Dec 7 – 18th, 2016
Ouaddai 4X4 Adventure
Chad, Africa, Eastern Region
After three hours it was my turn driving the Toyota Land Cruiser dodging the pot holes, ruts, craters and massively deteriorated roadside with a 3 -5 foot drop off. This was the paved two lane main highway east through the country. In both directions vehicles were driving as if on a double diamond downhill ski slalom, taking up the whole road and at times jumping off the road to try and find smoother ground. As you might imagine, this is very focused driving. About four hours out I noticed the truck steering pulling to the left. I’m thinking to myself, that’s new, why would it be pulling to the left? The light comes on in my mind, a tire is going flat! Right at this point the road is level with the surrounding terrine and I pull off. The tire is destroyed, but still intact. This is why one buys good quality tires! It takes about 15 minutes to change the tire. Our teams always carry two spares. In the process I asked the owner of the Land Cruiser, “In your 20 years of living and working here, do you have any idea how many tires you have changed?” She said no, but in her first year, on one two week survey trip they had 13 flats. She is a prime example of the single ladies who come to work in Chad. The bold, beautiful, courageous, intelligent, enterprising, sacrificing single women who are willing to go and do what so few men would ever think of doing. I’m in awe of these women.
On this trip I was able to help out four teams with upgrades to solar systems, structural housing repairs, plumbing, electrical, automotive, refrigeration and even a kitty door installation. Before you start thinking, wow, he can do a lot, please know it’s God using this cracked pot (me). I often find myself in over my head. When possible I email, call or Skype friends who are actually good at these different things and I get advice as I go. Sometimes it’s just a prayer, “God, please don’t let me mess this up.” God is good, I am willing, people get helped and we all get blessed for it.
For one lady, I built a wooden box with insulation inside that slips over her tabletop solar refrigerator freezer. It’s a beautiful stainless steel fridge, but it’s always cold on the outside. That told me it doesn’t have enough insulation in its walls. The heat transfer coils are located on the small front and side cut outs allowing me to do this type of modification. Hopefully it will be more efficient now. And it is so pretty!
In this photo I am replacing dry rotted lumber and adding three 4″X4″X20′ support beams to the roof, that will allow the team coming after Christmas to install a good sized set of solar panels on the roof.
Vehicles in Chad
With my love of 4X4 vehicles, I have to digress the maintenance now. Below is an example of the bush taxi I took to the far east, near some Darfur refuge camps. In our early days in Cameroon we took bush taxis that were old beat up passenger vans, massively over loaded and going places they never should have. But today here in Chad, there are many of these Toyota Hardtop Troop carriers acting as bush taxis. In general they are the right vehicle for the job; one of the toughest production vehicles made. There were 11 of us in this one. Just as we were heading into the bush we came to a police and immigration check point. They asked all of the men for identity papers. I gave them my passport. After going page by page and back again they said they were sorry, but I didn’t seem to have authorization for going into this part of the country. Oh yeah, the special papers I was carrying that were stamped by the the proper gov’t office in N’Djamena, These were my authorization for entering this area. They weren’t overly happy with these additional papers. They really wanted to see a stamp inside the passport. I also don’t know Chadian Arabic, which is spoken more than French out here. I called the teammate with the new fridge cover, who lived 5 minutes away. She was there in four minutes and after she spoke with the authorities, in Arabic, they allowed me to continue. Being able to communicate in the local language sure is important.
So, this Land Cruiser climbing out of a dry river wash is exactly how we did it over and over again on our 4 hour journey. Very steep entry and exit to and from the wash. Our taxi had an excellent driver, but his vehicle had some mechanical problems. The 4X4 system was not operational and his transmission clutch mechanism was slowly becoming disabled. About two hours into our four hour trip the clutch quit completely, meaning it would no longer disengage. This meant each time he stopped he had to turn the engine off, put it in second gear and use the starter to get the vehicle moving and the engine started. He had a very difficult time shifting to a higher or lower gear after that. A diesel engine has low rpm power, so sometimes when crossing the soft sandy wash, the vehicle would sink in. When that happened the engine would slow down and he really needed to down shift to first, but couldn’t. Amazingly it kept chugging along and most of the time we made it through. Just twice did it quit while in the middle of the wash. Once there were men waiting to help push people through, (for a small payment of course). The next time was a 1/4 mile wide wash and we were behind a small vehicle that did not have enough ground clearance. It got stuck when the underside of the vehicle started dragging in the sand and the drive tires just couldn’t get traction any more. Its called being high centered. Our driver did a sharp left turn trying not to hit them. As he got off the path, we sunk quickly getting stuck right along side the other vehicle. All 11 of us surrounded the other stuck vehicle and tried with all our might to get them unstuck. But we couldn’t. They would have to wait for a larger vehicle to tow them out. Then 10 of us got around our stuck vehicle, pushed and got ours free. This only happened three times before we made it across that wash!!!
God is good, all the time. I love this work, but I am wearing out.
God, please send a young maintenance couple or family to replace us.
Pray for courage and wisdom for followers of Jesus in Chad.
Pray for Gods words to bring people to Him and help them know Him.
Pray for our funding, we are still at about 75% of where we should be.
