" May 2016 "

Monday, May 30, 2016

The major task for the morning—other than the regular posting of yesterday’s journal—is to get the papers graded and the course closed down. I spend the morning taking care of that. I can tell that some of the students really don’t understand what the assignment is supposed to accomplish—I think, now, of several ways I could have simplified it and clarified the instructions—but if the student concludes something that isn’t heretical, I think he should get some credit.

Other students do quite well. There are more A’s than C’s, and more B’s than either, so it’s a fairly decent scale. I take off a letter grade for each paper that exhibits plagiarism—which is a fairly mild penalty, especially considering that I spent considerable time talking about it—and I withhold a grade on one paper that arrives a day late and is an identical copy of another paper that came in earlier, except for the name. The student even handed it in with a copy of the paper he copied. I have no idea how he expected to get away with that.

So I get the grades reported to Timothy and the papers delivered to him for return to the students, and this course is officially in the books.

Yesterday the kind folks at Faith took an offering for us to go out to lunch today. Ivy drops by the house at noon, and we head off to Mummy’s Kitchen. The team pays for lunch for Timothy and Ivy, as a small token of our appreciation for all they’ve done for us. Rachael, Lora, and Bethany order a dish that’s mostly soup and that the locals eat with their hands. Moms, we’ve completely undone everything you taught your kids about table manners.

On the way home I need to stop and get some cedis for the bus tickets, and we need some tp and laundry soap for the last couple of days. Ivy stops at an ATM, and Rachael and I hit the machine. Not working; lets you sign in but offers only a balance inquiry. OK, cross the street and try that one. There’s a long line, and we can see a rainstorm approaching, and there’s not much cover. We wait our turn. And wait. And wait. People in front of us have animated discussions, apparently about how to work the machine. As the person in front of Rachael finishes, the machine shuts down. Great. Next door to Barclay’s ATM. Another long line. The lady in front of Rachel tries 2 different cards to see how much balance is on each, then goes back to the first one to make her withdrawal. Rain’s getting closer. Rachael steps up and gets her money. My turn. One of the team members comes from the car to tell us that another team member really needs to get, um, home. Fast. Cancel the transaction and run for the car. Wait for a bazillion motorbikes to get by. Pull into the street. A guy with an oxcart full of bales of cotton has the road blocked. We clear him, and the skies open up. Rush for home. Pull up. The team member in question is so located in the vehicle as to be the last person out. Run for the toilet.

Made it.

But now we’re pretty much out of tp.

Well, actually, we’re OK; the Crew tells me that while they were in the car waiting for us to use the ATM, Ivy ran into a shop and bought 10 rolls. That oughta do us for a coupla days, I hope.

The rain continues steadily through the afternoon. At 3, when we’re supposed to leave for some door-to-door evangelism in the Water Village (!), it’s still steady. About 4 pm John Lanchina, the pastor of the church plant there, comes by and agrees that the plans are not practical today. Since we’re leaving Wednesday after lunch, that means we really won’t be able to help him out this time. Maybe next year, he says with a smile.

Have I told you much about John? He’s Timothy’s younger half-brother, who got married last year while the team was here. He’s a graduate of CABC in Zambia—he’s wearing a Zambia national team football jersey today. Here’s a quick quiz: do you know what’s unusual about the Zambian national flag?

So we have the afternoon off, and it’s rainy, rainy, rainy. Naps; reading; talking; some trying to recover.

Late afternoon Naomi and her little boy come by, and she works with Lora on some turban styles. Jonathan thinks she looks like Princess Leia in one of them. We plan for Naomi to stay for supper, but her husband comes by to pick her up a few minutes before a delayed supper arrives.

Supper is ground-nut (peanut) soup with rice balls. I remind everyone to wash hands thoroughly; the inconsistency with which the digestive stuff is hitting us makes me think that it might be less likely that it’s the food and more likely that it’s hand-washing. Simon and Prince join us.

