Monday, May 31, 2010

Fun Day in Bere' 05/27/10

Here is another fun filled day in Bere'. From the moment I woke up till now I have spent my day serving the people. Every detail would be too long but I will hit the highlights of some of the type of things that I do here.

First I am making milk out of peanuts or soy beans for the babies at the hospital that are malnourished. I do this every morning and every evening while Wendy Roberts is out of town. She will be putting up a nutrition center for women with children that are basically dying from not enough nourishment. I am really hoping to be a part of this mission and I am learning how now. It is always hard to see the little ones suffer this way. It is unlike anything I have ever seen before and it breaks my heart.

I also woke up this morning to a blind man sitting in the dirt right in front of my house. He had his little 3 year old girl and a baby boy about 1 year old. He said that they were hungry and that his baby boy cried all night. Is there anything I can do?

Another person is out there waiting to talk to me. She is pregnant and due any day, has two children already and has taken in her little brother because both parents and grandparents are now dead.

The next major part of my day was joining Naomi at her church. Her church was having a women's meeting. There were women who came from the surrounding churches. The count was 175 women. It is very important to join hands with the locals and let them know you care about what is happening in their lives. Well, when I got there I was afraid and had no idea what I was in for. "Please God help me!" I was welcomed with open arms. As I brought my scooter in I met Naomi we moved it to the back of the building out of the sun. After parking my scooter I rounded the corner to proceed toward the crowd of women. They began singing, dancing, jumping and surrounding me and each person shook my hand. It was so loud with the shout that they do when they are moved with happiness. They sang a song that was interpreted that I was welcome. It was so overwhelming that it is hard to describe how that felt. They were quite the welcoming committee.

We all made our way into the church and the pastor had a sermon he shared about the importance of women in the Bible and their roles. He said that those that are doing good continue doing good no matter what other people may want to say to discourage you. If you know you are doing good just continue. After the sermon, about 30 women got up front and sang a song for me. It talked about how it doesn't matter what color we are or where we are from but one day we will all be together in heaven laughing and singing, we can't wait for that day. It was quite a song. Naomi said she wished I could understand each word as she had tears in her eyes. After a while they had me get up and introduce myself and say something to them. I found this to be such a privilege to be in that position and yes I was nervous. I made it short and sweet and gave God all the glory. Shortly after that we took a break. Naomi and some of the leaders took me to the back of the building. They had me sit in one of their best chairs. Anyone who has ever been to Chad knows that this is not an option. One of the volunteers said to me "just go with it and do whatever they want". I am trying to keep that in mind as they want to give me food and other things that I am thinking would be better for some starving children around the corner. Which brings me to my next endeavor.

I was sitting quietly and all of a sudden I notice a little boy coming around the building very timidly. He had a pair of shorts on that looked would fit a large man. These shorts were torn everywhere. He was too old just to go naked. You could tell he was very shy. He gathered the shorts at the waist and just held on to them. I glance down at his feet and notice his flip flops are held together by tire tube strips and they are shoes for an adult female. I quickly look at Naomi and ask how long is break? We were right next to the market so I tell her I want to go to the market and get this kid some clothes and shoes. She says we have time and we make our way over to my scooter after telling the boy that we want to take him to the market. Once he realized we were taking the scooter his face lit up like he was going to Disney Land. This was the highlight of my day. Doing something like this is the best feeling ever. We get to the market and make our way into the center where there is clothes and shoes displayed. We pick out a shirt and pair of shorts and make our deal with the Arab, he gave in to our price fast since we had the poor boy standing there in front of him. After our purchase we put it on him right there. Then went over and picked out a pair of shoes. He was so happy that he was almost skipping out of there. He definitely had a little strut to his step. As we made our way back over to the scooter to go back to church, people were shouting "May God give you more" in their language. What an experience! When we got back to the church all the women talked among themselves and figured out what we just done and there they go again with singing and dancing and praising God. Needless to say for the rest of the day I had a three foot shadow that followed me everywhere and I loved every minute of it.

