Wednesday, May 18, 2016

We’re planning a hike into town to get some things at the market today, but we want to make sure we’re back in time for Mary’s lunch, so we plan to leave at 8:30 am. The kids really want to do something when they agree to be ready to rumba by that early.

Around 7:30 I head up to the chapel to upload yesterday’s blog, and Timothy is driving out just as I cross the road from his house to the front gate. He rolls down the window and asks if we’d like to go into town today. I tell him we already have it planned. “I can drive you.” “Don’t you have other things to do? We can walk.” “I’d like to drive you. We can leave at 9:00.”

Cool. We (1) get to ride, (2) in air conditioning, (3) a half-hour later than we’d planned. What’s not to like about that? I pass the word back to the house and get my business done.

Jojo and Lora are planning to paint instead, so the remaining 5 of us can fit into the car with a/c. We stop by the market and hit a couple of fabric shops, including the big one in the middle of the market, which is run by a Muslim man. He has an incredible selection of fabrics. John selects his first, and Timothy calls his tailor friend, whose shop is nearby, to come over and do the measuring. That’s quite the service. By that time Bethany, Rachael, and Sarah have made their selections, of at least two fabric patterns each. Timothy has to do a little business here, so we use the time to buy some staples at the little grocery store at the southwest corner of the market—Nescafe (it’s the only coffee-like beverage they have), Milo (hot chocolate powder), and some mixed-fruit jelly. That’ll help us get through the bread a little faster—we molded (moulded?) a whole loaf yesterday.


Walking through the market is an experience in sensory overload. The bright reds of the peppers and tomatoes contrast with the multicolored fabric patterns—both those being sold and those being worn—as well as the browns of the yams and the variety of labels on the packaged products. The smells are intense, with that of dried fish being particularly pungent. People, mostly women, are scurrying through the pathways between the booths, carrying produce on their heads and calling to one another. You just want to stand and take it all in.

There is a network of stalls made of concrete block to give the place a definite shape. Obviously the rent for those is higher, and they’re occupied by more permanent, professional vendors. But most of the stalls are haphazard constructions of sticks with some sort of covering to keep the sun off the product—and the vendors.

When Timothy rejoins us we drive to a seamstress shop right near Faith, which past teams have used. All the girls look through the patterns and decide what they want. The ladies tape a fabric sample to the picture in the magazine, and there’s your order. They take measurements and we’re done.

Timothy stops at a little booth for some fruit—a pineapple and a bunch of bananas—and we’re ready to head home.

A word about the fruit. Everything—everything—is tree ripened. You simply wouldn’t believe how good the fruit here is. BJU is in the middle of peach country, and you can’t get a decent peach anywhere, because they pick them all while they’re still green so they’ll survive handling. I’d come to Africa just for the fruit.

Mary’s lunch is rice with a bean sauce and some fried chicken. They butcher differently here, so the chicken pieces aren’t immediately recognizable. For example, they cut the drumstick once horizontally; I like the little knot that’s the top half.

After lunch some of us—guess which ones—take a nap. All the girls ride around the compound on motorbikes, and Lora drives one, with no fatalities or even serious injuries. One of the recent WABC graduates, Simon, comes by the house to talk.

About 3:30 The Kids head off to VBS. They take the school’s bus and pick up children along the way. They estimate there are well over 100 children on the bus when they arrive. (In Africa, the number of seats and the capacity of the bus are completely unrelated.) Simon and Gabriel, another recent graduate, meet them at Faith, and they divide the 300 or so children into younger and older groups so that the little ones won’t get killed during the games.

02c FFBC VBS 102 02c FFBC VBS 021 02c FFBC VBS 035 (2) 02c FFBC VBS 041 02c FFBC VBS 043 (2) 02c FFBC VBS 052 02c FFBC VBS 056 02c FFBC VBS 059 02c FFBC VBS 062 02c FFBC VBS 067 02c FFBC VBS 072

They start with songs and story time—Rachael tells a missionary story about Hudson Taylor, and Sarah tells the Bible story of Jonah. Each works with an interpreter to ensure that the children understand. Game time is appropriately chaotic, with football, Duck Duck Goose, Red Light Green Light, and some games the children teach them. The crew judges it a success, though they note that there are some kinks to work out.

A key impression that they come away with—and I look forward to this every year—is that they can’t make this whole thing work without their Waala peers—today that’s Simon and Gabriel and a couple of teen-aged girls. The Africans are the cultural bridge, and the event would be completely chaotic without their competent help. We have not come here to help the Waala; we have come to work alongside them and learn from them.

My class starts at the usual time. Tonight it’s hermeneutics—specifically, interpreting narrative and dealing with interpretational problems. The students are attentive and interactive, and the insights seem to strike them as useful in their ministries. That does wonders for the interest level. But no bat tonight.

It was spaghetti and sauce for supper—while I was in class, as usual. When I get back to the house, I have leftovers from yesterday instead, trying to keep the leftover stock rotated.

We’ve been planning to cut the watermelon tonight, and now’s the time. It’s bright red, juicy, and delicious. The fruit. I’m telling you.

Then Carlos shows up with Fan Ice. Oh, man. He’s our new best friend. Some chocolate and some vanilla. Most of the girls take chocolate—I’m shocked, I tell you, simply shocked—and the guys go with that awesome vanilla.

For devotions I ask for feedback about what they’re learning in their personal devotions, and there are lots of solid contributions. It a good time of mutual encouragement.

Then Lora goes to bed—she seems to be the earliest retirer of the bunch—and the others chatter while I write up the day’s events.

We’re tired. I think we’ll sleep well tonight. A rainstorm would help.

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Dan Olinger

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

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