Simon helps Bethany and Sarah do the dishes, and then the two ladies make fruit popsicles. Pineapple and mango heated into a mash, poured into plastic cups, spoons dropped in, and into the freezer they go. A nice solution to fruit that’s about to outlive its edibility.

One of the benefits of having not much to do is that you have time to fix stuff you notice needs it. I fix the seat in one toilet and fix a leak in the other. Two fully functioning bathrooms; it’s like we’re getting the house ready to sell or something.

Devotions is brief tonight; I can tell the crew is tired. Most of us head off to bed soon afterwards.

Quiz answer: the logo is off-center. Hardly anybody does that.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Our last Sunday in Wa. With the normal preaching rotation, Timothy comes to the Wa RBC church today, and I’ll preach at Faith. It seems odd having just one Sunday at FFBC; it’s the only church previous teams have worked with. We all climb into Ivy’s car and head over. We step into the youth Sunday school class, which is taught by Robert, one of the older students from my block class. Jojo waits outside for Gabriel; he’s going to ride out to Gabriel’s village on the back of the motorbike and preach in his church.

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The class is on the character required for Christian service. The teacher asks a lot of questions, but as in America, there are just a few students who answer them. Kids are the same the world over.

After class we move across the patio into the sanctuary. The power’s out, so there are no fans or PA system or electronic keyboard. But that’s fine with me; I love to hear the Africans sing without the keyboard drowning them out. I’ve noticed that in much of Africa, they think that if you have a PA system you should use all of it; they just crank all the knobs as far as they’ll go. So I enjoy power outages, which allow me to hear the voices and harmonies of the Africans themselves. There’s nothing like it.

Jonathan and Lora have prepared special music with David. He’s taught them a Waali song. Lora sings the first verse as a solo, and you can tell that the congregation is not expecting Waali; the place comes to full attention, and the man on the platform next to me leans over and whispers in my ear, “That’s my language!” After the first verse the congregation applauds and hoots, then stops to listen to the other verses. Following tradition, several come up and place offering money at the trio’s feet, and some press coins into the singers’ foreheads, where they stick for a moment and then drop to the floor. (I later ask Jonathan if he’s ever been smacked in the head before when doing special music.) The joy in the room is palpable. They call a person’s native tongue his “heart language” for a reason. By going to the extra effort of learning 3 verses and a chorus in Waali, these kids have ministered to this body in way that they couldn’t have otherwise. It’s really a beautiful thing to watch.

I preach on the supremacy of Christ, from Colossians 1. They interpret, of course; Timothy tells me that they interpret every Sunday, since there are people in the church who don’t speak Waali. Preaching through an interpreter is an interesting exercise; you begin to develop a kind of a rhythm, similar to the cadences of the African-American preacher; and the breaks for the interpreter give you time to formulate your next chunk. It’s odd at first, but eventually you get used to it. I sometimes think I prefer it.

After church there’s a greeting line, in which everyone gets into a line that doubles back on itself, so everyone shakes hands with everyone else. It’s a good tradition, giving everyone a chance to greet everyone else in the service. And if you remember to wash your hands before lunch, it’s all good.

Ivy announces that we’re going out for lunch. We drive about 4 km south of town on the road we came in on, to a resort called Blue Hill, a gated compound with a hotel and restaurant. It’s a very impressive looking place, the nicest place I’ve seen in Wa. We settle into the restaurant. The service is slow, but it reflects the thinking here; mealtime is for fellowship, to be enjoyed slowly. The people you’re with are more important than the next item on your to-do list. Eventually we all order. Bethany, Jonathan, and Sarah order roast guinea fowl; Rachael orders beef fried rice; Lora orders chicken and noodles; Jojo orders spicy chicken bowl; and I order sizzling octopus. (Think fajitas.) They serve the food when it’s ready, so the fowl people are done before my octopus arrives, but it certainly makes a splashy entrance. We all select our drinks from the cooler over at the side of the room; most of us get a soda called Alvaro, either pear or passion fruit, but Jonathan gets a box of guava juice, and Bethany gets a similar box of mixed fruit juice.

