|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 inEnglish! 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.
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.