Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Trip to Africa - Part 1

Written by Elliott

Thank you all for your prayers during my time in Chad. It was a very productive time. I hope to cover, in detail, everything that happened while I was there. It will probably take a few posts, so bear with me.

Our team from left to right: Jack Fuhrmann (the leader of our group), Josh Fuhrmann (his son), Elijah Meggs, Jay Craddock,  myself, and Tim Smith (not pictured).

We flew out of the Roanoke airport, on the 29th, towards Atlanta. We switched to a plane headed for Paris, then on to Chad. All of the sitting around on the airplanes was exhausting. Just still enough to make you sleepy, just uncomfortable enough to keep you from getting any good sleep.

When we finally made it to Chad (which was almost midnight on the 30th) we crashed into our beds. You can imagine that we slept pretty well after spending 30 hours in transit. Notice the mosquito nets.
The place we were staying was very nice. I had imagined that our living arrangements would be kinda rough but the worst factors were only undependable electricity and no hot water. Other than this, it was really nice.
It was great to come back to the compound each evening and unwind.
The next morning we walked through town headed towards the Oasis Center. As we walked we were able to see what the city was like. N'Djamena, the capitol city of Chad, is a lot busier than I would have expected. The roads are full of cars, motorcycles, taxi vans (with the floors rusting out), and people hauling stuff from place to place. They didn't seem to have any enforcement of  law on the road, or maybe they just didn't have any rules, because there was no attempt made to stay in ones own lane and the median was crossed over commonly to reach the destination. Needless to say, I was very happy that I was never required to drive in the traffic.
The northern part of N'Djamena is Muslim, a very moral people. The southern part has some other religious influences and has many bars and nightclubs that the northern part would never tolerate.
Many of the pictures were taken discretely, because the largely Muslim populace frowns upon having pictures taken of them. Much like the Amish.

The Oasis Center is a school that teaches English to individuals looking to come to America or other English speaking countries or someone hoping to work for a company there in Chad that is only hiring those that can speak English. The school is run by Christians, and they try to provide a neutral environment where parents can feel safe that their children aren't being indoctrinated. In the Koran, the reader is encouraged to read the Torah ( first five books of the Bible) and the Ingil ( the four Gospels). Also, among Islams 99 prophets is just about every figure of significance in the Old Testament. This leaves ample space to share the truth of God's Word without crossing the line of "heresy" ( in the Muslim's eyes). The second highest level of English is made up of Old Testament Bible stories that help bring to light the promise of a messiah, and our need for one. The highest level of English is New Testament stories that leave the student fully aware of the Gospel. You would think that with this much biblical teaching we would see hundreds of converts but the reality is that Islam is a very blinding religion and the culture holds family in such high esteem that it is a very radical idea to change religions.
This is one of the school rooms that we had to fix up. Due to some settling in the cement covered mud walls, the ceiling had become uneven. Also, the paneling on the ceiling had some water damage from the rainy season.

We had to reposition the framing in the ceiling so that it would look even.
The next step was putting up new paneling.
After nailing up trim and puttying cracks in the walls, we began to paint.

Here is the final product. I am very pleased with the way it turned out.

We worked on this project almost every morning we spent in Chad. In the afternoon we would do various other things like teaching classes, visiting a village outside the city, going to an orphanage and dropping by some of the locals houses. I hope to cover these and other events in  future posts. Thanks for reading!


Jonathan said...

Were you able to observe any agriculture in Chad? It looks really dry. Thanks for posting, and I'll look forward to more!

Kelly said...

Islam is a very blinding religion and the culture holds family in such high esteem that it is a very radical idea to change religions.

I think it would be equally radical here for a Christian to convert to Islam or Judaism. It is sometimes very radical to merely switch denominations such as a Baptist becoming Catholic or an Episcopalian becoming Pentecostal.

It looks as if you had a great learning experience and got some good work done!

Elliott said...

Jonathan, I did see some agriculture in Chad. I look forward to posting about it. :)

Graham Donahue said...

Great to hear from you. It looks like you had an excellent trip. The room looks great. I look forward to hearing more!


Joanna Thompson said...

I'm so glad to hear your trip went well! It sounds like it was an awesome experience. I'll be looking forward to hearing more about it!

Alisha Ann said...

What an awesome experience...since I was 12, I have always wanted to go to Africa!
Where are y'all located in VA?

I'm inviting you to follow my blog :D

Serving HIM,

Carla said...

Thank you so much for sharing, Elliott. I really look forward to reading the rest of your posts!A