Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Catherine, Angel, and Will are continuing to go running at 6 every morning. Yesterday they got quite a few stares, starting with the Tumaini kids, and continuing throughout their run along the road just outside the front gate to the compound. Later in the day several of the older girls asked if they could run with them, and sure enough, at 6 am they had half a dozen or so girls waiting for them. One of them was exhausted before they even got out the gate, and the others lost their mojo just a few minutes in. At Catherine’s suggestion, Will turned the group around, and they ran back to the gate, where the girls headed to their house. When they were safely indoors, our trio resumed their run. We’ll see if anybody shows up tomorrow morning.

It was chapati and “fruit loop” chai at tea time again this morning. For reasons that I simply can’t fathom, Joslyn doesn’t like chapati, so I usually split it with anybody else who wants a little extra. I’m fairly sure there will be chapati in heaven.

We have our third and final Swahili session with Maiwe at 11:30. He’s been a very good teacher, and we’re learning a lot, and understanding as we go, but there is just so much information that we’ve reached our saturation point. I’ve got a cheat sheet of 2 sides of one sheet of paper, which I’ll print out and copy for the rest of the team today. That should help in town tomorrow. Believe it or not, I think the numbers will be the most challenging; they’re nothing like the numbers in the romance languages, and we’ll be using them all the time in bargaining at the market tomorrow, speaking as well as listening. Yikes.

Beth has been fixing lunch for us all week. She’s taken a page from Mama J’s book, and we always have a lot of leftovers. We’ve suggested that we just do a leftover lunch today. Day-old potato soup, as you all know, is much better than today’s potato soup, and the vegetable tray has stayed fresh. The vegetables here are as intense as the fruits; eating a carrot stick summons up memories of my childhood days on the farm, when we would pull a carrot out of the ground, rinse it off with the garden hose at the side of the house, and gobble it down. This is what food is supposed to taste like.

After lunch we press on with our preparations for teaching. We’ve all identified the handouts for which we’ll need copies, and we have a system for keeping it all organized; but you’d never know it to look at the living room of the guest house. Piles of books everywhere, with Post-ItTM notes sticking out everywhere, and odd-sized teaching materials scattered everywhere. By the end of the afternoon, though, we have a neat stack of photocopy masters, sorted by team member, ready to go to town for photocopies tomorrow.

During all this Beth says I’m needed over at the nurse’s office. The nurse is on vacation while we’re here, and Beth has been standing in. I mentioned that I used to be certified as an EMT, and I think she’s glad for the help. Yesterday I saw one of the older boys who had scraped several layers of skin off the ball of his foot while playing soccer. Beth had dressed it the day before, and it looked great. We just redressed it and sent him off to play. Today was a younger boy complaining of a headache, and one paracetamol seemed to do the trick. He had a similar foot wound as well that needed redressing. That was fun.

While Keri was helping Beth make the photocopy masters, one of the older boys came by. He’s quite disconnected socially; hangs around by himself, doesn’t communicate well. Keri has a special interest in special ed, and as she interacted with him, she felt she was looking at a textbook case of autism. So she went to work with him, and in 10 minutes he seemed to be making some progress. Keri’s been on a high for the rest of the day.

The girls commented yesterday that during house devotions the older girls seemed pretty disconnected. Beth suggested that our girls might have been talking too fast, so tonight they slowed down, and that helped a lot. Live and learn.

Tonight we’re out of water. The city turns the water on in the morning and afternoon so customers can fill their water tanks—the big black ones up on the roofs of the buildings. If you use yours up before the next filling, or, more likely, if the city misses a session, you run out. It’s standard operating procedure to keep a garbage-can-sized plastic bucket filled with water in the bathrooms as a backup water supply; when you use it, you refill it next time the water’s back on. Anyway, tonight we’re out, so showers will be makeshift until midday tomorrow.

We do most of our hanging around in the guest house, where the girls are staying. They have couches, a full kitchen, and American toilets. 🙂 Well, tonight the gnats are just everywhere. They’re small enough to get through the mosquito screens, so we have to close the louvered windows—which of course kills the breeze—and go in and out the front door in a choreographed operation that resembles getting in and out of an airlock on the ISS. As careful as we are, there are clouds of gnats buzzing around all 4 fluorescent lights in the front room, so Jon climbs on a table and gives the lights a good dose of bug spray. Immediately the floor is covered with dead gnats, so we sweep. Moments later, more have died, and we sweep again. And again. Soon we have a pile of dead gnats the size of my fist by the front door, and there are more buzzing around the lights, and we know when we open the front door again, it’ll all start over.


That said, I think it’s worth commenting on our general good health. We’ve had some colds, and a couple have had a day or two of, um, digestive looseness, but we’re all in very good shape. This is day 27 in Africa; the incubation period for malaria is 10 to 14 days; and we’ve have no symptoms of that, nor even any indication of food contamination (that would be nausea and vomiting). That indicates that each of us is following the protocols; we’re doing what we need to do in adopting a lifestyle that works in this part of the world. That indicates responsibility, and that’s a good thing. Now, it may all change tomorrow, but so far, so good.

We’re also benefiting from a milder climate here. It’s about 10 degrees cooler than in Ghana, and the humidity is significantly lower. We’re comfortable pretty much all the time here, whereas in Wa we were just sweating all the time.

Speaking of Wa, as I write this our colleagues are with Timothy on the overnight bus to Accra for a Friday flight to Cameroon. Our thoughts are with them.


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Dan Olinger

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

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