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Phil and Linda Byler, missionaries in Sudan
August 29, 2013 10:20 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

CottageWe celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary with two nights away at this cottage overlooking the Nile 22 km downstream from Jinja. Thank you, Jesus, for a wonderful marriage. We reminisced on the porch for a couple of moonlight hours on the richness of HIS blessing to us these many years. We read aloud Piper’s This Momentary Marriage and highly recommend  it. Piper probes deep insights into the BIG purpose of marriage as a symbol of God’s Covenant Love for his Church.

Phil & Linda

August 10, 2013 8:26 am
Published in: Uncategorized

Taxi in ChadPhil is in the front seat of this taxi. Yes the one with blazes on door. I don’t think the blazes represent the speed of our trip to N’djamena, Chad but as long as it gets us there before dark I’ll be thankful. I sprang for an almost double priced ticket (5000 cFA = 10 USD) this time to reserve the whole bucket seat. On the outbound trip yesterday I shared the passenger bucket seat with another grown man, a butt-numbing experience.

We would consider this vehicle full with 7 occupants but local norms are at least 10 adults plus children.

TurbinI just watched our driver skillfully rewrap his turban before we started driving. It must be at least 5 yards long. It protects him from heat, dust, and cultural misidentification.

Also in the taxi with me is one woman whose black veil leaves only an eye slit opening. It doesn’t hide her laughter shared with her lightly veiled daughter however. The radio sounds like a militant Arabic preacher. How I wish I’d learned more Juba Arabic during my Sudan days. It would be very useful here with Chadian Arabic. We just picked up another roadside passenger. The driver packed him into the already overcrowded third seat. Should I feel guilty for not offering the other half of my uncrowded bucket seat? Thankfulness prevails.

We just passed the cute little roadside Mosque where yesterday’s taxi stopped for afternoon prayers. Should I conclude that today’s driver is not so much into Ramadan prayers or perhaps it’s wrong time of day. There are so many nuances to this Ramadan observance. Many practitioners do not even swallow saliva during fasting hours. They spit frequently. So what happens to saliva during this 2 to 3 hour taxi ride? I’m thankful that in this crowded vehicle there is no visible answer to that question.

August 9, 2013 8:25 am
Published in: Uncategorized

Tseganesh and Selamu and tiny baby Kadosh are members of our TIMO team in Chad. They are from the Wolaita tribe of Southern Ethiopia. They are just now beginning their second year of marriage.

TsegaHand of comfortnesh had never been away from her home town and family for more than 3 days prior to coming to  Chad. Furthermore, in her culture there is a strong tradition that a young woman must deliver her first child in her own mother’s home. But she and Selamu wre being commissioned by their Kale Heywot (Word of Life)  Church to go as cross cultural Christian workers to Chad. Many advised, “It is too dangerous. You must wait until after the baby is born.” Others said, “Whose hand is of more comfort to you, God’s hand or your mother’s hand?”

Courageously they accepted the faith challenge and came to Chad at 7 month pregnant. Kadosh is now a charming, cooing, two-month-old while her parents continue to experience God’s comforting hand in their faith journey.

August 8, 2013 8:30 am
Published in: Uncategorized

bookinFrenchWe were meeting and greeting the leaders of our church partner in Chad. After an energizing discussion, it seemed we were approaching the end of our time with the Director of Church/Missionary Relations when he reached for his briefcase. First, he pulled out a stack of handwritten papers. Then he pulled out a book that looked familiar. Indeed it was The Heart Of Christian Leadership. Surprised, we quickly noted that this book had been written by my brother, Jon Byler. Indeed, Jon had given it to me, and I had given it to our Chad Unit Leader who had passed it to this pastor.

“I liked it so much,” he reported,” that I’ve been translating it into French so I can teach it to my church leaders. I have only one more chapter to go.”

Now that’s commitment based on conviction.

May the name and the leadership style of Jesus be proclaimed through The Heart Of Christian Leadership…even in French in Chad.

August 3, 2013 10:15 am
Published in: Uncategorized

We stopped for the night at the SIL Guesthouse in Mongo, Chad on our drive back to Ndjamena. They said it was no use to go to a restaurant until after dark when the Ramadan fast would be broken. No problem, we can wait. As directed we found the bus park after dark and entered the bustling night life of Ramadan celebration in this part of the world.

The perimeter of the parking area was bordered by a large circle of colorful mats. Upon the mats were women and girls with multiple large aluminum pots of food for sale. I was surprised at the minimal use of  these mini restaurants and found myself hoping that for the sake of the hard working enterprising women their business would increase later. Perhaps their services would attract more of the midnight or the breakfast crowd.

Between these  women and the surrounding shops was a row of men and boys cooking meat over large wood-fired grills. A free sample of tender, tasty goat meat sealed our choice of vendors. Skeletal meat plus liver, salt, and bread was the fare. Wooden tables and chairs were available for our use which suits our style better than the on-the-floor mats which are the standard multi-use furniture for this culture. Our first course was delicious but not quite enough for our group so we flagged the runner boy and he brought us more liver along with kidney. The kidney flavor was fine, very similar to liver, but I personally found the spongy texture a bit objectionable.

We bought our drinks from a shop behind the grill. I was delighted to find Stim, an apple flavored carbonated drink from Khartoum which I used to buy in Juba. This part of Chad is on the Khartoum trade routes so it is a pleasure to savor Stim once again. Soon a whole  case of Stim – 24 bottles –  entered our luggage space to return to Ndjamena.

This is my first ever experience of Ramadan in a culture that is not only predominately Muslim but almost totally so. With virtually all of the population observing Ramadan, the daytime culture slows to a sleepy crawl and night life erupts with feasting, partying and socializing. Even those who choose some sleep at night are awakened by drums and criers for the predawn feasting before fasting sets in. When the morning light is sufficient, Mohammad’s low tech instructions  declare, so that one can discern the difference between a black and a white thread held side-by-side, it is time to cease all food and liquids until it is too dark to discern the same thread color difference. These populations in north latitudes thereby have much longer days and much longer fasts than our Kampala on-the-equator culture. At least it is so when Ramadan cycle falls during these summer months.

One would imagine that such strict observance of Ramadan would be a burden and a dreaded time. Quite the contrary I am told. It is a very special time each year to enjoy the extra special foods and drinks during the dark hours and both day and night the extra measures of social solidarity, camaraderie, and socialization. At least this is the experience of the young men. Perhaps the women who bear much labor to prepare the feasting and who have to care for the children would have another opinion.

I, Phil, have prepared numerous other blogs during this trip to Chad but alas they are trapped in my I-phone camera and email until I get back to Wi-Fi. This blog being night-time and photo-less comes now.