Saturday, May 24, 2014


The Things We Do for a Bok

Two quick chicken stories:

My ideas on tithe and offerings and faith and love have evolved somewhat since arriving here. I have become accustomed to seeing new things in church. Goats walking in the back door. Passing around the communal cup of water from an urn in the back when it’s too hot. Hearing three translations of a sermon (and being lucky to understand one of them). Bizarre theology. A list that could fill a blog by itself.

At offering time, it doesn’t surprise me at all anymore to see sacks of rice or bowls full of maize or millet or cucumbers or any other garden produce in the front of church as part of the offering. The head elder once embarrassed these poor genuine offering-givers and insulted them, asking if anybody in the church wanted it, because after all, what’s he going to do with that. Now we just take in to the market, sell it, and send the cash to the association.

Well, for the first time, I saw a chicken in the offering plate. It was awwweeesome. Unfortunately, I was on the platform that Sabbath. I’m afraid I didn’t bless the offering very well, because I was trying to clandestinely snap a photo on my phone during prayer.

After prayer, they took the chicken in the back. Well, the poor fowl didn’t like being part of the ceremony. He bok-bok-bukaaah-ed a bit too much. Eventually, an elder went into the back room and the noises ceased.

We don’t have Children’s Story at our church, but I’ve been thinking about starting it for quite some time. I thought maybe this would be a good first story.

‘There was once a chicken who made too much noise in church. The head elder broke its neck. Ok, kids. It’s now time to walk quietly back to your seats.’

Second story: I had a patient come in with difficulty breathing and fever. I’ve seen so many of these now they are getting routine. I brought him into the operating room (for ease of access to supplies) and cut into his chest wall, shoving a large tube into his chest cavity behind his lung. Liters of pus spewed out all over the floor, some of it actually falling into the trash can we had placed there to catch it.

Suturing the tube into place, I reflected a bit on how much suffering this guy had gone through in the last few months. There were scratches all over his abdomen, chest and flank. These are very common. This is the traditional ways of healing pain. Make a series of cuts on the skin overlying the pain. This heals the sickness. Duh. So obvious, it’s a wonder the medical community hasn’t caught on. I suppose I should blame Obamacare, since everybody else does.

Well, I got more curious than normal, so I asked him about it. He told me he had paid nearly $500 for these cuts. This is astronomical amounts of money in a country where 65% live on less than a dollar a day. He had been going to the witch doctor, who would sacrifice a goat and a chicken, then take the chicken foot and make these deep cuts on the poor young man.

If I weren’t so vehemently opposed to the whole witch doctor thing, I would love to go get a receipt for something like this and turn it into my insurance company.

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
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Kelo, Tchad

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