Saturday, 5/31/14

This is day 10 of our 41-day trip, so we’re about a quarter of the way through. Hard to believe; we feel as though we’re just starting.

Today we’ll be going souvenir shopping in the afternoon, so Beth wants to move lunch from 1 back to 12 to give us more time downtown. That means that chaimandazi and tea—is at 9 rather than 10. The team all seems in good spirits. We hang around the kibanda and play with the kids, kicking a football, helping the little ones on the jungle gym or the swings, and Matt even gets a game of Ninja going. At 11 we have a trial run of the tutoring setup for next week—all the children go to their tutoring locations and wait for their tutors. Since there are 12 locations, we’re putting pretty much everything with shade into service. There are two classrooms in the big house, a third group meets in the lobby, and two more meet on the two sides of the front porch. There’s a group on the porch of each of the 4 residence houses, one on the porch of the Bible college, and another in one of its classrooms. Lessee, that makes 11. One more group on Dan & Jana’s porch, and we’re all in place. Each tutor goes to the location of his first Monday class and meets with his kids to learn names, favorite subjects, and other kinds of useful information. They talk for about 10 minutes, and then the tutor goes to the location of his second Monday class and replays the scenario; then his 3rd Monday class, and we’re done in 30 minutes. Everyone knows where he’s going, and in theory everyone knows the names of all the people he’s working with. That went pretty smoothly.

And then there’s the aforementioned lunch at noon, with the children, since this is the weekend. It’s a bean concoction we haven’t seen before, with peanuts, which the Africans call ground nuts, not because they’re ground up—they’re not—but because they grow in the ground instead of in trees, like real nuts. It’s quite tasty.

The plan is to leave right after lunch for a craft fair downtown, being held to support various charities. Beth thinks it’ll be the best chance we’ll this trip to get reasonably priced souvenirs, so the kids have loaded up on cash and are ready to buy. The fair is set up at the Mwanza Yacht Club, which isn’t quite as impressive as it sounds; there’s a nice lawn fronting on the lake, and there are toilets, and I see one small motorboat rocking gently at a small dock, but there’s nothing that could be called a yacht by anyone other than a politician or a used-car salesman. There are several tents set up on the lawn, and we wander around looking at paintings, carvings, jewelry, drums, kangas (wraparound skirts), and other kinds of crafts. The prices are good, and most of the charities are worth supporting, so it’s a win-win. The kids aren’t the only customers, but they appear to be a significant part of the take for the day. Some of them buy a lot.

We finish the visit by sitting in the shade drinking sodas, sharing what we bought, and telling dickering stories. At 5 we head back home, where it’s time for supper, but since we’re cooking for ourselves, it’s not ready yet, so we hold house devotions with the kids while some of us get the meal ready at Dan & Jana’s house. My group finishes our week-long series on the Ten Commandments with a gospel challenge, beginning with the fact that all of us have broken these commandments—every one—and so we all need rescue. I summarize the gospel and, playing it safe, I tell them to talk to Ferdinand if they are concerned about their sin. He’ll obviously be in better position than we are to understand what each boy is thinking and expressing. While 2 boys close in prayer, I hear several boys snickering. After prayer I tell them that they have broken the 3rd commandment, making light of the things of God, and are in need of Christ’s forgiveness. Hard to say what will come of it.

When we’re done at 7:30 or so, dinner is ready, so we gather at the house for leftovers, including a delicious potato soup and a salad, something not common here. (Washing all the lettuce is toilsome, to say the least.) We eat together, the team, the missionaries (Gasses and Beth) and the volunteers (Karen and Rachelle). Lots of conversations are going at once.

My plan is to hold an abbreviated devotional time at the girls’ house before sending them all to bed early; we have an early start tomorrow. But Beth invites us to stay at Dan & Jana’s house for a little longer to sing together. Often missionaries don’t have a lot of chances to hear a good-sized group of Americans singing, and while I’d just as soon listen to the Africans, it is part of the American missionaries’ cultural core to sing their own songs with people from home. So we spend half an hour or so singing together.

Then a brief meeting at the girls’ house to take care of business for tomorrow. I’ve mentioned that we’ll be attending a pastoral installation at a more remote church, and we need to be sure that we’re ready to go at 6 am and have all the things we’ll need—most importantly, water, toilet paper, and things to eat, since the food supply along the way will be unreliable. Everybody’s thinking and participating, and we get the planning done quickly. The boys head off into the night, some of the girls get some showers, and Lois boils some eggs for an early supply of protein tomorrow.

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Dan Olinger

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

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