g’s Journal—last from Africa

5 February 2008

According to plans, I would have been home three days ago. I know that I must have sounded redundant and boring when telling my three travel partners that many time, if not always, things just do not go as planed in Chad. This journey has taken this notion to the extreme. Clichés are what work best here to explain the attitude that is needed in these conditions: gotta go with the flow; gotta take the good with the bad; and gotta roll with punches. When bullets were flying, I also used “here and now; here and now; here and now,” to stay focused and thinking about what was the best next move. Many of these sayings did not work in many occasions during the last more than three weeks, and they malfunctioned even more in the last three days.

Today, our flight was maybe leaving at 2pm. Now it is maybe leaving at 2am tomorrow. Gotta roll with the punches.

On February 2, just three days ago, it was so surreal and so completely outside of anything I feel as normal to be lying on the floor to avoid real bullets flying through the room we were in. But, sparks of normality still manage to flash through even in those moments. “Here and now” would keep me focused, and then, in an instant, “here and now” would be displaced by “these men are going to come in to the hotel and fight it out with the French soldiers. How am I going to react?” I would quickly have to switch to, “stay low and move fast!”

Libreville feels so different from Chad, but loud noises still make me pause. I am laughing with KTJ, Jeremiah, and Josh. It can be so normal, but then it is not. You would think that, after going through the last few days in Chad, I would want to think of everything but Chad, but Chad, its people, and the people of Darfur is what I keep going back to. It always gets mixed up with thoughts of my family, friends, and all that I’ve been feeling love from. I just cannot help but thinking in terms of that other cliché, “If it was my family going through these horrors in Chad/Darfur, I would want to know that someone out there is thinking of me and wanting to help.”

So, I’m not sure what way the flow is going, but I’m going with it. I’ll be doing some paddling to give myself some direction. You can be sure of that. I said above that this would be my last post from Africa, but Africa might still have something to say about that.

I do love you all, and I can’t wait to see as many of you as possible.

Paz,
Gabriel

Gabriel co-founded Stop Genocide Now in 2005, which gave birth to i-ACT in 2009.

He became involved in the situation in Darfur out of a sense of personal responsibility. He believes the power of community and compassion, combined with personal empowerment, can bring about meaningful change.

Comments

comments

Comments

11 Responses to “g’s Journal—last from Africa”
  1. Nell says:

    Hi Gabriel,

    You and KTJ are such great, sweet hearts.

    I know, Africa has its own timetable.

    In time, in time, you will be home in your
    families’ and friends’ arms, and your
    work will carry on with a new, even more
    powerful dimension added to it.

    Love,
    Nell
    XXOO

  2. Ali Khalil says:

    Sorry to hear that bad news. tell me where you are? And i pray to god for every day that you will join your family safely.

    Ali

  3. Mimi Schiff says:

    You are an amazing human being and I continue to be amazed as always at your tenacity and courage. What ever way this flows and whatever you do to make sure the Darfuri people return to their homes, may it be done in safety and with the guidance of the universe.
    Mimi Schiff

  4. Bryant Sandoval says:

    Dear Gabriel,
    I am extremely glad to see that you are now in a safer location. Just know I will be praying for you and I also wanted to tell you that your optimisim is a geat gift. To see the better side of things throughout this hardship is beautiful. Stay strong stay faithful.

    ~Bryant

  5. Hi Gabriel,

    My name is Nate from Chad who currently lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. My older brother Reuben works for ExxonMobile in Chad and is currently in Kousseri, Cameroon helping to evacuate remaining employees from the temporary office there as well as locate friends and other family members. He was in Nigeria when the violence errupted and rushed back to the border.

    I speak with Reuben multiple times a day and my wife Sarah and I are keeping our US based family and friends updated through our blog http://www.piecesofglass.blogspot.com/.
    We used a few of your videos from the Hotel to spread the news to our friends.

    Feel free to follow our news as I follow yours. Also if you need to make any contacts on the ground in Chad please feel free to contact me at nathanael.ndjerareou@gmail.com and I will relay it to my brother.

    Take care and hope to hear from you soon Enchala

    Nate

  6. Zahara says:

    Hola Mi chavo & KTJ,

    Conociendo sus corazones humanitarios se lo dificil de dejar ala gran familia alla en Chad, no es para consolarlos pero hay mucho que podemos hacer desde aca tambien. Ustedes tienen que volver a cargar baterias…yo se que decir Adios no es facil.
    No se hasta donde quedamos con nuestros email KTJ y yo, pero dile que si!!! claro que vamos a pasar tiempo juntas bueno tu tambien Gabe y ella tiene que animarse y ver que mas hacer por ahora desde aca, yo se que van hacer mucho y con mas empuje… los dos juntos + el equipo que tienen aca son DINAMITA PURA :)
    Los quiero
    Zahara

  7. Lisa Goldner says:

    Sure wish your were posting from your homeland. Seems everyone wants a piece of you and Katie-Jay for yet another interview, and it will be amazing to see what this added press brings. Rest up and head home.

    Lisa
    San Antonio

  8. Dearest Gabriel,

    When you’ve written of your feelings over the past days, its kept bringing back to a moment I had in 2007 and then – when you wrote “I’m not sure what way the flow is going, but I’m going with it. I’ll be doing some paddling to give myself some direction” I knew exactlt what I wanted to write.

    And then I remembered something VERY special. I still had a copy of a long, beautiful and soul-written poem by the heavenly Miss Evonne Heyning ……. here’s a litttle part of it.

    So – from me and Evonne (and I’m hoping she’ll just smile because I didn’t ask her if this was OK first!!!) and in solidarity with all people displaced by violence and inhumanity,

    Hugs and love and airplane food,

    G. xxxx

    Excerpt from “Amoration Poem”

    by Jennifer Evonne Heyning – April 2007 (o-net)
    (in honour of those who have the courage to follow their hearts)

    The dark alluring night of the soul
    Leads to the joyful radiance of the sun
    Finding the source of light inside
    The depths of our tender hearts
    Where peace takes root to be nourished
    Water, warmth and absorbing amo
    Permeative pigments of complex patterns
    Impressions from existence in space and time
    Marks of experience, not worn as armor
    But as painted points of passion exclaimed
    Our spirit shall be consumed
    Without losing ourselves to ashes
    Becoming that which cannot be destroyed
    There is only one flame and one fire
    With countless reasons to burn brightly
    Touch this moment with every fiber
    Feel the textured matrix weaving
    Interconnected wholes in each thread
    Soft and rugged, warm and porous
    Breathing with the air between us

  9. vivian kahan says:

    i salute your courage and commitment. kol ha kavod. my hope is that you will return home safely. thank you for all you have done and recounted.

  10. student from ackerman says:

    Hello KTJ,

    Thats a cool abriviation wish my name could do that. Anyway, Hope your doing okay from the attack. I wanted to ask you about something. You said in this entry, “if not always, things just do not go as planed in Chad.” I’m just wondering what that means. Have you been to Chad more than once? If so what other things have gone wrong on your journey to stop genocide? Well thats all I have to ask you now. Hope you arive home safely in Portland.

    Best of Luck,

    Student from Ackerman

  11. Christy says:

    Hello from Portland! I am so happy to hear you are back safely, I had not been keeping up on your updates until Heather told me what’s going on when she just got back the other day. I miss you and cannot wait to catch up with you upon your return.

    If you get home after 7 on Tues, I’d be happy to come get ya and take you out for a much needed drink; lemme know.

    BIG hugs and a sigh of relief,
    Christy

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