I was asked to move to a new village in the north of the country toward the end of November. It is never easy leaving one area to go to another, I have come to know many good people in the south, in my main village of Bodo and in the 126 surrounding villages that make up the church there!
I am together with two other missionaries, an Italian and a Congolese, they came to fetch me in the capital. We spent a day gathering some supplies, and planned to leave for Abéché early the next day. Leaving the capital at 5am, before the city really comes to life is a good way to avoid much congestion. You can imagine the streets becoming barely manageable with an almost impenetrable pedestrian mass, mixed with motorcycles, taxis and buses and it’s not uncommon to encounter herd of sheep or goats, so getting an early start is always a good idea!
The first 3/4 of the drive is through desert flat lands of low growing thorny shrubs and occasional trees with small leaves and long thorns scattered as far as the horizon. It feeds the imagination as you pass nomadic groups with their herds of camels or donkeys, sheep or cattle heading to markets, maybe as far as Nigeria… Three times we had to stop for “camel crossings” with herds of a few hundred crossing the road! You see other groups making a long, slow moving procession a distance from the road, making a silhouette along the horizon – and the heat of the day is well over 100 degrees! It is a very different lifestyle and passing some small groups of huts, I couldn’t imagine how they survive in the “middle of nowhere” – but there are pockets of life in the desert, we came upon one of these desert villages during its market day, not much for structures but various services and commodities offered.
We stopped for some lunch at one of the impromptu restaurants along the side of the road grilling meat. We opted for the roasted mutton with tomatoes, onions and bread (it was also the only thing on the menu – haha). In general, I find the Muslims to be so warm and welcoming, very kind and considerate, such a different experience from that of Sudan where as a foreigner I was always held with a certain suspicion, my greetings often met with a stare. Here it is the Muslim who greets me first or always returns my greeting with their “wish of peace” a lekum a salam. The distances of the “nearby” villages that make up the church is enormous. The farthest village north of the center is 480 miles away to the base of the mountains between Chad and Libya and to the south, 453 miles and everything east to the border with the Sudan!
There is much still to learn about this area and its people, so far I am very encouraged!
Wishing you a Joy-full Christmas season with much Peace and God’s Blessings!