Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Well, it starts out like yesterday. Breakfast is served at 9; following our newly developed OATMPCRC (Official Africa Team Meal Prep and Cleanup Rotation Chart), Ellie and Abbie serve French toast, which is crisp, golden and delicious. (We have cooking oil now.) Somebody cuts up several oranges to give a little variety.

During the meal we start talking about the powdered milk in the pantry, and Joy mixes some up. Several of the team members try it and find it, um, odd. We add some Nesquik, which I picked up in Accra, and find it better, but not good. Really lacks the mouth feel of good fresh milk—you know, the kind with actual fat in it. They may use a bit of it to moisten their oatmeal of muesli, but probably as little as possible.

Jon, Katie and Heather are on dish detail.

Most of the rest of the morning I spent at Wifi Central, letting team members send email, upload photos, and do other kinds of Internet stuff.

Catherine and Ellie turn out a bunch of grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch—more than enough for two for everybody, so that’s somewhere north of 30. I think we’re on a crisp, golden and delicious meal theme today. Will and I do the dishes, and Auria cleans up the table and the kitchen. This meal rotation is working well.

We leave for VBS about a half hour later than yesterday. I have a hunch that if we had VBS at the same location every day for a week, Friday’s VBS would be 3 hours later than Monday’s. Again we pick up Gabriel, Simon, Janet and two other college students. Several of us think Gabriel and Janet have a thing going, but we’re not sure; Ghanaian social customs seem to be more reserved than in the U.S.

Good.

We go right by the church on the way to the village, and we consider picking up the big ball that was recently donated from the States, but we decide it would probably kill a number of kids, and that’s not a good way to open the door for future local church ministry in any new location. About 15 minutes later we’re in Gbacha, as the village calls itself. To me it sounds as though the initial G is silent, but the locals claim it makes some difference in the pronunciation. As the bus drives up, here come the kids. We lead them out to the field, initially a smaller group than yesterday’s, but over the next 20 to 30 minutes people stream in from 4 or 5 different directions, and by the end of the day the crowd’s noticeably larger than yesterday’s. Our Ghanaian co-workers try out some new games on the kids, which are well received. Heather tells the Bible story to the younger kids, and Catherine to the older.

[Sidebar: on reading over yesterday’s episode this morning, I realize that I totally mangled the organization and schedule of the VBS yesterday, to the point that it probably made no sense at all. I’ve edited yesterday’s account so that it’s accurate now.]

Today you can tell that the village is used to us; the parents come right out onto the field, right up next to the games, to get a close look at their children’s competition.

While I’m trying to get shots of individual team members in action, I notice a girl, maybe around 4, carrying her 18-month-old (?) sister in a sling on her back. I ask the 4-year-old if I can take her photo; she smiles and says yes, and turns slightly so I can get a good shot of the baby. Who immediately starts screaming bloody murder. White guy in dark glasses. What was I thinking?

For the last activity, the team does the “doctor skit,” in which various people with visibly noticeable conditions (sneezing, coughing, itching, etc.) enter a doctor’s waiting room, and a male patient there collects all their symptoms, then runs out screaming when a pregnant woman enters. It’s perfect for situations with a language barrier, because there are no spoken lines; it’s all physical humor. Joy is the receptionist, Robert is the male patient; Heather has the hiccups, Jon sneezes, Auria is itchy, Jordan brings down the house with St. Vitus’ dance, and Catherine is the pregnant lady. The crowd laughs all the way through.

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At the end Timothy says a few words to the sizeable crowd, noting that we’re with the folks who are holding church services on Sundays over in the classroom and who are constructing a church building just down the road. He invites them all to come, and he invites the church planter to close in prayer. He finishes to a chorus of amens.

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As we come through Wa on the way back, Timothy asks if we’d like to take a quick look at the market. Absolutely. Fourteen white team members nonchalantly and unnoticeably (?) saunter through the crowded market, passing stalls filled with dried fish, produce (including huge piles of yams and an inordinate number of vendors of okra), sunglasses, chewing gum, round balls of soap, and miscellaneous other items. We’re looking forward to coming back with some cedis.

As we arrive home, Mama J produces dinner—a huge pot of rice, with bean stew in another container, and beef chunks and green peppers in a third. And some fried plantains. And some muffins, for breakfast. Oh, and by the way, there’s ice cream in the chest freezer. There’s enough of the rice and beans for lunch tomorrow. When I tell her that she’s circumventing our agreement by preparing so much for supper that we won’t have to fix anything for the next day’s lunch, she smiles and doesn’t deny it.

We decide to save the ice cream for after devotions.

Abbie, Jordan and Ellie are on cleanup duty; the rest of us relax until they’re done and then gather for team devotions—singing, testimonies, prayer. We pray for friends, two families, who have lost sons this week. I decide to start the series I regularly use with teams, on the elements of salvation in Ephesians 1. It’s helpful, I think, for us to be reminded regularly that salvation is not just one gift, but many—and what those gifts are.

Ice cream. Very strongly vanilla, cold and creamy. After the experiment with powdered milk this morning, this is welcome. I write the journal while the crew plays games in the living room. It’s a good location for general socializing; you can get a circle of 14 in there pretty easily. Right now they’re playing something called “Crossed or Uncrossed.” I’m clueless.

I think I’ll take a little walk and upload.

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Dan Olinger

Chair, Division of Bible in the BJU School of Religion.

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