Sunday, 6/8/14

Our third Sunday here, and our second at Shadi. We feel as though we know the routine better now, so we’re pretty much at home. We head over to the church about 10 after 8; the music is blaring from the loudspeakers as a sign that all are welcome. To my surprise and delight, all the Tumaini children are in matching new clothes, the girls in dresses and the boys in shirts from the same material as the dresses, along with reddish-purple trousers (is that mauve?). We sit across the sanctuary, waiting, and the service begins about 20 after. Africa time. 🙂 We open, as we did last week, with “Pass Me Not” in Swahili, then a couple more songs that are native Swahili rather than translated from English hymns. Then a few testimonies and 3 choir numbers, complete with choreography. And before the sermon, the usual prayer in song. They use the same tune every week for this prayer, but they use different words each time, which are introduced by the song leader. Pastor Samson’s sermon is from Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” His sermon seems shorter this week; or maybe I’m just getting used to the service structure. We close with the usual offering; then we sit quietly while they collect a second offering and tally it up in the front pew. As we’re leaving I ask Laura about that, and she explains that several from the church visit someone every Sunday afternoon and deliver a gift from the church; this week the recipient will be a lady in the church who has just had a baby. They will deliver this cash gift to help with any needs; so they’re “visiting” in the sense of James 1.27, rolling up their sleeves and helping to make things better.

As I suspect from the children’s clothing, Shangazi wants to take a photo of everybody right after church. As you can imagine, getting 55 elementary-age children to sit still for a photo is like herding cats, and there are always a few—boys—who simply refuse to cooperate, but nothing that raw brute force can’t overcome. We have it done in less time than we expect.

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Chai (uji and a boiled egg)is delayed by all this; we get to it around 11. Then we have a couple hours of free time before lunch. Sundays are really a day of rest here; there’s nothing to do, and people just shut down. Obviously a superior culture.

After lunch, with nothing scheduled, I enjoy watching to see what various people do with their time. Matt is working with a bunch of boys on Swahili hymns—“At Calvary,” “Amazing Grace,” “Rock of Ages.” Caitlin and Sarah M are hanging with some of the smaller children in the kibanda. Asher is studying for next week’s lessons. Lois and Lydia are relaxing at the big house. Nathanael has lugged a bunch of water into the house for the girls, and now he has disappeared; I suspect he’s taking a nap in his room. Kaleigh, Sarah B, Hannah, Josalyn, and Sarah S have walked down the street, such as it is, to a little hair salon to get their hair braided; it’s supposed to take about 3 hours. In Swahili “oo” is pronounced as a simple “o” (note the word choo in a previous post), so the sign says it’s a “hair saloon,” which strikes us as pretty funny.

The girls come back 3 hours later with basic French braids and explain that they waited for an hour at the saloon but it looked like the lady wasn’t close to done with the current customer, and this was all going to take way too long, so they came back to Tumaini and watched some of the little boys get their hair cut and braided one another’s harr while they watched. And some of the boys braided Josalyn’s hair.

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For supper Shangazi, Laura, Karen, and Rachelle have coordinated their 3 ovens to make calzones—beef, sausage, veggies, and combinations thereof. It’s a very impressive presentation, and it’s also a massacre, with no bodies left on the field. We also learn that mixing marinara sauce and ranch dressing is a really good idea.

Since it’s Sunday, we don’t have house devotions with the children scheduled, so after supper cleanup we stay at Dan & Jana’s house for an early team devotions and then a little relaxation time. Since it’s the beginning of week 3, I interrupt my series from Ephesians 1 and share some thoughts from 2Timothy 4. At some point during this coming week, if it hasn’t already, the adrenaline and freshness of this experience is going to wear off for most of the team, and this experience is going to turn into plain old unglamorous work; they’re going to get really tired (and tired of it); and they’re going to start to get on one another’s nerves. So we talk about the importance of the calling, the supply of God’s grace, and the need to just press on even when you’d rather be home. I invite them to share their own thoughts, and they make good contributions. It helps that they have the Serengeti safari to look forward to this next weekend, but there are 2 more weeks after that, and the children’s behavior will almost certainly not improve over time. So we pray for grace and patience (endurance), and we invite you to do the same.

Rachelle has made chocolate cake, and there are even some small marshmallows and candy sprinkles (what we would have called “jimmies” in my Boston days) to decorate it with. And a really delightful apple crisp. That loosens everybody up quite a bit, and a few step right up to the Wii for some chicken flying, hula hooping, and ski jumping. There will be no public photographic record released. Turns out Shangazi’s pretty good at most events, but Asher wins the chicken game, and Nathanael is apparently a professional hula hooper, although Shangazi came from behind to steal 1st place from him right at the end.

I leave around 9:30, and most of the team follows soon after.

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Dan Olinger

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

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