Jojo likes spicy. He takes a bite of his chicken and says, “This isn’t spicy at all.” That surprises me; they like spice around here. His disappointment is clear. A few minutes later, he says, “Whoa! The spice is on the bottom!” He stirs up the bowl as tears run down his cheeks. Happy again.

The meal comes to 450 cedis. Less than $120 for 7 people. That’s a very fancy meal for here, but I consider it a bargain.

As I mentioned yesterday, the Owens are up from Accra for Kathy Bristol’s retirement ceremony. While they were here, Ezra presented with malaria, and it’s a pretty hard case, so they have decided to stay in Wa for a few days, and they’ve checked in here at Blue Hill. Ryan happens by as we’re eating, so we chat a while, and a few minutes after he goes back to the room, Joy comes by with the two smaller kids. We have a nice conversation while The Crew entertains, or is entertained by, the little ones. We hope they’ll be back at the guest house in Accra by the time we get there on Thursday. You have to live flexibly here.

Arriving back at the house, several of us succumb to the call of Morpheus. (It is Sunday afternoon, after all.) Mid-afternoon Carloss comes by to say good-bye; now that his last class (mine) is over, he’s heading back to Ethiopia. Off to the bus terminal, to Accra, and to the airport. Travel mercies, my friend.

We would normally eat supper before the 7 pm church service, and Ivy brings supper by the house, but we’re all still too full to eat anything, so we decide to postpone supper until after church. Back to Faith, where we sing, then hear reports from the village church pastors on how their services went this morning. Jojo speaks for Gabriel’s church, since he was the preacher this morning. Then testimonies from the congregation, and another trio from David, Jonathan, and Lora, this time “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.” As they’re singing, the moderator, who’s sitting on the platform next to me, sees a bee on the back of Jonathan’s neck, gets up, walks over behind the trio, and smacks the bee. So Jonathan gets smacked again on the head while doing special music. It’s a strange day.

I preach a truncated sermon on the image of God.

During the announcements afterward, Timothy (he’s here tonight because they’re having a praise service, with no sermon, over at Wa RBC) leans over and asks if the team would like motorbike rides. I laugh; he’s remembering what happened last year. I tell him they’ve ridden a fair amount this trip but wouldn’t turn down another opportunity.

He gets up and begins speaking in Waali. The Crew doesn’t know what’s going on, of course, but the congregation starts to laugh, and several young men jump to their feet. Volunteers to give The Crew a ride home.

With the significance of motorbikes as a means of transportation here, churches will normally have 40 or 50 of them in the parking lot and only 2 or 3 cars. Most Americans would think the building is a biker bar rather than a church.  So we shakes hands all around to close the service and flow out onto the porch, where the team members—all of them, including the men—start finding their rides. Lights come on, engines fire up, and one by one the bikes pull out of the parking lot and head toward home.

I should say that drivers are very careful here, much more careful than back in the States. I have no concerns about any of the young men giving rides.

When Timothy and I pull up to the house in his (air-conditioned) car, the first thing I do is count. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Everyone’s here. And everyone had a great time.

Supper. Simon and Prince join us. Seems odd that Carloss isn’t here anymore.

In a side development, Rachael has been taking lessons in NT Greek from Prince. He gave her a quiz tonight. It would be a FERPA violation for me to tell you how she did.

For devotions I talk about disengagement, as we move from one culture to another, especially about following up with relationships formed here. It’s very common, when immersed in one situation, to raise expectations from new friends about how much connection there will be down the road, and then to let those things slide when you make new friends as you’re immersed in another new situation. Africa doesn’t need more American visitors who make or imply promises and then don’t keep them.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Nothing official scheduled today. There are rumors of some kind of youth activity at Faith tonight, but plans aren’t firm.

By 9 most of The Crew is up, and Lora has gone into town with Naomi to get her hair finished; they didn’t do the hot water thing yet.

