We’re all in this together

You may or may not know that BMS currently only has three mission workers here in Chad – myself at Guinebor II Hospital in N’Djamena and my colleagues Mark and Andrea Hotchkin, who are Doctors at a hospital in the north of Chad.  So we’re a small BMS team, geographically divided by a huge land mass called the Sahara desert!  It takes three days to travel by land between our respective Chadian homes.

It was a joy and privilege to go and visit the Hotchkins last week for a quick two-day trip.  Two days (?!)  I hear you cry.  How does that compute, when it takes 3 days to travel up by road and 3 days to travel back?!  A-ha.  That’s where the title of this blog comes in.
We may presently only be a small BMS team-of-three, but we’re part of a much bigger team of mission workers in Chad, from various organisations and from various countries around the world.  We’re also part of an even bigger team of local Chadian believers who have a heart for reaching their fellow Chadians with our faith. 

It was a real treat to be able to fly up north on a MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) plane.  MAF have two planes here in Chad and do a fantastic work in transporting various people doing various vital roles around the country, often to places difficult to access by road.  It was my first time on a MAF plane and the first time I’ve ever known, and been on first name terms with, the pilot flying a plane I’m travelling on!  A journey that takes three days by road (that should be ‘road’ because it’s mostly desert) takes just 5.5 hours in the marvellous MAF plane.  Hurrah for MAF!

I wasn’t alone on the MAF plane.  On the way up there were 7 of us on board from 5 different organisations and 4 different nations.  On the way back there were 9 of us on board from 5 different organisations and 5 different nations.  The nations represented were the UK, Switzerland, Chad, The Netherlands and the USA.  The people travelling were all travelling for a reason, not just tourism!  Some were there to see the hospital up north and give professional insight (this included the Chadian guy who came with us who’s a biomedical engineer), others were returning to/from living up north, others were on a visit from their organisation’s main office in Europe, to see where their mission workers are currently living and working.  It was good to connect with these people, some of whom I already knew and others who I previously didn’t.  We instantly bonded on our little trip up north. 

The one thing that’s striking living and working here, and for which I am grateful, is that despite being far from my UK home, with only two colleagues from ‘my’ organisation in country, I have a massive support network of like-minded individuals around me.  They come from all over the world, including Chad, and we all have the same objective.  We all support each other and help each other in a way that I think is probably only found when you’re away from ‘normal’ life in your passport country.  Everyone’s in the same (foreign) boat and you instantly have the bond that you’re ‘not from here’, ‘stand out a mile’, ‘struggle with the heat’, ‘struggle with the language’ and so on.  We’re all in this together!

Here are some of the many photos I took from the plane and on the ground up north.  Chad is such a varied country in terms of scenery, especially up north!  It was amazing to be able to see a different part of this amazing country.

Taking off from N’Djamena at 6.30am

Coming in to land at Faya, three hours into the journey, 
for a refuelling stop.
Faya is quite literally an oasis in the desert

Circling around Emi Koussi, Chad’s highest mountain
(Google it*, it’s fascinating!)
*other search engines are available
The landing strip at our final destination in the north
Andrew the fab MAF pilot unloading the plane
Fun drawings on the nearby rocks of the town up north. 
They’re thought to be at least 4000 years old. 
Anywhere else they’d be behind railings with a fee charged to see them, but not here! 
You’re free to look around as you wish. 
The downside is that some have been defaced with graffiti 🙁
With my BMS colleagues Mark and Andrea,
on the way down to the hospital from their house.
Look at that scenery! 
And it was cold too.
I’m wearing a cardigan, but that didn’t last long!
Circling the ‘Trou au natron’ in northern Chad,
on the way back to N’Djamena.
Another fascinating sight of Chad
Coming back in to land at N’Djamena
– one plus of knowing the pilot is you can ask if he can fly
by your house on the way back to the airport!
(Guinebor is not geographically that far from N’Djamena airport). 
I guess you need to know where to look,
but centre (ish) of this photo is the compound of Guinebor II Hospital 🙂

Ok, I’ll help you out 😉  Here’s a helpful arrow pointing out
the Hospital compound