Sunday, November 10, 2013

Giving Thanks

(Some of you may have heard via Facebook or other means that Zane is sick. He has malaria again, as does Lyol. Lyol seems to be doing quite well, as he always does. Zane, however, was acting frighteningly as he did in June, when he seized. He was febrile, vomiting and lethargic. After Danae left to teach Sabbath School in a village church some distance away, I moved Zane and his favorite stuffed animal and his blanket out under the fan. I laboriously got him to take some Tylenol and Motrin. Then I got a washcloth, laid down beside his still form and started wiping him down to cool him off. With every twitch of his restless dreams, I would wonder if he was starting another seizure. I developed the hyper-vigilance of PTSD. I couldn’t get him to wake up and drink any fluids. He was virtually unresponsive for over an hour, although he never seized and breathed fine the entire time. We put out the word on Facebook that Zane was sick. Immediately, despite it being 5AM in America, there were people praying for my little boy. While I had developed a sense of franticness and utter helplessness flashing back to June, I learned of the amassing community presenting my son to the Lord on their knees. And although I’m sad to say that I still lacked a bit of faith and calm, a creeping sense of peace came to me. And at 10:30AM, he sat up, drank some fluids and started talking. His Nana came to watch him and I went to church to translate the sermon. When I came home, he met me at the door, laughing at whatever it is two-year-olds laugh at. He still isn’t well. He drooped in the afternoon and had a long nap and then fussed pretty well when his Tylenol and Motrin wore off, but he seems to have turned a corner. Praise God.)

In gratitude and humility, I’d love to take this chance to explain what some of you have been doing in Tchad this year, whether or not you knew it! With apologies, we often get caught up in the rush of what we do here and we forget to thank those who make it possible.

First of all, thanks to every one of you reading these words. As we’ve stated in the past, this blog gives us an opportunity to be honest that no other media offers. And you reading it gives us a deeper sense of connection, meaning, and is drastically cheaper and more convenient than a therapist. When we hear of our blog address being passed around the web and reaching people we never knew, we are awed. Thank you. With humble gratitude, I am remembering you today.

We also would be doing ourselves a disservice not to thank you for your prayers. They are awesome. We often feel a sense of being lifted up in prayer. We see miracles happen. I imagine the angels in Heaven holding shut the doors of a bulging silo. Suddenly, with a simple prayer for blessings, they let the doors fly open and the blessings pour out. What you do for us while you are on your knees in prayer… you’ll never know their results in this life, but we feel it here. We covet your prayers. Keep them coming. Thank you. With prayerful gratitude, I am remembering you all in a very special way this month.

Many of you write us emails, letters and blog comments of encouragement. You have no idea how these can fall like manna from Heaven, spaced at intervals exactly when we need it. Life as a missionary is not all sunshine, sparkles and rainbows. We can have very low lows. Partly from how intense the daily spiritual battle is, partly from the incomprehensible and indescribable depth of suffering around us, partly from the physical environments and health challenges, and partly from the sense of isolation we can have. An encouraging email can turn a bad day around. And these come from around the world. Marko’s encouragement and Dirk’s thoughts from Germany or Nicole’s quotes from America to… I could go on and on… they are so uplifting. And then the messages we get from Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Romania, Brazil… around the world… are just shocking. I sometimes wonder if there is somebody praying for us 24 hours/day with the encouragement we receive from around the globe. Thank you. With e-gratitude (or iGratitude, if you wrote the email from a Mac), I remember you every time I turn on the computer.

Some people even go so far as to send us care packages. I can tell you, a good care package will be talked about for weeks, if not months, afterward. And it’s not just the children who talk. Junk food comes from ex-missionaries who know the market. The world’s greatest jams come from Montana, I’ve learned. Letters come from high schools. Cookie cutters come from friends. It’s amazing and humbling the personal thought and time that goes into these. It goes neither unnoticed nor unappreciated. Thank you. With fattening gratitude (and a watchful eye on the lookout for my nosy children and/or wife), I think of you every time I swipe a candy from the bug-proof tupperware bucket!

And we get the occasional volunteer here as well, offering their time for the betterment of us and the people we serve. But we remember that it’s not only the volunteer who sacrifices, it’s also the families who go without their loved ones during their stay. It’s the bosses who provide the time off. It’s the coworkers who pick up the slack. It’s the churches who provide the financial support. Don’t think for a second that your sacrifices go unnoticed. We fully recognize that it takes a village to send a missionary volunteer. Tammy may be the one passing out baby formula, but it’s the church members in Tennessee who give her the means. Greg might be performing a Cesarean-section, but it’s his wife in Oregon sending him the daily emails of encouragement. Scott might be setting a broken leg, but it’s his kids who are lifting him up in prayer. Anne may be giving my nurses their first lecture in physical therapy, but it’s her coworkers picking up the slack in Canada to make it possible. Ross might be the one out doing all the heavy construction work in the heat, but it’s the student missions office at Andrews that helped get his paperwork through so he could come. Marci may have been the one leading the parade for our Project 21 public health outreach, but it’s her husband who lent a listening ear when she needed it at 2AM his time (and he paid the phone bill too!). It may have been Mayline brightening every room she entered with her smile, but it was her family coming to visit her halfway through her year that buoyed her spirits when she needed it. It may have been Roland from Romania, Bronwyn from Britain and South Africa, Ajayeoba from Nigeria or any number of others serving the least of these, but it was the people thousands of miles away that provided the opportunity. Our lives would be worse had it not been for the crossing of paths with the many more volunteers that have lived and worked along side us. With collegial gratitude, I am remembering you and what you did for us during your duration here.

And it may have been Minnie who sacrificed her life while ministering to the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of both the missionaries and the Tchadians, but it was her family who supported her in so many ways both before and during her stay here. They knew she felt a calling and they knew the risk. And they committed her to the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent and all-loving care of the Father. And when she died tragically, it was her family, the Pardillos in the Philippines, who lifted us up, when it should have been the other way around. With eternal gratitude, I will always remember Minnie and her amazing family.

With all the gratitude and remembrance and thanks going around, this blog has become quite lengthy. But it’s healthy and refreshing (better than a cucumber facial!), isn’t it? We’re not all doom and gloom in Bere (so long as our kids are healthy). We’ll continue in the next few days with more ways in which you are changing the lives of the missionaries in Bere and the people they serve.

(And one more thing I’m thankful for: Bears over Packers.)

olen and danae

Olen Tigo: +235 91 91 60 32
Danae Tigo: +235 90 19 30 38

Olen et Danae Netteburg
Hopital Adventiste de Bere
52 Boite Postale
Kelo, Tchad

Volunteers Welcome!!!


  1. I will email you everyday if that is all it takes to keep you doing such good work. You are an amazing family and you are in my thoughts often. Ann Wassell LDRP

  2. I will email you everyday if that is all it takes to keep you doing such good work. You are an amazing family and you are in my thoughts often. Ann Wassell LDRP

  3. Your paragraph about the families, co-workers, and friends so beautifully details the ripple effect of missions at home. Everyone is changed, not just the volunteer. And I think we often forget about that. Thank you for pointing it out!

  4. One of these days I will learn to NOT read this blog right before running into an important meeting. Either through laughter or sadness, this blog + my mascara = not the most professional first impression!