After a little church business it was time to eat. It is quite a job to feed 175 women in Africa. Naomi and I helped to serve everyone. The food! They eat this stuff called "boule". What it is is pounded rice cooked then put into a large bowl so it is round when they tip it out. It stays in that shape and then they always have some sort of sauce. Now that is the scary stuff, seriously, you never know what is in it. Sometimes it is just better not to ask. Their favorite is dried fish boule sauce. You're lucky if you get a bite without fish bones. Yuck! Ok, so how you eat boule is like this. You sit on a mat and they bring around a big bowl with a plastic tea pot full of water. You are expected to wash your hands. They place a big round platter in the middle of everyone. On the platter is a very large mold of the rice for everyone to share and a bowl of some sort of sauce. After that with wet hands you take a piece of the rice with your right hand always and only. You then make it into a ball and make an imprint into it so then you can dip it into the sauce and be able to get more sauce with your bite. You are then expected to put it in your mouth without getting it all over the place. Some of their sauce is called long sauce. This stuff is great fun to eat. There is a reason it is called long sauce cause when you dip your rice ball into it then it comes out very long like snot. Then you quickly put it in your mouth. These Africans can eat this stuff too. They are always saying over and over. Eat! Eat! I will have a yummy bit in my mouth chewing away trying to be careful of the sand that is still in the rice so I don't break a tooth and there they are eat! Eat! This is a meal every African has every day. This particular day I was called away to go help another person that was at my home. So I didn't get to participate in the meal that day. :)

"God is good all the time, all the time God is good"!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

DONATIONS 05/18/10

For any Donations!

This is just a general note to let you all know how to send donations for the people in Bere' due to the storm. I have had a good response but we still have a long way to go if we are going to get a new roof on the school or if God willing, desks for the children.

Any donations can be sent to our church in Tennessee. We have a lady there that is taking care of all the paperwork for us. Just please be sure to send a little note saying that it is for the Parkers in Bere and any specific need that you want your donation to go for and it will be taken care of. She will be sure to get it into our account and then we can get it out from here.

The address is:
Harrison SDA Church
P.O. Box 969
Harrison, TN 37341

Thank you all for what you are doing and I pray that God will pour his blessings upon you.


Friday, May 14, 2010


I am overwhelmed by the sight of sand all over my house. It is on the windows, covering my bed, everywhere you walk you make clean footprints. The sand is in everything! I am crying inside but I know that my house is strong and all of this is only dirt but what has happened to my friends in their huts. I go to the door and look out. What I see is devastating. There are trees down everywhere in the compound. One tree came down and broke the hinges on our big front door. The kids go around picking up the hundreds of mangoes on the ground as I am taking in the sight of the doings of the storm. It is overwhelming.

I have to teach this morning. After getting ready for my day at the school Naomi comes to the door. I could tell that she is just as overwhelmed as I am. I ask if her family is all okay and she tells me her story of sitting in her little hut with 7 children, her sister, and her sisters 2 month old baby. All of them huddled together and tried to cover the baby as the wind is growing and takes away half of her roof. They are getting rained on and praying that the Lord keep them safe. She tells me with tears in her eyes. We both know that there are many of the same stories from all around. It breaks by heart because the people work so hard for so little.

Cory, Brichelle, Naomi and I pray to God and thank Him for his protection. We start to make our way to the school. I stop in my tracks. I am hit with so much emotion. The roof of the school is destroyed. It has tin on it and it is half ripped off. I begin to cry. Why? These children deserve so much better. Rainy season is coming and it needs to get fixed but how, there is no money. I am reminded about an article that was written by another missionary in Honduras. I read the article and can relate to some of the teaching distractions being in a different country. I look at the articles picture and see that in this classroom there are many teaching tools, there are posters, nice tables and chairs. I think wow that is really nice. In the Bere' school there is nothing. The walls need to be painted, all of the desks are falling apart due to the fact that the person that made them didn't follow instruction and tried to do things the African way and now half of the desks are broken and children are having to sit on the floor. All they have is a chalkboard and a clock and that is it! I walk into the room full of beautiful faces waiting to see what I am going to say. I walk across the room speechless with tears in my eyes and walking carefully over the puddles of water. I can't even talk. I look out the window as I allow the wind to blow into my face and try to get myself together to talk to them. I can still see the storm clouds circling above. I talked with them and asked how many of their houses are destroyed by the storm. Half of the class raise their hands. We pray!

After class I have another task at hand. Cory has told me a story about a mother that died and she left a one month old baby behind. There is an older lady that has the child. Cory is concerned that the baby is not being fed and wants to help. As we make our way over to the hut where child is being cared for we look over at the home of our friends. All around us houses are destroyed. Walls have fallen down and roofs are gone. A woman passes that is crying and raising her hands up to God. I don't know if this is due to the storm and its destruction or if she has suffered a loss. It just went along with the way we all were feeling. We all go together with Naomi and she talks to the lady that is feeding the baby. We let her know that we will help her with what she needs. She is okay with keeping the baby but appreciates any help we can give. Before we leave Naomi prays for this family and the baby that all things will work together for good.

