" Tanzania "

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Travel day. I’m awake at 6:30, clean up, post the blog, send a couple of emails. By 7.30 the guys are awake and getting their stuff together, and by 7.50 we’ve stripped the beds, straightened up, and exited our housing to take the luggage to the pickup spot at the laundry building. Several boys are waiting outside our house to carry the bags—even the ones who have been the most difficult behaviorally.

I check the girls’ house, and they’ve cleaned it up nicely. There’s a bag or two of stuff that they brought along to use here and then leave behind for someone else to use. I look in corners for anything out of place, and it all looks good.

The children are gathered in the laundry building to say good-bye. It’s less emotional than last night, fortunately; I wonder, frankly, how much of the earlier weeping is a show, or at least conformity to an expected social standard.

One of the taxi drivers called last night and said his vehicle had broken down, so Beth has pressed her own vehicle into service as the primary luggage carrier. The second taxi, a Toyota sedan, has a trunk full of bags and 4 people besides the driver; we put 4 more people in with Beth, and the 9 of us are ready to go.

Out the gate, to the calls of “Good-bye!” from the children, and down the bouncy road to Sweya, then Mwanza, then north along the lake to the airport. Traffic is heavy, but it’s mostly daladalas. At one point a motorcade comes by and waves us to the curb; we have no idea who is being transported.

At the airport without incident, check-in without incident. Because we’ve left the footlockers and some stuff for Tumaini behind, we’re traveling a lot lighter, and the excess baggage fees are just 100,000 shillings, or $50, instead of 780,000 as on the way in.

I’m really impressed with the ability of these kids to travel light. They’re in Africa for 8 weeks, in climates ranging from uncomfortably hot to uncomfortably cold, and they’re carrying less than 50 pounds each (plus carryon, of course). That’s impressive. Could you do it?

Through security twice, and into the waiting area an hour before flight time. I don’t mind the double security; in fact, I’m grateful for it anytime I’m overseas. They screen everything coming into the building—that would have stopped the Brussels airport bombing—and then again before boarding. Good for them. And I suppose I could be upset about sitting around for an hour in the waiting area, but in fact that means that we got through the check-in process an hour faster than we allowed for. So good for the local crew. This airport is quite small for the second-largest city in the country, and when it’s busy it can get pretty chaotic. Today the traffic is light, and that’s nothing to complain about.

I buy the Crew a snack at the little duka in the waiting area, a drink and a pastry if they want it. Savory samosas, sweet breakfast rolls. Makes sense to get rid of the remaining shillings.

Soon the call comes for our flight, and we realize with delight that most of the people in the waiting area are there for another flight; our relatively few people board the bus for the inevitable ride across the tarmac to the waiting turboprop, which we board at the rear. No highly energized little girl this time.

It’s less than 2 hours to Dar. Because Mwanza is not an international airport, we couldn’t check our bags to an international destination there; so we have to collect our bags at the domestic baggage claim, load them onto carts, go out into the plaza (remember, that little hallway is too narrow for the luggage carts) and then re-enter from scratch. Passing a duka in the plaza outside, I see a string of Tanzania football jerseys and call Jojo to check them out. He’ll probably want more, and we have time.

His business concluded, we queue up for the passport check and the initial screening outside the terminal. We’re through in just a few minutes, and it’s close enough to flight time that we can check in immediately.

This is our first flight with South African Airways this trip. They’ve been judged the best airline in Africa, and they appear to deserve it. We get through a paperwork check and then line up for the check-in counter to check our bags. It’s relatively slow going, but we all get through and regather for the walk upstairs to the gates. We pass first through emigration, where we find that there is only 1 departure form in the entire place; every other form is an arrival form, which of course is completely unnecessary in this part of the airport. And to complicate matters, the two forms have identical designs—black type on white card stock, with the only differences being the words “arrival” or “departure” in the title and the specific questions being asked. I fill out the 1 departure form, and everyone else fills out an arrival form, ignoring the questions that are no longer relevant, such as the address where you’re staying in Tanzania. Then through the slow lines to be approved by the agents, none of whom make any comment about the arrival form.

