Wednesday, 5/28/14

Our rooster goes off at 5, right on schedule. I doze until 8, and Asher hits his snooze button about 14 times; he tells me he remembers only the first time. I would think a person would remember only the last one, but to each his own.

We have a fairly serious water problem. We’re fine for drinking water—we could actually drink more than we are and have neither a supply problem nor a budget problem. But non-potable water, which we use for bathing, flushing, washing dishes, and similar tasks, is about gone. I’ve mentioned that we have 12,000 liters of storage, which is fed by the city water supply. They’ve been working on it, and until now there’s been a slow but steady feed from the city, and we typically get enough overnight to let us squeak through the next day. But it appears that we didn’t get any last night, and we’re going to wipe it out today. We’re at the end of the rainy season, so we can’t expect any substantial amount in the rainwater collection system for the next few months. I decide to skip my morning shower to contribute to the effort, and I ask Asher to tell me if that turns out to have been a mistake.

Chai this morning is chapati and Fruit Loop tea. One of us is gluten sensitive, so we have some uji for him/her in place of the chai. Then it’s our last orientation meeting with Beth and our last Swahili lesson from Maiwe. We cover imperatives and possessives today, and it’s more complicated than it sounds. In English, we have a different possessive pronoun for each person and number—my, our, your, y’all’s :-), his, their. Swahili does the same, but the form also changes depending on whether the thing possessed is singular or plural; so, for example, you might say “my book,” but you’d have a completely different word in place of “my” if you’re dealing with books as plural. And there are several different noun classes, with different possessive forms; so you might say “my book,” “xxx books,” “yyy banana,” “and “zzz bananas.” All to say the idea of “my.” So that stretches our minds some.

Lunch with the missionaries is couscous and veggies, with pineapple that we provide. We sit around the table for quite a while afterwards, getting more advice and stories from Beth. I knew this before, but I’m impressed again with how much work hosting a team is. There’s all the logistical stuff—where they’ll sleep, what they’ll eat, how much TP they’ll need—but there’s all the teaching too: cultural education they’ll need in order to serve effectively and without offense. And the truth is that most team members will need that information for only a few weeks and probably will never return to this specific culture. Even so, the rewards of serving effectively even for the duration of the trip are worth the effort, and occasionally there’s the long-term payoff: somebody senses a call to return, and he does. But the people doing the hard work now don’t know if or when that will happen, and if it does, who will be affected.

This is the last day for the tutors to get their supplies together for duplication, so they spend the afternoon doing that. I finally get a chance to try an internet access method. Karen has a smartphone with mobile hotspot capability, and we give it a try. It actually works, though the bandwidth is narrow and the speed consequently slow. It takes all afternoon, but I succeed in getting all of the blog posts up (I haven’t posted anything until now), though without any pictures and without several links. I effectively lose the connection before I can email the parents what I’ve done, but I do succeed in answering one email from my wife and sending a couple other brief ones. Since I’m going into town with half the team tomorrow, I hope to get a fast connection there for an hour or two. Might even post some pictures.

I’m sad to report that I have one of my increasingly regular stupid moments in the afternoon. As I mentioned before, we have 220V power in the house. There’s a double outlet in the sitting area that several of us use to recharge stuff. I have an adapter for the standard US 110V plug on the left; it allows our plugs to fit, but it doesn’t transform the voltage down. We use that for computer equipment, which is routinely dual voltage, so plugging directly into 220 is no problem. The right plug has a transformer first, which drops the voltage to 110, and then an adapter to our standard plug. We have to remember to plug 110V-only stuff into the right-hand plug. Well, we have a 110V power strip, which I thoughtlessly plug into the left outlet and fry. I’m initially puzzled why my laptop suddenly isn’t getting any power. That has apparently had some other effects as well, which we’re still sorting out. Fortunately, Ferdinand is better at such things than I am, and he’s working on it. I hate it when I make life harder for people when I’m already inconveniencing them just by being here. (See two paragraphs earlier.)

At 5:30 the kids come home from school—tomorrow’s their last day before the break—and we mix and mingle until supper of ugali, meat, and cabbage cooked in a tasty red sauce. It’s about then that we realize the water is just plain gone. So for a quick and dirty (literally) solution we send a caravan of people down the main road to the lake to bring back a bunch of 5-gallon jugs of lake water. The lake water is less clean even than the city water, but at least we can flush the toilets, and with a little bleach we can make it safe to rinse off with. (I’m not inclined to call wiping down with a washcloth “bathing.”) We’ll explore some longer-term options on our visit to town tomorrow; we may just hire a truck to bring us a few thousand liters of city water to give the city time to get its act together on the delivery system.

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That postpones house devotions, but for only a few minutes. Nathanael leads our group’s time with the boys tonight. We begin with singing, and the boys surprise me by asking for some of the songs we taught them last year. What’s interesting about that is that these particular songs were taught to our team by children’s workers we ministered with in Ghana, just before we came to Tanzania; so the East Africans are singing West African (English-language) songs delivered by Americans. Nathanael speaks on the 5th and 6th commandments and does so clearly and graciously. We take prayer requests—they’re pretty simple: “Pray for Shangazi.” “What should we pray for Shangazi?” Blank stare. On the spur of the moment, I decide to pray tonight rather than having the boys do it, to model a prayer that goes beyond “I pray for Shangazi.” This is a long slog, but perhaps a few of the boys pick up an idea or two.

Team devotions afterwards is on holiness and fine china. (I often use the analogy of fine china’s “special” status to illustrate the meaning of holiness as separation for the special use of someone important.) During the hour of relaxation afterwards we share embarrassing experiences. I figure that might break down some barriers, if any are left.

Asher lugs our 5-gallon jug of bleached lake water back to our room, and we turn in for the night. Tomorrow will be a busy day for the town-visit half of the team; the others will get their turn Friday.

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Dan Olinger

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

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