Sunday, October 19, 2014


I’m so tired of being nauseated.  It’s not really pure nausea.  It’s more of a green feeling, an I-don’t-feel-like-doing-anything feeling.  And morning sickness is a dumb terminology.  It lasts all day.  It’s probably worse in the evenings than in the mornings.  A man must have dubbed that term.  Pretty much I just feel like ick.

Of course it would all be worth it…

if there was a heartbeat still.  

I don’t always share very personal things on our blog.  That’s usually for Olen.  

But he’s not here, and I have no one to complain to.  So I write to you.  

There’s not too many OB/GYN’s who would find themselves in my predicament.  But I live in Chad, enough said. 

I’m one of those OB’s that can’t seem to figure out how to follow their own advice, like birth control.  No just kidding.  I know how to use it.  Olen and I just really like kids and we are pretty much crazy.  

So we decided to try for 4!  The big announcement was soon to come out since we were soon to be 12 weeks.  I usually never tell before 12 weeks because I see so many miscarriages.  They are quite common.  It’s impossible to know how many go unnoticed, but at least one in five pregnancies will end in a miscarriage.  I don’t know how the world gets populated. 

But ours was not to be.  

Our ultrasound machine is not working properly.  Olen’s uncle, Scott, was visiting from Moundou, and he brought his nice portable machine to loan us.  (Thank you Scott!)  So Olen and I decided just to look on Friday night.  No irregular symptoms, just wanted to see our baby.  

He was taking his time looking, and then said, “Dear… I don’t see a heartbeat.”  

We had done an ultrasound 13 days earlier, and it measured 7 weeks and 6 days, with a heartbeat. The fetus was measuring right on with dates of 9 weeks and 5 days, so it must have just happened.

We were both sad at the news, but then came the real worry for me.  

“Uggh,” I groaned, “We don’t have any RhoGAM here!”  

RhoGAM is a special injectable medication that pregnant women with a blood type rhesus negative take to prevent their bodies from forming antibodies against a possible rhesus-positive fetus when there is bleeding in pregnancy.  I needed some to protect the next pregnancy from being unnecessarily complicated.  Normally you get it at 28 weeks if there is no bleeding.  We had planned to have Olen bring it back from the states with him on his upcoming trip to California. This is only necessary for rhesus-negative women with rhesus-positive baby daddies. I’m A negative and Olen’s O positive. I married poorly.

During the last 2 pregnancies I had RhoGAM brought over on ice in the checked baggage of someone who was visiting us.  

RhoGAM doesn’t exist here.  As far as I know.  I have never seen it.  We don’t practice first world medicine here!  

And I am here.  In Chad.  Practicing third-world medicine.  And receiving third-world medical care at the moment.  

No RhoGAM means we may not be able to have another kid.  I’m already 35!  That’s a high enough risk.  I don’t need more risks!  

But the present isn’t looking so inviting either at the moment.  I need to induce myself to pass the miscarriage.  Olen has just left for America for a conference at Loma Linda, so I’m on my own at night.  And, if I hemorrhage, the only other surgeon is my dad.  Ya….no thanks.  Dad, you’re a wonderful surgeon, but ya, no.  

So in my head I think about how I’m going to do an emergency D & C on myself in case I hemorrhage.  With no anesthesia because I don’t really want Mason in the room either.  Sorry Mase.  

And if I bleed too much, I really don’t want a blood transfusion either because, even though they were HIV negative at the time a donor gave to our tiny blood bank, the risk is still higher here. And we very rarely have rhesus-negative blood in the bank. And when we do, it’s B-negative, which you can’t give me, as A-negative. Ya, no thanks!  

So pretty much….No thanks to this whole situation.  

No thanks to not having RhoGAM.  No thanks to doing surgery on myself.  No thanks to having my father do it either if I’m hemorrhaging.  No thanks to our nasty OR if needed.  I see what goes on in there.  The blood everywhere.  Gross.  No thanks to our sterile instruments that are probably sterile, but we have run out of indicator strips long ago, so who really knows.  No thanks to having an IPAS (manual aspirator for miscarriages) that I re-use over and over again on patients after cleaning it, but it’s not really sterile either.  I am not using that on myself!  

But truly, thanks be to God because I know He does have a plan for our family.  Even though this plan of ours didn’t turn out the way we had hoped, I still have peace in His plans.  

Today, I have done 3 D&C’s on patients.  One was a young woman who came in hemorrhaging with a 12-week miscarriage.  As I went to put the speculum in, the amniotic sac delivered right into my hands.  You could see the fetus perfectly formed floating inside the amniotic sac, not yet broken.  He was so perfectly formed.

Each life is a miracle, even the ones that don’t make it.  

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Psalm 139:13

I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. Jeremiah 1:5

Since this blog writing, Olen was able to find some RhoGAM in the capital on his way to the airport.  He went to several pharmacies to find it and sent it back with a friend who made the 10-hour bus ride with it in a cooler.  It looks legitimate since it’s from Belgium.

Don’t take first-world medicine for granted!

