Thursday, April 30, 2015


Two weeks ago we were out in the village. It was Sabbath afternoon
and we had decided to visit one of our bush church sites, Nangere.
(Note: Nangere is both the name of a small village and the name of the
local language.)

We first went there on a Sabbath a year ago when we got lost driving
around on the moto. It was a total fluke. We had just failed at
finding a nomadic tribe who had packed up camp (literally) and up and
left town the day before for greener pastures (again, literally).
Bummed at our failure and filled with ennui, we stopped under a mango
tree next to a foot-pump well and threw out a blanket to sit on.
Villagers came up. So… We sat and sang songs and taught them the
story of Noah. They asked us to come back the next Sabbath. The rest
is relatively history.

Anyway… Of all our bush churches, we love them the best. Yes, we
have favorites. Despite not having an actual church and just meeting
in the dust under the mango tree, they are always excited when we
come. When we drive in on the moto or in the car, the kids all come
running, squealing as they run. They all start screaming, “Animaux,
Animaux!” because when we first went there we taught them a children’s
song called Animals. In fact, all you need to do is drive through the
town and the kids will come running “Animaux” at the top of their
lungs to any foreigner. Others may think the kids are calling
foreigners “Animals!”, but in actuality, the kids are just hoping
you’ll make a rooster sound!

I had a patient the other week on maternity who said she was from
Nangere. She said she came to our “church” (mango tree) from time to
time. Just to prove it to me she started singing, “Animaux, Animaux,
Dieu a fait les animaux.” (“Animals, animals, God made the animals.”)
They all know us by that song. This is mostly because Olen is never
embarrassed and belts out the sounds of animals and makes them all

So back to two weeks ago… One of our 4 visiting ER docs from Loma
Linda happens to play the guitar really well, so we made him play for
them in Nangere. They went through all of their songs (Jesus’ love is
a-bubblin’ over translated into Nangere, Alleluia-Praise Ye the Lord
translated into French and Nangere, Read Your Bible Pray Every Day
translated into French and Nangere, Making Melodies in My Heart
translated into French, Father Abraham translated into French,
including versus that are guaranteed to make you dizzy with jumping
and dancing, etc). As usual, the kids eagerly doing vigorous action
songs in their tattered clothes stirred up an impressive dust. And
just like every other time, the Alleluia-Praise Ye the Lord song went
on indefinitely until the pitch was too high for anybody to continue
(the joys of a tonal language). Olen told a little Bible story and
then we visited with them. At the end, they asked us again to start
coming twice a week and the chief told us he’d give us a property to
build a church. He was drunk at the time, but I think he’ll make good
on his promise.

As we were visiting, I noticed a little girl trying to do a cartwheel
out of the corner of my eye. As an OLD gymnast (Ugh, I hate to say
that!), I tried to encourage her to do it again. Then I did a
cartwheel for her. Before we knew it a HUGE crowd had gathered around
me and this little girl.

Brad and Andrew, two of the visiting docs, played around a bit too.
Brad said he could probably still do a back handspring. After all, it
had only been nine years. And it’s not like he was my age. I still
had five years on the whipper-snapper.

We had no mats. This was hard, non-rained on dirt. It was worse than
cement because it was uneven too. As a gymnast, that fire in you
always burns. It’s a passion that never dies even when your body
feels more like Rice Krispies than Wheaties, and if I get that old,
will still burn when I’m 80. (“Come on, Sparky! Don’t make me get
out there with my walker and show you how it’s done!”) Occasionally,
it turns out to just be heartburn, but often, it’s still that gymnast

So Brad had to go and do a standing back handspring. I spotted him
for the first couple just to prevent any neck injuries in the bush of
Chad. But he got it down and was actually looking quite springy.

Then Andrew, who I didn’t even know knew any gymnastics, pulled off
several front handsprings!

They practically forced me to show these cute little kids how to do a
roundoff back handspring, my first in several years.

So, I plucked up my courage, pulled my junk together and did a
roundoff back handspring. Ouch, my joints. (There’s the Snap,
Krackle and Pop I had for breakfast!) Then two. I really need to do
a few more stretches next time. And switch to Wheaties.

Okay, that was about it for now. I don’t want to push it too much for
the soon-to-be Netteburg number four. (Editor’s Note: Actually, it
will pull the grand tally of “Netteburgs” in the world all the way up
to nine!) Gymnastics is okay during pregnancy, assuming you don’t
kill yourself at the time! Maybe I should wait until December to get
in shape!

Welcome, Flip! It’s an only fitting name. Lyol was Blip, Zane was
Blitz, and Addison was Spaz(z). (Please note: The parentheses are
officially part of that name.) Flip will be re-named after delivery
around November 8.

Did you make it all the way to the end of this blog?

(Editor’s/Husband's Note: As it turns out, crushing up your birth
control pills in your shampoo and lathering into your scalp is not
effective. Much better to just swallow them. Although the first method
does make your hair quite shiny.)

Sunday, April 26, 2015


There are many ways to do it here in Bere. One way is with pure heat

It’s hot season now. We have 3 visiting ER docs from Loma Linda. I
was happy, well not happy, but pleased. Anyway, I noticed that one of
the ER docs was completely drenched with sweat when we took off our
non-disposable surgical gowns after a complicated C-hyst (hysterectomy
done at the time of Cesarean-section, a very undesirable surgery for
both patient and surgeon, but necessary on rare occasion). It was
nice to know that I’m not the only one that sweats like a pig in the
operating room. Visitors do it too. You constantly have to replenish
your fluids here between surgeries or you will pass out (or get kidney
stones, which both of our fathers have managed to do here). However,
it’s one method of weight loss. At least until you rehydrate on the
plane trip home.

