Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Last month of the trip. By mid-month, Lord willing, we’ll be home. And perhaps off to other adventures.

It feels oddly warm when I wake up—I mean outside the covers—but that doesn’t last for long. When we show up at the primary school, it feels quite cold again.

And when we show up, there’s already a crowd of children waiting for us. Say what you want about their behavior, the little tykes want to be here. Nearly all of those here yesterday have come back, and there are some new ones as well.

We’ve made some adjustments to lighten the attention-span load of the little ones. First, we’re not sending them to the classroom as soon as they sign in. Some were sitting there for 20 minutes before the hour-long program even started. So we send ‘em out for casual games: Red Light, Green Light and a couple other simple ones. Then when most have arrived—about 10 after—we take them all to the toilet (that’s what they call rest rooms in Africa, even though it sounds a little indelicate to us) on the way to the classroom, to take away their excuse for leaving in mid-program.

Things do go better, though it’s still challenging. A couple of the boys are clearly uninterested, and finally they say they want to leave. So we let ‘em. That lowers the misbehavior factor a little.

I’m talking with Selvin, one of the young men from Tony’s church who are helping us, and it suddenly strikes me that he looks like a younger, Coloured version of my friend Joel Weaver, missionary in Nairobi. See if you agree with me by comparing the photo below with this one.

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Soon enough we’re done with day 3. The team heads back to the house to change clothes for a little trip out west, to Stellenbosch for lunch and then to Franschhoek for some souvenir shopping.

It’s just half an hour or so to Stellenbosch, a beautiful town in a valley between a couple of stark, craggy mountain ridges that remind me very much of the American West. This is the beginning of what South Africans call the Wine Route, a stretch of vineyards that I suppose could rival the Napa Valley—it could, but I don’t know, because I don’t care much about the wine business.

Anyway, there’s a berry orchard in Stellenbosch called Hillcrest, where they have a little restaurant—they call it a tea room—where you can get some lunch. If you sit on the terrace, you have a beautiful view of the valley and the vineyards and orchards against those mountains.

They give us a couple of tables there on the terrace, and I start by asking for scones for everyone. Time these kids learned to eat a scone. Soon we have scones and accoutrements, and I start demonstrating. Pick up a scone, break it in half horizontally. Layer of butter (the Real Stuff). Layer of clotted cream. Layer of jam (we have 10 flavors to choose from). Layer of cheese. There should be some whipped cream, but there isn’t, so we’ll just make do with what we have.

To some people, this combination sounds odd. It’s amazing.

Then we order lunch. Several get burgers, others get salmon steaks. I get risotto with chorizo and a pot of rooibos. Eventually pretty much everybody else gets a pot too.

Some souvenirs in the shop out front, and we’re off to Franschhoek, a village just 30 minutes down the road. I guess you’d say it’s a tourist trap, with lots of shops for buying souvenirs. These are generally more expensive than what we’ve had access to before—lots of art, for example, and a fine chocolate shop, and African crafts sold under fair trade rules and thus more expensive. Most of us get some things.

An hour back to Keurboom and enough time to get ready for prayer meeting with Tony’s church, which meets at his house on Wednesday nights. He’s asked me to speak, so I talk about God’s generosity and the kinds of things He gives abundantly. There’s fellowship afterwards, aided by cake and tea.

Team devos and a quick meeting afterwards to be sure we’re ready for tomorrow.

A less strenuous day than yesterday, by quite a bit. A good break. Tomorrow, as planned, will be more active.

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Dan Olinger

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

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