Fellow MAF pilot, Andrew Mumford, and I flew a team to a number of remote locations throughout Northern Chad, over several days, so they could explore the possibility of putting wind turbines in to help community development.
We spent a number of nights in the Sahara (in a remote village) during that trip, and each day we would fly the team to a different location so they could meet with the governor and examine potential sites. Our plane was always well-guarded, as it was here in Fada.
The last week I was in Chad I flew an English couple (both doctors) and a Swiss midwife, up to Bardai, in the very northern part of Chad, not far from Libya. We spent several days there in that village, and when we returned I also flew out the missionary couple (who has been serving there for many years) so they could go back to the U.S. for a few months of home assignment.
Here is a shot of Bardai. On the long flight up there, I gazed out the window at some of the most rugged, desolate, and inhospitable terrain I've seen anywhere in the world. The dusty trees here in Bardai, are indicative of the water that's not far underground here. Where there is water, there is life. Bardai is a beehive of activity for a people group who roam freely between southern Libya, northern Chad, and northern Niger. Do you see those buildings within the wall in the lower right portion of the photo? That is a big hospital that was built by the government a few years ago, when oil prices were high and profits were booming.
The hospital is incredibly well stocked with brand new equipment of almost every kind--often better than what could be found even in the capital city. There are complex geo-political reasons why this people group is very important (and feared and respected and courted) by the Chadian government, as well as by other governments and 'entities' in the region, and even in the West. But this hospital is mostly quiet, and all of that new, amazing medical equipment sits mostly unopened, and unassembled, covered in fine desert dust. Why? Because they don't have any doctors or nurses willing to live and serve here. It's an extremely remote place, and not an easy place to live. There are a few Chadian medical personnel here, but they don't have the education or experience to operate the hospital. So, what could easily become a strategic, humming medical facility for an entire region (of three countries) sits eerily quiet, while most people who need medical care, opt to make the arduous journey into Libya to seek help.
The team I flew, along with the missionaries who already live here, met with the governor (center) to discuss plans/options. He was very excited and receptive of the help being offered and considered.
We took an extensive tour of the hospital, and the doctors and midwife were astounded again and again as we encountered room after room of brand new, medical equipment that was (in almost every case) far better than what they were already using back in the capital city.
This has the potential to be a hugely strategic and exciting opportunity for serving the people of this region. I really enjoyed spending time with these great folks, and was encouraged by their love for the Lord, and their desire to serve people. They could easily be living a comfortable life, and earning big paychecks, back in their respective home countries, but instead they've chosen to learn foreign languages and cultures, and live in some very difficult places, to serve people in need. They've already been doing that for a number of years, and now they're looking at possibly moving to an even more difficult and remote place. That's pretty awesome!
Here's a couple of new friends I made in Bardai. We could barely understand each other, but had a great time trying, and there were lots of laughs as we mimed and tried to communicate--butchering each others' languages in the process.
We took a few walks around Bardai. Shortly after we arrived, a minor sandstorm blew in from the north, obscuring visibility of the rest of our time there, and casting everything in a sort of eerie, yellow-grey shadow.
Here, on the edge of Bardai are some large rock formations (actually these are nothing compared to the much larger ones which stretch as far as the eye can see in all directions). If you spot the people in the middle of the photo, that gives you perspective as to the size of the rocks.
The doctors (considering moving here) and the missionaries (already on living here for many years) used all the opportunities they had to ask each other questions and discuss so many different things that need to be considered when making a huge, decision like this.
By the way, all throughout these rocks are carvings, thought to be about 3,000 - 5,000 years old. What's fascinating is that many of these 'paintings' depict animals (ostriches, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, etc.) that have not lived in this region for hundreds or thousands of years, but clearly lived here at one time. This area is now right in the heart of the Sahara desert, and except for the very few and far between oasis, (where the local people often have a few goats, camels, and donkeys) the land does not have enough water to support any large animals. But clearly it once did.
Bottom line: I'll try to keep posting regularly on my blog, but will likely miss a few weeks here and there throughout the summer.
If you subscribe to our newsletters, keep an eye out for our new, May letter, which just went out this week. Included with it is a new prayer card, with an updated family photo. In a few days I'll post that letter and photo here on the blog, along with a schedule of our upcoming speaking events in the U.S.