Monday, June 1, 2015

Several of the group—Michaela, Charity, Emily, Jessica, and Gershon—want to go visit the school today. You might recall that this is a Christian school with over 600 students, most of whom are from Muslim families. They follow a generally British approach to elementary education, with a lot of standing and reciting. Our group heads over about 9:30.

I have papers to grade, and the rest—Amber, Jess, Sarah—busy themselves. I’m about halfway done when a really delicious rainstorm hits. The temperature drops so fast you can feel it, and the wind tosses the tree limbs and drives sheets of rain across the yard. Soon all four of us are sitting on the front porch watching the show.

After an hour or so the rain stops, but the clouds and thus the cooler temps remain. It puts a completely different sense on the day.

I finish grading my papers around lunchtime. The students have done quite well, grasping the gist of the essay questions, organizing their answers, giving examples, avoiding repeating my words back to me. I’m really pleased with the quality of their work.

That done, I prep for this evening’s class—Paul’s earlier epistles, through Romans—while Amber and Jess get some internet time and Sarah does a whole bunch of stuff.

Timothy comes by about 3, just as the crew is heading off to VBS at Gbacha, and tells us that the church has decided to buy us all custom dresses (or shirts for the guys). He’s already told the kids who went to school this morning, and they’ve stopped by the market to get fabric and by the seamstress to get measured. But the 4 of us who stayed home today have to go through the process too—which means that the 3 girls—Jess, Amber, and Sarah—won’t be going to the VBS after all.

So the 4 of us jump in Timothy’s car and head for market. We go to the big fabric booth that we’ve been to before (it’s about 6 times the size of Akila’s), and I pick out a fabric in about 5 minutes and then wait, oh, 15 or 20 HOURS for the girls to make their decisions. Then we stop by a tailor in the market and get me measured. Another 2 minutes or so. And then to the seamstress, out by the church, for the girls to select their patterns and get measured. Timothy and I settle in to a couple of chairs for the long wait. It doesn’t take more than a month or two.

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As we’re leaving, the bus comes by with the kids headed for VBS, so we transfer the 3 girls over, and Timothy and I head back home. We arrive just in time for my 5 pm class. The evening goes very smoothly, with no interruption in power. The weather is still cooler than usual because of this afternoon’s rainstorm, and I realize about 2 hours in that I haven’t yet had any of my water; I’m usually suckin’ on that thing like a starving baby on his bottle.

I walk into the house after class to find the crew sitting at the kitchen table, staring numbly straight ahead. I believe this is as tired as they’ve been for the whole trip. I ask how their day went. And they tell me.

For the 5 who went to school, the experience was interesting but quite tiring. Michaela taught an English class; Gershon taught a maths class; and Emily taught an art class (perspective, she tells me). This British educational system is quite different from what they’re used to, which means in turn that their teaching style is quite different from what the students are used to. But they get that done, and observe a bunch of other classes, and get introduced to all the classes in turn.

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The VBS was tiring as well. As I’ve mentioned, they went to Gbacha, which was the first village the last team went to. That’s where Timothy and I met the chief and secured his approval for the church plant. I remember it as a very lively bunch of kids, and that’s what the team reports for today. Many more kids than they expected, and very active. Jess reports engaging an older boy who looked resistant but responded well after they connected.

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So now they’re home, and they’re bushed. We have devos, and while the testimonies are multiple and genuine, the weariness shows.

Getting down to the end of things here in Wa. This is where I tell them that it’s time to stick it out, to grit your teeth and push through, by the grace of God. And this part of the trip is precisely why I schedule these things to be long. They need to get tired. And their needs are being met.

 

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Dan Olinger

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

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