Thursday, 6/26/14

Here comes another one, just like the other one. Same schedule as yesterday, but the one tutoring session is the 2nd group of the old full-day schedule, so different teacher/student combinations today.

But 2 other things are different today as well. First, we’re out of water again, so we’re all watching eagerly for the orange “Maji Safi” truck. And second, Shangazi is going to the airport this morning to pick up Bethany Fitzgerald, a BJU alumna who was here for a few weeks last summer and who is returning for some more. That’s good timing, because not only are we leaving in a few days, but so is Karen; she’s returning to the UK for her sister’s wedding and a few weeks of break. So it’s nice to have some extra hands on deck, and experienced ones at that.

We enjoy the late start at chai, and the 10:30 session seems to go well for most, an apparent improvement over the last couple of days. Lunch is couscous and vegetables, and I’m thankful, because my crew is on cleanup today, and this meal doesn’t stain the plastic dishes very much. Lemme tell you; you don’t want to be on cleanup on spaghetti days. 🙂

The children seem to be really getting into the camp competitions; they’ve cleaned up their sleeping areas nicely, and they really get excited about the talent show, which consists of a team cheer and a song. They all put their hearts into both elements, and our guest judges—Shangazi, Karen, Rachelle, and Bethany—have quite a little discussion before deciding.

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Matt’s next announcement makes me laugh out loud: “And now we have another exciting game for you! It’s called Trash Pickup!” But the kids don’t seem to be as cynical as I am, because they get into the spirit of it, picking up all the trash they can find on the ground and taking it to their team leader, who is literally holding the bag. Caitlin guards the actual trash can to make sure that nobody rifles it to pad their team’s collection.

Caitlin and I take it all to the incinerator, where we burn a whole pile of paper and sorta-paper trash, as well as recovering a bunch of plastic grocery bags—always useful—and several shoes and a pair of trousers. I assume the trousers weren’t on the person who turned them in as trash.

Right as we’re incinerating, the Maji Safi truck arrives, in all of its orange glory, and everything screeches to a halt while we watch the Most Interesting Thing in the Village of Shadi. None of the histrionics we had last time—I’m glad we avoid the fire ants this time—and suddenly We Have Water. Good; today’s socks are my last clean pair, and I really need to do at least a partial load of laundry before we leave Monday. I guess I’ll have something to do tomorrow morning after all. 🙂

The children play football—always a reliable standby—until supper, and some of them just hang out with the team members. They’re already getting maudlin about our departure; they tend to do that. And if you think about it, their whole lives have been punctuated with the arrival of people to play with them, build relational bridges, and then leave. That’s the dark side of the fact that they get to meet lots of people. The leadership here gives a lot of thought to how to handle that; on balance it’s better that the children meet people and benefit from the services they provide, but they have to be able to talk about the constant sense of loss that they feel, and the danger of keeping people at a distance just because they’ll leave eventually.

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And one by one, the girls begin taking out their braids.

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After house devos, I get several of the skirts and dresses the girls ordered from the tailor; a little more than half of them are ready, and the rest should be ready Saturday. Before I distribute them, I give the team a little speech about expectations in Africa, and all the things that might have happened to make this less than they’re expecting: the tailor might have misunderstood oral instructions; he might have measured wrong; the quality might not be exactly what they’re expecting; and so forth. Then I pass out the dresses, and the girls are literally squealing with delight. They try them on, and we take a photo.

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Well, I guess that was a success. After team devos—we take some time to hear some salvation testimonies from those who haven’t given them yet—we rehearse for the skits tomorrow; they should be pretty funny. Then a bowl of salted popcorn, and another bowl of caramel corn, and the boys head off to their dorm.

What? You thought we were out of popcorn, you say? Well, Lois bought some more, and whatever her source is, it pops (the corn, not the source). So we’re gonna be okay.

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Dan Olinger

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

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