Friday, June 26, 2015

Last full day at Tumaini, and last day of camp. We start with God and I Time, for which the children have established a pretty good pattern. Again, mostly memorization rather than meditation and prayer, but there are worse things they could be doing with their time.

To make room for Fun Time tomorrow afternoon, and because we have only 2 hikes for the 3 days of camp, we move the game time to after chai and before lunch. We play “Cat in the Hat,” with 2 games going at the same time (older and younger kids), and Jess doing the reading. We break only one wooden chair, which we view as something of an accomplishment, and there are no significant injuries, so that’s a success.

During the kids’ regular Bible lesson with Ferdinand at noon, Rob invites us down to the house where they’re staying to hang out. Over water and dates (the fruit kind) from 2 continents, and a little fresh coconut, we impose on them to watch us rehearse one of the skits for this afternoon, and we spend some time talking about what he—and we—have been up to.

Soon it’s time for lunch, and all the wazungu—the team, the Howells, Dan & Jana, Beth, and Rachelle—eat together, adding an extra table to Dan & Jana’s porch. Drip beef sandwiches, moist and delicious. The conversation runs for quite a while, but at 2 the team has to tear itself away to make final preparation for Fun Time at 3.

We’ve gotten 3 skits together, which we think will be funny and, with a lot of laughter, could run for most of an hour. We make sure we have props and other essentials together, and before we know it, it’s show time.

We start with an old favorite, the doctor skit, where Gershon sits in a doctor’s waiting room and picks up every symptom displayed by everyone else who comes in, until a pregnant lady shows up, at which time he runs out screaming. All of the “patients” bring a lot of laughter, but I suppose the favorites are Jess’s spasms—she really gets into it—and Charity’s nausea, which, well, I won’t describe in detail.

Next is Gershon and me doing “The King and I,” which the kids still remember from 2 years ago, when Jon Reid and Will Armstrong made something of a classic of it. We do our best, and the kids laugh heartily, especially at the female roles.

We save the best for last—Charity and Michaela doing the arms-as-legs shtick, with Sarah acting as Charity’s arms and Emily as Michaela’s. They work through getting up in the morning, washing their faces, brushing their teeth, doing their exercises, eating a banana for breakfast, and putting on their makeup. By the end of the skit people are rolling on the ground laughing and crying at the same time. The cast is really funny.

The whole thing runs 45 minutes, so we feel like they got their money’s worth. And with that, camp is over.

Time to shut it all down. It takes some time, because these kids are pretty tender about good-byes, so we have a procedure planned out.

We begin by taking the team—and Dog Samuel—up the hill to Faulu Beach Resort for a soda and a little relaxing celebration with a view. We do that every year as kind of a formal recognition that we’ve finished the job. The children holler and wave at us from down below.

Then back down for supper—ugali and beef—and the really hard part, an official good-bye ceremony. We all sit around the kibanda; Ferdinand and Beth say a few words of thanks, and Ferdinand prays in Swahili for a safe remainder of the journey. The kids sing in Swahili, expressing the same sentiments. Then the team lines up along the path in front of the Big House, and the children come by to shake our hands and say good-bye. The girls, especially the older girls, cry and hug the team girls. They always take these endings very hard. I think that’s a good sign; the tutors and the students have connected and formed actual relationships over just 3 weeks.

Then it’s time for house devotions. We decide at the last minute to pull all the kids together into the Big House instead of meeting in the individual houses. And then we decide that after we sing some, I’ll bring a devotional. Impromptu.

OK.

I talk about the fact that God is gathering for the glory of his name a people from every nation, and we are some of those people. God has done this. I invite those who are not yet believers to join us. And I end, as I love to do, with the Aaronic blessing. And then we all hug and cry some more, and after longer than usual, the children head to their houses and to bed.

We spend our team devotional time in prayers of thanksgiving, and then we go over the issues involved in getting from Mwanza to Cape Town. It should be fine, but there are some things to be aware of and to plan for.

And we pack. 44 pounds in a single checked bag, to avoid excess baggage fees (maybe, depending on how the folks at FastJet feel). The website says only one carry-on, but inbound they allowed two, so I don’t know what to think. I’ll just need to be ready to pony up some cash if somebody official presents me with a bill.

Around 11 we all head off to bed. Leaving here tomorrow at 9 am.

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Dan Olinger

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

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