In my personal devotions I’m reading through the Greek NT in 2 years. Today’s section is 1Cor 15.12-21. I work through the first paragraph, on the emptiness of trusting in Christ if there is no resurrection. Then there’s a new paragraph in Greek, which begins with the powerful words, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, firstfruits of the ones who have fallen asleep.” He is risen, and many more will rise in a future harvest. A good thought as I mull over the passing of a sister, and a reminder to pray for her family.

Over in the convention center (the Quonset hut where graduation was held) they’re having a retirement service for Kathy Bristol, a nurse who has run the clinic in Baayiri, essentially out in the bush, for the last 20 years. (She was in Liberia for 20 years before that.) For much of that time she’s been the only nasala there and has worked with Waala technicians to provide clinic and lab services to the locals. When one of my 2013 team members developed an infection in a scrape, we ran her out there for care. I remember her showing me how on certain days, in good weather, if she stood on a chair in the corner of one of the rooms, she could get weak cell signal, sometimes even enough to make or receive a call.

The service includes Kathy’s testimony and the testimonies of several whom she has helped. No missionary is replacing her; the clinic will now be run by nationals. It’s a sweet time of good-byes and a greatly understated celebration of a life of faithful, sacrificial, and sometimes dangerous service. She’s just one of many who have served without recognition, but there is One Who knows.

The service gets out a little after noon, and Ivy brings lunch over as The Crew gets back to the house. As usual, a couple of the students join us.

I’ve made the research paper due today, so students trickle by the house all afternoon to present their offerings. That gives me a chance to have a few words with each one, swapping thanks and encouragements. It’s nice to have that going on throughout the day.

There’s the usual Saturday volleyball game at 4 pm; everyone enjoys the workout and the interaction. Supper is a pasta casserole, which we wipe out nicely. When Ivy brings it over, I ask about the youth activity. Yes, there is one; would you like to go? I can run you out there and then pick you up afterward. I realize that they weren’t intending for us to go. Transportation would add another 2 items to their schedule. I don’t want to do that. We’ll stay here tonight.

During supper we’re discussing health issues (yep, right at the dinner table), and we realize that we’re having a run of rashes and a rash of runs. Nothing serious—my hunch is that the rashes are heat rashes and will calm down when we get to TZ in a week, where it’s considerably cooler. Some of the crew note that their, um, digestive issues were lessened when they started cutting the corners of their water sachets with scissors instead of using their teeth. Makes sense, though previous teams hadn’t had any trouble with that.

Evidently there’s some football game on TV tonight—Real Madrid vs Captain America: Civil War, or something like that. They were planning to watch it on the TV here at the house—I’m told that the house is the college’s TV room / student center when nobody’s living here—but they realize that this TV isn’t subscribed to the channel they need, so they head over to another house on the compound that gets it. I opt to stay home and enjoy the peace and quiet.

After a bit I head up to the chapel to get some wifi, and guess what? They’re watching the game there. All righty. I do my thing in the back while the observers—Jonathan, Jojo, Prince, Rachael, Bethany—shout at the TV at random intervals. Turns out that Jonathan and Jojo are cheering for different teams; that makes it interesting.

Connection’s pretty slow tonight, so I don’t get my work done until they’re doing the penalty-kick shootout to decide the game. Real Madrid wins. Jonathan’s happy, and Jojo’s not, and I Don’t Know’s on third base.

Back at the house we gather for devotions, with Prince joining us. We alternate songs with testimonies tonight, and there’s plenty to share. The Lord is working in each of us, sometimes in different ways, but all clearly. We pray for strength for tomorrow, when Jojo and I (along with Carloss and of course Timothy) will all be preaching, and Jonathan and Lora will be doing special music in both services at Faith, with the morning one in Waali.

As we’re finishing up, the wind starts up. It’s easy to notice, because every room in the house has louvered windows on at least one wall, and because of the heat all the louvers are open. The curtains are blowing almost horizontally, and doors start slamming around the house. In a few minutes there’s another one of those mighty thunderstorms, with lightning and thunder and torrents of rain and wind that blows the trees as though they’re dancing. I step outside to enjoy it and find Pastor Job, who’s our night watchman, sitting in the toolshed waiting for it all to stop. Not much crime out there in this downpour.

