Friday, June 21, 2013

First day of winter. Last day at Tumaini. There’s gonna be a lot of cryin’ today.

Our last class of the session starts the morning. I decide to have an ICT session, not because they need one, but because they really want to do stuff on the computer. I decide to be a bum by doing serious stuff; I show them Word and Excel, and we make a little budget. Then I show them my iPod (thanks to my Sunday school class!) and we look at a bunch of the apps. Their favorite is the drum set inside Appzilla, and they play all kinds of disjointed rhythms on it. I also briefly introduce them to a game, but before we play very long, it’s time for chai—chapati and chai this time. Everything we do today, someone says, “Well, last time we do this.”

We have a special game time after chai instead of the usual second class. It’s Tic-Tac-Challenge, and for a few minutes it looks as though it’s going to be absolute chaos. But before long they get the hang of it, and there’s a spirited competition. To no one’s surprise, however, Blue wins the game, making the whole week of competition pretty much a rout.

Lunch is ugali and a few chunks of beef. “Last time we have ugali ….”

Free time in the afternoon; some of the team is worn out from the game and take naps. I’m one of them. As a consequence, I have no idea what the others do.

We gather at 4 for a hike to the top of the hill on the next property, where there’s a beautiful view of the lake. There’s also a sort of an outdoor bar / nightclub up there, which keeps us awake most nights. We stop in to the cabana, sit in the shade drinking soda, and treasure the beauty of the lake and the land surrounding Tumaini. It’s nice to get a better idea of how it’s all laid out. We take a lot of photos, including the ritual jumps, and then walk back to the home for the official goodbye ceremony.

We gather in the kibanda with the children, and Ferdinand says the official goodbyes. Several of the kids cry through his whole speech, their faces buried in their hands. He gives us each a packet of thank-you notes written by the students in our respective classes, and a gift from Maiwe and Jenny, his wife, neither of whom could be there. It’s a length of cloth, ready to be a conga for the girls or the makings of a shirt for the guys. This is a sacrificial gift, and we’re all aware that we owe him, as our Swahili teacher, a lot more than he owes us—if anything. We line up for the handshaking, as they do after church. Even more of the kids are crying. This stinks. 🙂 It’s the little boys who will break your heart.

Laura fixes supper for us—drip beef (that’s pulled pot roast au jus, served on fresh baked rolls), potatoes au gratin, candied carrots, watermelon, and some gorgeous brownies for dessert. To paraphrase Robert from earlier on the trip, “When you’re leaving in a few days, your mother makes really good stuff.”

House devotions run a little longer than usual; we’re not in a hurry to leave, and there’s a lot of picture-taking and wrestling with the boys.

Back at the girls’ house, we eventually gather for devotions. Beth is hanging out with us tonight. Good. We sing, share testimonies, and pray together. We know we’ve learned a lot, but from experience I know that we’ll realize even more things that we’ve learned as we have time to process it all.

After devos we have a frenzy of cleaning, organizing, and packing to see through to the end. I tell the team there will be room inspection at 6 am. You’re in the army now …

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Dan Olinger

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

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