Thursday, May 28, 2015

Some of us are planning an early hike to town this morning to hit an ATM and to get a few things in the market. We hope to leave at 8, to avoid the heat later in the day. As it turns out, Timothy is heading over to the school about the same time, so Amber, Jessica, Jess, Gershon, and I catch a ride with him, along with Sarah, who wants to visit the seamstress who’s working on the girls’ dresses and get a look at how she operates. She’s right by the school, so that’ll be convenient.

We conclude our ATM business with minimal problems and head into the market. Jess, Jessica, and Gershon are looking for some more fabric. We drop by Akila’s shop. She’s not there yet, but her helper is. We pick up some things there and in another large shop across the plaza. Jessica is also looking for some items for a missionary friend’s deputation display board, and we find some of that too. Generally successful, I’d say. We walk the 2 miles back, hoping in vain for an IHOP or maybe a little Mom & Pop diner along the way. As we pass the police station, it occurs to me that we should get some photos for Amber’s father, who works in law enforcement.

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Mama J’s sister, Cynthia, is up from Accra for John Seidu’s wedding Saturday. She’s been helping with the many wedding preparations. By craft she’s a hairdresser, and some of the girls have hired her to braid their hair African style. Emily is the first to undergo the procedure; it’ll take most of the day. Michaela and Charity are in line as well.

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Gershon thinks he’d like 2 or 3 braids on top that he can tie back, but Timothy doesn’t think that would be culturally wise. Ah, the sacrifices we make.

Shortly after lunch I walk out to the kitchen to find a couple of nasalas that aren’t us. It’s Roger and Norene Russ, Baptist Mid-Missions missionaries from up in Lawra, 2 or 3 hours north. They’re long-termers, having been there for more than 40 years. Their latest project has been the NT in Dagari, which they’ve just completed for Bibles International. They’ve decided to start on the OT, which is of course a much bigger project. Since they’re approaching retirement, they’ve decided to base themselves in the States and return to Lawra for brief stints as necessary during the translation process. So they’re headed home, taking a couple of days to drive to Accra and then fly out. They’re dropping off some things here for Kathy Bristol, a nurse who is the only nasala at the Samuel Seidu Memorial Clinic out in the bush northeast of Wa, which is named for Timothy’s father. We met all of these folks at the graduation; it’s nice to see Roger one more time as he leaves. He was quite a bit of help getting us booked into the guest house in Accra during the planning stages for this trip.

Timothy has asked us to sing in the morning service Sunday, so after lunch we practice at the piano in the chapel. We’re planning to do it a capella, unless the church accompanist decides to join in. They’ll do that; you start singing, and he pokes around on the keyboard until he finds the key and then plays along. I’ve seen that done all over the continent. But we’re planning to do Chris Anderson’s “I Run to Christ,” and he may not know that one.

Internet’s really slow today. I use 3/4 of my laptop battery uploading one photo to the blog and decide to try again another day.

On the way to class at 5 I check in on the braiding crew under a tree near the chapel. Emily’s about half done, with tight braids about 18” long protruding from all the facets of her skull.

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Class is pretty simple tonight; I lecture for an hour on the exilic and post-exilic prophets, and then send them off to take their final exam.

It’s a difficult thing, assessing cross-culturally. This course is a survey of the major theological themes of the OT; I really don’t see any purpose in having them memorize details (“Which chapters of Isaiah focus on the sins of Judah?”), and thus an objective test seems out of order. But English is their second language; having them write essays in a brief testing period hardly seems appropriate either. I’ve decided to give them the best shot at showing me what they’re capable of. I have 3 groups of 8 essay questions, 1 group each from the beginning, middle, and end sections of the course. Each student will pick 1 question from each group to answer. They’ll take the test home so they have time to think about their answers. That means it’s open book, but in this case I think that if they essentially research and write 3 brief papers, they’ll understand the material, which is what I’m after.

I’ve given them a few expectations:

  1. They must use their own words. No cutting and pasting from the class notes.
  2. They must tell me more than I told them—give me their own thoughts on the subject, plus examples that they’re able to find in their Bibles.
  3. They may not collaborate.
  4. English correctness doesn’t matter.

We’ll see how they do.

How did the braiding go, you ask? Here’s the final product.

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With the extra time in the evening we all decide to watch a video from some British show called Rosemary and Thyme. It’s a mystery, made all the more mysterious by those British accents. At one point I question the likelihood of a couple of middle-aged female gardeners being thrust into the middle of a murder case each week. I try to make popcorn, with middling success; it’s harder not to burn those babies on a gas stove. And Matilda has brought a case of actual Coca-Cola by, so the kids are pretty much in heaven.

But somewhere in the middle of the second episode Morpheus comes calling for me, and I go to bed. You’ll have to ask the rest of the crew who the murderer was.

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Dan Olinger

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

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