We decide to break out the 2-litre tub of vanilla Fan Ice that Simon brought by for us. With a little Milo powder or orange marmalade, or just plain, it’s a great end to an eventful day.

The rain continues until well past midnight; we fall asleep to its background music.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Bethany’s going to get her hair finished today, and there’s some sort of hot water / conditioning thing they need to do for all the girls, so they get going on that around mid-morning. Except for Lora, that is.

Lora? You ask. What’s she up to? Well, remember how the Wa RBC church assigns each visitor a “friend” for the day? Lora’s “friend” was Naomi, and now they’re well, friends. Naomi wanted to go to market with her today, so off they go. At one point Lora notices that every time she says, “Barika,” the folks get very chatty, talking very quickly in Waali. Naomi tells her that when the locals see a white person like her, they say things about her, not always complimentary, and then when they hear her say a Waali word, they assume she knew what they were saying, and they starting apologizing and “explaining” like crazy. I think that’s hilarious. And when they catch a taxi home (it looks a little like those jitneys in the Philippines), the driver does the same thing to her when she thanks him on arrival.

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I don’t know how much of that is a product of Muslim culture—a general disrespect for women—or just human nature. But I suppose being able to give the impression that you knew what they were saying is a pretty satisfying revenge.

While at the market, they run into Jojo and Carloss, who mention that they’re going to have lunch at Mummy’s Kitchen, so the two girls join them. Lora tries the fish. It’s not exactly an American presentation, but it’s good.

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Jojo and Lora arrive home around 1, just as we’re finishing up lunch of spaghetti and meat sauce. Since the group is leaving for VBS at 2 pm today instead of 3.30 (Teme is a couple hours’ drive west), everybody hustles to get everything together before departure.

I have time to do some laundry and upload some more photos to the blog—see 5/13 and 5/23-26—as well as some prep for the last class. While I’m taking care of business online, word comes of the homegoing of a respected sister and colleague, Barb Leatherwood. Prayers for the family.

Up to the chapel for the last class. They’re pretty much on time tonight—we start at 5:40—and we work through the major stylistic and thematic features of John’s Gospels: 7 discourses, 7 “I am”s, including 7 more non-predicated ones (the most well-known of which is 8.58), 7 witnesses that Jesus is the Christ, and finally the biographical structure of the book.

Just before class started Timothy came by and asked me to finish about 7.45 so we could have a little “refreshment,” so I wrap it up right on the dot and take questions for a few minutes (one of them is a request that I explain the Trinity (?!)—until Timothy comes in a few minutes later with a couple of helpers carrying boxes of goodies. He has sodas for everyone, with several kinds available. When he starts with bitter lemon, I jump on the choice; it’s my favorite soda of any kind, anywhere. Most of the sodas are malta, since it’s a local favorite. And then sandwiches. They have a sandwich press and use it a lot; they especially like white bread with chopped vegetables, pressed and toasted.

So we all celebrate completion of this phase of their education.  Pastor David, perhaps the oldest student (about my age), gives me a word of thanks on behalf of the class; Timothy gives a commercial for the college, encouraging those who’ve come in for this block opportunity to consider signing up for a full program. Then he asks me to pray, and they recite the benediction from 2Cor 13.14 together. And of course, we take pictures.

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Lord willing, I’ll see many of these folks again; I plan to return for as long as I can, and they’re pretty good about signing up when I’m here. But no doubt there are some who, through death or circumstance, won’t be able to join us in the future. May God bless their ministries, their walks with Him, their lives, their families. They’re good people.

Jonathan and David have their regular piano lesson after class, while I work online for a while. I need to get the PowerPoints to the students, and the simplest way is to email it to the class secretary (Augustine, one of this year’s graduates). But the zipped file is 49 MB, and with the upload speeds here, that takes a while. After an hour I decide I’ll try again in the morning, when there’s less competition for bandwidth.