Pray for the country of Chad, its in a severe financial crisis and looks to get worse in the new year.
We are so grateful for you our team, we could never do this without you!
Jim and Judy McCabe
The taxi driver picked us up at 5:30 AM. We arrived at the station at 5:40 for our 6 AM departure. Our driver parked the car directly in front of the tour bus. There must have been a 50 or more people milling around that bus; some selling breakfast snacks, trinkets and water. Others, I have no idea, why there were there. But it seems everyone was yelling something. The bus driver was revving the engine and honking his musical horn. He was actually slowly creeping the bus forward. As we opened the taxi doors they started shouting “where to, where to!” The taxi driver opened the trunk to get our bags, several people shoved their hands into the trunk to get the bags and kept shouting, “where to where to”. I said, “Mongo”, and the bags almost disappeared. I had to do some tugging to get my small hand carry I wanted on board and then the bags disappear to the side of the bus. The taxi driver pointed me in the direction of a small table with a man writing in a journal; it was the check in point. He grabbed our tickets, scribbled our seat numbers on them, shoved them back and said hurry, go! The bus was creeping forward honking his horn, vendors were clogging the bus door entry trying for that last sale. I was waving my tickets towards the driver, trying to let him know we are trying to get on board. The bus still creeping forward, horn honking. Judy was behind me, somewhere, I could just barely glimpse her through the throng. She was being propelled by the throng towards the bus door. Then boom, we were there, looking for our seats and trying to find a place for my hand carry. 5:45 AM and it was now moving, not creeping forward. It followed our taxi man as he backed out and we were on our way; 15 minutes early.
Because of your prayers, it was a great trip. We are so thankful for YOU our team. You are impacting lives for Jesus, because of what you are doing. (Praying, giving and advocating for us) Please keep it up! The service Judy and I did allowed our fellow front line colleagues there in the Guera to keep focused on the “main thing”, working with their language teams, to get God’s Words into three different languages. But remember, these are never just languages, these are people who need to know Jesus in the pure and simple way you and I know Him. We know Him, because of the Bible in our language and the Holy Spirit working in our lives. These remote people groups in the middle of Chad are getting an incredible gift of hearing God speak their language and starting to really understand it. Judy and I have the wonderful privilege of being on the front lines and seeing the results first hand. On Sunday we attended a church that was in three languages, French, Chadian Arabic (2014 dedication) and Kenga (2012 dedication). The singing, the worship, the prayers and the power of the Holy Spirit was energizing. We thank you and they thank you, for your part in making this happen.
Back to the bus… It was a tour bus! These are brand new here in Chad and used for general long distant travel. Assigned seats, one person to a seat, very comfortable overall and very nice. We were the only non Chadians on board and felt very comfortable. They have thick plush curtains inside covering the windows, very pretty, probably made it cooler inside, but very difficult to see the outdoor scenery or get a foggy idea of where one is. There was working air-conditioning and two drop down video screens playing Chadian or French African music videos. Mostly conservative, so as to not offend the Islamic culture. Then they played a video, “The Gods Must be Crazy 2”. It was in English, sub-titled in Arabic. If you haven’t seen it you need to. It’s roughly 25 – 30 years old, but the Chadians on the bus were laughing so hard it was enjoyable just watching them.
This trip to Mongo took us 6 hours. Twenty five years ago when I first drove a 4X4 on this same road it took about 18 hours. We did an over-night half way back then. It was slow and rough. Progress is being made in many areas.
Its been a month since the last rain, but its still humid with temperature highs 95 – 105F and lows in the mid to upper 80’s There is no air-conditioning at the Mongo center, just a small 12v fan in our bedroom. Judy has a spray bottle and we would spray ourselves in front of the fan to cool down. We took bucket showers from well water. It was an adventure!
The work Judy and I do is not rocket science, its just basic service through maintenance and assistance. If you could imagine your current workload and having to add to that, doing all of the maintenance and repair of the the buildings and equipment you work with, in addition to your job. How much of your actual job might you get done? That is what our translators are up against. Without people like Judy and I, they spend 1/2 of their time just surviving, trying to accomplish work they have no training or skill sets in. They really thank you for sending and keeping us here.
Millet in field
Judy and I leave early tomorrow morning for Mongo. Its sort of in the middle of Chad, a third of the way up. We are taking a bus and its estimated to be a 6 or 7 hour drive. We are going to the SIL Mongo office to do some needed repairs. The refrigerator has stopped operating, and there are some electrical and plumbing issues. It looks like we’ll be there a week. Then drive back with several of the team there who need to go back to N’Djamena. So pray for us:
*Wisdom in getting the work done correctly. I’m not much of a refrigerator guy. So I’m relying on God to get it done through me.
*Good relationships with colleagues and nationals.
*Physical strength. Its been hard getting over jet-lag this time. We will have less amenities, like a fan or cold water…not whining…just it is a remote village!
* That we stay healthy, there has been a lot of fall colds going around. Temps are fall like – in the mid 90’s and low 80’s.
Remember, God smiles when ever He thinks of you!
Jim & Judy McCabe
Tucson, AZ April – September
N’Djamena, Chad, October – March