One more passport check before going upstairs for the second security line before entrance to the gate area. The international departures side has better shops than the domestic side, and a few of us get some small things before the flight. Then out to Gate 5 and onto our plane, where most of us say “asante” to the greeters rather than the Afrikaans “dankie.” Ah, the switch to a new language. Number 5 for this trip.

We’re seated in a cluster, about 4 rows back in coach on the right. We settle in, trading seats if we feel like it. This will be the longest leg of the trip, at more than 3 hours, and it will include a time change back an hour to 6 hours later than EDT rather than 7.

We have a meal on each flight. The Crew raves about the quality, especially of the beef cubes and mashed potatoes in white sauce, complete with a wedge of cheese to go with the crackers.

The sun sets as we’re descending into Johannesburg. Sunsets from altitude are even more impressive than they are from ground level; they cover perhaps 150 degrees of the horizon, seeming to go on forever.

Landing in Johannesburg, we step from grassland villages into a highly Westernized, developed culture. It’s completely different from what we’ve experienced before. Some team members say it looks like America; no, I tell them, it’s an African version of modern development, not simple copying of America. They’re gaining a new appreciation of the cultural, economic, and social diversity of the peoples on this great continent.

Nothing dark about it.

We have to go through immigration and customs here. The line for immigration is impossibly long, and they have far too few agents to process everybody. They shuffle us around some but don’t seem to be making any headway. Finally our agent simply starts glancing over papers and waving us through. It works out well for us, but I’m not too pleased with the significant lowering of security in the process.

Johannesburg is a very large airport. It’s a long walk to baggage carousel 7, but we get all our bags and then head for customs, the “nothing to declare” line. They mean what they say; there’s not a single desk or even lectern here for any oversight at all, just a long, empty hallway culminating in a counter where you check your bags back in to continue your journey. That line is long and slow as well, and it’s compounded by a roaming facilitator who’s trying too hard to be helpful; he ends up getting in everybody’s way and creating chaos. We’re relieved when he decides to go help some other people.

Finally upstairs to the gate area for the long walk the length of the terminal for concourse D and a final time through security. I stop at an ATM to pick up some rands—I happen to know there’s a good coffee shop on the other side of security, and we’ll have time to pause there—and then through security, up the ramp, and left to “caffe e vida.” We start something of a rush—a lot of people show up just after us—and when the counter crew realizes they have a jam, they go into overdrive, in the process putting on a show for us, calling orders, dancing through their processes, making a game of it. It’s a pleasure to watch.

After our beverages—several of the Crew get frios, not having been outside long enough to realize that it’s winter now—we have just enough time to walk down the concourse to gate D5 and board. Perfect.

This flight is just 2 hours or so, with another meal, just as good. The Crew is really impressed. But we’re also about out of energy for the day. We land at Cape Town just after 11 pm, which is midnight in our heads, which are still back in the Mwanza time zone. Baggage claim doesn’t take long, but we have our first real problem of the day: Beth’s single piece of luggage isn’t here. Seems impossible; we all rechecked our bags in Joburg together, and she was in the middle of the pack. How would that one piece get separated from the others? To make matters worse, it’s late, we’re tired, we still need to pick up our rental car and drive to the house and get moved in. Who has time for this?

But no bag. We file the form and head out to the street. Walk a block across the plaza to the car rental strip mall, find Budget, go through the paperwork to get the vehicle. The agent announces, with some pride, that this one has an automatic transmission. I’ve never seen another one here; I’ve always driven a standard, which requires some concentration because you’re sitting on the right side of the vehicle, shifting with your left hand, and driving on the “wrong” side of the road. This will greatly simplify the number of variables to process while driving.

Sign Beth on as the second driver, just in case. Twenty bucks for the additional driver for 2 weeks. No-brainer. Rent a GPS—you’d be crazy to drive here without it—and then roll our carts to the far corner of the Budget lot to our minibus, as they call it.

The website said it was a 10-passenger vehicle. We have 9 people. It has 9 seats—really 8, but it squeezes a 9th seat in front, crowding the driver and with virtually no legroom between the seat and the dashboard. So, 8.5 seats for 9 people. I’m not happy, but they don’t have a larger vehicle, and it’s The Next Day. Let’s just go home.

