which was quite broken down and eerie. I also had to say good bye to all my missionary friends and colleagues from TEAM who have supported and helped me in many ways during this year. Before my neighbours left we also visited our Chadian neighbours together to say good bye. It has been lovely sharing this year with all my different friends and I miss them.
At the theme park

It was difficult to say good bye to my choir and all my friends at church. Lucile and I wanted to visit as many choir members as possible before leaving and were able to spend a number of good days with friends in different areas of N’djamena. We also had a special meal after one of our practices to say good bye. I have really enjoyed being part of the choir and the church and making lots of good friends.  
My choir and below a video of us singing during the offering at church

The hardest thing I had to do by far was say good bye to all the ladies at the centre.  It has been a privilege to get to know them, to be able to visit and spend time with them and to be encouraged by what God has done to totally transform their lives. They are amazing women and I have been inspired by their faith and strength in the face of all they have gone and are going through.

Learning how to sew at the centre

Telling Bible stories to the second group
Eating cake on my last afternoon
One of the ladies making jewellery at her house
The project is of course continuing with Naomi Duff, Annie Wilson and Anne Hoyt. The ladies in the second group that I mentioned in my last blog have now finished the 3 month rehabilitation course and are in the process of joining the 1st group making Acacia products. I’m missing the calm afternoons at Acacia, making things, doing Bible studies and chatting together. It was very hard to say good bye to my friends and leave the Acacia project.

So now I am back in the UK. I am spending the summer with my parents and sister, going on holiday, visiting family and also lots of churches around the UK to speak about the work in Chad. In about a months’ time I will be starting medical school at King’s College London and beginning a new chapter in my life.
Ready for King's with my "3 bananas" which Elizabeth plaited before I left!
I am sad to have left Chad, it feels more like home than England sometimes. This last year in particular has been an amazing opportunity to get to know Chad better and have the time to make good Chadian friends. It’s been a great experience to be able to be part of all the different ministries especially the Acacia project. I am very glad to have been able to get to know the ladies and see what God has done in their lives. I just want to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has followed my blogs, thank you for your support and prayers which have made this year possible.


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Une semaine à Moursal (continued)

Baking cakes with ladies in the second group on one of our days off

On Thursday mornings we are at the centre with the second group again.
We finish at about midday and I have lunch with Ophelie before resting for a while or visiting friends in the neighbourhood.
At 3.30 Lucile and I walk to church again for choir practice. Sometimes we walk with Joy one of the ladies from the first group at the centre who has joined the choir with us. On Thursdays our practice lasts two hours and we learn and practice new songs for Sunday.


On Fridays we are at the centre with the second group again. We tell a Bible story, have a tea break and then have a lesson like on Tuesday.
Afterwards I have lunch with my neighbours, Ophelie and Elizabeth again (she works at my neighbours’ house on Fridays.)

The TEAM compound
In the afternoon I get the bus to a roundabout near Naomi and Annie’s house and they pick me up on the way to our weekly prayer meeting at the TEAM compound. At the start of the year I used to take the bus all the way there but there isn’t a direct route so you have to go to the central market and wait there for a bus to fill up before it takes you to the other side of town. I have waited between 5 and 40 minutes and there is no way to know how full the bus will be when you get there. Even on a good day the journey from my house to TEAM takes about an hour so I am very happy to be able to get a lift and take a more direct route! At the TEAM compound all the TEAM missionaries currently in town meet and we all share about our past week and pray for each other. It’s good to meet different people and spend time sharing and speaking in
English! By the time we finish it is dark (in Chad sunset time varies between half 5 and half 6, it's always very strange when we go back to England in the summer!) and so I get a lift home.


At one of ladies' houses
On Saturday mornings I get to sleep a bit longer! Since I have got back from Abeché I have been visiting the ladies from the first group at the centre on Saturday mornings as Naomi has less time to spend with them. So far it has been really good, we spend time chatting and getting to know each other. At one ladies house we made pancakes together, at another we looked at photos from her past, at another’s I spent a long time playing with her lovely children. They all (apart from Elizabeth) live quite close to my house.

At about lunch time I head home and have a short break or go to market to do some shopping! At 3:30 I walk to choir practice with Lucile. On Saturdays we have our longest practice which lasts 3 hours (or more…). We go over the songs for Sunday and practice them with the musicians (the church has a keyboard, a couple of electric guitars, a bass and a drum kit) and microphones. We also work out the dance moves for each song. About half way through we have a short meditation on a bible passage and at the end we all pray for each other. I have really enjoyed this part of choir. By the time we finish it is too dark for Lucile and I to walk home by ourselves. At the start of the year we used to taxi but now we walk with friends who live in the same direction. We can never quite predict who is going to turn up at choir as people don’t always come very regularly but it is good to be able to walk home with different people and get to know them.


On Sunday mornings Lucile and I have to be at church for 7:30 to sing in the choir. It used to be 8 but because of the heat they have made the time earlier. We put on our special blue and pink robes on top of our skirts and tops made from Chadian material and sing as people slowly arrive. 

Our choir
Being late for church isn’t really a problem (unless you’re in the choir) and people slowly turn up for about an hour after the service starts. We sing the “praise” (joyful songs) we practiced on Saturday then when enough people have arrived there is a special time for “worship” (slower songs) with a time for open prayer. After that the secretary gives the announcements, reminding us every Sunday when each different group in the church meets and where. He also welcomes new members and visitors. After that there is the reading and the sermon which can last anything between 20 and 40 minutes. Once a month when there is a second shorter service for communion the service is translated into Nanjere (they normally have a service after the early French one) which obviously doubles the length of the sermon. After the sermon we have the offering, the choir sings as row by row everybody walks or dances up to the front to give their offering. 
When we have the “twinned” service in two languages there is a second choir. Often during the offering is very lively and people come up to the front to dance a traditional shoulder shaking dance! Then the secretary comes back to remind us any details that we may have forgotten and we receive the final blessing. The choir sings as everyone files out and then we all stand around and chat outside.
People dancing during the offering
Every other Sunday I then go on to SIL where there is an International service in English organised by missionaries. I go to help Annie sell our Acacia project soaps, cards and bags after the service. Walking home I have to remember to lather on the sun cream as it is about midday. I have lunch with my neighbours and then have the afternoon to rest and/or visit friends in the neighbourhood and from choir. Although at the moment my Sunday afternoons are being increasingly taken up by good bye parties as different missionaries are leaving Chad. Our time here is coming to an end very quickly.

Good bye party at the pool with other short termers
Every night Ophelie and I close up the house, I go up to the balcony upstairs, put up my mosquito net over my camp bed and fall asleep (if there is enough wind) to the sound of dogs barking and the local bars. Most of the time I am so tired I don’t even notice the noise.