Questions (and answers) of my life, 2017 edition, part two

Here’s part two of my Q&A blog entries.  Thanks again to those who asked questions and I hope the answers help to give you a bit more insight into life and work here.

What could any of us in UK actually ‘do’ for you…..in addition to prayer and parcels and emails! Would you find a visit positive or would all the arrangements etc. be too much?

Receiving emails and parcels is always a highlight for me!  Prayers are always needed too.  Visitors are always welcome!  There are very few people willing and/or able to come and visit Chad so I’d never turn an offer of a visit down.  Yes, there’s a lot of work on both sides to arrange a visit but it’s so encouraging to me to see people from home (plus they bring lots of treats!!).  Also, if people actually come, it gives them a much better insight into my life here.  There’s only so much I can portray in words and photos.  It was great to have a team of six, from two churches in South Wales, here for a week at the end of October.  In February 2018, two people from my home church in Torquay, along with my parents, are visiting for a week, which I’m really looking forward to.

I know that a few people are visiting you in Chad early next year – what would you REALLY LOVE us to give them to bring out to you?  Obviously nothing too heavy!!

This is going to sound really bad, but from experience, it’s always a bit dangerous answering a question like this!  Not in a bad way, I’m obviously really grateful for treats and gifts from home 🙂 I’ve learned to give a range of things rather than just one, else I end up with 20 packets of cheese sauce mix!!!  Not that that’s a bad thing.  It’s just that it takes me a while to get through it all and I’ve a limited repertoire of recipes calling for cheese sauce mix! (Feel free to send me some simple ones by email).  For the record, I’ve enough cheese sauce mix and fajita mix to last a while!  Hmmm, ideas of things to send:
·         those really small concentrated fruit squash bottles (Robinson’s squash’d is one brand) as when you’re drinking many litres of water, it’s nice to have something to flavour it with
·         a packet of jammie dodgers
·         some face wipes
·         a pot of chilli powder
·         handwritten letters or cards
·         a magazine
·         cheddar cheese (strong)
·         any Cadbury’s chocolate (Cadbury’s is my favourite!)
·         bacon
·         car air fresheners
·         DVDs of recently released films (I’m mainly into mindless chick flicks as a form of escapism!)
Thank you 🙂 

Do they celebrate Christmas in Chad and if so what does a typical Christmas dinner look like?

Yes, Christmas is celebrated here.  December 25th is a public holiday (but 26th isn’t, so it’s back to work!).  In Chad, both Christian and Muslim holidays are celebrated through the year and they’re all public holidays.  On the Muslim holidays, the Christians just have a day off at home and rest (some may visit their Muslim neighbours).  On the Christian holidays, the Muslims just have a day off at home and rest (some may visit their Christian neighbours).  Christmas is extremely low-key here.  No commercialism means you can really focus on what’s being celebrated.  I’m typing this at the start of December and there is one supermarket intermittently playing Christmas songs, there are no decorations up and in the shops there’s very little for sale that’s Christmas-related.  Christmas will arrive and go the next day and life will carry on as normal.  It never ‘feels’ like Christmas here to me.  It’s hot for a start which is bizarre.  But as I say, it does mean you can focus on the ‘reason for the season (day)’.  For a Chadian, Christmas dinner will depend on how much money the family has.  Those who can afford it will get a sheep or a goat and kill that to eat with the wider family and neighbours.  Others will just eat standard Chadian food.  For us missionaries we try and do something a bit different than the rest of the year.  Last year we had cheese fondue on Christmas Eve for example!

The selection of Christmas merchandise
in one of the bigger supermarkets in N’Djamena

How do you keep your spiritual side fresh?

To be honest, often with difficulty.  I attend a Bible study in English most weeks and international (English speaking) church every-other week.  I go to a local Chadian church the other Sundays.  I’m glad to have now found a good, sound, solely French-speaking Chadian church to attend.  A lot of Chadian church services can be a mix of French and a local tribal language, so I’ve no hope of understanding anything in those services.  As English is my ‘heart language’ I feel I can engage with God better when the worship and teaching is in English as opposed to French.  A lot of the time in French services I’m too busy concentrating on understanding what’s being said for it to properly permeate, if that makes sense?  I have sermons in English downloaded that I can listen to on my computer.  I have good Christian friends here who I can chat to if needed, and thanks to the wonders of technology, I can chat via WhatsApp with friends and family back in the UK too.

What specific things can we pray for you at the moment?

This leads me nicely to let you know that I recently published a prayer letter!  If you’ve not seen it, click here to find it on my page on the BMS website.  You can sign up to receive my future prayer letters by email, by clicking this link and filling in the form.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and new year!