Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Arriving at the house first thing, I learn that 2 of the crew is sick enough that they’re not going to tutor this morning. The team has already arranged to cover the classes by combining and a little reshuffling; I love it when they get the job done on their own.

For the sick ones, we check for fevers—nope—and make sure they stay hydrated, and wait it out. I’m watching for indications of malaria, of course—I have treatments in hand, and we can deal with it without involving the medical system here if we have to—but so far the indications aren’t there. You look for fever and body aches in combination with nausea, and nobody fits the profile, so that simplifies things. Basically you make sure they’re able to take in (and hold) as much water as they’re losing; so far we haven’t had anything more serious than that.

The schedule for this week is now a routine, so I’ll probably have less to say unless things come up that are out of the ordinary. There will be a morning session, chai, a second morning session, a break before lunch, an afternoon session, reading and games, supper, house devos, online time, and team devos to end the day. I’ll comment on interesting events and oddities, but otherwise the blog will be pretty brief.

One of the sick ones is well enough to assist in his/her second session, so now we have just the one down. I sit in on the session that’s pulled the extra students in, and while it’s mildly chaotic, we do get through the worksheet for the day. It’s multi-digit subtraction, with borrowing / regrouping / renaming (or whatever they called it in your day) required. Many of these students (Standard 3) are trying to learn that operation while still not knowing their basic math facts. “What’s 9-6?” The student makes 9 hash marks on his paper, cancels out 6 of them, counts the rest, and after a long pause says “3.” As you can imagine, that makes everything take much longer. Maybe we’ll get out some flashcards next time.

The house gets quiet during the break before lunch. Rest is good.

At lunch (mango chicken!) we get into a discussion about discipline here at Tumaini. Some of the older boys have a tendency to bully the younger ones. My generation’s parents had a pretty simple solution to that :-), but there are complicating issues here—the involvement of the state social services department, a number of cultural differences, staff training, and other factors. How do you get the children’s other authorities—school personnel, for example, or social services personnel—not to make threats that they don’t intend to follow through on? In a situation where the caregiving is fragmented, how do you provide a cohesive environment? In the end, of course, the key element in the development of these children is their relationship, or lack of one, with the Lord. And you do the best you can to provide a loving environment where misbehavior is discouraged and good behavior is encouraged. And you pray a lot.

One of the team is still sick for the afternoon session, so I take that class. It’s just 3 Standard 3 students, half the class, and the easier half at that. I read them stories and ask them questions, trying to mix factual recall questions with higher-order comprehension questions. One does very well; one starts in something of a funk but gradually warms up to the stories. And one, despite everything I can do, falls asleep with her head on the desk. Back at school I figure that if a student falls asleep, he must need the sleep. So mission accomplished.

The crew is resting as they are able; many get some rest before supper, which is rice and beans.

It’s a normal evening with the children’s house devotions; Amber talks in our group about Psalm 139, and the girls respond well. We regather at the house for team devotions—no singing tonight, first to preserve our voices, and second because the way we sound, with so many colds, wouldn’t be all that encouraging. After net access time we fellowship until about 10. Everybody says s/he’s on the mend, though some are still sounding congested and/or feeling tired. We’ll see what the morning brings.

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Dan Olinger

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

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