Now my cry to everyone in the states is this. Please share some of these stories with your church. Please help this town. I know I will have many come to me asking for help for their houses. I can't help everyone myself. I need funds to help them. And please I beg you help this Adventist school that has nothing! I was already going to ask for help for the school before this tragedy but now we really need help. I want to be able to help the children learn. How can they learn when they are sitting on a board two inches from the ground in a puddle of water. I want them to know they are worth more than that. I know you all have things that are going on in the states that need your help. But, please if your church does not already have a mission that you are supporting this town is so poor and has so much tragedy happening every day. I am telling you that this is a great place to touch lives in a very powerful way. But in order to do that I need your help. I want to be a tool for God to help the people here. Please pray over this and take it to your church or your Sabbath school class or any kind of bible study group you are involved in. At the very least please uplift this town to the Lord in prayer.

Your friend in Christ,
Tammy Parker

Another Day in Africa! 05/04/10

Today I went to Moundou with the Administrator and his wife and another guy Enoch from the hospital and Frederick. Frederick was there to help me get some papers for my scooter. We all had several things that needed to be done. A trip like this is only done once in a while and so you grab the opportunity when it arises.

Well after our busy day in the market getting this done and that done, I was ready to go home. I had a headache from the stress of the whole day and not eating or drinking much at all. I have been here for 10 months and have not used a squat pot yet and I didn't want to start today. We were on our way home and I was already to put my head back and rest my eyes. All of a sudden the truck came to a complete stop. I opened my eyes and looked around. I looked at Frederick that interprets everything for me hoping he had an answer for me. "What are we doing"? They decided to stop to get something to eat before we head home. I instantly looked over at the building that appeared to be the restaurant that I was going to be expected to eat at. I started to scream inside. No!!! As my feet were following the crowd my head was screaming and praying to God to help me with this experience. I don't want to eat here. I will get sick without a doubt in the world. As I got closer I was thinking what am I going to do? There was a buzzing noise that was indescribable. I had no idea what it was, that is until I sat down and began to fight all the flies. I am still screaming inside. I look at my surroundings and the tables have not been washed for a while and there is left over's from someone before us. But then I was thinking that maybe it is some sort of spice in a bowl and you are suppose to use but it was clear that it had been used before but all the other tables had it. I look at the ground and it is sand of course but it looks so dark, it is all the flies that are making the ground look like that and making it appear as though it is moving. Everyone else at my table is sitting calmly and talking and laughing. Then everyone gets up as though we are leaving. I had a hint of hope rise up inside of me but the group is just going to wash their hands. We are outside of course and there is a very short wall that is dividing us from the main road with all the people walking and driving by. We are now getting ready to wash our hands with the upside down gas tank on a stand that is full of water and has a spout. The water is dripping into a huge bucket of really dirty and stinky water. I am following the crowd and washing my hands from all the umpteen people's hands I shook up to this point in the day. I go and sit down with wet and kind of clean hands. I know I am going to be expected to eat with my hands and I did all I could to get them clean. I look at Frederick who is sitting across from me. I asked him what they have to eat here. I saw some blenders and thought I was going to get lucky and have some kind of mango banana shake but no they don't have anything like that they only have meat. Ok there is my out I will just say that I don't want to eat meat. I don't eat meat and I am afraid it would make me sick. Everyone else has shouted their order out to a man that is sitting about 10 feet away. I still don't know what I am getting. Frederick suggests I start with a drink that is in a glass bottle and tastes like orange. So that is what I do, I order a drink. By this time everyone else's order has come to the table. I look over and it is a slab of some part of a chicken and a chunky brown sauce all around it with a 24 inch stick of bread. I look at Frederick and he has begun eating after his blessing. I watch him as he is fighting trying to keep the flies off of his hands and food. He must have been fighting with 15-20 flies. Everyone is enjoying their food. I feel so out of place. I asked if I could just get the bread. One was brought out right away and I begin to eat it. Now I am fighting with the flies. I keep the metal top on my drink to keep the flies from landing on the ring of my drink. I look behind me at the container holding water and there are a couple guys cleaning themselves up after their meal. They are putting the water all over their faces and drinking it and spitting some out, did I mention this is going on about 5 feet from me? What a different culture. I thought my culture shock was over but I guess I was wrong! I have seen so many things here that until you actually experience it you just can't describe what it feels like to be in the middle of something like this. I am thinking about my earlier encounter in the market of a man pushing a cart on two wheels and in the cart was a pile of slabs of some sort of meat just bouncing around on this cart in the dust with all the bugs. I was horrified and thought to myself I will never eat meat. I felt as though God did help me through this experience that was really hard for me. No one made any kind of deal out of what I got to eat and I didn't get sick. The bill was paid and we are on our way out and I look to the ground and notice something on the ground that I need to make sure I don't step on and it appears to be intestines from something.