Fire up the GPS and exit the airport. One brief moment of confusion about which side of the road we should be on—oncoming headlights will straighten out your thinking in a hurry—and then onto the N-2 (interstate) and out to Kuilsrivier in less than 15 minutes. Not much traffic this time of night.

We arrive at the guest-house office—I’ve already apologized to owner Linda Otto for the late arrival—and she graciously gets us moved in, the 6 girls into one of the houses and the 3 guys into a 3-bedroom, 2-bath collective on the first floor of the main building. We’ll all be very comfortable, though a bit chilly; it’s 50 degrees when we land, and they don’t heat their houses.

Tell the kids to be ready to go at 8:30 am—that’s about 6 hours away—and head for bed. Sure hope Beth’s stuff shows up.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The whole team takes the children who want to go on hikes this morning—boys to the 2nd ridge east of the compound, girls to the 1st. They arrive back at home with the scratches to prove it. A delightful time, it appears.

For chai we have our last chapati of the trip. The Crew is spending as much time with the children as possible. The children have a tendency to be maudlin when we’re leaving, and we try not to exponentiate that, but we do share in their sorrow.

Something to think about is that the lives of these children consist of a long series of visits from friendly people, with whom they become friends, and who then leave and almost never come back. That’s a hard way to grow up. Some come back; I do, but I’m old and don’t count. Sarah did this year. And folks from other places occasionally do a repeat visit as well. But for the most part they never see their friends again; they know them only through the photos of good times posted on the walls around the place. We remind them that we will certainly see one another again eventually, but that makes the farewells feel even more like funerals. And imagine the pain if we promise to write and then don’t. That’s something I’ll be harping on with the team in the days to come.

At 11:30 we announce the team scores—Rachel’s and Jonathan’s teams have tied for first—and then gather on the steps of the big house for the official photo with Tumaini staff and children and the team. I remind them that this is the photo they’ll have posted on the wall of their house to look at in future years; I hope that will discourage them from covering their faces or being otherwise uncooperative as a few of them do in pictures.

At noon the pikipikis show up to take 6 of us into town (all but Sarah). Some want Tanzanian football jerseys, and some want kangas (wrap-around skirts, usually with Swahili sayings on them), and I just go along because, well, I’m supposed to be responsible for this gang. I negotiate a price of 2000 shillings and pay them 3 at Sweya, mostly because it’s too much trouble to make change. There’s a daladala waiting, so in we pile, and we all get seats. About a kilometer down the road a nun gets on, and I offer her my seat, but she won’t take it. I’m not sure whether to argue or not; cultures are tricky. I am older than she is, and age is important here, and there are younger men on the daladala, so I don’t prolong the argument. She gets off not far down the road anyway.

At the destination we hit ATMs in preparation for transactions in the market. Jojo’s waiting outside the bank, leaning against the wall, when an official-looking gentlemen comes up and greets him in Swahili. Jojo replies with the typical response. The man asks, “Where are your parents?” When Jojo tells us that, we all crack up. The kid has a beard, for crying out loud. Well, sort of.

A block down the road is a chicken place that’s been recommended to us. It’s called Kuku Poa, or “Cool Chicken.” I tell the crew that it would be better translated “Groovy Chicken”; “cool” could refer to temperature, and who wants cool chicken? Anyway, we all order fried chicken of one kind or another, except Lora, who gets a pizza. They put something in the mix—nutmeg, I think—that makes it taste different from the fried chicken we’re used to. With our drinks they bring cups of ice. I note that we don’t know what kind of water the ice comes from, and the kids look disappointed. Look, you’re adults. You can make your own decisions. The restaurant probably has the good sense to make the ice from filtered water. But we don’t know that.

Four of them opt to use the ice. We’ll see how that turns out.

Down the street to the market, which is chaotic in the seductive way that markets in developing countries typically are. It doesn’t take long to find some dukas that sell kangas, and there are football jerseys nearby, so the negotiating commences. Two of the girls buy a couple of kangas each, and Jojo and two of the girls buy jerseys.

