Sunday, 6/29/14

Last church service. It starts a little later than usual (about 8:30), but the singing and choir are as good as ever. Matt Gass preaches and is kind enough to announce the text in English for the clueless. After the sermon and the offering, Pastor Samson asks me to say a few words of farewell from the team, and they’re even kind enough to provide Maiwe as an interpreter. If I’d had to stick with Swahili, I’m afraid my words would have been pretty simple: “How are things?” “I love chapati!” And that would be about it. I ask Maiwe afterwards if my remarks were appropriate, and he says they were. He’s probably the best person around to ask about such things, being immersed in this culture but also well exposed to Western ideas.

Most of the team spends the time before lunch either hanging out with the kids or cleaning up the guest house. They’re in the throes of mixed feelings, excited to get home but also realizing they’re going to miss the children, for all their flaws. 🙂 I note with one team member that this is the sign of a successful trip; you want to have bonded with the people you’re working with, and you want to have a home life to look forward to. What’s there to be sad about if the trip has been successful and home is a good place?

But they’re sad anyway. Good.

Lunch is ugali, cabbage, and beef. Last ugali for the trip; we’ll have supper with the missionaries tonight and lunch with them tomorrow. Seems strange sitting in the kibanda eating for the last time. Until next year, anyway. 🙂

The team chooses to spend most of the afternoon just hanging out with the children, making as much of the little remaining time as possible. At 5 we have a goodbye service for Lois and Karen, who are leaving at 6 am. We gather in the kibanda, and each of the children goes by and shakes hands or hugs, and wishes them a “safari njema” (good journey). Several of them don’t want to do it, and it turns out that the reason is they don’t want to face the fact that they’re leaving. Several children are crying, and it occurs to me that we’re going to go through all this again in spades tomorrow, when they say goodbye to the rest of the team.

Supper with the missionaries is chili, a fitting end to an unbroken series of delicious meals. These ladies have really worked hard for us. All the moms can relax.

We have house devotions tonight, since we missed it last night. My group closes out the series with the little ones with a look at heaven and the restoration of fallen creation. I have no idea if they understand it at all, even though I try to put it at their level.

Our last bit of work done, we head back to Dan & Jana’s house to have our last team meeting. We share testimonies one more time, and Beth wants to know what each team member’s favorite thing is. There’s a lot of diversity. Beth and I share some thoughts about repatriation, and we give some cards and gifts to the ladies, who have worked so hard to keep us fed and otherwise happy. Beth closes in prayer, and I give the Aaronic blessing:

“The LORD bless you and keep you;

The LORD make His face to shine upon you;

The LORD lift up His countenance upon you

And give you peace.”

And we’re done.

Back to the guest house for a few minutes, mostly to distribute the passports and to have one last bowl of popcorn, and to bed.

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Dan Olinger

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

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