The Meaning of Missions

Sunday - Church board meeting, 8am, followed by school board meeting… Until 1pm. ‘Seriously? Do you people really have no clue what a budget is?’ I educated them. It was my meaning in missions.

Monday - Had morning meeting with the employees. Patient came in, made tough diagnosis. That’s why I was there. I’m a good doctor. It was the meaning of my mission. Fired two nurses for sleeping together. Cleaning house was my meaning of missions.

Tuesday - Called in for emergency. I’m an excellent emergency physician. Job well done. Met with hospital accountant. Numbers look way off, but there’s money in the cash drawer. Whatever. Keeping this place making money carries some meaning to my mission. Fired another nurse for being drunk. A little fire and brimstone in my meaning of missions.

Wednesday - Led staff worship. That’s right. I’m being an awesome missionary. Met with local authorities. Fired a lab guy for stealing money.

Thursday - Another morning staff meeting, followed by hospital board meeting until 4pm. Apparently committees are the meaning of my mission. Fired… Nobody. It was an off day. The meeting went long, after all.

Friday - Fired a guy for not showing up. Again. Fired a guy for stealing a mattress. Two-fer!!! Made up for yesterday. Vespers.

Sabbath - Had had a week just chock full of the meaning of mission. Tired, wanted to stay home and listen to a sermon on the computer. My wife was also tired.

Nonetheless she said, ‘Dear, wouldn’t it be fun to go out into the village?’

What I heard - ‘Dear, wouldn’t it be fun for you to drive the motorcycle with me and our three children on the back through the sand in 120 degree heat while Tchadians run behind me pointing and shouting NASARA NASARA NASARA?’

I replied, ‘My darling, I love you too much to expose you to the risks of heat exhaustion, motorcycle crashes and sweat stains. After all, my week has been just so full of missions, I don’t know if I can move.’

But she’s much too brave to fear these silly risks and with her gentle and persuasive missionary spirit she replied, ‘Sweetheart, I really think it would be fun. Let’s go, shall we?’

I replied sagely, ‘Wouldn’t it be just delightful to stay? We have so many wonderful sermons on the computer we could listen to. I’m just so exhausted from being such a good missionary this week.’

She prodded ever to tenderly, ‘Man up. Grab the keys and get your butt on the motorcycle.’ We have three young children, so she instinctively started, ‘1, 2, 2.5…’

I’ve been in this situation often enough to know my wife is not great at math and doesn’t do quarters. 2.5 is as high as she goes. But I nevertheless continued with my argument… In my mind. My mouth said, ‘Yes, dear.’ And I made it on the bike before she got to three.

My five-year-old hopped on the front, I reached around him to grab the handlebars, my three-year-old hung on behind me, followed by my wife with our baby strapped to her back, Tchadian-style. There is no Child Protective Services in Tchad.

We drove off searching for a Fulani village we had stumbled across a couple weeks earlier. They are nomads. Danae, my wife, loves their culture, how they braid their hair, their clothing, their language, their animals, their children. She love befriending them and taking pictures with them, then turning around the camera and showing them what they look like on the screen.

Yeah, I think they’re pretty neat too. Except they don’t have any houses and just sleep in the middle of all their pooping animals and I always need to do some ridiculous tip-toeing Charlie Chaplin dance through the donkey dung just to get close enough to say hi.

We found their camp… abandoned.

As you can surely imagine, I was just devastated to turn the motorcycle back home so quickly into our outing.

Driving home through another village, we saw some kids playing at a drilled well. It was foot pump operated and they were jumping up and down it like a game and playing in the cooling water that came out the other end. It looked inviting.

We parked the motorcycle under a mango tree and meandered over to the kids. They noticed us coming and had the typical Tchadian child response. Half screamed and ran to hide. The other half ran straight up to us and then screamed. We played on the well’s foot pump. We pumped water for the ladies who came. We exchanged smiles. We practiced our Nangere tongue. They laughed at us. We laughed at ourselves. Of course, the only Nangere we know is medical, so perhaps they thought it humorous that our greetings included questioning if they were vomiting and having diarrhea.

Our thirsts slaked and fun had, we walked back over to the motorcycle. The kids followed, as did the more-timid adults.

Danae took off her wrap and threw it on the ground. She then sat down on it with the baby. Other kids came and sat down with her. She started quizzing them. Who’s Christian? Who knows the Bible? Who knows the story of Noah?

They were all Christian, but nobody knew the story of Noah. In French, my wife recounted the story as I sat back and observed. She started singing, and they joined in as she learned the simple, ‘Jesus Love is A-Bubbling Over,’ which we translated into the local languages. We taught and sang more songs.

We asked who had prayed in the last week. Not a single one of these Christians had prayed, or was brave enough to at that moment. By now our group was at least 70, maybe more. And so we prayed. Simple, simple stuff.

It was nearing lunch and my stomach was rumbling. So we saddled up the motorcycle once again, some missionary equivalent of clowns in a VW beetle.

