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The stark Gajara region of Chad.

Notes from Chad: Roasted Camel and Fried ‘Hoppers

“Man, those fried grasshoppers are crunchy.”

Chad is often called the "Dead Heart of Africa."
Chad is often called the “Dead Heart of Africa.”

A word from Curt

Chad. It’s a country.

It’s called “The Dead Heart of Africa.”   That’s due to its location.  But it’s also due to the condition of the country.  Chad is a difficult place.  Hot.  Dusty.  Strongly Islamic.  Seemingly always on the edge of trouble.

But after a month in Chad, we found so much to love.  As always, it begins with the people. DeDe and I were showered with hospitality everywhere we went.  Men and women of peace met us at every turn in the road.

It’s also a beautiful place.  We spent much of our time in the Gajara* region.  This photo reveals the stark beauty of this area of Chad.

The stark Gajara region of Chad.
The stark Gajara region of Chad.

In the coming week(s) we want to take you there.

Through photos, maps, and stories, you can travel to Chad.

AKA The Dead Heart of Africa.

A place where the greatest need is the Living Water of Isa Al-masih.

I call him Jesus.  And he is still changing lives in Chad and all over the world.

 

The Sahel is the region of Africa where the Sahara Desert meets the Green Tropics.
Chad is part of The Sahel. This is  the region of Africa where the Sahara Desert meets the Green Tropics.

Roasted Camel and Fried Grasshopper.

Now don’t get all-uppity on me and turn your nose up. Most of you reading this have eaten things just as odd as camel meat and crunchy grasshoppers.

Need I mention squirrel gumbo and boiled crawfish.

AKA as tree rats and mudbugs.

IMG_1961

The camel meat was quite tasty.  Not near as tough as I’d been told.

Those fried grasshoppers were good.

Not much taste but crunchy.

Kind of reminded me of a cross between fried ants and a Twix bar.

Fried grasshopper: It's what's for dinner.
Fried grasshopper: It’s what’s for dinner.

 

In Chad, Africa, we received so much hospitality.  People, especially rural folks, rolled out the red (flying) carpet of welcome.

And like our Louisiana culture, they showed their hospitality through food and drink.

Hot sugar-laced milk.  Boiled over an outdoor fire.

So hot you couldn’t hold the demitasse cup.

 

Hot sugared milk. Notice carpet.  In Chad, you are always asked to sit on the carpet after removing your shoes.
Hot sugared milk. Notice carpet. In Chad, you are always asked to sit on the carpet after removing your shoes.

Cup after cup of chai, the blend of tea and sugar so common to African welcomes.

And the food.

I’m from the Deep South where we love our food nearly as much as we love sharing it with folks.

One day we were greeted with lunch in three homes.

There was no way to say no.  It’s unheard of.

So we ate.  And we ate.  Then we drank a little more before eating so more.

As I looked at the fish, poule, and boeuf, I knew this was sacrificial giving.   Fish, chicken, and beef meals are reserved for guests of honor.

That’s how we were received.

In the home of a wonderful young pastor, his pregnant wife brought out a tossed salad.  It looked wonderful and even its presentation was impressive. It could’ve come from Chili’s or Applebee’s.

Nasara(white people) don’t eat uncooked food in Africa.  It’s the best way to avoid stomach trouble.  We usually push aside cold items like slaw and fruits, with a humorous wave,  “That looks so good . . . but we’ve got those weak American stomachs.”*

But this salad, piled high with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, onions, and smothered in vinegar oil, was completely uncooked.

DeDe and I glanced at each other.  Jesus’ admonition to the seventy echoed in my heart,  “. . . eat whatever is placed before you.”

DeDe said, “We’re gonna eat it and trust the Lord.”

It was wonderful. A meal prepared with love.  A welcome into a home and family.

And we suffered no ill effects.

We both agreed that it was the thing to do, even if we’d gotten a bug.

Ironically, the next night we dined at a local restaurant and I got cocky on the cole slaw and tomatoes.  The next day was spent close to the toilet.

Chad is about twice the size of Texas.
Chad is about twice the size of Texas.

We’re asking some of you to prayerfully consider putting Chad on your map.

Would you be willing to pray for one of the thirty unreached people groups we encountered in one area?  We’ll link you up with a specific group and pastor working in that area.

Would you be willing to offer a prayer of surrender?  A prayer that says,  “Lord, here I am. Send me.”   A willingness to visit Chad and see its lostness and needs for yourself.

If you come this year, our team can take you there.

Then you can taste it for yourself.

Crunchy grasshoppers and grilled camel meat.

 

* The missionary grace:  “Lord, I’ll get it down if you’ll keep it down.”

 

 

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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2 comments

  1. Prayers for the people of Chad. Thanks for this enlightening message.

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