Another effective method is eating the ripe mangos that fall to the
ground without washing them in bleach water first. Giardia. It’s a
beast. First comes the belching of rotten eggs. Then comes the
bloating that you wish would go away. Then comes the diarrhea that
gives no warning and runs like a faucet. We’ve said you’ve never
really been a missionary till you’ve pooped your pants (we accept
sheet-soiling as an acceptable equivalent). It’s also a quite
effective method of weight loss if left untreated for too long.
Flagyl treats it, but also makes everything else taste metallic and
nasty, furthering the anorexia and weight loss. Once your poop stops
sounding like urine hitting the toilet bowl, you usually put the
weight back on.

Typhoid, Malaria, traveller’s diarrhea… all good methods. Being an
insanely long way away from any good restaurants or stores that have
processed foods, another good method. All easily correctable once you
return to America, however.

Watching what you eat or exercising. I’m going to have to say, not
really toppers of our list here in Bere. Unless you count refusal to
eat rice for the 21st time in one week as watching what you eat.

Although all of the above methods are good and effective, by far the fastest method of weight loss here at Bere Adventist Hospital is to undergo our state-of-the-art surgery. In February we had 3 visiting medical students from Loma Linda. They were eager and ever ready to help when needed. So when I asked them if they could help me with one patient who had been suffering with her problem for 4 years, they jumped right in. They just didn’t know it was going to be such labor
intensive work! It’s hard work to get rid of weight sometimes!

My patient was a bit unusual, however.
She looked like she was
Note how thin her arms are
pregnant with 5 babies. The only problem was that she had been the same way for 4 years! Samedi brought me her carnet (medical booklet), asking how the hospital could help. I had seen her back in 2012 and forgotten about her after filling out a surgical form for surgery.  She came back a year later and was told that she still needed surgery.  Now, 3 years later, she still had no money. So we decided to do her as a social case.

Here she is preop. I was quite nervous there would be huge vessels attached everywhere. But thankfully it was relatively mobile.

We took out a 17.4 kg ovary! (That is like having 5 full term babies in your belly at the same time!) The other ovary was small and looked normal. Her uterus was small. I WISH I had pathology. She did well post-op (in her weight-loss course) and was discharged home in normal condition. I saw her 3 weeks later and she still was going well.
Dr. Bland hold the mass
Not everyone has it so easy, but I must say, she is someone who deserves to lose weight easy as she suffered with a “pregnant” load in her abdomen for 4 long years! That poor woman! Praise God we were able to remove it relatively easy. Thanks Mason, Dad, Megan, Mai-linh (and thanks for prividing the pictures!), and Kelsey for your hard work helping!

The best part, when you take out a huge mass in Africa, is the gawkers outside of the OR. That is like the icing on the cake. Oh, and in
case you were wondering, she hasn’t regained the weight.
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!!!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Swiss Steak

Don’t judge me while you read this.

I just downed a can of Swiss Steak. All by myself.

Opened the can, got a spoon, and just started eating it. Before I knew it, the can was empty.  Completely. And this wasn’t the first one this week. It’s like the 5th can.

It might be okay if I had shared some with my sweet children or loving husband. But I just ate them all by myself.

The rice and beans, beans and rice thing is getting old. Toast with peanut butter and mango sauce is good, but not the 20th day in a row (although my husband seems to never tire of it).  Sometimes you just want some good ole’ soybeans, processed to the point of unhealthy and unrecognizable in a form expected to marginally resemble meat in taste and texture!

So this week, I caved in. When no one was watching I would just open another can and down it.  I’ve got one case left. It’s soon to be gone.

What’s next?

Swiss steak now sounds disgusting.

Tonight I downed a whole can of Chili Man all by myself.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, ‘Well that’s not so bad.’

The problem was, I snarfed it down WHILE I was preparing my actual dinner.

Now you may still be thinking I’m not a gluttonous gluten-ous pig, addicted to fat and salt tainted with a touch of soybeans. But what if I told you the dinner I was preparing was Swiss Steak sandwiches? Which I ate, despite the appetizer of an entire can of Chili Man.

And I don’t even feel guilty. What’s wrong with me?

As it is I’m always 10-15 pounds skinnier here in Africa than in America! I need calories! It’s so hard to find processed food here!! I’m tired of eating healthy! Give me processed Adventist comfort foods, laden with chemicals!

Thank you Loma Linda (Jerry Daly) for sending us so many cases of veggie meat on the last container!!! I’m not sure who exactly is responsible for donating the veggie meat, but I am so happy to have it! Thank you AHI for sending the container of medical equipment and personal items for missionaries. All those stethoscopes made for a handy cover story allowing us to import cases of veggie meat.

PS. If you don’t know what the vegetarian product Swiss Steak is, you are missing out.
Google it! Then buy two cases. Keep one and send me the other!

PPS. If you happen to be the President of Worthington Foods or Loma Linda Foods, feel free to send us a care package of your finest soy products. We promise to write rave reviews!!! Or if you happen to be acquainted with the President of Worthington Foods, go ahead and let him know we’re waiting. Or if you happen to have internet, Google

Kids unloading crutches from the container
that came in November

‘President Worthington Foods’ and tell him to hook us up!!!