Friday, August 14, 2009

Advent in the Central African Republic

Dear friends,


Christmas greetings from the Central African Republic (CAR)! 


As I write this newsletter, we are in Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic (CAR). The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) recently purchased two new Toyota pickup trucks for the mission work here. We brought them to Bangui to get them through Customs. Unfortunately, getting new vehicles through Customs is probably not an easy job in any country. We had hoped to return home before Thanksgiving, but we were unsuccessful.


As Thanksgiving passed, we noted that we are thankful for many things this year. Despite Deborah's appendectomy in March, we all remain in reasonable good health. Mariel Viera-Bernier (a college student and friend from Puerto Rico) is here this semester helping us with Christa's education. [Her blog can be found at] Audrey Plisch, a retired teacher from the Chicago area will be teaching Christa next semester. The Lutheran Church in CAR will soon have two new vehicles. We are also thankful that we are part of 60 percent of the world's population who have access to a toilet. I know that many would consider it inappropriate to talk about bathrooms in a missionary newsletter, but since I work with potable water, it is appropriate for me to mention it.


November 19 was officially World Toilet Day, but the 2.6 billion people worldwide who live without access to safe, private toilets do not get much press. Here in the Central African Republic, very few people have access to a toilet. Most use the nearest bush alongside the road, unwittingly committing what the Unicef calls "the riskiest sanitation practice." Open defecation shares disease-carrying materials with neighbors and the community as a whole.


Educating people about construction and proper use and maintenance of latrines does not seem like typical missionary work, but it is important to the health and well-being of the people of CAR. Our partner in ministry, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the CAR, is concerned about the health and well-being of all Central Africans….




Joe's colleagues have been able to use many of the things they learned to help in their visits to local villages.   This month they are focusing on building a spring box in the village of Cantonnier. In order to protect the water coming out of the spring, a concrete "box" is built around it.  Pipes are installed so people can fill their containers with clean spring water, instead of having to dip them into a pool filled with mud and debris, where goats, cattle, or sheep may have been wading.  Such small construction projects, plus education in health and hygiene can really help decrease the incidence of water-borne diseases. 



PASE has been focusing on building spring boxes and teaching hygiene to villager. In the New Year I hope we are able to expand our work and begin working with sanitation.



Prayer requests:


  1. Thanksgiving for our tutors:  Mariel Viera-Bernier and Audrey Plisch, who arrives in December to take her place.  Please pray for safe travels, good health, and a quick adjustment to living in Africa. 
  2. For peace and security in the Central African Republic.
  3. For wisdom for the leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the CAR, especially Rev. André Goliké, church president.
  4. For the work of PASE as it continues to provide clean drinking water for villagers and to educate them about the importance of sanitation and hygiene.
  5. For ELCA/Global Missions as they seek a new West Africa Director and new West Africa Regional Representatives, to replace Rev. Eva Jensen and Louis and Mytch Dorvillier, all of whom have moved on to other positions.


Thank you, as always, for your continued support.  We look forward to hearing from you, and perhaps to visiting you personally while we are on furlough in summer 2009. 


Joe, Deborah, and Christa Troester

Baboua, Central African Republic

November 2008


Dr. Joe Troester serves as technical adviser to PASE, the French acronym for Project for Water Resource Management.  This is a program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of CAR, sponsored in part by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  PASE seeks to provide safe drinking water through construction and maintenance of wells, spring boxes, and slow-sand filters, while also teaching good hygiene practices that can lessen water-borne illnesses.

1 comment:

  1. Joe et al,
    Deborah! hope the appendix came out well (more ways than one)
    Joe, Things move on in Haiti as you read. La Gonave is swamped with refugees and no food is coming from PAP.
    I pray for a continuing resolition as I pray for your work of healing waters. Yes I can understand the need for and joy in toilets.Do the dry ones work at all?Only an Engineer would wonder.
    Peace of God Be With You and Yours,