Monday, June 27, 2016

First activity of the day is a VBS planning session at Eindhoven with the Paynes at 9:30. It’s chilly and spitting occasional rain when we arrive. We lay out the schedule and the individual responsibilities for registration each day, songs, Bible story, memory verses (Cathy will teach them in Afrikaans), and games. The nice thing about meeting here at the school is that there’s an asphalt playground for games in good weather, and a large room indoors that will work well if it rains. I know from previous years that acoustics inside will be a problem; with the echo in the large brick and concrete room, singing will sound great, but shouting directions is an exercise in frustration for the speaker and the hearer alike.

Plans made, we split up into several teams, combining our team with several coworkers from the church, and canvass the whole surrounding area, passing out printed invitations and inviting all the elementary-age children we can find. The children are genuinely excited that there’s something to do on their winter break; they’ll tell all their friends, and we’ll have a crowd, especially after the first day—assuming the ones who come on the first day actually have a good time.

While we’re canvassing, Cathy takes Beth and Rachelle shopping for several things they’d like to get for the work at Tumaini, things they can’t get in Mwanza. It’s like the Paynes to help with this. They’ve lived here for more than 30 years, and Cathy knows where the stuff is. Her help is extremely valuable, and she gives it freely.

For lunch we take care of the leftovers from yesterday’s lunch at Ocean Basket and supper of spaghetti. As I expected, the sauce is even better a day later.

A couple of the girls have decided that they need sturdier (and warmer) shoes for canvassing; the flip-flops just aren’t cutting it this winter. 🙂 So everyone but Jonathan jumps in the van and heads back to Zevenwacht. While the team goes shopping, I go back to Super Spar for cheese. And chocolate. Because of South Africa’s Dutch heritage, gouda is both plentiful and inexpensive here; I get a block nearly the size of my head and 3 kinds of good chocolate. And a bag of dry beef biltong (jerky). You know, just the essentials.

Back to the house in time to head over to Florida Sports Park to canvass for tomorrow’s Cola Wars, which Bill Knipe has organized in connection with the early stages of a church plant in the Florida community. Several churches are participating in the effort, and I see pretty much all my Cape Town friends at once—the Paynes, the Knipes, Eric and Katie Graham and their children, and a couple of national pastors and young people that I’ve met on past trips. The Gang’s all here.

We split up into teams and canvass the whole area surrounding the park. The neighborhood is very similar to Delft in appearance. It was a high-crime area for many years but has recent been cleaned up somewhat. This activity will be for teens, so we’re looking for them. Our kids realize that many of the teens they’re talking to on the street are either drunk or high—or perhaps both. I’ll be interested to see whether they’ll react like similar teens in the US—too cool for any teen activity—or whether they’ll see the event as something to stave off the boredom and despair that leads them into drug abuse in the first place.

My team hands out all their fliers, and we reassemble back at the entrance to the park. Very productive couple of hours. To thank us, Bill has invited everyone over to their house for supper. Susan is a gifted hostess—in 2013 she learned late on a Saturday evening that she was going to have 6 BJU team members living in her house for 4 days—thanks to a colossal blunder by Yours Truly—and she handled it with aplomb, whatever that is. Tonight we have 20 or so people in for soup and garlic bread and beverages and dessert, and everything goes smoothly. There are great conversations going on all over the room, and when we move into the living room for singing and prayer, it just gets better. This is a good family, servants who love service. The team will profit from their unaffected example.

Back at the house, we review the 2 events for tomorrow, the parts everyone is playing, the details we need to complete preparation for. The next 2 days will be the busiest of our time here; after Bill’s Cola Wars activity is over on Wednesday, we’ll have just 1 VBS per day for the rest of our time. I’m glad we start busy and end with lighter demands on us; that will bring us smoothly to completion of the task, God willing.

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Dan Olinger

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

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