t’s always an adventure getting to Bere Adventist Hospital, where my wife, Audrey, and I occasionally volunteer. This time, our trip went like this:
We left our Oregon home on a Tuesday evening and stayed overnight in a hotel near the airport to catch a 5 am flight. the next day. Wednesday morning, we flew to Seattle, Washington, where, after a 12-hour layover, we had a 9-hour flight to Türkiye. Next was an 8-hour flight to N’Djamena, Chad, where we arrived at 2:00 am. After going through immigration and customs, we had to make a choice: should we catch a couple of hours of much-needed sleep or head to the station to catch the 5 am flight to Kelo? We decided to keep moving.
As the bus headed south, it made several stops to exchange passengers. At Bongor, Audrey and I got out to stretch our legs. We walked among vendors selling potatoes, taro, beef, lamb, goat, chicken, apples, bananas, mangos, watermelon, carrots, lettuce, and some veggies I didn’t recognize. My favorite thing to see was the huge piles of fried grasshoppers!
We arrived in Kelo a little after noon, anticipating that Charles, a missionary from Bere, would pick us up. He wasn’t there. About 30 minutes later, he called to explain that his engine had died while driving through a flooded area. The car was being towed back to Bere by the only tractor in the region, and he was trying to make other arrangements to get us. An hour later, Charles told us he’d hired two motorcycle taxis. We waited an hour and a half. They didn’t show up.
During our journey, I had noticed that the sole of one of my sandals was starting to fall off. I now asked around around for a cobbler and was directed to a man sitting under an umbrella fixing shoes. In a few minutes, I had a repaired sole for a small price.
At about 4 pm, I started to worry. If we got started too late, darkness would increase the cost of the ride and our chances of a fall on the flooded, muddy roads.
Finally, the drivers arrived. They strapped our four plastic luggage boxes on one motorcycle, leaving the driver sitting on the gas tank, and Audrey and I climbed on the back of the other. Both bikes were overloaded.
Now the fun began. After riding through Kelo, the drivers diverted onto a footpath barely wide enough for the bikes. I guessed they were trying to avoid the flooded conditions of the main road. We wound through small villages and stretches of farmland and plowed through puddles that reached our feet. Each rotation of the tires resulted in a strong clicking sound. I wondered whether we were going to break down.
About an hour into the trip, we reconnected to the main road. It was getting dark, and we were going through deeper water and getting stuck in the mud. I had to push the bike several times in this area, and we nearly fell over a few times.
When it was completely dark, we reached a larger section of water. We rode about 100 feet and hit a rock or log that stopped us abruptly. I jumped off to push again, this time in water up to my knees. The drivers told us they would push the bikes on a different route and join us farther down the road.
To our surprise, Audrey and I were joined by Charles, who had walked about four miles to help us navigate this deep section of water. We walked more than a mile through water that varied from ankle deep to the level of Audrey’s waist. How thankful I was that my sandal was repaired! After about an hour, we arrived at dry ground and met the drivers. Charles insisted on walking back.
After completing the last few miles, we finally arrived at Bere Adventist Hospital. We were so happy to see our friends and grateful for a shower and bed. We left home Tuesday evening and arrived in Bere Friday night. Soon we would start our long days of surgery. But now, all I could think about was how good it felt to be clean and able to drift off to sleep. Thank you, God, for helping us get here safely and giving us rest!