Back at the house Simon and David and Prince are telling stories with The Crew. Several of us are more tired than usual—one is already in bed—so I announce that we’re done for the day.  Over the years I’ve learned that forcing an evening team devotions time when everyone’s exhausted isn’t typically that helpful. So some of us go to b   asdjhhoeirehghrjnv  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The girls have given me a grocery list. I’ve been holding it in case we go into town for some other purpose, but it’s been a couple of days, and I think it’s worth a walk into town. I’ve been wanting to test the knee anyway, and this seems like a good day to do it.

I ask if anyone wants to come along. The girls are all waiting for the hair ladies, who are supposed to show up any minute, and the guys are planning to go on a hike with Simon this morning, so it looks like a solo trip. I empty my backpack of everything but a frozen bottle of water, strap it on, and head out. About that time Simon arrives, and the guys aren’t quite ready yet—you know how long it takes guys to get ready in the morning—so he offers to run me into town on his motorbike and drop me off, cutting the hike in half. Let me think about that. Why, sure.

As we leave, I see the hair ladies walking toward the house. Good. Everybody has something to do.

It’s a quick 2-km ride into town, where Simon drops me off at an ATM near the market. I ask Simon if there’s a bigger grocery store in town than the little one where we typically buy our staples (did you know we eat a lot of staples in Africa?), and he says no. Carloss had told me there’s a bigger one across the street, just past the Catholic church. I see several good-sized buildings, but they all seem to be made up of little shops.

So I pick up enough cedis to get us out of town—200 for the bus baggage fees, 350 for the Accra guest house, 50 to reimburse Jojo for a tank of gas for the stove, and 200 more for today’s groceries and anything else that might come up. ATM says it can’t connect to my bank, but I try again and it works fine. A normal day of high finance in Africa.

Into the grocery store. It’s a room perhaps 500 square feet—about the size of an average kitchen or living room, or a little smaller—with wooden shelves all the way up to the 10-foot ceiling, crammed with a surprisingly broad array of stuff you might need. A girl asks you what you want, and she gets it for you, using a stick to drop the stuff off the high shelves, and catching it expertly in her hand. I give her my list. Coffee. Well, it’s Nescafe, but check. Milo (chocolate milk powder). Yep. Want the big one or the small one? The big one, of course. Dish soap. Laundry soap. Yep. Yep. Jam. Two different kinds.

I’ve saved the ones I’m most doubtful about for last. Butter? Well, Blue Band margarine, in a sealed plastic tub. Doesn’t require refrigeration until you open it. (And the butter fan in me thinks, And probably not then, either.) OK, the grand finale. Milk? I know they don’t have refrigerated milk, and I don’t see any boxes of the shelf-stable kind. She nonchalantly points to a stack of cans of evaporated milk. Theah, she says.

Wow. Got it all. I take my little plastic basket over to the counter by the front door, where the boss lady adds it all up on her calculator. 119, she says. 30 bucks. I love this country. I stuff the stuff into my backpack, smile, and say, “Barika.” Mission accomplished.

Now for the walk home. I take my time, keeping an eye out for uneven surfaces and the occasional random goat, sheep, or chicken that wanders across my path. One of the goats is a double-wide, ready to bear at any moment. No kidding. 🙂

The knee feels great. Don’t get careless, you moron.

Up the main drag past shops in repurposed shipping containers, in ramshackle wooden structures, or just under an umbrella with a chair for sitting in the shade. They’re selling everything from water sachets to HBA to sandals to dresses to upholstered furniture to rebar to motorbikes to cell phone SIM cards. Where there’s a need, there’s an opportunity, and no opportunity goes untested here. I’ve noticed that pretty much every shop has a name that ends with either “Ventures” or “Enterprises.”

Up to the roundabout (traffic circle) in front of the police station, where I feel a sense of loss. A lady named Lamin used to have a little soda stand here—just a couple of boards under a tree, really—where I would stop with the team and buy everyone a drink. Lamin has closed her shop and moved back to Accra. I’m hoping I can get in touch with her on the way out of the country. In the meantime, the corner looks naked. I’m surprised that no one else has claimed this prime spot.

