Monday, June 10, 2013

As usual, I wake up to the sound of the older boys getting ready in their dorm outside my room. They’re a boisterous bunch, but that’s fine with me. I love how they’re organized and understand their schedules; they bathe, clean up the shower and toilet area, launder their own skivvies, and do some chores outside, all before their first tutoring session.

Due to the vagaries of scheduling, my Standard 5 kids don’t meet with me until 9; Maiwe has started them, however, at 7 am. I have a 1-hour grammar lesson with the boys and then one with the girls, with a chai break in between. During the break all of us teachers get together and compare notes. Keri has had a discouraging session with her 2 special needs kids, and when I remind her that it’s common to start slowly in special ed, I know I’m not telling her anything she doesn’t already know. Abbie has had to cover the coffee table around which her Standard 2 kids are gathered, because they keep looking at the interesting stuff underneath. So she grabs a sheet from the bedroom and wraps the table. Improvise, people, improvise! We all knew there would be some burps on the first day, and we seem to be finding solutions and fine tuning the system as we need to. Jon may have the toughest job; he’s teaching Standard 3 in the kibanda, which is essentially like performing in the round, with really interesting distractions in every direction. Keeping them on task is a challenge.

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After our 10:30 session we have “God & I Time,” and I take my 5 Standard 5 boys and show them how to have simple devotions and write down simple applications. Joslyn takes the Standard 5 girls to help me out.

At noon Ferdinand takes them all to the kibanda for a Bible lesson, which, from a distance, sounds more like a full-throttled stemwinder of a sermon. We all try to get some things done for the afternoon sessions; in my case, that means taking a nap.

We have lunch with Dan & Jana’s family on their porch. The excitement today is that Matt and Laura Gass, their coworkers, are back from 4 weeks at language school, and we get to meet them for the first time. They’re Maranatha grads who seem to be adapting well, and Dan, who is wildly over-scheduled,  is enjoying the help already.

Two sessions after lunch, at 1 and 2, and then an hour of games overseen by Jon and Will. It’s really nice to have several kids on the team who have camp experience, with the wealth of game ideas, and the experience executing them, that camp provides. They try kickball, which is a bit of a challenge, because the kids here don’t know about baseball. As Jon says, “They don’t get the whole base thing.”

Beth has asked us to take the 5:00 time to spend a few minutes reading with each of our students. My 10 students will take me just exactly the 10 days we’re tutoring. I ask the one with the lowest standardized test scores to read with me today, and he picks Beatrix Potter’s “Peter Rabbit.” To my surprise, he does quite well, though I see some mispronunciations and of course some difficulty with the archaic words. I ask him some comprehension questions, and he seems to be getting it. He reads the first half of the story, and then I read the second half to him, with what I assume is expression. 🙂 We’re done in less than 15 minutes, and he seems to enjoy it. If this is the one who’s struggling most, my group will be fine.

As we’re eating our usual rice and beans with the children for supper, I comment that I actually like them, even though we have them pretty much all the time. Somebody else comments that because different people do the cooking, they actually taste different from night to night. Yep, we’re acclimated.

For evening house devotions I’ve been going to the older boys’ house every night. Tonight I decide to go to the younger kids’ meeting. Angel begins the story of Gideon and teaches them a song about him. She does fine. But as I’m sitting in the midst of the squirrelly bunch, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that God has called me to teach college. And seminary. I love how this team just thrives on what they’re doing; they’re enjoying working with these small children and seeing them make a little bit of progress every day. Some of the local leadership has expressed to us how much has been accomplished just this first day of teaching. That speaks well of our kids, of course, and of course it directs our thinking to the One who has prepared and orchestrated it all.

For the last few nights of devotions, without our really planning to, we’ve been praying more. I take that as a good sign—of recognized need, of gratitude, of dependence.

We’re all more tired than usual, and we realize that the next two weeks are going to be a challenge, since we have steady, full schedules every day for the duration of our time at Tumaini. It’s a good tired, as one of us prayed tonight, but it’s a tired nonetheless.

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Dan Olinger

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

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