As we pulled away, the crowd stopped us. They asked, ‘C’est comme ca?’ (It’s like that?) You’re just going to leave? You come, you teach us the Bible, you teach us songs, you teach us to pray, then you leave? This is not good! Will you not return next Saturday?

I discovered the meaning of missions, taught to me by my wife and children. That village still has somebody come visit them every Saturday, to share another Bible story, to sing songs and to teach them to pray. Regularly, there are more than 100 souls there. We have been asked to build a church.

We have found our meaning. We have found our mission. We know God calls everybody to different things. But God calls everybody. Have you spent enough time with Him to know how He calls you? To you have the courage to follow Him?

Care to come join us? Care to find your mission? Care to find meaning? If God is calling you to the first-world, that’s ok. If God is calling you to the third-world, that’s ok too. Let us know how He calls you and we’ll be thrilled to encourage you to follow His calling. We are at

Or if God happens to be calling you to help in other ways, if you’re as excited about what we do as we are and you want to be a part of it, financially or otherwise, go to and find out how you can be involved.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

From the oldest kid, Me-Lyol

A note from Lyol to the Williamsport Eagles,

Dear Williamsport Eagles,
My January birthday party at the river, eating an apple

Hello from Tchad, Africa!

Naythan, it's really hot here. That's the first thing I think about when people ask me what it's like. The food is really different too, partly because it's so hot and partly because people are so poor. Like today, for example, I ate an apple. But that's really rare. They don't grow here because it's too hot. They are all imported, which makes them really expensive! An apple costs 50 cents, which is half a day's wages!!!

Titus, for fun I play and eat whatever fruit is growing on our trees. Right now, we have more guavas than we can eat. I'm only five, so I don't climb the big guava trees very high. But in the smaller guava trees, I can climb high enough to pick my own guavas. Otherwise, I ask my older friends to climb high and they pick guavas for us to share. When guava season is finished, the mangos start. I looooooooooooooove mangos. Around 6pm every day from January to July, you can find me covered head to toe with mango juice. They're so good and so much better than you find in the stores in America. And we have so many huge mango trees. There are more mangos than we can eat. We also grow a lot of papayas. We have a few pomegranates we brought over from America. Last week we ate our first pomegranate from our own tree! We also have a lot of banana trees, but we don't get bananas super often from our own trees. More often, we have to buy them from the outdoor market or from the ladies who come to our door to sell us fruit. I know how to climb up our pantry shelves to where mommy and daddy keep the money. Then I take the money outside, buy the fruit (we also get okra, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, eggplant, eggs and other stuff) and then bring it inside.

I play with my brother and sister, Zane and Addison, as well as other missionary children, Emmie and Grace, who are 9 and 11. I also have lots of Tchadian friends. I played with Papa (Nicolas), Tony, Appolinaire, Tessem and some other kids today. I'm learning a lot of French, but a lot of my friends don't even speak French. They only speak the local language, Nangere, so I'm learning a little bit of that too. I'm even learning a little Arabic, as it's spoken often here too.

Titus, we have running water whenever Zane picks up a pail and runs with it! Just kidding. We do have running water. Although a week ago, the generator wasn't working well, so we didn't have good electricity, so the water pump couldn't get the water up to our tower and there was no running water. We used to run out of water a couple times a day, but now we have an automatic float switch in our water tank, so the water pump turns on automatically when it's low. It saves my dad from needing to walk up to the hospital in the middle of the night to turn on the pump.

And Titus, I love playing with legos too!!! My dad says I'm really good at it. Maybe we can play together with legos some time! That would be fun.

Elrik, of course I'm obeying my mom and dad! I'm a missionary kid. We're perfect! I'm just kidding again. I'm not perfect and I get in trouble with my mommy and daddy just like any other kid. But I try my best to be good and obey.
Tchadian dress for church

Joy, we do get sick sometimes. It's usually malaria. We have to take really yucky medicine, quinine. I'm really good at swallowing pills. And I get candy after I take it. I like the other medicine better, like Tylenol and Motrin, but that doesn't work against malaria.

Karen, we go to church. Actually, we go to churches. Sabbath is probably my favorite day. I love going to church and I get really excited. We like to go out to small villages on our motorcycle. We just stop under a big mango tree and all the kids come around. It's kinda weird, because even far away from our house, all the kids know my name and yell, 'Lyol, Lyol, Lyol!!!' I don't even know them! They also like to touch my skin and hair, because it's different from theirs. Mommy or Daddy tells a Bible story. Sometimes I help with the felts. Or we'll act out the story. Or we'll do something else. I love singing the songs. I know songs in French and Nangere too. So we usually do that, then come to our big church at the hospital too. Our big hospital church is probably like yours, just without electricity or pews with backs. We don't have adventurers, but we have pathfinders! But I'm too little still.

Nathanael, I do have a lot of toys! Daddy says I have too many! I like to share them with my friends here who don't have any. But my Tchadian friends are really smart! They know how to make the coolest toys from mud and sticks. In fact, they make me toys. Those toys are some of my favorites. I love my friends here so much, but I also really miss my cousins in America.


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!!!