Wednesday, May 27, 2015

It’s funny how a good night’s sleep can make everything feel better. I wake up at 6, and several others are moving around the house already. That’s unusual. Bible time, shave & shower, and then up to the chapel for net access. Almost everything’s working today; power’s on in all the buildings, router’s up, fans are spinning (except the ones in the problem circuit in the back bedrooms, which will likely be a long-term project), chest freezer’s freezing, international phones are charging. And Charity is sound asleep on her mattress on the kitchen floor. Nice to be back to normal.

The crew has gotten good at making good use of the free time in the mornings. There’s laundry, and reading, and helping with jobs up at the Seidus’ house, and journaling, and actually sitting around talking. Typically the schedule in TZ ramps up quite a bit, so the time will come when they think back fondly on having a whole morning free.

After lunch, the Three Back Bedroom Girls (Michaela, Charity, and Emily) and Gershon go into town to meet with the ladies who will be braiding their hair, African style. Well, Gershon’s not getting braided, but he goes along for the tourism value of the experience. The ladies weave a bunch of extra hair in when they do it, and they need to work out a match formula for each person. It’s very interesting to watch them work when they’re braiding; they take different colors of hair—blonde, brown, black—and weave them in with the person’s natural hair, and it all looks like the same color. Really remarkable. Anyway, they get everything set up for the big braiding experience.

Back at the house Amber, Jessica, and Sarah are strategizing for this afternoon’s VBS. Sarah told the story yesterday, and she asks for critiques—strengths and weaknesses—which she gets, kindly. This crew is carrying the burden of the work and stewarding it well.

At 3 they head off to meet the bus. I have my prep done for class tonight, so I get a little down time. I joke with Abraham that with the girls gone, I finally get access to the bathroom.

My students start to appear at 4:30 for my 5:00 class. Heh, heh. A third of them are there by quarter till. I hereby announce that “Africa time” is a myth. Give ‘em a reason to be there, and they’ll be there.

Class goes well; there’s a brief power outage, but it doesn’t slow us down. Also, at one point an extension cord bursts into flame—that’s pretty exciting—but we pull it out of circulation and use another one. I joke with them that I’m sure it’ll be back in service tomorrow night, thickly wrapped in electrical tape. That’s how they do things here. The thing is, we have 2 voltages on the compound and 3 different kinds of plugs, and we end up with a patchwork of extension cords and adapters that would make any electrical inspector go into cardiac arrest. But that’s ok; we could just lay a cord on his chest and shock him back to life. 🙂

I walk into the house after class ends at 8:30, and it’s all quiet. The 2 mildly sick ones are asleep; one wakes up to tell me that the rest have gone to prayer meeting at church after getting back from village VBS. So I have some leftover supper—big ol’ chunks o’ fish, with the bones still in ‘em and the skin still on! And then clean up the kitchen. As I’m putting the morning’s line-dried laundry away, the crew arrives. I get a full report on the afternoon’s activities.

The VBS was in Deisi, a village slightly beyond and south of Siriyiri. I remember it from 2 years ago. Gershon waxes poetic about the excellent quality of their 2 (2!) football fields. Sarah did the story for the older girls, and it turned out that about 20 of them were actually middle-aged women who showed up for the show. Jessica told the story to the younger ones.

They tell me that one little 2-year-old boy, who had apparently never seen white people before, took one look at Michaela and took off at a dead run, screaming his poor little head off. That’s gotta be hard on a girl. 🙂 Later his big sister brought him back and he seemed to settle down some.

The Deisi church already has a building so it was a pretty well organized activity. The crew calls it a success.

On the way back, Timothy said he’s giving them tomorrow night off from VBS. Most of the kids chuckled, because they feel as though they haven’t been working very hard. But as always, there are plenty of things they can do.

After VBS they went to prayer meeting at church. Power was out there, so they moved benches out into the courtyard near the gazebo and met outside. Songs, praises, sermon from Timothy, prayer requests, prayer.

Devos are over about 10, and we head to our nocturnal duties. We’re into the “I’m tired and the cultural differences aren’t exciting anymore” phase, what I think is the most important part of their educational experience. For missionaries, missions is not a series of exciting 1-week mission trips; it’s a long, tiring slog, and in the first term at least there are times when the missionary just gets beaten down by the constant struggle to survive in a different culture. I want this group to see that. I’m sure they will.

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Dan Olinger

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

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