Friday, July 3, 2015

Last day of VBS at Eindhoven. We’ve decided to do one of the skits—the doctor skit—from fun time at the Tumaini camp, and in a stroke of genius, we’re going to have Salvin play the role of the central patient, without telling him what the conditions are going to be that he’s catching. He handles it like a champ, adding each symptom as the team member arrives, and managing not to crack up at the ludicrousness of the whole situation. The children laugh loudly—this premise works well across cultures—and they wrap up the week happy and wishing it were longer. Always good to leave them wanting more.

We have a big activity planned for this weekend. We’re leaving directly from Eindhoven for Genadendal, a town about 2 hours inland. We’ll stay overnight, so we’ve packed for the stay, including extra blankets because we’ve heard it will be cold. We drive about half an hour out and stop at Wimpy’s Burgers for lunch. They have a robust menu—not just burgers—and we sample a lot of stuff. The team has taken to forming menu teams, ordering 3 or 4 items for a group and then sharing so they taste a wider variety. Good practice.

We have quite a little group. There’s the 9 of us, and Tony and Cathy Payne, and Jason and Salvin. Then Cyril Adams, pastor of one of the churches here, and his wife and 2 sons. And Kevin Simpson, whose church we attended last Sunday, and his wife and twin 3-year-olds.

The ride to Genadendal crosses a mountain range at Sir Lowry’s Pass, with a pull-out parking area with a nice overlook of the Cape Town basin and the Strand, the beach at the north end of False Bay. We pull in and park and pile out of the van. Gershon, who has been riding in the back of the Paynes’ small pickup, under a cab, so he can sleep, jumps out and joins us. A few seconds later one of the girls screams and points—at a baboon, who is exiting the back of the pickup with a bag of rolls for tomorrow’s lunch. Tony chases him, throwing rocks, and manages to recover a few of the rolls.

Eeeewwww. I don’t think I’ll be having any rolls at lunch tomorrow.

The last hour into Genadendal is rolling, green hills, reminiscent of that Windows desktop background screen. Lots of sheep and beef, and a great sense of pastoral peace. Even the wind farm on one of the hills doesn’t seem to disturb the scene.

We arrive at Genadendal, a peaceful village in a picturesque valley, and find our dormitory and move in. The guys will be in one 8-bed ward, and the girls in a slightly larger one. There are toilets and showers down the hall. It’s an old building, probably from the early 1800s, and we feel as though we’ve stepped back in time and stopped the clocks.

In the middle of winter. It’s cold.

Tony’s planned a braai (cookout) for supper. We take our bags of charcoal to the braai station, outside next to a bench swing, and set up the coals. There are 4 braai pits here, and the kids use another one to build a campfire for warmth. We sit around the 2 pits and talk as Salvin and Tony handle the cooking, Tony focusing on the chicken and Salvin on the wors, or sausage. Tony says he likes braais because you can’t hurry things; you just have to slow down and enjoy yourself.

It’s dark by the time the meat’s ready, and we head in to the dining room with attached kitchen, where the ladies have been working on the other essentials—potato salad, baked beans, crisps (chips), and lots of rooibos and coffee.

We sit at a long table with enough room for all of us. The night watchman comes by and joins us for dessert. They ask me to bring a brief devotional, and we all enjoy one another’s fellowship until the old guys feel like going to bed around 10.

I learn in the morning that the kids all went for a walk around the site, then sat around the dying braai fires and fellowshipped until 2 am, sharing their testimonies and encouraging one another in the faith. I love when that happens.

Lots—lots—of blankets. That’s the key to a good night’s sleep. I remember nothing after that.

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Dan Olinger

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

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