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.)


  1. Congratulations to you! I admire a lot what you do and then having energy for 4 kids, just amazing. All the best for your pregnancy, Linda

  2. Congratulations!!! So happy for you guys :)

  3. Congratulations, Danae and Olen!! We'll pay for shipping a box to take back with you to Tchad. I am praying for your family.


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  5. Awwww, congrats, guys! I'll be keeping this new little one in my prayers!