Saturday, June 8, 2013

Catherine summarizes today with an alliterated list of “p”s.

Pancakes. Will and Catherine get up early to make pancakes for the crew. We have syrup and mango chunks, and boy is that good. They even come get me, at the other end of the compound, because it’s 10 am and I’m still getting my morning studying done. Nice kids. It makes us all feel a little better about the fact that the safari has been postponed.

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Papers. Since we picked up all the photocopies from the copying service in town yesterday, we need to sort them all out and distribute them to the teachers who ordered them. Beth drops by mid-morning, and the front room of the guest house looks like a cyclone hit it, with piles of papers everywhere and people sorting stuff here and there. Many hands make, uh, chaos, actually. But eventually each of us has a stack of papers, and mine, at least, are just what I ordered—a little packet of worksheets for grammar review and reading comprehension for each of my 10 students. Perfect.

Preview. After lunch—rice and beans, surprise!—we meet with our students in the class location just for introduction and a little preview of what’s to come. I have all 10 students, both sections, together, on Beth’s porch, where we’ll be meeting every day. It’s a pretty spectacular view of the lake, and interesting-looking lizards often come sun themselves on the rocks, so I think I’ll have the kids sit back to the lake, facing the house. And I’ll face the other direction. 🙂

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Presentation. A case of Swahili Bibles has come in. The oldest students—just so happens to be my group, Standard 5, as well as a few of the older younger ones, if you know what I mean—were given an opportunity to do manual labor around the grounds to earn their own Bible, and 11 took the opportunity. Beth and Ferdinand assemble all the kids in the kibanda and place the open case on a table in the center. Beth congratulates the 11 who worked hard and earned themselves their very own Bible. In an effort to encourage them to appreciate and care for their property, they have not simply given them out; the kids had to earn them. She calls each child forward and hands him a 5,000-shilling note (about $3). The child hands the note back and receives his Bible. Dan and Beth think that the intermediate step with actual cash will help drive the point home more effectively. One by one, the 11 cradle their Bibles in their arms and return to their seats. I’m particularly excited that most of my students will now have a Bible in class.

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Peanuts. When we go over to Beth’s for supper (finally finishing up all the leftovers, and that soup really does get better every day), she has roasted some peanuts for us as a special treat. Later in the evening we get them out, salt them, and enjoy.

Popcorn. And that gets us thinking about the popcorn I bought at the market the other day. It’s pretty gnarly looking corn, but I throw it in a pot on the gas stove and pop it up. Not so much. US commercial popcorn is hybridized and selected just for poppability (think Orville Redenbacher), this is just field-grown corn that pops, and it’s of very inconsistent quality. Three times as many kernels in the pan yield about 1/10 of the usual bowl’s worth. We find a can (yes, a can) labeled “popcorn” in the cupboard, and I pop the lid on that. It’s much more uniform in size and color, a very good sign. Pops up nicely, and I add a little oregano, garlic salt, and our super-duper high-intensity salt. They like it. Wish we had some parmesan cheese, as we did in Ghana; that really completes the recipe nicely.

Peace. As we’re snacking, somebody notices that there are no gnats. None. None around the lights, none at the door. That’s a relief. Last night, as Jon was executing the routine military-style exit from the front door (“Lights out. Hand on doorknob. Ready … Go! Go! Go!” Slam.), he dropped his iPad and cracked the glass, spidey-style. And the thing still works. It’s insured, so he’ll be OK. But tonight we can leave in a much more dignified style.

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On the walk back to my room at the far end of the compound, I get out my iPod, with the Skyview app, and survey the sky. Those stars are fantastic. The heavens do, indeed, declare the glory of God. Thousands of stars, most of them larger than our sun (Betelgeuse, Orion’s hand, the size of the orbit of Mars). And Scripture describes all of that creative power and immensity with the little clause “and he made the stars also.” He is God, and there is none else.

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Dan Olinger

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

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