Another message forwarded from James Appel in Chad.
For those interested see www.bereadventisthospital.blogspot.com/
—— Forwarded Message
From: James & Sarah Appel
Date: Mon, 2 Jan 2012 20:34:49 +0100
I’m lying flat on my back on the veranda. Dusk has settled. The stars are
not out in force yet, but the half moon and it’s bright under star are
straight over head. Among the dark tangled branches a few fruit bats flap
silently across the clearing, temporarily blocking out the moon. Darkness
settles in as I feel a gnawing in my gut and the need to release my anguish.
But the tears won’t come. My mind wanders to a million memories. It’s only
Monday but Friday already seems a lifetime ago.
I’ve already started to feel the waves of grief mixed with a calm peace that
ebb and flow like the tides that Tchad has never seen. A few incidents stick
I’m in the tiny office off the waiting room with Sarah and Miriam. Miriam is
half-way through her treatment. She has just finished an hour of cooing,
flopping, half-crawling and wrapping herself in her IV tubing. Now, she’s
sleeping, her legs hanging off the edge of the mattress face down and slightly
turned to the side away from the her left arm which is encased in tape, an
armboard and an elastic wrap to keep that precious IV access going.
I hear the sounds of French with an Arabic accent outside.
“I just want to see James and give him my condolences.”
“He’s at the house,” replies an unknown informant.
Through the broken slats and ragged curtain on the window I see a couple of
Muslim hats on top of well-known faces as they turn to head in the wrong
direction. I take the route through the waiting room and from the door yell
out, catching the two men’s attention.
“AS SALAAM ALEKUM!” The two muslims turn and smiles light up their faces as
they give the traditional reply: “Wa alekum as salaam.” One is a contractor
who remodeled the Bere Hospital ER and built some staff housing. The other is
the local imam.
The Imam is dressed in a light blue robe with embroidery on the chest. He has
a white, flat topped hat on his head and a checkered middle eastern scarf
around his neck. One eye is blind and almost shut and a scraggly white beard
graces his chin as a smile crinkles up his lined face.
“This is the way of the world,” the imam continues in Arabic after we have
shook hands and exchanged the appropriate long greetings. “This is the way of
the world. Only Allah knows why these things happen. Only He knows.”
“Al hamdullilah,” I reply.
“My heart hurts with your heart,” the imam continues, first touching his chest
and then moving his hand out pointing at my chest. ”My heart grieves with
your heart. Only Allah knows why. May Allah be praised.”
“Mashallah,” I intone my head down as I shake and hold the Muslim leader’s
“Where’s Sarah?” the imam asks.
“Inside. Come.” We walk back together as both men offer me more words of
encouragement and condolences. Inside, I check and find Sarah is sleeping.
“Don’t worry,” says the imam with a smile. ”Allah will give you more
children. This is the world. There is loss. Allah gives and Allah takes
away. Let’s pray.”
Both Muslims stand with their hands outstretched to receive Allah’s blessings
as the imam leads us in a prayer of praise and consecration. When he has
finished we all bring our hands to our faces to accept the blessings from God.
That evening, my uncle, a Christian pastor calls me on the phone also offering
his encouragement and condolences. He also ends with prayer. During the
prayer I realize that this is a rare moment. I have been blessed by both
Isaac and Ishmael. For an instant, around a tragedy, the two brothers have
stopped fighting and helped the hurting. I am moved to tears, which is quite
easy these days.
The next morning, Miriam’s 3 days of IV Quinine are finished. She has no
fever and is back to her normal self. We pack up the van in truly Tchadian
style with baggage to the ceiling, three American volunteers, one Tchadian
patient and his two family members (plus small child), one Tchadian nursing
student, one Tchadian cook, our two Tchadian adopted daughters (Yahdang et
Djongyahbo), Sarah, MIriam and I. Before getting in, the three of us make a
final pilgrimage to the two graves under the red flowered tree.
Then we head out in an eery fog. The whole country seems to be mourning with
us as a white haze drifts in and out of the dried grasses, half burned fields
and cracked clay. Passing a lake, some massive rounded backs rise out of the
mist, nostrils flaring as a herd of cattle is driven by. The chill lasts
until we are safely back in Moundou wondering what do we do now?
—— End of Forwarded Message