Mission accomplished. A block over to Nyerere Road, then left a couple of blocks to the fish fountain. Board the daladala to Sweya—we all get seats again—and off we go. We’re getting so this is routine. Pikipikis for 2000 each. I tell my driver that I want us to go last so I can be behind any problems that might occur. He nods and then takes off, passing everybody else while blowing a siren he got from somewhere. Those second languages can be tricky.

Back at Tumaini, the children coming running to greet us. We told them we’d try to be back by 4; it’s 3.15, so we’ll have some extra time together. Some of them are born manipulators; they’ll remind you that you left them to go into town, on the last day, and push the point for sympathy or other concessions.

A little before 6 we do a team tradition; Beth, Rachelle, and the team (and 2 of the dogs) walk over to the Faulu Beach Resort next door and up to the little café at the top of the hill to have a soda and enjoy the view of the lake. It’s our traditional way of celebrating the completion of the work here. (Don’t get too excited about the name; there’s neither a beach nor a resort, really; just a rentable house in the grassy field and the little snack place on the hill.)

Back to Tumaini for supper, where the cooks have prepared us another nice tilapia, this time braised with the delicious red sauce they make nearly every day. Spectacular.

And then the part we haven’t really been looking forward to; the children gather in the kibanda to sing several songs in farewell, and then we form a line and say good-bye to each of them. Some children act peremptory as a sort of emotional shield; many of the girls cry into their shirts and can’t look us in the eye or say anything much. We say our good-byes and then escort the children to the 2 houses for house devotions. Jojo shares a few thoughts in farewell, and we sing. To my surprise, the boys sing well, joyously.

Afterwards the team gathers on Beth’s porch and we talk about the move to Cape Town. I talk about the obvious changes, climate and modernization being the most obvious, and we go over the schedule, consisting mostly of VBSes and local church services. Then I address the security issues brought by the terrorism warning, and we put some protocols in place that will minimize the risk.

I should add here that I have communicated to the parents my risk assessment—I believe the risk to be acceptably low—and they have agreed with my thinking. (We’ll be modifying our activities in several ways that I believe will make the likelihood of being exposed to a problem extremely low. For starters, terrorists tend not to attack poor neighborhoods.) We will not be communicating our specific plans ahead of time here on the blog or in personal correspondence. Of course we would appreciate your prayers for safety.

Packing and house cleanup into the night. Phase 2, in Tanzania, is now complete, and again the team has performed well.

The kids are all right.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Last day of camp. Nothing until chai, but we have some planning and finalizing to do for the skits this afternoon. Bethany, fortunately, is an organizer, and she’s taking care of cast and prop lists and all those things you have to think about ahead of time.

We announce the temporary point totals at chai. Jonathan’s team is ahead at this point, by quite a bit, but mostly on the strength of Bible memory verses, so we exhort the other teams to be diligent and catch up.

At 11 we send them out for God and I Time, with some reading on Daniel’s character in chapters 1 and 2. Today we do it as teams, both to build team unity and to ensure that they’re using the time effectively.

They have their staff Bible time at noon; we do a review of plans for the skits, and some of the girls continue a project for sherehe that they’ve been working on for quite a while: photo-collage posters for each year of Tumaini’s existence. They’ve hand-lettered the year numbers with African animals worked in (think old illuminated manuscripts, but in more of a cartoon style), and they’re coming together pretty well.

Lunch is stuffed tortillas (remember, we don’t say the other T-word around here) and good fellowship. Yesterday we fellowshipped a little too much and started game time 30 minutes late, so we pay better attention today so we don’t keep the children waiting for what they consider the highlight of their day.

We start with a scavenger hunt. Five of the, um, more mature folks—me, Beth, Rachelle, Abeli, and one of the mamas—have Zip-locTM bags containing 5 very large jigsaw puzzle pieces and a task to accomplish. We position ourselves around the compound, and the teams run to us in any order they like, complete the task (mine is saying the alphabet backwards), and receive a puzzle piece. When they’ve been to all 5 locations, they run to the kibanda and try to be the first team to turn in their pieces. Jonathan’s team wins, pretty much by a landslide. Their technique is to follow the shortest route, which in this case means they don’t have to wait while some other team ahead of them struggles to complete their task at a given location.