Just another experience in Africa.

God's Painful Lessons 04/19/10

I want to describe what a day can be like here in Bere'/Chad. The temperatures now are well over 110 degrees. It does not rain and it does not cool down. We sweat just constantly. I figured it out today that we each are drinking at the least 5 liters of water a day right now with the heat.

Well, this particular day was a hot one and we all felt it. We are having some sort of problems with the power and generator. Living without power is not that big of a deal but the fact that we cannot pump water into our water tower is a big deal. This particular morning we woke up and the water was gone.

Gary Roberts (the pilot) and another missionary Johnathan worked late the night before trying to fix our power. It got late so they decided to start the next day. Well the next day came but the water did not. I started to think about what it would really be like without water here. Our cook, Zashee, says that the "Nasara" people are like fish without water. And it is funny but is really true. We looked into our well and it was only about a pal and a half deep. Not enough to last for a week if needed. I started to freak out just a little cause we need some kind of water to flush the toilet, wash dishes, cook, and take a bath and most important drink. Where was I going to get all this water? And remember no Jamie, he is in America.

Michelle (a nurse volunteer) and I decided we would go get some water in the market to drink to start. So as we are walking to the market, my mind was just thinking about the people. We took some short cuts that really make you go in and out of the village. It was so hot that it is hard to describe. The heat is like you are in the middle of the desert. You are just dripping with sweat from head to toe, literally. Then you have the sand/dirt all over your feet and it is rubbing in your shoes. As we are going through the village I was more sympathetic toward the people and how they have to live. They don't have a choice if they want to live here or not, they just make do with what they have. The route we take is going up and down and down and up again. Why? I asked myself. It is because they have to build their houses out of sand and so everywhere you go right next to all of their houses is a huge ditch. We continue on and get closer to the market. There are more and more plastic bags and trash everywhere. There is a couple of pigs in muddy water hole, from who knows what, beside a house with little piglets. I am feeling discouraged about my situation. I start to think about why in the world am I here in this place, then my thought is interrupted by a man that said he knew me and he came to say thank you. He knew I helped his family with food while his cousin was at the hospital with tuberculosis and aids. He came to thank me for everything I did which for me it didn't seem to be much but he told me he wanted to officially thank me and come to my house the following Friday. Then we are interrupted by another man. This guy I have befriended from the market. He is an Arab and always smiles from ear to ear. It is a good thing to make friends here in the market. So I usually swing by his place when I am there. His younger brother was in the hospital a few weeks before and I was there to help make sure he got immediate attention and the best care. During their stay at the hospital I took him banana bread and some other goodies. I also took him some National Geographic magazines to look at while caring for his brother. So this guy too was happy to see me and let me know his brother is doing much better. Since I was on my way toward the market he let me know that he would be there shortly. At that moment I thought that God was reminding me why I am here. I am here for the people. Not for the comforts for myself.

As we make our stops in the market, things are happening left and right to remind me that the market is not my favorite place to hang out. We make our way to another Arab shop and his name is Abdoulay. All the volunteers get minutes on their phones here at this place. The routine is that you are suppose to come and shake their hands and greet them. Then you sit down and ask some more questions about their family etc. I tell you what, most of your time here is spent just saying hello to people. If you don't shake someone's hand that is very impolite and it tells the person you don't like them. As I was sitting there while Michelle is talking to Abdoulay I am taking in the reality of the view. After being here for 10 months I have been letting things slip by but not today. I was looking with my eyes wide open. I see very old women sitting across from us on the ground with their various foods on the ground on a piece of tarp. They look in need of a sale. Behind them sit a group of maybe 13 people sitting on four benches in a square. In the middle of them sit a very large bowl that would fit about 8 gallons of some kind of liquid and in this case it is some kind of alcohol. Then my attention is quickly directed to the very loud man greeting Abdoulay as he is over exaggerating his facial expressions as his body is creating a figure eight struggling to stand without falling over. I was told on a normal day this man is very quiet. Now while this is taking place and Abdoulay is trying to do his best to be considerate, I am still looking at the scenery. I am thinking "what kind of a place is this?" What have I been looking at all these months? I suddenly see a cripple woman passing by with her large piece of wood that is performing as her cane. She very slowly limps herself pass Abdoulay's shop. I notice that her shoes do not match and her clothes are extremely dirty. She stops right in front of us so that she can adjust the bag full of things on her head. So now that I am looking at her head I notice that this is the same lady that I saw a couple weeks ago in an alley digging through the most disgusting things that are hard for me to even bring back to my mind. But when that happened I helped her up as soon as I saw this I helped her up and Naomi was with me and she was able to interpret for me that she should never do this and handed her some money to get something to eat. I don't normally hand out money but this was a situation that I didn't even think twice.

