Monday, June 29, 2015

Everybody’s up in plenty of time, and the fact that we have 4 bathrooms—2 in the house, and 2 for the 3 girls staying across the street—helps a lot. We review our assignments for this morning, aim the GPS at Eindhoven Primary School in Delft, and head out.

As we turn off the R300 into Delft, one of the poorest Coloured communities in the Cape Town area, we see lots of people along the streets, plenty of evidence of activity. We arrive at the primary school to find the Paynes already there and, as is always the case in Africa, some unexpected exigencies to work around. Someone broke into the school last night and stole the only set of keys, and they can’t open a bunch of things, including the 2 classrooms we were going to use for the Bible story time. OK, we’ll use the big atrium hall—but it’s concrete, and the acoustics are terrible.

We set up a registration table and start signing kids in, giving them each a colored tag, orange for Cheetahs and green for Elephants, trying to keep the gender ratios as even as possible between the two teams. By the time everyone’s signed in—the last ones show up at the very end of Bible story time—we have 80 children, a great start.

These children are challenging—they’ve spent their young lives on the streets, with difficult home situations—and getting them to just sit down and pay attention is the first significant step. But they’re also beautiful, with light brown skin, some with blue eyes, and with brown curly hair. (I should say that as with any ethnic group, there’s a lot of variety; no ethnicity “all looks alike.” And since many Coloureds are of mixed race, there’s even more variety in this group. But we all notice that these children are just beautiful.)

Eventually we get them located in an upstairs classroom for Bible time, and we crowd the place out. Then downstairs for games in the main hall. Have I mentioned the acoustics? There’s so much echo in here that it’s difficult to hear what the leaders are saying, especially with all the ambient noise. We start off with a cheering contest; the Cheetahs go first, and then when Gershon tells the Elephants to “go,” the Cheetahs attack them gang-style, and we have a little Sharks-Jets rumble right there on the floor. We break it all up—no serious damage done—and decide we need to communicate the expectations more clearly.

Eventually we fill up the 2 hours, collect the name tags, and send everybody home.

Whew. We’ll talk about ways to do a better job tomorrow.

We head for home, where we have sandwiches for lunch and talk some about schedule for the week. Our biggest task for this afternoon is to get meals planned for the rest of the week—we’re only done through today—and do some serious grocery shopping.

Several team members lay out a schedule, and Charity spearheads turning it into a shopping list. Then Charity, Michaela, Emily, Amber, and I jump into the van and head for Shop-Rite, where we fill 2 carts with stuff. My main job is to stay out of the way, but I also drive the 2nd cart, following behind the others and picking up important things I think they’ve overlooked, like fried-chicken-flavored potato chips and Appletiser. Somebody has to do it.

The over to Checkers, a higher-end grocery chain, for some things we can’t get at Shop-Rite. And we’re done.

We return to the house and find places for everything—the little refrigerator is stuffed to the gills—and Michaela, as scheduled, puts together a tater-tot casserole. Since we don’t have any tater tots, she uses potato wedges, which work pretty well.

I’m teaching a class tonight in a little Bible institute the fellowship of churches runs. Tony has asked me to teach on cessationism, and I’m happy to do that. Sarah and Jessica want to come along, so we head over to the Paynes’ house after supper and set up. There are about 10 or 15 folks there, including several I know from previous visits. Tony has a projector set up, and we plug in the laptop and get to work. There are several insightful questions as we proceed, and I’m pleased with how it goes. Afterwards we have some tea (rooibos!) and coffee, and a cake that Cathy has made, and we stand around and talk about the subject of the night, as well as anything else that comes to mind. We finally break up around 10 and head back to the house.

When I look around with devotions in mind, 2 of the girls are already in bed, and 1 more is sound asleep on the couch. I think the best stewardship of our time tonight is to get everybody to bed. So off we go.

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Dan Olinger

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

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