Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Slow start today; nothing scheduled until chai at 10.

Getting ready for the day is a little more complicated this morning; the city water is unreliable, and it went out yesterday afternoon, so none of the taps work. Since this is Normal, though, we’re well prepared. I have a garbage-can-sized plastic bucket next to my sink, filled with city water for showering, flushing the toilet, and doing laundry. The girls have another one at the house. We use it as needed—it usually lasts until the water comes back on again—and then we refill it for next time. Two years ago the water was out the entire 5 weeks the team was here, and we got along fine. In God’s especially kind providence, Nathanael was on the team that year, and his ideal combination of physical strength and kind heart kept the barrels filled from the storage tanks behind the Big House. (Beth later told us that as soon as we left, the water came back on. God was clearly teaching us some necessary things that year.) This year, as long as the water comes back on before the barrel empties, we don’t have to carry buckets of water for any distance.

About 9:30 I head over to HQ, where Sarah reports that the water is back on. For them, that is. The way the system works, the Big House tanks will need to refill before the tanks on the guys’ house get water back. All in good time.

For chai at 10 we have our first serving of My Favorite Thing in East Africa: chapati. It’s a flatbread of flour and water pan-fried and served hot, like a thick, slightly oily tortilla. It’s an Indian food item, I think; there’s a lot of Indian culinary influence in East Africa. The children here, knowing how much I love it, tease me whenever it’s served.

At 11 we have our second and final Swahili lesson from Maiwe. We cover possessives, which are surprisingly complicated, and imperatives, and verb tenses, and numbers. That’s a lot in 2 days. I have a little Swahili cheat sheet that I’ve refined over the years and pass around to The Crew. It’s here if you’re interested.

Lunch follows. It’s haystacks, which they call “Stacky-Uppies” here. Boiled chicken chunks over rice, topped with any or all of the following: green peppers, tomatoes, peanuts, onions, coconut, and sweet & sour sauce. The odd thing about it is that since there are so many ingredients, no matter how little of each you take, you end up with a ginormous pile of food.

The Gasses join us for lunch. Matt tells us about the ethnographic study he did in his first term and the way it impacts ministry here. He gives us an example: in Luke 14.28, Jesus uses the embarrassment of an uncompleted tower to emphasize the need to count the cost of discipleship. The Crew immediately realizes that here in Africa they’ve seen all kinds of uncompleted buildings; it’s routine here, and not at all embarrassing. Jesus’ illustration is apt, of course, but culturally located. When Matt teaches that passage, he uses a parallel example to show what Jesus was talking about—not having enough rice to feed a guest who comes to visit. That makes the cultural bridge, and away we go. It’s another nice example for the team of how ministering across cultures can be tricky.

At 2 the Kids go back to the offices to do more planning for the tutoring sessions (as we’ve noted, they do start tomorrow, ready or not).

By 4 they’re ready to go—or think they are—and now they’re hanging around with the children. There’s a choir practice going on at the church building, which some of the children are involved in, so Bethany goes over, and later John, Jojo, and Lora. I drop in some for the vocal practice—the choreography gets worked on later.

Along the way I happen on one of the children hard at work. Remember the boy who’s a mechanical genius but not much for school? He’s built himself a radio. Got 2 different radios that don’t work anymore, and wired them together in such a way that the parts that work from each unit combine to make a complete radio. Took a couple of solar panels from some old lanterns that don’t work anymore, and wired them in for power. He has some other piece of junk, I think from a computer printer, that does something. Runs a wire across the back of his house for an antenna. And the system works. I ask him if he can get the BBC from London; I’m kidding, but he shows me that he can change the station.

Kid’s gonna do just fine, even if he can’t multiply 2-digit numbers.

In the meantime, Jojo’s teaching one of the children percussion using a large plastic container—which is the standard drum out here in the villages. Sarah and Rachael are talking to children in the kibanda. Everybody’s connecting, relating, discipling.

Supper is our first taste of ugali, the African staple of cornmeal mush with the consistency of putty—basically banku without the fermentation. They serve it with a red sauce and a few chunks of beef, and some collard greens. You roll the ugali into a ball about half the size of a golf ball (right hand only), then poke an indentation with your thumb to make a small cup, with which you scoop up whatever else is on the plate. The kids have had good practice in Ghana, so they fit right in.

House devotions after supper, then the girls meet with Dan and Jana to get ready for a baby-sitting assignment tomorrow. Dan and Jana are staying in town for a well-deserved overnight holiday tomorrow night, and Lora and Rachael will stay with their 4 kids at their house. All 4 girls will share oversight responsibilities during the day. This is the ideal case of stepping in to add grace to the lives of others. We’re here to do other things, but we are here, and that provides an opportunity to serve in special ways.

After team devotions the Crew goes to work on The Debraidification of Lora. And I head for home.

Tomorrow’s The Big Startup. Here we go.

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Dan Olinger

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

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