So... this is what a short part of a day in Bere'/Chad can be like. Michelle and I got some water to take home. We also got a small ziplock like bag of water to drink right there on the spot so we can make the trip back refreshed. This ziplock like bag was something for me to get used to. When you drink it you are suppose to just bite a corner and suck it out. Just another crazy touch here in Bere'.

When we got back from the market adventure Michelle went to one house and I went to mine. We both went straight for the water to wash our hands from all the greets at the market. The water was there! I was so happy and so was Michelle. She came straight over to my house and she insisted that we thank the Lord for the water. There we knelt on my cement living room floor and thanked God for all His blessings.

I believe God allowed me to go through that experience to help me to be more compassionate toward the people for their need for water. I was angry and I was looking at all the horrible things before me but God put the people that thanked me and even the older lady that I helped to remind me why I am here.

Thank you Jesus for the discipline that you put me through so that I can grow to be a better worker for You.


The cat is out of the bag! 04/13/10

Hello to everyone,

I just wanted to send everyone a quick note and report that Jamie is in Tennessee visiting. His parents are having their 50th anniversary this next weekend and he planned a surprise visit. We are sorry we didn't let anyone know in advance but we wanted to be sure that his parents had no idea. He also had a few things of business to take care of while in the states and thought it was a good idea to go now and hit many birds with one stone.

The kids and I are still in Africa. We would have loved to have joined him (let me tell you) but the money was just not there for us to go yet. God must have His reasons. Our goal is to possible come back by November all together and spend a good amount of time there with everyone.

If you want to be in touch with him you can reach him at his parents' house at 423-236-4142. Give him a hug for me!


Just a thought! 04/09/10

Well the temperature here is now well into the hundreds. It is very hot and I know it will only get hotter all the way through May, then our rainy season will begin and cool things down. Until then, we will be trying to find things to do to cool ourselves down. I have been taking the children to the river more often, maybe 2-3 times a week.

We have been wanting to get motorcycles to be able to have some sort of transportation that is affordable. I have been looking at the scooters cause I have to wear skirts all the time and it is so much easier to get on and off in a more lady like fashion. Jamie found me a scooter in Moundou and so he had it brought here for me. The people call it something in French that translates into English "my husband is capable". I don't like to drive it around just for that reason but it is better than walking.

So on a very hot and sunny day I was going to take the children to the river. We take the scooter sometimes to help transport children faster. Everyone starts walking and we make several trips and just pick them up on their way. Well I told Cory to go ahead and make one trip with some kids on the back of the scooter and I would start walking with some of the other children. The river is about 3 miles away. For some reason Cory was delayed and I found myself walking almost all the way. Now that normally would not be a problem but this was when I started to have problems with my foot and I had to limp around on my toes and keep my heel up which was where it was hurting.

As we past the two mile marker I found myself limping even more. I was getting tired. I started to think about my situation. Here in Africa here it is so hot you literal feel like you are in the middle of the desert. I am on the main road walking with three young boys. One boy as had one of his arms amputated. Another boy has 12 toes. And the other boy, well, let's just say he is not really popular. Then here I am limping away right along with them. We must have been quite a sight. It was so hot that they would stop at every well and see if the water was good. It never was. It was cloudy like clay was in it. They would test it for me first to let me know if it was ok to drink or not. Little did they know that I was not going to drink it either which way. Giardia is not one of the things on my list I am looking forward to checking off and so I am doing everything I can to avoid it.

I guess you can say I just had a moment. I took a look from afar at what we must have looked like. I think about how sinful the world is. I think about how hard the life is here. I think about how much the people in Chad have against them with all the conditions that they live in. There is so much disease. I find myself thinking on heaven a lot more than I have in my whole life. I am sure that God cannot wait to show them what He has made for them in heaven. What a day that will be.