Take the correct road of the 5 spiking off of the roundabout and head up the Tuma-Wa Road toward the compound. Almost home, I pop into a small drink shop. I greet the two young men inside and look over the selections. Malt soda is very popular here—I say it tastes like beer that didn’t quite make it—and I see some tonic water, but I opt for a can of Fanta orange. How much? 2.50. 65 cents. I could probably talk ‘em down, but see yesterday’s post. It’s a fair price. 2.50 it is. Want a carry bag? Nope. I smile. “Watch this.” I pull the bottle of ice out of my backpack, drink the melt water that’s accumulated, and pour the can over the chunk of ice that’s left. I place the empty can back on the counter. “Barika,” I smile.

On the road again.

It’s just a few minutes back to the compound. As I walk up to the house, I see Rachael and Sarah getting worked on—they both have quite a ways to go. The lady working on Sarah is deaf; Bethany doesn’t know sign language as such—and even if she did, the sign language here may well be different from American Sign Language—but she does know the alphabet and the sign for “thank you,” and the lady knows English, so they’re able to communicate.

It’s a nice providential touch.

I report on the grocery success, and everybody’s pleased. Coffee again. Such as it is. And clean dishes. And laundry.

Inside, Mary is hard at work creating my favorite fried chicken. I put the groceries away and try not to go mad waiting for lunch to be ready. The smell is intoxicating.

As I’m working on the blog, the city power goes out. It’s easy to tell whether it’s a city issue or something in the house, because the house has 3 different circuits, including both 110V and 220V. Any of them can run out of time and require a recharge with the special card, but when everything goes at once, it’s the city. At least the stove is gas—the chicken is not in danger. Well, the chicken herself was in extreme danger just recently, but that’s a settled issue now.

The power’s out for just a few minutes this time. Soon lunch is ready; Mary has made extra for the hair ladies, and Prince joins us as well. She’s made some “cabbage salad” (cole slaw) this time, and it’s a real treat. Because of the need to wash all the uncooked vegetables, salad of any kind is a rare thing here. The nice folks in TZ generally see to it that we have it a little more frequently. Coming soon, guys. 🙂

After lunch the team sits around the table and plans who’s doing what for VBS this afternoon. Working together has become routine now; they know each other well enough to parcel out the tasks efficiently and effectively. Meanwhile, I’m reviewing my notes for tonight’s class. Hard to believe there are just 2 more sessions left. A week from right this minute, we’ll be in Accra; a week from tomorrow we fly to Tanzania.

By VBS time Rachael’s hair is done, and the ladies have made great progress on Bethany and Sarah. We decide to keep these two home from VBS today to get them finished so the ladies don’t have to come out for another day. Our four plus the Ghanaian crew from Faith will be able to handle the VBS; Jojo and Jonathan are already assigned to handle the stories and songs.

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They take just a short drive today, to Siriyiri, 3 km west of Wa. The young people from Faith turn out in numbers to help; the bus is completely full of workers. About 150 children come to the VBS, which is a great turnout for that village. Jonathan does a Bible story on creation, and Jojo on salvation. The children seem to engage with it.

The crew has developed the practice of singing on the bus while they’re coming and going. The Faith kids take the lead in that, so the songs tend to be African. I know of few things more beautiful than Africans singing. I’m sorry I can’t be there for the experience, and I’m not surprised when the crew tells me how much they enjoy it.

Class goes well; it’s the first of two nights on the Gospel of John. We look at the overall structure, based on the seven signs referred to in 20.31. We lose power for a few minutes in the third hour, but I keep going, since I can see my notes on the laptop screen, and they can use their cell phones to see enough to write their notes. After about 20 minutes we get back to normal, with no harm done.

This group just loves to sit around and talk. We do a lot of that this evening, and Prince joins us for team devotions. I sometimes wonder what he thinks of this odd group of pale strangers. If he thinks we’re crazy, he doesn’t give any indication.