Posts Tagged culture

Christmas in Mongo

Christmas is upon us and with it come many memories. The Christmas songs tell us that it is a time of snow, a time for Santa to climb down the chimney, a time of mistletoes, and a time of gift giving. Most of my childhood memories of Christmas are of trees covered with snow and gifts under a tree. I have memories of family gathering and times of joy. Image result for perfect christmas Image result for nativity scene On my recent trip to Chad, Christmas memories again flooded into my mind. As I walked across the church compound that we used to call home in Mongo, I recalled how Christmas is celebrated by the church in Mongo.       Mongo is about a 7 hours drive east of N’Djamena, the capital. It is dry and dusty at Christmas time, and the average temperature at this cooler time of year is 95F/ 35C. There is no snow, there is no talk of Santa, no mistletoe and no gift giving. It all sounds rather bleak until you realize that, at the time of Christ’s birth, life was not too much different than what Mongo is like today, and the church in Mongo has its own way of celebrating the coming of our Savior, a celebration that the town is invited to come and join in on. The dreary looking church compound is strung with lights. Seiko (grass fencing) is put up to partition the area and chairs are set up outside for visitors to relax and enjoy the festivities. Food is brought by members of the large congregation. Donations are given to help cover the costs of drinks for the guests. Children from the local blind school and Christian school do skits. Dignitaries, including the governor are invited. Music is played, and the neighborhood sees how Christ’s birth is celebrated. It is a great testimony to the people of Mongo and a wonderful encouragement to the church. So, the next time we think that Christmas needs to be celebrated in a specific way, let’s remember the church in Mongo. They celebrate Christmas in a very different way, but Christ’s birth is still the reason for the season. We wish you all a very Merry/Happy Christmas as you too remember and celebrate Christ’s birth.

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Chad, Africa: What They Eat

Some Chadians transporting their goats in the most loving way possible.

Some Chadians transporting their goats in the most loving way possible.

Chad, Africa is a third world country. In fact, Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world. For this reason, Chadians are forced to live a lifestyle quite different from your average suburban household. One example is in what they eat.

On the average day, Chadians mostly eat a pasty substance called ‘boule’. It consists of a grain called millet, which is their staple crop. Boule, served in a dome form, is eaten with the hands, and dipped in different sauces before it is consumed. Why boule? It’s cheap. That’s the best reason I can come up with, because, honestly, it doesn’t taste so good… at all. Chadians almost always eat as a group, from the same platter. It is part of their culture. Even though eating from the same plate is – we can’t deny – unsanitary,  the average Chadians does it without exception.

Now, on special occasions, or if it’s affordable, Chadians often eat common dishes such as goat meat (which the Aviles kids love). The goat meat there is not what you’d find in the States or Europe either. That’s because it is always tough. The goats run around all they want. It isn’t like they are kept in some cage and taught to just eat all day. The same goes for chicken, which is not consumed as much as goat. Chadians like their meat spicy, so they often use different sauces, or a crushed red pepper mixed with salt. Another food is rice, but rice isn’t eaten even close to as much as millet is. Chadians get most of their other food, such as vegetables, from the outdoor market.

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The Question Everyone asks: What Millet Should I Grow?

Two different kinds of Millet, Chad, AfricaNow that rainy season in gone, although the humidity still lingers, the first harvest is ready for the people of Chad.

There are two harvest seasons because of the different millet (the main food staple) that the people in central Chad grow: red millet, which handles a drier rainy season better, and white millet, which handles a wetter season better.

Of course if the season is perfect, both grow great. A friend of ours had it bad for a few years. One year, it was just plain dry and nothing wanted to grow. The following year, he planted more white millet than red assuming another bad year. Unfortunately for him, it rained too much and drowned almost his whole crop. So the next year he went after the red millet, and you can guess what happened. It was too dry, and the red millet died leaving his family with another very poor harvest.:(

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No, We Don’t Have Ebola.

Is there Ebola in Chad, Africa?With all the activity that is going on in Africa, Chad is still a relatively safe place to travel (if one would ever want to in the first place). There are many African countries that have rebel activity and attempted coups, and although Chad is not exempt from that, it is currently still stable enough to visit.
On a different note, with the ebola outbreak in some west African countries, some may wonder how this affects those in Chad. We have heard news from other missionary friends that there have been some cases of ebola in Nigeria which borders Chad. There are still no incidences of the disease in Chad, but some Westerners who work close to the Nigerian border, although they are not evacuating, they are taking precautions and developing a contingency plan in the case it does creep a little too close.

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Make a hut in 5 steps

Almost all Chadians live in huts: “houses” made of mud-brick. The Dadjo people are included. The huts are about four feet tall and circular, with a thatched roof (roof made of sticks/hay).

  1. First, the Chadians take mud, and mix it with hay, or straw. This helps it to stay together.
  2. Then they shape the mud with molds. They want to make the mud into a usable, brick like form.
  3. After that, the people put the molded mud out in the sun to dry. They usually don’t bake them. The cheapest thing to do is to “sun bake” them.
  4. When the mud is nice and dry, they start building the hut. They pile the mud bricks to make a circular room with an opening for the door.
  5. After that, the Chadians put a thatched roofing on top.

Big families can live in these things because the huts serve as more of a shelter. The people almost always sleep outside, where it’s cooler. The yards, where the huts are located, are often surrounded by a wall, also made of stick like fencing. They do this to keep unwanted visitors away. In larger villages, or small towns like Mongo, people use mud brick to make their walls. Please comment!
Chadian huts

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Cotton Spinning

Cotton spinner in Chad, AfricaDuring one of Art’s times in a nearby Dadjo village a few years ago, he came across an older man who wanted to show Art his handiwork. Art was more than happy to learn of this man’s expertise, so on his next visit there, he brought his camera and listened, learned and took photos of this man’s work with raw cotton. It was a great time to watch this man turning puffy cotton into a fine thread. He placed the cotton balls on a board and rolled the seeds out with a skinny metal bar. He then stuck the cleaned cotton on a stick and pulled thin threads out, twisting it as he pulled. With the finished thread, he wound it around a long spool, examining it carefully continue reading>>

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get-away

The Walrus Mountain Chad, AfricaAs a missionary in Chad, and in most 3rd world settings, there is rarely any understanding for the need of some degree of privacy. From early morning to late in the evening, there’s always the potential to have visitors. Whether it is welcomed or at the worst possible time, there isn’t much you can do but receive them graciously. As much as we wanted to spend time with or help the people who would come, sometimes we just wanted to have some family time without the possibility of hands clapping outside our door. That’s the way the local people “knock”. continue reading>>

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