Thursday, 6/19/14

I drop by the guest house a little after 8:30, as usual on weekdays, and nobody wants me in his 9 am tutoring session. That’s a good sign; they expect things to be under control. Asher is scrambling some eggs, also as usual; Sarah S is drawing a diagram of the planets, more-or-less to scale; Josalyn, Sarah B, Nathanael, and Sarah M are getting their papers in order; Hannah, Caitlin, Lois, and Matt seem to be ready to go; and I suppose the rest will show up in due time. Ah. Kaleigh emerges from the bunk room, apparently in her right mind, and looking for division flash cards as she takes advantage of some extra eggs from Asher’s efforts. Lyddie is next, in her kanga, chipper as ever. Josalyn comments that she hasn’t done her hair since yesterday morning; Nathanael rejoins that he hasn’t done his since high school. As the magic hour of 9 or so (Africa time!) approaches, the house slowly empties and an unusual quiet descends.

I get to my morning task, which is personal laundry. Gather some detergent to take back to the room; get the bucket from the room and fill it. Wash, wring, rinse, wring, so long as the water doesn’t look like the Charles River in Boston; when it does, throw out the water, pour some more, and press on. Then everything goes on the metal drying rack in the room; it takes a lot longer to dry there than outside in the breeze and the sun, but it’s culturally offensive to hang your “things” out where people can see them, so we’ll just have to be patient.

I’m done by chai time. The team reports that their sessions went well. The gossip on the compound is that one of the chickens was devoured by army ants last night. These things go on the march, and they just consume everything in their path. There are legends of campers being eaten before they can escape, but I don’t know if that’s true.  Sarah B has found one of the boys carrying a pretty sizable walking stick (or kendo stick, if you’re more weapons-oriented) and decides to confiscate it. It’s a nice piece, 5 feet long, a couple of inches in diameter at the top and slightly tapered, and worked so it’s free of bark and smooth. Not sure where he got it.

The rest of the morning is uneventful, with class going routinely and no further contraband turning up, at least until the afternoon. (Where does a kid get an 8-inch bolt?) Lunch is outstanding; Karen and Rachelle have prepared hot dogs, buns, baked beans, and salad, and Lois and Josalyn have made potato chips. Everything’s a little different from its American counterpart, and that makes it familiar yet exotic, if you know what I mean. Everyone chows down.

During the afternoon tutoring session Shangazi brings a sample of soursop, a fruit, by the house. We had talked about it a few days ago, and one of the boys found a couple for her. She says you can just scoop the flesh out with a spoon. As the team comes in from tutoring, I invite them to try it. Responses are varied; a few don’t like it at all; Lois likes it a lot. I think it tastes like grapefruit with the consistency of a banana; some say there’s an aftertaste, but I don’t sense it.

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After the afternoon session, since it’s Thursday, we have our semiweekly game time. When Lyddie hears that the game is free-for-all dodge ball, she cries, “I love that game!” and runs out to play. It sounds pretty chaotic; I decide to stay with the soursop, where it’s safe. Lois stays in to slice about a thousand more potatoes; her potato chips are a real hit.

At supper the kids get to singing Swahili hymns, and they’re singing really well—better than I’ve ever heard them sing in house devotions. And as I suspect, when we start house devos a few minutes later, the quality of the singing continues. I love to hear these kids sing. My group wraps up our 4 days with the boys; we’ll move to the girls tomorrow night.

Back at the house, we have a couple of sick team members who have taken some cold medicine and are unconscious back in the bunk room, so we need to keep things quiet. We set up a fan in the bunk room to provide a little cover. We truncate our team devotions to just prayer requests and prayer, to keep the noise down. We try hanging out quietly, but it’s tough; Lydia is a very happy person, and she laughs a lot. 🙂

By 8:30 the guys have excused themselves and returned to their rooms. We’ll get some reading done before bed.

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Dan Olinger

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

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