The second game is Trash Pickup. Seriously. They pick up trash around the compound and bring it to their team captain. The bucket with the heaviest trash wins. To my surprise, the children really get into it. I’d be thinking, “This is the most exploitative alleged ‘game’ I’ve ever heard of!” But boy do they clean up the trash.

We take a little break before Fun Time, for which we have 4 skits scheduled. Some of the children who are in the church choir need to leave to go to the evangelistic services that are being held in Shadi this week.

Our first skit is “The Doctor,” which we do every year and the children always love. I’m a patient in the doctor’s waiting room, and each team member comes in with a visible malady of some sort: Sara is scratching, Jonathan is hiccupping, Rachael is sneezing, Bethany is seizing, Jojo is vomiting, and Lora is visibly pregnant (thanks to a convenient watermelon). As each patient comes in, I add his symptoms to my collection, and when the pregnant lady comes in I run out screaming. As I’ve said, the kids always think it’s funny, even though they know what’s going to happen.

Skit 2 is “Beeping Sleauty,” which I tell and the Crew acts out. It was a last-minute replacement for one involving 2 kings insulting each other; this morning we decided a skit encouraging insults might not be a good idea. I’m wondering whether the children will be able to make any sense out of the spoonerisms—English is their second language, after all. My hunch is that they don’t understand what I’m saying very well, but they do laugh at the Crew’s acting.

Skit 3 is the old Ball Identification game, where a contestant is told to lift the cover off an item on the table and identify it, and the rest of the series, as quickly as possible. It’s a setup; the third “ball” is a team member, and when the contestant uncovers the head, its owner screams, terrifying the poor child. This is called fun. Jonathan is slated to be the head, but we find out during setup that he can’t fit under the table, so Lora steps in. For some reason we decided to use plastic buckets as covers instead of the usual towels. The third contestant, one of the older girls, panics when Lora screams and throws the bucket back at her, opening a wound on the bridge of her nose. So Lora steps out for a little first aid (and the girl feels terrible), and I step in for a couple more contestants. No long-term damage, but now we know why they usually use towels instead of buckets.

Skit 4 is the bit where 1 person stands behind a second and #1’s arms become #2’s arms, so #2 looks like a tiny person. Jojo and Lora (complete with Band-AidTM on nose) are the two front people, and Jonathan and Lora respectively are behind the curtain providing the arms. The two wake up in the morning, wash their faces, brush their teeth, Jojo shaves, and they eat some mush for breakfast. It gets pretty messy by the end, since the people in the back can’t see what their arms are doing out in front of the curtain. The children love it.

Time to hang out together until supper, our last taste of ugali for this trip. Then house devotions, where Jojo decides to have a singspiration, and the boys outdo themselves in singing in both Swahili and English. It’s a great time.

After team devotions we spend time watching videos of the skits. It’s fun to see all the things you didn’t notice at the time.

Tomorrow is good-bye day; we’ll remind ourselves of that in several ways throughout the day. Tonight we pray for grace, and for faith in God’s providence to take the seeds we’ve planted in this very brief time and use them to bear fruit in the years ahead.

 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sleeping in is a wonderful thing—provided the roosters and the children will allow it. The roosters do their thing as usual, and one of the children is at the window next to the bunk pestering Jonathan to come out and play. Jonathan says something to the effect of “MMfrpghsyttttt.”

Shortly after I arrive at the house they bring one of the boys by. He fell out of bed this morning, landing on the back of his head on the concrete floor. He’s got a bump about 2 inches in diameter and protruding an inch from his scalp. Must have been quite a landing. Mama Nursi is off compound, having taken another child to the hospital for a regularly scheduled checkup, so it’s up to me and Sarah, EMTs with not a whole lot of experience. No laceration, so no external bleeding. He knows who he is, but not what day it is—but then, most kids here don’t know what day it is. In the States we always ask who the President of the US is, but that doesn’t seem useful here either. I grab my cell phone and use the flashlight to check pupillary response, and for the first time my life, I’m looking at eyes that are so dark I can’t clearly distinguish the pupil from the iris. After several attempts I’m pretty sure I see contraction, so that’s good. I ask him if he feels nauseated; he doesn’t know the word. I mimic vomiting; he understands and says no. Dizzy? Eh? So I pretend to be dizzy. Nope, that’s not a problem. Just the head hurts. All we have for pain is extra strength acetaminophen, which is too strong a dose for someone his age.

So what would you do? Either he’s fine—maybe a mild concussion—or perhaps there’s intracranial hemorrhage. If we take him to the hospital, it’s unlikely they could do anything for the latter—if they even have the equipment to detect it—and it’s equally likely that he’d pick up staph or something else there. So we tell him no games; stay in the kibanda with the mamas and rest. We watch him throughout the day, and he seems to be returning to normal.

Beth has arranged for some local artisans to come by and set up a little craft fair for us. In years past there’s been a big one downtown at the yacht club, but for some reason we didn’t get a shot at it this time, so we’re having our own. I’m a little nervous—I hope our kids can buy enough to make it worthwhile for these folks to bring their wares out to show.

During chai Rachelle tells us that the artisans are here, setting up on Beth’s porch. We go down to take a look. There are wood carvings, baskets, paintings, hand-drawn stationery, fabrics, fabric bags, drums, knives, and other miscellaneous stuff. Jojo sees the drums and buys two immediately. That was easy to predict. Everybody buys a respectable amount, and I even buy some things, which is unusual for me. There’s a hand-carved wooden globe—I’m a sucker for geography—and some nice wall hangings for the office. It appears that the vendors consider the sales volume worthwhile for the trip, so I’m relieved.

Back up the hill to the kibanda, where we blow the air horn to call the children together for “God and I Time.” Sarah, the house inspector for camp, says everyone’s done very well with chores, so the points system is off to a flying start. Now the Crew shepherd them through personal devotions—the older kids are on their own in the assigned passage, and the little ones are in groups with team members.

Lunch is baked potatoes ‘n’ fixin’s—as American as apple pie.

To begin game time—we’re a little late, delayed by cleanup after lunch—we introduce the 5 teams (for the 5 Olympic rings) and their captains. Then it’s on to the competition, for the glory of sport. Today’s competition is “The Cat in the Hat,” which is basically a variant on Musical Chairs, so we send all the children off to get chairs and bring them to the football field. That goes surprisingly well. We set up 2 circles, one for older children, and one for younger (so the little ones won’t get massacred during the scramble for seats). Sarah reads the story, and chaos—the good kind—ensues. We play for nearly an hour, with no serious injuries, and nothing major to complain about.

There’s free time until supper, which we encourage the children to use to work on their memory verses, which many do. Supper is rice and beans—bet you saw that coming—with pineapple and a special treat, mango.

Just before supper Jojo heads down to Beth’s porch. His grandfather’s graveside service is at 11 am in New Jersey, which is 6 pm here. We’ve arranged to clear the internet access of all other traffic so he can do a video chat with those who are there. The connection works well, and he is able to talk to several relatives as well as read Scripture during the brief service. It’s remarkable that he’s able to do that from all the way over here. And it helps to ease the pain of being here when he’d much rather be there.

After team devotions we spend a couple hours finalizing plans for tomorrow’s skits; we’re going to have a “fun time” after the game time. A couple of the skits the children have seen before from earlier teams, but we know that they’ll enjoy it just as much a third or even fourth time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The alarm rooster is particularly feisty this morning. Sometimes I wonder what they think they’re accomplishing. Fine, greet the morning, announce your existence and personal pride. But you’re saying the same thing over and over, dude. What, is your brain the size of a pea or something?

The equinox is about now; it’s on either the 20th or the 21st, depending on where on the planet you happen to be at the moment. (Theological footnote: has it ever occurred to you that at any given time, it’s 2 different days on portions of the earth? Except for the split second at noon Greenwich. If for no other reason, that’s why we shouldn’t try to predict the day Christ will return. It’s a hopeless cause.) Here near the equator the equinox makes very little difference; the days are of nearly equal length all year long. It’s just you more polar tribes who are affected by it.

The house is buzzing when I arrive—or more accurately, the people in the house are buzzing. (I suppose that if the house were buzzing, we’d need to investigate.) They’re ready for their last day of classes. I ask, “Remember how you felt on the last day of classes at BJU in April? Well, that’s how your kids feel today.” Fortunately, our expectations are reasonable—just engage them with something. Worst case, turn ‘em loose and let ‘em play football.

All the shower boys are in class on time; Abeli, Ferdinand’s assistant, and I shut down the shower rooms in both houses. After rounds I do the dishes and then some writing. I packed all my stuff this morning and moved it to the other apartment; now it’s just a case of waiting for a third bed to show up.

Chai is chapati. I’m gonna miss that fat tortilla.

Second session is spotty, but we get through it. Done with tutoring.

Lunch is a good chicken soup, with chapati chips and salsa, and fresh papaya. We run the day camp plans by Beth and Rachelle, and they all look good, with a small exception. We were planning to take the children down to the incinerator after house devotions tonight for the lighting of the Olympic Trash—we thought it would look better after dark—but Matt suggested that it might tend to misimpression, especially in the village when they heard a lot of noise coming out of the compound after dark. Apparently nothing good happens after dark here. So we’ll do it right after supper, at dusk, before house devotions, and we’ll explain what we’re doing. That’ll work.

They’ve moved a bed into the guys’ apartment for me. I get it set up and made, and I’m officially moved in for the last 4 nights. Living with a couple of college guys. Again. After all these years. The sacrifices I make for the Kingdom.

Jonathan has his last choir practice with the children, and they sound pretty good to me, though he says their hearts really aren’t in it. Now they need to keep the songs in their heads until sherehe in August. All of the sherehe groups have something to show for their efforts; The Crew has done well at getting them organized and reasonably productive. There’s cross-stitch, and pillows, and drawings, and of course the choir. It’s all good.

Jonathan has a little vocabulary mishap with the children. He tells them to go somewhere (toka), but he gets the vowels switched (tako). There’s that word for buttocks again. The children think it’s very funny.

It’s been cloudy and cool all day. This is the dry season, as it always is when the team is here, and I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve seen it rain here in my 4 visits. The locals aren’t hopeful; it can look for all the world like it’s going to rain, and then just not do it. But at 5:30 there are actual drops, and by 6 we have a bona fide rainstorm. A little girl from Shadi gets caught by it just outside our gate, and we welcome her into the kibanda to get some shelter. She speaks no English, but Lora has one of the girls translate for her and assures her she’s welcome to stay dry with us and watch the rain.

Supper is always served in the Big House, but hardly anybody eats in there; we traditionally pick up our food and then go out to the kibanda. But tonight it’s too rainy, and we crowd into the Big House. There’s a Disney video of Robin Hood playing, and the children are surprised that I know the songs: “Robin Hood and Little John, walkin’ through the forest …” I have fond memories of singing those songs with my children, back in the Dark Ages, when Robin Hood was current events.

So the Big House is crowded, and festive, and chaotic, and joyous. It’s a nice change to the typical supper routine, as enjoyable as that is.

Looks like our Olympic Bucket of Trash Lighting Ceremony is kaput, though.

We decide to have house devotions right in the Big House, all the children together, to give the rain a chance to stop. The children sing boisterously, and the acoustics make it sound even better than it is. Jojo shares the gospel story, and 2 of the children pray with Jojo closing.

Then we announce that the next 2 days will be The Tumaini Olympics. We’ll announce the specific teams tomorrow, but for now we tell them how they can get points, and they’re pretty excited.

And the best part of it all is that nothing starts until after chai at 10 am. What a great schedule.

After team devotions we work out some final details and do some thinking about skits for a Fun Time to close camp Thursday afternoon. I think this crew can do a fine job.

It’s after 10 when we finish. I suggest an IHOP run, and everybody groans.

Dad jokes.